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All Postings, Greg Lehey:  (2,228 posts)

Source blog: Greg's diary


More GPS fun

Posted By Greg Lehey

For no particular reason, dragged out my old Garmin GPS II device today, put some batteries in, and left it to find where it was. It took nearly an hour! And yes, it works. But what use is a GPS receiver without navigational aids? And navigators are now so cheap that it's just not worth thinking about. Today Yvonne bought a new navigator at ALDI for $59. I've been buying every one they have on offer, about twice a year, in the hope that the maps will some day improve. Today might be the day: finally they've discovered Kleins Road, where I live.

Sat, 28 Mar 2015 02:08:08 UTC

DPI's ugly head

Posted By Greg Lehey

Talking with Chris Bahlo this evening about the fun day she had had at work today. They have a new coworker, and she managed to pessimize a web site by putting in overly large images. How large? 300 dpi. What does that mean on a web page? Should it scale to the monitor resolution? No, it seems that people still can't get used to the fact that image resolutions are measured in pixels (these images were apparently 1200×900 or so, clearly too large). Admittedly pixel dimensions aren't ideal either, but what earthly use are dpi specifications? ACM only downloads articles once.

Sat, 28 Mar 2015 02:01:05 UTC

Diagnosing Yvonne's car problems

Posted By Greg Lehey

Another attempt with the ELM327 clone today to find out what's wrong with Yvonne's car. Once again it claimed that there was no error code stored. Tried to speak to Paul Sperber of Ballarat Automotive, but was blocked by his wife, who went in, discussed something with him, and said that they weren't interested in doing the work, and that I should go to Ballarat Central Auto Electrics. Called them, and eventually spoke to Wayne, who confirmed that it would be difficult to diagnose if the problem wasn't presenting itself, but that they'd try. Otherwise he suspects coils, which isn't out of the question, but I'd like some certainty before spending $600 on the off chance.

Wed, 25 Mar 2015 01:21:20 UTC

More GPS navigator fun

Posted By Greg Lehey

Today was the first time I used the new GPS navigator in the city. Of course it tried to take me through places that didn't exist, but the most surprising thing was what happened when I tried to find alternative ways from the city to Surrey Hills: it kept changing its mind, wanting to take me north of Victoria Street (probably correctly) and south of Victoria Street (very definitely wrong). And when we changed our minds to go to Springvale, Victoria instead, it tried to take me straight through the middle of town instead of the designated way to the freeway.

Wed, 25 Mar 2015 01:20:20 UTC

A new low in user interfaces

Posted By Greg Lehey

Parking at the Victoria market was made no easier by the parking meters. They're modern and electronic, of course, with a low-contrast, reflective LCD display: Today was overcast, so the display was marginally legible. On a sunny day I would have been facing into the sun, so things would have been much worse. Even so, to read the display you need either to be about 1.50 m tall or kneel down in front of it.

Mon, 23 Mar 2015 04:32:57 UTC

Cheap toner: the truth

Posted By Greg Lehey

As planned earlier this week, I bought some cheap toner for my laser printer. How do you install it? Easy, in principle. But there's a little problem. Here are the new cartridge on the top (still with protective cover) and the old one below: Half the cartridge is missing! Am I supposed to re-use the old one? If so, the least they could have done was to tell me how to do it. The other difference showed up when I read the printer instructions.

Mon, 23 Mar 2015 04:21:11 UTC

Y2K catches up

Posted By Greg Lehey

Last night's pepper steak required a little stock powder. We really don't use much, and the jars I have are long past their use-by date: It's interesting that they changed date format between the two jars. I had half expected them to have changed back, but it seems they haven't. The older jar has got so hard that I couldn't get anything out of it. I don't suppose it's too soon to throw it out. ACM only downloads articles once.

Sun, 22 Mar 2015 00:27:13 UTC

Understanding Google Plus

Posted By Greg Lehey

Some months ago, when I was complaining about Facebook, Peter Jeremy (a Google employee) suggested that I use Google Plus instead. I signed up, took a look, and found it confusing. It also didn't address the issue that I don't like the concept anyway. So I forgot about it again. Then today Peter was analysing the display of my web pages on mobile devices. I asked him for screen shots, and got the reply: <groggyhimself> Can you send me a screen shot? <peter> groggyhimself: I've shared them with you. <groggyhimself> ? <peter> groggyhimself: Look in Google+.

Sat, 21 Mar 2015 23:40:17 UTC

Still more network problems

Posted By Greg Lehey

I was out of the office most of the morning, but when I got back I found: Start time End time Duration Badness from to (seconds) 1426893625 1426895771 2146 0.005 # 21 March 2015 10:20:25 21 March 2015 10:56:11 1424453814 1424645964 192150 0.026 # 21 February 2015 04:36:54 23 February 2015 09:59:24 1425657732 1425657839 107 0.004 # 7 March 2015 03:02:12 7 March 2015 03:03:59 1426077275 1426077511 236 0.009 # 11 March 2015 23:34:35 11 March 2015 23:38:31 1426081952 1426083273 1321 0.811 # 12 March 2015 00:52:32 12 March 2015 01:14:33 1426083535 1426084719 1184 13.740 # 12 March 2015 01:18:55 12 March 2015 01:38:39 1426084979 1426085070 91 13.846 # 12 March 2015 01:42:59 12 March 2015 01:44:30 1426086004 1426086758 ...

Fri, 20 Mar 2015 01:13:31 UTC

Out of date, part 2

Posted By Greg Lehey

Mail from Google (really!) today: Date: Wed, 18 Mar 2015 18:29:15 -0700 (PDT) From: Google Webmaster Tools Team <> Subject: Fix mobile usability issues found on Google systems have tested 3,000 pages from your site and found that 100% of them have critical mobile usability errors. The errors on these 3,000 pages severely affect how mobile users are able to experience your website. These pages will not be seen as mobile-friendly by Google Search, and will therefore be displayed and ranked appropriately for smartphone users. What's that? There are lots of links, of course.

Fri, 20 Mar 2015 00:42:56 UTC

SpamAssassin: past use-by date?

Posted By Greg Lehey

I've been finding that SpamAssassin has flagged more and more legitimate mail as spam lately. The reason is always the same:  2.7 DNS_FROM_AHBL_RHSBL    RBL: Envelope sender listed in Lately, though, I've noticed that even well-known senders are getting flagged like this. That's serious because I have set my maximum score to 3, so just about anything else will cause it to be classified as spam. It really hit home when my system classified local mail as spam. Clearly time to weaken the score. Went looking and found, in /usr/local/share/spamassassin/ score DNS_FROM_AHBL_RHSBL 0 0.306 0 0.231 Huh?

Tue, 17 Mar 2015 23:34:30 UTC

Toner prices

Posted By Greg Lehey

The black toner for our Brother HL-3170CDW laser printer is running low. aI've had it for 8 months, so it was to be expected. Took a look on eBay and found the toner cartridge (TN-251) for $25.30, including free postage. While in town, dropped in at Officeworks. Yes, they had it in stockfor $129! That's ridiculous. OK, the cartridges on eBay are almost certainly replacements, but they have the chips, and there can't be that much difference in quality. The printer cost $249, so this single cartridge costs more than half the purchase price. A complete set of 4 would cost more than double the purchase price.

Tue, 17 Mar 2015 04:30:26 UTC

Microsoft error reporting

Posted By Greg Lehey

Earthworks invoice from Warwick Pitcher today. Needs to be scanned and sent to CVI. All went wellbut where was the image? Tried again, and again it didn't appear. This is Epson software under Microsoft. Had it decided to store the image somewhere else? Spent some time looking for the configuration menu which specifies where the document should go. Where is it? It proved to be this meaningless icon: Selected that and got another confusing menu: Only three choices of location: My Documents, My Pictures, or anything else.

Sat, 14 Mar 2015 23:09:39 UTC

More network investigations

Posted By Greg Lehey

More work on my network status page today, without making it really pretty. One thing of interest is the TCP speed plot, in blue: This shows the reciprocal of the time it takes to load a small document from the other end of the world. It's surprisingly constant. But for some reason the value increased round 10 March. Looking at the raw log data shows: 1425966865 0.70 # Tue 10 Mar 2015 16:54:26 EST 1425966926 0.71 # Tue 10 Mar 2015 16:55:27 EST 1425966987 0.72 # Tue 10 Mar 2015 16:56:28 EST 1425967049 0.71 # Tue 10 Mar 2015 16:57:29 EST 1425967110 0.55 # Tue 10 Mar 2015 16:58:30 EST 1425967171 0.57 # Tue 10 Mar 2015 16:59:32 EST 1425967232 0.55 # Tue 10 ...

Fri, 13 Mar 2015 23:16:32 UTC

Analysing yesterday's disaster

Posted By Greg Lehey

Network connectivity came back this morning at almost exactly midnight. I had traced the network since about 8:30 yesterday, but of course by the time I stopped it, we had about 200,000 packets and a 235 MB trace file. All that interested me was the time up to the restoration of service. How do I do that? With Edwin Groothuis' help discovered the wireshark export function. You can specify a packet range, in my case 1-8212. And sure enough, it saved a file with just those packets. Tried to read it back in again. The file "/home/grog/public_html/Day/20150313/offnet.trace" isn't a capture file in a format Wireshark understands.

Fri, 13 Mar 2015 02:14:31 UTC

Internode: Why PPPoE?

Posted By Greg Lehey

Time to change my ISP, I'm afraid. Whom should I choose? Internode has the best reputation. They offer a similar product as Aussie Broadband: 300 GB per month for $75 compared to 250 GB per month for $60. The price difference is real: I never use 250 GB, so the additional 50 GB from Internode are of no interest. Called them up and got the usual message, that I had a wait of between 5 and 9 minutes before I could speak to anybody. Accepted the offer of a call back when somebody was available. And the call back came almost immediately, followed by a 6 minute wait before I was connected to Alex.

Thu, 12 Mar 2015 22:29:49 UTC

NBN reliability: worse than satellite?

Posted By Greg Lehey

Yvonne dragged me out of bed this morning to tell me that we were off the net. It took me a while to understand, but in to the office, and sure enough, we had been off the net for hours. The usual thing: DHCPDISCOVER going out, no reply. Called up Aussie Broadband support, spoke to Kylie, who relatively quickly connected me to Jerom, who is (ahem!) 3rd level support. He confirmed that they were receiving the DHCPDISCOVER and replying correctly with a DHCPOFFER. But that reply never made it back here. Shades of last month? In any case, it's not acceptable. Got him to transfer me to Kevin, the manager, who told me that it was part of a more general outage, that the problem was within the National Broadband Network, with whom a ticket had been raised, and that hopefully things would soon come back to normal.

Tue, 10 Mar 2015 00:29:19 UTC

Touch screens and other obscenities

Posted By Greg Lehey

Yvonne's photos of the ride didn't come out quite as she had intended. Here's one of them: This should be Broken-image-8.jpeg. Is it missing?

Mon, 09 Mar 2015 02:12:01 UTC

Tektronix 555: Final photos?

Posted By Greg Lehey

Taking the photos of the Tektronix 555 oscilloscope has been surprisingly painful. But enough is enough. Tried again today with flash and the long telephoto lens, this time concentrating on the mainframe. Moving the lens further away also allowed me to put the flash units closer together, with good results. Here my five tries of the CA plug-in: The first was just with studio flash.

Sun, 08 Mar 2015 02:45:37 UTC

Telstra and bandwidth cost

Posted By Greg Lehey

On IRC today, Jürgen Lock pointed us at this comparison of network costs around the world. He's in Germany, but the take-home message, at least for me, was: Telstra .... charges some of the highest transit pricing in the world  20x the benchmark ($200/Mbps). So why hasn't the National Broadband Network changed that? I had thought that the geography was part of the problem, but the same article also says: Given that Australia is one large land mass with relatively concentrated population centers, it's difficult to justify the pricing based on anything other than Telstra's market power.

Wed, 04 Mar 2015 00:12:27 UTC

BigPond email: We don't need no steenking security

Posted By Greg Lehey

Sent a mail message to Gary Murray today. It didn't go through: <>: host[] said: 552 5.2.0 yrRW1p01Q1sUVRc01rRYpC Suspected spam message rejected. IB704 (in reply to end of DATA command) I've seen this before. BigPond is too stupid to distinguish digital signatures from spam. So they reject messages on the mere suspicion of spam. Is this in their users' interests? A good reason for any BigPond user to choose a competent mail service provider. I'm still amazed how incompetent everything to do with Telstra is.

Mon, 02 Mar 2015 22:40:04 UTC

Understanding NBN

Posted By Greg Lehey

Call today from Kevin, the support manager of Aussie Broadband, addressing last weekend's outage. He wasn't able to help; despite the claims on the web site, they really don't have any real support at weekends, at least not for residential customers. Apparently they do for business customers. Does that makes sense? A two day outage will annoy any VoIP user, whether business or residential. But Kevin promised to get somebody from the business team to contact me to talk about pricing. That's good, because they don't have anything about National Broadband Network for business customers on their web site. He also promised to bring it up at the next management meeting.

Sun, 01 Mar 2015 23:20:32 UTC

Understanding programming language syntax

Posted By Greg Lehey

Somebody posted this today: Amusing, yes. But it does beg the question about the use of the punctuation at the right. It's not until you run into weird bugs that you realize that they're on your side. One of the issues that (not only) I still have with Python ACM only downloads articles once.

Sun, 01 Mar 2015 23:04:14 UTC

Chasing the photo data corruption

Posted By Greg Lehey

A couple of days ago I discovered that there was a discrepancy between a photo file on my photo disk and on a backup disk. What was wrong? Today was time to make backups to the other disk, so clearly it was time to investigate before overwriting the good version. A good thing I did, too: most of the contents of the file on my primary disk was replaced by binary zeroes, exactly the scenario that I suggested a couple of days ago. === grog@eureka (/dev/pts/10) ~/Photos/20100717/orig 193 -> md5 P7178579*F MD5 (P7178579-archived.ORF) = 56fef8f95e9fdc9caad4c4fc8049feed MD5 (P7178579.ORF) = eae72bccd667956bedcfb5273de6dd69 === grog@eureka (/dev/pts/10) ~/Photos/20100717/orig 194 -> cmp P7178579*F P7178579-archived.ORF P7178579.ORF differ: char 6617089, line 31915 6617089 is not a number that immediately jumps out and grabs you.

Sat, 28 Feb 2015 00:47:20 UTC

Photo backup: complete!

Posted By Greg Lehey

As a result of the problems I had with photo backups recently, decided to make a backup using rsync's checksum feature. Normally it goes through directory trees and updates files with a different modification timestamp or EOF; that can be done from the inode and doesn't require accessing the file itself. But that clearly doesn't help if the file in the backup file is corrupt (contains a zero block, for example). The checksum feature creates and compares checksums of all files, which is at least an order of magnitude more work. And it shows. Here the summary information for my last two backups: Sun 22 Feb 2015 17:03:16 EST Disk 6 Sun 22 Feb 2015 17:13:26 EST Photo backup ended Wed 25 Feb 2015 16:46:21 EST Photo backup started Thu 26 Feb 2015 21:58:49 EST Photo backup ended ...

Fri, 27 Feb 2015 00:33:45 UTC

House construction waste

Posted By Greg Lehey

While looking round the house, found this, not far from the front door: It's a Cat6 cable, of course, one that I had left in the room that will become the office. Why did they throw it out? It looks OK, though. ACM only downloads articles once.

Mon, 23 Feb 2015 22:05:36 UTC

Getting back on the net

Posted By Greg Lehey

At 9:00 this morning we were still off the net, so called up Aussie Broadband support and spoke to John. Asked to be connected to Will or Ricky, the people I had spoken to on Friday. Will would not be in until the afternoon, and Ricky was on another call. I asked him to inform Ricky of the urgency of the matter and then connect me to company management. He didn't understand, and I had to repeat. Sorry, the whole company management had been at a fair over the weekend, and they had the day off. Technical support manager was on leave.

Sun, 22 Feb 2015 21:56:14 UTC

Out of inodes again!

Posted By Greg Lehey

My photo backup failed again today with an out of inodes message. I had that only a week ago, and it proved to be incorrect. How could it happen again? It has nothing to do with the disk: this is a different disk. And once again the message was incorrect: === grog@eureka (/dev/pts/11) ~ 42 -> df -i /photobackup/ Filesystem 1048576-blocks      Used     Avail Capacity iused     ifree %iused  Mounted on /dev/da1p1      3,814,654 2,449,390 1,327,117    65% 814,196 1,352,586   38%   /photobackup So I umounted it and remounted it, and this time got a console message: Feb 22 15:25:46 eureka kernel: WARNING: /photobackup was not properly dismounted How did that happen?

Sat, 21 Feb 2015 22:46:12 UTC

Barbecue at the O'Deas

Posted By Greg Lehey

Over to the O'Deas in Enfield this afternoon for a barbecue and to let the dogs run together: It's interesting to note how Leonid and Nikolai (¾ brothers) look so different, and Zhivago and Bindy (father and daughter) also look so different. On the other hand, Nikolai and Bindy look so similar that we sometimes mistake them for each other, despite the significant difference in size, and Zhivago and Leonid also bear a significant resemblance to each other.

Sat, 21 Feb 2015 22:29:34 UTC

Off the net!

Posted By Greg Lehey

Into the office this morning to discover that we had been off the net since 4:34. As always, Damn! No indication of any fault on the NTD. Had they decided to implement yesterday's change to a static IP address without telling me? Tried stopping dhcpd and setting the IP address manually. No go. Called up Aussie Broadband support and spoke to Aaron, who told me that he was only level 1 support, and that the level 2 people (including Will and Ricky, who had been looking at my DHCP issues) didn't work on weekends. Neither do the network people. It seems that I'll be off the net until Monday!

Fri, 20 Feb 2015 23:33:06 UTC

NBN DHCP issues: insights

Posted By Greg Lehey

Long phone call with Will of Aussie Broadband support today. We investigated a DHCP handshake from both ends. Here a summary, seen from my end:   13:36:08.117371 IP > BOOTP/DHCP, Request from 00:50:da:cf:07:35, length 300      DHCPREQUEST on xl0 to port 67      Other end: receive two packets             send two ACKs.      Neither arrived here.   13:36:15.118323 IP > BOOTP/DHCP, Request from 00:50:da:cf:07:35, length 300      DHCPREQUEST on xl0 to port 67      Other end: receive two packets             send two ACKs.

Fri, 20 Feb 2015 00:52:22 UTC

Another NBN outage

Posted By Greg Lehey

Another National Broadband Network outage today, from 13:38 until 14:04: 1424313521 27.3112 5    # Thu 19 Feb 2015 13:38:41 EST 36.615 ms 1424313662 0 0 hub www         # Thu 19 Feb 2015 13:41:02 EST ... 1424315071 0 0 hub www         # Thu 19 Feb 2015 14:04:31 EST 1424315092 0 5  # Thu 19 Feb 2015 14:04:52 EST 1424315153 27.2985 5    # Thu 19 Feb 2015 14:05:53 EST 36.632 ms Clearly a communication issue: the ODU (Outdoor unit, i.e.

Fri, 20 Feb 2015 00:13:46 UTC

eBay: Losing the edge?

Posted By Greg Lehey

I've been buying and selling things on eBay for over 15 years, and it's still one of my main sources of many kinds of item. But note that still: you'd think that they're going out of their way to annoy you. Last June I had such problems trying to sell a camera that I gave up, especially as they have now restricted sales to Australia onlywhy? I also receive daily messages with custom search results. Once upon a time they were legible. Now they're modern, so when looking for Olympus lenses I get a display like this: What is that lens?

Tue, 17 Feb 2015 23:14:38 UTC

Debugging photo processing scripts

Posted By Greg Lehey

My photo processing includes a number of kludgy scripts, mainly Bourne Shell. It makes things a lot easier than using Microsoft-space user-friendly GUIs, but of course there's room for bugs. Lately I've found that when I run the mkcompare script, which creates a web page comparing before and after running through an automatic optimizer, it presented comparisons with photos I had taken a couple of days before: a blast from the past. How can that happen? Simple, of course: I don't need the comparison page for more than a few minutes, so I create it in a fixed directory. But I had forgotten to clean out the directory before doing the image conversions, and since I use make, it didn't replace any images which were already there.

Mon, 16 Feb 2015 23:29:42 UTC

Apple: Monitor plug and play

Posted By Greg Lehey

Just before breakfast this morning, heard some growling from Chris Bahlo's direction. She had connected her Apple laptop to a Dell monitor, and the monitor didn't want to know. After breakfast we took another look, and by a process of elimination came to the conclusion that it was the operating system, which wasn't producing any output to the display. With some experimentation, she got it to drive the monitor (native resolution 1920×1080) at 800×600, but not higher. And the only resolutions it offered were 4:3 aspect ratio. Why? I'm not an Apple man, so I asked some of the renegades on the (BSD) IRC channel.

Sun, 15 Feb 2015 23:32:27 UTC

Spurious out of inodes

Posted By Greg Lehey

Ran photo backup this afternoon. The results weren't what I expected. I got so many out of inodes messages that the email message exceeded the maximum message size, so I couldn't find out how it started. How did I run out of inodes? Yes, I had specified far fewer inodes than standard for the disk. The standard assumes an average file size of 4 frags, or 8 kB. The average photo file (including thumbnails and other smaller images) is still closer to 1 MB. What did I see? === grog@eureka (/dev/pts/21) ~ 46 -> df -i /photobackup/ Filesystem 1048576-blocks      Used     Avail Capacity iused     ifree %iused  Mounted on /dev/da1p1      3,814,621 2,449,845 1,326,629    65% 812,391 1,354,391   37%   /photobackup 37% used?

Sat, 14 Feb 2015 23:27:46 UTC

Disposing of old computer stuff

Posted By Greg Lehey

In preparation for moving house, I've already disposed of a lot of my old computer stuff, but some remains. Yesterday I found a Chris (surname unknown) on Freecycle looking for components, so I suggested he come along and help himself. To my surprise, he was really keen on having a lot of my old junk. Also gave him the laser printer that I bought 5 years ago. It still works, but it will soon need new toner. And then he looked longingly at my old HP field service oscilloscope. No, sorry, that's staying. After all, I only have 3 oscilloscopes. And when did I power the last one on?

Wed, 11 Feb 2015 22:34:31 UTC

More OBD fun

Posted By Greg Lehey

Yesterday I didn't get very far with my OBD apps: Torque only worked in the Commodore, and OBD Car Doctor PRO didn't work at all, but was too polite to say so. But there are other apps to try. How do you start? The toyshop doesn't give you the opportunity to list them by popularity or price. On a real web browser, you can eliminate payware and apps with less than 4 stars, but they're still not sorted. The browser on the tablet doesn't even offer that, and appears to display fewer stars than the computer browser does. So I had to use two browsers and try to find correlations between the display of both of them.

Tue, 10 Feb 2015 21:07:36 UTC

Diagnosing the car

Posted By Greg Lehey

My ELM327 clone arrived today. It's a modern device, so of course there's no documentation whatsoevernot even information on the PIN I need to connect it (which, after some searching, proves to be 1234; why do they bother with PINs if they're all the same?) . So: what do I do with it? It's a Bluetooth connect, so went looking in the toyshop for appropriate apps. That's a lost cause, of course; I've never found a good Android app, and today was no exception. A Commodore forum suggested Torque, which comes, of course, with no documentation whatsoever. Found the OBD connector on the car (directly above the driver's legs, just forward of where the underside of dashboard ends) and plugged it in.

Wed, 04 Feb 2015 23:55:34 UTC

DxO and TIFF

Posted By Greg Lehey

From time to time I've chosen TIFF images instead of JPEG for the intermediate stages of my photo processing. That makes perfect sense, but it's not easy. Some of the issues seem to be related to DxO Optics Pro. Some years ago I discovered that TIFF images produced by DxO don't align as well as JPEG copies of the same image. Why? Then a little over a year later I tried again and got many error messages. They're still there. If I take an output TIFF from DxO and try to convert it, I get a large number of relatively harmless warnings: === grog@eureka (/dev/pts/7) ~/Photos/20150204/orig 209 -> convert P2021583.tiff foo.jpeg orig: Unknown field with tag 50341 (0xc4a5) encountered.

Wed, 04 Feb 2015 00:01:46 UTC

New switches

Posted By Greg Lehey

A present in the mail today: Those are three 8 port gigabyte Ethernet switches, donated by David, surname unknown, but with surnom Carneous. That's very generous of him. ACM only downloads articles once. It's possible that this article has changed since being downloaded, but the only way you can find out is by looking at the original article.

Mon, 02 Feb 2015 22:55:39 UTC

Dead backup disk

Posted By Greg Lehey

My nightly backup failed last night: mount: /dev/da0s1d: R/W mount of /backups denied. Filesystem is not clean - run fsck.: Operation not permitted How did that happen? Ran fsck and found out: THE FOLLOWING DISK SECTORS COULD NOT BE READ: 1953267040, 1953267041, 1953267042, 1953267043, What caused that? Trawling through the logs found no bad sector messages, only: Jan 31 21:04:08 eureka kernel: Device da0s1d went missing before all of the data could be written to it; expect data loss.

Sun, 01 Feb 2015 23:30:40 UTC

Second-guessing car diagnostics

Posted By Greg Lehey

It's now been a week since my car problems, and since the following day we've had no indication whatsoever of problems with the car. We'll find out when my diagnostic interface arriveshopefully. In the meantime, I've been trying to guess what I might find. Looking back at the facts, we have: The car's electronics display the very unspecific message Check Powertrain. What does that mean? I'm reminded of the quote: Ken Thompson has an automobile which he helped design.

Sat, 31 Jan 2015 23:00:17 UTC

House photos in TIFF again

Posted By Greg Lehey

My weekly house photos require a lot of processing. To make a panorama I take multiple views of a scene and stitch them together. To get the requisite dynamic range I take multiple images of each view, with exposure bracketed in intervals of 3 EV. First I use align_image_stack and enfuse. to create blended photos, and then I use Hugin to create a panorama from the views. That's a lot of processing, and I'm still producing JPEG intermediate results. Why? I have the space, and I have the processing power. So today I tried using TIFF intermediate files. That's not for the first time, but last time I didn't have very good results, at least because of the performance of the machines I had at the time.

Wed, 28 Jan 2015 00:08:30 UTC

Dumb phones: not dumb enough?

Posted By Greg Lehey

Three weeks ago I bought a very cheap dumb phone, one that runs neither Android nor iOS, but which has a real keyboard. It was attractive enough that Yvonne bought one too to get away from the pain of scraping glass to do anything useful. But it's still a relatively modern device, with an illuminated colour display. And there's the problem: in bright sunshine it's illegible, while old-fashioned unilluminated displays have no difficulty. So we're thinking of returning them. While in town today, went to Dick We can't be bothered to serve you Smiths and JB HiFi to see what they had. Nothing as cheap as the $18 that we paid, of course, but also nothing that could be demonstrated.

Tue, 27 Jan 2015 23:53:10 UTC

Holden Commodore diagnostics

Posted By Greg Lehey

I have already established that our Holden VZ Commodore can display error codes on the dashboard. Here's what I found at the time: But now we have a real live error condition. What do they display now? The same! I have no idea what they're there for, but they don't help with out Check Powertrain condition. So there's nothing for it but to call up Ballarat Central Auto Electrics and get them to read the information out, for which they charge the princely (or is that knightly?)

Mon, 26 Jan 2015 00:42:46 UTC

Comparing GPS navigators

Posted By Greg Lehey

At least for the first 1½ hours I had both GPS navigators running to compare them. One thing's clear: the new one is so much easier to read. We were in bright sunshine, and the display of the old one was almost unrecognizable. So if I can get used to the interface of the new one, it might be worth keeping. ACM only downloads articles once.

Thu, 22 Jan 2015 00:42:05 UTC

GPS navigator woes

Posted By Greg Lehey

I've been bitching and moaning about GPS navigators since I first got one, and somehow the problem isn't going away. When I went into Ballarat today, I took my old one and my new one with me. I still can't work out how to do some simple things with the new one, like muting the sound. But then the display on the new navigator went crazy, like an old analogue TV with bad horizontal sync. And I couldn't turn it off. In the end, I had to reset it. OK, I still have the old navigator. But it wouldn't charge. Are the batteries that bad?

Sun, 18 Jan 2015 01:17:47 UTC

Network transfer rates

Posted By Greg Lehey

My Internet link has an uplink speed of 5 Mb/s, so theoretically I should be able to upload data at about 600 kB/s. In practice, window size and latency limit it to about 125 kB/s. Yes, of course I could increase the window size, but that requires rebooting, and I'm an uptime fanatic. So I put up with only 125 kB/s. But today I got much worse transfer rates, over an extended period of time: 20150117/big/Canna-3.jpeg      2469245 100%   28.23kB/s    0:01:25 (xfer#103, to-check=281/394) 20150117/big/Cistus.jpeg      3522116 100%   24.99kB/s    0:02:17 (xfer#104, to-check=280/394) 20150117/big/Cockatoos-1.jpeg      3101098 100%   26.08kB/s    0:01:56 (xfer#105, to-check=279/394) That's only 20% of the normal rate.

Fri, 16 Jan 2015 23:51:31 UTC

Tablet photos

Posted By Greg Lehey

I didn't think to bring my camera to the Emergency Room yesterday, but of course I had my Android tablet, which I use as a glorified eBook reader. And it has a camera, so I used it to take some photos of my hand. Today I moved them to eureka for processing. This is a pure Linux base, right, no Microsoft in sight. So why do I get this? -r----x--x  1 grog  lemis   1,279,950 15 Jan 11:33 IMG_20150115_113355.jpg -r----x--x  1 grog  lemis   1,194,553 15 Jan 11:34 IMG_20150115_113405.jpg Apart from that, of course, the photos confirm my prejudices against smart phone and tablet cameras.

Fri, 16 Jan 2015 00:33:34 UTC

Images of Tektronix 555

Posted By Greg Lehey

Mail from David Casler today, wanting to use a photo of my Tektronix 555 oscilloscope that I took 13 years ago: That was taken with a Nikon “Coolpix” 880, with 3 only megapixels, not really enough for him. But I still have the scope (and it's up for grabs!) . Now I have a decent camera, so why not take new photos? Along with the wound to my hand, this is why: They'll have to come out soon, but David needs the images by tomorrow, and there's no way that's going to ...

Thu, 15 Jan 2015 03:27:07 UTC

New GPS navigator, old problems

Posted By Greg Lehey

I've bought a new GPS navigator, not because the old one is more defective than it was when I bought it, but because the battery is as good as dead, and the maps are out of date. I had looked at some expensive models three months ago, and come to the conclusion that they weren't worth the additional price. So in the end I bought an el-cheapo one, 7" for only $69.96 (isn't that an inaccurate way of saying $70?) . I couldn't replace the battery and the maps for that. It arrived today. Yes, it uses iGO software, with which I'm familiar.

Sun, 11 Jan 2015 22:58:41 UTC

More throwaways

Posted By Greg Lehey

It looks as if Craig is so upset about what Michael did to his ute that he won't even communicate with us, and Leah didn't come to clean the house today either. That's sad. And it means that I have to do more work myself, which is even sadder. Out today to the shed to throw away some stuff. I'm getting better: threw away a whole lot of old floppy disks, mainly with old Microsoft-based software. But then there are other things I can't throw away, like my home-made Z-80-based CP/M machine, old listings, and a number of ancient copies of AUUGN.

Sat, 10 Jan 2015 23:38:43 UTC


Posted By Greg Lehey

At some time in the past I must have joined the FreeBSD forum site, though it's not really my thing. But what's the password? No worries, I can get it reset. But first I had to go through a CAPTCHA like I've never seen before: Yes, of course I knew the answer. But does every forum participant? ACM only downloads articles once.

Sat, 10 Jan 2015 00:52:46 UTC

FreeBSD Package update, try 2

Posted By Greg Lehey

So I've been getting this message from attempts to update FreeBSD packages on stable, my test machine: Fetching zsh-5.0.7_1.txz... done pkg: cached package zsh-5.0.7_1: size mismatch, cannot continue What does that imply? Does Google know? Of course. This page discusses the matter, and SirDice comes up with a suggestion: pkg clean                       # cleans /var/cache/pkg/ rm -rf /var/cache/pkg/*         # just remove it all pkg update -f                   # forces update  of repository catalog rm /var/db/pkg/repo-*.sqlite    # removes all remote repository catalogs pkg bootstrap -f                # forces reinstall of pkg ...

Thu, 08 Jan 2015 23:22:10 UTC

User interface pain

Posted By Greg Lehey

Yvonne uses a smart phone. That in itself isn't an issue, but she has real problems using it. I have a tablet with phone function, along with Bluetooth headphones, but I use it so seldom that I still have issues. In particular, the user interface is really bad. I've been using touch screens for years now, and I still find them one of the most obnoxious developments I've had the displeasure to experience. Answer a phone? Not so long ago you used to pull it out of your pocket, feel for the Talk button, and press it. Now you pull it out of your pocket, look at it to locate the green flashing area on the screen, and swipe it to one side (why?)

Thu, 08 Jan 2015 00:05:23 UTC

FreeBSD package upgrade: still not there

Posted By Greg Lehey

As I feared, updating my packages wasn't all plain sailing. In fact, it was almost impossible. Started on my stable machine (that's the name) with the disk cloned from lagoon. Away it ran, then: The process will require 210 MB more space. 2 GB to be downloaded. Proceed with this action? [y/N]: y Fetching zziplib-0.13.62_2.txz... done Fetching zsh-5.0.7_1.txz... done pkg: cached package zsh-5.0.7_1: size mismatch, fetching from remote Fetching zsh-5.0.7_1.txz... done pkg: cached package zsh-5.0.7_1: size mismatch, cannot continue What went wrong there? The cached package information is not very relevant, since the package had just been downloaded from the net, twice.

Tue, 06 Jan 2015 23:59:06 UTC

Finally updating my machines?

Posted By Greg Lehey

When I first started using computers at home, it was normal that it was difficult. In the course of time, though, things have generally got better. 16 years ago I gave a whole day tutorial on installing FreeBSD at the AUUG 1998 conference. I didn't finish. In the meantime, things have got easier. I can do the same installation in about 30 minutes. But what do I have? A base system. How do I configure it? How do I install useful programs (ports)? How do I keep it up to date? Commercial systems like Microsoft and Apple have solved that problem long ago.

Sun, 04 Jan 2015 01:56:05 UTC

Restarting eureka

Posted By Greg Lehey

The power came back after about 2¼ hours, and that's about the time I needed to get eureka back up and running again. I really must save my config files and check that the machine can start up without so much manual intervention. But then, that's part of the plan for the new machine. ACM only downloads articles once. It's possible that this article has changed since being downloaded, but the only way you can find out is by looking at the original article.

Sun, 04 Jan 2015 01:31:27 UTC

Monitor pain

Posted By Greg Lehey

It's high time I got round to upgrading eureka, my main machine. It's still running FreeBSD 9.2, and I've been meaning to upgrade it for nearly a year. Today I got as far as connecting my spare BenQ monitor to two test machines. It wasn't easy. BenQ monitors say No cable connected when in fact they mean no signal. But there was a signal, as other monitors confirmed. Was the thing set up to only accept input from one source? The menu would tell me that. But the menu didn't display. After much cursing and monitor swapping, discovered that it was set for HDMI input, and that for some reason the menu wouldn't display under these circumstances.

Fri, 02 Jan 2015 23:52:41 UTC

Tracing the ssh issues

Posted By Greg Lehey

So it's fairly clear where the blame lies with my DHCP problems, though I still need to trace the other connection. I'll do that when the temperature has cooled down a bit. But there's another issue, and potentially it's related: from time to time ssh setup fails. More tracing, with very little to show for it: No.     Time            Source                Source     Destination           Destination Protocol Length Info      45 10:52:04.502503   00:19:07:77:9e:00         00:16:3e:06:34:53 SSHv2    113    Client Protocol: SSH-2.0-OpenSSH_6.2_hpn13v11 FreeBSD-20130515 Frame 45: 113 bytes on wire (904 bits), 113 bytes captured (904 bits) Ethernet II, Src: Cisco_77:9e:00 (00:19:07:77:9e:00), Dst: Xensourc_06:34:53 (00:16:3e:06:34:53) Internet Protocol Version 4, Src: (, Dst: ( Transmission Control Protocol, ...

Wed, 31 Dec 2014 23:13:44 UTC

More traces, no insights

Posted By Greg Lehey

More DHCP traces today, both bootp and ICMP. Got some extreme examples of the problem: 18:21:25.932442 IP > BOOTP/DHCP, Reply, length 300   Last successful renewal 18:51:25.917433 IP > BOOTP/DHCP, Request from 00:50:da:cf:07:35 (oui Unknown), length 300 ... 46 more unanswered requests 19:13:36.067439 IP > BOOTP/DHCP, Request from 00:50:da:cf:07:35 (oui Unknown), length 300 give up, send request to broadcast address 19:14:27.068420 IP > BOOTP/DHCP, Request from 00:50:da:cf:07:35 (oui Unknown), length 300 ... 12 more unanswered requests 19:21:17.080421 IP > BOOTP/DHCP, Request from 00:50:da:cf:07:35 (oui Unknown), length 300 Issue a DHCPDISCOVER 19:21:26.099194 IP > BOOTP/DHCP, Request from 00:50:da:cf:07:35 (oui Unknown), length 300 Two replies in less than 300 ms 19:21:26.392024 IP > BOOTP/DHCP, Reply, length 300 19:21:26.396913 IP > BOOTP/DHCP, Reply, length 300 And this one?

Tue, 30 Dec 2014 23:27:16 UTC

Tracing the DHCP issues

Posted By Greg Lehey

Why is my DHCP not renewing its leases cleanly? Started running a wireshark trace on bootpc and discovered that the DHCP server only responds when it feels like it: 10:04:36.806443 IP > BOOTP/DHCP, Request from 00:50:da:cf:07:35 (oui Unknown), length 300 10:04:40.807439 IP > BOOTP/DHCP, Request from 00:50:da:cf:07:35 (oui Unknown), length 300 10:04:50.808421 IP > BOOTP/DHCP, Request from 00:50:da:cf:07:35 (oui Unknown), length 300 10:04:57.809439 IP > BOOTP/DHCP, Request from 00:50:da:cf:07:35 (oui Unknown), length 300 10:05:12.810434 IP > BOOTP/DHCP, Request from 00:50:da:cf:07:35 (oui Unknown), length 300 10:05:35.811432 IP > BOOTP/DHCP, Request from 00:50:da:cf:07:35 (oui Unknown), length 300 10:06:15.812437 IP > BOOTP/DHCP, Request from 00:50:da:cf:07:35 (oui Unknown), length 300 10:07:24.813424 IP > BOOTP/DHCP, Request from 00:50:da:cf:07:35 (oui Unknown), length 300 10:07:24.860089 IP > BOOTP/DHCP, Reply, length 300 ...

Tue, 30 Dec 2014 23:14:59 UTC

Bushfires and house sites

Posted By Greg Lehey

We've had another bushfire in Dereel. Nothing overly serious, fortunately. 22 ha burnt, but no particular damage, no injuries. This morning Dan from the CFA came by to collect a donation we've been trying to make, and told me that it had started from an overheated compost heap in Leigh Court, and quickly jumped the BallaratColac road: Not overly interesting until you consider that this is next to a property we investigated last year. At the time it was clear that last year's bushfire had stopped at the east end of the property.

Tue, 30 Dec 2014 03:59:28 UTC

Another dhcp failure!

Posted By Greg Lehey

This evening it was Chris who told me that we were off the net. Same problem as yesterday. Time to do some tracing. ACM only downloads articles once. It's possible that this article has changed since being downloaded, but the only way you can find out is by looking at the original article.

Sun, 28 Dec 2014 23:38:12 UTC

NBN problems again?

Posted By Greg Lehey

Watching TV this evening, wanted to check on something on the web. No connection. Further checks showed that we were off the net again! What's wrong with the National Broadband Network? OK, go through the motions. First restart dhcpd. That was it! Immediate connection. So what went wrong? We went offline at 20:45, and all I see in /var/log/messages is: Dec 28 20:15:26 eureka dhclient[18871]: unknown dhcp option value 0x52 Dec 28 20:45:26 eureka dhclient[18871]: unknown dhcp option value 0x52 Dec 28 21:07:44 eureka ntpd[948]: sendto( (fd=25): No route to host Dec 28 21:08:41 eureka ntpd[948]: sendto( (fd=25): No route to host Dec 28 21:12:23 eureka ntpd[948]: sendto( (fd=25): No route to host Dec 28 21:15:26 eureka dhclient[18871]: send_packet: No route to host Dec 28 21:15:40 eureka last message repeated 3 times Dec 28 21:16:04 eureka dhclient[60636]: unknown dhcp option value ...

Tue, 23 Dec 2014 00:04:10 UTC

Merry Christmas!

Posted By Greg Lehey

I've finally finished my Christmas Card. In past years I've sent it out just as a URL, like here. But that's not really much use to somebody out of range of high speed networking. So I printed the page as a PDF document and appended it to the message. The HTML version is interactive, so it's preferable, but why not offer the PDF too? I've had trouble sending this letter in past years, mainly finger trouble, so I checked the logs on my mail server: Dec 22 01:58:41 www postfix/cleanup[94666]: 0117B1B72843: message-id=<> Dec 22 01:58:41 www postfix/cleanup[94666]: 0117B1B72843: resent-message-id=<> Dec 22 01:58:53 www postfix/smtpd[94675]: connect from unknown[] Dec 22 01:58:54 www postfix/smtpd[94675]: NOQUEUE: reject: RCPT from unknown[]: 450 4.7.1 Client host rejected: cannot find your hostname, []; from=<> to=<> proto=ESMTP helo=<> Dec 22 01:58:54 www postfix/smtpd[94675]: disconnect from unknown[] Dec 22 ...

Fri, 19 Dec 2014 22:14:33 UTC

OI.Share revisited

Posted By Greg Lehey

It's coming up for Christmas, time for our annual Christmas letter to our friends. Last year we wrote that we expected to be in the new house by now, so we thought it appropriate to take this year's photo there: Somehow we didn't look as happy as last year: This wasn't the only photo we took, but none of them were better. Why? This year we had to get three dogs to stand still instead of only one year, but a big issue was controlling the camera: The camera no longer has an infrared remote control: ...

Sat, 13 Dec 2014 01:34:33 UTC

A year of NBN

Posted By Greg Lehey

A year ago today my network problems were solved with the installation of National Broadband Network fixed wireless. What a relief it was. It still is, and that's why we had the second installation done in Stones Road last week. Why so early? I don't trust the current government not to kill off new installations on the NBN. With good reason, it seems, if this article is to be believed. That's from The Register, not exactly the most neutral of publications. What's behind it? Should a country nationalize Internet topology? Australia has a particular problem because, although it's a highly developed country, the population density is very low, which makes providing fair network access to people outside the towns.

Sun, 07 Dec 2014 23:23:32 UTC

Luigi Rizzo visits

Posted By Greg Lehey

Another dreary, moist day, and somehow got nothing done. About the only thing of interest was when Luigi Rizzo and his friend Valeria came for dinner. Spent some time showing them some kangaroos which had obligingly appeared in the north paddock, then Yvonne and Margaret Swann returned from Warrnambool, where the weather had been better. Had dinner, and Luigi and Valeria were off again. ACM only downloads articles once.

Thu, 04 Dec 2014 23:47:04 UTC

An ATA for Stones Road

Posted By Greg Lehey

Now that we have a network connection, the obvious thing to do is to set up VoIP to make up for the appalling mobile coverage in the area (thanks, Wendy). All I need is an ATA. After last month's damage, I only have one, with the other on order. But what's wrong with the defective one? No power indication. Is it possible that there's a fuse in there somewhere? Took it apart and examined the board: Sure enough, there's a surface mount fuse just next to the power connector at top left.

Thu, 04 Dec 2014 23:05:06 UTC


Posted By Greg Lehey

Over to the building site this morning to meet with Duncan and discuss the bleak situation finding builders prepared to work over Christmas and the summer holidays. He was happy enough about the relocation of the gas supply, so that's one less problem. Jim Lannen was there too with his apprentice, and they got as far as putting in the Cat 6 cable. But still no power! Discussed with Jim and Duncan, who both agreed that a call to John Willowhite of Powercor was in order. But as I was leaving, I discovered an extension cable in front of the house, and sure enough: We have power!

Thu, 04 Dec 2014 01:12:29 UTC

NBN installation?

Posted By Greg Lehey

Call from Walter Bonilla of the National Broadband Network today, reminding me of the network installation for Stones Road tomorrow. I had to remind him that we had already spoken, that there was no wall to attach the NTD, and that he was supposed to get the techies to call me. He volunteered the information that the installer was called Adam, and yes, he would call me before they came out. Somehow this organization sounds just as bureaucratic as all the others I have to deal with. ACM only downloads articles once.

Fri, 28 Nov 2014 00:23:29 UTC

NBN next week

Posted By Greg Lehey

Also heard from Aussie Broadband that my National Broadband Network antenna would be installed next week. Do the installers know what will await them? On the one hand it's the correct time to install the cabling, but we won't have any walls to attach the NTD to. Asked Aussie to confirm with the installers, but no, they have no contact with the installers, who work for NBN. But then I got a call from a Walter Bonilla from the NBN, who told me what they needed and explained that they had exact instructions on what to do, and they weren't allowed to diverge from them at all.

Fri, 28 Nov 2014 00:09:47 UTC

rsync problems

Posted By Greg Lehey

Lately I've had difficulty syncing my diary and photos to the external web server: === grog@eureka (/dev/pts/9) ~/public_html 5 -> syncgrog Thu 27 Nov 2014 12:54:54 EST +++ Transferring grog to +++ rsync -lKzavP --delete-after --copy-unsafe-links --exclude=weather /home/grog/public_html/ 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] === grog@eureka (/dev/pts/9) ~/public_html 6 -> syncgrog (again) === grog@eureka (/dev/pts/9) ~/public_html 7 -> syncgrog Thu 27 Nov 2014 12:55:01 EST +++ Transferring grog to +++ rsync -lKzavP --delete-after --copy-unsafe-links --exclude=weather /home/grog/public_html/ building file list ...

Thu, 27 Nov 2014 01:22:18 UTC

GPU hang workaround

Posted By Greg Lehey

The GPU hang messages that I had earlier this month are back. They had caused me to restart X, and were thus particularly irritating. But the seemed to come from Google Chrome, so tried shooting it down. Success! Another X session saved. And probably another indication that it's high time to upgrade my system software. ACM only downloads articles once. It's possible that this article has changed since being downloaded, but the only way you can find out is by looking at the original article.

Wed, 26 Nov 2014 01:59:52 UTC

Fibre: Yes? No?

Posted By Greg Lehey

Also finishing the specs for the electrical wiring of the house. At one point I thought that it was trivial to find cheap glass fibre. The more I look, the more it seems to be a can of worms. The only reason to put in fibre now is to save on installation expenses later, if I ever need it. But it's not clear that I ever will, and Cat 6A will be enough for 10 Gb/s, so I think I'll just take the easy way out and forget it for the time being. ACM only downloads articles once.

Wed, 26 Nov 2014 01:51:24 UTC

More lightning damage

Posted By Greg Lehey

Call from Tom of Bushmans todayfor about 5 seconds. Then the connection was dropped. That wouldn't be that unusual, except that it happened twice yesterday to other callers. Was there something wrong with my other ATA? Tried using a straight telephone without ATA, and it worked fine. Checked later: Daniel O'Connor called me on the Telstra line (passthrough through the Netcomm V210P) and on VoIP via the same ATA. Yes, it's repeatable: the VoIP circuits work well, but the PSTN connection repeatedly gets dropped after 5 seconds. That clarifies a number of things: first, it supports the hypothesis that the damage came in through the phone line.

Mon, 24 Nov 2014 23:53:45 UTC

Flash! Bang!

Posted By Greg Lehey

The bad weather was accompanied by lots of thunder and lightning. At one point I heard a spark right in front of meit sounded as if a monitor had arced. But a second later there was a clap of thunder, so it must have been a lightning strike. Surprisingly, nothing was obviously damaged. And then an hour later two of my monitors died. It took me a while to realize that the rest of the system was running on UPS, and that something had tripped the circuit breaker in the switchboard. In the afternoon, wanted to make a phone call. Phone was dead.

Mon, 24 Nov 2014 23:37:51 UTC

State of the art

Posted By Greg Lehey

Somebody on IRC found this on imgur today: I wonder who put it there? It's a JPEG image, but it doesn't have any EXIF information. How do you find the copyright holder? ACM only downloads articles once. It's possible that this article has changed since being downloaded, but the only way you can find out is by looking at the original article.

Mon, 24 Nov 2014 00:38:05 UTC

New monitor

Posted By Greg Lehey

A few days ago I bought a spare monitor, in case one failed. But presumably it would be of better quality than my older monitors, so swapped out my oldest monitor for the new one. I can use the old one for machines that have previously been headless. That wasn't as simple as it sounded: yes, they have the same resolution and pretty much the same dimensions, but the old one was connected by HDMI, and the new one doesn't have an HDMI connection. So I ended up having to move monitors around, and since the other monitor with HDMI had a different resolution, I had to restart (but not reconfigure) X.

Fri, 21 Nov 2014 00:17:05 UTC

Worst web site: new contender

Posted By Greg Lehey

Yvonne decided to go to Melbourne tomorrow to visit Equitana. We had really wanted to plan it with an overnight visit, but somehow that didn't happen, so Yvonne decided to go just for the day. Under those circumstances it probably doesn't make sense to go by car. 270 km at 10 l/100 km is 27 litres of petrol, or about $40. Then there's the pain of navigating through Melbourne and the probably horrendous parking fees. Wouldn't it be simpler to go by train? What does it cost? After fighting for 15 minutes, I still didn't know. I was able to establish the timetable, sort of, but nothing I could do divulged the fares.

Tue, 18 Nov 2014 23:30:36 UTC

Where's my network?

Posted By Greg Lehey

I've been trying since Friday to get an National Broadband Network connection for Stones Road. Called up Aussie Broadband and spoke to Fabien, who told me that the trouble is the lack of a location ID. It seems that NBN has assigned location IDs to all houses, but since we don't have one (yet), they don't have a location ID. Why is it taking so long to assign one? NBN can be slow. Called up the NBN and spoke to Jane, who asked me for the geographical coordinatesgood thing I had themand told me that it could take up to a week, but would probably be here by the end of the week.

Tue, 18 Nov 2014 23:26:28 UTC

New monitor?

Posted By Greg Lehey

Into town this morning to pick up a new monitor for Yvonne, and while I was at it picked up a second cheaper one$129 for a 21| 1920×1080 monitorto be prepared for the next failure. My Tandem background must be showing. Later did some searching about the causes of monitor failures. Things aren't quite as clear-cut as I thought, but articles like this one suggest that power supply failure is one of the leading causes. ACM only downloads articles once.

Tue, 18 Nov 2014 02:05:29 UTC

Dead monitor

Posted By Greg Lehey

Yvonne's monitor died today. Not the first monitor that has died on us, but since moving to LCD screens, there seems to be only one failure mode: the power supply dies. Why? We've had switching power supplies for decades, and while they have certainly evolved, you'd think it was well understood technology. LCD digital displays, on the other hand, are only now receding from the bleeding edge. You'd really expect them to be more likely to die than the power supply. The other obvious thing is that it's hardly worth getting somebody to repair it. A replacement costs $129 at Officeworks, and repair technicians can easily take that even for a simple repair.

Fri, 14 Nov 2014 22:55:51 UTC

Interpreting exposure meter output

Posted By Greg Lehey

The raw output from the exposure meter tests wasn't very helpful. Here the readings for the MK-300: 1 11:3 1/2 11:2 1/4 8:9 1/8 8:1 1/16 5.6:5 1/32 4:5 1/64 2.8:0 1/128 1:9 The first column is the power level, and the second column is the exposure meter reading, in aperture and tenths. That's really difficult to interpret.

Thu, 13 Nov 2014 23:40:27 UTC

More chrome pain

Posted By Greg Lehey

It's been a few days since I last had the dreaded GP process hung message. Maybe a web page that I have since removed from the browser state? But today I got another message, not once but dozens of times: [] glDrawEleemnts framebuffer incomplete (check) Google confirms that this, too, comes from chrome. Unlike the other message, though, it wasn't associated with an X hang. It seemed related to some issues I had mounting an SDHC card; the message output came in bursts related to inserting and removing the card.

Wed, 12 Nov 2014 00:15:09 UTC

Next DxO bug

Posted By Greg Lehey

Processing today's photos with DxO Optics Pro showed an interesting issue: I couldn't load presets. Why? Here I have tried to set a black and white preset (as the most obvious kind), and the image remains in colour. But the two smaller previews are black and white: Is this the result of my manually editing the preset files?

Mon, 10 Nov 2014 01:04:41 UTC

The way we were, 1982

Posted By Greg Lehey

This video is just going round the Unix Heritage Society mailing list: How times have changed in less than a third of a century. ACM only downloads articles once. It's possible that this article has changed since being downloaded, but the only way you can find out is by looking at the original article.

Mon, 10 Nov 2014 00:49:23 UTC

Ignoring image problems

Posted By Greg Lehey

Yvonne went out riding with Chris today, and for some reason used Chris' camera rather than her own. Back home it was up to me to read in the card, for which I didn't have a cable. And at least 3 images didn't get read: Nov  9 13:48:31 eureka kernel: (da4:umass-sim2:2:0:2): READ(10). CDB: 28 40 00 00 22 00 00 00 10 00 Nov  9 13:48:31 eureka kernel: (da4:umass-sim2:2:0:2): CAM status: SCSI Status Error Nov  9 13:48:31 eureka kernel: (da4:umass-sim2:2:0:2): SCSI status: Check Condition Nov  9 13:48:31 eureka kernel: (da4:umass-sim2:2:0:2): SCSI sense: HARDWARE FAILURE asc:0,0 (No additional sense information) Nov  9 13:48:31 eureka kernel: (da4:umass-sim2:2:0:2): Retrying command (per sense data) Nov  9 13:48:32 eureka kernel: (da4:umass-sim2:2:0:2): READ(10).

Sun, 09 Nov 2014 23:54:51 UTC

GPU hang cornered?

Posted By Greg Lehey

Another GPU hang this morning! This time I had left X server 1 active, but once again it was server 0 that was affected. Something to do with the clients? Ran ps and got hundreds of processes, including 300 zombie ssh-agents, to be inspected later. But that's not the way you solve a problem nowadays. Google is your friend. And, as it proved, also the enemy. This article describes a (perhaps only marginally) different issue, but it makes it clear that the problem is associated with Google chrome. That may mean that it's sufficient to shoot down chrome, and not the X server, if it happens again.

Sun, 09 Nov 2014 00:54:38 UTC

Another GPU hang

Posted By Greg Lehey

Yet another GPU hang this morning! It's frustrating that it only appears on the console. I had hoped that the numbers at the beginning of the line would give some indication, but they don't make much sense. The first could conceivably be the PID; the second is the same as last time. On IRC, the opinion was that it was a hardware issue, maybe overheating. But the fact point elsewhere: I have an xearth process complaining about a missing marker file every 5 minutes. And the hang message is always at the bottom, so it must appear round the time I power on the monitors.

Sat, 08 Nov 2014 01:01:28 UTC

Configuring DxO

Posted By Greg Lehey

The new version of DxO Optics Pro has a number of improvements over the previous version: it can now display properly on medium resolution (2560×1440) screens, and hopefully also on 3840×2160 screens. It has reinstated the old image comparison function (original/modified), which they had previously put on the Ctrl-D key. But that repeats, so I ended up with a quick alternation of the two. Now there's a button you can hold down with the mouse. Best, though, they have finally found a (cumbersome) way of telling the crop function not to enforce aspect ratio, at least for the elite version: you can save the information with a preset.

Thu, 06 Nov 2014 00:30:12 UTC

More lagoon migration

Posted By Greg Lehey

Yvonne wanted to print a document today, something she does so seldom that she needed my help. And in the process discovered that I hadn't configured the printers since last month's system upgrade, five weeks ago. Note to self: check /etc/printcap and that the spool directories exist. ACM only downloads articles once. It's possible that this article has changed since being downloaded, but the only way you can find out is by looking at the original article.

Tue, 04 Nov 2014 01:37:51 UTC

Another GPU hang

Posted By Greg Lehey

Another GPU hang today! What's causing it? This system has been running unchanged since February, and it's been up for 139 days. The hang only affects one of the two X servers, so it doesn't seem to be hardware. It's not logged anywhere except on the console, not helped by whining flash plugins: When I first saw the problem, the error message was still on the screen, but later it had long been flushed by these useless error messages. The resultant image is strange.

Tue, 04 Nov 2014 01:30:51 UTC

Web sites and ACID

Posted By Greg Lehey

I've finally decided on an exposure meter. After some backwarding and forwarding, decided on the Sekonic L-308S after all. The cheapest offer was from eGlobaL [sic] Digital Cameras, only AU $184 with postage. The cheapest price I could find on eBay was US $167.90, which corresponds to AU $198.40, and reputable US sellers are offering it for round US $235 plus postage. So I went ahead and fought my way through Yet Another Broken Website to finalize the purchase. Most web sites are too leet to accept phone numbers in standard formats (like (03) 5346 1730 in Australia). Instead they want all punctuation removed, like 0353461730.

Sun, 02 Nov 2014 21:40:18 UTC

X hang

Posted By Greg Lehey

Into the office this morning and found all my X windows empty, just with the background colour. Looking at the console showed: What's that? Nothing in /var/log/messages. The other X server was still running, but server 0 was using lots of CPU time and was otherwise unresponsive: === grog@eureka (/dev/pts/19) ~ 53 -> ps au|grep X root 16471 82.9  1.5 3840764  500208 v0  R     7Sep14 1439:46.34 /usr/local/bin/X :0 -config xorg-0.conf -logverbose 6 grog 16470  0.0  0.0   19612    1816 v0  I+    7Sep14    0:00.00 xinit /home/grog/.xinitrc -- /usr/local/bin/X :0 -conf grog 69613  0.0  0.0   19612       0 v4  IW+ ...

Fri, 31 Oct 2014 23:50:34 UTC

New DxO version

Posted By Greg Lehey

During a discussion on the German Olympus forum, discovered that there's a new version of DxO Optics Pro. Downloaded and tried to start it: We've seen things like that before, so I tried installing on Chris Bahlo's laptop, not helped by the fact that the thing didn't want to know that our DNS has changed since last time I used it. Same thing, so it's not the same as the problem I had last month. Another support request. To my immense surprise, got a response in a little over two hours.

Thu, 30 Oct 2014 00:05:52 UTC

Another NBN outage

Posted By Greg Lehey

Into the office this morning to find us off the net again. And this time it had been for over 9 hours. The NTD showed the same display as last time: the ODU LED was red. So I power cycled it, which got rid of the red LED, but I still didn't get any traffic. Called Aussie Broadband support and spoke to Abraham. No outage known, ticket taken. And I had just hung up when the connection came up again, at 09:19:40, an outage of almost exactly 10 hours. Called again, got connected to Vincent, who must be new. He took considerably longer to log the fact that the net was up again than Abraham did to log the fault in the first place.

Wed, 29 Oct 2014 00:03:36 UTC

More DxO pain

Posted By Greg Lehey

Yesterday's sausage photos required processing to square up the trays. DxO Optics Pro didn't make it easy. The first step is to use the rectangle tool to straighten up the sides: The right-hand image shows the original above and the corrected image below. But it has truncated the top! Went back and tried againand it refused to show me the original image, just the truncated version that I wanted to get rid of.

Wed, 29 Oct 2014 00:01:32 UTC

Preparing ›šŸ—› for return

Posted By Greg Lehey

It has been clear for a while that the ›šŸ—› laptop/tablet wasn't for me, though it also showed that Microsoft can still offer tablet operating systems a run for their money. So time to return it. And my private data? Daniel O'Connor found the solution for me. It's relatively easy to reset a modern Microsoft box to its factory defaults, though cleaning the disk took a couple of hours. But now I'm confident that none of my personal data remains. ACM only downloads articles once.

Thu, 23 Oct 2014 00:18:53 UTC

Zoom lenses and extension tubes

Posted By Greg Lehey

I've located some automatic extension tubes for my Olympus OM-D E-M1. I've had extension tubes for my Pentax for decades, but they're useless for Olympus lenses, because the lenses don't have a manual diaphragm: it has to be set electrically. And that's what these new tubes promise. One problem is that there are only two tubes, 10 mm and 16 mm. My old Pentax tubes were a set of 3, 11 mm, 20 mm and 30 mm, double as much as the new tubes, and with them you can get a 1:1 magnification with a 50 mm lens set on .

Sun, 19 Oct 2014 23:18:09 UTC

Watching videos the easy way

Posted By Greg Lehey

The last issue of Heise's Digitale Fotografie included a DVD with some videos on that I thought would be worth watching. OK, found the DVD, tried to put it in the DVD drive in eureka. Wouldn't open. Why not? Nothing mounted, but before I had to power cycle the machine, decided to put it in lagoon instead. === root@lagoon (/dev/pts/3) ~ 400 -> mount /cdrom mount_cd9660: /dev/cd0: Invalid argument What's wrong there? Tried in dischord, my Microsoft box, and it mounted with no difficulties. And it showed that it was a UDF file system. That might at least explain the problems with lagoon.

Sat, 18 Oct 2014 02:08:40 UTC

Computers anonymous

Posted By Greg Lehey

The lens wasn't the only thing I picked up at Napoleons. There was also a saddle blanket and a small box, also from Queensland. What was it? I wasn't expecting anything like that, and the description on the box just said A GIFT!: Opening it was even more confusing: a Raspberry Pi B+, the latest version, in a plastic enclosure. There was also an SD card with NOOBS on it. And that was all. The only documentation pointed me at, a community site.

Fri, 17 Oct 2014 01:07:37 UTC

Using Ashampoo optimizer

Posted By Greg Lehey

Since Ashampoo have broken the optimization function of their Photo Commander version 11, and they haven't responded to my error report, it looks like I'll have to move to Photo Optimizer, which has the same functionality, currently not broken. But it works completely differently. The most amazing thing is the display while it's processing photos: The only thing in focus is a completely useless image suggesting printed photos scattered at random on a cork pinboard.

Wed, 15 Oct 2014 00:31:49 UTC

Google image search: improvement needed

Posted By Greg Lehey

What are my mystery flowers? I still have some that I can't identify. But Google images have an image search function. How well does it work? Let's look for this relatively recognizable image: It comes up with no less than 5 direct hits, all of them in this diary or my daily photos page. That's reasonable. But apart from that, none of the images it found looks in the least bit like the original. At least for flowers, it's useless. ACM only downloads articles once.

Wed, 15 Oct 2014 00:14:56 UTC

NBN is here!

Posted By Greg Lehey

A flyer in the dead tree mail today with good news: the National Broadband Network is finally available in Dereel! That's more than 10 months since my service was activated. At first I thought it was Telstra, who so far have been the slowest to report, but no, this is a company called Infinity NBN. What do they have to offer to make up for their tardiness? Nothing obvious. They're more expensive than Aussie Broadband, and it seems you have to commit for at least 12 months. Still, I like their concept of how we live and work in the bush.

Tue, 14 Oct 2014 23:31:10 UTC

Multiple network pain

Posted By Greg Lehey

Lately I've been having dropouts with communication between here and my external web server in Raleigh, NC. Occasionally there'll be a few minutes disconnection, but more often it's just high packet loss. traceroute points at Telstra's net infrastructure on the US West Coast: === grog@eureka (/dev/pts/22) ~ 66 -> traceroute www traceroute to (, 64 hops max, 52 byte packets  1 (  33.162 ms  29.931 ms  30.013 ms  2 (  30.991 ms  39.812 ms  29.972 ms  3 (  29.015 ms  29.766 ms  30.009 ms  4 (  31.008 ms  28.842 ms  39.937 ms  5 (  41.012 ms  43.785 ms  39.967 ms  6 (  40.974 ms  39.787 ms  41.014 ms  7 (  38.980 ms  39.800 ms  40.060 ms  8 (  43.898 ms  36.946 ms  52.957 ms  9 (  46.029 ms (  198.774 ...

Tue, 14 Oct 2014 23:24:32 UTC

Ashampoo bug discovered

Posted By Greg Lehey

Yesterday's problems with Ashampoo Photo Commander were clearly worth entering a bug report, so did so today. One of the things they wanted was the build version, sensibly enough. And that was interesting: version 11.1.8 of 10 September 2014. Clearly something they need to fix quickly. ACM only downloads articles once. It's possible that this article has changed since being downloaded, but the only way you can find out is by looking at the original article.

Tue, 14 Oct 2014 02:54:23 UTC

Investigating GPS navigators

Posted By Greg Lehey

I've given up hope of finding a usable Android GPS navigation app, so I'll probably buy a new GPS navigator. But why stick with the el cheapo navigators? I can afford a Big Name one. Spent some time looking around the web, and found that Garmin has some that don't look bad. But how easy are they to use? Watched a number of eBay clips, none of which really answered my questions. The biggest is: how accurate are the maps? While I was at JB HiFi, looked for their GPS navigators. Mounted vertically on a column. Yes, there's power to them, and you can try them out if you don't mind kneeling in the aisle to do so.

Sun, 12 Oct 2014 23:52:48 UTC

Ashampoo problems

Posted By Greg Lehey

I've been postprocessing my photos with Ashampoo Photo Optimizer on a regular basis for over 6 years, and it's good enough that I actually bought another package from them, Photo Commander, which does other stuff as well. Only in the course of time did I discover that the other stuff isn't worth it, and that the GUI makes normal optimization more difficult. But now it seems to be suffering from bit rot. Lately all the optimized images have had a distinctly brown tinge to them. Here before and after. How did that happen? To investigate, downloaded a trial version of the current Optimizer and tried again.

Sun, 12 Oct 2014 00:46:23 UTC

Where's my mail?

Posted By Greg Lehey

Yvonne told me today that various people have complained (on Facebook, of course), that they haven't received mail from her. On checking, yes, indeed: after upgrading lagoon I had forgotten to configure postfix, and she had mail backed up for days. Why didn't she notice earlier? And are there other misconfigurations lurking somewhere? ACM only downloads articles once. It's possible that this article has changed since being downloaded, but the only way you can find out is by looking at the original article.

Fri, 10 Oct 2014 01:42:25 UTC

Photo processing problems

Posted By Greg Lehey

Yvonne came to me with a problem processing her photos. The contact print page showed the image names, but not the images themselves. Looking at her screen, I saw: === yvonne@lagoon (/dev/pts/1) ~/Photos/20141004 10 -> make contacts Converting PA042709.jpg to /home/yvonne/public_html/localtmp/contacts/20141004/PA042709.jpg /Photos/Tools/mkcontacts: line 179: [: : integer expression expected Converting PA042710.jpg to /home/yvonne/public_html/localtmp/contacts/20141004/PA042710.jpg /Photos/Tools/mkcontacts: line 179: [: : integer expression expected OK, a bug in my mkcontacts script? Took a look, added some debugging echos, and finally discovered that identify (another of these namespace-polluting programs that come with ImageMagick) was dying with an illegal instruction exception and not even mentioning it on the screen.

Fri, 10 Oct 2014 00:12:01 UTC

Android: Give up?

Posted By Greg Lehey

On IRC today, Peter Jeremy mentioned Google Drive. What's that? To quote: <peter> groggy: It's also the green/gold/blue triangle on your Android tablet. OK, I'll bite. Where? I suppose some Android tablets do display them, but if mine does, it's very discreet about it. Looking around, though, I found a tulip at top left: That proved to be a microphone symbol. Touched it and got a voice non-recognition service that competes with the best of them.

Thu, 09 Oct 2014 23:53:56 UTC

Android GPS: Give up?

Posted By Greg Lehey

My old GPS navigator (only three years old) has worn-out batteries. How do I repair it? No idea. But then, I don't need a dedicated navigator, right? My Android tablet can do that too. Well, it could, and better, if I could find a useful app to do it. Tried again with GPS Navgiation & Maps - light, which is apparently a trial version of GPS Navgiation & Maps, which costs $1. Once again an app that seems to be completely useless. Like OsnAnd, it's based on OpenStreetMap, which is completely inadequate in our area. And once again the functionality appears to be minimal.

Wed, 08 Oct 2014 00:24:50 UTC

Completing the move to Victoria

Posted By Greg Lehey

Seven years ago I moved from South Australia to Victoria, and currently I'm planning the next move. But as Jürgen Lock pointed out, I haven't completely finished the move here: === grog@eureka (/dev/pts/1) ~ 3 -> finger Login: grog                             Name: Greg Lehey Directory: /home/grog                   Shell: /usr/local/bin/bash Office: Echunga South Australia         Office Phone: +61-8-8388-8286 Home Phone: +61-8-8388-8250 Why does finger still show the old address and phone number?

Mon, 06 Oct 2014 23:08:07 UTC

Reinstalling SML

Posted By Greg Lehey

A few days ago I reinstalled smlnj on lagoon, my (finally!) up-to-date FreeBSD box, for a programming language course I'm doing. And that went much more smoothly than before. But that's not all the software I needed. For Emacs I needed the sml-mode package. That wasn't as smooth: === root@eureka (/dev/pts/15) /usr/ports/lang/sml-mode.el 156 -> make install ===>  sml-mode-3.9.5_5 is marked as broken: Not staged.. *** [install] Error code 1 Stop in /home/src/FreeBSD/svn/ports/lang/sml-mode.el.

Sat, 04 Oct 2014 00:32:55 UTC

Use our software!

Posted By Greg Lehey

Participating in an online survey today, was rejected for a strange reason: OK, I'll bite. If it's not a PC, a Mac, a tablet, a smart phone or a netbook, what is it that they think I'm running? Restarted running Microsoft, and that seemed to be OK, but the survey software was so broken that I had to give up in the end. ACM only downloads articles once.

Sat, 04 Oct 2014 00:32:55 UTC

More tablet thoughts

Posted By Greg Lehey

Somehow I've opened a can of worms with this Medion ›šŸ¥› tablet. It's getting me thinking about issues that hadn't previously interested me. But the more I look at it, the more problems crop up. Andy Snow read my article comparing Microsoft and Android, and came up with a couple of comments. Firstly, he pointed out that I wasn't comparing Microsoft and Android at all, just the specific tablets I had. Correct, and I've changed the article to make that clearer. More interestingly, though, he showed me a way to stop an Android process without going through the force stop procedure: click on the double rectangle icon, which displays all apps except the current one, and swipe the icon to one side.

Fri, 03 Oct 2014 02:11:13 UTC

Upgrading lagoon, day 2

Posted By Greg Lehey

Upgrading lagoon, Yvonne's computer, had the usual hiccups, but things haven't been too bad. The good news is: === root@lagoon (/dev/pts/3) ~ 60 -> pkg install smlnj Updating FreeBSD repository catalogue... FreeBSD repository is up-to-date. All repositories are up-to-date. The following 1 packages will be affected (of 0 checked): New packages to be INSTALLED:         smlnj: 110.76_1 The process will require 34 MB more space. 7 MB to be downloaded. Proceed with this action? [y/N]: y Fetching smlnj-110.76_1.txz: 100%    7 MB 692.2k/s    00:11 Checking integrity... done (0 conflicting) [1/1] Installing smlnj-110.76_1: 100% === root@lagoon (/dev/pts/3) ~ 61 -> sml Standard ML of New Jersey v110.76 [built: Wed Sep 10 09:31:40 2014] - ^D === root@lagoon (/dev/pts/3) ~ 62 -> That seems normal enough, but this time last year I had ...

Fri, 03 Oct 2014 01:01:15 UTC

Microsoft tablet experience

Posted By Greg Lehey

One of the last things for which I still found Android useful was playing streaming audio from the web. As I have discovered, Android apps can do this, but badly. How about Microsoft? Select in firefox, and it Just Works. Of course, without a connection to my Bluetooth adapter, it plays on the internal tinny loudspeakers (which, however, aren't quite as tinny as on my Android tablet). Still, the thing has Bluetooth support. Just associate it and we should be OK, right? Ah, but this is Microsoft. Go to Control Panel and select Add a device. Off it goes, finds the device, and starts installing a driver.

Thu, 02 Oct 2014 02:00:29 UTC

Microsoft tablet

Posted By Greg Lehey

Yvonne came back from shopping with a Medion ›šŸ¥› tablet (or is that a laptop?) running Microsoft Windows 8.1, that was on special at ALDI today. Physically it's a very big tablet (11.6") with a docking station. That's rather like what I mused about three years ago. But what do I want with a Windows device? I was driven to it by Android. At least with Microsoft you have access to normal software, even if the implementation is dubious. But with Android you don't. I went through the first year's experience with Android a month ago. Here's how things compare: Normal computer functionality, including word processing, web browsing, social networking and all those things you used to need a computer for.

Thu, 02 Oct 2014 00:47:01 UTC

System upgrade: doing it

Posted By Greg Lehey

It's been nearly 10 months since I bought new hardware for eureka and started my upgrade to FreeBSD release 10. And it's still not done! Part of the problem was the migration to pkgng, which was somewhat rocky, but which now seems to work. And then there's my fear of painting myself into a corner and not having a machine to work with. But I'm coming up to my second time round the Coursera course on programming languages, and I need to run smlnj. And I could no longer find that on eureka. eureka is running 9.2-STABLE, and it's impractical to upgrade anything on it any more.

Tue, 30 Sep 2014 02:28:22 UTC

Microsoft resource hog caught

Posted By Greg Lehey

After all my updates on Chris' Microsoft laptop, it still spends between 10 and 15 minutes of saturated disk activity after each boot or resume. Spent some more time looking at (and learning) the task manager, and found the problem: a process called SanService.exe was performing up to 10 MB/s of consistent disk access during the whole time. And how about that, Google found it for me: it's part of Sophos Anti-Virus. That's something I know nothing about. Is it necessary to scan at startup time? I'll have to do some more learning. ACM only downloads articles once.

Tue, 30 Sep 2014 00:43:44 UTC

Olympus Capture

Posted By Greg Lehey

Olympus has introduced a new feature for the OM-D E-M1: Tethered shooting, implemented with OLYMPUS Capture. Tried it out today. Finding the instructions is difficult, and so far I can only get them through the application itself, conveniently set up so that you need several mouse clicks to move from one page to the next. But by comparison it looks a lot better than other Olympus documentation. When I connected my camera, Capture didn't detect it. Olympus Viewer did, and wanted to download images. It seems that Olympus has introduced a new USB access mode. It doesn't have a name, only an image, which I call hookah: height="45" width="59" />, and that's the one that you need to select.

Tue, 30 Sep 2014 00:26:17 UTC

DxO problem: solved?

Posted By Greg Lehey

My ongoing problem with DxO Optics Pro seems to be looping. On 5 September 2014 Marion asked me to replace a file: Could you please delete the file caflist90.db in the following folder: C:\Users\ user_name \AppData\Local\DxO_Labs\DxO Optics Pro 9 The file was in fact called CAFList90.db, but who cares? At the time I removed it, and it was immediately replaced by an identical copy. I reported this, and they looked elsewhere. Then I got another message a couple of days ago:     Could you please go to the following page:     Once you have entered your equipment details, you'll be given the option to download the CAFList90.db file.

Mon, 29 Sep 2014 02:19:18 UTC

More Microsoft updates

Posted By Greg Lehey

Part of the problem chasing the DxO Optics Pro bug is that I have to use Chris Bahlo's laptop to process photos taken with Four Thirds lenses. And for some reason after boot or resume from hibernation, it takes 15 minutes or so of heavy disk activity before it's usable. Why? Clearly the things to do are defragmentation and software update. Defragging takes forever! And software Windows update had even more surprises for me. It established that 57 important updates were needed, of which it installed none: And another unknown 32 bit hex code!

Sun, 28 Sep 2014 02:51:37 UTC

We don't need no steenking uptime

Posted By Greg Lehey

DxO still haven't fixed the problem with DxO Optics Pro. In fact, they're looping: Once you have entered your equipment details, you'll be given the option to download the CAFList90.db file. Please download and copy this file to: C:\Users\ user_name \AppData\Local\DxO_Labs\DxO Optics Pro 9 Then, restart Optics Pro. You should then be able to download your modules. The only problem is, that's exactly what they said a couple of weeks ago, and I reported that the version I had was identical to the one I downloaded. It also doesn't address the fact that it still doesn't work after removing as much as I could and then reinstalling, including this file.

Sat, 27 Sep 2014 03:16:59 UTC

Fixing shellshock, the FreeBSD way

Posted By Greg Lehey

Why hasn't the FreeBSD project issued a security advisory for Shellshock? Simple, it has nothing to do with FreeBSD. It's a GNU problem. Can you compromise a FreeBSD system with it? Sure. But that's not the project's problem. Read your CERT Advisories. OK, I don't want to finger-point. I want to get rid of the problem, which seems to exist on all my systems. eureka is way out of date (and also completely inaccessible, but that's no reason for complacency). Go to the port and rebuild it: === root@eureka (/dev/pts/15) /usr/ports/shells/bash 95 -> cd /usr/ports/shells/bash You have new mail in /var/mail/grog === root@eureka (/dev/pts/15) /usr/ports/shells/bash 96 -> make ===>  License GPLv3 accepted by the user ===>  Found saved configuration for bash-4.3.25_1 ===>   bash-4.3.25_1 depends on file: /usr/local/sbin/pkg - not found ===>    Verifying install for /usr/local/sbin/pkg in /usr/ports/ports-mgmt/pkg You are ...

Fri, 26 Sep 2014 01:31:45 UTC

Shell shock

Posted By Greg Lehey

Another serious security bug in Open Source software! Once upon a time I was convinced that security bugs were the province of the Microsoft Spaceand that despite the RTM Worm. But now I discover I've been living with a bug in my shell for the last 25 years! And sure enough, it's still there: === grog@eureka (/dev/pts/11) ~ 429 -> env x='() { :;}; echo vulnerable' bash -c "echo this is a test" vulnerable this is a test ACM only downloads articles once.

Thu, 25 Sep 2014 00:50:54 UTC

How much uptime?

Posted By Greg Lehey

It's been over a year since my longest ever computer uptime came to an end: 1,812 days terminated by a hardware fault. But today on Facebook somebody asked me if the machine was still up. Sadly, no. But then Ollivier Robert piped in: his machine was booted a few months before mine, and it didn't fail. Now he has: 2:17AM up 2279 days, 5:42, 19 users, load averages: 0.01, 0.02, 0.00 I'm green with envy. ACM only downloads articles once.

Sat, 20 Sep 2014 03:40:33 UTC

Voice mail problems: identified!

Posted By Greg Lehey

Over the last couple of days I've tried various things to work out why voice mail doesn't work with my MyNetFone VoIP service. And then something occurred to me, something you'd normally never notice: when the exact message Your call cannot be taken at the moment, and you cannot leave a message, so please call later is produced, I heard it too, from the base station of the wireless phone system. That can't be MyNetFone. Tried disconnecting the wireless phone, and sure enough, voice mail worked normally! What's wrong with this picture? A surprising number of things: This can't be the first time that local phone equipment causes problems.

Thu, 18 Sep 2014 01:32:16 UTC

Cygwin revisited

Posted By Greg Lehey

It's been decades since I first tried Cygwin. At the time I wasn't very impressed, and when I had to try it again I was no more impressed. But Edwin Groothuis suggested that it might be a way to find my modified files for the DxO Optics Pro problem, so I installed it again. My view hasn't changed. In particular, it still bends the directory hierarchies to suit a Unix-like view of the world. But there's a way to access the bare Microsoft drives. To quote Edwin: <MavvieRVBD> But you can still access the various disk via c: d: etc But that doesn't work for me.

Thu, 18 Sep 2014 01:28:02 UTC

DxO workaround, try 3

Posted By Greg Lehey

More playing around trying to find the DxO Optics Pro bug, ultimately without success. There's clearly something, whether a file or a registry entry, that is preventing newer versions of DxO from working correctly. But what? I've removed all files and entries that I can find, but the problem remains the same. Sent off a ticket update to DxO. I can see this, too, taking a long time. ACM only downloads articles once.

Thu, 18 Sep 2014 01:02:28 UTC

MyNetFone voice mail

Posted By Greg Lehey

What's happened to my voice mail? When I tried today I couldn't even get a connection to the voice mail number (121): silence for 60 seconds, then a disconnect signal. There's clearly something seriously wrong here. Called up MyNetFone and spoke to Naomi (again), who told me that the matter had been escalated to 2nd level, and that I'd get a call back. That happened from Mino (if I have the name right) at 14:35. Over half an hour she proved that she could leave voice mail for me, both calling from a Telstra line and from their own lines. That's better than nothing, but when I tried the same thing from my other VoIP line, I got the same old message: The phone is unattended, and you cannot leave a message.

Wed, 17 Sep 2014 02:16:33 UTC

Reinstalling DxO

Posted By Greg Lehey

As I said yesterday, what is Microsoft for find / -mtime -1? It seems that the closest I can come is with Windows explorer, which explores file systems, not windows. I can specify a time range, so selected yesterday, and found these files that Revo Uninstaller Pro had left behind: Directory of C:\ProgramData\DxO Labs\Licenses 21 Nov 2013  09:43    <DIR>          . 21 Nov 2013  09:43    <DIR>          .. 09 Jan 2013  15:38               253 dxoopticspro8demo_8.0_20130109_053828.lic 10 Feb 2013  13:18               273 dxoopticspro8_8.0_20130210_031835.lic 04 Nov 2013  13:53               250 dxoopticspro9demo_9.0_20131104_035353.lic 21 Nov 2013  09:43               275 dxoopticspro9_9.0_20131120_234351.lic     4 File(s)          1,051 bytes   ...

Tue, 16 Sep 2014 01:21:38 UTC

Catching the DxO bug

Posted By Greg Lehey

So far any attempt to get DxO Optics Pro to recognize the new modules has failed. Borrowed Chris' laptop, which has never had DxO installed on it, and tried there. It worked! So somewhere DxO have been too clever for themselves and left junk behind after deinstallation that prevents a clean reinstallation. What do I do? They want a TeamViewer session to mess around themselves. And strangely their help desk doesn't open until 8:00 UTC (well, currently 10:00 MET), which is after I stop working for the day. If it were a matter of a couple of minutes, I wouldn't be so concerned, but given that they can't just issue a fix, there's a good chance that they'll play around for hours before declaring (preliminary) defeat.

Sat, 13 Sep 2014 03:25:12 UTC

Totally removing Microsoft programs, try 2

Posted By Greg Lehey

Why can't I remove all trace of a Microsoft program, in this case DxO Optics Pro, from my computer? Somehow I find it offensive that the system retains a memory of what I have been doing. But lots of people use Microsoft; went looking for methods to remove the remains. This page promised to do just that, but in the end just removed stuff from the registry, leaving a large number of files behind. And then there are things like Revo Uninstaller Pro, which was available for a 30 day trial, so I tried it out. Sure enough, it removed all the files too.

Thu, 11 Sep 2014 01:14:26 UTC

Fixing DxO

Posted By Greg Lehey

I've had a couple of exchanges with DxO support since last week, and finally they explained (and demonstrated) to me that yes, they can load Four Thirds modules for Micro Four Thirds bodies. So why doesn't it work here? Broken update seems the most obvious cause. OK, that's simple: completely remove the old installation and start again. To be on the safe side, tried it out on dxo, my old Microsoft Vista machine, after first confirming that yes, the problem existed there too. But after removing two different versions, there were still files left in AppData. Tried various methods of removing them without success.

Fri, 05 Sep 2014 02:41:40 UTC

Phantom calls resolved

Posted By Greg Lehey

Did some research on VoIP phantom calls today. This discussion throws some light on the matter: it's a form of spam, where phone spammers scan the net for open sip ports. Why don't they say anything when you answer? Because they're oversubscribed. So if you run your SIP connection on a non-standard port, they (probably) won't get you. Met CJ today, and he confirmed that his phantom calls have stopped. So why doesn't this happen to me? Because I don't have a SIP port open to the net; it's behind my NAT setup. But this sounds like a traditional application for a firewall: allow connections only from trusted IP addresses.

Fri, 05 Sep 2014 00:39:38 UTC

Support Hell: DxO

Posted By Greg Lehey

So yesterday I sent a support request to DxO. I've had grief from them in the past, but this time the problem was obvious: they advertise that they support certain combinations of camera and lens, but the program doesn't know that. The easiest way to check is to get the program to show what modules it thinks are available: That's only partial, and of course the window can't be resized, but any Zuiko FT lenses should have been there, and scrolling shows that they're not available at all.

Thu, 04 Sep 2014 01:44:42 UTC

DxO supports more Olympus?

Posted By Greg Lehey

I have a love-hate relationship with DxO Optics Pro. It's buggy, glacially slow, and has a number of really irritating issues, like insisting on resetting crop to preserve aspect ratio. But it produces good results. About my biggest issue now is that they don't support Four Thirds lenses on Micro Four Thirds bodies. But they do! Or at least, that's what their supported equipment page says: So I tried it out.

Thu, 04 Sep 2014 01:22:26 UTC

Support Hell: MyNetFone

Posted By Greg Lehey

CJ is still having no luck with phantom calls on his VoIP installation with MyNetFone, and the support people don't seem to be able to help him. He can't even set up voice mail. He asked me to call them up, so we set up another TeamViewer session, I confirmed that it worked, and then I called up support and asked them to connect and fix the problem. Spoke to Zack, who is clearly not German. He didn't understand the issuelast week Harriet had planned to change a port number, but he didn't understand that. In fact, he didn't even know how to set up a Team Viewer connection, which is really surprisingly simple.

Sat, 30 Aug 2014 02:55:14 UTC

CJ's next problems

Posted By Greg Lehey

CJ Ellis along today with computer and VoIP problems. He couldn't find how to send a message with Gmail, so he had deleted all the important messages he had instead. And he is getting continuous calls on his phone. How is that happening? Called up MyNetFone and spoke to Harriette, with whom I had spoken a couple of weeks ago. This time she was more intelligible and wanted to configure the ATA to reject the calls. On enquiry, it seems that she was going to set a different port to listen on, though that might just be my interpretation. In any case, that means that CJ needs to be there at home, so who knows how that will pan out.

Fri, 29 Aug 2014 00:31:47 UTC

MTM: A new TLA

Posted By Greg Lehey

Discussing the National Broadband Network on IRC today, Andy Farkas came up with a new TLA: MTM. What's that? We had a number of guesses. It seems that he meant multi-technology mix, but it can also be expanded to Malcolm Turnbull's Mess. ACM only downloads articles once. It's possible that this article has changed since being downloaded, but the only way you can find out is by looking at the original article.

Thu, 28 Aug 2014 02:17:40 UTC

zerofile for Microsoft

Posted By Greg Lehey

Comment from Andy Snow on IRC today: it seems that a program like my zerofile is available from Microsoft as sdelete.exe. It seems that the main purpose of the program is to obliterate the content of an existign file and then delete it, but the -z option (and yes, really -z and not /z) performs the function of zerofile. ACM only downloads articles once.

Wed, 27 Aug 2014 00:30:06 UTC

Finishing CJ's computer

Posted By Greg Lehey

Finally the backup was done, so I put the disk back into CJ's computer and booted. Your computer was unable to start\nStartup Repair is checking. My fault. When I had put the disk in the test machine, it started booting from it instead of from the FreeBSD disk. I had powered down immediately, but this suggest that it wasn't quite immediately enough. So I left Startup Repair running. What does it do? Looks like an fsck, and it took about the same time. At the end: Startup Repair cannot repair this computer automatically. What does that mean? Followed various links, but there was nothing sensible there.

Tue, 26 Aug 2014 01:13:46 UTC

CJ's installation and random Microsoft pain

Posted By Greg Lehey

So basically CJ's computer is ready, and I had planned to give it to him today. But how is he going to back it up? The way Microsoft people always do, I suppose: not at all. The least I could do was to make a copy of the disk image. And to ensure it compresses well, it makes sense to zero out all the unused file space, in this case about 90% of the total. With real computers I do this with a little program called zerofile, which creates a file and writes binary zeros to it until the file system is full.

Sun, 24 Aug 2014 01:38:42 UTC

Setting up Microsoft, again

Posted By Greg Lehey

Into the office this morning to find that CJ's computer had finished its upgrades and rebooted. And, of course, there were upgrades waiting. Tried installing them and got not one, but two of typical Microsoft 8 digit hex error numbers, 0x80070490 and 0x800f020b. I now know better than to try to decipher them, and tried again. Sure enough, this time only one error, 0x800f020bwith a difference. I followed the Get help with this error link and got no less than 8 hitsnone of which referenced the error number: Clearly they thought that they were close enough.

Sun, 24 Aug 2014 01:36:42 UTC

Firefox stupidity

Posted By Greg Lehey

While rsyncing my web pages this morning, saw something surprising: js/ js/Ge-29490ge2.html        17482 100%   14.58kB/s    0:00:01 (xfer#4, to-check=5234/11363) js/Ge-29490ge2_files/ js/Ge-29490ge2_files/ca-pub-5294144413784354.js          108 100%    0.09kB/s    0:00:01 (xfer#5, to-check=5222/11363) ... Had somebody broken in and placed a Javascript exploit? Took a look at the stuff and discovered that it was a web page saved by firefox. Yet Another Example of its complete misunderstanding of file system hierarchies. ACM only downloads articles once.

Sat, 23 Aug 2014 02:46:51 UTC

VoIP ATA configuration

Posted By Greg Lehey

So now I have two VoIP connections, one via a NetComm V210P and the other via a Linksys PAP2T. Theoretically I could run both services via the Linksys, but it doesn't have a POTS input. But it does have the advantage of relatively complete syslog facility, so it seemed good to use it for the VoIP input line so that I could log callers' phone numbers. Reconfigured it and discovered that, although I could call it, the phone didn't ring. What's wrong there? Spent a lot of time examining all the myriad configuration details of the ATA. It's a US model.

Sat, 23 Aug 2014 02:05:49 UTC

Browser memory usage

Posted By Greg Lehey

Lately firefox has been hanging frequently, and this morning I had to restart it several times in rapid succession. It seems that one of the unselected pages in Restore session was the problem. While doing that, shot down all my browsers and npviewer.bin. Shooting down Chrome was a surprise: I regained 10 GB of RAM! As I said on IRC a couple of days ago, if EMACS once stood for Eight Megabytes And Continually Swapping, they should introduce the term EGACS for web browsers. ACM only downloads articles once.

Sat, 23 Aug 2014 01:23:13 UTC

Getting CJ's computer

Posted By Greg Lehey

Yesterday TNT tried to deliver CJ's new computer. Given where he lives, that's quite impressive, but why don't they try to confirm that somebody will be there to receive the parcel before driving an estimated 50 km to deliver it? CJ is very deaf, so he asked me to call them. Did so and got Yet Another Emetic Voice Non-Recognition Disservice. Finally got through to a human by the name of TracyStacey, who told me that she would put in a request for pickup from the depot in Ballarat and call me back. Given that I was about to leave, that didn't help much.

Fri, 22 Aug 2014 01:09:54 UTC

A year of Android

Posted By Greg Lehey

It's been a year since I bought an Android tablet for real use. I had tried one a year before that, but had not persevered. Now I have been using a tablet for a year. What good is it? The attraction of the tablet is flexibility. It promises: Normal computer functionality, including word processing, web browsing, social networking and all those things you used to need a computer for.

Fri, 22 Aug 2014 01:09:51 UTC

A year of Android

Posted By Greg Lehey

It's been a year since I bought an Android tablet for real use. I had tried one a year before that, but had not persevered. Now I have been using a tablet for a year. What good is it? The attraction of the tablet is flexibility. It promises: Normal computer functionality, including word processing, web browsing, social networking and all those things you used to need a computer for.

Tue, 19 Aug 2014 02:04:58 UTC

A computer for CJ

Posted By Greg Lehey

CJ Ellis showed up here today, apparently because he had wanted to do some work on our site, but got caught by the rain. Took the opportunity to help him transfer his home phone line to VoIP, which proved more difficult than I had expected. First, of course, I had to set up access for him. CJ's not stupid, but he's 75 years old and has never really learnt anything about computers. For him nothing is intuitive. No point in trying to teach him the fine points of FreeBSD. First, he needs a computer. There's a mob called Computers for Seniors that offers cheap computers for concession card holders.

Sat, 16 Aug 2014 00:50:24 UTC

ATA: finally

Posted By Greg Lehey

Over to CJ's place this evening to connect up the ATA. It worked, fortunately. Now he's going to have to learn to live with another paradigm. Hopefully it won't involve me in too much work. ACM only downloads articles once. It's possible that this article has changed since being downloaded, but the only way you can find out is by looking at the original article.

Sat, 16 Aug 2014 00:39:34 UTC

Telstra: super up-to-date

Posted By Greg Lehey

Advertising from Telstra today to inform us that the National Broadband Network is now availableless than nine months after the event. But that's nothing. Look at the address: Cliff Taylor sold me the house in July 2007, and he hasn't been seen here since. And they've misspelt Kleins Road as Kliens Road. I'm a Telstra customer, for pity's sake! What incredible corruption do they have in their databases? Admittedly, it's not even the second time, but at least the third.

Fri, 15 Aug 2014 02:15:02 UTC

Configuring CJ's ATA

Posted By Greg Lehey

Called MyNetFone about CJ's unconfigured ATA. This time I spoke to somebody who told me he wanted to start a remote desktop on my PC. That's interesting simply because not all versions of Microsoft support it. But no, it wasn't really a remote desktop, that's just what he called it. Instead he wanted to use TeamViewer. Problem: I don't want people messing around on my computers, and while TeamViewer is probably relatively safe, I always run it on pain, my XP laptop. And I had left that with CJ. Reluctantly fired up dxo, the Vista box, and installed TeamViewer on that.

Thu, 14 Aug 2014 01:54:58 UTC

VoIP ATA hell

Posted By Greg Lehey

CJ's ATA, a Mitron MNFMV1, has arrived, and I promised to install it for him. Basically that means plugging it in. And sure enough, it came online and an IP address to the laptop (pain) that I had plugged into the LAN port. All plug and play. But the SIP light didn't light up. How do you diagnose that with a black box? Fortunately pain (now eucla, running FreeBSD) knew the device address, since it's the Internet gateway. So: point a browser at it? Sure, and it wants a user name and password, which MyNetFone didn't supply. admin/admin? Yup! And how about that, the thing hadn't been configured.

Sun, 10 Aug 2014 01:30:15 UTC

New ammunition against telemarketeers

Posted By Greg Lehey

On IRC today found this post from Chris Blasko (and not Chris Bahlo) about how to get your own back on telemarketeers: convince them that you're from their IT department and there's something wrong with their phone. Offer to fix it for them and get them to reset their phone to factory defaults. The more I think of this, the more fun it seems. In the example the perpetrator was connected to the marketeer, not the more usual other way round. But that doesn't make as much difference as I thought. Hypothetical conversation: TM       (Silence, sound of nose-picking) Helllo, how are you today?

Thu, 07 Aug 2014 03:45:29 UTC

Next planning permit amendment

Posted By Greg Lehey

Spent quite some time trying to fill out a form to amend my application for a planning permit. Filling out the form should be simple, but I was hindered by various software issues. The form is in editable PDF format, and I have already filled one, so it made sense to amend that form to fit the new data. But no, for some reason I couldn't change it, only the original. Make a copy? That didn't work either, though I confirmed that the content of the copy was identical. Permissions, maybe? This is using Acrobat reader on Microsoft against a file mounted via Samba on a UFS file system.

Tue, 05 Aug 2014 01:53:44 UTC

More sloppy error reporting

Posted By Greg Lehey

Copied a video file to teevee tonight. I had difficulty watching it: === grog@teevee (/dev/pts/0) /spool/Videos 10 -> mplayer Careful-He-Might-Hear-You.1983 MPlayer SVN-r35933-snapshot-3.2 (C) 2000-2013 MPlayer Team Playing Careful-He-Might-Hear-You.1983. File not found: 'Careful-He-Might-Hear-You.1983' Failed to open Careful-He-Might-Hear-You.1983. OK, that's not so surprising in itself, but I didn't type in the name: I started it and let the shell complete the file name. And ls(1) showed that the file was there. After a bit of head-scratching, found: === grog@teevee (/dev/pts/0) /spool/Videos 12 -> file Careful-He-Might-Hear-You.1983 Careful-He-Might-Hear-You.1983: regular file, no read permission It seems that cp(1) sets the permissions to --------- while copying.

Sun, 03 Aug 2014 01:22:54 UTC

Why I don't use Facebook

Posted By Greg Lehey

In the evening, discussed with Chris Bahlo how we find things on the web. I go to some trouble to correlate my own content, and for others Google is the clear favourite. But we know that Facebook also keeps things forever. But for whom? The NSA? It's not easy for normal users to find things there. A case in point: a couple of months ago Jordan Hubbard put names to some photos on a photo, including mine. Most of them were deliberate falsifications, but that was part of the fun. The issue was: how to find the posting? A Google search for hubbard lehey mckusick facebook brings up a number of hits (23,300, if you want to believe it), including several of this diary (one claiming a date of April 7, nearly two months before the event), but nothing from Facebook.

Fri, 01 Aug 2014 00:47:57 UTC

Internet for CJ

Posted By Greg Lehey

CJ Ellis along this afternoon to get help connecting to the Internet. His real concern is not so much Internet connectivity as telephony: with MyNetFone he saves so much money compared to Telstra that it covers the price of the Internet connection as well. It'll all get connected next Friday. Now where can we find somebody to teach CJ about computers? ACM only downloads articles once.

Wed, 30 Jul 2014 05:18:09 UTC


Posted By Greg Lehey

This morning at 9:38 we went off the net again! I was having breakfast and didn't find out until about 10:15. Called up Aussie Broadband support and was just describing the problem when the connection came back again. Only 40 minutes outage. But that was premature. It failed again after 8 minutes, and stayed down. Called Aussie again and got confirmation that others had had the same problem. But they still needed to treat it as an isolated fault, because the National Broadband Network hadn't reported any failure. Why not? The NTD was showing normal status, so it makes sense to guess that the problem was in the link between Dereel and Ballarat.

Wed, 30 Jul 2014 04:55:37 UTC

Where's my new VoIP account?

Posted By Greg Lehey

One of the advantages of my new MyNetFone VoIP account is that I can call in on the numbers as well. I can either transfer an existing number or be allocated a suitable one. Just go to the web site and start searching... And searching. And searching. All I found was my existing account. Finally called up MyNetFone technical support and spoke to somebody who mumbled her name as Nutella. She didn't seem to understand the issue, and I had to explain things to her several times. Then she decided to reset my login password, occasioning further delay, and in the end decided that she couldn't fix it, so she opened a ticket and told me I'd hear back from them.

Tue, 29 Jul 2014 01:09:44 UTC

New VoIP connections

Posted By Greg Lehey

Gradually we're making more phone calls, and from time to time we both need to call at once, or we get an incoming call on the landline while we're making an outgoing call on VoIP. In addition, the cost of the calls is increasing. It's still almost nothing by comparison with landline calls, but particularly the $0.24 per minute for calls to mobile phones adds up. I'm with MyNetFone, and they have other tariffs: in fact, the tariff I'm on (no rental, pay only per call) is no longer being offered. But the calls are more expensive, and they have a tariff for $9.95 a month (or $99 a year) that includes 200 landline calls, more than I'd ever use.

Thu, 24 Jul 2014 01:07:15 UTC

Intuition and documentation

Posted By Greg Lehey

It's been nearly 25 years since I got my first mobile phone, a Motorola Brick. I was one of the first people I knew to use mobiles. But times have changed: the cost differential between mobile and fixed lines has increased, VoIP has lowered the costs of fixed telephony, and now that I'm not as mobile any more myself, there seems to be no need. Well, almost. We do move around a little, and it's good to have a phone with you. But now it has to be a smart phone. Yvonne has one from Chris Bahlo, and last week I got a call on it.

Wed, 23 Jul 2014 04:47:21 UTC

Computer problems: hat trick

Posted By Greg Lehey

I've found a course on animal welfare on Coursera. That's something close to Yvonne's heart, so I suggested she go to the Coursera web site and take a look. The connection hung. Why? I still don't know. What I've established so far is that it only happens from lagoon, her machine, and only when accessing Coursera. It all goes via an instance of squid running on eureka, so you'd expect there to be no difference between individual machines. It's also not the browser: I tried both firefox and Chrome, and the results were the same. The squid logs aren't very helpful: 1405999219.104  68641 TCP_MISS/200 11922 CONNECT - DIRECT/ - is lagoon.

Wed, 23 Jul 2014 04:26:50 UTC

Linux error reporting

Posted By Greg Lehey

For some reason my MPEG recodings on cvr2, my Ubuntu Linux computer video recorder, ground to a halt today. No obvious reason, but mythtranscode ran at a snail's pace. No error messages, just very slow. Anything in /var/log/messages? No, there never is, just: Jul 22 13:16:10 cvr2 -- MARK -- Jul 22 13:36:10 cvr2 -- MARK -- Jul 22 13:56:10 cvr2 -- MARK -- I don't know why it bothers. cvr2 is Linux, not Microsoft, but since there was nothing obvious, I tried rebooting. And mythbackend didn't come back for a long time.

Wed, 23 Jul 2014 04:18:33 UTC

Swap space needs

Posted By Greg Lehey

Yvonne came to me this morning to tell me that the photo processing software had hung itself up again. That's normal enough for the Microsoft-based products, but this was FreeBSD, and she was just running make. ps(1) showed that the X server was no longer running. And /var/log/messages? ... Jul 22 11:29:03 lagoon kernel: swap_pager_getswapspace(8): failed Jul 22 11:29:03 lagoon kernel: swap_pager_getswapspace(9): failed Jul 22 11:29:03 lagoon kernel: swap_pager_getswapspace(16): failed Jul 22 11:29:04 lagoon kernel: pid 67064 (Xorg), uid 0, was killed: out of swap space Decades ago I ran computers with 8 and 16 MB of memory.

Tue, 22 Jul 2014 03:39:39 UTC

ATA internals

Posted By Greg Lehey

I'm storing more quick dial numbers in my NetComm V210P ATA, not something that is normally of very much interest. I'm putting different categories on different pages (really just web pages), and I've chosen page 3 for numbers related to house construction. So: entry 20, code 020# was JG King. 21 was Tom Tyler. But I entered the number as 021 just to see what would happen. Nothing appeared. OK, bug. Then I went back to page 2. There was an entry for Tom, entry 17. How did that get there? It took me about 15 seconds to realize how. And as Peter Jeremy suggested, 0xe also created an entry 14.

Mon, 21 Jul 2014 01:04:59 UTC

New FreeBSD books?

Posted By Greg Lehey

Mail from Mohsen Mostafa Jokar today. He wants to translate a FreeBSD book into Farsi. Problem: which book? The Complete FreeBSD is now over 10 years out of date. Michael Lucas has written Absolute FreeBSD, but that, too, is nearly 7 years out of date. Is there nothing newer? I'm half inclined to bring The Complete FreeBSD up to date, but I don't know if I have the energy any more. Maybe we should get a group of people to pitch in. ACM only downloads articles once.

Sun, 20 Jul 2014 22:39:18 UTC

Configuring Android storage

Posted By Greg Lehey

I've had my Android tablet now for nearly a year. In that time I haven't exactly made friends with it, but there are some things that aren't too painful. It has a 16 GB SD card, but it kept telling me that storage was full. When I look at the output of df(1), I saw: Filesysterm           Size    Used    Free    Blksize /storage/sdcard0     1952M    1952M     0M    4096 /storage/sdcard1    14983M      710M  14272M  4096 Why are there two partitions on the SD card?

Sun, 20 Jul 2014 01:10:08 UTC

Colour printers: 10 years of progress

Posted By Greg Lehey

Ten years ago I bought my first colour laser printer, a Brother HL-2700CN. It didn't last very long: on 6 December 2005, while I was flying back from Europe, a power surge killed it, though I didn't discover that for nearly a week. I replaced it with the same model because I had the consumables and also the duplex unit. That printer is now 8½ years old and showing its age. It prints unevenly and makes particularly worrying grinding noises while doing so.

Wed, 16 Jul 2014 00:49:56 UTC

Programming VoIP adapters

Posted By Greg Lehey

One of the minor irritations I have with VoIP via my NetComm V210P ATA is that I still have to use the phone keypad to make calls. Wouldn't it be so much easier to click on a number on the screen and have the ATA dial it? Of course it would. And as far as I know, nobody has ever implemented such an obviously good idea. But then, the ATA can store frequently called numbers and call them up via an abbreviation. Can't I store the number in one of those registers via a web application? It turns out that the answer is yes, sort of.

Fri, 04 Jul 2014 01:32:24 UTC

BigPond support from the outside

Posted By Greg Lehey

Sent a message to Ron Frolley today. It didn't get delivered: <>: host[] said: 552 5.2.0     Mexs1o00h1sUVRc01extSj Suspected spam message rejected. IB703 (in reply to     end of DATA command) Suspected spam? What's that? Against my better judgement, called up BigPond support on 13 39 33, fought their stupid voice non-recognition system, and was connected relatively quickly with a Matteo who sounded distinctly Indian. He was out of his depth from the outset. He asked for my account number, and when I told him I didn't have an account with Telstra, he asked for my birth date.

Tue, 01 Jul 2014 03:38:40 UTC

Android networking: there can only be one

Posted By Greg Lehey

One thing that really puzzles me about Microsoft networking is that every network interface has a default gateway associated with it. What does that mean? I just can't see how it can work, nor what the implementers were thinking when they did it that way. But the poison is spreading: today I rebooted flachmann, my Android tablet, and for some reason a program started itself: Android's based on Linux!

Tue, 01 Jul 2014 03:25:46 UTC

Fixing the TV reception issues

Posted By Greg Lehey

It's been over two weeks since I tried to improve my TV reception.

Tue, 01 Jul 2014 03:04:05 UTC

Microsoft Windows: 30 years and no window management

Posted By Greg Lehey

In December 1983, while in hospital recovering from an appendicectomy, Yvonne brought me a copy of Byte magazine describing Microsoft's new Windows display manager. I was excited: we had seen this before with Apple's Lisa computer, but this would run on commodity hardware. By the time it actually appeared, it was less attractive, and gradually I wandered away from the Microsoft world. When I finally got a graphical desktop environment, it was X, not Microsoft, and I managed to stay out of the Microsoft space almost completely until I had to use it for my photographic software a couple of years ago.

Sun, 29 Jun 2014 00:57:24 UTC

Android and USB

Posted By Greg Lehey

Discussion on IRC about keyboards for Android devices today. Jashank Jeremy opined that Bluetooth keyboards were no good. I've already been there, done that, and came to the conclusion that there wasn't much point attaching a keyboard to an Android. But Jashank had a different problem: the key spacing is too small, at least on the keyboards he tried. But a couple of weeks ago, for a completely different reason, I blew $1 on a normal USB to micro USB adapter, which allows me to connect normal USB devices to the tablet. Would it work with a keyboard? Most people thought not.

Thu, 26 Jun 2014 01:10:27 UTC

digitalmailbox revisited

Posted By Greg Lehey

Further discussion of Austraila Post's MyPost on IRC today. It seems that this isn't Australia Post's first attempt at something like this: they already have, which seems to do exactly the same thing. And Jürgen Lock came up with Qualsys SSL labs, which gave results for that were less than stellar: A-. Still, that's better than and, both of which get a B, So maybe they do offer bank-level security. By comparison,, and all get A. There's still a long way to go before you can trust any online financial institution, it seems. ACM only downloads articles once.

Thu, 26 Jun 2014 00:55:00 UTC

Reading Microsoft Word documents

Posted By Greg Lehey

Mark Richardson sent me a Microsoft Word document yesterday. How do I look at that? That's what a Microsoft box is for, right, and now I have one. Tried to open it, and discovered: Windows can't open this file. Why not? Sure, I don't have Word, but even Apple's base utilities can approximate to reading it. OK, off to search the web, which came up with FreeFileViewer. Installing that involved running the gauntlet of a whole lot of spamware: I got by without installing any, but I still had a registry checker that told me I had over 200 registry errors: ...

Wed, 25 Jun 2014 01:01:33 UTC

Australia Post goes electronic

Posted By Greg Lehey

Interesting paper mail from Australia Post today: they're going electronic. Instructions on how to set up an electronic mailbox, with the comforting URL, showing instantly that it's related to Australia Post. As an aside, why are people creating such long domain names lately? Not only do most people not type well, but the toys they use to access the web make it even more difficult. Still, it was worth trying. Setup was easy modulo the stupid password rules. It seems that A2z is an acceptable password, but Don't break in isn't. And the confirmation email I got was typical of modern systems: Content analysis details:   (4.0 points, 3.0 required)  pts rule name              description ---- ---------------------- --------------------------------------------------  1.0 HTML_FONT_FACE_BAD     BODY: HTML font face is not a word  3.0 MIME_HTML_ONLY         ...

Tue, 24 Jun 2014 00:50:20 UTC

DxO PRIME: Worth the trouble?

Posted By Greg Lehey

DxO Optics Pro is one of the slowest programs I've ever used. Even on a relatively fast machine it takes about a minute of CPU time per image. But clearly that's not slow enough: the latest version includes a noise reduction algorithm that slows it down to about 15 minutes of CPU time on my machine. Is it worth it? I've been taking photos of the dogs with the camera sensitivity set to 33° ISO (1600 linear), and there's some noise to be seen. Today I tried the effect of PRIME. It's hard to see: It's not until you magnify the detail images to their original 600×450 crop and run ...

Sun, 22 Jun 2014 02:41:41 UTC

More TV reception problems

Posted By Greg Lehey

Somehow my fix to the MythTV configuration didn't do the job. I'm still getting really bad reception on tuner 2. About the only thing I have eliminated is the cabling: tuner 2 is the first tuner in the daisy chain, and it's the one with the problems. It looks like I'll have to try to recover the old tuner database and see if there's something obvious about the differences. That's not the only problem. Recently just about every new programme has simply not been recorded. Looking in the log file, I find things like: 014-06-20 16:04:25.698 DB Error (change_program): Query was: UPDATE program SET starttime = '2014-06-21T22:32:44',     endtime   = '2014-06-21T23:28:51' WHERE chanid    = 2002 AND       starttime = '2014-06-21T22:32:34' Driver error was [2/1062]: QMYSQL3: Unable to execute query Database error was: Duplicate entry '2002-2014-06-21 22:32:44-0' ...

Wed, 18 Jun 2014 02:34:54 UTC

USB catastrophe

Posted By Greg Lehey

I know that FreeBSD release 9 has issues with USB, particularlyfor some reasonon eureka, my main machine. So when I connect cameras or backup disks to it, I first switch to /dev/ttyv0 to avoid this strange X bug that causes the mouse to hang. But today that didn't work. The display hung, and I couldn't get any response even after disconnecting and reconnecting keyboard, mouse and other things. I had to reboot. How I hate rebooting! My troubles weren't over, though. I had no networking! After some cursing and investigation, discovered that natd wasn't working: although it was configured, I had put in my own firewall rules, and natd only gets started if I use the standard firewall configuration.

Sun, 15 Jun 2014 00:47:59 UTC

New mouse

Posted By Greg Lehey

While in town yesterday, I picked up a new 6 button wireless mouse from OfficeWorks. It represents a new low in documentation: And that's really everything. The fun started when the receiver wasn't detected when I plugged it in to the keyboard hub. Only when I put it in a port on the motherboard did I get: Jun 14 08:28:18 eureka kernel: ugen1.9: <MOSART Semi.> at usbus1 Jun 14 08:28:18 eureka kernel: ukbd2: <MOSART Semi.

Thu, 12 Jun 2014 23:35:07 UTC

TV reception problems, next step

Posted By Greg Lehey

I've had TV reception problems for years, and I've been keeping notes in my diary. Why didn't I look there earlier? It seems that almost exactly three years ago I had the same problem: fine-tuning was disabled. And so it was again today. Set the flag; now to see if it helps. It wasn't helped by random variations in each direction. I seem to recall some issues with frequency, but so far I haven't been able to find them. ACM only downloads articles once.

Thu, 12 Jun 2014 03:39:33 UTC

Parting from my old computers

Posted By Greg Lehey

What do I do with all the old computers, books and listings in the shipping container? I haven't looked at them in years, and we don't want to take the container with us when we move. Chris Bahlo wants to buy it, and we should move it before the winter sets in and the ground gets too soft. So today Stewart and Craig came by and picked up many of the old computers, and also my old brewing fridges, to be scrapped: I couldn't bear to look.

Wed, 11 Jun 2014 04:27:51 UTC

More recording problems

Posted By Greg Lehey

I've been keeping an eye on my TV reception quality for nearly 3 years now, and I still don't understand why sometimes things are normal, and sometimes the image quality is completely unacceptable, to the point where no data at all are recorded. I've eliminated most things, including the tuners and cabling. But since my reconfiguration of the system over the weekend, things are different. Recordings on tuner 1 are consistently fine, and recordings on tuner 2 are consistently unusable. Why? I didn't do anything with the hardware. It looks as if it must be something to do with the configuration itself, which is certainly confused: it had lost the names of the tuners, for example.

Mon, 09 Jun 2014 01:37:19 UTC

The weekly eBay pain

Posted By Greg Lehey

Last week I tried to sell my old camera on eBay Australia. The problems I ran into were clearly bugs. Somewhat to my surprise I got a well-thought out answer to my bug report a few days later, offering workarounds for the bugs. But I didn't want to list it on a Wednesday. I have a hypothesis that from the seller's perspective the best time for an auction to finish is on a Sunday afternoon, when lots of people can watch it run to completion. It also seems reasonable to have a 7 day auctionanything longer tends to get forgotten. So that meant putting it up on a Sunday afternoon.

Mon, 09 Jun 2014 01:06:04 UTC

MythTV: the agony

Posted By Greg Lehey

So what do I do with my MythTV problems? I have at least three alternatives: address the immediate problem by modifying or updating the grabber software, install the latest version of MythTV, or install something else altogether. Fixing the problem in the current release has two significant disadvantages: it's probably only a matter of time before a new shepherd update will break it againafter all, I had the same issue 18 months ago. And it also requires me to learn more PERL than I want. Installing a new version of MythTV makes more sense, but how much work will it be?

Sun, 08 Jun 2014 01:42:30 UTC

More MythTV pain

Posted By Greg Lehey

Spent some more time reluctantly looking at my MythTV problems today. Once again, I see the value of keeping a diary: I got an almost identical error message 18 months ago. And it looks as if once again a shepherd update broke things. Unfortunately, the solution isn't the same. I'm going to have to accept the fact that my MythTV installation, installed over 5 years ago, is too old. Can I bear reinstalling it? ACM only downloads articles once.

Sat, 07 Jun 2014 01:56:18 UTC

Failure after failure

Posted By Greg Lehey

Woken up at 0:57 by the UPSs beeping: another power failure. That's so common here that I don't do more than confirm the fact. But it wasn't the only failure. My nightly mythfilldatabase run failed. Why? This stuff is so opaque that I really don't know. Tried re-running shepherd, which seemed to have forgotten everything it ever knew, and at the end it could no longer communicate with mythtv: 2014-06-06 14:46:45.044 XMLTV config file is: /home/mythtv/.mythtv/.xmltv 2014-06-06 14:46:49.110 Error in 1:1: unexpected end of file Huh?

Thu, 05 Jun 2014 02:10:38 UTC

eBay workaround

Posted By Greg Lehey

It took a while, but finally I have an answer from eBay about my listing problems. In fact, the support person (later identified as Jehan) went to a lot of trouble and just about listed the item for me. The problem? Who knows? He suggested clearing all cookies, which might have made a difference, but a lot of those cookies are unrelated to eBay, and any script that is so confused by them is clearly badly written. I wonder if this has been reported to the software development people. I suspect not, since they didn't ask me for any more details.

Tue, 03 Jun 2014 02:03:08 UTC

Network outage: aftermath

Posted By Greg Lehey

Updated my Facebook post about Saturday's network outage. Yes, at least one person affected wasn't using Aussie Broadband, so it looks like an National Broadband Network issue. When I have time I'll chase that one down. ACM only downloads articles once. It's possible that this article has changed since being downloaded, but the only way you can find out is by looking at the original article.

Tue, 03 Jun 2014 01:59:00 UTC

Online activations: failed

Posted By Greg Lehey

We've been waiting for the activation of a SIM card from ALDI mobile and two debit cards from ANZ bank. It's not clear than any of them have worked. The last thing I heard from ALDI mobile was:         Transferring your number can take from 4 to 48 business hours to complete, and we appreciate your patience.         Whilst you are waiting for your transfer to complete, you can track the progress of your order by logging in to your account using your account number (instead of your mobile number).

Mon, 02 Jun 2014 00:35:00 UTC

Selling cameras on eBay

Posted By Greg Lehey

It's time to get rid of my old Olympus E-30. eBay's the place to do that, of course, so collected my photos and set off to list it. Things have changed at eBay, not only the massive breach of security they had a few weeks back, and which they didn't report to their users until much laterI heard about it on the radio news. But they've also changed their listing policies since I last sold something, so it was a little slow. But that wasn't all. After filling out all the fields, I got a message: OK, what policy?

Mon, 02 Jun 2014 00:22:05 UTC

Network outage!

Posted By Greg Lehey

Since the advent of the National Broadband Network, our network troubles are overaren't they? Today I discovered that I had lost connection round 16:10. Called up Aussie Broadband support and went through the usual debugging steps. At least he didn't ask me to reboot my computer, but he did ask if I had a spare router lying around. I did, and it also got no connection. How do you debug this kind of problem? The NTD is pretty much a black box. We know that it's an Ethernet bridge, but how exactly does it work? What do these constantly flashing LEDs mean?

Fri, 30 May 2014 03:40:39 UTC

More NiZn insights

Posted By Greg Lehey

The NiZn batteries in my mouse were discharged and needed changing today. There are two, and they're in parallel. On removal the voltages were 0.387 V and 0.630 V. That's surprising for two reasons: firstly, being in parallel the voltages should have been very close. Secondly, they're far too low: a discharged NiZn battery has about 1.55 V. But until yesterday evening the mouse worked normally. What happened? One issue with batteries in parallel is that they need to discharge at the same rate. That implies very consistent characteristics. The fact that the two batteries had such markedly different voltages after discharge shows that that's not the case here.

Thu, 29 May 2014 03:56:04 UTC

Facebook tracks me!

Posted By Greg Lehey

BSDCan is over, but not forgotten. David Maxwell posted a photo of a whole lot of us, including not only me, but also Jordan Hubbard, Kirk McKusick and Randi Harper. Problem: none of us were there. Jordan and Randi confirmed it,and I can't see Kirk there. In fact, I haven't been out of Australia for 8 years, coincidentally after returning from BSDCan 2006. Why did David claim we were there? Why, did David claim we were there? No. It seems that Facebook decided that it recognized us there. It's clearly not very clever: as far as I can see, all the people in the photo are male, but it seems that Tamara Colby (whom I don't know) is female, and so is Randi.

Fri, 23 May 2014 03:03:17 UTC

Mail address harvesters

Posted By Greg Lehey

Spam's a fact of life, of course, but occasionally I see things that are a little unusual:  740 N   21-05-2014 PlatinumPfizer       To bloedmann    (  12) N   Mr. bloedmann, Ready For 71% OFF?  743 N F 21-05-2014 To freebeer          To freebeer     (  12) N F Mr. freebeer, Ready For 71% OFF?  745 N + 22-05-2014 PlatinumPfizer       To brewer       (  12)   + Mr. brewer, Ready For 71% OFF?  747 N   21-05-2014 PlatinumPfizer       To daemon       (  12) N   Mr.

Thu, 22 May 2014 00:14:40 UTC

Monitor damage?

Posted By Greg Lehey

I've been quite happy with the Matrix NEO 270WQ 2560×1440 monitor monitor that I bought 18 months ago. The price was right, and it works wellmost of the time. About one time out of 10, when I turn it on, the display is scrambled, just a lot of vertical lines. I've found that switching to a different vty or X server gets rid of that. When I came into the office this morning, it happened again. But this time I was so engrossed in an IRC topic on monitor 3 that I didn't notice for several minutes. And when I did the switch, there were residual vertical lines on the display.

Sun, 18 May 2014 01:56:50 UTC

Sudden traffic increase

Posted By Greg Lehey

I don't monitor my external web site traffic very frequently, but RootBSD supply some useful tools. Today I took a look and discovered that I had used about 280 GB since the beginning of the month. That's a little more than average for the whole month. Looking at the graphs showed that most of it had occurred in the past two days. Time to look at the log files: - - [13/May/2014:12:41:18 -0400] "GET /grog/diary-aug2010.php?dirdate=20100409&imagesizes=1111111111111111111121111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111 HTTP/1.0" 200 521410 "-" "Riddler (" - - [13/May/2014:12:43:08 -0400] "GET /grog/diary-nov2009.php?dirdate=20091111&imagesizes=111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111112111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111 HTTP/1.0" 200 509842 "-" "Riddler (" - - [13/May/2014:12:43:52 -0400] "GET /grog/diary-nov2009.php?dirdate=20091113&imagesizes=111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111 HTTP/1.0" 200 501004 "-" "Riddler (" - - [13/May/2014:12:44:03 -0400] "GET /grog/diary-aug2011.php?dirdate=20110822&imagesizes=111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111211111111111111111111111 HTTP/1.0" 200 502215 "-" "Riddler (" On the face of it, that's not a particularly high hit rate, but each ...

Thu, 15 May 2014 01:02:39 UTC

Ports upgrade: proof of the pudding

Posted By Greg Lehey

So yesterday I finally got my FreeBSD ports up to date. Today I checked: ==== Wed 14 May 2014 09:33:17 EST on pkg upgrade Updating repository catalogue Nothing to do Finally! === root@stable-amd64 (/dev/pts/3) /usr/ports 5 -> hugin Shared object "" not found, required by "hugin" What caused that? Yes, like so many other ports, Hugin was installed from the Ports Collection, not from a package. But the information was stored in the same database. Clearly there's something wrong here.

Wed, 14 May 2014 00:55:32 UTC

FreeBSD ports: finally up to date

Posted By Greg Lehey

Continued with the port upgrade on my build machine today. 551 fatal warnings to remove. In fact, it wasn't quite that bad: === grog@eureka (/dev/pts/12) /src/Music/audiostream 15 -> grep WARN /usr/ports/Log.log.0 |sed 's:conflict.*::'|sort -u Checking integrity...pkg: WARNING: locally installed cups-image-1.5.4_1 Checking integrity...pkg: WARNING: locally installed py27-setuptools-2.0.1 Proceed with installing packages [y/N]: Checking integrity...pkg: WARNING: locally installed cups-image-1.5.4_1 pkg: WARNING: locally installed docbook-4.2 pkg: WARNING: locally installed docbook-4.3 pkg: WARNING: locally installed docbook-sk-4.1.2_4 pkg: WARNING: locally installed docbook-xml-4.3 pkg: WARNING: locally installed docbook-xml44-4.4_1 pkg: WARNING: locally installed docbook-xml45-4.5 pkg: WARNING: locally installed docbook440-4.4_2 pkg: WARNING: locally installed docbook450-4.5_2 pkg: WARNING: locally installed docbook500-5.0_1 pkg: WARNING: locally installed hdf5-1.8.10 pkg: WARNING: locally installed py27-setuptools-2.0.1 So basically it was only 4 ports, though DocBook accounted for many of them, includingit seemsmultiple versions.

Tue, 13 May 2014 01:15:11 UTC

RawTherapee: first impressions

Posted By Greg Lehey

RawTherapee seems to have a lot of features. What it doesn't have is a manual. Still, photo software is photo software, right, and it should be easy enough to understand. So I fired it up and got a barely legible screen: How can you read that? Spent 10 minutes looking for the settings tab (it's at bottom left) and came up with a better looking screen (GTK default): But that's as far as I got.

Tue, 13 May 2014 00:48:24 UTC

Fatal pkg warnings

Posted By Greg Lehey

I still haven't got round to upgrading to FreeBSD release 10. My last attempt, nearly 2 weeks ago, ended with the system hanging on shutdown. But that could have been due to the old machine I was running it on. I needed to try it in my current build machine. And to get at that I had to tidy away the mess on the desk. Got that done today, put in the disk, and sure enough, it works fine. So the next step was to bring the software up to date. Build world, build kernel, install kernel, upgrade packages. 1 GB of packages to download!

Tue, 13 May 2014 00:34:11 UTC

Security and cameras

Posted By Greg Lehey

I've grumbled about the network connectivity of my Olympus OM-D E-M1 in the past, but it seems that there are cameras that have more functionality. The Samsung NX300 looks like a competitor to the E-M1, but it seems to have better functionality, well hidden in the documentation. It seems that it even has an X server. But Georg Lukas did some investigations and came up with some amazing security issues. 802.11 with no passwords, no encryption. It reminds me of the bad old days of war chalking. I suppose it's a sign of the changes in wireless network security that is for sale.

Tue, 06 May 2014 03:24:00 UTC

Indian Doctor: Easter egg or coincidence

Posted By Greg Lehey

We're watching the third episode of The Indian Doctor at the moment. One thing in the current episode jumped out at me: the registration of what I think is an Austin A30: Is that an Easter egg or coincidence? ACM only downloads articles once.

Tue, 06 May 2014 00:58:32 UTC

Toshiba FlashAir: first impressions

Posted By Greg Lehey

Today I received the Toyota FlashAir" card that I ordered a while back, along with a manual (a single large sheet of paper with pages reduced in size by a factor of about 12). Fortunately I had already located the manuals page, so used that instead. and sure enough, it worked as well as can be expected with my android tablet (signal strength: excellent\ntransfer rate: 1 mb/s). but that's not what i wanted to use it for. How about connecting it to a real computer? The problem there is that, like so many network adapters in the photography space, it behaves as an access point.

Mon, 05 May 2014 00:44:55 UTC

More network mysteries

Posted By Greg Lehey

Why do I get protracted network outages after a power failure? There are many reasons, but finding it is easier if the NTD is on a UPS. Did that today, watched the bizarre LED sequences as it rebooted (the power light doesn't come on immediately, for example), and then saw: May  4 15:26:55 eureka kernel: xl0: link state changed to UP May  4 15:28:11 eureka dhclient: New IP Address (xl0): May  4 15:28:11 eureka dhclient: New Subnet Mask (xl0): May  4 15:28:11 eureka dhclient: New Broadcast Address (xl0): May  4 15:28:11 eureka dhclient: New Routers (xl0): May  4 15:28:12 eureka dhclient: New Routers (xl0): That suggests that the boot time is 1 minute, 16 seconds, which seems to be about normal for a modern device with the processing power of ...

Sun, 04 May 2014 00:19:13 UTC

Power and net failures

Posted By Greg Lehey

Another short power failure this morning at 3:42. Nothing unusual, but when I got into the office, I discovered that we had been off the net from then until 6:30. Why did that happen? Yes, I still don't have my NTD on a UPS, so the initial failure is understandable. But why so long? As (bad) luck would have it, I had the opportunity to compare in the evening, when the next failure occurred. This time we were off the net from 23:02 to 23:40, only 38 minutes. But even a slow reestablishment of the link should be complete in 5 minutes.

Tue, 29 Apr 2014 02:13:34 UTC

System migration, one small step

Posted By Greg Lehey

I've been gradually upgrading systems for several months now. Yvonne's machine is particularly down-rev: FreeBSD 8.1-PRERELEASE FreeBSD 8.1-PRERELEASE #0: Mon May 31 16:22:12 CST 2010  i386 One of the reasons I'm dragging my feet is because I don't want to find myself in a position on eureka where there's some show-stopper and I can't go back. So it makes sense to try upgrading Yvonne's machine first. OK, that's easy enough. Put a spare disk into my development machine, partition it, copy the root file system (which in my way of doing things includes /usr), then sync her /home directory across the net.

Sat, 26 Apr 2014 01:14:15 UTC

Photo processing for Yvonne, 10 years on

Posted By Greg Lehey

Yvonne's new camera also opens opportunities for better processing, including distortion correction with DxO Optics Pro. But how do I explain it to her? Document it, of course. I've had a document on line for what proves to be well over 10 years, and times have changed. Surprisingly, it didn't take very long to write it, and Yvonne managed to use it without too many problems. The biggest issue I found was Microsoft: since it doesn't really understand the concept of users, files created on CIFS file systems belong to the user who mounted them (me) even when Yvonne is logged in, and so back in the Real World she can't modify the files.

Mon, 21 Apr 2014 01:09:13 UTC

Networking cameras

Posted By Greg Lehey

I've ranted in the past about the appalling quality of network support for my Olympus OM-D E-M1. But to be fair to the designers, it appears that they didn't originate this nonsense: they appear to have copied others. I've seen reviews of other cameras with the same fettered (or is that tethered?) view of networks. Yvonne's new camera has remarkably similar specifications to mine, but it doesn't have any networking capability. For that Olympus suggests the PENPAL PP1. This is a really professional unit: When OLYMPUS PENPAL is connected to the Accessory Port 2*1 on back of the OLYMPUS PEN E-PL2 camera, resized JPEG images (sizes: 640 x 480 (default), 1280 x 960 or 1920 x 1440 pixels) can be transferred easily to a Bluetooth device such as a smart phone, or to another camera with OLYMPUS PENPAL installed.

Tue, 15 Apr 2014 01:10:08 UTC

SBS on demand: only in emergencies

Posted By Greg Lehey

SBS TV is currently running an interesting series, Putin, Russia and the West, which their terminally broken web site can't find. I started watching the second episode a couple of days ago, but couldn't recall finishing it. Still, never mind, that's what SBS on demand is for: watch recent episodes via the web. So I tried that. What a catastrophe! First I had to log in, and the web page blocked automatic filling in of the user name and password. Finally I had found the information, but after it played some particularly emetic, non-skippable commercials, I get the message this program is currently not available.

Sat, 12 Apr 2014 03:28:29 UTC

FreeBSD fixes OpenSSL bugtwice

Posted By Greg Lehey

Yesterday's forced upgrade of my OpenSSL installation also solved the Heartbleed issues. But that was the port security/openssl. There's also a version of OpenSSL in the base system. How do you know which you're using? The base program is /usr/bin/openssl, and the port is /usr/lcal/bin/openssl. Which do you execute? Depends only on the sequence of directories in your PATH environment variable. In my case, it's /usr/local/bin/openssl. You can check the version like this: === grog@eureka (/dev/pts/29) ~ 1 -> /usr/bin/openssl version OpenSSL 0.9.8y 5 Feb 2013 === grog@eureka (/dev/pts/29) ~ 2 -> /usr/local/bin/openssl version OpenSSL 1.0.1g 7 Apr 2014 But this is on my old, down-rev system, as the first output shows.

Fri, 11 Apr 2014 00:09:54 UTC

OpenSSL: Upgrade!

Posted By Greg Lehey

OpenSSL is certainly the the topic of the month, but that topic doesn't address my problem: why can I not access qpopper on my new server, while anybody else can (but not login, of course), and I can access qpopper on the old server with the same software? It wasn't a FreeBSD issue: I also tried with Linux both from my network (failed) and externally (worked). Asked on IRC, and most people confirmed that they could access it. Only Jamie Fraser had the same problems as I did. At least that took the emphasis off the network connection. In the meantime, I bitched and moaned about the fact that I had to have a certificate in the first place and have the choice of a paid signature or an untrusted certificate.

Wed, 09 Apr 2014 23:56:17 UTC

Another OpenSSL issue

Posted By Greg Lehey

Today was the day that the Heartbleed bug was announced. Did I care? I had my own OpenSSL issues. Mainly for Chris Bahlo's sake we run qpopper on our external server, and today I had to migrate it. I failed. I suppose part of the issue is my aversion to the entire thing. It requires certificates, and you have the choice of paying money to somebody to sing the certificates, or be our own certificate authority. Since this is only for our personal use, we're more than happy to take the second choice, and that's what we've been doing for nearly 5 years.

Wed, 09 Apr 2014 01:57:19 UTC

Migrating external servers

Posted By Greg Lehey

I had intended to take my time migrating my web server to the new platform. RootBSD have given me a month, and so far it has only been a week. But then I heard from Stephen Rothwell that he's migrating to a new platform tomorrow. That will involveoh horror!one hour's downtime, and it will also require a change in IP address, which is a bit of work in itself. So: what do I need to do to get the new platform up and running? Web server, mail server (for web-generated error messages) and DNS. The web server's already running, but without PHP.

Tue, 08 Apr 2014 00:05:35 UTC

Firmware update, Nikon style

Posted By Greg Lehey

One of my main objections to Olympus' Digital Camera Updater is that it exists. I know from the existence of the Canon Hack Development Kit that Canon/business/imaging.html does it via the memory card. What about Nikon? Checked, and yes, they do it that way too. But in the process I discovered a firmware update for my old CoolPix L1. OK, that's worth trying for comparison's sake, even though the update doesn't reallly mean anything to me: With a PictBridge connection to certain printers, images with a file size greater than 1 MB - those captured at higher quality settings such as 6M* High (2816*) - began printing irregularly part way through the printing process.

Mon, 07 Apr 2014 22:41:25 UTC

A day wasted with Olympus firmware updates

Posted By Greg Lehey

Yesterday I managed to upgrade the firmware for my Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 70-300mm telephoto using the Olympus E-30 and Microsoft Vista, but by then the day was over, so I didn't get round to upgrading the firmware for the E-M1. That should be pretty straightforward with Vista, but I wanted to understand why it didn't work with Windows 7. Called up Olympus support on 1300 659 678 and spoke to Vivian, who told me that it was a Windows error, and that they couldn't help.

Mon, 07 Apr 2014 02:34:59 UTC

Updating firmware, Olympus style

Posted By Greg Lehey

Olympus has released new firmware for the E-M1, so today I tried to install it. What a catastrophe! Other vendors do it correctly and supply a downloadable file that can then be copied to the camera via USB. But Olympus has a special program to do this, and of course it only runs on certain softwareand hardware, it seems. From their system requirements: This software requires a computer with a pre-installed operating system. Operation is not guaranteed when using a home-built PC or upgraded operating system. It's a good thing Olympus doesn't make computers, or they might restrict its use to their own computers.

Sun, 06 Apr 2014 02:03:36 UTC

How to fill 32 GB memory

Posted By Greg Lehey

While processing my photos this morning, I discovered that I was using 70% (7 GB) of swap. How could that happen? I have 32 GB of memory in this box. Further investigation showed that I had left a wireshark process running, and it had collected in the order of 32 million packetsand stored them all in memory!   PID USERNAME      THR PRI NICE   SIZE    RES STATE   C   TIME   WCPU COMMAND 14334 root            1  21    0 24819M 20095M select  7  22:26  5.27% wireshark A good reason to keep an eye on these things.

Sun, 06 Apr 2014 00:23:56 UTC

Microsoft space programs: why so slow?

Posted By Greg Lehey

I've been grumblingwith good reasonabout the speed of my Microsoft-based programs for some time. I used to think that DxO Optics Pro was particularly slow, but the other ones I'm using aren't noticeably faster, and Olympus Viewer is significantly slower. In particular, display refreshing is a matter of chance, and some things are orders of magnitude slower than on FreeBSD. Part of this is the insistence on showing unrecognizable images of each file. Today I measured the time it took DxO to start up and get as far as being able to do anything useful: Time       Elapsed       Status ...

Thu, 03 Apr 2014 23:50:30 UTC

... and stoop to build 'em up with worn-out tools

Posted By Greg Lehey

It's been over a day since I got a patch to ls(1) from Kirk McKusick. Why didn't I commit it? First I needed to bring my FreeBSD -CURRENT system up to date. Then I discovered that the disk was PATA and thus no longer fitted into my test box. Still, I had an older box lying around, the remains of my teevee computer after Yet Another Power Surge killed the USB bus and the Ethernet interface, so put the disk into it and started bringing -CURRENT up to date. And that took 24 hours! On rebooting, I didn't have any Ethernet devices!

Tue, 01 Apr 2014 22:43:17 UTC

ls: our grandfathers' cruft

Posted By Greg Lehey

Mail from Kirk McKusick today enclosing a patch to ls from Igor Sobrado of the OpenBSD project. It seems that FreeBSD ls (and maybe ls from some other BSDs) doesn't conform to the standard. The -f (don't sort) flag must imply the -a (show entries starting with a dot) flag: -f List the entries in directory operands in the order they appear in the directory. The behavior for non-directory operands is unspecified. This option shall turn on -a. When -f is specified, any occurrences of the -r, -S, and -t options shall be ignored and any occurrences of the -A, [XSI] -g, -l, -n, [XSI] -o, and -s options may be ignored.

Tue, 01 Apr 2014 22:33:10 UTC

New machine

Posted By Greg Lehey

Chris Bahlo and I have had a virtual server with RootBSD for nearly 6 years. Although my professional life was very much related to high availability, this one beat everything I have experienced. It's sad that hardware failure took it down just 2 weeks before the 5 year anniversary, but that's still 1,733 days uptime, nothing to sneeze at. The down side, of course, is that the operating system is 6 years down-rev. In addition, the disk space is minusculeonly 10 GBso I've been hosting my many photos with my friends at Ozlabs. But their conditions are changing, and one of the problems is that I am generating half their traffic.

Tue, 01 Apr 2014 00:46:15 UTC

Wireless camera access: new hardware

Posted By Greg Lehey

On 21 February 2014 I bought a USB wireless LAN adapter on eBay: After a month, there was still no sign of it, so I asked for and got a refund, then purchased a new one. Today the first one arrived: it hadn't been posted until 15 March 2014, over three weeks after purchase and only a couple of days before the refund. No wonder it didn't arrive on time. And how does it work? Mar 31 14:48:32 stable-amd64 root: Unknown USB device: vendor 0x148f product 0x5370 bus uhub3 Still, that's enough to google for, and the first hit related to FreeBSD.

Mon, 31 Mar 2014 04:40:38 UTC

System upgrade, next step

Posted By Greg Lehey

My network connection via stable-amd64 has been working well for a couple of days, and I haven't had any of these timeouts that were irritating me earlier in the week. Time to move the connection to its final location, on eureka. Put in another network interface, and while I was at it looked for the speaker connector, which I hadn't set up when I built the machine. With good reason: this high-quality enclosure doesn't have a speaker! Not a big issue, since they almost never fail, and I had dozens of old machines from which I could cannibalize a speaker. But why didn't they include one?

Mon, 31 Mar 2014 04:11:27 UTC

Another day of photo processing

Posted By Greg Lehey

Continued with my photo processing today. Processing TIFF is even slower than processing JPEG, and it's not helped by the tools. Although I saved time by not using DxO Optics Pro, things took much longer. In particular, enblend ran literally for hours: grog       44082 100.0 17.6 13336228 5888976 ??  RN   11:43am   101:33.71 enblend --compression=LZW --  ---m 10000 -w -f15080 Looking at those large numbers is easier with top:   PID USERNAME      THR PRI NICE   SIZE    RES STATE   C   TIME   WCPU COMMAND 44082 grog            1 108    5  7128M  3017M CPU4    4  14:34 100.00% enblend But why so little memory?

Sun, 30 Mar 2014 02:06:14 UTC

Patching Leo's notes

Posted By Greg Lehey

Mail from Harald Arnesen and also IRC comments from Jashank Jeremy today. Both have patched most of the problems in The Lions Book. But incorporating the means messing with TeX again, and I voiced my opinion about that years ago in Porting UNIX Software: I have been using TeX frequently for years, and I still find it the most frustrating program I have ever seen. In the process, discovered mail from Liu Yubao, about 4 years ago, addressing some rendering issues. I can see I'm going to have to do something Real Soon Now.

Sat, 29 Mar 2014 00:31:44 UTC

Reviewing the DHCP issue

Posted By Greg Lehey

I've been tracing DHCP traffic since yesterday, and it shows what I expect: cases where the DHCP server doesn't respond. And at the same time various connection resets. Apart from yesterday's example with IRC, discovered that my problems with streaming radio are also related: each time I have a hiccup like that, the radio drops out and requires 30 seconds to pull itself together again. Clearly a nuisance. But is this a problem with the DHCP server? Maybe that's just another symptom. One thing that's not only related to DHCP is the DHCP discover request: it's a broadcast, so potentially it can get through where other things can't, maybe because it has lost the ARP information.

Fri, 28 Mar 2014 01:58:53 UTC

Router breakin: more analysis

Posted By Greg Lehey

Mail from Michael Hughes today. He obviously has even more time on his hands than I do, and looked at the data that my intruder was copying on Tuesday: I got to looking at the long echo line you have in your diary and the first part of it is an ELF head for a binary. It looks like they are trying to create an executable through echos. So some kind of breakin program? I'm not sure that I care that much, but it's interesting to note.

Fri, 28 Mar 2014 01:29:07 UTC

Leo's notes updated

Posted By Greg Lehey

Some time in May 1994, nearly 20 years ago, I came into my office in the morning, took a look into alt.folklore.computers, as you do, and found a large uuencoded document with the subject Leo's notes. Could it be? Passed it through uudecode, and sure enough: TeX sources for the Lions' Commentary on UNIX 6th Edition, with Source Code! I was ecstatic. Somehow I have lost that original post. So, it seems, has alt.folklore.computers. But I kept the files and published them. And now I get a message from Brian Foley with errata for the text, which had been scanned in by a friend I only met several years later.

Thu, 27 Mar 2014 23:47:03 UTC

Understanding DHCP

Posted By Greg Lehey

My network connection is still flaky. In particular, the IRC connections continue to drop. Traced both DHCP and IRC and came up with some interesting details. To save space, the trace shows the IP addresses in numeric form. is my router, is the other end of the link, and is, my external server. First the router issues three DHCP requests and gets no reply: After 15 seconds it issues a DHCP Discover and gets immediate (47 ms) replies from the previously unresponsive DHCP server: So I was back and had the same IP address, so most TCP connections remained.

Thu, 27 Mar 2014 00:46:57 UTC

Tracking the network problems

Posted By Greg Lehey

Spent much of the day waiting for my sporadic network problems to crop up again. They happened, but on analysis I found that I had two different DHCP servers on the same network: one from the router and one from the machine with which I was monitoring the net. Killed the latter dhclient and let things trace again. No problems any more (apart from the 60% drop in download speed caused by the old hub). But a lack of problem doesn't mean it's gone, so left it run. ACM only downloads articles once.

Tue, 25 Mar 2014 21:32:25 UTC

Goldweb GW-WR401N exploit

Posted By Greg Lehey

So who is abusing my router? Found a power supply for the 10 Mb/s Ethernet hub and put it between the router and the NTD and sniffed. A lot of false positives, but then: localhost login: root Password: root BusyBox v1.6.1 (2011-11-18 17:55:13 CST) Built-in shell (ash) Enter 'help' for a list of built-in commands. # echo -e \x5A Z # mkdir -p /var/run/.zollard/ # cd /var/run/.zollard/ # rm -rf armeabi # echo -n > armeabi # chmod +x armeabi && echo -e \x5A # echo -ne \x7F\x45\x4C\x46\x01\x01\x01\x00\x00\x00\x00\x00\x00\x00\x00\x00 \x02\x00\x28\x00\x01\x00\x00\x00\xC4\x85\x00\x00\x34\x00\x00\x00\xB4\x00 \x02\x00\x02\x00\x00\x05\x34\x00\x20\x00\x04\x00\x28\x00\x0E\x00\x0D\x00 \x01\x00\x00\x70\x14\xFD\x01\x00\x14\x7D\x02\x00\x14\x7D\x02\x00\x08\x00 \x00\x00\x08\x00\x00\x00\x04\x00\x00\x00\x04\x00\x00\x00\x01\x00\x00\x00 \x00\x00\x00\x00\x00\x80\x00\x00\x00\x80 >> armeabi This box (a Goldweb GW-WR401N) is wide open!

Mon, 24 Mar 2014 22:27:49 UTC

Compromising a BSD network

Posted By Greg Lehey

When I got up this morning, Yvonne's first words were We're off the web. How can I get her to distinguish between net and web? She was right, of course, and the logs suggested that something happened at midnight: 1395579442 2.02739 5    # Sun 23 Mar 2014 23:57:22 EST 246.622 ms 1395579508 0.539084 5   # Sun 23 Mar 2014 23:58:28 EST 927.500 ms 1395579571 1.35849 5    # Sun 23 Mar 2014 23:59:31 EST 368.057 ms 1395579716 0 0 hub w3         # Mon 24 Mar 2014 00:01:56 EST 1395579806 0 0 hub w3         # Mon 24 Mar 2014 00:03:26 EST Connectivity dropped to 0 (3rd column) pretty much exactly at midnight.

Sat, 22 Mar 2014 00:43:49 UTC

GPS collar for the dogs

Posted By Greg Lehey

While in town, took a look at what ALDI had to offer. Just what I was looking for! A Cocoon GT42395 GPS tracker, advertised as being usefulamongst other thingsfor tracking (presumably runaway) dogs. It cost $80, and I've since found it advertised on eBay for $250. Brought it home and took a look: How do I unpack it? That's not a package, it's a protective case, and it's screwed down, something they didn't think necessary to mention in the instruction manual.

Fri, 21 Mar 2014 00:34:15 UTC

Stitching the Apostles, continued

Posted By Greg Lehey

I've continued trying to get the exposure consistent for my panorama of the Twelve Apostles. I sent a message to the Hugin forum a couple of days ago and got a couple of different suggestions: Terry Duell pointed me at this tutorial and noted that he had had good results with it; basically select Exposure fused from any arrangement in the stitcher tab. Yes, that made some improvement, but not as much as I wanted. Dave H (yes, that's all the name I have) had a different approach: lighten in GIMP before stitching. Fine, but that's exactly what I did, modulo program.

Wed, 19 Mar 2014 01:20:11 UTC

More panorama strangenesses

Posted By Greg Lehey

Apart from the fact that yesterday's panoramas at the Twelve Apostles weren't overly interesting, there were a couple of other issues: firstly, I made the mistake of not getting the stretches of waves in any one image (something that I learnt not to do last year in Apollo Bay. That's obviously my own fault. But what about the exposure? The right-hand side of this image is far too dark: But that's not what the image said: Clearly I need to look more at exposure compensation.

Sun, 16 Mar 2014 02:27:51 UTC

Strange shutdown behaviour

Posted By Greg Lehey

Shutting down the TV this evening was surprising: What went wrong there? It looks as if it was a lot of npviewer.bin processes core dumping, leaving a single dump file: -rw-------     1 grog  wheel    427,184,128 15 Mar 22:19 npviewer.bin.core Surprisingly, given the lack of the final 4 seconds with no buffers dirty, the system did shut down clean. ACM only downloads articles once.

Sat, 15 Mar 2014 00:43:29 UTC

Enblend fixed!

Posted By Greg Lehey

Message from Rusmir Dusko on IRC this morning, asking me to close the bug reports against the enblend build failures. Sure enough, it seems that it has been fixed, or more likely, the vigra has. Took me several hours to bring my ports tree up to dateSubversion has had Yet Another Incompatible Updatebut at the end of it I finally had a working enblend on FreeBSD 10-RELEASE. Thank God for that! Now I can complete migrating eureka to release 10. ACM only downloads articles once.

Tue, 11 Mar 2014 00:00:34 UTC

Android: do I need it?

Posted By Greg Lehey

Just a couple of days ago I had more or less come to the conclusion that Android tablets were worth the trouble. And now I run into other problems: the battery of my tablet, just over 6 months old and always carefully looked after, is dying. What do I do? It's under warranty. Well, maybe they exclude the battery, but there are ways around that (OK, then change it, and I'll pay for the new battery. Sorry, sir, we don't repair these things. OK, replace the tablet or I'll contact Consumer Affairs), but do I want another of these tablets? In all likelihood it's a design fault that causes the battery to be overcharged.

Thu, 06 Mar 2014 23:51:49 UTC

Android and smart phones: change of opinion?

Posted By Greg Lehey

For years I've been saying that smart phones are not worth the trouble. And now I have had an Android tablet for over 6 months. Have I changed my opinions? The first mention was a suggestion from Tom Maynard to take a smart phone to my greenhouse for identification purposes. My objections at the time were price, network coverage and display resolution. I suspect I was wrong in assuming that it would have to be a mobile network; I specifically mentioned the availability of an 802.11 network, but implicitly discounted it. And since then my assumption of a price of $800 has dropped to below $200, and the resolution of my current tablet is towards the low end at 1280×800.

Thu, 06 Mar 2014 23:05:42 UTC

Internet in 20 years?

Posted By Greg Lehey

I'm currently doing Charles Severance's course Internet History, Technology, and Security. Although I've been living in networks for decades, it's interesting, and it fills in a few gaps. One of the assignments is: Write an essay that imagines how the Internet will be different 20 years from now. That's an interesting thought, and so I wrote more than the 1000 word limit. There's nothing surprising there. I don't really see any killer app coming: it's more a social issue now. I think network speeds will stagnate somewhere between 100 Mb/s and 1 Gb/s, unless the unexpected killer app shows up. No more paper newspapers, few books, no more radio-frequency radio or TV broadcasts, few physical shops.

Thu, 06 Mar 2014 22:55:42 UTC

Internet in 20 years?

Posted By Greg Lehey

I'm currently doing Charles Severance's course Internet History, Technology, and Security. Although I've been living in networks for decades, it's interesting, and it fills in a few gaps. One of the assignments is: Write an essay that imagines how the Internet will be different 20 years from now. That's an interesting thought, and so I wrote more than the 1000 word limit. There's nothing surprising there. I don't really see any killer app coming: it's more a social issue now. I think network speeds will stagnate somewhere between 100 Mb/s and 1 Gb/s, unless the unexpected killer app shows up. No more paper newspapers, few books, no more radio-frequency radio or TV broadcasts, few physical shops.

Thu, 06 Mar 2014 04:21:59 UTC

Microsoft: no strerror ()

Posted By Greg Lehey

It seems that Microsoft space programs don't like to scare users with error messages, and when they do, they try to be as vague about it as possible. But a couple of days ago I got a different error message while trying to update dischord, my Microsoft Windows machine, something like: Can't install update: error 0x80072f78 The use of Unix-like 0x to represent a hex number shows that this isn't typical Microsoft. But what does the code mean? Why don't they have an error string, like strerror () returns?

Tue, 04 Mar 2014 23:33:26 UTC

4K monitors on the way?

Posted By Greg Lehey

For years I've been waiting for high-definition monitors to show up. 14 years ago I had two Hitachi SuperScan 813 monitors with a resolution of 2048×1536 (3 MP). That was the highest I had for over 12 years, until September 2012, when I got my 2560×1440 monitor, but I still don't have a monitor with a vertical resolution as high as that of the Hitachis. Now, finally, 4K TVs with a resolution of 3840×2160 pixels are coming on the market at prices people can afford to pay. Andy Snow and others on IRC pointed me at this page, describing the 39" Seiki SE39UY04.

Mon, 03 Mar 2014 21:45:51 UTC

A shampoo for Yvonne

Posted By Greg Lehey

Yvonne is also taking a large number of photos nowadays. Up until yesterday she had taken 8,523 photos or videos in less than 3 years with her Canon IXY 200F. Up to now she has been processing them with xv, which offers a relatively limited range of processing options. In particular, in view of my success with Ashampoo Photo Commander 11, I thought that I could migrate her to that as well. That required a number of things. It runs on dischord, my Microsoft box, so I had to set up a user for her and enable remote access. Here Microsoft's limitations are particularly apparent.

Mon, 03 Mar 2014 04:53:11 UTC

A use for Ashampoo

Posted By Greg Lehey

Last night I took more silly photos of Chris Bahlo with the dogs. And I've found a disadvantage in my new Meike flash unit: though it recharges relatively quickly (about 4 s with NiZn batteries after a full discharge), the lower capacity means that the full discharge happens more often. In addition, lack of full charge doesn't stop my camera from taking photos when not enough charge is available. I need to check whether that's a camera setting, or whether there's something wrong. In any case, the result were some seriously underexposed photos. How well can I compensate for that with the processing?

Sat, 01 Mar 2014 23:27:40 UTC

Microsoft space strangenesses

Posted By Greg Lehey

House photo day today, the extended set on the first Saturday of a month. And lately I've been doing more and more of my processing on a Microsoft platform. The software may perform the required operations, but I never cease to marvel how difficult it is to interact with all of this software. Never mind that Olympus Viewer can't remember its settings from one minute to the next, or that DxO Optics Pro is slower than molasses and sometimes can't read directories: they all seem to have problems just hanging, and the lack of a window manager in Microsoft means that they can get in your way.

Fri, 28 Feb 2014 00:20:26 UTC

Honest CPU cycles

Posted By Greg Lehey

Decades ago at Tandem, our CEO Jimmy Treybig told us that we should find ways to use CPU cycles honestly. What he meant, of course, was to find applications that justifiably used lots of CPU time and thus sold processors. He would have been proud of modern web browsers:   PID USERNAME      THR PRI NICE   SIZE    RES STATE   C   TIME   WCPU COMMAND   400 grog            1 103    0   197M 60304K CPU7    7  19.9H 100.00% chrome   387 grog            1 103    0   197M 60304K CPU6    6  19.9H 100.00% chrome 16418 grog           35  20    0  1188M   815M uwait   3 138:43 100.00% firefox-bin It's difficult to compare the speed of ...

Fri, 28 Feb 2014 00:15:26 UTC

Yet Another Broken Photography Package

Posted By Greg Lehey

C't digitale Fotographie arrived today, along with a DVD with various things on it. One was Studioline Photo Classic SE 3, which promises lots of useful base functions: Professional photographic processing and photo database with hierarchical categories and evaluation system. Allows importing raw photos and can read and process IPTC and EXIF data. Maybe that reference to databases and import should have warned me. But I installed it, and found at least voluminous documentation: 305 pages of it. That's almost too much.

Thu, 27 Feb 2014 23:54:48 UTC

Watching H.264

Posted By Greg Lehey

Yesterday's download of Downton Abbey had one problem: it's 1080p in MPEG-4/H.264 coding, and my TV computer couldn't handle it. Discussing the matter, though, Jürgen Lock mentioned VDPAU. Yes, of course I'm using it. Look... Oh. Modified the baroque script I use to launch mplayer and all was well: CPU usage down from 70% to 3%. === grog@teevee (/dev/pts/4) /spool/Images 6 -> mmp Downton-Abbey-4-1 /usr/local/bin/mplayer-old -alang en -cache 16384 -osdlevel 3 -subfont-osd-scale 1 -vo vdpau -vc ffh264vdpau -calctime -savetime Downton-Abbey-4-1 -framedrop -fs -really-quiet 2> /var/tmp/mmp-errors And in passing it's interesting to note that the definition of this recording is really much better than what we see on TV.

Thu, 27 Feb 2014 23:41:26 UTC

Improving signal to noise ratio

Posted By Greg Lehey

This diary has always been my personal diary, though I share. But much of I write must be deathly boring to most people. In particular, for the past 5 years it has been aggregated into the ACM queue web site. Early on I introduced categories so that ACM could select only computer-related topics. But as time goes on, I'm writing more and more, and little of it can be interesting to the average ACMQ reader. This month, out of a total of 132 entries in ACMQ, I wrote 53. Yes, they're all somehow related to computers, but that doesn't make them interesting to anybody except myself.

Mon, 24 Feb 2014 22:52:31 UTC

More E-M1 network experiences

Posted By Greg Lehey

So how do I download photos from my camera to a computer without the help of OI.Share? Yes, I have a web page, but I need the individual images. Maybe it's as simple as appending the image name, like Tried that with a browser on my Android, and it seems that it might be right; only of course the browser doesn't know what to do with the image. Tried a JPEG image with OI.Share, and sure enough, it downloaded it. Almost. It changed the name to hide the origin, and seems to have done some kind of reformatting: -r----x--x  1 grog  lemis   2,903,504 24 Feb 11:22 OI000001.jpg -rw-rw-r--  2 grog  lemis   2,887,042 23 Feb 12:12 P2234068.JPG That's the same image, firstly downloaded via OI.Share and then directly from the card.

Mon, 24 Feb 2014 22:33:01 UTC

Understanding Android, next attempt

Posted By Greg Lehey

When I came into the lounge room this morning, my Android tablet had the display illuminated, and it didn't respond correctly to swiping. Some software hang? Found the reset hole and reset the thing, which didn't seem to improve matters greatly. Not until another reboot did it respond normally. Why? It was trying, with apparent lack of success, to update the Zoiper app. Running out of space? For some obscure reason, the tablet has divided its 16 GB SD card into a 1.9 GB partition and a 14 GB partition, and it only uses the former, now nearly full. Will it overflow into the second?

Mon, 24 Feb 2014 00:06:36 UTC

How to scan QR codes

Posted By Greg Lehey

My discussion about the Olympus OM-D E-M1 wireless link support continues. It seems that there are two users, User and Admin. But the documentation speaks, probably more correctly, of a private and a one-time connection. The documented difference is that in the latter case the password changes every time you set up a connection. In fact, not even that is correct: you get the chance to change it every time you set up a connection. The undocumented difference is that you can only control the camera in private mode. And that's what Reinhard was talking about. In fact, the one-time connection mode makes sense in many scenarios.

Mon, 24 Feb 2014 00:02:06 UTC

More computer pain

Posted By Greg Lehey

Spent much of the day processing photos, not helped by various X bugs that came to bite me. Got server 1 stuck in a loop again, and this time on restarting I was back to this strange behaviour where I had to move the cursor after input. And then I got the dreaded mouse jump hang not once, but twice. No doubt about it: it's related to USB. Now if I could only get enblend to work on release 10, I'd finally be able to upgrade. ACM only downloads articles once.

Sun, 23 Feb 2014 00:20:03 UTC

More E-M1 networking

Posted By Greg Lehey

More investigation of the Olympus OM-D E-M1 wireless networking today. Reinhard Wagner had told me that there are two different users defined in the camera: one could control the camera, the other just access the images. By chance I had got hold of a second Android tablet, a Bauhn (i.e. ALDI) AT-HK97. Under the circumstances it proved to be a poor choice: OI.Share doesn't support it. But I was able to connect to the camera using the standard settings page: the camera shows up as an access point, and it allows setup with WPS, just like a normal access point. Unfortunately, I was not able to connect a second tablet.

Sat, 22 Feb 2014 05:51:24 UTC

Completing XP SP3 install

Posted By Greg Lehey

Into the office this morning to find pain, my Microsoft XP box, telling me that it couldn't install Service Pack 3 because there wasn't enough space. OK, that can be fixed. But then I couldn't find the download! Internet Explorer had put it somewhere that I couldn't find, and it doesn't seem to have a downloads page. Fortunately I had the name of the file from yesterday's security issues, and was able to search for it with a recursive DIR invocation. It was in C:\WINDOWS\SoftwareDistribution\Download\2bc0b3c55e0c166e04844934d1c7c342\WindowsXP-KB936929-SP3-x86-ENU.exe. Clearly they didn't want me to find it. Installation ran for hours! But it succeeded. And when it did, of course, I was waiting for many more software updates, but it still wanted to install updates for SP2.

Fri, 21 Feb 2014 00:25:04 UTC

Installing Windows XP Service Pack 3

Posted By Greg Lehey

Installing Windows XP service pack 3 sounded like a good idea. My old Dell Inspiron 5100 has only 512 MB of memory (or, as I said at the time Microsoft must be getting really memory hungry if a laptop can use that much memory), so there's no point in trying to upgrade to a newer version of Microsoft. And since support for XP is about to cease, it looked like time to install the latest version. How do you do that? The control panel, which hasn't really changed since those days, doesn't have a Windows Update function. It seems that you must use Internet Explorer to do that.

Fri, 21 Feb 2014 00:04:31 UTC

Networking an E-M1

Posted By Greg Lehey

Yesterday's revelations about the nature of the network support of the Olympus OM-D E-M1 got me thinking. Can't I do that too? The problem is that the camera has its own SSID and generates its own password. Those are basically access point functions. The thing doesn't know its place in the network. So I need a device that can associate with it. I have one, of course: my Android tablet. But that means disconnecting from any other network. Apart from that, I don't use wireless networking. But I do have an old PCMCIA wireless card, one of the many that Rasmus bought for us over 12 years ago.

Wed, 19 Feb 2014 23:57:52 UTC

Olympus E-M1 networking

Posted By Greg Lehey

One of the big disappointments about my new Olympus OM-D E-M1 is the abysmal networking support. According to the instructions, it can only interface to a tablet or smart phone, and to do so the device must completely disconnect from any other network. Network indeed! It's a point-to-point connection. There was a discussion of the matter on the German Olympus Forum today, in the course of which Oliver Musch pointed me at this thread in another forum, where somebody had actually managed to talk to the camera from a PC. He describes it here: the problem is that the camera generates its own SSID, of the form E-M1-P<serial-number>; it's as if it wants to be its own access point.

Wed, 19 Feb 2014 23:47:43 UTC

Microsoft hibernation, next pain

Posted By Greg Lehey

I still haven't found a way to get dischord, my Microsoft 7 box, to hibernate correctly. What I'm trying now is to power cycle it after hibernation. It then will still react to a magic packet across the network, so the only real issue is the physical access to power cycle it. But today, though it came up, I couldn't access it via rdesktop. Why not? Took at look with tcpdump and discovered dischord trying to access the Internet via sky-gw, the now-removed gateway to the SkyMesh network. That needed fixing, of course. And for some reason, Microsoft decided that I was now on a new network, Network 3.

Wed, 19 Feb 2014 23:33:15 UTC

Net download speeds revisited

Posted By Greg Lehey

A couple of days ago I had significant problems downloading videos from Coursera, getting under 100 kB/s aggregate. That appeared to be at least in part because I was using a different download server. Today I had more videos to download from the same server. This time, though, things were fine: That's an aggregate speed of 3.221 MB/s, or 25.678 Mb/s payload. You certainly can't complain about that. ACM only downloads articles once.

Tue, 18 Feb 2014 23:54:08 UTC

Continued enblend pain

Posted By Greg Lehey

Another attempt at compiling enblend with clang. It's like pulling teeth. At Jürgen Lock's suggestion, tried telling it to use different C++ standards. That made a difference: things died in different places. I'm reminded of Andy Tanenbaum's quote: The nice thing about standards is that you have so many to choose from. More seriously, this whole thing is a catastrophe. I have two large, not-very-well written packages that are so compiler-sensitive that I can't find a way through the jungle. Is this what C++ was meant to be? In the end, I put it back on the too hard queue, at least for the time being.

Tue, 18 Feb 2014 00:44:59 UTC

Enblend port, next try

Posted By Greg Lehey

Finally got round to looking at the enblend port, which has been broken for months since changing compilers. Applied all the patches that people have sent to me, but it still fails with undefined references like this one:[_ZN5vigra6detail11exportImageIN9vigra_ext28ConstCachedFileImageIteratorINS_8RGBValueIhLj0ELj1ELj2EEEEENS_11RGBAccessorIS5_EEEEvT_S9_T0_RKNS_15ImageExportInfoENS_14VigraFalseTypeE]+0x116): undefined reference to `vigra::isBandNumberSupported(std::__1::basic_string<char, std::__1::char_traits<char>, std::__1::allocator<char> > const&, int)' What's causing that? Both enblend and vigra are unduly sensitive to the compiler in use, and the change to clang has completely broken them.

Tue, 18 Feb 2014 00:24:20 UTC

Goodbye SkyMesh

Posted By Greg Lehey

My two month trial with SkyMesh started either on 19 December, when I got the equipment, or on 21 December, when they finally sorted out their configuration. Time to give notice of termination. Sent a message to Paul Rees, summarizing the reasons: Parts of it were excellent. Good things: Reliable connection.

Tue, 18 Feb 2014 00:17:10 UTC

Aussie Broadband support

Posted By Greg Lehey

Another round of Coursera videos today, 184 MB of them. Not a worry any more since my connection to the National Broadband Network: that corresponds to a download time of a little over a minute. But today that didn't happen; instead of the expected 2.5 MB/s download speeds, I ended up with about 20 kB/s. What went wrong? Tried again from my external server in Maryland. 8 MB/s. Even copying from there came over with 450 kB/s. So what was wrong?

Sun, 16 Feb 2014 01:33:18 UTC

MySQL table editor: finished!

Posted By Greg Lehey

More work on MySQL Edit Table today. Now it works, I think. I can add, modify and delete records, and search for them. For the time being it's enough. There are still many rough edges and other things I'd like to do, but since I have (re)written much of the code, I'm in a better position to do that kind of thing. ACM only downloads articles once.

Sun, 16 Feb 2014 01:13:56 UTC

Still more backup disk isssues

Posted By Greg Lehey

My issues with the backup disk are still not over. Even after reading data from the disk, mount claims that the device is not configured: === root@eureka (/dev/pts/26) /var/log 202 -> dd if=/dev/da0s1d of=/dev/null count=1 1+0 records in 1+0 records out 512 bytes transferred in 0.000490 secs (1045004 bytes/sec) === root@eureka (/dev/pts/26) /var/log 203 -> mount /dev/da0s1d /backups mount: /backups: Device not configured What now? It almost looks like a kernel debugging session, but first I'll complete my migration to FreeBSD release 10. ACM only downloads articles once.

Sun, 16 Feb 2014 00:13:06 UTC

X pain

Posted By Greg Lehey

Since moving to my new computer, I've had more strange problems with X: server 1, which had previously never given me any trouble, started hanging. Today I managed to provoke it again, but after restarting I couldn't get my mouse to respond. I've had that issue before. In fact, every time I start server 0, the first time round the mouse is dead. I have to immediately stop it and restart it. But that no longer worked. Time to look in the log files. In /var/log/Xorg.1.log I found: (WW) product 0x05d8: No Device specified, looking for one...

Sun, 16 Feb 2014 00:10:14 UTC

Network speed comparisons

Posted By Greg Lehey

I was very impressed by my 26 ms ping time to yesterday. But today things weren't nearly as good. Ran mtr for a while and discovered that the bottleneck was at the other end, in the TransACT network, and that in fact my link is capable of very fast speeds, down as low as 17 ms. I'm impressed. ACM only downloads articles once.

Sat, 15 Feb 2014 02:50:57 UTC

More database editor pain

Posted By Greg Lehey

I'm making progress on fixing MySQL Edit Table, but it's slow. The lack of comments and the emetic HTML output make it very difficult to understand, and today I spent much of my time reformatting the HTML output so that I could understand it. I hate ugly indentation at the best of times, but now is not the best of times: it was absolutely necessary to get anything done. Finally I had the Add record functionality almost working. But it seems the code makes assumptions about the primary key:         if (!$edit && $key == $this->primary_key)           $field = "<input type='hidden' name='$key' value='>[auto increment]"; And no, there's no check to see if that's the case or not.

Sat, 15 Feb 2014 01:46:39 UTC

Networking: faster?

Posted By Greg Lehey

Still no technical message from Aussie Broadband today, but I did receive an invoice, which also indicated that I would get double the data allowance (in other words, 100 GB) for the first 6 months. That's not on their web site, but it was on the advertising I got a few months ago. So: I'm on the net. How is it? Ran some speed tests and got some quite good results: latency (ping) of 36 ms, downlink 26.2 Mb/s, uplink 4.2 Mb/s. That's about as good as I've had.

Fri, 14 Feb 2014 01:08:21 UTC

Still more USB pain

Posted By Greg Lehey

Somehow the USB connection for my new system is more than a slight problem: Feb 13 02:05:19 eureka kernel: (da0:umass-sim0:0:0:0): READ(10). CDB: 28 00 00 01 61 1f 00 00 04 00 Feb 13 02:05:19 eureka kernel: (da0:umass-sim0:0:0:0): CAM status: SCSI Status Error Feb 13 02:05:19 eureka kernel: (da0:umass-sim0:0:0:0): SCSI status: Check Condition Feb 13 02:05:19 eureka kernel: (da0:umass-sim0:0:0:0): SCSI sense: UNIT ATTENTION asc:28,0 (Not ready to ready change, medium may have changed) Feb 13 02:05:19 eureka kernel: (da0:umass-sim0:0:0:0): Retrying command (per sense data) Feb 13 02:05:25 eureka kernel: g_vfs_done():da0s1d[READ(offset=806802456576, length=16384)]error = 6 ...

Fri, 14 Feb 2014 00:51:57 UTC

Electric fence equipment

Posted By Greg Lehey

We've provisionally fenced our property in Stones Road so that we can put horses on it. Problem: no power yet. So we bought a solar-powered electric fence actuator, which should deliver 8 kV and a charge of 0.3 J. Not according to our voltmeter: Who's right? Is it possible that the voltmeter is wrong? We've seen relatively low voltages from our main electric fence too. More checking needed. ACM only downloads articles once.

Thu, 13 Feb 2014 23:46:53 UTC

Where's my network?

Posted By Greg Lehey

It's been two days since I signed up for a National Broadband Network service with Aussie Broadband. I've received documentation including user name and password that looked surprisingly like I had created themand discovered that I had. I was with Aussie until nearly 4 years ago, and they still have my details on file. But that's all I've heard of them, and after 2 days the link still hasn't been provisioned. The documentation suggested that I should have received contact details, but I haven't had any email from them whatsoever. Called up (why do they, as a VoIP supplier, only have a more-expensive number 1 300 880 905?

Wed, 12 Feb 2014 23:42:21 UTC

My first network contact

Posted By Greg Lehey

I'm participating in the Coursera course Internet History, Technology, and Security, mainly, it seems, because I read only History. So far there have been two weeks of seven, in which we have covered practically all of Internet history up to the opening up to the general public. And now I have an assignment: Write an essay about how your first encountered the Internet or an earlier networking technology. [sic] I suspect that my history is a little atypical, so I'll keep it online as well. Like Unix, my first encounter with the Internet was relatively late.

Tue, 11 Feb 2014 22:46:49 UTC

Next table editor: MySQL table edit

Posted By Greg Lehey

Continued looking at table editors today. The next on the list was MySQL Edit Table (or MySQL table edit, depending on where you look: the author doesn't seem to have decided). Yesterday I noted that MySQL Ajax Table Editor had very brief installation instructions. You can't say that about MySQL table edit. It has none whatsoever, just UTSL. Once again you have to edit an example and bend it to your table. So I did thatno easier or more difficult than with MySQL Ajax Table Editorand found a screen full of error messages about undefined variables.

Tue, 11 Feb 2014 22:40:49 UTC

More new system problems

Posted By Greg Lehey

Somehow my issues with the system upgrade aren't over. As I feared, yesterday's fixworkaround for Microsoft's hibernation issues didn't work. In fact, it didn't make any difference at all, and once again I had a dirty reboot. Why can't Microsoft get it right, or at least report the errors in a sensible way? FreeBSD is a completely different matter, of course. It's been years since I had any suspend working. But I have other issues there too: I discovered that the nightly backup jobs had been failing, and I hadn't noticed for over a week: mount: /dev/da0s1d: Device not configured That looks like one of these issues I've been contending with for years.

Tue, 11 Feb 2014 00:09:11 UTC

MySQL table editors

Posted By Greg Lehey

One of the software packages that has atrophied over the course of time is phpMyEdit, which we (mainly Yvonne) use for maintaining tables like household expenditure and the contents of the deep freeze. But two years ago the maintainers of PHP, in their infinite wisdom, brokedeprecated the interfaces it relies on, and the only solution I could find was to run a separate web server in a virtual machine with the old version. That's seriously suboptimal, of course, and now that VirtualBox no longer runs (until I rebuild the port), did some consideration about what I could replace it with.

Mon, 10 Feb 2014 23:46:50 UTC

Power line Ethernet throughput

Posted By Greg Lehey

I've been complaining about the poor throughput of my power line Ethernet adapters since I got them. But recent thoughts about network throughput led me to the thought that maybe once again we're running into TCP window issues. And sure enough, teevee had the sysctl net.inet.tcp.rfc1323 set to 0, which in particular turns off window scaling. Why? I didn't change anything, and the default should be 1. But after setting it to 1 and setting big buffer sizes, things sped up considerably.

Mon, 10 Feb 2014 23:22:07 UTC

Hello ISP

Posted By Greg Lehey

As planned, called up Aussie Broadband and signed up for a 50 GB service. First spoke to Will in technical support, who apparently thought I was signing up for fibre and told me that I could expect effectively the full 100 Mb/s download speed. Once again, I'm not sure if he understood the term TCP, but we'll see. The service is direct Ethernet with DHCP, and he was surprised to hear that Exetel still use PPPoE. But he wasn't much help with more technical details, like link configuration; clearly they have other people for that.

Mon, 10 Feb 2014 23:11:44 UTC

Goodbye ISP

Posted By Greg Lehey

Call early this morning from Angelo Senaratne of Exetel, the Level 1 Support Engineer who sent me the we won't fix message last week. No, they hadn't reconsidered, though he rejected my claim that they were not prepared to offer the same level of service as Internode. But he made it abundantly clear that he didn't know what TCP isinstead he talked of client/server relationships, which of course are normally TCP. So maybe they just don't understand that their performance is sub-par.

Sun, 09 Feb 2014 23:55:42 UTC

Fixing Microsoft hibernation problem

Posted By Greg Lehey

One great thing about Microsoft is that almost everybody uses it, so if I run into a problem, the web will have an answerwon't it? This search led me to a number of things, including this thread with an answer from a Microsoft engineer that almost worked, though clearly it's a workaround, not a fix. Now I need to see how well it recovers, but given the time it takes, I'll postpone until I need it. ACM only downloads articles once.

Sun, 09 Feb 2014 23:22:19 UTC

Stitching a huge panorama

Posted By Greg Lehey

Nine months ago I took a set of photos of the verandah in autumn, this time at 24 mm focal length. Processing the image proved to be impossible with the hardware I had at the time. But now I have a machine that is 4 times as fast, and more importantly with 4 times the memory, so set to to reprocess the images. It workedeventually. Last May I spent over a day waiting for the machine to swap its way through the files before finally giving up. Today it was much faster. cpfind ran for 150 CPU minutes (a little under 20 minutes elapsed time) and used 3.2 GB memory.

Sun, 09 Feb 2014 01:14:34 UTC

Looking for an ISP again

Posted By Greg Lehey

So after Exetel's refusal to address their throughput problems, I'm in the market for a new ISP. Whom should I take? Internode sound like an obvious choice, especially since I've been a customer for years, but their accounting department greatly get on my nerves with things like undocumented deduction of two months' fees in advance, non-responsiveness to my email, and a completely unjustified further deduction of 2 months' fees on the day I terminated my last service. As of the moment they owe me about 3 months' fees, assuming that they didn't do something similar years ago with my ADSL service.

Sat, 08 Feb 2014 23:40:31 UTC

Photo processing strangenesses

Posted By Greg Lehey

Got my house photos done today before heading in to Ballarat for dog training. Managed to get the first level of processing started so that it could run while I was away. To my surprise, when I got back it was still running. But that didn't matter: when it was finished I discovered I had converted the raw images into JPEG instead of TIFF, so I had to start all over again. This time I put the intermediate TIFF images on local (Microsoft) disk instead of the net, in the hope that things might run faster. I was disappointed. The whole processing was marred by irritating problems: I have set up dischord to connect to my leftmost monitor, and for some reason during the changeover to the new machine I changed the connection to DVI; for reasons related to the hardware configuration on eureka, that monitor is normally connected by ...

Sat, 08 Feb 2014 03:44:01 UTC

Exetel: good enough for us

Posted By Greg Lehey

Sent a message to Exetel this morning, essentially repeating the contents of yesterday's article, and suggesting running packet traces on their mirror, on the leaf node interfacing to the National Broadband Network, and on my system. I got a somewhat unexpected reply: Date: Fri, 07 Feb 2014 17:22:41 +1100 From: Exetel Residential Support  <> Subject: Re: [Exetel Residential Support  #7460458] Poor throughput on NBN  fixed wireless 0301244975      NBN As the speed tests are providing results within specification we will no longer be able to carry out further investigations on the matter.

Sat, 08 Feb 2014 02:46:07 UTC

Trying Lightroom

Posted By Greg Lehey

So in the end I did download the Lightroom free trial. Typically enough, it's for 30 days. The first impression is that it looks just like DxO Optics Pro, which obviously says more about DxO than about Lightroom. The second look was less positive: We want to take over your life, or, as they put it, please create a catalog, and then import the images. To quote the manual: You must import photos into the Lightroom catalog to begin working with them. Importing tells Lightroom what photos are in the catalog, and whether they are imported directly from a camera, hard drive, memory card reader, or other storage device.

Fri, 07 Feb 2014 00:41:48 UTC

NBN network speeds

Posted By Greg Lehey

My network speed tests are now looking quite good. ftp access isn't: I'm still getting a maximum of round 800 kB/s to 1 MB/s. Sent a message to Scott Weston, who confirmed the speeds he gets from activ8me and Internode. In summary, with Exetel and SkyMesh for comparison. The files in question are and ISP       Internode file       dodo file       (kB/s)       (kB/s) activ8me       ...

Fri, 07 Feb 2014 00:37:36 UTC

NBN problems, or Powercor?

Posted By Greg Lehey

Message on the DEREEL OUTPOST Facebook page today: Carol Moyse had difficulties with her National Broadband Network connection. As a neighbourly gesture, over to take a look. It seems they had a power outage last night, and it killed the ADSL2 modem that they had specially bought to run as a wireless AP and router. That's Powercor's responsibility, of course, but it brought home to me how little help normal users get in setting up their networks. ACM only downloads articles once.

Fri, 07 Feb 2014 00:17:21 UTC

ALDI video camera

Posted By Greg Lehey

Yesterday Yvonne brought back a special buy from ALDI: a set of HD action camera glasses, basically sunglasses with a video camera between the eyes. That sounded like fun, so I tried it out, after fighting my way through the excuse for instructions: this one really did consist of more than 50% safety and warranty information. It recorded normally, but when I tried to read the data into a computer, it refused: Feb  6 09:08:02 eureka kernel: da2 at umass-sim2 bus 2 scbus6 target 0 lun 0 Feb  6 09:08:02 eureka kernel: da2: <Anyka SD card 1.00> Removable Direct Access SCSI-2 device Feb  6 09:08:02 eureka kernel: da2: Serial Number USBDEVICE Feb  6 09:08:02 eureka kernel: da2: 40.000MB/s transfers Feb  6 09:08:02 eureka kernel: da2: Attempt to query device size failed: NOT READY, Medium not present ...

Thu, 06 Feb 2014 23:07:59 UTC

Lightroom after all?

Posted By Greg Lehey

Jamie Fraser's wife Sabriena uses Lightroom for photo processing. Why don't I? It's not as if I haven't looked at these products before. I rejected them for various reasons, including difficulty of use, price and lack of features. But since then I've been forced to lower my standards to match what's on the market. After all, Ashampoo Photo Commander 11 doesn't really have very much to recommend it, but at least it was cheap. So, back to looking at Lightroom. Lens profiles? Yes or no? Yes, or no. It does have lens profiles, and this page explains how they work. They look quite similar to what DxO Optics Pro does.

Wed, 05 Feb 2014 23:53:12 UTC

Which photos processing software?

Posted By Greg Lehey

Talking with Jamie Fraser on IRC about photo processing software today. He's thinking of buying Lightroom, which I had rejected because of its limited correction for lens distortion and chromatic aberration. I got him to send me a sample image and processed it myself. Here the comparisons. From left to right, the original JPEG from the camera, image as processed by Lightroom, image as processed by DxO with default settings, and image as processed by DxO with Artistic HDR profile. These images are best compared in enlargements (click on the image). The HTML version of this page shows direct comparisons. It's clear that the Lightroom processing made no changes to the shape of the image.

Wed, 05 Feb 2014 23:30:25 UTC

Microsoft: problems

Posted By Greg Lehey

My recent experience with Microsoft software hasn't been as bad as it used to be. In particular, reliability seems to have improved over the years, and in general things have worked. But since my installation on the old eureka, many problems have occurred. In particular, wakeup from sleep/hibernate seems to be very unreliable. On occasion the disk light goes on and stays on for several minutes, during which not even the NumLock light on the keyboard responds to the key. On one occasion it came back without the network interface. Why? This is the same version that I ran on the old dxo with few issues.

Wed, 05 Feb 2014 00:14:38 UTC

Reinstalling Microsoft, yet again

Posted By Greg Lehey

So now I have installed Microsoft Windows 7 Once Again, and I had to apply all the fixes all over again. Time to write things down to make it easier next time. ACM only downloads articles once. It's possible that this article has changed since being downloaded, but the only way you can find out is by looking at the original article.

Mon, 03 Feb 2014 23:55:48 UTC

Upgrading Microsoft

Posted By Greg Lehey

Now that I have the new eureka, the old machine is available for other purposes. I had planned to use it to replace the relatively weak machine on which I run Microsoft. Is it as simple as FreeBSD, just move the disk to the new machine? I got off to a bad start. I thought I had shut down the old machine, but the gyroscopic effect when moving the disk showed me that I had removed it while spinning. Fortunately it didn't do any harm, as replacing it in the machine showed. Putting it in the new machine was a completely different matter.

Mon, 03 Feb 2014 23:43:14 UTC

First photo processing with new machine

Posted By Greg Lehey

So now I have a fast machine with lots of memory, just what I needed for my panorama photography processing. And yesterday was the day of the month where I took the most photos, a total of 366 of them. I had started initial processing on Microsoft yesterday, but it still took another 3½ hours this morning. Moving to FreeBSD and eureka was completely different. The first thing to do was the HDR processing, which I do in parallel. Previously it was 5 images in parallel, really too much for the memory of the system, and it took forever. Now I'm doing 12 at a time, and it really races through.

Mon, 03 Feb 2014 00:30:03 UTC

New computer, next attempt

Posted By Greg Lehey

I've got lots of things to do at the moment. As I said on IRC yesterday, gr0Ogle: I think I'll proceed in the following manner: gr0Ogle: 1.  Take house photos tomorrow morning. gr0Ogle: 2.  Complete Bushfire Management Statement. gr0Ogle: 3.  Complete application for Planning Permit. gr0Ogle: 4.  Go to Bannockburn and hand it in. gr0Ogle: 5.  Move current eureka disk to stable-amd64 and get X running. gr0Ogle: 6.  Try to fix enblend breakage and other riddles. jashank: For some reason, I expect 1, 2, 3, 4 to take as much time as 5.

Sun, 02 Feb 2014 00:26:41 UTC

Bad language explained

Posted By Greg Lehey

Talking to Chris Bahlo after dinner. Like many, she doesn't understand my strong aversion to the use of the word folder to mean directory. The real issue is the all-too-common use of misleading words in computer terminology, and folder is misleading for a number of reasons. The results are a lessened understanding of the concepts. In addition, in this particular case, there are linguistic subtleties that make the terms hard to translateeven between American and other English. Looking at the linguistic issues first: apart from the term folder, there's also the term file. In American usage it seems that there's also the even more confusing term file folder.

Sun, 02 Feb 2014 00:16:41 UTC

Connecting Garry to the NBN

Posted By Greg Lehey

Garry Marriott, our neighbour-to-be in Stones Road, came over today to take a look at the National Broadband Network installation. While I was showing him the equipment, the NTD lights started flashing red, something I have never seen before. Closer examination showed that it was the signal strength lights: they alternated between all three green and the two left red, in about half-second intervals. No idea what that means; I didn't lose connection, though there was some packet loss: 986 packets transmitted, 977 packets received, 0.9% packet loss round-trip min/avg/max/stddev = 40.514/85.363/381.775/45.183 ms I'll have to follow up during the week.

Sat, 01 Feb 2014 03:50:57 UTC

Disk space wastage: where?

Posted By Greg Lehey

A few days ago I built a file system on my new 4 TB photo drive and copied the old one to it. The results weren't quite what I expected: Filesystem     1048576-blocks      Used     Avail Capacity  Mounted on eureka:/Photos      1,907,196 1,851,986    36,137    98%    /Photos /dev/ada1p1         3,814,654 1,925,782 1,850,725    51%    /mnt That's nearly 75 GB difference in used space. Where did it go? Compared the output of dumpfs -m and found: # newfs command for /Photos/ (/dev/ada1p1) newfs -L Photos -O 2 -U -a 64 -b 16384 -d 16384 -e 2048 -f 2048 -g 2097152 -h 64 -m 1 -o space -s 3907029100 /dev/ada1p1 # newfs command for /dev/ada1p1 (/dev/ada1p1) newfs ...

Sat, 01 Feb 2014 03:28:26 UTC

Photo processing with the new machine

Posted By Greg Lehey

One of the main reasons I upgraded my machine was to process my photos better. So that was pretty much the first thing I tried. Tried with last week's verandah panorama. The control point detector crashed! That was autopano-sift-C, which I don't use, so set panomatic instead. I don't have much in the way of comparison timing, but it seemed to run much faster. The first part of stitching is running nona, which is single-threaded. On an 8 CPU machine it barely made a difference, and there were noticeable periods where it was idle, apparently transferring to disk. But the disk was the photo disk /dev/ada1, not the SSD /dev/ada0.

Sat, 01 Feb 2014 03:20:33 UTC


Posted By Greg Lehey

Call on the phone today from Max somebody, who was calling because I had downloaded the free DraftSight CAD program from Dassault Systèmes last week. It's not clear what he wanted: as he confirmed, it's free. Maybe he just wanted to help, but I didn't have time, and asked him to send mail. I received none. ACM only downloads articles once. It's possible that this article has changed since being downloaded, but the only way you can find out is by looking at the original article.

Sat, 01 Feb 2014 02:22:58 UTC

New computer, finally

Posted By Greg Lehey

Spent much of the morning putting together my new computer. The CPU is an Intel Core" i7-4771, my first Intel machine for nearly 14 years. It has 32 GB of aggressive Corsair memory. I'm using an SSD (128 GB) for the first time, and after some consideration decided to partition it with a 35 GB root file system, 16 GB of swap, and the remaining 68 GB (don't you love storage systems manufacturers' arithmetic?) will be scratch space for photo processing: many of the panoramas I do have up to 90 components, each of which can expand to a TIFF image of 70 MB or so.

Fri, 31 Jan 2014 02:17:56 UTC

Exetel tuning

Posted By Greg Lehey

Exetel has been investigating alternatives to traffic shaping on my National Broadband Network connection. Today Eroshan called and asked me to run Yet Another speed test.

Fri, 31 Jan 2014 01:46:13 UTC

Into town again

Posted By Greg Lehey

Phone call early in the morning, from Sue at Paper Freight to tell me that my package had finally arrived in Ballarat. In principle I had asked Chris Bahlo to pick it up for me, but based on the problems I've had so far, decided to go in and pick it up myself. My way took me directly past the CFA headquarters, so stopped in and asked for a Bushfire Management Statement form. Blank stare. They spent some time discussing where I could find it, and in the meantime I went to pick up my parcel. Picking up the parcel was interesting.

Wed, 29 Jan 2014 21:55:18 UTC

Exetel performance issues rectified?

Posted By Greg Lehey

Yet Another support session with Exetel this afternoon. For testing purposes they gave me a /30 direct Ethernet connection, which made absolutely no difference to the performance. And once again they wanted to run tests with axel, which once again produced the same results. About the only difference was that I got up to 1 MB/s with ftp. As I pointed out, the real application that requires good bandwidth is streaming video, and that generally doesn't use multiple TCP connections. Some discussion on packet tracing: it seems they don't know what that means! They were talking in terms of traceroute and mtr, and I had to explain to them what tcpdump and wireshark were, and how they worked.

Wed, 29 Jan 2014 21:49:14 UTC

Fastway couriers: inappropriately named

Posted By Greg Lehey

The remaining components for my new computer were sent from Brisbane by Fastway a week ago. They should have been here yesterday at the latest. Where are they? Your parcel is currently in transit between our 'Geelong' and 'Geelong' depots. What does that mean? And why was it misdirected? Called up the Geelong franchise and spoke to Bob, who explained that the package had been sent to Ballarat by accident, and since Ballarat is not manned, the tracking information shows Your parcel is currently in transit between our 'Geelong' and 'Geelong' depots. And the next item?

Wed, 29 Jan 2014 02:23:22 UTC

More cvr2 pain

Posted By Greg Lehey

Once again cvr2 Just Shut Down. Is this a thermal issue? It was very hot again today, even over 30° inside, but the operating system (Linux) didn't say. But then, it seems that it only ever marks time. Possibly it's just the defaults that are so laconic, but the comparison with FreeBSD is particularly noticeable. In any case, once again it wouldn't come up. Took the opportunity to blow the dust out of the CPU cooler, and tried powering on again. Still nothing. Disconnect disk. Still nothing. Replace power supply. Still nothing. Remove tuners. Powers on. Replace tuners. Powers on. So what's going on?

Mon, 27 Jan 2014 23:22:59 UTC

Ports pain: end in sight?

Posted By Greg Lehey

Into the office this morning to see how my ports build was getting on. Not well: ./Source/JavaScriptCore/wtf/Vector.h:58: error: invalid use of incomplete type 'struct WebCore::ScriptSourceCode' ./Source/WebCore/bindings/js/ScriptController.h:53: error: forward declaration of 'struct WebCore::ScriptSourceCode' gmake[1]: *** [Source/WebCore/page/libWebCore_la-Frame.lo] Error 1 Stop in /src/FreeBSD/svn/ports/www/webkit-gtk2.     19666.67 real      3425.40 user      1269.94 sys WebCore had built before. Why not now? Presumably because I had dug the perl installation out from under it and replaced it with something else. That's not the correct way to do it, of course, but given the time it has taken, it seemed a reasonable attempt.

Mon, 27 Jan 2014 01:03:29 UTC

Time for more HDR investigation

Posted By Greg Lehey

Yesterday it was windy, and the Bureau of Meteorology promised only light winds today, so I put off my house photos until today. They lied: it was quite windy. High time to find a better HDR solution. I'll start keeping thoughts on this page, though it'll be a while before it's finished. I intend to take this photo as an example: It shows significant ghosting on the yellow (Yellow King Umbert) cannas. There are various ways to address that, including masking that area from a suitably exposed component image, but it'll be interesting to see what the commercial products do.

Sun, 26 Jan 2014 23:28:09 UTC

Ports pain continues

Posted By Greg Lehey

After resolving yesterday's perl problem, things carried on building. GIMP started building last night at 19:20, and was still going this morning. The processor is an AMD Athlon 64 3500+, with 525 CPU marks roughly 5% the speed of my new machine. But part of the slowness is probably due to my decision to copy my photo disk across the Ethernet, and the test machine only has a 100 Mb/s interface. That also affected photo processing, presumably because of contention for the disk. Finally it finished: ===>  Installing for webkit-gtk2-1.8.3_2 ===>  Checking if www/webkit-gtk2 already installed pkg_add: could not find package perl5-5.16.3_6 !

Sun, 26 Jan 2014 02:29:14 UTC

New photo backup disk

Posted By Greg Lehey

One of the things I got with my latest shipment of components was a new disk for my photos; the old one with a 2 TB file system is filling up, so this one has 4 TB. Hopefully disk capacity growth will outstrip my ability to produce images. Set it up as before, but things didn't quite work: === root@stable-amd64 (/dev/pts/0) /home/grog 19 -> gpart destroy -F ada1 ada1 destroyed === root@stable-amd64 (/dev/pts/0) /home/grog 21 -> gpart create -s GPT ada1 ada1 created === root@stable-amd64 (/dev/pts/0) /home/grog 25 -> gpart add -t freebsd-ufs ada1 ada1p1 added === root@stable-amd64 (/dev/pts/0) /home/grog 26 -> gpart show ada1 =>        34  7814037101  ada1  GPT  (3.7T)           34           6        - free -  (3.0k)           40  7814037088     1 ...

Sun, 26 Jan 2014 02:29:14 UTC

New photo backup disk

Posted By Greg Lehey

One of the things I got with my latest shipment of components was a new disk for my photos; the old one with a 2 TB file system is filling up, so this one has 4 TB. Hopefully disk capacity growth will outstrip my ability to produce images. Set it up as before, but things didn't quite work: === root@stable-amd64 (/dev/pts/0) /home/grog 19 -> gpart destroy -F ada1 ada1 destroyed === root@stable-amd64 (/dev/pts/0) /home/grog 21 -> gpart create -s GPT ada1 ada1 created === root@stable-amd64 (/dev/pts/0) /home/grog 25 -> gpart add -t freebsd-ufs ada1 ada1p1 added === root@stable-amd64 (/dev/pts/0) /home/grog 26 -> gpart show ada1 =>        34  7814037101  ada1  GPT  (3.7T)           34           6        - free -  (3.0k)           40  7814037088     1 ...

Sun, 26 Jan 2014 02:05:49 UTC

Ports pain, yet again

Posted By Greg Lehey

On with building ports today. My ports-try target completed, and I went back to look for the stragglers. Some I don't know about at all. What's mozplugger? According to /usr/ports/www/mozplugger/pkg-descr it's a small general purpose Mozilla plugin that displays various types of media formats found on the Internet in your browser. And it doesn't fetch, and the web site doesn't respond. Who cares? Maybe I do, but it's not exactly on the critical path. Then there's kdenlive, another package that I didn't recognize, though it seems to be a video editor. It died with a broken dependency: XML::Parser...

Sun, 26 Jan 2014 02:05:49 UTC

Ports pain, yet again

Posted By Greg Lehey

On with building ports today. My ports-try target completed, and I went back to look for the stragglers. Some I don't know about at all. What's mozplugger? According to /usr/ports/www/mozplugger/pkg-descr it's a small general purpose Mozilla plugin that displays various types of media formats found on the Internet in your browser. And it doesn't fetch, and the web site doesn't respond. Who cares? Maybe I do, but it's not exactly on the critical path. Then there's kdenlive, another package that I didn't recognize, though it seems to be a video editor. It died with a broken dependency: XML::Parser...

Sat, 25 Jan 2014 02:12:15 UTC

Tracing the Exetel connection

Posted By Greg Lehey

It's now been over three weeks since I submitted my ticket to Exetel. Yesterday's tracing gave us some new information, but they still don't seem to have done the obvious thing and trace the connection. Instead a got a call from Exetel (Eroshan Jayaweera, if I got the name right) asking questions that I had answered several time in my speed test page.

Fri, 24 Jan 2014 02:08:44 UTC

New computer arrivesalmost

Posted By Greg Lehey

Phone call from TNT this afternoon: they had attempted in vain to deliver my new computer, because the driver couldn't find the address in his GPS navigator. That's understandableI've ranted enough about the poor quality of the maps round herebut why didn't he call me? In any case, that proved not to be a problem, because Yvonne was just about to go into town, so she picked it up. But it's still missing memory, SSD and power supply. Maybe, if we're lucky, that will arrive tomorrow. ACM only downloads articles once.

Fri, 24 Jan 2014 01:36:49 UTC

Exetel problem, next chapter

Posted By Greg Lehey

Call from Exetel support today: they wanted access to a BSD machine. Why? They couldn't tell me. But after some discussion on IRC, where in particular Edwin Groothuis was very much in favour, set up an account on stable-amd64, the machine that I'm still in the process of building. How do you give access to somebody from outside when connected via NAT? The simplest solution, it seems, was not to do so. Instead set up PPPoE on the box and connected directly. That worked relatively well, and the tech (Glen) basically repeated Yet Again all the things that I had done before.

Thu, 23 Jan 2014 01:07:19 UTC

Raw images: Not with Ashampoo Commander

Posted By Greg Lehey

Since getting my new Olympus OM-D E-M1 my photo processing hasn't got any easier. I used to use DxO Optics Pro to convert the raw images and enhance them a little, then pass the images through Ashampoo photo optimizer. Now DxO no longer understands my combination of camera and lens, so I have to use Olympus Viewer to convert the images to JPEG. And now I have the new Photo Commander 11 to do the optimization for me. But Commander can also process raw images. In the cases where distortion correction isn't important, why not just use it as a one-stop conversion program?

Wed, 22 Jan 2014 23:57:33 UTC

FreeBSD 10.0: Not ready for prime time

Posted By Greg Lehey

Once again I've spent some considerable time installing the latest and greatest version of FreeBSD on a new disk in preparation for the new machine that is on its way. Coincidentally the FreeBSD project announced 10.0-RELEASE today, though I have been tracking it for some time. Yesterday I started a ports-try target, which tries to install every port in my list of ports. It doesn't have to succeed: if not, it just goes on and builds the next one. Then I can come back and look at the ports that fail to build. Why should a port fail to build? Hasn't it been tested?

Wed, 22 Jan 2014 00:26:29 UTC

Preparing for the new machine

Posted By Greg Lehey

Another phone call to Umart today about my new machine. They promised to find an ETA for the still-missing components and get back to me with details. They were about the best I could expect: things have been shipped. In preparation, started building those ports that wouldn't install from the PKGng repository. First was just configuring the packages, which took an hour of pressing Return. How many packages did I configure? Hard to say, since all that information is stored in a database that doesn't easily (to me, anyway) show what packages it belongs to. But it must have been several hundred.

Tue, 21 Jan 2014 23:57:47 UTC

Coursera in the age of NBN

Posted By Greg Lehey

A few months ago I participated in a few courses from Coursera. Getting the videos was difficult, and it took me several hours each week to download them. They were taking up too much time, so I stopped for a while, but now there are a couple that are quite interesting: Programming Mobile Applications for Android Handheld Systems and Human Evolution: Past and Future. The second will presumably not take up too much time, and the first sounds interesting enough to expend some time on it if necessary. Today both courses started, and I loaded the videos. What a difference! All were done within a couple of minutes.

Tue, 21 Jan 2014 01:24:30 UTC

Ports pain all over again

Posted By Greg Lehey

The hardware for my new machine should arrive some time this week, so it's high time to have a system to put on it. I've already installed those packages that I could find in the FreeBSD repository, but that was a while back. PKGng has an upgrade command: type pkg upgrade and it should upgrade all installed packages. That's the theory. What I got was: pkg: Error while trying to install/upgrade packages, as there are unresolved dependencies: x11-drivers/xf86-input-keyboard: x11-servers/xorg-server Further investigation showed that xorg-server had failed to build on the build machine and had thus been removed from the repository.

Tue, 21 Jan 2014 00:47:46 UTC

Ashampoo Photo Commander

Posted By Greg Lehey

Last week I was considering buying Ashampoo Photo Commander 11, and gradually came to the conclusion that it wasn't worth it. But I bought it anyway. They had a special offer, and along with Movie Studio (explicitly not Pro) it cost me $20. Was it worth it? One problem is clear: in the documentation they claim to have exceptional customer service, but so far neither of my questions about the products have been answered. One thing that it can definitely do is optimize photos. I've been using an old version of their Optimizer program for some time, but it occasionally goes crazy and messes up photos, and it can't handle the size of images I've been generating lately.

Tue, 21 Jan 2014 00:33:22 UTC

Playing with DraftSight

Posted By Greg Lehey

Tom Tyler's email included an attachment with the name Not used for HTML emails.dwg. Apart from the silly name, what's that? Jürgen Lock came out with the discovery that it's an AutoCAD file format, and Jashank Jeremy was able to decode it: it's the site plan above. He also came up with the information that there's a free compatible CAD package called DraftSight that can process them. Installed that and took a bit of a look: yes, it seems to be relatively powerful. Now I just need the time to learn how to use it. ACM only downloads articles once.

Sat, 18 Jan 2014 23:18:00 UTC

Time for better HDR software?

Posted By Greg Lehey

House photo day again today, and again I've tried making HDR images of all of them. And again things were less than perfect, with lots of ghosting: How do I fix that? Other software seems to be about the only way. Currently I'm using align_image_stack (part of Hugin) and enblend to merge the images. Here's the core of my HDR script: nice align_image_stack -a $TMP $* nice enfuse -o $RESULT $TMP* That works well for static images, but it has no provision at all for avoiding ghosting.

Sat, 18 Jan 2014 01:42:57 UTC

Domestic network woes

Posted By Greg Lehey

There's something funny in my domestic network infrastructure as well. I've reported various problems which seem to be related to the switch in Yvonne's office, and so far the only one I have identified beyond reasonable doubt are the two cables that Tanya chewed through. Today I tried to read in some photos from my camera. I do that on lagoon, Yvonne's machine because of the USB issues on my own (current) machine. And they get copied via NFS to my machine. The network topology involves a cable to a switch in the cupboard in Yvonne's office, then a cable under the house to my office, and thence into the main switch.

Sat, 18 Jan 2014 01:41:56 UTC

Tracking down the Exetel problems

Posted By Greg Lehey

Call from Theje of Exetel today to address the ongoing network problems. He claimed that they had changed the routing. I had expected something like this, and had already saved a traceroute output of what I currently had: === root@eureka (/dev/pts/5) /home/grog 5 -> traceroute traceroute to (, 64 hops max, 52 byte packets  1  air-gw-2 (  0.722 ms  0.406 ms  0.402 ms  2 (  30.126 ms  26.398 ms  17.908 ms  3 (  27.108 ms  29.601 ms  34.935 ms ... (leaves Exetel network) So it was relatively easy to compare the new routing: === grog@eureka (/dev/pts/14) ~/Photos/20140114 4 -> traceroute traceroute to (, 64 hops max, 52 byte packets  1  air-gw-2 (  1.231 ms  0.418 ms  0.410 ms  2 ...

Sat, 18 Jan 2014 01:09:01 UTC

Reception problems: insights?

Posted By Greg Lehey

I've been puzzling about TV reception quality for years now, without coming to any obvious conclusions. Radio has also been very variable as well, and from time to time I've wondered if the issues are related. But today I had a surprise: just out of the shower, there was a power surge or similar, not enough to cause any devices to power cycle, but enough to make at least one UPS scream. And the radio reception went to hell! All I could hear was noise. So: is this a (or more than one) rogue UPS? Chasing that one down could be fun.

Fri, 17 Jan 2014 02:16:04 UTC

Still more network problems

Posted By Greg Lehey

I had put an Ethernet cable over the floor last week after Tanya had chewed through the other one. Somehow I wasn't expecting her to do it again, and to a certain extent I was right: Despite the appearance, it still works. But clearly we'll have to find an alternative. For the time being I have cut the old cable into 2 m lengths and spread them round the house; if she (or Niko) starts chewing on them, we're more likely to catch them and make it clear that it's not allowed.

Wed, 15 Jan 2014 01:34:43 UTC

NBN: An NSA plot

Posted By Greg Lehey

For some reason Edwin Groothuis wanted to know about physical access to the Radiation Tower tower today, in particular whether there was a sign on the gate. No: But he meant the access to the immediate compound, and that's not accessible to the public. I had, however, taken a photo of the entrance to the Enfield tower last year: NSA?

Wed, 15 Jan 2014 00:16:26 UTC

Exetel: on the way out?

Posted By Greg Lehey

Exetel have still done nothing to fix my network throughput problems. Though they appear friendly and cooperative, they also appear to have no understanding of the issues or how to address them. On Sunday I gave them until the end of the week to fix the problem. So far they have done nothing. So I called up sales to tell them that I was about to terminate my contract because of breach of contract. Spoke to Paula, who didn't seem to understand the issue and told me I'd have to pay $100 early termination fee. Finally she suggested that it was a matter for support, and promised to connect me with a support manager.

Tue, 14 Jan 2014 23:59:41 UTC

USB says: time for a new system

Posted By Greg Lehey

Into the office this morning to find the keyboard and mouse dead again. Disconnecting and reconnecting didn't help: Jan 14 07:55:53 eureka kernel: usb_alloc_device: set address 4 failed (USB_ERR_STALLED, ignored) Jan 14 07:55:53 eureka kernel: usbd_setup_device_desc: getting device descriptor at addr 4 failed, USB_ERR_STALLED Jan 14 07:55:54 eureka kernel: usbd_req_re_enumerate: addr=4, set address failed! (USB_ERR_STALLED, ignored) Jan 14 07:55:54 eureka kernel: usbd_setup_device_desc: getting device descriptor at addr 4 failed, USB_ERR_STALLED Jan 14 07:55:55 eureka kernel: usbd_req_re_enumerate: addr=4, set address failed! (USB_ERR_STALLED, ignored) Jan 14 07:55:55 eureka kernel: usbd_setup_device_desc: getting device descriptor at addr 4 failed, USB_ERR_STALLED Jan 14 07:55:55 eureka kernel: ugen6.4: <Unknown> at usbus6 (disconnected) Jan 14 07:55:55 eureka kernel: uhub_reattach_port: could not allocate new device Finally, after removing everything and reconnecting it, I got things to work.

Mon, 13 Jan 2014 23:34:06 UTC

Bluetooth audio

Posted By Greg Lehey

I've been listening to Radio Swiss Classic via the web for some time now. That meant moving the Android tablet to the fridge, where the mini-Hi-Fi system is located, and connecting it with a cable. It also meant that I couldn't do much else with the tablet while it was playing music. Clearly a case for a Bluetooth audio adapter. Do they exist? Yes, and they cost next to nothing, $6.50 including postage. I ordered one from eBay last week, and today it arrived. There's almost nothing to it: a USB connector at one end, for power, an audio jack at the other end, and very little in between: It even comes with a far-too-short cable, but no instructions.

Mon, 13 Jan 2014 02:03:57 UTC

Exetel througput problems: install new Windows!

Posted By Greg Lehey

So now I have demonstrated to Exetel beyond any reasonable doubt that they have a througput problem somewhere in their network. I've sent them comparisons with SkyMesh, they've tried their toy torrents personally, so there's really no doubt where the problem lies. So what's the next step? Please be informed that we have tested couple of services affected as yours and we were able to reach the correct speed according to their fibre plan. Therefore, we suggest you to test the service with a Windows 7 or 8 PC and check if the speeds are still failing. Do let us know if the issue is persisting.

Mon, 13 Jan 2014 01:47:07 UTC

Specifying the new system

Posted By Greg Lehey

I've been investigating components for my new computer for a week now, and it's been tough. Finally I'm getting there, mainly by eliminating possibilities that seem too hard. The big issues remain the motherboard and the memory. An article in c't suggests that the Asrock motherboards are a good choice, and that's what Jürgen Lock recently chose. It works for him, so there seems little reason to compare the others. And memory? There seem to be relatively few manufacturers to choose from: G.Skill, Corsair and Kingston. And almost all memory is dressed up for kiddies and has particularly violent names: Ripjaws, Sniper, Vengeance, Dominator.

Mon, 13 Jan 2014 01:27:50 UTC

Processing photos, continued

Posted By Greg Lehey

On with my photo processing today. The verandah panorama took all morning, over 2 hours for the normal panorama and 3½ hours for the interactive flash version. What's the cause? Clearly it was worth finding out before spending days converting the remaining images, so processed the images the way I have been doing previously: first convert the image to TIFF with Olympus Viewer 3, and then use DxO Optics Pro to convert the TIFF to JPEG. Externally there wasn't much to be seen. Here's one of the 20 input images for the panorama; the others are similar: === grog@eureka (/dev/pts/7) ~/Photos/20140111 11 -> l C*/verandah-centre-0.jpeg -rw-r--r--  1 grog  lemis  2,904,174 11 Jan 08:26 C-oly/verandah-centre-0.jpeg -rw-r--r--  1 grog  lemis  3,324,648 11 Jan 08:26 C/verandah-centre-0.jpeg === grog@eureka (/dev/pts/7) ~/Photos/20140111 12 -> identify C*/verandah-centre-0.jpeg C-oly/verandah-centre-0.jpeg JPEG 3456x4608 3456x4608+0+0 8-bit DirectClass 2.904MB 0.000u 0:00.000 C/verandah-centre-0.jpeg[1] ...

Sat, 11 Jan 2014 23:49:23 UTC

Fixing the enblend port

Posted By Greg Lehey

Some months ago a change to the FreeBSD port of vigra broke the build of anblen, which I maintain. When loading the final image, it produces voluminous can't find error messages, terminating in:[void vigra::detail::exportImage<vigra_ext::ConstCachedFileImageIterator<vigra::RGBValue<unsigned char, 0u, 1u, 2u> >,vigra::RGBAccessor<vigra::RGBValue<unsigned char, 0u, 1u, 2u> > >(vigra_ext::ConstCachedFileImageIterator<vigra::RGBValue<unsigned char, 0u, 1u, 2u> >, vigra_ext::ConstCachedFileImageIterator<vigra::RGBValue<unsigned char, 0u, 1u, 2u> >, vigra::RGBAccessor<vigra::RGBValue<unsigned char, 0u, 1u, 2u> >,vigra::ImageExportInfo const&, vigra::VigraFalseType)]+0x118): undefined reference to `vigra::isBandNumberSupported(std::basic_string<char, std::char_traits<char>, std::allocator<char> > const&, int)' enblend-enblend.o: In function `main': undefined reference to `vigra::ImageExportInfo::setICCProfile(vigra::ArrayVector<unsigned char, std::allocator<unsigned char> > const&)' I must admit to being a little upset: this is not of my doing, and to fix it I need to look at the internals of vigra, which has given me pain in the past.

Sat, 11 Jan 2014 23:32:23 UTC

Photo processing at a snail's pace

Posted By Greg Lehey

House photo day again today. I've now migrated my Microsoft box dxo (Windows Vista 32 bit) to Windows 7 64 bit, and at Daniel O'Connor's suggestion I've renamed it dischord. Fired up the newly installed Olympus Viewer 3 and got a completely different view of the world. Suddenly I couldn't just select photos any more, I had to import them. Started doing that. I had 258 images, and after 5 minutes it had imported (copied across the network?) 20 of them. I can't handle that kind of pain, and decided to go back to the old dxo disk. But the system had more pain in store: Please do not power off or unplug your machine.

Fri, 10 Jan 2014 23:29:13 UTC

More installation fun

Posted By Greg Lehey

On with my installation of FreeBSD 10 today, making a little progress. There are still rough edges and bits missing, though the result is still much better than things were 15 years ago, where I held installation workshops at conferences. But that's not enough. It's now lagging behind the competition. Hopefully Jordan Hubbard's return to the BSD fold will help there. Just to add to the fun, installed the new copy of Microsoft Windows 7 that I received today. A completely different experience. And on the whole it went well, but then that's just a base installation. I only really use Microsoft to run photographic processing software, and most of the problems I have are the fault of that software, not of Microsoft.

Fri, 10 Jan 2014 00:48:33 UTC

System upgrade pain

Posted By Greg Lehey

So it's time once again to upgrade my system. When it comes to installing FreeBSD, I wrote the book, but there's a vast difference between installing an operating system for the first time and migrating a large installation to a newer version. I've been working on this forever, and I thought that maybe the PKGng would make things easier. Maybe it will, too, but it won't make them easy. Spent most of the day, and at the end had some semblance of installation, but first I need to fix my scripts to install the packages that I don't have. ACM only downloads articles once.

Wed, 08 Jan 2014 22:45:57 UTC

More network interruptions

Posted By Greg Lehey

Somehow I've had lots of trouble with the network connection to cvr2 lately. Only a couple of weeks ago I had to replace the network cable, but this morning it was off the net again. After a lot of searching, found this: Clearly Tanya has developed a taste for network cables. Surprisingly, I was able to find another cable and connect it to the switch in Yvonne's officeand it wouldn't work. Connected it to a switch in my office, and all was well.

Wed, 08 Jan 2014 22:40:57 UTC

Exetel addreses performance issues

Posted By Greg Lehey

Exetel was due to call me this morning to address the network performance issues, so I first checked the status quo. That was interesting: 32.22 Mb/s downlinkand that on a 25 Mb/s connection. Had they fixed things? Tried testing via SkyMesh and got 33.62 Mb/s. Is that possible? My first conclusion was that speedtest was broken. But of course this is an LTE connection, and it's capable of much more than that; it's just limited to 25 Mb/s, and if something goes wrong there, it could exceed the limit. More to the point, though: file transfer. There, too, things looked better than before.

Wed, 08 Jan 2014 00:07:55 UTC

Ugly violent hardware

Posted By Greg Lehey

I'm in the process of choosing hardware for my next machine. It's not easy. Once upon a time you had a choice of two or three different processors, maybe different speeds, and any old motherboard. Now the choice of processor, motherboard and RAM is an order of magnitude more varied, and thus difficult. I've more or less settled on a Core i7 4771, the first Intel processor in over 20 years, and probably the Z87 chip set. But in the process of investigating the products, I came across a really ugly trend: violent names. So far I have seen Vengeance, Fatal1ty, Sniper, Killer, DOMINATOR and Ripjaws.

Tue, 07 Jan 2014 23:35:23 UTC

No Exetel

Posted By Greg Lehey

For reasons I still don't understand, Exetel support asked me to make a PC (read: running Microsoft) available to them for remote maintenance today, so I installed their software on an old laptop and agreed to a call some time after 10:30. The call came really quite some time after 10:30, in fact at 18:30 as we were preparing dinner. So we had to postpone it until tomorrow. At least it gave me the chance to say to the engineer that the issue was not at my end. We'll see what happens tomorrow. ACM only downloads articles once.

Mon, 06 Jan 2014 22:16:18 UTC

Mouse crash

Posted By Greg Lehey

Nearly a year ago I bought a new mouse, a Logitech m705. I haven't been overly happy with it: of course, being modern, it doesn't have a middle button, and the side buttons don't fit well to my hand. I've assigned button 2 to one of them, and from time to time it vomits over my screen. The good news: it works. Or at least, it worked. Today I accidentally ran out of desk while moving it, and it fell onto the carpeted floor, from a height of about 70 cm. That shouldn't be an issue, but it bent the right button, really a long strip of plastic, so that it fouled the left button.

Mon, 06 Jan 2014 22:13:51 UTC

Eliminating Ashampoo

Posted By Greg Lehey

More investigation of Ashampoo Photo Commander 11 today. My fears are confirmed: it can't do perspective correction. And the real issue, clever automatic exposure adjustments, also seems to be inadequate. In fact, it doesn't do anything that GIMP can't do, costs money, and requires Microsoft to run. So, once again, it has nothing useful to offer. Maybe I should try to make friends with GIMP again, but it's such a pain to use. ACM only downloads articles once.

Sun, 05 Jan 2014 22:08:48 UTC

Another Ashampoo

Posted By Greg Lehey

I should be trying out the various photo processing packages that I have downloaded, but somehow I couldn't face it. In the process, I asked myself what functions I really needed. It's not much: mainly perspective adjustment and cropping. Even xv can do the latter. But wait. There's something more basic: automatic exposure correction. I've been using Ashampoo photo optimizer on most photos for years now, and it tends to improve the overall appearance of the images. What else do they have to offer? Took a look and came up with Photo Commander 11 (and not even Pro). It offers all the usual useless functions like backup and restore, and it's not even clear whether it can do perspective correction, but it seemed worth investigating.

Sun, 05 Jan 2014 21:46:17 UTC

More Viewer insights

Posted By Greg Lehey

One of the disappointments about the new Olympus Viewer 3 is that, although it saves the EXIF data, it appears not to save it all. In particular, the crop factor information that Hugin wants is not there, so once again I have to enter it manually in every panorama. But it has a function I hadn't noticed before: import photos from a camera. I have never connected an Olympus camera to that machine, but today I took a memory card from Yvonne's camera and put it in there. Up pops a Viewer screen and offers to do things with the images.

Sun, 05 Jan 2014 21:44:05 UTC

cvr2 crash

Posted By Greg Lehey

In mid-afternoon discovered that my recording of the news had failed: cvr2, the recording computer, had powered down. And it wouldn't come up. Dragged it into the office, where it powered up normally. And it did so again when I put it back in its cupboard. What caused that? No idea. Hopefully it was a one-off. For some reason, I've had more trouble with that machine (or the machine with that function) than with most of the others. ACM only downloads articles once.

Sat, 04 Jan 2014 23:38:52 UTC

Running out of resources

Posted By Greg Lehey

Photo processing was interesting for other reasons. Everything was so slow! Viewer 3 took nearly a minute to process each image, speeds that I've only seen with DxO Optics Pro. And when I processed the output with DxO, it was also only half speed! I've seen inexplicable (to me, anyway) differences in Microsoft processing speed in the past, but with 300 photos to process, this was worth more investigation. What really surprised me was that the Viewer batch module was using 50% of CPU timewhen it should be idle. Once I stopped Viewer, DxO carried on at its normal speed, about 25 seconds per TIFF image.

Sat, 04 Jan 2014 00:11:46 UTC

Goodbye Capture One, hello ACDSee

Posted By Greg Lehey

A little more playing around with Capture One Pro today, but not much. Like all such software, it seems to insist on looking at everything in a directory, whether I've told it to do so or not. In my test directory I had 302 images (from last week's house photos), and it had to go and make thumbnails of every one, using another 900 GB of disk and taking 8 minutes to do so. But this is release 6, and the current version has been release 7 for some time.

Fri, 03 Jan 2014 00:11:14 UTC

More CaptureOne pain

Posted By Greg Lehey

Spent some more time looking at Capture One Pro today. It's really hard to understand, and the documentation is nowhere near as good as that of DxO Optics Pro. By the end of the day I still didn't know how to process (sorry, export) an image. What I did find was that it creates enormous quantities of files in a subdirectory: === grog@eureka (/dev/pts/30) /Photos/00-Oly 3 -> l -R CaptureOne/ total 1 drwxr-xr-x  3 grog  lemis    512  2 Jan 18:26 Cache drwxr-xr-x  2 grog  lemis  1,024  2 Jan 18:30 Settings50 CaptureOne/Cache: total 1 drwxr-xr-x  2 grog  lemis  16,896  2 Jan 18:32 Proxies CaptureOne/Cache/Proxies: total 771 -rwxr--r--  1 grog  lemis      9,144  2 Jan 18:29 P1021059.tif.cof -rwxr--r--  1 grog  lemis  2,999,818  2 Jan 18:29 ...

Thu, 02 Jan 2014 23:22:37 UTC

More network throughput investigations

Posted By Greg Lehey

Talking about my network throughput issues on IRC today, and I went to prove some point with axel. To my surprise, I got good throughput: 2.2 MB/s, or about 17.6 Mb/s. That was with SkyMesh, so I tried it with Exetel. 1.1 MB/s. Clearly this difference has nothing to do with the National Broadband Network. It also implies that SkyMesh also has throughput issues, just that they weren't showing very much today. Sent off a ticket to Exetel, and got a reply asking for some strange tests: Please go through the test below and forward us the screen capture for further investigation.

Thu, 02 Jan 2014 01:28:03 UTC

Network speeds revisited

Posted By Greg Lehey

I've been dragging my feet with network speed measurements, mainly because of the pain of analysing network traces. Tried setting some tuning parameters described in this file, in the process ignoring the warning: # IMPORTANT NOTE - that must be done BEFORE setting the values below, # otherwise You will run out of mbufs! But kern.ipc.nmbclusters was already set to 25600, so there didn't seem to be much danger, and of course it didn't cause any problems. So I applied it to my external server as well. Throughput not improved. Then Yvonne reported problems: her mail wasn't going out.

Thu, 02 Jan 2014 00:59:11 UTC

Capture One revisited

Posted By Greg Lehey

It's becoming increasingly clear that I made a mistake buying the latest version of DxO Optics Pro, since it no longer supports my camera hardware, and it doesn't look as if it ever will. Thus the interest in Olympus Viewer. But that's only part of the picture. Yes, Viewer can convert raw images to TIFF or JPEG and correct for lens distortion (but not for Chromatic aberration). At the moment I'm using DxO to process the output, and it's not well suited. Agreed, it's a little faster than processing the raw images, but not much. I tried Capture One Pro a year ago and basically came to the conclusion that, though it had some advantages, it wasn't much use because it couldn't correct for lens distortion.

Wed, 01 Jan 2014 22:30:13 UTC

Olympus Viewer revisited

Posted By Greg Lehey

So was yesterday's upgrade to Olympus Viewer 3 worth the effort? Reading the release notes (1 line to a paragraph, of course, and requiring reformatting even under Microsoft before they can be read) suggest that there's nothing much new. In fact, most of the document is boilerplate, including a prohibition of reproduction in whole or in parta rather silly restriction for something that's freely available on the web. But it says hardly anything about the changes, just what's on the web site. Punctuation is original, but I've fixed the markup to validate: OLYMPUS Viewer 3 ...

Tue, 31 Dec 2013 23:25:01 UTC

Olympus Viewer upgrade

Posted By Greg Lehey

Olympus have brought out an update to Viewer 3, their aptly named image processing software. Version 1.3, they say. Or maybe 1.2, depending on where you look. I've had trouble with Viewer in the past, so I took my time installing it, first saving the complete directory hierarchy of the previous installation, including the all-important help file (in German). Then I tried the automatic update from Viewer itself: Not the first time I've seen that incorrect claim. So I went to the web site and downloaded it again.

Tue, 31 Dec 2013 00:00:34 UTC

pkgNG in practice

Posted By Greg Lehey

One of the new things in FreeBSD 10 is the new package system. You should be able to just install all packages from a central repository. That was a long time coming after a security scare some time ago, but it's supposed to be there now, so I tried it out. The first thing is that the base system comes with a dummy program pkg(8), which was just clever enough to locate the current version of pkg on the web and install it. After that, tried installing bash, which first installed a repository based on the information in /etc/pkg/FreeBSD.conf, and then the shell.

Mon, 30 Dec 2013 23:45:17 UTC

How not to install FreeBSD

Posted By Greg Lehey

Once again, I've been dragging my heels updating my machine. And now FreeBSD release 10 is well on its way. So I installed it on a VM a few days ago, and today I finally got round to installing it on a real machine. How do you do that? I did it by copying the disk image from the VM to a file on eureka, starting a test box with the destination system disk as a second disk, repartitioning the disk and copying the image across. In the process, I changed the partitioning scheme from MBR to GPT. Finished copy, started the new system, and I got the old release 9.1 image!

Sat, 28 Dec 2013 00:28:01 UTC

Telstra: we never forget

Posted By Greg Lehey

I rant about Telstra so often that it's getting boring. But finally they've got round to informing me that the National Broadband Network is available in my area. Or have they? Not quite: Clifford Taylor? In Kliens Road? Yes, we bought the house from Cliff Taylor. But that was over 6½ years ago. How can they make such a mess of their data? It's not the first case: five years ago they revived not the previous owner, but the one before that, who had left the house in 1996.

Fri, 27 Dec 2013 04:04:40 UTC

House design software, try 1

Posted By Greg Lehey

It would be nice to have some way of simulating the appearance of our new house in software. Nearly 15 years ago I bought some software for this sort of thing: 3D Home Architect by Brøderbund, for Microsoft of course and with dimensions firmly anchored in the non-metric past. Still, it wasn't bad and ran acceptably on the hardware of the day. But clearly time has moved on, and there should be better stuff available now. But what? Found an online design program that camedon't they allwith no documentation, and with a menu system that I can't interpret. About the only documentation appears to be a selection of video clips, something that I can't make friends with.

Fri, 27 Dec 2013 03:48:46 UTC

Monitoring network traffic

Posted By Greg Lehey

Now that I'm connected to the National Broadband Network, life should be so simple. But that assumes that I'm so simple. Firstly I still haven't got my head around the finer details of TCP flow control, in particular configuring it for FreeBSD, and secondly I no longer have a program that shows me how much traffic is going across the link. With HSPA I used a heavily hacked version of Edwin Groothuis' e169-stats, to be found on FreeBSD boxen at /usr/ports/net/. It keeps track of the traffic over an HSPA link. And what is there for real networks? Lots of different programs, of course, so many that it makes your head smoke.

Wed, 25 Dec 2013 02:11:00 UTC

BUGS Christmas dinner

Posted By Greg Lehey

It's been nearly 4 years since the last BUGS barbecue. On that occasion, along with many others, we had five other active members of the #bugs IRC channel: Sue Blake (unixhag), Callum Gibson (callum), Edwin Groothuis (Mavvie) and Jashank (jashank) and Peter (AlephNull) Jeremy. Today we had 2: Chris Bahlo (fenix, present at the last, but as observer) and Jari Kirma (kirma). And then Jamie Fraser (fwaggle) announced an interest in meeting Jari, so off he set at 18:00 for an 80 km drive to arrive at 19:00and made it only a couple of minutes late. So in the end we had four BUGS people for dinner: It was also interesting because it's the first time any of us had met fwaggle, though you could be excused for getting the impression that ...

Wed, 25 Dec 2013 01:11:52 UTC

DHCP configuration isses

Posted By Greg Lehey

The first thing Jari needed was a connection to the Internet, of course. Since the National Broadband Network that's not a general problem, and I had already configured and SIGHUPped my DHCP server. But he had problems connecting, from my view not helped by the fact that his laptop runs MacOS X rather than FreeBSD. After a lot of messing around, discovered the cause: Dec 24 12:27:14 eureka dhcpd: DHCPDISCOVER from b8:f6:b1:18:2c:c9 via re0: network no free leases But there was only one lease, and I had configured dozens of addresses.

Mon, 23 Dec 2013 23:02:21 UTC

Tracking flights

Posted By Greg Lehey

Now that I have a reasonable network connection, I can use services like flightradar24 without timeouts. Today was the perfect opportunity: Jari Kirma, whom I met in Helsinki 8 years ago, decided on Saturday to come to Australia for 5 days over Christmas (in addition to 2½ days in the air). Tracking was interesting: we could see him taking off on the last leg from Hong Kong, but then he disappeared over the South China Sea. He popped up a couple of times, over the Phillipines and the North of Australia, but disappeared somewhere in the Back of Bourke. Clearly this is indicative of radar coverage, but the site itself gave no explanation.

Sun, 22 Dec 2013 23:08:43 UTC

Scaling Windows

Posted By Greg Lehey

My TCP traces across the National Broadband Network show that window scaling doesn't occur. Why not? A check of my system showed that the sysctl net.inet.tcp.rfc1323 was set to 0 (disable). But even after I enabled it, it didn't scale. More investigation needed, but I didn't have time today. ACM only downloads articles once. It's possible that this article has changed since being downloaded, but the only way you can find out is by looking at the original article.

Sun, 22 Dec 2013 00:04:03 UTC

SkyMesh network speed

Posted By Greg Lehey

So now I finally have two functional connections via the National Broadband Network. How do they compare in speed? I haven't been overly happy with Exetel's performance, so this was of particular interest.

Sat, 21 Dec 2013 23:36:20 UTC

SkyMesh outage, day 3

Posted By Greg Lehey

For the past couple of days I've been running a couple of tcpdump processes on my laptop eucla, connected directly to the SkyMesh port of the National Broadband Network NTD. One traced all traffic, while another traced traffic that didn't relate to the local interface. I checked from time to time: the former showed dhclient try repeatedly to get an address, and no reply arriving. And then, round 11:09, I got a call from Kear of SkyMesh technical support. He suddenly found life in the link: 11:11:49.837739 IP > BOOTP/DHCP, Request from 48:f8:b3:b5:04:7b (oui Unknown), length 300 11:11:50.571587 IP > BOOTP/DHCP, Reply, length 300 11:11:52.580733 IP > BOOTP/DHCP, Request from 48:f8:b3:b5:04:7b (oui Unknown), length 300 11:11:52.726601 IP > BOOTP/DHCP, Reply, length 300 11:11:52.731440 ARP, Request who-has tell, length 46 11:11:52.790918 ARP, ...

Sat, 21 Dec 2013 02:09:22 UTC

Still more network pain!

Posted By Greg Lehey

Somehow networks just don't like me at the moment. Today cvr2 fell off the LAN again. More searching and finally found the problem: the cable between cvr2 and the switch in Yvonne's office. It goes under the house, and years ago I put it in and terminated it myself, apparently badly. The correct solution would be to try again, but I don't know if I ever want to put a CAT-5 cable together again. The new house will have Ethernet and fibre connections in every room. In the meantime, I put Yet Another cable over the floor. ACM only downloads articles once.

Sat, 21 Dec 2013 00:53:45 UTC

Olympus networking in practice

Posted By Greg Lehey

I'm in the process of finalizing our web Christmas card for this year, and once again I've taken a photo of Yvonne, myself and as many animals as we can fit in the picture. Last year I took the photos using the infrared remote control, which has the disadvantage that it's hard to hide: Now I have this 802.11 link between the camera and a tablet (but not a network: it refuses to connect with any other networking equipment except a phone), and OI.Share, the app that connects with the camera.

Sat, 21 Dec 2013 00:06:59 UTC

Looking for SkyMesh support

Posted By Greg Lehey

As promised, got a call from Dean at SkyMesh support today to do Level 1 fault analysis. Basically this required showing the IP addresses of the interfaces and the contents of the ARP cache. I explained to him that there was no traffic whatsoever, and that the only MAC addresses were of my own interface, but he didn't seem to understand. But that was all the information he wanted, and he hadn't even bothered to report that I was receiving no traffic at all, which clearly made his other questions meaningless. Another waste of time. And so far a 24 out of 24 hour outage.

Thu, 19 Dec 2013 23:24:21 UTC

SkyMesh: All your networks are belong to us

Posted By Greg Lehey

I signed up with SkyMesh a couple of days ago, and they had promised to send me details of how to connect to their National Broadband Network service. But nothing came. Then today the hardware arrived: a CiscoLinksys EA2700 router and SPA112 ATA. Also a welcome sheet giving me user names and passwords for the router, and network name and password for the 802.11 wireless network, and a second sheet with a picture of a fibre NTD, which looks quite different from a fixed wireless NTD, and instructions how to interconnect things: And that's all!

Thu, 19 Dec 2013 23:05:21 UTC

Exetel: support? What's that?

Posted By Greg Lehey

Now that the National Broadband Network connection is up and running, it's time to terminate my contract with Internode and update my private web pages with ISP contact information. I had most of the information for Exetel, but not the email address for technical support. Finally stumbled across this page, which offered to answer my questions. Clearly not one that it expected: Later I found out that they do, in fact, have a help desk page where you can log faults. But that wasn't visible from my search.

Thu, 19 Dec 2013 00:10:28 UTC

Network problems, part 2

Posted By Greg Lehey

The National Broadband Network connection wasn't the only network problem I've been having recently. A couple of times recently I have lost connections to cvr2, my TV recording computer. That almost certainly relates to a dubious switch in Yvonne's office, so I changed that. Then I tried to move a recording from cvr2 to teevee, the TV computer in the lounge room. The transfer rates were terrible! In fact, they were slower than the NBN connection, only round 480 kB/s. Now my network topology has just growed, and it's somewhat baroque. From cvr2 the data goes to the switch I had just replaced, and then to the 100 Mb/s switch in my office, thence into a power line adapter to the lounge room, and then through an 802.11 access point to teevee.

Wed, 18 Dec 2013 23:08:43 UTC

Network problems, part 1

Posted By Greg Lehey

I'm still wondering where the problems are with my network throughput. My Speedtest results are not quite consistentof coursebut they're always far short of the 25 Mb/s downlink speed that I'm paying for. On IRC, Andy Snow suggested using axel to test download speeds. Why? Because TCP has throughput limitations, depending on the window size. OK, possibly that's an issue, so I tried it, downloading a 100 MB file. Here the results ( is Andy's domain): === grog@eureka (/dev/pts/11) /var/tmp 27 -> axel -n 10 -a Downloaded 99.3 megabytes in 1:56 seconds.

Wed, 18 Dec 2013 00:41:35 UTC

Telstra: we can do worse!

Posted By Greg Lehey

Over the years I've developed a healthy hatred of Telstra in all things networking, as I've documented here and here. But what I've seen in connection with the National Broadband Network installation in Dereel blows my mind. I commented on the first one, assuming that it was a contract issue. But no, the phone they cut off was supplied by a competitor! That sounds like it should be a criminal act. And as far as I can see, after 4 days, the phone is still cut off. And then Yvonne received a message from a friend: Updated to the NBN today and it will be installed on the 13/01/14.

Wed, 18 Dec 2013 00:39:21 UTC

Debugging Android networking

Posted By Greg Lehey

While in town, tried again to use my Android tablet on the phone network. Yes, I got a message saying that the phone was on the (which?) network, and my Access Point Name was correct. But, it seems, no Internet connection. What really annoys me is that there seems to be no way to debug these things. ACM only downloads articles once.

Tue, 17 Dec 2013 23:56:08 UTC

Network speed: what should I expect?

Posted By Greg Lehey

More playing around with Speedtest today. Clearly it's an approximate test at best, and for some reason it has decided that I'm in Cairns, nearly 3,000 km away, and so it appears to choose servers in Papua New Guinea, though I suppose they're really in northern Queensland. But even when I correct that and select local servers, the best downlink speed I have ever had was 14.73 Mb/s, and normally it's round 10 Mb/s. I've started to keep a statistics page to monitor the speeds. When SkyMesh provisions the connection, it'll be very interesting to see the difference. ACM only downloads articles once.

Tue, 17 Dec 2013 05:18:55 UTC

More Android networking

Posted By Greg Lehey

So why did my Android tablet not connect yesterday? How do I even configure it? Asked on IRC and got the startling instructions to go to settings/WIRELESS & NETWORKS/More.../Mobile network settings/Access Point Names. Access point names? What do access points have to do with mobile phones? Anyway, selected new APN, clearly an undocumented abbreviation meaning Access Point Name, and was asked for a whole lot of information. How to fill it out? Ask Internode support, I suppose. There I found a general setting page which hardly overlapped at all with the display on the Android: ...

Tue, 17 Dec 2013 04:57:11 UTC

Back with SkyMesh again?

Posted By Greg Lehey

It's been three years since SkyMesh terminated my satellite connection, thereby doing me a favour. And today, somewhat later than others, I got an offer from them to connect me to the NBN. More waste paper basket fodder? It's interesting enough to read what people offer, and this one was particularly interesting: no prices. In fact, I couldn't find their prices for NBN fixed wireless anywhere on their site. It seems they only got put up after my search: now they're here.

Tue, 17 Dec 2013 03:59:14 UTC

NBN connect via FreeBSD

Posted By Greg Lehey

I've had difficulties connecting to the NBN with FreeBSD: the FreeBSD PPPoE implementation violates RFC 2516. Took at look at the code (/usr/src/sys/netgraph/ng_pppoe.c), which didn't show any obvious bug. Here round line 1462, where we're building the PADR:          insert_tag(sp, utag);           /* Host Unique */          if ((tag = get_tag(ph, PTT_AC_COOKIE)))                  insert_tag(sp, tag);    /* return cookie */          if ((tag = get_tag(ph, PTT_AC_NAME))) {                  insert_tag(sp, tag);    /* return it */                  send_acname(sp, tag);          }          insert_tag(sp, ...

Tue, 17 Dec 2013 03:29:28 UTC

MyNetFone: only one connection after all

Posted By Greg Lehey

I had been rather surprised yesterday to discover that I could register my Android tablet with MyNetFone while my ATA was still registered. Today I discovered the truth: yes, the SIP LED was still lit on the ATA, but nobody was home. I had to stop the VoIP application on the tablet, and also power cycle the ATA, before I could use it again. This isn't a bug, of course: it's only one line. But it is a feature. Now when I go anywhere I can turn off the ATA and take my home phone number with me. No need for two phone numbers, no need for redirection.

Mon, 16 Dec 2013 01:48:46 UTC

VoIP over Android

Posted By Greg Lehey

Finally VoIP is working at home. Why shouldn't it work on an Android tablet as well? Did some looking round and came up with Zoiper, which installed. And the service provider? In principle MyNetFone SuperSaver is free but for the calls, so it would make sense to sign up for a second account. But they wanted $20 for bring your own hardware. Not something I want to do for a test. Tried registering with the same account number, and to my surprise it worked, and the VoIP adapter still showed that it was registered too. That's strange. Anyway, it worked, so when we were in Ballarat, I tried it with the Internode SIM card.

Sun, 15 Dec 2013 01:57:46 UTC

Photo processing software changes

Posted By Greg Lehey

The new Olympus OM-D E-M1 also requires changes to my photo processing. Since DxO Optics Pro no longer supports my lens combinations, I have to use Olympus Viewer to convert the raw images to TIFF. I then (currently) use DxO to apply other corrections, but it's clear that once I don't have lens corrections, DxO doesn't have much to offer. Viewer is a pain! It seems to continually reset the options I have set, including the paths to where I want to save the image. I think I'll have to give up and make its choice of path a symlink to where I really want the images.

Sun, 15 Dec 2013 00:18:21 UTC

Debugging the PPPoE connection

Posted By Greg Lehey

Finally got round to looking at the PPPoE connection problems from a couple of days ago. Not a good advertisement for FreeBSD: it is in violation of RFC 2516. Here the view from wireshark: The session starts with eureka sending out a PADI broadcast. Interestingly, it gets two PADOs in reply. That's explicitly allowed by the RFC, but I hadn't expected it. It then sends a PADR to the first one, and gets a confirmatory PADS. That's all that PPPoE needs, and the rest goes on with the PPP LCP.

Sat, 14 Dec 2013 04:40:26 UTC

Streaming Internet video

Posted By Greg Lehey

So now we have a real Internet connection, we can get films and other TV programmes off the web, right? Well, yes, but how? Looking at YouTube, the films on offer are old and boring. And today to start things off, I wanted to find something as a surprise for Yvonne: Et la Tendresse... Bordel !, a reminder of her days in France. No difficulty finding it: as usual, Google is your friend. But then? The links promised free downloads. Are they legal? I still don't know, but since some of them do it quickly for money or slowly for free, I'm guessing yes.

Sat, 14 Dec 2013 02:29:05 UTC

Understanding the NBN

Posted By Greg Lehey

I'm not the only person who has connected to the National Broadband Network, of course, and there was a lot of discussion on the Dereel Facebook page today. It's amazing how many people have chosen Telstra as an ISP. And already Telstra's bureaucracy has claimed at least one victim: swapped their current Internet line for NBN and had their phone disconnected. How could that happen? Presumably the phone was on the same contract as the Internet service, and nobody bothered to tell them. Spent some time on Facebook answering questions, but Facebook is such a pain, so I put together a web page with general information.

Thu, 12 Dec 2013 22:51:04 UTC

NBN performance

Posted By Greg Lehey

So now I have a network link with 25 Mb/s down and 5 Mb/s up. How much of this am I really getting? Not very much, it seems. Repeated test with speedtest suggest about 8Mb/s down and 4 Mb/s up. Is that NBN or Exetel? To be observed. ACM only downloads articles once. It's possible that this article has changed since being downloaded, but the only way you can find out is by looking at the original article.

Thu, 12 Dec 2013 21:42:00 UTC

Configuring for NBN

Posted By Greg Lehey

That wasn't the end of the story, of course. I really wanted to run PPPoE from eureka, my main FreeBSD machine. And that didn't go as smoothly. Reading the logs didn't make much sense to me, so I put if off until later. And now we can use VoIP normally! Turned the adapter (a NetComm V210p) back on, but it didn't register. Why? While messing around, realized that I was still connected via the Internode link, so whatever the problem was, it had nothing to do with the NBN. Played around with various settings, at one point setting NAT to on.

Thu, 12 Dec 2013 20:58:01 UTC


Posted By Greg Lehey

Today was the day scheduled for the installation of my connection to the National Broadband Network. They had given a time window between 8:00 and 12:00 to perform the installation, so I was up and about by 7:30, walking around like a tiger in a cage. No sign of them at 8:00, of course. That's to be expected. No sign at 9:00. Well, they could be late. No sign at 10:00. How long are they going to be? Were they given the wrong phone number? As Andy Snow put it: PID USERNAME  PRI NICE   SIZE    RES STATE   C    TIME   WCPU COMMAND 612 nbnco      44    0 98268K 44424K zombie  0 1367:16 99.95% install --location dereel Round 10:30 I finally said Where's the bloody NBN?.

Wed, 11 Dec 2013 23:08:58 UTC

NBN installation failures

Posted By Greg Lehey

Tomorrow's the Big Day when I get connected to the National Broadband Networkmaybe. It seems that the coverage maps are a best-case scenario. Spent a while setting up a Google Map showing installation locations. Now I just need to get people to add their locations and state whether it was a success or a failure. ACM only downloads articles once.

Tue, 10 Dec 2013 22:41:12 UTC

Preparing for NBN

Posted By Greg Lehey

The first NBN installations took place in Dereel today. There were reportsas expectedof superb throughput, but not all were successful: two installations, in Browns Road and Golden Reef Road, had to be aborted because of lack of signal. Browns Road I can understand, but Golden Reef Road is almost in the middle of Dereel. If they have problems there, some designer hasn't done his homework properly. My installation is on Thursday. What do I need to do to make things work? One is to find a place to put the network termination device (officially NTD, but which they call a connection box in their end-user documentation).

Tue, 10 Dec 2013 00:42:50 UTC

Networking in the new house

Posted By Greg Lehey

It's only 3 days until the NBN installer arrives and hopefully connects me up. And in only a few months we will move home. What happens to my NBN connection? Called up the NBN and spoke to Chloë, who didn't quite seem to understand the issue. But yes, there is enough bandwidth available to service everybody in the rollout area (marked in purple), currently very much including Stones Road: ACM only downloads articles once.

Mon, 09 Dec 2013 00:39:54 UTC

Microsoft photo software doesn't like me

Posted By Greg Lehey

I've already commented on the fact that DxO Optics Pro Elite doesn't recognize the Olympus E-M1. But it seems it just doesn't want to do it for me. It works fine for others. Why? There are lots of bugs in DxO, but the likeliest one I can think of is that it recognizes my email address as licensee for the standard edition, and even the trial version won't work properly in Elite mode. And then there's Olympus Viewer 3, which comes without documentation. But only for me, it seems. Others have a file OLYMPUSViewer3.chm with some kind of help text.

Fri, 06 Dec 2013 22:48:53 UTC

Still more E-M1 experience

Posted By Greg Lehey

More playing around with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 today. I was particularly concerned with the quality of the photos that I took yesterday, which seemed far too dark as processed by Olympus Viewer 3. Spent some time looking for documentation, but I've come to the conclusion that here, too, there is none: This was immediately after a fresh install. Searching the web found nothing. Searching the file system found only a README written one line per paragraph, something that even the Microsoft tools don't seem to be able to handle: It's hardly believable that people can provide software with no documentation at ...

Mon, 02 Dec 2013 23:18:39 UTC

Suddenly summer

Posted By Greg Lehey

It's summer! And the weather shows it: That's a big difference from the last two months, which were far cooler than the seasonal average: mysql> SELECT year(date), avg(outside_temp) FROM observations WHERE month(date) > 9   AND month(date) < 12 GROUP BY year(date); +------------+-------------------+ | year(date) | avg(outside_temp) | +------------+-------------------+ |       2009 |  17.5731496596709 | |       2010 |    14.36821202979 | |       2011 |  15.1622464410373 | |       2012 |  14.9027108163907 | |       2013 |  13.4479453197917 | +------------+-------------------+ And for some reason, weather station readings were very erraticat times over 30 minutes passed without a reading coming through.

Sun, 01 Dec 2013 23:11:32 UTC

Keeping EXIF data in a database

Posted By Greg Lehey

I have something like 100,000 distinct photos on my system, and with all copies in different sizes, data formats and qualities, it's over 500,000. How do I keep track of the EXIF data? Specifically at the moment I'm wondering which lenses I use the most, and at what focal lengths. Clearly l need to store the information in a database. That's so clear, in fact, that there must be software out there that does it. But a Google search didn't come up with anything very promising.

Sun, 01 Dec 2013 22:16:23 UTC

NBN installation, bad language and survey

Posted By Greg Lehey

Where do I put the network termination box for my NBN service? It's designed to be mounted on a wall inside the house, preferably close to a power point. We're going to be moving house in the foreseeable future, so it makes sense to consider where the new owner of the house would like to have it. Clearly it should be somewhere near the existing network infrastructure. That's mainly the south half of the house; my powerline network adapters that connect to the north are so flaky that they may not be as fast as the NBN downlink.

Sat, 30 Nov 2013 23:36:04 UTC

NBN coming nearer

Posted By Greg Lehey

Mail message from Exetel today: We have been notified by NBN that an appointment has been made for a technician to visit your premises to complete the installation of the Fiber Broadband. Appointment date: Thursday, 12 December 2013, 8:00 AM - 12:00 PM Fiber broadband! Not even fibre. Still, I suppose fixed wireless is the invisible fibre. But after 2½ years of waiting, we finally have a date. The relief was overwhelming. Hopefully everything will go smoothly. ACM only downloads articles once.

Fri, 29 Nov 2013 23:44:36 UTC

NBN wants residents

Posted By Greg Lehey

Looking Yet Again at the NBN rollout map for some reason, and it asked me if I wanted to take a survey after visiting the site (which involved explicitly closing the window when I was done). It confirmed my negative impression of the NBN bureaucracy, producing the smallest window I have ever seen: Without the frame it must be about 100×100 pixels. Once I had enlarged it, it wanted to know what kind of visitor I was, a button list of course. What kind didn't it mention?

Fri, 29 Nov 2013 23:27:21 UTC

DCW credit card security

Posted By Greg Lehey

One of the more interesting issues completing my purchase with Digital Camera Warehouse was that they didn't simply accept my credit card on the phone: they did a sample booking between $1 and $2 and asked me to check the sum and report it back to them. Given the horrendous lack of security in the online market, that seemed not to be a bad idea. Only problem was, of course, that ANZ didn't play along: the updates to the online banking site can take hours or even a day. So I had to call them up and get the information on the phone, with only my secret word as identification.

Thu, 28 Nov 2013 23:36:25 UTC

More bad language

Posted By Greg Lehey

While signing up with Exetel today, Shannon asked me if I wanted a modem. Huh? Why do you need a modem when NBN supplies a layer 2 bridge? She couldn't tell me either, of course, but it seems that she meant a switch or maybe a router. So why call it a modem? It seems that the central home networking box, including ADSL modem, a switch, NAT, firewall, and probably 802.11 access point, has come to be referred to as a modem. Now the successor devices no longer have the ADSL modem component, but the name has become established, and though it's no longer a modem, that's what they call it.

Wed, 27 Nov 2013 23:36:19 UTC

Finally! NBN!

Posted By Greg Lehey

Started writing up my diary for yesterday and brought up the NBN rollout map. And what do I see? So Aussie Broadband were only slightly wrong in their timing. And once again the NBN have demonstrated how completely useless their information is. Yesterday, just the day before it became available, they were pretending that the service wouldn't be available until August 2014. What a useless system. Hopefully the network side will be better. So: once again tried to sign up with Exetel. Called up 1300 393 835 and spoke to Shannon, who had all my details. Nevertheless she couldn't process my order until I gave her a mobile phone number.

Wed, 27 Nov 2013 22:50:33 UTC

No NBN, part 2

Posted By Greg Lehey

Exciting junk mail in the letterbox today: Could it be true? Have they finally got the Radiation Tower up and running? Took a look at the rollout map. Nothing. But then what do they know? Called up NBN on 1800 687 626 and spoke to Christine, who told me the same old story: construction commenced in August, and it normally takes 12 months to complete. Why do they repeat that nonsense? She seemed put out when I told her that that was nonsense, but promised to forward it to her superiors.

Mon, 25 Nov 2013 20:53:52 UTC

New backup disks

Posted By Greg Lehey

To Officeworks to buy some new backup disks (or, as they put it, hard drives) for my photos. 4TB each, and to hedge my bets (and also tell them apart) I bought one Seagate, one Western Digital. How the old units fail with file systems of this size: Filesystem    512-blocks Used         Avail Capacity  Mounted on /dev/da2p1 7,812,344,416   16 7,734,220,960     0%    /photobackup Normally my backups are just of the day's photos, and they take about 10 minutes, mainly with rsync checking the directory trees of the two disks.

Mon, 25 Nov 2013 20:27:59 UTC

No NBN in Dereel

Posted By Greg Lehey

Phone call from Chris Bahlo during breakfast. The people from the NBN were there to install her antenna! Well, it's really David Yeardley's installationChris would never have chosen Telstraand they can be connected because the NBN has determined that they're in the range of the Rokewood tower, while we are not. But more to the point, nobody was home except for Minh Chau, and since she's under age, they wouldn't accept a signature from her. So one of us had to go over, and out of curiosity I volunteered. Unfortunately in vain: they had moved on, and would come back later, by which time David would be there.

Sat, 23 Nov 2013 22:44:06 UTC

Paving the way to hell

Posted By Greg Lehey

My programming languages course has now moved from Racket to Ruby, and the first assignment is due in soon. It's difficult to keep up with the sheer volume of lectures, but finally I started today: === grog@teevee (/dev/pts/4) ~/Coursera/Programming-Languages/assignments 3 -> ruby hw6runner.rb original /usr/local/lib/ruby/1.9/rubygems/custom_require.rb:36:in `require': cannot load such file -- tk (LoadError)         from /usr/local/lib/ruby/1.9/rubygems/custom_require.rb:36:in `require'         from /eureka/home/grog/Coursera/Programming-Languages/assignments/hw6graphics.rb:6:in `<top (required)>'         from /eureka/home/grog/Coursera/Programming-Languages/assignments/hw6provided.rb:3:in `require_relative'         from /eureka/home/grog/Coursera/Programming-Languages/assignments/hw6provided.rb:3:in `<top (required)>'         from hw6runner.rb:3:in `require_relative'         from hw6runner.rb:3:in `<main>' What's that?

Sat, 23 Nov 2013 00:17:10 UTC

Don't use Internet Explorer!

Posted By Greg Lehey

Participated in another silly survey today. About the most interesting part was at the beginning: How times change! ACM only downloads articles once. It's possible that this article has changed since being downloaded, but the only way you can find out is by looking at the original article.

Thu, 21 Nov 2013 23:20:04 UTC

DxO support for E-M1

Posted By Greg Lehey

Rather to my surprise, DxO has already announced support for the Olympus OM-D E-M1. Which lenses? A number of Panasonic lenses as well as from Olympusbut only micro-FT lenses! In general the optical quality of the µFT lenses is less than that of the Four Thirds lensesthe only one that really qualifies as professional is the still-undeliverable M.Zuiko 12-40 mm To make up for that, they've decided that the E-M1 is a professional camera (my E-30 isn't), so I'd have to pay double the price for dropping support for my existing lenses. That would be the last straw. So off looking for alternatives.

Thu, 21 Nov 2013 00:20:49 UTC

Exploring the ALDI tuner

Posted By Greg Lehey

Discussion about the ALDI tuner on IRC today. Jürgen Lock suggested that I try installing the webcamd port, so did that and tried it out: === root@teevee (/dev/pts/0) /usr/ports/multimedia/webcamd 8 -> webcamd Attached to ugen0.5[0] webcamd: Cannot find USB device Clearly it was lying: it did find /dev/ugen0.5. But why? It seems that to get debug output you need to rebuild the port, so did that and got lots of messages on the screen, many of them obviously errors. But the real one that stood out was: ERR: : : this USB2.0 device cannot be run on a USB1.1 port (it lacks a hardware PID filter) Now isn't that something that should only appear in debug output?

Wed, 20 Nov 2013 23:49:55 UTC

New toy

Posted By Greg Lehey

A few weeks back I bought an infrared thermometer on eBay, and today it finally arrived. The main purpose is to measure the temperature of the pizza stone in the pizza oven, but of course that won't be for a while. In the meantime I played around with it a bit. One thing's clear: it's not the kind that you can stick into your ear and measure blood temperature. I tried that and got a temperature of about 23°. But pointing it at hot and cold objects show that it works, at least in principle. The trouble is that it's a spot measurement, so the variation between -18° and -14° in the deep freezer, or 190° in the corners of the oven to 210° in the middle, could be correct.

Tue, 19 Nov 2013 23:11:30 UTC

New USB tuner

Posted By Greg Lehey

Yvonne back from shopping today with more toys from ALDI: two USB TV tuners and an 802.11 range extender. One of the tuners can go back unopened: there's no way to connect two to a standard TV cable. The other one probes under FreeBSD without revealing very much: Nov 19 17:30:26 teevee kernel: ugen0.5: <Realtek> at usbus0 Nov 19 17:30:26 teevee root: Unknown USB device: vendor 0x1d19 product 0x1101 bus uhub2 Nov 19 17:30:26 teevee root: Unknown USB device: vendor 0x1d19 product 0x1101 bus uhub2 So now I'll have to revisit the whole tuner setup under Linux.

Tue, 19 Nov 2013 21:29:32 UTC

ABS survey

Posted By Greg Lehey

While I was in town yesterday, somebody from the Australian Bureau of Statistics came by and told Yvonne that we had been selected for a Survey of Income and Housing. She left a letter, which proved to contain a Web Address, numerical user identifier and password, containing upper and lower case letters, digits and a special character. I was to go to this Web Address to say when it would be convenient to conduct a survey of unspecified duration. Do I want to do this? This kind of bad language raises prejudices which too often prove to be justified. They were today, too.

Sun, 17 Nov 2013 22:35:15 UTC

Comparing DxO releases

Posted By Greg Lehey

Comparing the processing times of DxO Optics Pro releases 8 and 9 also gave me an opportunity to compare the images themselves. They should be the same, right? Well, I've been applying the Artistic HDR profile (which they call a preset), and they seem to have fine-tuned that. The results are most visible in images with a lot of white, but unfortunately I didn't compare any of them, and given the processing time, I'll put it off for some other time. But even in more normal images some differences are obvious. To compare the images, visit the HTML version of this page with JavaScript enabled.

Sat, 16 Nov 2013 23:50:58 UTC

DxO release 9: faster after all

Posted By Greg Lehey

I've commented in the past both on the glacial speed of DxO Optics Pro and the chutzpah they had to claim that release 9 is even faster. My own tests confirmed only the former allegation. But over the last couple of days I've processed a large number of photos with release 9, and yes, indeed, it's notably faster. Here the times: Release       Image count       Time       Time per image (s)       CPU Time per image (s) ...

Fri, 15 Nov 2013 23:55:06 UTC

Microsoft bashing, 15 years on

Posted By Greg Lehey

Mail from Bob Nelson today, who had dug out an old copy of The Complete FreeBSD, third edition. He was concerned by a couple of things I said about Microsoft. Now it's not exactly a secret that I don't like Microsoft, but nevertheless it was interesting to see what it was that concerned him. The first was a reference to Microsoft's Operating System Bob thought that the quotes were inappropriate. But in the context, no, they weren't. I was referring to Windows 95, which was not an operating system at all, but a graphical interface to MS-DOS. Calling it an operating system would be like calling X an operating system.

Thu, 14 Nov 2013 23:41:52 UTC

Tools for Android

Posted By Greg Lehey

I'm gradually making friends with Android, but it's not easy. Under the surface it looks almost like a real machine: u0_a83@android:/ $ df Filesystem             Size   Used   Free   Blksize /dev                   403M    64K   402M   4096 /mnt/asec              403M     0K   403M   4096 /mnt/obb               403M     0K   403M   4096 /system                531M   322M   208M   4096 /system/media           98M    67M    31M   4096 /cache                  98M     4M    94M   4096 /persist                 9M   ...

Wed, 13 Nov 2013 02:15:21 UTC

Positive NBN news

Posted By Greg Lehey

We've all been more than a little unhappy about the direction the new Australian government is taking with the National Broadband Network, as I've commented repeatedly in the past. And so far there seems to be no sign of a change of directionuntil today. Now it seems that Simon Hackett is joining the board of the NBN. That's hopefully good news. Simon has a much better understanding of the issues than most of the people on the NBN, very much including the current government. Hopefully he'll be able to maintain his viewpoints. Certainly the public opinion is very positive. ACM only downloads articles once.

Tue, 12 Nov 2013 00:05:02 UTC

(Re)Learning programming

Posted By Greg Lehey

I've been programming for nearly 45 years now, but I've always been interested in programming languages, and so a couple of months ago I signed up for an online Programming languages course from the University of Washington. It's been interesting. One of the things about programming languages is that each has its own way of doing things. Yes, you can write FORTRAN in any language, and Rasmus Lerdorf has told me Programming in PHP is simple. Just write C and put a $ in front of the variables. But it's not that simple, and the course shows idioms that I wouldn't have thought of myself.

Fri, 08 Nov 2013 21:01:44 UTC

More GPS navigation apps

Posted By Greg Lehey

I still haven't found a good Android navigation app. I'm going to Melbourne tomorrow, so it's a good test. Spent some time looking for other apps, and came up with a package I can no longer trace. It has some other name somewhere, but it just identifies itself as Navigator. I had thought that it was NavFree, but the description in the toyshop looks very different. It's also based on OpenStreetMap. Is the navigation any better? No. It was almost impossible to enter the details of where my cousin Mick lives (it didn't believe that the street number existed), and finding the South Melbourne Market took me 5 minutes offline.

Thu, 07 Nov 2013 23:04:54 UTC

Comparing DxO PRIME

Posted By Greg Lehey

As planned, spent some time converting the photos taken on 30 January 2010 with the new DxO Optics Pro version 9, including the blue moon with the ice-age-glacial PRIME denoising functionality53 minutes for 7 images! And the results? It's still hard to say. The original images were processed with ufraw, not the best software in the world. DxO gave generally better-looking results. But there's not that much difference in the noise. In sequence are the image as processed by ufraw, the same image as optimized by Ashampoo photo optimizer, DxO with the High profile and DxO with the PRIME profile: The differences in the crop are due to the fact that ufraw uses the ...

Thu, 07 Nov 2013 00:33:42 UTC

Modem comparisons

Posted By Greg Lehey

My wireless network congestion continues, though it's currently not as bad as it has been. But Internode support have sent me a new modem to see if that will make any difference. Yes, it did. It's a Huawei E3131, and my system doesn't recognize it: Nov  6 10:43:12 eureka kernel: ugen6.4: <HUAWEI> at usbus6 Nov  6 10:43:14 eureka root: Unknown USB device : vendor 0x12d1 product 0x1c05 bus uhub8 Nov  6 10:43:14 eureka kernel: ugen6.4: <HUAWEI> at usbus6 In particular, it doesn't create any device nodes, so I can't use it.

Wed, 06 Nov 2013 23:53:04 UTC

More DxO investigation

Posted By Greg Lehey

As planned, continued today looking at the new DxO Optics Pro version 9. It's certainly interesting. The first thing I needed to do was to process the images from the GPS navigator as part of the article on GPS navigation apps. I couldn't be bothered to mount the camera on a tripod, so I took the images hand-held with the camera sensitivity set to 36° (3200) ISO. That created quite noisy images, just what I needed to try their new PRIME denoising, a term that proves to stand for Probabilistic Raw IMage Enhancement. One thing's sure: it's slow. And when processingexporting a second image, I discovered: I had to wait for the first image to complete before I could start the second, presumably because of some limitation in their processingexporting logic.

Wed, 06 Nov 2013 01:25:09 UTC

Web server down time

Posted By Greg Lehey

Stephen Rothwell updated our communal OzLabs weather server today, while I was in Geelong. It didn't take long to find that things didn't go well for Error 403 (Permission denied) on all pages. Contacted Stephen and discovered that I hadn't read his warning letter closely enough, and that I needed a configuration change. Fortunately that didn't take too long. ACM only downloads articles once.

Wed, 06 Nov 2013 00:41:18 UTC

Navigation apps revisited

Posted By Greg Lehey

The journey to Geelong was useful for another purpose: another comparison of OsmAnd Maps & Navigation and the Nav N Go in my dedicated navigator. It was interesting: OsmAnd Maps took well over a minute to calculate a route back home from Geelong, a distance of 80 km. There's clearly a lot of room for improvement there. When it did, it was a very different shortest route than what Nav N Go calculated.

Mon, 04 Nov 2013 22:29:01 UTC

More bad language

Posted By Greg Lehey

So today I've had two different new examples of bad language: income stream products and export. What's wrong with them? They're bad in different ways. Income stream product is clearly intended to be very specific. Presumably stream implies continuous, relatively even income, and product is some kind of wrapper. But that's a guess. To be specific, it also needs to be completely understandable. Presumably the people at Centrelink know exactly what it means and how it differs from other jargon terms that would sound the same to me. But unless you can look it up in a dictionary, they shouldn't be using it when communicating with the general public.

Mon, 04 Nov 2013 21:38:42 UTC

New DxO release

Posted By Greg Lehey

A couple of weeks ago DxO released version 9 of DxO Optics Pro, of which they said, with amazing chutzpah: DxO Optics Pro is now even faster That's of a photo processing package that is an order of magnitude slower than any other I know. Still, any speed improvement is good, so today I decided to try it out. The user interface has changed: previously there were the relatively understandable tabs Organize (climb trees to find the files you want to process), Customize (select what you want to do with them) and Process (produce the corresponding output images).

Mon, 04 Nov 2013 21:25:15 UTC

NBN letdown

Posted By Greg Lehey

On the dot of 9:00 this morning, called up Exetel (1300 393 835, Option 1), spoke to Bernie and asked her to reinstate the order that they rejected last month. Yes, indeed, they still had all the details, but they'd have to reenter it manually. Their problem, I suppose, since they were prepared to do it. But of course the NBN info still showed no service from the Radiation Tower, so they couldn't accept it. Called up the NBN and spoke to Adam, who told me that the tower was indeed not in service, but some people, notably in Browns Road (which goes past the edge of Chris Bahlo's property) already had service.

Sat, 02 Nov 2013 22:46:07 UTC

Radiation Tower: finally!

Posted By Greg Lehey

The Radiation Tower is finished! Or at least, that's what Yvonne found in Facebook: Yeah baby, booked in for the NBN today, been told the technician will be out in the next couple of weeks to hook us up......bye bye 15 gig @ $89 yippee........ I can't check myself: it seems I've been removed from the group. And of course the coverage map doesn't show any change, but what else is new? Hopefully it'll be installed before my current month of wireless coverage ends on the 20th. ACM only downloads articles once.

Thu, 31 Oct 2013 04:34:15 UTC

LinkedIn: Somebody wants to link to you

Posted By Greg Lehey

Mail from LinkedIn (yes, really, not spam) today: Who? It doesn't say. It seems to be unimportant, though viewing the profile showed that it was, indeed, somebody that I know. But this was the entire message, apart from my personal details below. Still, documentation is overrated. ACM only downloads articles once.

Wed, 30 Oct 2013 23:28:31 UTC

New VoIP adapter

Posted By Greg Lehey

My new NetComm V210P VoIP adapter arrived today. Why does it have a WAN and a LAN port? It seems to want to be a firewall as well, and it's a little hazy about which port it uses for DNS requests. After a bit of playing around, discovered that it works better with the WAN port connected. But I still can't find a way to create a sensible dial plan. On the one hand it's a lot simpler than the dial plan for the Sipura, but on the other hand it's a lot simpler than the dial plan for the Sipura.

Wed, 30 Oct 2013 23:22:11 UTC

More Radiation Tower activity

Posted By Greg Lehey

They're doing more work on the Radiation Tower: At first I thought it was the electricity, but the heaps of soil don't seem right for that. ACM only downloads articles once. It's possible that this article has changed since being downloaded, but the only way you can find out is by looking at the original article.

Wed, 30 Oct 2013 01:04:00 UTC

Alternative Android software

Posted By Greg Lehey

My search for a good navigation app for Android has not been very successful. I had expected something better than the Nav N Go software, but so far I haven't found anything that is anywhere near as good. So why not Nav N Go? It clearly has the advantage that I know how to use it. Spent some more time looking around and came across a site that offered it. So I tried to install it. Ended up with a 415 byte file in the Downloads directory, with no explanation of what to do with it. Clearly I had to sign up with Aptoide.

Tue, 29 Oct 2013 23:19:00 UTC

The advantages of dithering

Posted By Greg Lehey

My Android tablet proves to be quite good for reading PDF documents, much better than the E-book reader that I bought last year. That seems to have more to do with the software (dare I say Acrobat reader?) than the hardware, since the resolution isn't very different. A closer looks shows the advantage of dithering: I consider dithering just a substitute for high-resolution displays, but here it does the job quite well. ACM only downloads articles once.

Mon, 28 Oct 2013 23:31:27 UTC

MySQL communication failure

Posted By Greg Lehey

After yesterday's panic, I had difficulty accessing the freezer database on dereel. It's using phpMyEdit, which no longer works with modern, backwards incompatible versions of PHP, so I run it on a different, down-rev (virtual) machine. But since the reboot I couldn't access the database. Much checking, not helped by the lack of error reporting. Running wireshark didn't help: I only saw the traffic in one direction, presumably because of the virtual machine. But running mysql directly showed: === root@dereel (/dev/pts/0) /usr/local/www/data/household 16 -> mysql -u grog -h eureka ERROR 1130 (HY000): Host '' is not allowed to connect to this MySQL server No, I don't have passwords for this database (clearly that will have to change if I go back to direct connect to the Internet).

Mon, 28 Oct 2013 00:23:05 UTC

VoIP reliability

Posted By Greg Lehey

Years ago I bought two Sipura SPA-3000 VoIP ATAs. After retiring I only needed one of them, but it died two years ago. Today I discovered that the second one had died too. I didn't record the exact symptoms of the death of the last one, but I suspect at least the LEDs still illuminated. This time there was just no power indication, though the power adapter seemed OK. Not a good advertisement for SipuraLinksysCisco. With the upcoming Radiation Tower, time to buy a new one. Saw one (a NetComm V210P) being auctioned on eBay and got it for $9.99. Who can be bothered to fix old hardware when you can get new stuff that cheaply?

Sun, 27 Oct 2013 23:42:51 UTC

Backup data corruption

Posted By Greg Lehey

Yesterday's photo data backup didn't exactly work as planned. Looking at the output, I found lots of: rsync: stat "/photobackup/Photos/grog/www/20080531/small" failed: Bad file descriptor (9) rsync: recv_generator: failed to stat "/photobackup/Photos/grog/www/20080531/small/daisy-bush.jpeg": Not a directory (20) rsync: recv_generator: failed to stat "/photobackup/Photos/grog/www/20080531/small/dam-ne.jpeg": Not a directory (20) Further investigation showed a couple of things: first, the (USB-connected) disk had been detected as a 1 MB/s device: Oct 26 17:04:33 eureka kernel: da2 at umass-sim3 bus 3 scbus11 target 0 lun 0 Oct 26 17:04:33 eureka kernel: da2: <ST ST2000DL003-9VT1 3.00> Fixed Direct Access SCSI-4 device Oct 26 17:04:33 eureka kernel: da2: 1.000MB/s transfers Oct 26 17:04:33 eureka kernel: da2: 1907729MB (3907029168 512 byte sectors: 255H 63S/T 243201C) Normally I'd expect to see ...

Fri, 25 Oct 2013 23:47:08 UTC

Radiation Tower close up

Posted By Greg Lehey

The work on the Radiation Tower this week looked like completion, so off to take a closer look. Up to now I have only taken photos from the road, but it looked like time to go in and take a closer look. For some reason they've locked the gates leading to the tower, though that's not the case with the other towers I've seen. In any case, it's easy enough to get in: And clearly the tower isn't complete yet: Still, there's not much to do.

Fri, 25 Oct 2013 23:33:18 UTC

How to compromise ANZ web banking

Posted By Greg Lehey

Despite my complaints about ANZ yesterday, it was clear that I would have to go along with their silly security questions, so I chose some with answers that nobodynot even Icould guess. Then a little later Yvonne came in and told me that she had managed to lock herself out of the web banking servicetyped the correct password three times, and it was rejected each time. Now we had to call 13 33 50 to get it reinstated. How could that happen? Clearly they couldn't have objected to my choice of answers (which, in fact, were less unflattering than usual). Something wrong in their application?

Thu, 24 Oct 2013 23:36:54 UTC

Bluetooth keyboard: success

Posted By Greg Lehey

More playing around with the Bluetooth keyboard today. This time it Just Worked, irritatingly while I was trying to get some screen shots of it not working. And once it was there, identifying itself not with a MAC address but with the name of the keyboard's owner (not Chris Bahlo), I couldn't get rid of it. So: how well does it work? There's no problem entering data, but it's still difficult to use: Android isn't really designed for keyboards, and I still need to smear the tablet to navigate the screen. The keyboard is really only useful when doing a lot of text entry with little screen navigation.

Thu, 24 Oct 2013 00:14:38 UTC

DNS strangeness

Posted By Greg Lehey

What's my test box called? It's headless, so I need to connect to it before I can find out. But then there's ARP. After booting, it should show up in eureka's ARP table, since it NFS mounts file systems. Took a look: ( at 00:1f:d0:20:4e:7f on re0 permanent [ethernet] ( at 00:10:5a:75:8d:ad on re0 expires in 36 seconds [ethernet] ( at 00:21:86:21:ab:7e on re0 expires in 1190 seconds [ethernet] ( at 08:00:27:3c:7f:5e on re0 expires in 1005 seconds [ethernet] ? ( at 00:1f:d0:20:4e:7f on re0 permanent [ethernet] ?

Wed, 23 Oct 2013 23:40:13 UTC

Androids and Bluetooth keyboards

Posted By Greg Lehey

Chris Bahlo came in in the evening with a Bluetooth keyboard to try out on the Android tablet. Not an unqualified success: What's wrong there? And why does it identify itself with something that looks like an Ethernet MAC address? More investigation needed. ACM only downloads articles once.

Tue, 22 Oct 2013 23:00:25 UTC

More Radiation Tower progress

Posted By Greg Lehey

They're back at work on the Radiation Tower: It looks as if they're connecting up the power, which shouldn't take them too long. Hopefully it'll just be a few days now. So: can I see the tower from my house? Up on the roof to take a look in that direction: Where is it? With the help of Google Maps, established that it's behind the gum trees in the middle of the view: This is from my Internet connection options map.

Tue, 22 Oct 2013 22:34:36 UTC

Ports pain

Posted By Greg Lehey

Some months ago I had a horrible experience: enblend only worked correctly with vigra if it was compiled with a specific version of gcc. I fixed that by ensuring that the correct version was used. But later I started getting error messages by email: From: To: Subject: [REL - head-amd64-default][graphics/enblend] Failed for enblend-4.1.1_1 in build You are receiving this mail as a port that you maintain is failing to build on the FreeBSD package build server. Please investigate the failure and submit a PR to fix build.

Sun, 20 Oct 2013 23:21:38 UTC

Weather too dry to measure

Posted By Greg Lehey

It's been nearly 4 years since I wrote my weather station software. It's been a fight against the vagaries of the weather station, but in general things seem to be working as well as the device will allow. But today I got a whole set of 0 readings. Further investigation showed that the station wasn't returning valid external humidity information. It was warm and dry, and the last readings had been 10%. Sure enough, as things cooled down, the humidity went up again: So it seems that the station can't report less than 10% humidity.

Tue, 15 Oct 2013 00:00:15 UTC

Android navigators: worth the trouble?

Posted By Greg Lehey

Into town again to see the doctor, and of course took my Android tablet with two navigation programs: Sygic and OsmAnd Maps & Navigation. Things didn't start well: the clinic is at 49 Albert St, Sebastopol. Albert Street is the main street in Sebastopol, but Sygic didn't know it: it proved that it knew it only as Midland Highway, so it directed me to Alfred Street instead. OsmAnd knew Alfred St, but not the number. The building is relatively new, admittedly, but my old GPS navigator knows it. On the whole, a good thing I didn't have to rely on either program.

Sun, 13 Oct 2013 22:08:45 UTC

Sygic: the weaknesses

Posted By Greg Lehey

One of the reasons I went to town was to try out Sygic in more normal circumstances. A good thing, too: it didn't do well. Going from the Botanical Gardens to the petrol station in Sebastopol took a seriously suboptimal shortest difference: The alternative suggestion to the south-west is just so far from short that it's incomprehensible how it could have come up at all. But the correct way would have been down to the east of Victoria park (triangle at top middle), like every other program chose.

Sun, 13 Oct 2013 22:08:09 UTC

Radiation Tower progress

Posted By Greg Lehey

On the way into town, stopped at the Radiation Tower, of course. They've mounted the S-shaped cable channel: What needs to be done? The cabling, of course, but presumably that's almost only power, which shouldn't take too long. ACM only downloads articles once.

Sat, 12 Oct 2013 23:05:33 UTC

Humour, then and now

Posted By Greg Lehey

While tidying up my web pages, came across an orphan that has obviously been there for a long time: collected humourous articles from USENET and similar sources, about 20 years old. It's amazing how badly they have aged. ACM only downloads articles once. It's possible that this article has changed since being downloaded, but the only way you can find out is by looking at the original article.

Fri, 11 Oct 2013 23:21:03 UTC

Still more map errors

Posted By Greg Lehey

Discussed my article about the NBN coverage maps and with Callum Gibson today, and it occurred to us to look at the information from ACMA. They have a search page where you can find all communication towers in the country. So went looking, and sure enough, we came up with information for the Dereel and Cape Clear towersbut not for Rokewood. But Callum did some investigation and found this towerit's the Optus tower that was erected two years ago. And, of course, it's nowhere near where the NBN put it. But more careful investigation showed that the ACMA coordinates are wrong too!

Thu, 10 Oct 2013 23:09:46 UTC

More NBN tower investigations

Posted By Greg Lehey

Looking more carefully at the NBN rollout map shows that they've put up a number of towers. In this area alone four are marked as being operational: The one in Cape Clear puzzled me: according to Scott Weston, it receives its uplink from the Dereel tower. So I set off to have a look. It seems that every single tower is significantly misplaced, and to actually find any I had to look around in the area. In Cape Clear I was successful, though the tower is over 4 km from where it is claimed to be: Looking at the uplink antennas, it doesn't seem to have anything to do with Dereel.

Wed, 09 Oct 2013 22:22:23 UTC

NBN delays: explanation?

Posted By Greg Lehey

So yesterday Exetel told me that NBN had rejected my application for a connection. Correct? I also got an automated courtesy call on the phone, telling me that my application for ADSL had been rejected, so a bit of clarity would go a long way. First took a look at the coverage map, which has now been updated: Fixed wireless | Construction commenced - construction commenced in your area on [sic] Aug 2013. It is estimated that the average time from construction beginning to NBN services being available is 12 months What nonsense!

Wed, 09 Oct 2013 22:17:53 UTC

Radiation Tower progress

Posted By Greg Lehey

After yesterday's erection of the Radiation Tower, I was expecting a delay before the next stage, but it seems that they're continuing: My guess is that they're about to pour the concrete base. ACM only downloads articles once.

Wed, 09 Oct 2013 00:01:51 UTC

Trying Sygic again

Posted By Greg Lehey

Some weeks ago I tried Sygic on my Android tablet. It was somewhat inconclusive, because I didn't have a windscreen mount for the tablet, and then I discovered that the free app in fact was only a one week free trial, which expired before I could do any more. Now I have a new tablet, but the same account. Can I run another one week trial with it? Surprisingly, yes. And after loading hundreds of megabytes of map data (and surviving a couple of network problems), spent some time looking at the features. On the down side, of course, it's an Android app, which means that there's almost no help available.

Tue, 08 Oct 2013 23:44:33 UTC

Still more unexpected network pain

Posted By Greg Lehey

Even before my current unresolved issues with Internode's sales team, I had decided that I would try Extel for my NBN network connection. Yes, Internode has the best reputationpossibly based mainly on past achievementsbut almost the only issues I've ever had with my network connection have been between the ISP and my premises. And with NBN that's independent of the ISP. On the other hand, Exetel offers higher traffic rates for the same price: 50 GB per month instead of 30 with Internode, and only downlink traffic is counted. Most importantly, though, traffic between 01:00 and 09:00 isn't metered. At 25 Mb/s you can download a theoretical 90 GB of data (video, for example) in a single day during that time.

Tue, 08 Oct 2013 23:35:44 UTC

Radiation Tower erected

Posted By Greg Lehey

Everybody's watching the progress on the Radiation Tower, and today was a milestone: How much longer? Hard to guess. Three weeks? A month? ACM only downloads articles once. It's possible that this article has changed since being downloaded, but the only way you can find out is by looking at the original article.

Mon, 07 Oct 2013 23:10:12 UTC

Unexpected network pain

Posted By Greg Lehey

I've had enough pain with the services quality of my wireless Internet service, but despite the imminent erection of the Radiation Tower, I needed to increase my traffic allowance in the meantime, hopefully only for one month. I did that last week, but things didn't go as smoothly as I had expected. As I mentioned last Friday, they sent me an invoice for two months' fees, and also stated that billing would start at the latest 7 days after provisioning. And then they didn't answer the mail I sent them. That happened today: In regards to your plan costs, I can confirm that as you've ordered the NodeMobile 9GB plan your monthly service cost will simply be $39.95 per month.

Mon, 07 Oct 2013 00:03:14 UTC

New photo processing software?

Posted By Greg Lehey

It's fairly clear that I'm going to buy an Olympus OM-D E-M1 camera. That will require some changes to my photo processing. Currently I'm using DxO Optics Pro, but it only supports specific combinations of camera and lens. The E-M1 is only just appearing on the market, so so far they don't have any support for it, but when it comes it'll almost certainly be only for ¼FT lenses. And I currently have 5 normal FT. Based on past performance, it's fairly clear that DxO will not support those combinations. But what's the alternative? One might be Olympus Viewer, which I tried out earlier this year.

Sun, 06 Oct 2013 22:36:41 UTC

Android streamers: a solution

Posted By Greg Lehey

Yesterday's experiment with streaming audio on Android was less than completely successful, so I went searching further. Why is the toyshop so badly organized? There's no way to search by feature, rating, or number of downloads. Instead I went to Google and found, right at the top, TuneIn Radio. Downloaded that, and it worked. I still don't know why I need a separate app to play this stuff, but it really seems that Android web browsers are so castrated that you can't do much with them. ACM only downloads articles once.

Sun, 06 Oct 2013 01:38:08 UTC

Playing music on Android

Posted By Greg Lehey

One of the things an Android tablet is good for is playing music, right? Well, that's the idea, anyway. With the promise of more network traffic just round the corner, considered listening to Radio Swiss Classic on the radio instead of ABC: they have a more interesting programme. Just plug the tablet into the Hi-Fi system and we're away. I even found a suitable cable in my assorted junk. That's straightforward enough, right? I have already had problems playing music on Android, but I worked around them by installing firefox. Tried again on the stream. Sorry, can not open file. Why not?

Fri, 04 Oct 2013 00:32:36 UTC

Internode: more decay

Posted By Greg Lehey

I've commented in the past that Internode isn't what it used to be. Buying the second SIM card proved to be relatively simple, but the followup wasn't. It's clear that with the coming of the Radiation Tower I'll only need the card for one, maybe two months, and that's why I bought one with a one month renewal period. But the follow-up emails read: Your Order Reference Number: #1264795/nNodeMobile Data at 47 Kleins Road, DEREEL VIC 3352 * For 1 Month                                                                                                                         ...

Fri, 04 Oct 2013 00:16:36 UTC

Documentation web sites

Posted By Greg Lehey

My new car has nearly used up a tank full of petrol, which seems surprising. But then, I've done nearly 500 km with it. How big's the tank? That's the sort of thing you'd find in the instruction manual, but mine came without one. That's what the web's for! Went out searching for (ultimately) hyundai elantra 2002 owners manual download, and found lots of links like this one: That looked like just what I wanted, and elsewhere it had claimed to be free.

Thu, 03 Oct 2013 23:56:49 UTC

More Radiation Tower progress

Posted By Greg Lehey

The weather has been wet recentlyin the last 10 days, we've had nearly 50 mm of rain, and it shows. Heard a report from Wendy, our neighbour across the road, that she had seen a crane bogged down in the paddock where the Radiation Tower is being erected. It sounds plausible: Chris Bahlo told me she saw a crane there this morning, too, so I went by laterthis may be becoming a daily exercise at the moment. There was no crane there, but it's clear that they're assembling the tower in preparation for erection: It's interesting that the uplink antenna already appears to be ...

Thu, 03 Oct 2013 00:02:09 UTC

Radiation Tower progress

Posted By Greg Lehey

Yvonne went shopping this morning. She had barely left when I got an excited call They're working on the tower!. And so they were: The truck had an emblem from Task National Pty Ltd, a company that appears to have no web site. But I found references to employees, one of them a telecommunications engineer, so I assume they're doing more than just laying a power cable. ACM only downloads articles once.

Tue, 01 Oct 2013 23:08:47 UTC

Getting more Internet traffic

Posted By Greg Lehey

One of the consequences of the Coursera courses I'm taking is that my Internet traffic has increased dramatically. Last month we barely managed to stay within the 18 GB limit on my wireless broadband connection. Roll on the Radiation Tower! This month doesn't look much better. I'm just under, but a couple of new courses are about to start, and I can't see any hope of staying within the limits. I'd take a tariff plan with more volume if I could, but Internode doesn't offer one. But there's an obvious, if slightly clumsy, workaround: buy another SIM card, though it's a pity I have to do this so shortly before completion of the Radiation Tower.

Tue, 01 Oct 2013 00:33:20 UTC

OsmAnd Maps & Navigation in practice

Posted By Greg Lehey

The trip to Ballarat also gave me the first opportunity to try out OsmAnd Maps & Navigation in practice. The results were interesting, both good and (unfortunately mainly) bad: The TTS voice output sounds like a caricature of an old (US American) woman. We tried it in German instead, which was barely better, but had the amusing side effect of extreme mispronunciation of street names. I'm sure that can be fixed.

Sun, 29 Sep 2013 22:04:24 UTC

Trying OsmAnd

Posted By Greg Lehey

Last month I did some brief investigation of navigation applications for Android. I briefly tried Sygic, but at the time I didn't have a holder for the tablet, so I decided to put it off. And then Sygic told me that it was a free 7 day trial copy, so by the time I got the tablet holder I couldn't use it any more without significant cost. That leaves a bad taste in my mouth: the toyshop claims it's free. And as a result I allowed my free trial to expire without being able to use it. So today I tried another one, OsmAnd Maps & Navigation.

Sun, 29 Sep 2013 22:03:26 UTC

Trying OsmAnd

Posted By Greg Lehey

Last month I did some brief investigation of navigation applications for Android. I briefly tried Sygic, but at the time I didn't have a holder for the tablet, so I decided to put it off. And then Sygic told me that it was a free 7 day trial copy, so by the time I got the tablet holder I couldn't use it any more without significant cost. That leaves a bad taste in my mouth: the toyshop claims it's free. And as a result I allowed my free trial to expire without being able to use it. So today I tried another one, OsmAnd Maps & Navigation.

Sun, 29 Sep 2013 22:03:24 UTC

Trying OsmAnd

Posted By Greg Lehey

Last month I did some brief investigation of navigation applications for Android. I briefly tried Sygic, but at the time I didn't have a holder for the tablet, so I decided to put it off. And then Sygic told me that it was a free 7 day trial copy, so by the time I got the tablet holder I couldn't use it any more without significant cost. That leaves a bad taste in my mouth: the toyshop claims it's free. And as a result I allowed my free trial to expire without being able to use it. So today I tried another one, OsmAnd Maps & Navigation.

Sat, 28 Sep 2013 00:22:14 UTC

More Coursera pain

Posted By Greg Lehey

When I was young I was fascinated by languages, both natural and computer. I certainly haven't given up on that interest, but the plethora of languages now available makes it difficult to keep up. So I've signed up for a Coursera course on programming languages. Now the first information is coming in: it's about programming languages in general, but it's taught using SML, Racket and Ruby. Of these, I have only ever heard of Ruby. The (apparently required) editor is Emacs, and they want a specific version of it. OK, time to install the rest. The convenient instructions cover Windows, Mac OS X and Linux, but not BSD.

Sat, 28 Sep 2013 00:11:24 UTC

More NiZn battery strangeness

Posted By Greg Lehey

It's been some time since I started using NiZn batteries, and in that time I've been quite happy with them. They discharge, of course, and today I found the internal unit of the lounge weather station (not the computer one) barely legible. Only yesterday it had looked perfectly normal. Took out the batteries and discovered that one battery had a voltage of 1.546, definitely discharged, while the other only had 0.170 V. According to what documentation I have seen, it should be unrecoverable. Put in a set of fresh (well, not used since last recharge) batteries and discovered that things were no better: one had 1.798 V, normal enough, while the other had 0.376 V.

Sat, 28 Sep 2013 00:06:09 UTC

Radiation tower progress

Posted By Greg Lehey

The site of the Radiation Tower has been quiet now for over two weeks. I've assumed that this is to allow the concrete of the base to harden, but it's also a concern because since the last real work we have a new, (NBN)-unfriendly government. So it was good to hear from Chris Yeardley today that Powercor had been on site and apparently installed a new transformer: It's some distance form the site, but that's where the power line runs.

Fri, 27 Sep 2013 00:49:36 UTC


Posted By Greg Lehey

Received mail from William Witteman pointing at AirDroid, an application to make life with Android easier. It provides a web server that you can use to access the tablet from a real computer: It doesn't have any instructions, of courseafter all, it is an Android appand it also changes the names of directories, but it's not too difficult to guess what it does. I still need to play with it, but so far it looks very usable, and it might make the pain with copying files easier.

Thu, 26 Sep 2013 01:15:57 UTC

VZ Commodore hidden codes

Posted By Greg Lehey

Yesterday I tried without success to adapt the tricks to access hidden functionality of the VT Commodore trip computer to our new VZ Commodore. On reflection, it occurred to me that there was an obvious difference: the VT computer has only three buttons (Mode and up and down arrows). The VZ computer has all of these, and also a Set button. So tried that, and it worked. So: to enter the secret functions of the computer, ensure that the car is turned off. Hold down Mode and Set buttons, turn on the ignition and start the engine. It's not enough just to turn on the ignition.

Tue, 24 Sep 2013 23:56:28 UTC

A browser for Android

Posted By Greg Lehey

Continued my attempts to play music on my Android tablet. The Music app is too stupid to access music from the Internet, and the Browser app refuses to play MP3 files. Another browser? I had tried Chrome, but I couldn't find a way to get it to save a Home location. On Andy Snow's recommendation I tried what he said was Dolphin Beta, but all I found was Dolphin, which proved to be too stupid to even rotate the display to the current orientation. Finally tried firefox, which seems to do the trick. Why is this all so difficult? ACM only downloads articles once.

Tue, 24 Sep 2013 23:37:27 UTC

Hidden trip computer functions

Posted By Greg Lehey

Callum Gibson had a comment on my discussion of the trip computer on our new VZ Commodore, and came up with this page, describing hidden functionality in the trip computer of a VT Commodore, the model that we have just traded in after nearly 14 years. Tried the tricks out on the VZ, but they didn't work. Tried other combinations, and managed to accidentally reset the service interval counter (hold down the up arrow and the down arrow, turn on the ignition and start the car). Maybe there's some other trick to get the hidden functions, but I didn't find it.

Tue, 24 Sep 2013 02:20:27 UTC

Understanding Android

Posted By Greg Lehey

One obvious use of an Android tablet is to play music. Never mind that the speaker in this tablet sounds tinnier than anything I've heard in years: I'm expecting a bluetooth headset any time now. But how do I play things? The Music app seems incapable of downloading music files. OK, in this modern world, that's what a browser is for. So I tried that. Sorry, the player does not support that kind of audio file. What does that mean? It's an MP3, and it even has a file name advertising the fact! No specifics, nothing about what it thinks it is.

Tue, 17 Sep 2013 00:02:01 UTC

Give us a real backbone network

Posted By Greg Lehey

Now that the Coalition has won the election, plans for a sensible National Broadband Network have been canned. It's not true that nobody's happy about that: clearly Tony Abbott and maybe Malcolm Turnbull are. But a very large number of voters are not. Now there's a petition for the coalition to continue with the FTTH approach. As I write this, they have collected 250,000 signatures in a little over a week. That's impressive enough as a figure, but it's all the more interesting in that it represents over 1% of the population of Australia. I've signed, of course; I wonder if it will have any effect.

Mon, 16 Sep 2013 00:53:23 UTC

NAT: safe from intrusion

Posted By Greg Lehey

Like many other networks running IPv4, I connect my local network to the Internet via NAT. I don't like the concept: I have a real /24 address block, but I can't connect it via this network. It also means that I have to maintain an external web server, because my local web server is not accessible. Or so I thought. Today I saw a surprising set of messages: [Sun Sep 15 16:59:52 2013] [error] [client] File does not exist: /usr/local/www/data/admin [Sun Sep 15 16:59:53 2013] [error] [client] File does not exist: /usr/local/www/data/db [Sun Sep 15 16:59:54 2013] [error] [client] File does not exist: /usr/local/www/data/dbadmin [Sun Sep 15 16:59:55 2013] [error] [client] File does not exist: /usr/local/www/data/myadmin [Sun Sep 15 16:59:56 2013] [error] [client] File does not exist: /usr/local/www/data/mysql [Sun Sep 15 16:59:57 2013] [error] [client ...

Mon, 16 Sep 2013 00:27:21 UTC

Five years uptime: really?

Posted By Greg Lehey

I booted my external web server,, on 28 September 2008 just before midnight UTC. Since it reached 600 days uptimethe longest I had ever experienced, even at Tandem ComputersI started monitoring it every day. And then 3 months ago the unthinkable happened: they had to move data centres, after 1,733 days' uptime. Fortunately w3 is a virtual machine, and they were able to save the machine state and resume execution in the new data centre. But is that reasonable to assume that the uptime remains despite being put on ice for 100 minutes? I think so. There are a number of issues with keeping a machine up: Hardware reliability.

Sun, 15 Sep 2013 00:58:58 UTC

The price of free apps

Posted By Greg Lehey

More playing around with my Android tablets today. Gradually I'm getting the bigger one to do the things that I want. GPS worksbetter than on the small one, I can use it as a phone if I can stand the thought, and at least it doesn't change its MAC address every time it's booted, like the small one does. The PIN-based WPS also doesn't seem to require reinitialization all the time. What about navigation? Last month I tried Sygic and was relatively happy with it. But there was some strangeness about the software: although the toyshop called it free, there was some mention of having to pay.

Sat, 14 Sep 2013 00:06:40 UTC

Wireless AP, try 2

Posted By Greg Lehey

I've got to say one thing for the eBay seller who sold me the now defunct wireless access point: he's fast. I bought the original on Saturday, it was posted on Monday, arrived on Tuesday and died on Wednesday. I contacted him and he sent another one (without waiting for the return of the first) on Thursday, and I got it today. Looking at the device, it had a protective plastic film on the top side. Normally I don't remove these until I'm sure I'm going to keep them. But this one covered the cooling holes. Is that the reason why the first one died?

Thu, 12 Sep 2013 00:04:24 UTC

Radiation Tower progress

Posted By Greg Lehey

Every time we drive into town, we look at the site of the radiation tower. The components of the tower itself are now there: The site is visible in front of the trees in the first image. ACM only downloads articles once.

Wed, 11 Sep 2013 23:50:57 UTC

New wireless router

Posted By Greg Lehey

Got my new, el-cheapo wireless router today. The login screen speaks volumes: XXX Systems! But it has a lot of features, and seems to do what I want to do. In fact, I'd be completely happy with itmaybeif it hadn't died after two hours. All LEDs off except for power, and no way of turning it on again. And now the fun of returning the thing. I should have kept the ALDI boxes I bought a while back. ACM only downloads articles once.

Wed, 11 Sep 2013 07:53:55 UTC

Equine insurance, continued

Posted By Greg Lehey

We're still trying to insure Yvonne's new horse. It's not helped by the insurers. They have online descriptions of what they do and don't cover, of course, with lots of Big Fat Words, and a number of things that appear to contradict the statements of the agent. Sent him not one, but a total of three emails trying to get him to respond to the issues. We failed. It seems that the idea of actually reading an email message and responding to it is no longer Modern. Of course, it doesn't help that people in the Microsoft Space write their replies in a place where they can no longer see what they're replying to, but you'd think that a Professional would find a solution to that problem.

Thu, 05 Sep 2013 22:35:18 UTC

Android: So nice, so nice, we do it twice

Posted By Greg Lehey

Between looking for cars and contacting Yvonne, I had some time over. In to ALDI to see if they had an accessory pack for my Android tablet. No, but they had one for a slightly older 10.1" model, and even that tablet still in stock. OK, that might be worth trying out, so I bought both. For a tablet hater, I'm not exactly true to form. ACM only downloads articles once.

Tue, 03 Sep 2013 23:18:31 UTC

Finally! The Radiation Tower!

Posted By Greg Lehey

Yvonne called me on the way to town this morning: they've started building the Radiation Tower. Later out to take a look: So finally it has started! What a wait it's been: 6 December 2011: They want to be finished by June 2012, but that will depend on how many spanners Wendy wants to throw into the works. And indeed she did.

Sun, 01 Sep 2013 23:13:22 UTC

More nadir stitching

Posted By Greg Lehey

Spent much of the day today attacking my full 360°×180° panoramas. They were difficult for a number of reasons, not all of them related to the nadir. First was the panorama of the verandah centre: the initial flash panorama worked fine, but the flat version kept failing: enblend --compression=LZW -m 10000 -w -f9000x6597 -o verandah-centre.tif -- verandah-centre0000.tif verandah-centre0001.tif verandah-centre0002.tif verandah-centre0003.tif verandah-centre0004.tif verandah-centre0005.tif verandah-centre0006.tif verandah-centre0007.tif verandah-centre0008.tif verandah-centre0009.tif verandah-centre0010.tif verandah-centre0011.tif verandah-centre0012.tif verandah-centre0013.tif verandah-centre0014.tif verandah-centre0015.tif verandah-centre0016.tif verandah-centre0017.tif verandah-centre0019.tif verandah-centre0020.tif verandah-centre0021.tif verandah-centre0022.tif verandah-centre0023.tif enblend: info: loading next image: verandah-centre0000.tif 1/1 ... enblend: info: loading next image: verandah-centre0022.tif 1/1 enblend: warning: failed to detect any seam enblend: mask is entirely black, but white image was not identified as redundant enblend: info: remove invalid output image "verandah-centre.tif" gmake: *** [verandah-centre.tif] Error 1 Why that?

Sun, 01 Sep 2013 01:52:18 UTC

Still more USB strangenesses

Posted By Greg Lehey

I took a number of photos of the nadir setup with my old Nikon “Coolpix” L1, and then transferred them to computer via USB. And then I forgot to disconnect for a couple of hours. When I did, the camera was warm, the batteries (freshly charged NiZn) were also hot and discharged. Why? The camera can't charge the batteries via USB, so when it's on USB, it shouldn't have any connection to the batteries at all. ACM only downloads articles once.

Sun, 01 Sep 2013 00:43:36 UTC

Other Android insights

Posted By Greg Lehey

Writing yesterday's article on eBooks required screen shots from the Android tablet. How do you do that? Went looking in the toy shop, but the things I found didn't look very good, and most were either for a specific tablet, or they required rooting, something that I don't want to attempt yet. So I went off looking on Google. It's simple (and intuitive!) : the system has a built-in screen shot facility. Just hold down Vol-- and the power button for a second or two, and it makes a clicking noise and saves the screen contents. Where? With a bit of finger-sliding (starting at the Gallery icon), it gives you a useful information page: OK, how do I get that to a ...

Sun, 01 Sep 2013 00:25:46 UTC

USB charging problems understood

Posted By Greg Lehey

Why did my Android tablet not charge when connected to the charger via the USB extension cable? On IRC, Jürgen Lock suggested that the resistance might be too high. Nonsense, I thought, and did a quick calculation: the charger is rated at 2 A, and I've already established that the tablet needs more than 1 A to run. So what would we need to get a voltage drop of, say, 0.5 V? R = E / I, so the surprising result is: 0.25 ©. That's not much. Clearly what I should do is to measure the voltage at the device when connected in this way.

Sat, 31 Aug 2013 00:01:59 UTC

More eBooks with Android

Posted By Greg Lehey

I made one of the biggest decisions of my life in September 1962, over 50 years ago, when I started school at King's College, Taunton. We had a choice of one of four optional subjects to study: Biology, History, Geography and German. I really, really wanted to study both Biology and German. In the end, I chose German, and that decision determined the course of my lifeI ended up living in Germany for a total of 25 years. If I had chosen Biology, it, too, could have changed the course of my life. I almost certainly would never have lived in Germany, and there's a good chance that I would have ended up in some biological career instead of computers.

Fri, 30 Aug 2013 23:56:09 UTC

Android charge problems cornered

Posted By Greg Lehey

I'm still having issues with charging the Android tablet. I can leave it on charge overnight, and it will still be only partially charged. Then I charge it in the day, and it goes up to 100% charge within an hour or so. How can that be? Then it occurred to me: in all cases where it didn't charge properly, I was charging in the lounge room. The power point is some distance from my armchair, but the charger simply connects to the USB data cable, so I put a 5 m extension USB cable in between. The tablet recognizes the power and produces the rather silly status message Charging (AC), but it seems that there's something in the connection that makes it actually not charge.

Thu, 29 Aug 2013 22:48:03 UTC

Android as eBook reader

Posted By Greg Lehey

The linear algebra course course has now completed, but I haven't finished all the lectures quite yet. There's a deadline in about 10 days to submit the final assignments, but I suspect I won't bother. Mohamed Ifadir pointed me to a book on the subject, which I downloaded to my Android tablet and read while waitingfar too longat the doctor's. It was enlightening for a number of reasons. Firstly, the book is completely different from the course I've been doing. Pretty much the first thing it discusses is Gaussian elimination, which in the course is only handled in the second-last week.

Wed, 28 Aug 2013 23:00:13 UTC

What's wrong with my DNS?

Posted By Greg Lehey

Network connectivity has gone to hell again, and there's still no sign of the radiation tower, though on various occasions we've been told commencement dates round late June, late July and then 19 August, the latter two immediately before the non-event. I wish I knew why they tell us these things. And once again I was faced with DNS lookup failures, including NXDOMAIN for domains like and Where's this coming from? I've been tracing for some time now, but I still haven't finished analysing it. One thing I have established is that the problem isn't just with Internode's name servers: I've seen requests go to the root name servers as well.

Wed, 28 Aug 2013 22:55:45 UTC

Tempo: not in the German sense

Posted By Greg Lehey

Tempo Australia is the company that provides support for ALDI electronics. I've had occasion to call them twice last week, each time leaving a message to call back, and I have already commented that it took them 2 days to call me back the first time. Today the other shoe dropped: a call back for the message I was forced to leave, after only 6 days. What a company! As Jürgen Lock commented, not the German use of the word Tempo, which means speed. ACM only downloads articles once.

Wed, 28 Aug 2013 00:05:34 UTC

Using Sygic

Posted By Greg Lehey

The trip to Bannockburn gave me a good opportunity to try out the Sygic navigation software on my Android tablet. It was a little more understandable than last time I tried. As I discovered when I got my first navigator, it takes a lot to understand navigation software, and initially you see the problems, not the advantages. But there were some good aspects too. Here some observations: Things weren't made any easier by the lack of a holder for the tablet, so I could only look at the screen by holding it in my hand, not something that you can do all the time.

Tue, 27 Aug 2013 00:11:10 UTC

Microsoft to the rescue

Posted By Greg Lehey

I don't really like Microsoft software messing around in my computer, and today I wasn't too happy to see that Security essentials had found a potential threat. But this time it proved to be useful: That's almost certainly the thing that I was looking for two weeks ago. Found and removed, in the process pondering the abuse of the term quarantine. ACM only downloads articles once.

Mon, 26 Aug 2013 00:26:33 UTC

Another dead tablet!

Posted By Greg Lehey

I had left the Android tablet on charge overnight, but when I came in this morning it had powered off. And I couldn't get it to start again. After some investigation I discovered that the battery was completely discharged, and that a normal USB connector didn't deliver enough power to charge it. Put it on the supplied charger (again!) and it started charging, and after a few hours the battery was fully charged. But how did that happen? I had left the thing in standby mode with the charger connected. How could the battery have discharged? Is this a bad batch of batteries, or is there some problem with the charging circuitry?

Sat, 24 Aug 2013 21:53:40 UTC

Android navigation apps

Posted By Greg Lehey

More fun with the new Android tablet today. How do I keep track of apps? Yes, it stores information in the tablet. But what if the tablet dies? Ended up writing a page which is currently just a list of URLs (and how do you extract them on the tablet? No idea). Went looking for some GPS navigation apps, not helped by a lack of overlap between the reviews and what I could find in the toy shop. This page describes 5 of them, without links of course. Of those, I only found two. And the toy shop itself doesn't seem to want to let you know banal things like URLs.

Sat, 24 Aug 2013 00:45:56 UTC

Another sound hang

Posted By Greg Lehey

While watching TV this afternoon, I ended up with another hang in the sound system: Aug 23 13:45:44 teevee kernel: pcm0: chn_write(): pcm0:play:dsp0.p1: play interrupt timeout, channel dead Previously I had thought that this was related to running a flash player, but I hadn't done anything like that today. More discussion on IRC (doesn't it help to have IRC on your TV?) , and Callum Gibson pointed me at this problem report, which describes what appears to be exactly the same problem, and which claims to have a solution: # /boot/device.hints hint.hdac.0.msi="0" # /etc/sysctl.conf dev.hdac.0.polling=1 Callum also suggested the script he used to use: sudo sysctl -w ...

Fri, 23 Aug 2013 22:55:37 UTC

More Android investigations

Posted By Greg Lehey

So what do I do with my defective Android tablet? No call back from the service department, of course, so I called up ALDI and complained. No, they couldn't do much, though they took note of my complaint, but they were able to put me in contact with Tempo, where I was first asked if I had charged the thing overnight. Stupid questions, but as it happened I hadalthough it's not clear what difference that makes considering the battery was showing 100% charged and it was on the charger anyway. I was offered the opportunity of going and getting another one from ALDIthat's not a support, that's just normal business practice.

Thu, 22 Aug 2013 22:38:33 UTC

Android tablet: it goes back

Posted By Greg Lehey

More playing with my Android tablet today. Turned it on and discovered that it claimed only 36% battery charge, which was strange considering that it had been on charge overnight. Took it into the office and checked again: 100%. There's clearly something wrong with the reporting. Apart from that, didn't get very far. I was able to load a ssh server for the device, which meant that I could at least access it from outside. Here partial output from top, which is too stupid to clear the screen between iterations: User 7%, System 6%, IOW 0%, IRQ 0% User 37 + Nice 9 + Sys 42 + Idle 527 + IOW 2 + IRQ 0 + SIRQ 3 = 620   PID PR CPU% S  #THR     VSS     RSS PCY UID      Name 10374  1   3% S ...

Thu, 22 Aug 2013 01:42:36 UTC

When is mv not a mv?

Posted By Greg Lehey

Watched All Creatures Great and Small on TV this evening. I don't want to delete the recordings when I'm done, so I move the recording to a subdirectory called Already: === grog@teevee (/dev/pts/0) /spool/DVDs/All-Creatures-Great-and-Small 15 -> mv Series-3-1-3 Already/ === grog@teevee (/dev/pts/0) /spool/DVDs/All-Creatures-Great-and-Small 16 -> rm Series-3-1-3<tab> Series-3-1-3       Series-3-1-3.fpos  Series-3-1-3.time Huh? I just removed Series-3-1-3. Why is it still there? === grog@teevee (/dev/pts/0) /spool/DVDs/All-Creatures-Great-and-Small 17 -> ls -li Series-3-1-3 Already/Series-3-1-3 534949 -rw-r--r--  1 grog  lemis  2,006,484,992 19 Oct  2011 Already/Series-3-1-3 534949 -rw-r--r--  1 grog  lemis  2,006,484,992 19 Oct  2011 Series-3-1-3 In other words, it was already there.

Wed, 21 Aug 2013 23:32:34 UTC

Android, try 2

Posted By Greg Lehey

Last year I had my first experience with Android tablets, and I was greatly impressednegatively. Since then a number of things have happened: I've discovered a use for them controlling Olympus cameras, and the current issue of c't magazine had numerous articles on hacking old tablets. As a result I took a look on eBay and discovered I could get a usable second-hand tablet for about $120 to $130. Then this week ALDI had a tablet on special: Apart from the normal functions, it has full telephony functions (though I wonder how to hold it) and GPS.

Tue, 20 Aug 2013 22:01:11 UTC

Online streaming video

Posted By Greg Lehey

The signs are increasing that they'll finally start building the radiation tower soonScott Weston has claimed that work will start this week. So once again I'm looking at tariffsplans. Exetel has one one that looks interesting: 50 GB Peak and unmetered off peak. Off peak proves to be from 01:00 to 09:00, not exactly prime surfing time. But it's ideal to run cron jobs and pull down lots of pre-recorded TV programmes. But how? Yvonne asked me to find out about German TV, and Jürgen Lock was able to point me at Online TV recorder and Zattoo. The latter seems to be restricted to IP address ranges, and my current (Internode) address isn't part of it, but Exetel also offers a static IP address, so I could route my /24 to it.

Mon, 19 Aug 2013 22:08:40 UTC

Finally a use for a tablet?

Posted By Greg Lehey

I've had my Olympus E-30 camera for over 4 years now, and I've taken over 60,000 photos with it. It's time to upgrade before the shutter decides to give in. I've been waiting for some time for Olympus to bring out its new high-end camera, and lately rumours have been increasing. And then somebody leaked a video of a new camera. In the meantime it has been removed again, but not before I saw it. Steve Huff has also written a detailed article on the subject, including several clips from the video. It's a mirrorless camera, looks pretty much like the existing OM-D E-M5 (where do they get these names from?)

Sat, 17 Aug 2013 23:11:19 UTC

Who read my facebook password?

Posted By Greg Lehey

Rethinking yesterday's surprise Facebook password change, it occurred to me that one of the most likely scenarios was that this was a man-in-the-middle attack. Not the reported exploit, but the report itself: somebody could thus get hold of my new password. Clearly it would make sense to change it again. But how? Going through the Facebook personal details pages, I can tell people where I was born (Almaty) or where I live (Ulaanbaatar), but I couldn't find anywhere to change my password. In the end I turned to Google, who proved that I wasn't alone. This page looked good, so I tried to follow it: To change your facebook account password: Log in to your account ...

Sat, 17 Aug 2013 00:14:50 UTC

Your account has been compromised

Posted By Greg Lehey

For some obscure reason I accessed Facebook again todayprobably by accident. But I wasn't expecting what I saw: Clearly that's not me. But how did they break my password? How did they break my password? Did they break my password? In any case, I reset it. And then a little later I got a message from my Microsoft box telling me that I needed to upgrade my Internet Explorer. I get so used to that sort of thing that I barely think about it.

Fri, 16 Aug 2013 23:27:43 UTC

Weather: off the scale

Posted By Greg Lehey

Horribly windy day todayI later discovered that they had had gusts of up to 140 km/h in some parts of Victoria. It wasn't that bad here, but it kept up all day long, so I spent much of the day watching TV, like the Climate Change course, which is still rather off-topic. Also kept an eye on my weather readings. I'm sure that the wind speed gauge shows too little; the maximum gust measured today was 35.8 km/h, but I suspect we had over 60 km/h in reality. But the real thing that got me was the drop in barometric pressure: And in the evening the readings, which should be one per minute, became more infrequent, and round 18:00 they stopped altogether: SELECT date, ...

Mon, 12 Aug 2013 00:19:00 UTC

Lost photos

Posted By Greg Lehey

A couple of days ago I discovered that some old photos were no longer on my web site, notably those taken on 2 December 2000 and 3 December 2000 Today it seemed to be a good idea to see if any more were missing. Indeed, there wereno less than 390 of them! Most of them proved not to be missing: only the entry in the date index was gone. How did that happen? Fortunately, it's relatively trivial to recreate it, so spent some time doing that, in the process discovering that a large number required further attention. That'll keep me going for a while.

Sat, 10 Aug 2013 00:55:41 UTC

Web browser font sizes

Posted By Greg Lehey

Most web browsers offer to set a minimum font size so that you can read things even if some leet web programmer has decided to write his pages with fonts that would not be too big on a 640×480 screen. On a 2560×1440 display, they render like flyspeck. The web programmers don't like that. Neither do their pages. A case in point is the Naxos Music Library, which I like to run on teevee, my TV computer. The screen is 1.27 m wide and 3.5 m from my armchair, so each of the 1,920 pixels subtends an angle of only 0.01°.

Sat, 10 Aug 2013 00:44:18 UTC

Wedged sound hardware: a clue?

Posted By Greg Lehey

While watching TV this afternoon, did some reading, and played some music from the Naxos Music Library on teevee. When I returned to playing video lectures, the sound hung again. That's the third time in as many days, after I had had no trouble for months. And then it dawned on me: I think that every time it hung was after playing something from Naxos. That's played with some flash player and firefox. Is there some issue with that? How else can I play the stuff? But at least it's a lead. ACM only downloads articles once.

Fri, 09 Aug 2013 00:55:48 UTC

Unstoppable fack

Posted By Greg Lehey

While rebooting teevee, saw a message fly past: Aug  8 20:29:03 teevee kernel: WARNING: /home was not properly dismounted Huh? I hadn't crashed the system: it was an orderly reboot. But further examination showed that I had an error in /etc/fstab and wasn't fscking the /home file system. With soft updates that isn't as big a problem as it might seem, and who knows how long this has been going on for? Looking at my old log files, it goes back at least a couple of weeks.

Fri, 09 Aug 2013 00:46:21 UTC

More sound problems

Posted By Greg Lehey

I've had a sporadic problem with teevee, my TV computer: from time to time the sound hardware wedges. I get this message: Aug  8 20:24:49 teevee kernel: pcm0: chn_write(): pcm0:play:dsp0.p1: play interrupt timeout, channel dead I've done some investigation, but so far I can't find a way to recover from the problem: I have to reboot. The fact that a reboot (without power cycling) fixes the problem suggests that there's a programmatic way to do it, but I haven't found it yet. So far it's been pretty sporadic, but this is the second time now in a couple of days.

Wed, 07 Aug 2013 23:00:12 UTC

XCompose: new insights

Posted By Greg Lehey

Mail from pmarin today about my Compose key problems. He reminded me of one point that I noted when I first mentioned it: For GTK and QT, set the environment variables: export GTK_IM_MODULE=xim export QT_IM_MODULE=xim I don't use anything like that, so I didn't set it. But wait, doesn't the browser build pull in all sorts of libraries?

Tue, 06 Aug 2013 22:36:35 UTC

Print on demand

Posted By Greg Lehey

Exactly on time, my freshly printed Linear Algebra book arrived today. It doesn't look at all bad from a production point of view. No flyleaf, and clearly formatted with TeX , but the production quality appears at least as good as many conventional books, and significantly better than some. That's quite impressive. So I went looking at how createspace, the printer, do business from the author's point of view. I couldn't make much sense of it: The tabs at the top are almost illegible, and the link at the bottom to highest royalties isn't a link at all, just an underlined textor so I thought until I looked at the HTML source:         <dt>Competitive Royalties</dt><dd>Some of the <a onclick="javascript:setContent(5);">highest royalties</a><!-- link ...

Mon, 05 Aug 2013 23:37:10 UTC

Premature optmztion is rt of all evl

Posted By Greg Lehey

Much of Linear algebra relates to things like image compression, and I'm currently learning some interesting facts. But then I was pointed at this page, showing some serious dangers of the techniques. In the case in point, it seems that two different Xerox photocopiers changed texts to other plausible, but incorrect texts. Here one example of a copy of a building plan where the area specification changed from 14,13 m² to 21,11 m²: How can that happen? This kind of detail occurs many times in the plan (it's a description of the room, along with its floor area), and the incorrect copy matches a correct detail elsewhere on the plan.

Mon, 05 Aug 2013 00:39:19 UTC

Maps, projections and coordinates

Posted By Greg Lehey

More watching the video lectures of the linear algebra course today. I've complained about them in the past, but there are also some interesting trivia in the lectures. It seems that René Descartes had similar problems to me when getting up in the morning. The story goes that while he was lying in bed one morning (or afternoon, or evening) while he was bored (or maybe sick or insomniac), he saw a fly walking over the ceiling and contemplated how best to describe its position.

Sun, 04 Aug 2013 23:45:09 UTC

Compose key revisited

Posted By Greg Lehey

For 2½ years now I've been using an .XCompose file supplied to me by Marin, ostensibly from Plan 9 from User Space. It has worked well, and about the only issue I had is that the key description file didn't quite match the man page. And then this evening I wanted to enter some Russian text into the web browser on teevee, the TV computer. Beep. Did I have those key bindings right? Compose-@-L should give . But as soon as I entered @ it beeped. How about Greek? Compose-*-L should give ›. At least I could enter the entire sequence before it beeped.

Sat, 03 Aug 2013 22:50:03 UTC

Chrome image updating

Posted By Greg Lehey

I view images with Chrom* on my highest-resolution monitor, and today's reprocessing should have shown the results well. But the new images didn't display! I had renamed the old images and given the new images the previous name of the old images, and Chrom* continues to display the old images long after they're gone. At first I thought I had made a mistake, but no, firefox shows them correctly. Ctrl-Shift-R doesn't help. Not even stopping and restarting helps! What a pain. ACM only downloads articles once.

Thu, 01 Aug 2013 00:37:54 UTC

Google: don't be evil?

Posted By Greg Lehey

Like many people, I've been watching the increasing influence of Google with a mixture of admiration and concern. How can a company of that size remain true to its motto? And so I get more concerned every time I see something pointing away from this premise. Today I read an article in Wired about unnecessary restrictions on use of Google Fiber. It seems that the terms of service prohibit servers, whatever they may be. The article goes on to assume evil intent behind these limitations. That's possible, but the article doesn't make it plausible enough. They forget Hanlon's razor. What's a server?

Wed, 31 Jul 2013 00:24:01 UTC

Wake on LAN: the rest

Posted By Greg Lehey

So yesterday I configured Wake on LAN on dxo, my Microsoft box. Modulo some unexpected behaviour (wake on any LAN event), it went remarkably smoothly. Today I had more photos to process, so I tried to wake up dxo again. Nothing. Further investigation showed that wake(1) wasn't working: === grog@eureka (/dev/pts/11) ~ 42 -> wake dxo wake: Cannot open bpf interface: Permission denied It worked fine as root. A clear case for setuid: === root@eureka (/dev/pts/20) ~ 7 -> chmod 4555 /usr/sbin/wake ...

Tue, 30 Jul 2013 02:01:26 UTC

My CookBook on Android

Posted By Greg Lehey

Gregory Orange reported back today. He had taken the original version of the recipe for tajine de bSuf aux pois chiches and put it on the My CookBook app on his Android device. It's difficult to get a screen shot, but what he saw was: How much use is that? I suppose it's about as good as the original recipe. But in the meantime I've changed it, and I wonder how long it would take Gregory to update it accordingly. At least it seems to be possible, unlike the web version.

Mon, 29 Jul 2013 23:58:16 UTC

Using wake on LAN

Posted By Greg Lehey

On Saturday evening Chris Bahlo were looking at the web site of her new employer, First question: does it render correctly? Well, sort of, modulo overrun at the bottom, caused by guessing that I would use the standard character size. We were looking at the page on the TV, 58" diagonal, but some distance away. I've already noted that resolution isn't the issue: it's angle of view. At default sizes, it's illegible on the TV. Chris took that on board and then asked And what is it like under Internet Explorer?. I knew the answer, but of course the real challenge was getting Internet Explorer to display on the TV.

Sun, 28 Jul 2013 00:49:34 UTC

Enblend insider joke?

Posted By Greg Lehey

While looking at the enblend home page today, I noticed an interesting detail: That jaggy in the white stripe (which is part of a SVG image) is exactly the kind of thing that enblend is supposed to eliminate. I wonder what the thought processes behind it are. ACM only downloads articles once.

Sat, 27 Jul 2013 01:25:24 UTC

Enblend refuses to stitch more than 9 images

Posted By Greg Lehey

Some weeks ago Thomas Zenker reported a problem with the FreeBSD port of enblend, which I maintain: he couldn't get it to stitch more than 9 images at a time. It aborted with the messages: enblend: cannot load image "20120702-125206-125507-000009.tif" enblend: Precondition violation! did not find a matching file type. (/usr/ports/graphics/vigra/work/vigra-1.9.0/src/impex/codecmanager.cxx:234) He thought this was a general restriction, but of course I have been stitching many more than that, coincidentally with an almost identical configuration. He sent me his images and I was able to stitch them with no problems.

Fri, 26 Jul 2013 00:46:22 UTC

Symlinks with Microsoft

Posted By Greg Lehey

One of the results of tidying up the house was that I found a whole lot of old photos that I need to scan in. And after my experience with SANE, I've decided to use my Microsoft box to do scanning. That works about as well as you can expect with a Microsoft box, but one irritating thing is that it saves the scanned data on the Microsoft machine, and I have to move it manually to eureka. What I need is a symlink. But doesn't Microsoft have symlink functionality? Does it work to external file systems? Asked on IRC and was told that it was called a shortcut (another modern joining of two words), and that I could make one by pushing mice between Windows Explorer windows.

Fri, 26 Jul 2013 00:35:56 UTC

Spammers getting even more stupid?

Posted By Greg Lehey

Spam is bad at the moment, and I'm continually wondering whether I shouldn't do something draconian like whitelists. But the spammers are not getting any cleverer. Or maybe they're catering to the toy MUA crowd who can't see the nonsense they're sending: From  Fri Jul 25 00:30:25 2013 Return-Path: <> ... Received: from []         by with POP3 (fetchmail-6.3.21)         for <> (single-drop); Fri, 25 Jul 2013 00:30:24 +1000 (EST) Received: from ( [])         by (Postfix) with ESMTP id D24B53B79C;         Thu, 24 Jul 2013 14:19:26 +0000 (UTC) Date: Thu, 24 Jul 2013 14:19:26 +0000 From: "Facebook" <> To: <>,         <>,         <> Subject: Kendall Carlson wants to be friends with you on Facebook.

Thu, 25 Jul 2013 01:26:43 UTC

Disk problems with a difference

Posted By Greg Lehey

Trying to back up my photos today, I ran into a problem I hadn't seen before: === root@eureka (/dev/pts/11) /home/grog 20 -> mount /dev/da2p1 /photobackup mount: /photobackup: Device not configured Huh? I had just plugged in the (USB) disk and confirmed that it had been probed successfully: Jul 24 15:38:13 eureka kernel: da2 at umass-sim3 bus 3 scbus11 target 0 lun 0 Jul 24 15:38:13 eureka kernel: da2: <ST ST2000DL003-9VT1 3.00> Fixed Direct Access SCSI-4 device Jul 24 15:38:13 eureka kernel: da2: 40.000MB/s transfers Jul 24 15:38:13 eureka kernel: da2: 1907729MB (3907029168 512 byte sectors: 255H 63S/T 243201C) Disk label problems?

Wed, 24 Jul 2013 05:50:50 UTC

Blurring computer history

Posted By Greg Lehey

Seen on Pinterest while looking for something different and useful: Rear Admiral Grace Hopper. She worked for UNIVAC in 1949 who made some of the first computers ever. In 1951 she discovered the first computer bug.. In 1952 she had an operational compiler. Nobody believed that, she said. I had a running compiler and nobody would touch it. They told me computers could only do arithmetic. A compiler is the reason you have an Operating System with programs, a phone with apps.

Wed, 24 Jul 2013 03:33:17 UTC

More July anniversaries

Posted By Greg Lehey

I've just finished reading the end of my paper diaries, from January 1968 via the end of contiguous diaries on 1 October 1970 until the final isolated entry on 14 June 1977. It hasn't been as pleasant a reading as I had expectedyou remember the good things, but you tend to write down the bad things as well, and there's so much of that that I'll probably never type them in. But one thing I discovered was that my original assumptions about various anniversaries were wrong. I've already noted that a number of anniversaries fall in mid to late Julyin two days' time, for example, I will have known Yvonne for 31 yearsbut now I discover that the end of July seems to have been a good time to meet girls.

Mon, 22 Jul 2013 23:11:24 UTC

Apps for cooking

Posted By Greg Lehey

A lot of discussion about cooking on IRC today. Does it make sense to use a tablet computer to view your recipes? That was one of the reasons I bought a tablet last year. My experience with this particular device was so negative that I didn't even try it in the kitchen: it went back. But that was that specific tablet, and potentially a tablet could be useful in the kitchen; it's just that it seems to be a lot of money for one small application. If I were to do that, a relatively modern laptop seems preferable. Then Gregory Orange came up singing the praises of My CookBook, a tablet App that he uses extensively in the kitchen.

Sat, 20 Jul 2013 23:58:03 UTC

Linear algebra pain

Posted By Greg Lehey

Finally finished last week's assignments for my linear algebra course. Algebra? Statistical analysis using vectors. They're not due until next week, but the next assignments are there already, and I want to keep up to date. So on with the next week's lectures. No question, we're talking mathematics here. And I don't understand any of it! At the beginning of the series it seemed that they paid too much attention to things that were obvious; now it's very much the other way round. What's a vector space? I have a vague idea, but only a vague one, and the concept is central to the whole course.

Fri, 19 Jul 2013 01:36:39 UTC

Paying for the NBN

Posted By Greg Lehey

It seems that yesterday Simon Hackett gave a presentation about issues with the Australian National Broadband Network, pointing to serious deficiencies. In recent times most criticism relating to the NBN has been directed at the Federal Opposition's planned castration of the network, as I've commented in the past. But no, while Simon disagrees with that too, this time he's talking about the cost. If his calculations are right, by 2040 the NBN will cost 5 times as much as ADSL (which, strangely, will cost exactly as much as it does now, a round $20 per month). He comes up with a number of suggestions about how to reduce the cost.

Thu, 18 Jul 2013 00:43:40 UTC

New English

Posted By Greg Lehey

What's a namespace? A filesystem? How do they differ from name spaces and file systems? Is it just a difference in spelling, or is it a difference in meaning? My spelling check highlights both words as incorrect. Taking a step back: one of the biggest differences between English and German spelling is that in German nouns are written together, like Filmempfindlichkeitseinstellung, which looks terrifying until you split it up into Film Empfindlichkeits Einstellung (film sensitivity setting, which has the same number of syllables). There's a tendency in German to do this split, although it's a breach of spelling rules. And, it seems, there's the opposite tendency in English.

Thu, 18 Jul 2013 00:32:55 UTC

Goodbye ACM Queue

Posted By Greg Lehey

It's been some years since this diary was included in the ACM Queue RSS feed. As I noted at the time, the topics in the diary range far beyond the normal subject material for ACM Queue, so I quickly modified the structure of the diary to present the content as a series of articles on various topics. ACM Queue takes the ones with a computer topic. Last month that was 33 articles out of a total of 91. But somehow that's not restrictive enough. This is a diary, not a blog, and the main purpose is for me to make notes for myself.

Wed, 17 Jul 2013 01:09:13 UTC

Erecting radiation tower?

Posted By Greg Lehey

The start of construction for the radiation tower is long past the estimate of four to five weeks that I got two months ago, and yesterday I asked my sources again. No, no problems, and construction should start within days. But when I went past today, I still didn't see anything. Well, not much. In the paddock next door there have been a number of old bales of hay. Now they're being removed and burnt (the smoke on the left): Are these the last preparations?

Sun, 14 Jul 2013 00:42:10 UTC

Internode support?

Posted By Greg Lehey

My network connection has gone to hell again. After 5 days of relative peace (though not good throughput) it started again a couple of days ago: 3 disconnects on the 9th, 7 on the 10th, 3 on the 11th, 6 on the 12th, and 8 today. And in each case reconnecting my myriad TCP connections can take up to 5 minutes. I can no longer keep my MythTV programme information up to date, because the network link won't stay up long enough. What should I do? Report it to Internode Support? That way madness lies. Once they were good. Now they don't even bother to escalate things.

Sat, 13 Jul 2013 23:59:41 UTC

Fixing Emacs

Posted By Greg Lehey

I've been using Emacs for ever, to the point where the key bindings come so naturally that I couldn't describe them without looking at what I do on the keyboard. So every small change made in subsequent versions of Emacs is particularly irritating. I'm not the only one. Peter Jeremy was complaining about it on IRC recently, but unlike me, he did something about it.

Thu, 11 Jul 2013 23:42:01 UTC

What's a vector?

Posted By Greg Lehey

On with my linear algebra course, which is getting easier. But it seems to come from a parallel universe. No wonder I was confused. I've known about vectors for over 50 years, and it's clear what they are: a magnitude and a direction. Just to be sure I dragged out my old university maths book, which showed exactly what I remember. But that's not what vectors are today, at least according to this course: they're a special kind of discrete function. That's part of the reason why this is taking me so long: a new student would just learn and accept, but I'm stopping on every corner looking for reasoning.

Wed, 10 Jul 2013 01:16:57 UTC

Linear algebra, finally

Posted By Greg Lehey

So I've finished my first two assignments for the linear algebra course, and finally we're getting to the subject of the course. Spent some time watching the video lectures, which are much easier than the assignments, probably because (so far) there's not much to learn. Still, it has taken a lot of time to get this far. Hopefully the assignments will become more understandable too.

Wed, 10 Jul 2013 01:05:17 UTC

More network hell

Posted By Greg Lehey

One of the most frustrating things about my wireless Internet connection is its variability. When it works well, it's better than a standard ADSL connectionI've had real-world transfer rates of up to 300 kB/s in both directions. But you can't rely on it, and since the beginning of the year even VoIP has become unreliable. And they still haven't started building the radiation tower. Today, after nearly 5 days of connection and acceptable signal quality, things went to hell again. It's not just slowness, it's the timeouts that irritate me. For some reason DNS is a particular problem. Spent some time playing with my named configuration, in particular increasing the query timeout to 30 seconds:  options {   directory "/etc/namedb"; + resolver-query-timeout 30;   forwarders { That's only of limited use, though, as Edwin Groothuis pointed out: many ...

Mon, 08 Jul 2013 23:47:45 UTC

Are you old enough to drink?

Posted By Greg Lehey

While writing yesterday's diary, checked the Pilsner Urquell web site. What a catastrophe! You're not even allowed to read it if you're not of drinking age. And how do they check that? You have to enter your date of birth! And even that is difficult. Three drop-down choice menus: So if you're born in October to December, or after the 9th of any month, or before 2001 (i.e.

Mon, 08 Jul 2013 23:28:36 UTC

Another day of python

Posted By Greg Lehey

Revisited my inefficient python program today, and as expected got it much more efficient0.9 seconds instead of 140 minutes, just shy of a 1000-fold improvement in performance. It still wasn't easy, not because of program logic, but because of python strangenesses. The more I learn of python, the more I like LISP. How do you select from a composite object? It depends. Maybe there's a function to do it for you, maybe you can subscript them. Most of my modifications were related to finding the correct syntax for selecting what I wanted. Doubtless there are good reasons, but it seems so much easier just to keep everything as a list.

Mon, 08 Jul 2013 00:29:43 UTC

Python learning notes

Posted By Greg Lehey

I'm continuing with this supposed linear algebra course, though so far I've only been learning python, and even the exercises aren't obviously related to linear algebra. I've signed a declaration of honour that I won't tell people about itdesigned to ensure that people don't copy other people's results. So I can't give too much detail, but the current exercise is to build a reverse index for a text search engine. How do you do that? The assignment documentation gives just enough information for you to be able to infer what they mean.

Sun, 07 Jul 2013 01:53:15 UTC

State of the art web infrastructure

Posted By Greg Lehey

Chris Bahlo along for dinner tonight, as usual on Saturdays. After dinner, while Yvonne went to sleep with boredom, we talked about her new job at a local web design company whose name I forgot to ask. We discussed again my incomprehension that Wordsworth had taken four days to move the Friends of the Ballarat Botanical Gardens web site from the existing, functional site to the new sitewhy couldn't they just have cut over the DNS when it was up and running? Chris said updating a page on our sites normally doesn't cause more than two minutes lack of access. WHAT?

Sun, 07 Jul 2013 00:55:17 UTC

More weather station problems

Posted By Greg Lehey

My weather station has never been very reliable, and over the course of time I've been putting more and more heuristics into my software to catch the more obvious errors, most recently three months ago. But once again it seems to be getting cleverer: it's generating less obvious errors, and I can't catch them. Do I care? Yes, but not enough to drop everything and think out Yet Another Way of catching errors. Why didn't they just put a checksum in the transmitted data?

Thu, 04 Jul 2013 01:00:52 UTC

Comprehending python

Posted By Greg Lehey

Most language courses are boringly simplistic. The one I'm going through for Python is not. One of the issues, of course, is the lack of description of the syntax, particularly since it's so baroque. But mainly the issue is that it requires a completely different approach to programming from what I've seen before. I hope it gets easier once I have accepted the basics.

Wed, 03 Jul 2013 00:23:11 UTC

Learning Python, again

Posted By Greg Lehey

I never finished the computational photography course that I started a couple of months ago. I had started in mid-course, and it became apparent that both my linear algebra and python skills were lacking. I started a Python course a little later, but it was too elementary, so I gave up on that too. Now they're offering a course on linear algebra, coincidentally using Python, so I've enrolled in that. First issue: it requires python 3.3.2, but the version installed on my machine is 2.7.2.

Mon, 01 Jul 2013 23:12:44 UTC

Direct delivery email problems

Posted By Greg Lehey

So a few days ago I unblocked port 25 and started delivering email directly to the destination MTA. And today I discovered: === grog@eureka (/dev/pts/12) ~ 35 -> mailq -Queue ID- --Size-- ----Arrival Time---- -Sender/Recipient------- 2FFBAF76A4     3029 Sat Jun 29 13:09:19 (host[] refused to talk to me: 554 nskntcmgw02p BigPond Inbound IB105. Connection refused. has a poor Sender Score reputation. See for more information.)                                 The problem here is that the address that the remote MTA sees is a dynamic address from Internode's pool, and it might once really have been abused.

Mon, 01 Jul 2013 00:36:06 UTC

w3 lives!

Posted By Greg Lehey

Yesterday was the day when RootBSD moved their server room, taking with it, which had an uptime of 4¾ years: Fri Jun 28 00:55:04 UTC 2013 12:55AM  up 1733 days,  2:24, 1 user, load averages: 0.00, 0.00, 0.00 When I came into the office this morning, w3 was still up. Moved or not? Sun Jun 30 00:18:16 UTC 2013 12:18AM  up 1735 days, 9 mins, 1 user, load averages: 0.00, 0.00, 0.00 Clearly it hadn't been rebooted. But had it been moved?

Sun, 30 Jun 2013 04:20:53 UTC

Goodbye Evi Nemeth

Posted By Greg Lehey

Sad news went around a couple of days ago: Evi Nemeth was lost at sea at the beginning of the month. After Jim Gray that's the second person I know who went out to sea and never came back. And they were both well-known computer people, not exactly the kind of person you'd expect to end like that.

Wed, 26 Jun 2013 00:36:30 UTC

Apple: four times as good

Posted By Greg Lehey

More investigation of Apple's host naming today. It's clear that there's a naming issue somewhere. Investigation with scutil revealed two different names: sh-3.2# scutil --get HostName Melbourne sh-3.2# scutil --get ComputerName newyork Apart from these two, there's the dynamic global hostname, which is something else again. I can only find it in the GUI setup screen, but it does get saved: But wait! There's more! hostname has its own view of the world: sh-3.2# hostname Melbourne sh-3.2# hostname -s Dereel sh-3.2# hostname Dereel sh-3.2# scutil --get HostName Melbourne sh-3.2# scutil --get ComputerName newyork Four different names for one computer!

Wed, 26 Jun 2013 00:11:57 UTC

Investigating mail problems

Posted By Greg Lehey

So despite setting the firewall rules, I still wasn't able to connect to my remote MTA. But the reason was easy enough to find: 12:26:32.694551 IP > Flags [S], seq 161129313, win 65535, options [mss 1460,sackOK,eol], length 0 12:26:32.807306 IP > ICMP host unreachable - admin prohibited filter, length 36 Clearly a configuration problem, so I sent a message to Internode Support asking them to fix it. Some hours later got a call from Stuart, telling me that they're not blocking anything.

Tue, 25 Jun 2013 23:40:39 UTC

Australian Liberal Party Spam

Posted By Greg Lehey

In my article about Facebook spam last week I couldn't find a really good example of a reputable organization spamming Facebook users. Today I got a perfect one. The Liberal Party of Australia, arguably a reputable organization, considers it appropriate to spam its potential voters: Never mind the polemic and inaccurate message (electricity prices have gone up, but not by 94%): would you vote for spammers?

Tue, 25 Jun 2013 00:40:53 UTC

Networking, Apple style

Posted By Greg Lehey

While following up on my network problems, decided to compare what Apple does. Yes, like other BSD-based system they also have a localhost bound to the interface lo0. This seems to be a BSDism: the Linux interface is simply called lo. But somehow since last use the machine had changed its system name, from newyork to newyorkmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. No idea how that happened, but it should be trivial to change it, right? hostname is your friend. Well, it may be your friend, but Apple doesn't take it seriously. I'm told it works until you reboot, and then you're back to the old name again.

Tue, 25 Jun 2013 00:32:47 UTC

Following up on mail problems

Posted By Greg Lehey

Pulled my tuit item about the mail problems today. As I suspected, there were two different problems. The more obvious one was setting up the mail tunnel. The script is called mailtunnel: === grog@eureka (/dev/pts/10) ~ 17 -> which mailtunnel /home/local/bin/mailtunnel I modified the script to include debug output, and none came. After quite some time it occurred to me that I had a function in my .bashrc, and that's what got executed. And at some juncture while setting up teevee, I modified its .bashrc, conveniently a symlink to /eureka/home/grog/.bashrc, and managed to save an older version: --- .bashrc     2012/10/04 06:01:06     1.57 +++ .bashrc     2013/05/19 04:55:38 @@ -1,4 +1,4 @@ -# $Id: diary-jun2013.php,v 1.34 2013/06/25 02:24:38 grog Exp $ +# ...

Mon, 24 Jun 2013 00:27:57 UTC

Where is localhost?

Posted By Greg Lehey

Sent off a relatively routine mail message today and got an unexpected response: This is the mail system at host I'm sorry to have to inform you that your message could not be delivered to one or more recipients. It's attached below. ... <>: Host or domain name not found. Name service error for     name=localhost type=AAAA: Host not found Huh? What does that mean? In particular, it's a resolution failure for an AAAA record, which relates to IPv6. And I don't use IPv6. More importantly, though, why now?

Sat, 22 Jun 2013 07:37:46 UTC

Server down after nearly 5 years?

Posted By Greg Lehey

My external server is hosted with RootBSD, and I've been very happy with them. As of today it has an uptime of 1,726 days4 years, 8 months and 24 days. And now they're going to move the data centre! To quote this page: And his server had only been up for 2½ years.

Sat, 22 Jun 2013 07:09:11 UTC

Friends web site still down

Posted By Greg Lehey

I noted a couple of days ago that the new web site for the Friends of the Ballarat Botanical Gardens is still down. It seems that they jumped the gun and changed the DNS information before installing the web site. Since the site has been down for days, it's reasonable to assume that they've run into trouble. So I put up the old site at and offered to Adel to redirect to it while she sorts out her problems. But today I got a message which blew my mind. This isn't a bug, it's standard procedure, it seems, and they had warned the Friends that the site would be out of action for a couple of days: there are some elements of the site that can't be implemented and tested until after propagation.

Sat, 22 Jun 2013 07:02:11 UTC

Goodbye Facebook, hello Google+?

Posted By Greg Lehey

After my rant about Facebook yesterday, Peter Jeremy came up with a solution: use Google+ instead. It doesn't have inline spam (yet). I had actually had a better solution: ignore all these social media sites. But for the fun of it, I signed up with Google+. What is it? Yes, of course I didn't read the description, but what I'm presented with looks nothing like what I expected. I'll revisit it some time when I'm bored, but for the moment the difference is clear: I'm on Facebook because it's the only way to communicate with lots of people I know. Few people have invited me to join them on Google+, and most of those are also on Facebook.

Fri, 21 Jun 2013 01:08:30 UTC

Why we can't beat spam

Posted By Greg Lehey

Spam has been one of the most irritating aspects of online life since I first started using email on the Internet. There are all sorts of ways to try to limit it, but as time goes on, it's clear that we can't win. The basic problem is that too many people consider it to be just another legitimate form of advertising, and too many users just accept it. Yes, penis enlargements and Viagra are frowned upon, but that's because of the subject, not because of spam. But who uses email any more anyway? Facebook is the way of the future (Oh brave new world, that has such people in't!)

Wed, 19 Jun 2013 01:42:29 UTC

SCO: The pain that never ends

Posted By Greg Lehey

In other news, Jürgen Lock pointed me at this report. After only 10 years, a complete lack of evidence, and a bankruptcy, SCO (now spelt XINUOS) is still not giving up with their law suit against IBM. Why? Went back looking and discovered that it was ten years ago today that SCO announced that they had terminated IBM's UNIX license. It's also the tenth anniversary of the publication of a Byte interview with Chris Sontag, unfortunately also no longer accessible. Went looking and found that most of the documents to which I had referred in my documentation of the case have since ceased to exist.

Wed, 19 Jun 2013 01:02:16 UTC

Death to HTML!

Posted By Greg Lehey

While playing around with my photos a few days ago, I came across a strange problem: in my diary for 16 April 2011, my normal photo resizing stopped working correctly. Spent some considerable time investigating it, finally reducing it to a simple example. Normally I have five potential display sizes for an image: hide (size 0), thumbnail (67,500 pixels, size 1), small (270,000 pixels, size 2), and two big, both the native size of the image. Size 3 scales this image to the width of the window, while size 4 shows it in full resolution. In this case, though, size 3 was smaller than size 2.

Wed, 19 Jun 2013 00:12:36 UTC

Goodbye Friends

Posted By Greg Lehey

Phone call from somebody at a company Wordsworth. He wanted access to the domain I told him there was a web site, but no, it seems Wordsworth (or whatever) is the company doing the transition to a professional web site, and what he really wanted was information on how to update the DNS information. He had the registry key, but didn't know what to do with it. Asked him to send me a mail message, which came from Adel, with whom I had spoken earlier this year, with an email domain address from a different domain. Sent her the information, and the DNS records were quickly updated.

Tue, 18 Jun 2013 01:01:34 UTC

Reprocessing old panoramas

Posted By Greg Lehey

It's been nearly two years since I started my current panoramic views of the garden, and in that time lots of things have changed. In particular, at the time I was using out-of-camera JPEGs, and now I process my images with DxO Optics Pro. The difference in appearance may be at least partially due to that. Here the verandah two years ago and now: Spent quite some time reprocessing the images with DxO Optics Pro, but the difference wasn't that pronounced.

Mon, 17 Jun 2013 00:21:57 UTC

PayPal: Don't follow this link

Posted By Greg Lehey

Mail from PayPal today with some policy updates and the good advice not to follow any links in their messages, but to type in the URL! Yes, it's possible to have a disguised link, but the idea of cutting and pasting doesn't seem to have occurred to them. And then they provide links anywaywhich do exactly the kind of obfuscation they're warning about (real URL at bottom left): What happens if you follow that link? An electronic rap on the knuckles?

Sun, 16 Jun 2013 02:45:20 UTC

Taming DxO

Posted By Greg Lehey

I've been processing my photos with DxO Optics Pro for over a year now, but I still haven't really understood all the details. I frequently use the HDR Artistic profile, which gives me the kind of in-your-face colours and shadow accentuation that I like, but I've only gradually come to realize that it comes at the expense of considerable burnout in the highlights. Today I had to adjust some of my flower images by up to 2 EV to get some detail back in the highlights. More to be learnt.

Sat, 15 Jun 2013 02:24:25 UTC

Revisiting AEC map slowness

Posted By Greg Lehey

One of my complaints about the AEC web site was that the maps they provided were enormously bloated, and they took up to 15 minutes CPU time to render on my machine. We discussed the matter on IRC and discovered a number of interesting things. Firstly, one of the issues was the way I zoomed: increase the map size to 800% and then pan with the slide bars. I didn't realize that most maps have labels in text, so I could have searched with normal text search, which speeded things up considerablyonly a couple of minutes. But then somebody tried running with Microsoft, and the map rendered orders of magnitude faster than under FreeBSDso fast that I probably wouldn't have commented.

Sat, 15 Jun 2013 01:14:27 UTC

Internode: our fault after all

Posted By Greg Lehey

My network problems are no longer quite as bad as they were two months ago. The connection quality is still so bad that VoIP is seldom practical, but I no longer have the extreme dropout rate that I had at the time. That's no thanks to Internode, who ignored my traces and just gave up. I asked them to escalate the matter, and they said yes, they'd do so. Silence. And then I got a message: Apologises for the late reply, this email is in regards to the throughput issue that you reported back in early April.

Mon, 10 Jun 2013 23:33:26 UTC

More Hugin project file frobbing

Posted By Greg Lehey

Preparing comparison images of panoramas isn't easy. Each time the crop is subtly different, so they don't register correctly when combined on a web page: the images tend to jump when the mouse goes over them. What I need is a way to crop different images identically. And that information, too, should be in the Hugin project file. But where? I still can't find the documentation. Still, inspection can be useful. Tried comparing the project files of the normal panorama and the HDR version of yesterday's garden to the south-east investigation. They differ in many ways, of course, notably in the number of images, but right at the start I got: --- garden-se.jpeg.pto  2013-06-10 11:27:25.000000000 +1000 +++ garden-se-hdr.jpeg.pto      2013-06-09 12:21:25.000000000 +1000 @@ -1,21 +1,45 @@  # hugin project file  #hugin_ptoversion 2 -p f1 w6057 h3490 v237  E12.2262 R0 S364,5763,771,3284 ...

Mon, 10 Jun 2013 01:51:36 UTC

Turnbull speaks

Posted By Greg Lehey

Reply to the mail message I sent to Malcolm Turnbull last month: Greg, we have every intention on delivering on our plan. Thanks for your tip on the fasterbroadband survey site, we will look into that. Nothing world-shattering, and I remain to be convinced, but since at the time I voiced an opinion that he might not reply, it's only fair to note that I was wrong.

Sun, 09 Jun 2013 23:23:14 UTC

More alternative panoramas

Posted By Greg Lehey

On with my panorama processing experiments today. One view that is particularly challenging is the 180° view south-east from the north-east corner of the house. The left-hand end is a shade area, and to the right of centre it's open, so the difference in illumination is markedtoday, surprisingly, it was only a difference of 3.4 EV from the darkest to the brightest. Still, an interesting motive for comparing the three relevant methods. In each case I started with the same 18 images, representing the following 6 views: I've deliberately shown these taken at ...

Sun, 09 Jun 2013 00:23:36 UTC

Alternative panorama processing

Posted By Greg Lehey

More playing around with panorama processing today. The sun was shining, so I took more HDR images than normal. Normally I process the images by first converting them to tone-mapped images, and then running Hugin to stitch them together. But Hugin can handle the HDR conversion too, so today I tried that (Exposure fused from stacks). What a time it takes! The tone-mapping step takes quite a time too, but here I had a total of 63 images, and cpfind alone took over an hour of CPU time to find its control points. Stitching took about another 90 minutes, and in total the whole thing took 3½ hours.

Sat, 08 Jun 2013 01:10:29 UTC

PHP: planned obsolescence

Posted By Greg Lehey

About a week ago the Oly-e web site went down, with messages like: Warning: fopen(data/.threading): failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /var/www/clients/client35/web109/web/news/a.php4 on line 76 Warning: fgets() expects parameter 1 to be resource, boolean given in /var/www/clients/client35/web109/web/news/a.php4 on line 77 Warning: fclose() expects parameter 1 to be resource, boolean given in /var/www/clients/client35/web109/web/news/a.php4 on line 94 No prizes for guessing where that came from. Reported it to Reinhard Wagner, who runs the site, and he told me that his ISP had spring a PHP update on him without warning.

Fri, 07 Jun 2013 01:33:54 UTC

Interrupt timeout, channel dead

Posted By Greg Lehey

Watching TV today, the playback tripped over some kind of data corruption, after which I couldn't play anything back. It's not the first time, but this time I looked at the system log and discovered: Jun  6 16:54:14 teevee kernel: pcm0: chn_write(): pcm0:play:dsp0.p1: play interrupt timeout, channel dead That's the audio output channel. And there seems to be no way to revive it. Reboot time. And clearly, since it has happened more than once, time to investigate more carefully. It seems that there have been a number of reports of this problem, most recently probably this one.

Thu, 06 Jun 2013 01:57:06 UTC

Web search: brute force and ignorance

Posted By Greg Lehey

Should I keep my diary in text files or in a database? Clearly the professional approach is a database, but I've never quite got round to doing it. One of the nice things about keeping my diary in files is that I can use standard tools like grep to search for things, something I do relatively frequently. But that only works at home. Two weeks ago I was at Jenny Bartlett's and wanted to find a diary reference to Android using her Android tablet. A complete pain, especially since I didn't recall the date. What I need is a web-accessible grep.

Wed, 05 Jun 2013 00:08:37 UTC

Firefox: works

Posted By Greg Lehey

Back to the firefox problem today. I have established that I no longer get a SIGSEGV on startup if I build with debugging support, which goes beyond mere symbols in the binaries. It also produces lots of debug messages. The fact that the resultant binary doesn't fail suggests that the problem could be a race condition of some kind. So: back to a build without symbols. Problem: it worked. I can no longer reproduce the problem. How I hate that! It usually means that the bug has gone into hiding, but hasn't gone away. Potentially some minor change in the system software in the nearly 2 weeks since I first ran into the problem might have solved the problem.

Mon, 03 Jun 2013 00:23:38 UTC

Firefox: success?

Posted By Greg Lehey

Tried my latest firefox build again today. It worked! Well, sort of. It might be that I forgot to specify a DISPLAY environment variable yesterday, though when I did so today I got a corresponding error message. But it produced voluminous debug output and... worked. Another Heisenbug chased away by debug code. I have better things to do than chase this stuff, so I did them.

Sun, 02 Jun 2013 00:15:55 UTC

Insight into Hugin stitching modes

Posted By Greg Lehey

It was the beginning of winter and coincidentally house photo day today. Despite the forecast, it wasn't raining, and there was almost no wind, so I ended up with some relatively good if dreary images: Once again I experimented with the various stitching methods that Hugin offers. I'm gradually understanding the different stitching methods that I looked at last week. Of course, I have to confess that I didn't RTFM. Not that that helps much: the page shows the stitcher menu and claims If you click the Create panorama button the new stitch popup sub-screen will be displayed.

Sun, 02 Jun 2013 00:14:47 UTC

Firefox on hold for now

Posted By Greg Lehey

Into the office this morning to find that the debug build of firefox had finally completed. Ran it: === grog@monorchid (/dev/pts/1) ~ 2 -> firefox nsStringStats  => mAllocCount:              6  => mReallocCount:            1  => mFreeCount:               6  => mShareCount:              4  => mAdoptCount:              0  => mAdoptFreeCount:          0 === grog@monorchid (/dev/pts/1) ~ 3 -> Well, at least it didn't crash.

Sat, 01 Jun 2013 03:00:29 UTC

Firefox pain, next installment

Posted By Greg Lehey

On with my attempts to build firefox today. Repeated the build that died yesterday with SIGKILL andit happened again! It wasn't until some time later that Jürgen Lock reminded me that this is what happens when you run out of swap. In parallel, installed the image on my real hardware, with 3 GB of memory and 3 GB of swap. This time it didn't die with SIGKILL. Instead I got: /usr/bin/clang++ -o nsCategoryManager.o -c -I../../dist/stl_wrappers -I../../dist/system_wrappers -include ../../../config/gcc_hidden.h -DMOZ_GLUE_IN_PROGRAM -DMOZILLA_INTERNAL_API -D_IMPL_NS_COM -DEXPORT_XPT_API -DEXPORT_XPTC_API -D_IMPL_NS_GFX -D_IMPL_NS_WIDGET -DIMPL_XREAPI -DIMPL_NS_NET -DIMPL_THEBES  -DSTATIC_EXPORTABLE_JS_API -DNO_NSPR_10_SUPPORT -D_IMPL_NS_COM -I../../../xpcom/components/../reflect/xptinfo/src -I../../../xpcom/components/../base -I../../../xpcom/components/../ds -I../../../xpcom/components/../build -I..

Sat, 01 Jun 2013 02:35:04 UTC

Future network problems

Posted By Greg Lehey

In the short term, the radiation tower will be a solution for the network connectivity problems. But for the foreseeable future that will offer a maximum speed of 25 Mb/s, and it will max out under 100 Mb/ssurprisingly similar to the Coalition's plans for a castrated NBN. One of their biggest complaints was slow rollout; yesterday NBN produced a report for the Senate Budget Estimates Committee showing that they had greatly improved rollout, in some cases increasing total deployment by over 30% over the total up to the previous month. They started slowly, but they seem to be catching up now. What did the committee talk about?

Sat, 01 Jun 2013 02:16:16 UTC

Current network problems

Posted By Greg Lehey

My current 3G network was quite reliable up to about the beginning of the year, but since then the quality has dropped markedly, and Internode just don't want to know. Roll on the radiation tower! Today was particularly bad. Each of these represents a drop in connections, which kills my TCP connections and takes about 5 minutes to recover: May 31 08:51:49 eureka ppp[2657]: tun0: IPCP: myaddr hisaddr = May 31 09:21:27 eureka ppp[2657]: tun0: IPCP: myaddr hisaddr = May 31 09:55:22 eureka ppp[2657]: tun0: IPCP: myaddr hisaddr = May 31 10:27:02 eureka ppp[2657]: tun0: IPCP: myaddr hisaddr = May 31 12:52:40 eureka ppp[2657]: tun0: IPCP: myaddr hisaddr = May 31 15:02:25 eureka ppp[2657]: tun0: IPCP: myaddr hisaddr = May 31 15:37:34 eureka ppp[2657]: tun0: IPCP: myaddr hisaddr = ...

Fri, 31 May 2013 00:58:45 UTC

Firefox debugging continued

Posted By Greg Lehey

Started with building firefox on the i386 architecture this morning, to the disapproval of people on IRC. The problem has only been reported against the amd64 architecture; what use is it to try on i386? That made sense; so the next attempt was to build under amd64 with clang and symbols. Building firefox takes hours at the best of times. This was not the best of times:     INPUT("../../media/webrtc/signaling/signaling_sipcc/src/sipcc/cpr/darwin/cpr_darwin_threads.o")     INPUT("../../media/webrtc/signaling/signaling_sipcc/src/sipcc/cpr/darwin/cpr_darwin_timers_using_select.o") clang++: error: unable to execute command: Killed: 9 clang++: error: linker command failed due to signal (use -v to see invocation) gmake[3]: *** [] Error 254 gmake[3]: Leaving directory `/src/FreeBSD/svn/ports/www/firefox/work/mozilla-release/obj-x86_64-portbld-freebsd9.1/toolkit/library' gmake[2]: *** [libs_tier_platform] Error 2 gmake[2]: Leaving directory `/src/FreeBSD/svn/ports/www/firefox/work/mozilla-release/obj-x86_64-portbld-freebsd9.1' gmake[1]: *** [tier_platform] Error 2 gmake[1]: Leaving directory `/src/FreeBSD/svn/ports/www/firefox/work/mozilla-release/obj-x86_64-portbld-freebsd9.1' gmake: *** [default] Error 2 *** [do-build] Error code 1 Stop in /src/FreeBSD/svn/ports/www/firefox.

Thu, 30 May 2013 00:22:03 UTC

Chasing the firefox problem

Posted By Greg Lehey

After a day without ports pain, back to investigating the problem today. It seems that some people, but not all, can reproduce it. Callum Gibson can't, and he sent me a packageunfortunately in pkgng format, which I can't install. I could upgrade to pkgng again, but that seemed counterproductive. Jürgen Lock suggested looking at the core dump. I had deliberately put that alternative at the bottom of the list, but just pointing gdb at it doesn't cost much. To my surprise, the stack trace was short: (gdb) bt #0  0x00000008010045ac in ??

Wed, 29 May 2013 02:01:51 UTC

Speeding up DxO

Posted By Greg Lehey

Talking on IRC about photography this afternoon: gr00gle: It's interesting that the speed of DxO Optics "Pro" doesn't seem to vary much whether you perform CA and distortion correction or not. gr00gle: It's glacial at all times. Andys: hehe Andys: have you tried GPU acceleration? GPU acceleration? I hadn't heard of DxO Optics Pro offering that. Took a look at the preferences menu, and sure enough, found: The fact that the selection is greyed out is understandable: this machine only has on-chip graphics.

Wed, 29 May 2013 00:47:31 UTC

Day's port pain

Posted By Greg Lehey

Into the office this morning and found that yes, indeed, not only had firefox compiled, but it had also installed. It compiles! Ship it! The truth was more sobering: === root@stable-amd64 (/dev/pts/2) /usr/ports/www/firefox 10 -> firefox Segmentation fault: 11 (core dumped) Sigh. That's where I was last week. What do I do now? I'm thoroughly fed up, so I didn't do anything more today. But there are a number of possibilities: Wait a bit and try again.

Tue, 28 May 2013 02:12:27 UTC

Hugin stitching methods

Posted By Greg Lehey

I noted a couple of days ago that Hugin has changed its default stitching methods, and that it now offers Exposure fused from any arrangement for many of my panoramas, to the exclusion of the default Exposure corrected, low dynamic range. It seems to choose that when the exposure of the component images differs by more than a specific amount. In the case of the NBN site, the component images had exposures that differed by 4 EV, so that seemed reasonable, and I stitched the panorama like that. Here for comparison the fused and the corrected panoramas: Which looks better?

Tue, 28 May 2013 00:23:21 UTC

More NBN tower stuff

Posted By Greg Lehey

VCAT have released the decision about the radiation tower, which makes interesting reading. I've read similar decisions before, and this one is different: it takes Wendy McClelland's behaviour to task in no uncertain manner: At a Practice Day Hearing in January 2013 to consider the validity of certain statements of grounds, Deputy President Gibson stated that a number of issues raised in the statements were not planning grounds to be relied upon at the hearing.

Tue, 28 May 2013 00:16:10 UTC

Still more build pain

Posted By Greg Lehey

After rebuilding my kernel yesterday, tried once again to build firefox 21. It took all day, but it worked! So a little later I tried installing the image on teevee: gmake[1]: Entering directory `/src/FreeBSD/svn/ports/www/firefox/work/mozilla-release/obj-x86_64-portbld-freebsd9.1/browser/installer' /src/FreeBSD/svn/ports/www/firefox/work/mozilla-release/obj-x86_64-portbld-freebsd9.1/_virtualenv/bin/python ../../../toolkit/mozapps/installer/ -DMOZ_GLUE_IN_PROGRAM -DNO_NSPR_10_SUPPORT -DAB_CD=en-US -DMOZ_APP_NAME=firefox -DPREF_DIR=defaults/preferences -DMOZ_ENABLE_GNOME_COMPONENT=1 -DMOZ_GTK2=1 -DMOZ_NATIVE_NSPR=1 -DMOZ_NATIVE_NSS=1 -DJAREXT= -DMOZ_CHILD_PROCESS_NAME=plugin-container -DMOZ_JSDEBUGGER -DNECKO_WIFI -DDLL_PREFIX=lib -DBIN_SUFFIX= -DBINPATH=bin \         --format omni \         --removals ../../../browser/installer/ \          \          \          \         --optimizejars \          \         package-manifest ../../dist ../../dist/firefox \ Executing /src/FreeBSD/svn/ports/www/firefox/work/mozilla-release/obj-x86_64-portbld-freebsd9.1/dist/bin/xpcshell -g /src/FreeBSD/svn/ports/www/firefox/work/mozilla-release/obj-x86_64-portbld-freebsd9.1/dist/bin/ -a /src/FreeBSD/svn/ports/www/firefox/work/mozilla-release/obj-x86_64-portbld-freebsd9.1/dist/bin/ -f ../../../toolkit/mozapps/installer/precompile_cache.js -e precompile_startupcache("resource://gre/"); Traceback (most recent call last):   File "../../../toolkit/mozapps/installer/", line 366, in <module>     main()   File "../../../toolkit/mozapps/installer/", line 358, in main     args.source, gre_path, base)   File "../../../toolkit/mozapps/installer/", line 140, in precompile_cache     errors.fatal('Error while running ...

Mon, 27 May 2013 00:52:56 UTC

NBN tower interest

Posted By Greg Lehey

Now that the radiation tower has been approved, the press is getting interested. Had a call from Tom Cowie of the Ballarat Courier with some questions which he paraphrased in an article later in the evening.

Mon, 27 May 2013 00:27:15 UTC

Still more build failures

Posted By Greg Lehey

I'm still trying to find out why clang got a repeatable SIGSEGV while trying to compile firefox. Discussion with Dimitry Andric showed that he had no such problems. It's not hardware, because it happens both in a VM on eureka, and also on teevee. Maybe a transient issue has since been fixed? No harm in building the latest world. But on installation I got: ===> sys/boot/i386/boot2 (install) ld -static -N --gc-sections -nostdlib -m elf_i386_fbsd -Ttext 0x2000 -o boot2.out /src/FreeBSD/obj/src/FreeBSD/svn/stable/9/sys/boot/i386/boot2/../btx/lib/crt0.o boot2.o sio.o objcopy -S -O binary boot2.out boot2.bin btxld -v -E 0x2000 -f bin -b /src/FreeBSD/obj/src/FreeBSD/svn/stable/9/sys/boot/i386/boot2/../btx/btx/btx -l boot2.ldr  -o boot2.ld -P 1 boot2.bin btxld: No such file or directory *** [boot2.ld] Error code 1 How did that happen?

Sun, 26 May 2013 01:09:27 UTC

Powerline Ethernet puzzles

Posted By Greg Lehey

My TP-Link TL-PA411 powerline Ethernet adapters continue to transfer even more slowly than initially. One reason might really be interference from electric motors. When the dishwasher was running, I got only 2.8 MB/s. But the best I could get was still round 5.2 MB/s. But today I tried two transfers at a time, and discovered surprising things: Number of       Individual       Aggregate transfers       Speed       Speed ...

Sun, 26 May 2013 00:03:23 UTC

The new Hugin

Posted By Greg Lehey

Part of my work last week was polishing the port for Hugin beta, which resulted in my leaving it installed. I still have serious objections to the layout, in particular the bleeding of status text into the top left of the panorama preview: Still, it looks like I'll have to put up with it, so carried on and processed a couple of panoramas. Or so I thought.

Sat, 25 May 2013 02:44:29 UTC

Powerline Ethernet speed

Posted By Greg Lehey

I've come to terms with the fact that my TP-Link TL-PA411 powerline Ethernet adapters will only give me a transfer rate of about 7 to 7.5 MB/s in real world applications, despite the claim of 500 Mb/s. Even under ideal conditions I haven't got more than 100 Mb/s out of them. But today, for some reason, the transfer speed dropped from 7 to 5 MB/s. Why? Nothing else had changed. Suggestions were made that it might be due to electrical motors, which is plausible, given that it's now colder and the air conditioners are running almost constantly. To be observed.

Sat, 25 May 2013 01:07:33 UTC

More installation refinement

Posted By Greg Lehey

More work on the new teevee today. Most of it was mundane, but I finally solved my lirc problems. The most obvious recognition is that running irw with ktrace is not useful: it just talks to lircd via a socket, and it's lircd that decides what to send. Running lircd with ktrace proved that yes, indeed, it was reading from /dev/uhid0, not surprisingly exactly what I saw two years ago. So it looks like a configuration issue after all. Went looking at the configuration file, and discovered that I hadn't installed the correct version after all: no reference to the dvico keycodes at all.

Thu, 23 May 2013 23:18:09 UTC

The joys of a fresh installation

Posted By Greg Lehey

It seems that yesterday's boot problems were related to an older version of /boot/loader that didn't properly understand GPT partitioned disks, so it seemed reasonable to install the newer version from the fresh installation instead. Care! The kernel is in the same directory hierarchyand somehow I had finger trouble and blew my complete kernel directories of the old installation away! Spent some time looking for a backup, which proved to be incomplete. I'm not as religious about backing up teevee and cvr2 as I am with other machines, in particular because almost the entire disk contents are video recordings, but clearly I should improve.

Thu, 23 May 2013 01:12:31 UTC

Installing the latest FreeBSD stable

Posted By Greg Lehey

So finally I have a relatively up-to-date installation of FreeBSD and ports on a virtual machine. Now I should be able to copy it to other machines to upgrade them. For some years now I've maintained two root file systems, including /usr: the one I'm using and the one that I can use to upgrade, which I mount on /destdir. The file systems look like this, and you simply boot from the appropriate partition: Filesystem     1048576-blocks    Used  Avail Capacity  Mounted on /dev/ad4p2              19832   16325   1920    89%    / /dev/ad4p4              19832    8351   9894    46%    /destdir /dev/ad4p5            1856010 1699357 138092    92%    /home So yesterday I copied the new ...

Thu, 23 May 2013 00:57:01 UTC

Subversion: solution

Posted By Greg Lehey

So it seems that my problems with subversion were due initially to my misinterpretation of the -r switch: the form -r242743:r243202 excludes revision 242743. Does it work correctly if I write -r242742:r243202? Potentially not, since revision 242742 doesn't relate to these files. Spent another hour checking out the source tree and tried it. Success! === grog@freefall (/dev/pts/8) ~ 15 -> svn merge   -r242742:r243202  svn:// 9/usr.bin/locale --- Merging r242743 through r243202 into '9/usr.bin/locale': U    9/usr.bin/locale/locale.1 U    9/usr.bin/locale/locale.c --- Recording mergeinfo for merge of r242743 through r243202 into '9/usr.bin/locale':  U   9/usr.bin/locale So far, anyway.

Wed, 22 May 2013 00:53:42 UTC

Subversion POLA

Posted By Greg Lehey

I'm still puzzled by my problems merging fixes with subversion. Started again by checking out a complete source tree on one of the FreeBSD project machines, not helped by the flaky network, and then trying the merge the way it's supposed to be. First, which revisions do I need? === grog@freefall (/dev/pts/1) ~/9/usr.bin/locale 5 -> svn mergeinfo --show-revs=eligible svn:// r242743 r242808 r242851 r243201 r243202 OK, then the merge command should be: === grog@freefall (/dev/pts/1) ~ 21 -> svn merge   -r242743:r243202  svn:// 9/usr.bin/locale Conflict discovered in '/home/grog/9/usr.bin/locale/locale.1'.

Wed, 22 May 2013 00:42:13 UTC

Network problems solved?

Posted By Greg Lehey

I can't say that my network connection has been good at any time this year, but the last 5 days were better than average, and the link stayed up the whole time. That was too good to last: round midday today things got worse again, including a lot of this kind of message, which I don't see very often: May 21 14:05:21 eureka ppp[2657]: tun0: Warning: nat_LayerPull: Problem with IP header length (33563) May 21 14:05:21 eureka ppp[2657]: tun0: Warning: nat_LayerPull: Problem with IP header length (13160) My best bet is that this is an indication of poor reception, but the reported signal strength was better than average.

Mon, 20 May 2013 23:58:19 UTC

More subversion pain

Posted By Greg Lehey

OK, now I have learnt not to talk to files when using subversionor so I thought. The list goes on (my interpretation of the last one): Never merge directly to a file. Never, ever merge directly to a file. Never, ever, ever merge directly to a file. ... OK, sometimes you can merge to a file.

Mon, 20 May 2013 23:18:40 UTC

Computing for non-techies

Posted By Greg Lehey

Our neighbour Jenny Bartlett, whom I only met 9 days ago, has been on a shopping spree and bought herself a digital (personal) video recorder and a Samsung Galaxy tablet, which she calls an iPad, possibly because that's what the salesperson called it. And she had difficulty installing it, so Yvonne persuaded me (No, I will not repair your computer) to go along and help. The thing's wireless, of course, so apart from the pad she also had a wireless router to connect to her existing installation (laptop connected to IPStar satellite), and her real issue was how to connect things up.

Mon, 20 May 2013 01:46:15 UTC

Pkgng: first impressions

Posted By Greg Lehey

So now my ports are roughly up to date. Can I use Pkgng to keep them up to date? Read the instructions, which are still a little preliminary. The best entry point seems to be the Pkg Primer, though there's also a Handbook section. First you need to run pkg2ng, which takes quite a while, and produced about 4,500 lines of output, not all of it pleasant: pkg_info: can't find package 'damageproto-1.2.1' installed or in a file! pkg_info: can't find package 'compositeproto-0.4.2' installed or in a file! pkg_info: can't find package 'ca_root_nss-3.14.3' installed or in a file!

Mon, 20 May 2013 00:28:30 UTC

Getting my head around Subversion

Posted By Greg Lehey

I've been using revision control systems, notably RCS, for over 20 years, and for all sorts of things, including this diary: $Id: diary-may2013.php,v 1.27 2013/05/20 01:22:41 grog Exp $ It's been 5 years since the FreeBSD project moved from CVS to subversion, but I haven't really done any merging until yesterday. That worked fine, but today's didn't. Followed the instructions and discovered that my source file (/usr/src/lib/libc/stdio/printf.3) didn't have any mergedata at all: === grog@eureka (/dev/pts/3) /src/FreeBSD/svn/head/lib/libc/stdio 5 -> svn propget svn:mergeinfo -R printf.3 === grog@eureka (/dev/pts/3) /src/FreeBSD/svn/head/lib/libc/stdio 6 -> Is this the first time that anything has been merged to this file?

Sat, 18 May 2013 00:41:20 UTC

Back to committing

Posted By Greg Lehey

This ports build has seriously held up other work I've had waiting. Today started on the backlog: merging changes in head back into the stable branch. In the Good Old Days with CVS, it was all manual, but now we're using subversion, and there's a merge command. Spent some time learning how to use that.

Fri, 17 May 2013 00:59:38 UTC

Ports: done!

Posted By Greg Lehey

I've been working on a complete build of those FreeBSD ports that I use for over 5 weeks. I can't say I haven't made progress, but it was very slow, and all of this should have happened without any problems. Still, it was a little surprising when I read today: install  -o root -g wheel -m 444 /src/FreeBSD/svn/ports/graphics/feh/work/feh-2.9.2/AUTHORS /src/FreeBSD/svn/ports/graphics/feh/work/feh-2.9.2/ChangeLog /src/FreeBSD/svn/ports/graphics/feh/work/feh-2.9.2/README /src/FreeBSD/svn/ports/graphics/feh/work/feh-2.9.2/TODO /usr/local/share/doc/feh ===>   Compressing manual pages for feh-2.9.2_1 ===>   Registering installation for feh-2.9.2_1       124.86 real        73.52 user        24.97 sys I'm done!

Thu, 16 May 2013 01:52:20 UTC

Ports build: resolved?

Posted By Greg Lehey

The good news about ports is that the port build cluster has now recovered from the security incident, though it doesn't seem to have made it to the newsflash page yet. Up-to-date packages are now available, so theoretically I can stop my attempts at building from source. One problem: I need to generate Makefile targets to install only those ports in the list that aren't already installed. So for today I carried on as before, using the packages only when I had trouble with the ports. The first was in a dependency for enblend, though not my fault this time. The documentation didn't build: restore=: && backupdir=".am$$" &&  am__cwd=`pwd` && CDPATH="${ZSH_VERSION+.}

Wed, 15 May 2013 02:10:22 UTC

Ports: your fault

Posted By Greg Lehey

On with the ports pain. Today I had: === root@stable-amd64 (/dev/pts/0) /usr/ports/graphics/digikam 12 -> make all ===>   digikam-0.9.6_4 depends on file: /usr/local/bin/moc - found .... ===>   libkipi-0.1.6_6 depends on shared library: kimproxy.0 - not found ===>    Verifying install for kimproxy.0 in /usr/ports/x11/kdelibs3 ===>  kdelibs-3.5.10_13 is marked as broken: kdelibs-3.5-openssl-1.0.0.patch is unfetchable. So: basically a broken port. But the current version of KDE is version 4. Looking at the ports, I discovered that there are no fewer than 5 digikam ports, three of which start with digikam-kde4. What does /usr/ports/UPDATING have to say?

Mon, 13 May 2013 00:36:50 UTC

Understanding the Creative Cloud

Posted By Greg Lehey

I thought I had commented enough about Creative Cloud, but then I got a message from Michael Hughes: When you click on what's included, they have: The world's best desktop applications for photography, video, audio, and design. So I'm I missing something? It looks like they are still selling you desktop applications. Why are they using the cloud? So I read the page, and I'm sure it didn't say what I saw before.

Mon, 13 May 2013 00:27:50 UTC

X display resolution insights

Posted By Greg Lehey

Since I've had the new 58" TV, some menus, notably in web browsers, have been in minuscule fonts, and I haven't found a knob to tweak to fix it. But it occurred to me that the text is about the same absolute size that it would be on a normal desktop monitor. At 60 cm it would be legible if the display resolution were high enough. At 3 m distance it's illegible. Further investigation in the nVidia X config options appendix showed that I could override the DPI value for the panel, which X had calculatedprobably correctlyat 42 DPI. Increasing the value to 120 seemed to set it about correctly for the distance: --- xorg.conf   2013/03/27 00:53:46     1.22 +++ xorg.conf   2013/05/12 06:27:59 @@ -80,6 +80,8 @@      Driver         "nvidia"      VendorName ...

Mon, 13 May 2013 00:10:34 UTC

Updating web browsers, the hard way

Posted By Greg Lehey

The installation of firefox on teevee is ancient (release 6.0), and it doesn't have flash. Clearly I need an upgrade. But how? Under FreeBSD that's done with the Ports Collection. And I'm having enough trouble on a brand-new machine. Just trying it with an old, out-of-date machine seems a Bad Idea. So I tried upgrading from the binaries. Also, it seems, a Bad Idea. In summary: The first attempt failed because perl, pkgconf and xcb-util-renderutil were out of date.

Mon, 13 May 2013 00:01:44 UTC

Ports progress

Posted By Greg Lehey

Now that I've processed my weekly photos, I can return to building ports. On Friday I had a strange dependency failure in openjdk. Tried again today in various ways, including an attempt to install version 7 instead of the version 6 that the depending port was asking for. No go: it still complained that libz was missing. In the end gave up and installed the binary package, which workedand didn't install any libz! I wish I understood why I'm having so much trouble.

Sun, 12 May 2013 01:25:51 UTC

X cursor hang: insight

Posted By Greg Lehey

Heavy CPU and memory use, such as I cause while processing my weekly photos, frequently triggers this horrible X bug that I've been suffering from for over a year: the X server loops, and the cursor jumps back and forth between two screens. I've taken to not using the mouse when the system is paging heavily, and today I didn't (quite) have the problem. What I did have, though, was surprising: on the second server, which is a single display spread over 4 monitors, the mouse cursor moved to the wrong screen! Moving left from the second screen from the left should, of course, have taken me to the leftmost screen.

Sun, 12 May 2013 01:04:22 UTC

Creative cloud: good or bad?

Posted By Greg Lehey

Mail from Tom Maynard today: I know several professional photographers who do not share your view of Adobe Creative Cloudand, even I dispute some of the statements you made, since I investigated the Cloud as an alternative to outright purchase of Creative Suite 6. OK, that's valid. But what are the reasons? I've been following this thread, in which people object mainly to the same things that I did a couple of days ago, and alsoparticularly the professionalsto the fact that they have to move their intellectual property offsite.

Sat, 11 May 2013 02:44:54 UTC

Daily ports breakage

Posted By Greg Lehey

After my fixes yesterday, a surprising number of ports compiled without error. The next one to die was chromium (or is that chrome? I still don't know): ./base/basictypes.h:206:39: note: in definition of macro 'COMPILE_ASSERT'    typedef CompileAssert<(bool(expr))> msg[bool(expr) ? 1 : -1]                                        ^ ./base/observer_list_threadsafe.h: In constructor 'UnboundMethod<T, Method, Params>::UnboundMethod(Method, const Params&)': ./base/observer_list_threadsafe.h:66:9: warning: typedef 'badunboundmethodparams' locally defined but not used [-Wunused-local-typedefs]          badunboundmethodparams);          ^ ./base/basictypes.h:206:39: note: in definition of macro 'COMPILE_ASSERT'    typedef CompileAssert<(bool(expr))> msg[bool(expr) ?

Thu, 09 May 2013 23:50:11 UTC

Daily ports breakage

Posted By Greg Lehey

This morning's ports breakage: ===>  Applying FreeBSD patches for libmatroska-1.3.0 ===>   libmatroska-1.3.0 depends on package: libebml>=1.2.1 - not found ===>    Verifying install for libebml>=1.2.1 in /usr/ports/textproc/libebml ... ===>   Registering installation for libebml-1.3.0 ===>   Returning to build of libmatroska-1.3.0 ===>    Verifying install for ebml.3 in /usr/ports/textproc/libebml ===>   Returning to build of libmatroska-1.3.0 Error: shared library "ebml.3" does not exist *** [lib-depends] Error code 1 What's that? I have just installed libebml, and it claims it wasn't installed? In fact, the version that got installed was the version in the Makefile,

Thu, 09 May 2013 01:17:02 UTC

Photoshop: Triumph of marketing over technology

Posted By Greg Lehey

So it's official. Adobe will not develop its Creative Suite software any more. Instead they have created a Creative Cloud. To quote the Creative Suite page: While Adobe Creative Suite® 6 products will continue to be available for purchase, Adobe has no plans for future releases of Creative Suite or other CS products. With a little trouble I found the pricing page for Creative Cloud. Apart from free trial membership, the very minimum you can pay is $20 US per month. And you have to commit to at least 12 months, so you can't save things up for a few months, buy a month's worth of processing, and then stop again.

Thu, 09 May 2013 00:44:30 UTC

Ports pain, next installment

Posted By Greg Lehey

After fixing my build environment, I thought that my ports would build cleanly. So I wasn't really expecting this when I came into the office: ===> Building docs cat ./src/attach.c ./src/auth.c ./src/btree.c ./src/btree.h ./src/btree_rb.c ./src/build.c ./src/copy.c ./src/date.c ./src/delete.c ./src/encode.c ./src/expr.c ./src/func.c ./src/hash.c ./src/hash.h ./src/insert.c ./src/main.c ./src/os.c ./src/pager.c ./src/pager.h ./src/parse.y ./src/pragma.c ./src/printf.c ./src/random.c ./src/select.c ./src/shell.c ./src/ ./src/sqliteInt.h ./src/table.c ./src/tclsqlite.c ./src/tokenize.c ./src/trigger.c ./src/update.c ./src/util.c ./src/vacuum.c ./src/vdbe.c ./src/vdbeaux.c ./src/vdbe.h ./src/where.c | grep '$Id: ' | sort +4 | tail -1 \           | awk '{print $5,$6}' >last_change /usr/local/bin/tclsh8.5 ./www/index.tcl `cat ./VERSION` >index.html /usr/local/bin/tclsh8.5: not found gmake: *** [index.html] Error 127 Stop in /src/FreeBSD/svn/ports/databases/sqlite2.

Wed, 08 May 2013 00:47:24 UTC

Back to building ports

Posted By Greg Lehey

One of the things that I had to put on hold while doing my photo processing was the ports build that has been going on for over a month. Today I was able to continue; and of course several ports had changed, so once again I had the continual hangs waiting for configuration information. I still don't have qt built.

Wed, 08 May 2013 00:35:43 UTC

Whose NBN?

Posted By Greg Lehey

The discussion about the Australian National Broadband Network is ramping up in preparation for the elections in September. The incumbent Labor government has introduced a very ambitious FTTP solution, originally only with 100 Mb/s maximum speed. But now the opposition parties (Liberal (in my mind really conservative) and National) look set to win the next election and replace it with an FTTN solution that is barely acceptable now and most certainly will not be in the future: a guarantee of only 25 Mb/s with the hope of 50 Mb/s some time in the future. It doesn't help that the NBN project is significantly behind schedule: This government clearly doesn't understand networking.

Wed, 08 May 2013 00:18:59 UTC

A new machine?

Posted By Greg Lehey

My photo experiences show that I need more memory at any rate. But my motherboard is nearly 5 years old, and it doesn't take more than 8 GB of memory. Time for a new machine? The current CPU is an AMD Phenom 9550, which PassMark rates at 2493 points. The top of the line processors rate at 14,969, at prices I'm not prepared to pay. But I thought I could find something at about 70% of that rating for under $300. I was almost right; for $280 odd I can get an Intel Core i7-3770K with 9,461 points (63%), and for $180 I can get an AMD FX-8350 (9,144 points or 61%).

Wed, 08 May 2013 00:10:22 UTC

Photo processing: your computer is too wimpy

Posted By Greg Lehey

Before leaving for Geelong, I checked how my enblend run was going. Again 20 GB of process space, 5.5 GB of memory. It had been running for 14 hours, had used only 80 minutes of CPU time, and had processed about half the photos. When I got back from Geelong 3½ hours later, it had only used about another 10 minutes of CPU time and loaded another 8 image.

Mon, 06 May 2013 22:29:24 UTC

A day processing a single photo

Posted By Greg Lehey

On with the big panorama today. It took me all day, and by the end I still wasn't finished. Here the times it took to align the images: Process       Time (minutes) hugin       40:56 cpfind       192:57 icpfind       1:20 ...

Mon, 06 May 2013 01:13:34 UTC

Linkedin: mutual admiration society?

Posted By Greg Lehey

I've commented in the past about strange messages like this one: Congratulations! Your connection Peter has endorsed you for the following new skills &amp; expertise: Linux MySQL Unix Panoramic Photography FreeBSD Open Source Brewing Kernel The difference in this one is that I know it's genuine: it's from Peter Jeremy, and it makes sense. But this time I went to my Linkedin profile to see what else had accumulated there. It's amazing. I've been endorsed for things I know nothing about, like Solaris, Cloud computing or perl, by people with whom I have had no contact for decades, in at least one case for over 30 years.

Sun, 05 May 2013 01:54:03 UTC

Ports: progress

Posted By Greg Lehey

Next port build error today, in X: checking for XF86DGA... configure: error: Package requirements (x11 xxf86dga >= 1.1) were not met: Package xxf86dga was not found in the pkg-config search path. Perhaps you should add the directory containing `xxf86dga.pc' to the PKG_CONFIG_PATH environment variable Package 'xxf86dga', required by 'world', not found That makes no sense at all. More environment variables? I've been working on my .bashrc literally for decades, as the comment at the top states: # $Id: .bashrc,v 1.57 2012/10/04 06:01:06 grog Exp $ # This is the cruft of ages, originally started as a .bashrc on # Inactive System V/386 in about May 1990.

Sat, 04 May 2013 01:17:49 UTC

Scammers get cleverer

Posted By Greg Lehey

Received a strange email with quadruple spaced lines today. Here's the relevant content: From  Fri May  3 19:30:09 2013 X-Spam-Status: No, score=-1.9 required=5.0 tests=BAYES_00,FREEMAIL_FROM,         HTML_MESSAGE,T_DKIM_INVALID autolearn=ham version=3.3.2 Received: from ( [])         by (Postfix) with ESMTP id 0B062F74FA         for ; Fri,  3 May 2013 19:30:09 +1000 (EST) Received: from []         by with POP3 (fetchmail-6.3.21)         for (single-drop); Fri, 03 May 2013 19:30:09 +1000 (EST) Received: from ( [])         by (Postfix) with ESMTP id 464453B764         for ; Fri,  3 May 2013 09:15:48 +0000 (UTC) Date: Fri, 3 May 2013 10:15:47 +0100 Subject: Link removal please.......

Sat, 04 May 2013 01:04:19 UTC

Computational photography continued

Posted By Greg Lehey

Continued with the computational photography course today. Somehow it's tailing off. The first couple of lectures and assignments were interesting, but now it's becoming too superficial. Saw a lecture about panoramas, which had a theoretical discussion of image alignment. Normally this is done by placing control points between individual images, but he didn't mention that at all, instead talking about homography in general terms (showing matrix operations but not really explaining what the individual parameters were), and glossing over things like projections.

Sat, 04 May 2013 00:25:14 UTC

Ports pain, next instalment

Posted By Greg Lehey

On with my month-long attempt to build a clean reference installation of the FreeBSD ports that I use. Today my error was: ===>  qt4-corelib-4.8.4_1 conflicts with installed package(s):       qt-3.3.8_14 So what installed qt version 3? Some out-of-date port? I started building all ports from scratch with a new ports tree just a few days ago. Still, presumably that port would work with newer versions of qt, so decided just to remove the old version. But it wasn't just one port: === root@stable-amd64 (/dev/pts/0) /home/Sysconfig/scripts 7 -> pkg_delete qt-3.3.8_14 pkg_delete: package 'qt-3.3.8_14' is required by these other packages and may not be deinstalled: arts-1.5.10_8,1 kdelibs-3.5.10_13 libkipi-0.1.6_6 libkexiv2-0.1.9_8 libkdcraw-0.1.9_5 digikam-0.9.6_4 pdfedit-0.4.5_2 Are there really that many ports that depend on old ...

Fri, 03 May 2013 00:33:21 UTC

NFS locking and ports builds

Posted By Greg Lehey

Got round to looking at my NFS locking issues today. Simple: by default FreeBSD doesn't start the NFS processes at all, so you have to configure it in /etc/rc.conf. I had that already in my real computers, but not in the ports build box. Problem solved? Hard to say. The next problem was already there: no xterm. X had built, but for some reason xterm, a dependency, hadn't. Left another ports-try run, which it continued to do for the rest of the day and into the night.

Wed, 01 May 2013 03:04:51 UTC

Computational Photography or Python tutorial?

Posted By Greg Lehey

On with the computational photography assignments today. They're not really difficult; I did one before the network blew up, Convolution. This involves running a multi-pixel window (confusingly called a kernel) over an image and producing a new image where each pixel is the sum of the products of the kernel element with the corresponding pixel covered by the kernel. It would be easy enough in C, but I had to do it in Python, and that required learning still more functions.

Tue, 30 Apr 2013 23:51:44 UTC

Ports pain

Posted By Greg Lehey

My ports build still isn't finished. The latest error, while building vlc,, was one that I've seen before: (CDPATH="${ZSH_VERSION+.} :" && cd .. && /bin/sh /src/FreeBSD/svn/ports/graphics/frei0r/work/frei0r-1.3/missing --run autoheader) autom4te-2.69: cannot lock autom4te.cache/requests with mode 2: Operation not supported autom4te-2.69: forgo "make -j" or use a file system that supports locks autoheader-2.69: '/usr/local/bin/autom4te-2.69' failed with exit status: 1 *** [./] Error code 1 This is the result of using NFS without locking. In the past I've chickened out and installed the ports tree locally. But the real answer is to set up locking on NFS.

Tue, 30 Apr 2013 23:29:58 UTC

Microsoft network pain

Posted By Greg Lehey

Things didn't stop there, though. I still had to get dxo back and running. But I hadn't been able to shut it down: the power key just hibernates it, and when I replaced the disk, it came back up again as before, still with scrambled display and unpingable. Somehow managed to get it into safe mode and to display correctlyand the network interface worked! Further investigation showed that the machine was now blocking ICMP, something it didn't do before. And that was presumably due to the firewall, which was enabled. I can't even recall whether it was before or not, but I'm sure I was once able to ping it.

Tue, 30 Apr 2013 22:49:50 UTC

Throughput of alternative networks

Posted By Greg Lehey

I had really wrapped up my investigation of the network equipment I bought last week: the wireless adapters worked, but not fast enough to justify using them. I'll return them. The powerline adapters work too, also not fast enough. But they're both cheaper and marginally faster, and if I were to return them too, the alternative would be to run CAT6 along the hallway again. So I'll keep one pair. And that would have been that, except that Edwin Groothuis was interested in more testing. He wanted to know what the performance was like if both adapters were next to each other on the same board.

Mon, 29 Apr 2013 22:50:49 UTC

Computatational photography revisited

Posted By Greg Lehey

I've been making slow progress with the computational photography course. Not that slow, roughly the speed that it's supposed to be taken at, but I started something like 3 weeks after the course started, and it finishes in a week. As a result spent most of the day going through the videos; there are still three assignments with a total of 11 programs to go, so it'll keep me busy.

Mon, 29 Apr 2013 22:44:47 UTC

Still more ports pain

Posted By Greg Lehey

Finally my ports-try has completed,    122813.19 real     60857.07 user     18081.91 sys That's a total of 34 hours, and 370 MB of build logs. Did things work? No, not even remotely. X didn't get built, and so many dependent ports didn't either: checking whether to rebuild gperf header files... checking for POLKIT... no configure: error: PolicyKit not explicitly disabled and no PolicyKit found ===>  Script "configure" failed unexpectedly. Please run the gnomelogalyzer, available from "", which will diagnose the problem and suggest a solution.

Mon, 29 Apr 2013 22:39:27 UTC

Power line Ethernet: slow

Posted By Greg Lehey

One potential reason for my slow transmissions with the power line Ethernet adapters was that the interface at one end was only 100 Mb/s. As planned, today I put a 1 Gb/s adapter in that machine, not without difficulty: it is a PCIe card, and the motherboard had only one PCIe slot, already occupied by the graphics card. But for a test I removed the graphics card. The results? No improvement; in fact it was marginally slower. So much for that. Up to speeds seem to require amazingly good conditions.

Sun, 28 Apr 2013 23:08:41 UTC

TP-Link setup, the real way

Posted By Greg Lehey

I couldn't really be bothered to work my way through the web links about WDS that I had found yesterday, so today I put the other router where I wanted it, at teevee, and used the powerline Ethernet connection to access it. As I suspected, the stupid installation instructions aren't just plain wrong some of the time, they're much more complicated than the real thing. To configure a TP-Link TL-WR841N 802.11n wireless router, do this: Ensure that you have an address in the address range.

Sun, 28 Apr 2013 02:12:02 UTC

Build: one done, one continues

Posted By Greg Lehey

I had to shut down stable-amd64 virtual machine today while processing panoramas, which need all available memory, and I shut down eucla (the laptop) while trying to configure the wireless router, but after that I continued and finally got FreeBSD 9-STABLE running on it. Time to try a wireless cardI have an ancient Lucent/Orinoco PCMCIA card that fits. And of course it didn't associate. Powered down the router, and it took notice: it panicked out of wi_intr. And then I noted that I had forgotten to build a kernel with debugger, so there wasn't much I could do about it. Things didn't stop there, of course: I could no longer log in: login: in openpam_dispatch(): no pam_sm_autheticate().

Sun, 28 Apr 2013 00:42:38 UTC

ALDI Networking Gear

Posted By Greg Lehey

Into Sebastopol this morning to pick up some of ALDI's weekly specials: 4 TP-Link TL-PA411 powerline Ethernet adapters and two TP-Link TL-WR841N 802.11n wireless routers. The main reason was to replace the Ethernet cable between cvr2 (the TV recording computer) and teevee (the playback computer) that has been lying in the hallway for two years. Getting the goods was difficult in itself. They weren't with the other specials; instead I had to find then up the front by the cashiers, and even then they wouldn't give them to me! Instead they brought the goods to the cash register when I was about to pay.

Sat, 27 Apr 2013 02:12:40 UTC

Still more ports and network pain

Posted By Greg Lehey

My ports build is still not done. This morning I once again had a build breakage of gcc. Started trying to download the binary package from, which came across at a snail's paceit took 8 hours to get it here. And when it did, it wanted a second package, which I didn't have time to download. Once again I noticed that the uplink speed seems to be relatively unaffected by the problems. While downloading gcc at about 3 kB/s, I uploaded some photos: sent 1062018 bytes  received 144 bytes  28324.32 bytes/sec total size is 1332763  speedup is 1.25 I'm not sure how rsync calculates the speed; presumably it's total data transferred divided by time.

Fri, 26 Apr 2013 00:25:27 UTC

Internode: we give up

Posted By Greg Lehey

My ongoing network issues have received some strange responses from Internode support. Yesterday I received a message telling me to change my settings to limit the frequency range to 900 MHz (in other words, eliminate 2100 MHz). That makes no sense for a number of reasons: there is no 2100 MHz service in this area, I have an antenna that only does 900 MHz, there's no way in the software to limit the frequency to 900 MHz, and it's fairly clear that it's not a connection problem anyway. Today I got a message from another person, which didn't exactly give me the feeling that he knew what he was talking about: It seems there is continued correspondence ongoing relating to the latency issues you are experiencing.

Fri, 26 Apr 2013 00:18:40 UTC

Building ports, continued

Posted By Greg Lehey

Yesterday my build of gcc 4.9 failed. That's a beta or similar version, I think, so today I tried gcc 4.8. It, too, failed. I had already previously built gcc 4.7, so decided to fall back to that. And it, too, failed! There's something basically flawed here. This was a fresh install of a virgin system. Why did it fail? Had I somehow managed to make a mess of other ports? One thing I did do wrong was not to make a snapshot of a recent version of FreeBSD STABLE without ports, so went back to do that. Then I can install the ports freshly on something that hopefully doesn't have any inconsistencies.

Thu, 25 Apr 2013 23:24:40 UTC

VCAT followup

Posted By Greg Lehey

Spent much of today writing up yesterday's VCAT hearing. One thing in particular interested me: are the limits in Australia so much higher than elsewhere? Wendy claimed that the limits in Austria are 1/4000 of the Australian limits, and later that they were 1/4000 of the actual expected emission of the tower. It's not easy to find this kind of information. Wikipedia took me round in circles, and even on the ARPANSA web site I had my difficulties. And of course they said nothing about Austria. Finally, though, I found some information: The ARPANSA limits depend on frequency.

Thu, 25 Apr 2013 02:44:39 UTC

Still more ports pain

Posted By Greg Lehey

Continued with my ports build today. I have Makefile targets to fetch all tarballs and configure them, so did that. Configuration (hitting Return most of the time) took 1½ hours. And since so many ports depend on more recent versions of gcc, I decided to build it first. A good thing too: it died on me. Why am I having so much trouble with ports built on a clean install?

Thu, 25 Apr 2013 01:17:03 UTC

VCAT hears Radiation Tower complaint

Posted By Greg Lehey

Into Ballarat this morning to the VCAT hearing of Wendy McClelland's objection to the Dereel radiation tower. They had set aside 3 hours (10:0013:00) for the hearing. I had left early, and that's a good thing too: it took me over 20 minutes from arriving in front of the Magistrate's court to getting into the correct court room. The parking place across the road is only good for 2 hours, so I had to go to Central Square and park there. And for that I needed coins, which I didn't have, and when I got back to the courts I was sent round the corner: VCAT has its own part of the building.

Tue, 23 Apr 2013 22:10:14 UTC

Computational photography: finally

Posted By Greg Lehey

Despite severe ongoing network problems, I've managed to download enough of the computational photography course to finally do something. It's more difficult than I expected: the course leaves a number of issues to the student, such as learning the software libraries that it uses (notably numpy and opencv), not to mention the python on which the whole thing builds. Somehow it's an island in a large and for me uncharted sea of new software. Still, once I found my way round the island, it was quite interesting.

Tue, 23 Apr 2013 00:01:01 UTC

More network hell

Posted By Greg Lehey

Returned to the computational photography course today. Started watching a lecture, but the connection was so bad that I couldn't watch it at all. Discovered, though, that there are MPEG-4 versions of the lectures for download, so started that. What a catastrophe! My packet loss rates are as bad as I've seen them, and some of the downloads came over at about 1.5 kB/s, slower than a steam modem. And after an hour, they timed out. Used the same workaround as yesterday: load the files on my external server and rsync them here.

Mon, 22 Apr 2013 23:32:10 UTC

Ports hell

Posted By Greg Lehey

It's been nearly 2 weeks since I started upgrading my ports on my build machine. They were only 3 months out of date, but it took forever, what with slow downloads, ports waiting for configuration input, trips to Adelaide and conflicts. Today, finally, I got a shortlist of still-failed ports: ** Listing the failed packages (-:ignored / *:skipped / !:failed)         - multimedia/ffmpeg-011 (port deleted)         - lang/tcl-modules (port deleted)         * bsdpan-Image-Magick-6.83 (bsdpan-Image-Magick-6.83)         ! ftp/wget (wget-1.13.4_1)      (unknown build error)         * lang/tcl85 (tcl-8.5.12_2)         * x11-toolkits/tk85 (tk-8.5.12)         * x11-toolkits/py-tkinter (py27-tkinter-2.7.3_3)         * graphics/py-imaging (py27-imaging-1.1.7_1)         * multimedia/mlt (mlt-0.8.2_1)         !

Mon, 22 Apr 2013 00:10:32 UTC

More computational photography

Posted By Greg Lehey

Finally got round to looking at the computational photography course again today, in particular the software needed for it. I had reinstalled graphics/opencv, but it didn't seem to make any difference. In particular, the file didn't get installed. I was wrong, though. Reinstalling opencv did have an effect: it installed a new version of perl, with the result that most of my perl modules disappeared. In particular, spamassassin had died. And it wouldn't reinstall: REQUIRED module missing: HTML::Parser REQUIRED module missing: Net::DNS REQUIRED module missing: NetAddr::IP optional module missing: Digest::SHA1 ...

Sat, 20 Apr 2013 02:42:16 UTC

Time zones interpreted correctly

Posted By Greg Lehey

I've complained about my GPS navigator on frequent occasions, but yesterday I noticed something interesting: South Australian time is half an hour behind Victorian time, and it seemed to have adapted automatically. On the way back, I checked. It really did switch time zones exactly at the border: This image was somewhat spoilt both by the difficulty of getting a good photo of the navigator in position, and the fact that I had to turn back into the rest area, so the second image shows us pointing in the wrong ...

Sat, 20 Apr 2013 00:48:31 UTC

Tablets: practical example

Posted By Greg Lehey

Yana has invited us to dinner at the Red Ochre Grill to celebrate her graduation. That's another place without an address suitable for a GPS navigator. I had been there before (well, same building), but the address War Memorial Drive doesn't really help: War Memorial Drive is about 5 km long. How do I tell my GPS that? Enter the coordinates, of course. How do I find them? Under the circumstances they should be on their web page, but they're not.

Wed, 17 Apr 2013 23:27:48 UTC

Entering the digital generation

Posted By Greg Lehey

Di Saunders isn't what you'd call a tech-head. She's more interested in horses, and she only uses computers for communication. But she has an ADSL connection, something we can't get, and in recent times she has acquired an iPhone and a Samsung Galaxy Tab 2, the latter for the express purpose of reading eBooks. I've looked at that option 20 months ago and came to the conclusion that it wasn't for me. One of the reasons was the low resolution of the tablet, which didn't seem to be the case for the Samsung, though on comparison the Samsung has only 1024×600, in fact lower than the 1024×768 of the ALDI tablet.

Wed, 17 Apr 2013 22:45:09 UTC

Computational photography comprehended

Posted By Greg Lehey

After some searching, discovered that there was a good reason why I couldn't find yesterday's zip archive for the computational photography course: it doesn't exist. Somehow the layout of this course is not what I expected. Downloaded the archive for the first assignment and took a look at it. The most obvious thing is that I needed software that I didn't have: numpy and cv2. Are they in the Ports Collection? Maybe. Went looking for graphics/numpy and found that Thomas Gellekum had removed it without further comment about 11 years ago.

Wed, 17 Apr 2013 22:37:20 UTC

Monitor display scrambled again

Posted By Greg Lehey

I've been very happy with my new monitor, but there's one issue that is somewhat disconcerting: when I turn it on in the morning, sometimes the display is scrambled, just a row of random vertical lines. Usually power cycling helps, but on a couple of occasions I needed to do it twice. Today, though, it repeated 4 times. Discovered that switching to a vty solved it, without power cycling.

Tue, 16 Apr 2013 02:12:59 UTC

Computational photography

Posted By Greg Lehey

Carlos Cartola Carvalho sent out a message about an online course in computational photography today. It's free, so I took a look. It requires real work, but it could be worth it. But how do you get started? There are lots of online tutorials, but they start by telling you how to install some unidentified tarball^W zip archive that so far I haven't been able to find anywhere on their site.

Tue, 16 Apr 2013 00:16:37 UTC

More network troubleshooting

Posted By Greg Lehey

My network connectivity hadn't improved today. It's clear that my initial suspicion of the link between Melbourne and Sydney was wide of the mark, but one result was that I didn't go back to the beginning and consider the other alternatives. One was packet loss. Under those circumstances you're not filling the pipe, so concurrent transfers, such as the one I tried yesterday afternoon, can improve the total throughput. Fired up wireshark to take a look. Yes, indeed: wireshark's highlighting makes it very clear what's going on on the screen, but I find tcpdump easier to understand.

Sun, 14 Apr 2013 23:29:10 UTC

More network debugging

Posted By Greg Lehey

Yesterday's network problems haven't gone away: my file download speeds remain round 10 kB/s. Finally got round to ringing up Internode Support, where I had to explain to Dan that the problem was networking and not remote file access. Pointed him at the traceroutes that I had done; coincidentally Daniel O'Connor had also done one from Adelaide, which showed a similar step in response time when accessing the Sydney node. [ur 21:26] ~ >traceroute traceroute to (, 64 hops max, 52 byte packets  1  ns (  5.671 ms  2.706 ms  3.740 ms  2 (  68.297 ms  70.227 ms  41.383 ms  3 (  45.237 ms  40.820 ms  54.298 ms  4 (  40.998 ms  47.384 ms  69.414 ms  5 (  549.616 ms  408.192 ms  357.494 ms  6 (  356.865 ms  484.262 ms  358.881 ms Finally he managed to see ...

Sun, 14 Apr 2013 00:24:41 UTC

Let's fake a nadir

Posted By Greg Lehey

My spherical panoramas are gradually maturingexcept for the nadirs. A couple of months ago I took some panoramas in the Great Otway National Park which would have been almost perfect if I had been able to get a nadir. It's almost impossible to represent a spherical panorama on a flat surface: The flash version looks much better, but the hole at the bottom is unpleasant. But the floor is simply wooden planks, and I have enough images of that. Today tried an experiment: take part of the floor of an adjacent image and replicate it, then manually place control points to put the new image under the tripod: There are a number of issues with this approach.

Sun, 14 Apr 2013 00:22:06 UTC

Danish food and pronunciation

Posted By Greg Lehey

Watching the Danish Food Safari on SBS Television today. Like the Polish Safari a couple of weeks ago, it's interesting because it has things in common with German food. I had a second interest: understanding how the Danes pronounce things. It's different from Swedish, which in the past I've tried to learn, but like the Swedes they tend to drop sounds. Of course, an Australian commentator doesn't help: is the dish gravlax or gravad lax? The presenter used the former, the Danish person doing the preparation the latterI thought. It seems that in Danish it's either, but the latter is spelt gravad laks.

Sun, 14 Apr 2013 00:20:21 UTC

Finally: the Dereel mobile phone tower

Posted By Greg Lehey

Jeffrey Kirsten has saved Dereel! He has erected his own mobile phone tower: I'm trying to get him to publish another one with him underneath wearing a tinfoil hat.

Sun, 14 Apr 2013 00:00:18 UTC

Network problems of a different kind

Posted By Greg Lehey

I've been moaning for months about the terrible quality of my Internet connection, in particular the wireless linkI've seen ping times of over 6 minutes! Lately things have been better there, and I've typically had ping times of under 200 ms, which I consider acceptable (a good ping time for this link is 60-80 ms). But for the past few days I've been trying to upgrade my FreeBSD ports. The last time was in January, but it seems that since then just about everything has changed, and I'm continually downloading new tarballs and having (dependent) ports that I've never heard of hang, asking me what options I want.

Sat, 13 Apr 2013 00:01:57 UTC

Backing up the Microsoft box

Posted By Greg Lehey

In the past my approach to Microsoft systems has been very much hands off: the thing's there, I don't understand it, so don't try. Backing up is simple like that: boot FreeBSD on the box and copy the disk partition. But now that the machine is running all the time (usually hibernated), that's no longer appropriate. And surely there's some kind of backup software for it. Yes, indeed, though only because this operating system is Business; it seems that Home systems don't need backups. I fired it up and was thoroughly confused. It offered to back up either files or my entire computer (what, hardware too?)

Fri, 12 Apr 2013 00:39:59 UTC

More opinions on LiberalNBN

Posted By Greg Lehey

Not surprisingly, there's been a lot of talk about the Coalition plans for the National Broadband Network. I'm surprised how negative they all are. This one is a little extreme, but it gives a good feel for what people are thinking. And how fast will 25 Mb/s or 50 Mb/s be in 3 or 6 years' time? Did some searching and came up with this document from the OECD, obnoxiously only available in Microsoft Excel format. It's 18 months old, and at that time it states that the average advertised download speeds exceeded 50 Mb/s in 8 countries, and they exceeded 25 Mb/s in 24 countries, paradoxically including Australia (with a claimed 34.64 Mb/s).

Thu, 11 Apr 2013 00:23:11 UTC

Upgrading ports, Yet Again

Posted By Greg Lehey

Years ago I discovered phpMyEdit, which allows you to edit MySQL tables. It hasn't weathered well: PHP changes have removed the functions it uses, and I have to keep a separate down-rev web server in a VM to be able to use it at all. Clearly I need a replacement. Recently Anthony Curtis has been showing up on IRC, so I asked him. He didn't know of anything either. But Andy Snow came up with a suggestion to use adminer, which does much more, but also claims to be able to edit tables. So: how about installing it? The first thing the port did was to try to upgrade PHP.

Wed, 10 Apr 2013 00:54:26 UTC

NBN plans: the other side

Posted By Greg Lehey

We had a lot of discussion of the matter on IRC, of course. And there are lots of reactions. I like this one: More interestingly, though, somebody came up with slides from a presentation that Simon Hackett made. It's fascinating: FTTN would cost money that would be wasted when moving to FTTH, it uses more power, is less reliable, and just changing the infrastructure plans could take years. And the final link, currently VDSL-2, is already stretching technology to its reasonable limits: Another point that came out of these slides is why the current NBN is so far behind schedule: your friend, Simon's friend and mine, Telstra.

Wed, 10 Apr 2013 00:09:36 UTC

"Coalition" NBN plans

Posted By Greg Lehey

The Australian Federal Opposition parties (Liberal (in my mind really conservative) and National, who have been in a coalition so long that they're generally referred to simply as The Coalition) look increasingly likely to win the next Federal election on 13 September 2013, despite their leader. While I don't have much love for the incumbent Labor Party, they did one thing right by initiating the National Broadband Network. The Coalition consider it unnecessary and had previously stated that they would cancel it if they came to power.

Mon, 08 Apr 2013 00:32:21 UTC

Olympus Viewer 3

Posted By Greg Lehey

Now that I have the new Microsoft box I can more or less come to terms with photo processing with DxO Optics Pro. But there's one thing that doesn't work: it doesn't know the characteristics of my Olympus Zuiko Digital 18-180mm F3.5-6.3 lens, so it can't correct distortion and chromatic aberration. That's a particular problem because that lens probably has the most distortion and CA of all my lenses. Today I heard that Olympus has released version 3 of Olympus Viewer. I've tried the previous version before and was irritated by the interface, so it seemed a good idea to try it out and see if they have improved it.

Thu, 04 Apr 2013 22:45:28 UTC

ABC reception problems: why?

Posted By Greg Lehey

More investigations of my interference problems (if that's what they are) today. Here's the output of femon -l (log format), starting when tuned to a commercial channel, and continuing with ABC. 2013-04-04 10:19:40 Adapter 0: status SCVYL     signal 197, S/N 218, noise -22 2013-04-04 10:19:42 Adapter 0: status SCVYL     signal 198, S/N 218, noise -21 2013-04-04 10:19:43 Adapter 0: status SCVYL     signal 196, S/N 219, noise -23 2013-04-04 10:19:44 Adapter 0: status SCVYL     signal 197, S/N 217, noise -21 2013-04-04 10:19:45 Adapter 0: status SCVYL     signal 197, S/N 217, noise -21 2013-04-04 10:19:46 Adapter 0: status SCVYL     signal 165, S/N 188, noise -23 2013-04-04 10:19:47 Adapter 0: status SCVYL     signal 167, S/N 190, noise -24, 1234 block errors 2013-04-04 10:19:48 Adapter 0: status SCVYL     signal 165, S/N 191, noise -27, 1234 block errors 2013-04-04 ...

Wed, 03 Apr 2013 00:09:36 UTC

Too stupid for Facebook

Posted By Greg Lehey

I almost never get up on my hind legs and proclaim that I'm a computer expert. I've been using computers for 45 years, and networks and email for over 30, so I suppose I should qualify. Now there's this Facebook thing, with which I really can't identify. But it can't be difficultafter all, every man and his dog uses it. And a number of them have asked after our welfare after the bushfire last week. If I had had any sense, I would have posted a status on Facebook. Well, it's not too late, so today I did it, along with a link to my diary.

Tue, 02 Apr 2013 22:30:19 UTC

Faster than light: it works

Posted By Greg Lehey

Finally the specifications for Faster-Than-Light Communication have been published. They work, as I reported over 22 years ago.

Mon, 01 Apr 2013 23:49:28 UTC

FreeBSD to drop support for i386 architecture

Posted By Greg Lehey

Mail from Eitan Adler in the FreeBSD mailing lists today: a proposal to drop full support for the 32 bit Intel i386 architecture (the one others call ia32). His reasoning: Computers are getting faster, but also more memory intensive. I can not find a laptop with less than 4 or 8 GB of RAM. Modern browsers, such as Firefox, require a 64bit architecture and 8GB of RAM. A 32 bit platform is not enough now a days on systems with more than 4 GB of RAM. A 32 bit core now is like 640K of RAM in the 1990s.

Mon, 01 Apr 2013 01:49:15 UTC

Find your Unicode symbol

Posted By Greg Lehey

Found this site somewhere today. Nice idea: you draw in a symbol and it tries to find a matching Unicode character.

Mon, 01 Apr 2013 01:04:16 UTC

SBS: We can do worse!

Posted By Greg Lehey

I've complained about the SBS web site on numerous occasions, for example here. Most of it, though, has been related to markup breakage, and nine years ago I even gave it slight praise for presenting programme information where the other channels were content with presenting titles. Now, though, they've succumbed to the modern appearance over content syndrome. Here's the old and the new information for the evening of 27 March 2013: Here's a single programme description: Yes, the old one is far plainer than the new one.

Mon, 01 Apr 2013 00:44:24 UTC

Xinerama for Hugin

Posted By Greg Lehey

Hugin uses two separate windows, each capable of showing images. In one case, masking, it's useful to correlate the image in the mask window (left images) with the image in the fast preview window (right) to see the effects of the mask. In the following example I'm masking out my hand and checking that there are no gaps (shown in reddish-brown in the fast preview window): But although I have four monitors on my desk, Hugin can only display on one X display.

Sat, 30 Mar 2013 23:33:10 UTC

Facebook thinks for you

Posted By Greg Lehey

I have a surprisingly diverse group of friends on Facebookmuch of what scrolls past is written in scripts or languages that I don't understand. But Facebook sifts through this information and comes up with suggestions. On the Dereel 2013 Fire Help Page I get the following suggested members: You'd think that this were random, but no, it's always the same group of people. David Yeardley lives around the corner and would make a good member. That's probably a complete coincidence, because the others are so far from appropriate members that the mind boggles.

Fri, 29 Mar 2013 23:11:30 UTC

More TV stuff

Posted By Greg Lehey

Finally got round to installing the new TV properly. It's still in the middle of the room, because the wall to the hallway is missing, and it looks pretty terrible. If we don't move house soon we may reconsider the location. But it worksalmost. On one occasion I couldn't turn it on again. I had to power cycle it before it would turn on. I hope that doesn't happen too often. It's also clear that the screen illumination could be better: the corners are noticeably darker, though that's not obvious when viewing a film. Under the circumstances it's nice to know that I can take it back before the end of May with no questions asked.

Fri, 29 Mar 2013 00:06:43 UTC

TV IP configuration

Posted By Greg Lehey

More playing around with my new TV today. This is the first I've ever had with an Internet connection, and I was interested in what it could do. It has a main menu reminiscent of a computer display: That white window at top left is a window in natural size into the X display, showing nothing useful. But it has a web browser with an emblem reminiscent of firefox. Tried that, but I couldn't communicate with the global Internet. It had obtained an IP address via DHCP, amusingly enough,, but it didn't get a valid default gateway.

Thu, 28 Mar 2013 23:56:41 UTC

Even more spam

Posted By Greg Lehey

Spam seems to be particularly bad at the moment. But when I started getting offers of Viagra (sent to an address that I only gave to Growmaster), I was puzzled. SpamAssassin should have filtered that out. Took a look at the headers: no headers from SpamAssassin. But it was running. What was wrong there? Decided to install the latest version, with some surprises: ===>   p5-Mail-SpamAssassin-3.3.2_8 depends on package: p5-NetAddr-IP>=4.00.7 - found ===>   p5-Mail-SpamAssassin-3.3.2_8 depends on package: p5-Net-DNS>=0.63 - found ===>   p5-Mail-SpamAssassin-3.3.2_8 depends on package: p5-HTML-Parser>=3.46 - found ===>   p5-Mail-SpamAssassin-3.3.2_8 depends on package: p5-libwww>=0 - found ===>   p5-Mail-SpamAssassin-3.3.2_8 depends on package: p5-Encode-Detect>=0 - found ===>   p5-Mail-SpamAssassin-3.3.2_8 depends on package: p5-Mail-Tools>=0 - found ===>   p5-Mail-SpamAssassin-3.3.2_8 depends on file: /usr/local/bin/perl5.14.2 - found ===>  Configuring for p5-Mail-SpamAssassin-3.3.2_8 NOTE: settings for "make test" are now controlled using "t/config.dist".

Wed, 27 Mar 2013 23:14:55 UTC

New TV

Posted By Greg Lehey

Up early this morning and off to ALDI in Sebastopol to buy their special offer 58" TV, arriving just before they opened. A good thing to: they had about 9 of them, and they were all gone within about 5 minutes. Back home after finally finding a way to transport it, and set it up. It's not just big, it's also heavy38 kg if you believe the statement on the package. An amazing number of connections: 4 HDMI, VGA, even an Internet connection.

Thu, 21 Mar 2013 23:24:43 UTC

Ports: Upsetting the apple cart

Posted By Greg Lehey

Processing the photos of the stray dog proved to be a problem: exiftool had disappeared. I don't know why, but since it's a perl module, it's reasonable to assume that the reinstallation of the new perl version yesterday removed it. I wonder how many other ports have disappeared. I note also that the fonts used by wine seem to have changed. One more reason not to upgrade ports on a production machine until they've been tested elsewhere. On the other hand, it seems that I do have LibreOffice installed. No idea how that happened. I looked for an obvious executable yesterday, something like /usr/local/bin/libreofficeand that's exactly what was installed, admittedly a symlink.

Thu, 21 Mar 2013 03:56:38 UTC

LibreOffice install

Posted By Greg Lehey

I don't use things like Microsoft Office or clones. But since I've started using a Microsoft box, I should maybe consider it, especially as I could do with a spreadsheet right now to calculate costs for the house. I don't want to spend money on it, of course, but then there's LibreOffice. Today was the last day of my billing month for Internet traffic, so I downloaded it both for Microsoft (after their page gave up trying to identify my Vista box as PPC MacOS X) and FreeBSD.

Tue, 19 Mar 2013 00:24:58 UTC

End of an era: death after 3737 days

Posted By Greg Lehey

Somebody pointed me at this slashdot story today: a machine shut down after 3737 days of uptime (that's over 10 years, 2 months). It makes my "After running uninterrupted for 3737 days, this humble Sun 280R server running Solaris 9 was shut down. At the time of making the video it was idle, the last service it had was removed sometime last year. A tribute video was made with some feelings about Sun, Solaris, the walk to the data center and freeing a machine from internet-slavery."

Mon, 18 Mar 2013 01:08:39 UTC

Getting nanoseconds from stat(2)

Posted By Greg Lehey

The 0 in the nanoseconds from stat(1) puzzled me, so I went to take a look. And how about that: the stat(2) system call returns the fields set to 0: === gdb -> Return 336                                     rc = lstat(file, &st); === gdb -> Return 339                     if (rc == -1) { === gdb -> p st $1 = {   st_dev = 129,   st_ino = 11732393,   st_mode = 33188,   st_nlink = 1,   st_uid = 1004,   st_gid = 1000,   st_rdev = 47224992,   st_atim = {     tv_sec = 1363569201,     tv_nsec = 0   },   st_mtim = {     tv_sec = 1350666025,     tv_nsec = 0   },   st_ctim = {     tv_sec = 1350666025,     tv_nsec = 0   },   st_size ...

Mon, 18 Mar 2013 00:45:33 UTC

Don't enhance test(1)

Posted By Greg Lehey

A couple of weeks ago Peter Jeremy made some modifications to test(1) and with approval of his mentors (John Baldwin and myself) committed them to the head of the FreeBSD source tree. The changes are summarized in the man page:      file1 -nt file2                    True if both file1 and file2 exist and file1 is newer than                    file2.     file1 -ntXY file2                    True if both file1 and file2 exist and file1 has a more                    recent last access time (X=a), inode creation time (X=B),                    change time (X=c), or modification time (X=m) than the last        ...

Thu, 14 Mar 2013 22:57:46 UTC

NBN: Yes, no, maybe

Posted By Greg Lehey

One of the good things about the new property is that it's only a stone's throw from the Enfield radiation tower. We could get good network coverage there immediately. Out of idle curiosity, went to the NBN rollout map to see what the coverage was like, and in the process discovered a link at the top overwriting another text and saying Find a service provider: Followed that, and discovered that the link forgot where I was: I was presented with a map of Australia.

Thu, 14 Mar 2013 22:20:19 UTC

More weather station flakiness

Posted By Greg Lehey

For some reason the wireless communication between the external and internal components of my weather station has been particularly flaky lately, and there have been long periods of time with no readings. Changed the batteries, but the old ones weren't particularly discharged, and it didn't help, so finally got down to complete some modifications I had started years ago to ensure that I don't try to save invalid readings. What a series of functions just to read a page of weather data from the unit: /*  * Read routines.  There are lots of these:  *  * read_station reads 8 bytes from the station, the maximum it can deliver.

Thu, 14 Mar 2013 00:26:38 UTC

Microsoft update fun

Posted By Greg Lehey

Microsoft released patches for its operating systems today, apparently something they do every month. Now that I have a real Microsoft box, it seems to be right to upgrade. But of course my network link wasn't up to it, and rather than wait forever, decided to postpone. Clicked the stop download button, and got: Code 80244023 Windows Update encountered an unknown error.               Get help with this error I've seen this one before, and at the time decided, presumably correctly, that it meant network connection interrupted.

Wed, 13 Mar 2013 22:59:23 UTC

Committing ports: the bureaucracy

Posted By Greg Lehey

Review of my new port from Edwin Groothuis this morning, suggesting a couple of modifications, including noting conflicts with the normal Hugin port. That required testing, including building both ports a couple of times, but finally I was ready to commit. Not quite what I expected: Path "head/graphics/hugin-devel/distinfo" is missing the svn:keywords property (or an fbsd:nokeywords override) What does that mean? No idea. Discovered a PortSubversionPrimer, resplendent in missing spaces, which told me about properties, and that I needed svn propset to set them. More careful reading showed that I needed to add entries to ~/.subversion/config, something that I had done years ago (coincidentally exactly 4 years ago today) for the src tree and then forgotten.

Tue, 12 Mar 2013 22:54:36 UTC

Network pain continues

Posted By Greg Lehey

I've more or less resigned myself to the fact that my network connectivity is barely acceptable. Roll on the radiation tower! It's hardly worth mentioning the disconnects any more, but they continue unabated. Each of these represents a successful reconnect after a dropout: === grog@eureka (/dev/pts/4) ~ 125 -> grep myaddr /var/log/ppp.log Feb 25 20:12:36 eureka ppp[1982]: tun0: IPCP: myaddr hisaddr = Feb 26 13:12:31 eureka ppp[1982]: tun0: IPCP: myaddr hisaddr = Feb 27 02:05:54 eureka ppp[1982]: tun0: IPCP: myaddr hisaddr = Feb 27 09:29:38 eureka ppp[2717]: tun0: IPCP: myaddr hisaddr = Feb 27 15:22:14 eureka ppp[2717]: tun0: IPCP: myaddr hisaddr = Feb 27 16:06:23 eureka ppp[2717]: tun0: IPCP: myaddr hisaddr = Feb 27 17:22:40 eureka ppp[2717]: tun0: IPCP: myaddr hisaddr = Feb 28 18:11:28 eureka ppp[2717]: ...

Tue, 12 Mar 2013 22:45:03 UTC

Polishing my ports commit bit

Posted By Greg Lehey

News from FreeBSD portmgr today: I have my ports commit bit back, after having given it up some years ago for safe keeping. It's a little tarnished, but nothing that a bit of cleaning won't fix. Some years ago I mentored Edwin Groothuis for a src commit bit. He has a ports commit bit, so I asked him to be my mentor while I did the cleaning. A week or two again a beta release of Hugin came out, so it seemed reasonable to add a new port, graphics/hugin-devel, for that: the FreeBSD port of Hugin has been lagging quite a bit lately.

Sun, 10 Mar 2013 00:23:59 UTC

Who needs swap?

Posted By Greg Lehey

An unexpected effect of the completed verandah panorama was that Hugin decided that the optimal size was considerably larger than before. Although it has always stitched a full 360°×180° panorama, even when the bottom was missing, today the calculated size increased considerably: === grog@eureka (/dev/pts/4) ~/Photos/20130309 105 -> identify ../20130303/Pano/verandah-centre.jpeg Pano/verandah-centre.jpeg ../20130303/Pano/verandah-centre.jpeg JPEG 13068x6534 13068x6534+0+0 8-bit DirectClass 21.2MB 0.000u 0:00.000 Pano/verandah-centre.jpeg[1] JPEG 21866x10933 21866x10933+0+0 8-bit DirectClass 44.21MB 0.000u 0:00.000 === grog@eureka (/dev/pts/4) ~/Photos/20130309 106 -> ls -l ../20130303/Pano/verandah-centre.jpeg Pano/verandah-centre.jpeg -rw-r--r--  1 grog  lemis  21200630  3 Mar 12:41 ../20130303/Pano/verandah-centre.jpeg -rw-r--r--  1 grog  lemis  44207375  9 Mar 16:23 Pano/verandah-centre.jpeg So instead of an 85 MP panorama, I ended up with a 239 MP panorama; surprisingly, the image sizes don't reflect that.

Sat, 09 Mar 2013 23:51:15 UTC

A nadir, finally

Posted By Greg Lehey

Last weekend's attempt at a full 360°×180° panorama of the verandah wasn't overly successful. One of the issues I had was finding appropriate control points: the floor was too uniform and repetitive. Today I tried the trick of putting a few flowerpots on the floor in the range both of the nadir and the lower row of the panorama. That worked nicely, though I still have issues with the alignment of the floorboards, probably relating to the accuracy of the positioning. Still, the result isn't too bad: How much work would it be to fix the remaining jaggies in the floor?

Wed, 06 Mar 2013 23:30:39 UTC

Wendy McClelland exposes scam

Posted By Greg Lehey

Yvonne pointed me at an article in the Hepburn Advocate today. Wendy McClelland has taken pity on all us poor souls who were conned by the NBN: NBN endeavoured to convince the public to want Wi-Fi radiation broadband via a proposed tower to deliver at speeds of 5-12 megabits per second. NBN staff stated it was faster than satellite broadband. Most residents who attended were duped by the con. Count me as one of the residents who was duped.

Wed, 06 Mar 2013 00:21:36 UTC

Thirty years of audio data storage

Posted By Greg Lehey

Edwin Groothuis pointed me at this image on the web today: Amazing how times change, and in particular how much content is now served by the Web.

Mon, 04 Mar 2013 23:07:38 UTC

More weather station software

Posted By Greg Lehey

Peter Jeremy came up with this weather station software site today. It seems to do roughly what my software does (hopefully with fewer warts), but I haven't really looked at it yet.

Sat, 02 Mar 2013 22:38:24 UTC

No day for computing

Posted By Greg Lehey

Somehow things didn't go well today. It started when I came in and found a message from Wolfgang Riegler telling me of an incorrect dependency in the enblend port. Fixed that and got Edwin Groothuis to commit it, and he then discovered that removing the port left an empty directory behind. Normally that's handled by a @dirrm line in the pkg-plist file, but this port doesn't have a pkg-plist: it's all in the Makefile. Spent some time reading the porter's handbook without finding out how to remove a directory. Should I revert to a pkg-plist after all? It makes sense to minimize the number of files in a port, since they're all small, usually smaller than the minimum fragment size.

Fri, 01 Mar 2013 23:37:20 UTC

Real world adieu

Posted By Greg Lehey

Nearly 2 years ago I took over maintenance of the Friends of the Ballarat Botanical Gardens web site in hope of contributing something to the cause and getting a better understanding of the Real World. I suppose that I've been successful in those aims. But it's been a pain! Clearly gardeners aren't the most technical people in the world. And even more clearly I don't have the interpersonal skills to be a webmaster. But the site is still almost completely devoid of content, and what little content I get usually comes in forms that require much correction before they can be put up at all.

Thu, 28 Feb 2013 23:29:27 UTC

Reinstating my ports commit bit

Posted By Greg Lehey

I've been updating a number of ports recently, and since I have handed in my ports commit bit, I had planned to get other people to commit them for me. But in each case they approved the commit and I ended up committing it myself. That's possible, but clearly not what's intended. And then Beech Rintoul sent a message asking for a new maintainer for the ImageMagick port, a tool I use quite a lot, so it seemed reasonable to take over maintainership. Spent much of the day getting it and a dependency, webp up to date. So it was clearly time to apply to get my commit bit back.

Wed, 27 Feb 2013 00:22:59 UTC

Differing fields of view?

Posted By Greg Lehey

Another message in the German Olympus Forum today: differing fields of view for Panasonic and Olympus cameras. The latter is claimed to have a slightly wider field of view. My guess was that the submitter was processing Olympus raw images with a program like ufraw, which leaves the edge in placemouseover alternation: They also show (second image) why I don't use ufraw any more.

Tue, 26 Feb 2013 00:15:14 UTC

Aligning images: still no silver bullet

Posted By Greg Lehey

One of the things that I wanted to do with the exposure comparison was to compare the histograms as well. To do that I had to take screen shots of the histograms and then align them somehowand what better tool than Hugin? I don't know, but it seems I need one. I followed my instructions, but the images didn't get aligned properly without selecting View optimization, and when I did, it couldn't cope. Maybe part of the story is the concept of focal length, which is completely missing here.

Mon, 25 Feb 2013 23:11:31 UTC

Hacking test: So nice, so nice, we do it twice

Posted By Greg Lehey

Hacking test(1) was easy, apart from the issue I had by not reading the struct header. Peter Jeremy thought so too, so he came up with his version, which went further than mine: I compared the modification timestamps, creation timestamps or access timestamps of two files. Peter made it more general: compare any two timestamps, including the birthtime stamp introduced with UFS 2, a total of 16 possible comparisons instead of the 3 that I had envisaged. What use are they? Who knows? You can't guess what people might like to do with the tool.

Sun, 24 Feb 2013 23:01:25 UTC

Hacking test

Posted By Greg Lehey

Talking with Peter Jeremy on IRC this morning, and he bemoaned that fact that test(1) doesn't have comparison operators between files based on creation time or access time. All that's currently available is a comparison between modification times: === grog@eureka (/dev/pts/9) /var/tmp 29 -> touch foo === grog@eureka (/dev/pts/9) /var/tmp 30 -> touch bar === grog@eureka (/dev/pts/9) /var/tmp 31 -> test foo -nt bar; echo $? 1 === grog@eureka (/dev/pts/9) /var/tmp 32 -> test bar -nt foo; echo $? 0 === grog@eureka (/dev/pts/9) /var/tmp 33 -> -nt means newer than; there's also an -ot.

Sat, 23 Feb 2013 23:54:45 UTC

More fiddling with Hugin

Posted By Greg Lehey

So it seems that I will need to install wxWidgets 2.9 to have a chance of setting multiple displays, and even then it's not clear that it will work. But maybe there's an easier way: Hugin honours the DISPLAY environment variable, so how about setting that inside the program, before the window is created? Did thathow easy C is in comparison to C++but it had no effect. Presumably the widgets, or possibly GTK+, have looked at the variable on startup and hidden it somewhere difficult to find. That was to be expected, but I wonder how much sense it really makes?

Sat, 23 Feb 2013 23:05:34 UTC

Shutdown hang

Posted By Greg Lehey

Yvonne woke me this morning to tell me that her machine hadn't shut downsomething about not ready. At least that's better than an error occurred. But I saw something I have never seen before: What causes that? Why did it want to suspend? It's supposed to be shutting down. Peter Jeremy investigated and came to the conclusion that it did make sense, but of course there's no way to know what really happened, and it didn't happen again.

Fri, 22 Feb 2013 23:19:59 UTC

Hacking Hugin

Posted By Greg Lehey

I've been trying out the new version of Hugin. I can't say I particularly like it. It now comes with user levels (Interfaces), Simple, Advanced and Expert. The default interface is the Simple one, of course, and it shows a combination of the old Assistant and Fast Panorama Preview windows. It also bleeds text, which I find ugly. Once you select the Expert interface things don't look too different from before. Except for the Identify function in the Fast Panorama Preview. This shows the locations of the individual images and any masking, which is a very useful for more complicated panoramas.

Fri, 22 Feb 2013 22:44:55 UTC

Printing a PDF

Posted By Greg Lehey

Carola is leaving for Tasmania on Saturday, and she finally has her flight bookings complete. So she asked me to print out the documents for her today. Nothing difficult about that. They're PDF documents. All I need is to convert them to PostScript and print them. Arguably a print filter should do that for me. There's an issue with acroread, but I have pdf2ps, part of ghostview, so used that instead. But the printout wasn't what I expected: ERROR: invalidaccess OFFENDING COMMAND: length STACK: What does that mean?

Sun, 17 Feb 2013 23:03:22 UTC

Enblend fixed

Posted By Greg Lehey

How about that, a new version of enblend, 4.1.1. No explanation, but the bug is gone, so presumably that's a result of my reportnot such a bad response time after all. Updated the port and asked Jürgen Lock to commit it for me. He went to a lot more trouble, in the process discovering a number of issues not directly related to the upgrade, notably documentation. But finally it's there. Now to move on to the Hugin port.

Sat, 16 Feb 2013 22:54:33 UTC

More photo processing strangenesses

Posted By Greg Lehey

House photo day again today. Despite improvements in my technique, it took all day, at least partially because I had to start late. But once again I've run into some strangenesses in processing that may be due to the newer versions of the software. Here an example done with the old (2011.4.0) and new (2012.1.0) versions of Hugin: As in most cases, in this image I violated the rule that you should take all component images with the same exposure, but not by very much: the ends were exposed with 12.6 EV, and the middle with 14.3 EV.

Sat, 16 Feb 2013 00:45:34 UTC

Enblend bug confirmed

Posted By Greg Lehey

Reply to my message about the enblend bug today. It appears to be a known problem, and the respondent (Christoph Spiel?) even provided a link to a patch. This all begs the question why it hasn't been made more public. I'd consider that one a show-stopper. It seems to have less to do with 360° panoramas than with images with more than one seam line. I suppose I should try the development version.

Fri, 15 Feb 2013 03:13:58 UTC

The new enblend

Posted By Greg Lehey

My updated enblend 4.1 port is now ready for committing. I had done some testing with it on stable-amd64, but it seemed reasonable to try it on eureka with some more complicated panoramas. A good thing I did: Spent hours investigating, but it seems that this is a bug in enblend 4.1 which occurs with 360° panoramas. I wasn't able to stitch a single 360° panorama correctly. Entered a bug report and wrote a description page.

Thu, 14 Feb 2013 00:05:48 UTC

Shutdown stupidity

Posted By Greg Lehey

Watching TV in the evening, and then for some reason wanted to look at something on eureka. Did that, then shut the machine down. teevee? No, eureka! What a pain. And the more I reboot eureka, the more idiotic this historical reliance on dereel, now a virtual machine, becomes. It took me over half an hour to bring the machine up again. There's no reason why the executables and libraries need to be on an NFS mount from dereeltomorrow I'll move them to a local file system.

Wed, 13 Feb 2013 23:25:40 UTC

Aligning panoramas, continued

Posted By Greg Lehey

More playing around with Hugin today trying to align the before and after images of Yvonne's office. Made some progress, but clearly it's getting to be time to investigate what all the different optimizations really do at a technical level. RSS can't display the comparisons. See the HTML version for more details. The real issue appears to be to find enough control points in the right places for nona to remap them correctly. Here the picture on the right and the curtain rails are OK, but on the left I couldn't find enough control points to completely align the two. It's also worth noting how much smaller the maximum crop has become.

Tue, 12 Feb 2013 23:16:24 UTC

Aligning panoramas

Posted By Greg Lehey

The photos of Yvonne's office aren't ideal: the before and after images don't line up. And the instructions in my alignment page don't help. If the focal length of the images are close to the same, the view alignment doesn't workthis is the background to one of the things that Thomas Modes changed, but it still needs clarification. This is going to keep me busy for a while.

Tue, 12 Feb 2013 23:07:14 UTC

Documenting Hugin, continued

Posted By Greg Lehey

A reply to my message in the Hugin mailing list this morning, from Thomas Modes, explaining a few things, but still a little astonishing: The wiki page are also used as help files and shipped with Hugin. If the new version would be shipped without the updated pages, it would also confusing. And we can't update all pages at once. So we started with the update of the wiki pages. The first beta release will follow in the next weeks. So there is a short time, where wiki and release are out of date.

Tue, 12 Feb 2013 00:31:02 UTC

Mail falling into black hole

Posted By Greg Lehey

I was expecting a lot of mail today, but somehow nothing much arrivedso little that I started to check. First in /var/log/maillog: Feb 11 00:00:00 dereel newsyslog[26227]: logfile turned over That's not very much. Why wasn't postfix logging? Tried sending myself a message locally. No log messages. Nothing in my inbox. Nothing in ~/Mail/backup, where I store everything that arrives, even spam. Panic time. Was this another problem with procmail? Took a look in the procmail log. Everything looked normal: mail arrived, processed, stored in /var/mail/grog.

Tue, 12 Feb 2013 00:27:00 UTC

More ports

Posted By Greg Lehey

Finished my port of tclap today, and finally committed it. Also updated the Hugin port to the latest releaseby no means too earlybut that's Vadim Dimov's baby, so I'll have to send it to him. At least things are looking tidier now.

Tue, 12 Feb 2013 00:15:05 UTC

Documentation: The newer, the better

Posted By Greg Lehey

After fixing the Hugin alignment page yesterday, I sent out a message to the Hugin mailing list asking for review. No replies apart for a thank-you, but when I went to look, I discovered that a Thomas with no further identification had changed itto reflect the current development version! So now, again, it doesn't work. Why do people do that? Admittedly, he did have one great simplification, but in general this just confuses people.

Sun, 10 Feb 2013 23:58:51 UTC

Traceroute to Star Wars

Posted By Greg Lehey

Somebody pointed me at this today: === grog@w3 (/dev/ttyp1) ~ 1 -> traceroute traceroute to (, 64 hops max, 40 byte packets ...

Sun, 10 Feb 2013 23:33:26 UTC

Finally: aligning images

Posted By Greg Lehey

In March 2011 I tried in vain to align 3 images with Hugin so that I could compare them with mouseover image manipulation. The main problem was that one of the images was taken at a different focal length, so they didn't line up: I asked on the Hugin mailing list, but didn't get the answers I wanted. Today I finally worked it out and wrote a description of how to do it.

Sat, 09 Feb 2013 22:48:27 UTC

Yet Another X Hang

Posted By Greg Lehey

I've got to admit it: since building my last kernel, the X hang problem is back. Many times when I connect cameras or disks to the USB bus, I end up with this cursor jumping problem. It happened twice today. How can I fix it?

Sat, 09 Feb 2013 22:04:40 UTC

No wind any more

Posted By Greg Lehey

My weather station showed no wind at all for nearly 24 hours. Looking outside shows why:

Thu, 07 Feb 2013 22:26:00 UTC

Network improvement: coincidence

Posted By Greg Lehey

Yesterday's improvement in the network quality didn't last. Today wasn't quite as bad as two days ago, but it's still unacceptable. Still, yesterday's experience suggests that I can rule out heat as a contributing factor. Today I ended up in a situation where the modem was just losing and reconnecting to the same cell all the time: Feb  7 19:58:00 eureka fstats: Cell lost: 81e3 8fc48e8 (5) Feb  7 19:58:00 eureka fstats: Cell found: -> 81e3 8fc48e8 Feb  7 19:58:00 eureka fstats: Cell lost: 81e3 8fc48e8 (5) Feb  7 19:58:00 eureka fstats: Cell found: -> 81e3 8fc48e8 Feb  7 19:58:01 eureka fstats: Cell lost: 81e3 8fc48e8 (5) Feb  7 19:58:01 eureka fstats: Cell found: -> 81e3 8fc48e8 Feb  7 19:58:02 eureka fstats: Cell lost: 81e3 8fc48e8 (5) Feb  7 19:58:02 eureka fstats: Cell found: -> 81e3 8fc48e8 Feb  7 19:58:02 eureka ...

Wed, 06 Feb 2013 23:16:16 UTC

Network improvement?

Posted By Greg Lehey

Yesterday's network performance was by far the worst I've experienced since getting the UMTS link. I had multiple timeouts, not surprising with RTTs of up to 4 minutes. My long discussion with James at Internode support was interesting, but basically ended with We can't get Optus to do anything about it. So I wasn't expecting anything to change in a hurry, especially given my hypothesis that the problem might be related to the hot weather: today was the hottest day in the last couple of weeks, with a top temperature of 39°. And of course I had my problems. One disconnect, a firmware reset at 9:40.

Wed, 06 Feb 2013 00:16:08 UTC

VCAT sets a date

Posted By Greg Lehey

On the topic of the Radiation Tower, VCAT has finally set a date for the hearing: 24 April 2013, 10:00 to 13:00. I hope that the short duration of the hearing will mean that the result is a foregone conclusion. Then we could finally be rid of this horribly flaky wireless connection.

Wed, 06 Feb 2013 00:04:00 UTC

Network problems: worse than ever

Posted By Greg Lehey

My network problems continue to be catastrophic. Called up Internode Support and asked what was happening, and got a call back from James, clearly somebody who knows what he's talking about. It seems they've repeatedly supplied the information to Optus, who identified the rogue cell as one of the cells on the Rokewood tower, but they say that it's functioning normally. No explanation of the poor response times, which have now reached times reminiscent of RFC 1149: That's a worst-case response time of 234.833 seconds, nearly 4 minutes!

Mon, 04 Feb 2013 23:06:56 UTC

New system, old bugs

Posted By Greg Lehey

Things are up and running happily on my reshuffled hardware, but the past isn't completely gone. Today I had Yet Another case of the X hang bug that should have been fixed months ago. And again it happened while I was doing other things with the USB subsystem, this time reading in photos from SD cards. As if to confirm my suspicion that all is not well with FreeBSD USB subsystem, the second SD card didn't register. The reader I have reports multiple devices, normally something like this (the first card): Feb  4 13:34:14 eureka kernel: ugen6.12: <Myson Century, Inc.> at usbus6 Feb  4 13:34:14 eureka kernel: umass4: <Mass Storage Class> on usbus6 Feb  4 13:34:14 eureka kernel: umass4:  SCSI over Bulk-Only; quirks = 0x4000 Feb  4 13:34:14 eureka kernel: umass4:12:4:-1: Attached to scbus12 Feb  4 13:34:14 eureka kernel: da3 at ...

Sun, 03 Feb 2013 22:20:24 UTC

Shutting down another machine

Posted By Greg Lehey

Most of my reorganization is now done. dereel has been demoted to a virtual machine, and my new graphics configuration finally works, though the last attempt at a change to the X configuration file didn't work: once again the position of the monitors change. Here's the layout in the config file: Section "ServerLayout"     Identifier     "Layout0"     Screen      0  "Screen0" 0 0     Screen      1  "Screen1" RightOf "Screen0"     Screen      2  "Screen2" RightOf "Screen1"     Screen      3  "Screen3" RightOf "Screen2" ... You don't need to understand much of the configuration file syntax to understand what that means.

Sun, 03 Feb 2013 00:55:01 UTC

ABC: No iview for you

Posted By Greg Lehey

ABC TV reception continues to be abysmal, but there's a new series on TV, The Doctor Blake Mysteries, taking place in Ballarat, so I thought it might be worth downloading yesterday's first episode via ABC's iview service. Surprise, surprise: Warning: Due to copyright reasons this video program[sic] is available for download by people located in Australia only. If you are not located in Australia, you are not authorised to view this video. This isn't a warning, it's an error message. What it really means is You are not located in Australia, so you can't watch the video.

Sun, 03 Feb 2013 00:37:58 UTC

Eliminating GPRS

Posted By Greg Lehey

I've been grumbling for some time that my wireless Internet connection drops back to GPRS from time to time, and is hard to get back to HSPA. I read the manual looking for that capability, without success. And then Andy Snow came up on IRC and said it could be done. It turned out he was using a different kind of modem, but he found the right commands for my Huawei 1762 here and here: AT^SYSCFG=14,2,3FFFFFFF,2,4 The only important parameter is the first, but they all need to be specified: 14: Only 3G.

Sat, 02 Feb 2013 23:17:17 UTC

More config refinements

Posted By Greg Lehey

So my new setup is up and running relatively well. X server 1 is effectively what I want server 0 to be, but for photo processing it makes sense to have one display spread over 2 screens. OK, that's simple enough: that's what TwinView is for, and the config files were conveniently generated with this line for each device:     Option         "TwinView" "0"     Option         "TwinViewXineramaInfoOrder" "CRT-0" So I tried setting TwinView to 1. No difference, apart from the fact that the order of the screens changed yet again, and that two monitors came up in low resolution.

Sat, 02 Feb 2013 00:24:53 UTC

Of mice and modems

Posted By Greg Lehey

Back home, set up the mouse, which was relatively simple. It has 5 buttons and one scroll wheel, or, as the probe put it: Feb  1 17:06:06 eureka kernel: ugen5.10: <Logitech> at usbus5 Feb  1 17:06:06 eureka kernel: ukbd2: <Logitech USB Receiver, class 0/0, rev 2.00/24.00, addr 10> on usbus5 Feb  1 17:06:06 eureka kernel: kbd4 at ukbd2 Feb  1 17:06:06 eureka kernel: ums2: <Logitech USB Receiver, class 0/0, rev 2.00/24.00, addr 10> on usbus5 Feb  1 17:06:06 eureka kernel: ums2: 16 buttons and [XYZT] coordinates ID=2 Feb  1 17:06:06 eureka kernel: uhid1: <Logitech USB Receiver, class 0/0, rev 2.00/24.00, addr 10> on usbus5 There are two side buttons for the right thumb (bad luck if you're left-handed), which xev reports as buttons 8 and 9.

Fri, 01 Feb 2013 23:45:41 UTC

Still more upgrade fun

Posted By Greg Lehey

Into the office this morning to find a surprising message: Segmentation fault: 11 at address 0x800017 Fatal server error: Caught signal 11 (Segmentation fault: 11). Server aborting That was the X server 1. I couldn't find a core dump, but I did find an emacs.core dated only shortly before I came in, so it seems to have happened then. Why? Unless it happens again, I'll never know.

Fri, 01 Feb 2013 01:00:23 UTC

DxO screen refresh insights

Posted By Greg Lehey

Had to do some photo processing today, while still playing with X. For some reason I brought up my rdesktop window on another monitor. And the DxO Optics Pro screen refresh worked! It seems that the problem is related to the resolution: normally I run it on the 2560×1440 monitor. I wonder if the problem exists with higher resolution displays locally as well. I can't test it, because the monitor has only DVI input, and dxo, the Microsoft box, has only a VGA output.

Thu, 31 Jan 2013 23:40:16 UTC

New X configuration and other surprises

Posted By Greg Lehey

Started the day off with the task of getting X running correctly on my four monitors. Tried out the xorg.conf file that I had created yesterday, and how about that! All 4 monitors came up. Not in the correct order, and not at the correct resolution, but it was a good start. In addition, the ›OC monitor seems to be delivering EDID information again, and it's not the same as the EDID information I downloaded from the web two months ago. Something to investigate when I get the time. Back to look at the file, and discovered that I had a number of serious errors in it, in particular referring to non-existent devices.

Thu, 31 Jan 2013 01:29:35 UTC

Network problems without end

Posted By Greg Lehey

My network problems continue. This is completely unacceptable. It's been 10 days since I reported the problems and the issue of the non-responsive cell, and I've only had one response asking me to reinstall my software. I've already sent a message expressing my annoyance, but nobody bothered to reply. Called Internode support today and spoke to Goran, who at least contacted the specialists, who are too important to talk to me directly. It seems that they did report the problem to Optus (I wonder in what form), and that Optus claims that all is running well and there is no congestion.

Thu, 31 Jan 2013 01:13:33 UTC

The curse of Wendy McClelland

Posted By Greg Lehey

While writing my diary for yesterday, discovered a disconcerting problem with the display on my new 27" monitor: What's that? It stayed in the same place on the screen while I moved the window, or when I replaced it with a browser window, but it doesn't look like dead pixels. It wasn't until I iconified the screens that I saw what was on the root window: It's part of the now-removed news item from YouTube, and it was clearly bypassing normal X conventions.

Thu, 31 Jan 2013 00:57:36 UTC

Computer reorganization: taking the plunge

Posted By Greg Lehey

I've been planning to rearrange the machines in my office for months now, at least since I converted my main machine to amd64 over six months ago. There have been many reasons for the delay, but a prime one was the dread of the amount of work and the number of things that could go wrong. But I have new hardware for the machine which will finally allow me to run four displays again on a single machinemaybe. So today I finally reorganized, the first time in the 5½ years I have lived here. To my surprise, nothing serious went wrong.

Wed, 30 Jan 2013 02:43:16 UTC

Dereel residents want the Radiation Tower

Posted By Greg Lehey

Since Wendy McClelland got interviewed on TV a week ago, a number of things have happened, notably the ABC article on the subject. But we were still unhappy that the majority of the residents didn't have their say. Then Greg Nyary, a resident whom I don't know, arranged for the same team to come to Dereel and interview the proponents. It all happened at very short notice, and it wasn't publicized, but I heard about it from two different directions. Today, a workday, at 11:00, not the ideal time to get a crowd. But get a crowd we did: there must have been somewhere between 50 and 70 people there.

Tue, 29 Jan 2013 03:19:58 UTC

gnuplot POLA violation

Posted By Greg Lehey

As a result of the network problems, I haven't looked at my network link statistics page much recently. But when I looked today, the graphs were all blank. Why? Working with gnuplot is a real pain, but I finally got round to looking at it. Date calculations are particularly painful, not helped by the fact that gnuplot timestamps are seconds since 1 January 2000, while Unix timestamps are seconds since 1 January 1970, so there's this continual offset 946684800 (30 years) in the commands. Here's part of a command file I generate for one of the graphs: set xrange [412654938+39600:412669338+39600] plot "/var/tmp/3glinkstats" using ($1 + 39600 - 946684800):($2) \            title "link status" with lines, \      "/var/tmp/3glinkstats" using ($1 + 39600 - 946684800):($3) \            title "net connectivity (0 to 5)" ...

Tue, 29 Jan 2013 03:18:20 UTC

Internode support going downhill?

Posted By Greg Lehey

My network connection is flakier than ever, so much that I've given up looking at the statistics. Internode support don't seem to be doing anything about it. I've provided them with evidence that it's due to non-responsive cells in the wireless network, but they don't seem to think that that's a problem they can report to Optus. Why? Two years ago I had very similar symptoms, though not the ability to investigate the cause, they contacted Optus and got the thing sorted out pretty quickly. And Max, the technician at that time, knew what he was talking about.

Tue, 29 Jan 2013 01:40:15 UTC

Alternative to DxO Optics Pro

Posted By Greg Lehey

Peter Jeremy asked an obvious question today: why do I bother with DxO Optics Pro given all its problems? The answers are simple: I stick with it because the alternative means learning a new product with new bugs, and making comparisons to see which is better. But then Andy Snow suggested bibble, a program that I had once thought of using, but then not followed through, and which he says can do everything, including raw data conversion. That's simple enough: Bibble doesn't exist any more. It has been bought out by Corel and is now called Corel® AfterShot" Pro. And of course there's a free demo version, so downloaded that and tried it out.

Sun, 27 Jan 2013 00:03:49 UTC

Still more DxO strangenesses

Posted By Greg Lehey

House photo day again today. DxO Optics Pro converted them in fast mode133 images in 66 minutes, 22 seconds, almost exactly 30 seconds per image. While stitching ran into trouble with the garden north image: the control point detector couldn't link all the images. Further investigation showed surprising chromatic aberration, which I traced back to DxO: it had turned off all the corrections. Why? I've seen this beforeit's one of the issues I raised with my collection of error reports last year, and which they told me in no uncertain terms was because I was running in a virtual machine. Well, surprise, surprise, it's still here.

Sat, 26 Jan 2013 01:37:59 UTC

Serial console for virtual machine

Posted By Greg Lehey

As planned, investigated setting up a serial interface for a VirtualBox virtual machine today, according to the instructions Callum Gibson had worked out: In the VM configuration, enable a serial port and select Host pipe and Create pipe. We both put the pipe in /tmp. Create a file /boot.config an the guest, with the content -Dh (dual console mode, force serial console). This is described in boot(8). Boot the guest and attach a telnet to the pipe generated in /tmp.

Sat, 26 Jan 2013 01:28:24 UTC

Password security

Posted By Greg Lehey

I'm continually ranting about the stupid rules people make me use to create passwords on web sites. Today I found a site that does a security check on passwords. No idea how accurate it is, but it confirms my expectation that these rules aren't very useful. Here some times for typical passwords (none of which, of course, I use): abc123       instantly 4711 (typical PIN)       instantly 4712       2.5 µs ...

Sat, 26 Jan 2013 01:09:52 UTC

How to put a Microsoft box to sleep

Posted By Greg Lehey

Despite the strangenesses with processing times, using a dedicated Microsoft box to process my photos is working out quite well. I put the box to sleep when I'm not using it, wake it up to process photos, and put it back to sleep again afterwards. Well, I try. I've set the power button to put the box to sleep, and discovered that it won't work if I still have an rdesktop session open. But it doesn't always work when I disconnect. Today I have come up with an explanation that may be correct: it only works if the (invisible) screen saver isn't enabled.

Sat, 26 Jan 2013 01:04:46 UTC

DxO random processing times again

Posted By Greg Lehey

I've already observed that the processing times for DxO Optics Pro are variable between extremely slow and glacial. Today I had more strangenesses in the processing times. Recently the times have been in the order of about 25 seconds per image, but today I converted 4 images, and it took 3 minutes, 32 seconds, or 53 seconds per image. Then I converted another two, which took 56 seconds28 seconds per image. Stupidly, I deleted them, and I had to reprocess them. Not easy: DxO doesn't want to do that unless I change some conversion parameters. So did that, then changed back to the original values, and converted them again.

Sat, 26 Jan 2013 00:54:06 UTC

Mail delivery strangenesses

Posted By Greg Lehey

Early this morning, Yvonne told me that she hadn't received any non-local mail since last night. On further investigation, neither had I. Went looking around and discovered that my fetchmail config sent the incoming messages to dereel, which then delivered to /eureka. For some reason, it seemed, this was failing, possibly due to NFS lock issues. It was relatively trivial to change the .fetchmailrc to point to eureka, so did that, and pointed Yvonne at her ~/Mail/backup file, where I save everything that comes in, just to protect against procmail issues. But that didn't work. The files landed in ~/Mail/backup, but not in /var/mail.

Fri, 25 Jan 2013 01:17:12 UTC

Internode: please reinstall your software

Posted By Greg Lehey

So a few days ago I sent traces of my UMTS network connectiona to Internode support showing that specific cells were associating but not accepting data. Today I got mail back. Here some excerpts, reformatted for legibility: Hi Gary, I can see in the ticket you mentioned you have done near all trouble-shooting, but the evidence we need are as follows. -download tests that show a drop in download speed (screencaps of this)   - you can download any of the tests from -screencaps showing that the dongle works at another location.

Fri, 25 Jan 2013 00:21:38 UTC

Revirtualizing dereel

Posted By Greg Lehey

Spent some time carefully analyzing yesterday's disaster with virtualizing There were two main issues: the symbolic links to files mounted from dereel, and the status of the virtual machine if X crashes. After much investigation, discovered that there weren't too many executables run from dereel, but that the libraries were a different matter. On the other hand, at least for the time being, I need to run dereel anyway. I'm running a newer version of PHP on eureka, and it's too leet to run some of my older web pages, so I run a second web server on dereel to handle them.

Thu, 24 Jan 2013 00:28:20 UTC

Migrating dereel to VM

Posted By Greg Lehey

Today got round to the next stage of my computer restructure: test whether I could really drive my HDMI monitor via the HDMI output. I did that on to avoid disruption to, my main machine. After a bit of messing with the BIOS, the result: yes, I can. That's more than I can say for the DVI connection: That's not serious, beyond the fact that I can't test in that housing. But maybe I should move the motherboard to something more conventional.

Tue, 22 Jan 2013 23:39:55 UTC

Hacking ls, the discussion

Posted By Greg Lehey

My article about adding an option to ls a few months back aroused some interest, and Lim Cheng Soon asked for permission to publish it in Hacker Monthly, where he changed the title to Hacking ls -l. In the process discovered a very lively discussion about the article, all apparently dated the day I wrote it and long before the publication in Hacker News. Some are worth addressing: Some addressed the usefulness of adding the -, option in the first place.

Tue, 22 Jan 2013 23:13:54 UTC

Upgrading graphics cards

Posted By Greg Lehey

So before returning this incorrectly described graphics card to Mwave, I wanted to see whether I could use it to drive three monitors, including the HDMI connection. Tried to put it into dxo, the Microsoft box. No go: it's too wide, so I'll have to try it in dereel. But before I do that it makes sense to migrate what's left of dereel (32 bit FreeBSD 8.1) to a VirtualBox machine. And that required setting up disks, which took a while. Mañana.

Tue, 22 Jan 2013 00:47:07 UTC

DxO: Random processing times?

Posted By Greg Lehey

Lately my DxO Optics Pro processing times have been particularly good, at least in comparison to what they have beencloser to 25 seconds per image than the previous 45 seconds. Why? I have no idea. I saw this under VirtualBox as well, but there I thought that maybe it had something to do with VirtualBox. I'm beginning to think that it's riddled with heisenbugs. Certainly the screen refresh code is very dubious. Still, as long as it lasts, it's an advantage.

Tue, 22 Jan 2013 00:29:11 UTC

Video card: time to tidy up

Posted By Greg Lehey

The new video card raises an issue that has been looming for some time: I should both tidy up and rearrange my office. I haven't really changed anything in over 5 years, and it shows: The second photo shows the mess behind the monitors, where I can't get at it very well, looking down from above. The open chassis on the left is boskoop, my Apple, and on the right is the back of eureka.

Tue, 22 Jan 2013 00:06:35 UTC

New video card

Posted By Greg Lehey

It's been several months since I got my new monitor. And for that time I've had to split my X configuration across two machines, because the display cards in eureka can't handle all the monitors. I've been planning to replace one of the cards for some time now, but research is important, especially since the documentation of these cards is so terrible. I had more or less decided on an nVidia GeForce GT 640 as a good compromise between cost and number of monitors supported. But some of the cards don't have enough outputs. So last weekend I did some research and found a number of cards with the chipset.

Mon, 21 Jan 2013 23:14:17 UTC

Updating Microsoft, continued

Posted By Greg Lehey

Today was the start of a new billing month for my Internet traffic, so I was able to continue with my software downloads and updates. In the end I downloaded nearly 1.25 GB of data, including further updates for dxo, my Microsoft Windows box. When I postponed 10 days ago, there were three updates outstanding, none of them new. Today it changed its mind: I needed to download Service Pack 2, some 350 MB (or was that 45? It didn't seem to be sure). So it downloaded that, and then it told me that I needed to install another 66 important updates.

Sat, 19 Jan 2013 22:35:11 UTC

Lame mouse again

Posted By Greg Lehey

Into the office this morning to find my mouse cursor moving slowly and unevenly. Further investigation seemed to show that it was related to where I placed the mouse on the (active) mouse pad. It looks as if it is dying. After a bit of searching found another one with side buttons (from teevee) and used that for the day. But in the evening the thing was working normally again. What's wrong here? Should I care? A mouse costs nothing, but where do you find one with which you can simulate the middle button? Since people replaced the middle button with a scroll wheel, I've been remapping the side button as Button 2.

Wed, 16 Jan 2013 23:19:47 UTC

Google false positives

Posted By Greg Lehey

Spent a lot of time today trying to open the head of my Mecablitz, without success. The information I got yesterday wasn't really sufficient, and I went out looking for other information. Google is your friend, right? Well, up to a point. It seems that in the last few years the quality of the results has dropped. What would I like to find? Mecablitz 58 AF-1 service manual. But of the first 10 results I found there, only 3 even included the word service, and that out of context with manual. Why did I get the other 7? OK, the double quotes still work, so I looked for Mecablitz 58 AF-1 "service manual".

Wed, 16 Jan 2013 02:18:55 UTC

Network flakiness: new insights

Posted By Greg Lehey

My network connection is bad again. I get the feeling it happens when it's warm. Today it was not timing out, but I was getting impossibly bad connection quality. Went through the whole rigmarole of restarting the ppp process, popping the modem, even rebooting the machine. No help. Then it occurred to me to compare the throughput with the continual cell hops, so I ran a ping every 5 seconds. Bingo! 64 bytes from icmp_seq=0 ttl=55 time=88.779 ms ... 64 bytes from icmp_seq=6 ttl=55 time=130.933 ms Jan 15 17:53:59 nerd-gw fstats: Cell lost: 81e3 8fc48e8 (4) Jan 15 17:53:59 nerd-gw fstats: Cell found: -> 81e3 8fc8e4a Jan 15 17:54:57 nerd-gw fstats: Cell change: 81e3 8fc8e4a (4) -> 81e3 8fc48e8 64 bytes from icmp_seq=10 ttl=55 time=59517.631 ms 64 bytes from icmp_seq=11 ttl=55 time=54619.341 ms 64 bytes from icmp_seq=12 ttl=55 time=49707.053 ms 64 bytes from icmp_seq=13 ...

Mon, 14 Jan 2013 23:18:27 UTC

Your account has been disabled

Posted By Greg Lehey

Logged into the ANZ web banking application todayor I tried to: This Customer Registration Number has been disabled. Why that? I have a link to on a private page, but of course they don't allow you to save passwords, so it's possible I made a paste-o. Tried again on another browser, and sure enough, it worked. But why did I get the message? One thing's clear: it's imprecise. This CRN. Why doesn't the page repeat the number? That way it would be clear if you've just made a mistake in the number.

Fri, 11 Jan 2013 23:27:18 UTC

DSE web site: worse than ever

Posted By Greg Lehey

Another bad bushfire danger day today, and spent some time monitoring the DSE web site. It works better than the corresponding CFA site, but it's still terminally broken. To access any real information, you need to click on a link, which launches a Javascript function such as loadSummaryPageFromParent(): And this function appears to be broken, or at least unreliable. It's not a browser-specific problem, though I wouldn't put it past them to write stuff that only displays on Internet Explorer. But I tried it with Internet Explorer, and it didn't work there either.

Fri, 11 Jan 2013 23:16:51 UTC

More network disconnect problems

Posted By Greg Lehey

I've had several network disconnects lately, more than usual. Are they due to the hot weather? Certainly my signal strength seems less than usual, and dropping back to GPRS must be some kind of emergency action. I have adapted the /usr/ports/net/e169-stats/ port to log various events, so today I spent some time extending it to report RSSI before and after a cell switch, and also to report low RSSI (< 3). Bingo! Jan 11 16:50:02 nerd-gw fstats: Cell change: 81e3 8fc48e8 (7) -> 81e3 8fc8e66 Jan 11 16:50:05 nerd-gw fstats: Cell change: 81e3 8fc8e66 (2) -> 81e3 8fc48e8 Jan 11 16:50:06 nerd-gw fstats: Low RSSI: 2 Jan 11 16:52:27 nerd-gw fstats: Cell lost: 81e3 8fc48e8 (3) Jan 11 16:52:27 nerd-gw fstats: Cell found: -> 8fc48e8 6bbd13 Jan 11 16:52:30 nerd-gw fstats: RSSI: 6 Jan 11 16:52:40 nerd-gw fstats: Cell change: 81e3 8fc48e8 (3) -> 81e3 8fc8e66 Jan 11 16:52:48 nerd-gw ...

Fri, 11 Jan 2013 23:02:26 UTC

DxO on Windows 8

Posted By Greg Lehey

So my experiments with running DxO Optics Pro in various configurations have shown that there's not much difference beyond what has proved to be DxO's complete inability to display the Customize window on a remote desktop. It's still glacially slow. But that's a 32 bit system, and they claim it's faster on 64 bits (why?) . I still have a few days before the Windows 8 preview expires, so installed that on a disk and tried it out. It came up with a 640×480 display resolution, and I wasn't able to set a 16:10 aspect ratio, so ended up running at 1600×1200.

Fri, 11 Jan 2013 22:55:39 UTC

Microsoft update hell

Posted By Greg Lehey

I suppose I'm in a pretty unique position, being a veteran of the computer industry but having almost no understanding of Microsoft. In the last few days, that has changed, of course, and now I'm learning things that even beginners take for granted. Today spent some time bringing my new machine up to date. First I had to wake it from sleep, which I thought was suspend to RAM, but based on the time and disk activity it took to come back, it seems to have been at least partial suspend to disk. But the run light stayed on and blinked the whole time, which wouldn't have been necessary for that.

Fri, 11 Jan 2013 00:35:25 UTC

DxO processing speed: further investigations

Posted By Greg Lehey

As planned, continued my experiments processing photos with DxO Optics Pro. There were a number of issues that might affect the processing speed. Clearly DxO is very inefficient in a number of areas, and the display in use (local or remote) and the file system in use (local or remote) were the most obvious ones. Yesterday I had tried with both remote, and today I tried the other combinations. Here the results: File system       Display       Time remote       remote       ...

Fri, 11 Jan 2013 00:06:06 UTC

Completing the Microsoft install

Posted By Greg Lehey

In principle everything works on my new Microsoft box, which in a break with tradition I have called (previous machine names were decidedly unflattering). In practice, though, I still have this issue with the display. I had these instructions to go by. They asked for safe mode, presumably because you couldn't see things otherwise. I expect they should work in normal mode too if you have a display. I had a display, but it was via rdesktop, and it only showed me details of the simulated display. So I had to reboot after all. What happened was rather unexpected: the machine came up with a GRUB boot menufor Windows 7 only!

Thu, 10 Jan 2013 00:10:48 UTC

First DxO run on new machine

Posted By Greg Lehey

So, the big question: how fast is the new machine? I've already established three problem areas with DxO Optics Pro: running under a virtual machine, running with SMB shares, and running on a non-physical display. Time to time each of them. Started a long conversion run using the photos I took last Saturday, all 188 of them, with rdesktop and the photos on an SMB-mounted file system. Observing the conversion showed a number of things: The extreme file system behaviour I saw a couple of days ago is not typical.

Thu, 10 Jan 2013 00:06:30 UTC

New Microsoft box

Posted By Greg Lehey

My new Microsoft box arrived today, the very first machine I have ever bought to run Microsoft Windows. Nice looking little Lenovo ThinkCentre, much smaller than I had expected, but showing signs of less-than-careful treatment in the deep scratches on the lid and the faint smell of tobacco from inside. Setting up Microsoft boxen has always been a pain, but today just about everything Just Worked. The machine comes apart nicely without tools: took the disk out to back it up, then added another 2 GB of memory I have lying around. I could put in even more, but now it has 4 GB, and the 32 bit system can't handle more than that.

Wed, 09 Jan 2013 03:52:57 UTC

New extension cards

Posted By Greg Lehey

I established some time ago that the new Ethernet card I bought for dereel needed to have the on-board (and defunct) chipset disabled before it would work. And then I discovered that I couldn't use the motherboard for cvr2 because of component placement. But I forgot to leave the Ethernet board in dereel. In the meantime I have also received a USB 3.0 adapter, so put them both in dereel to see what would happen. Not a success. The Ethernet board still doesn't work under FreeBSD.

Wed, 09 Jan 2013 00:36:48 UTC

Free Adobe Photoshop

Posted By Greg Lehey

I've heard from many different places that Adobe has released Photoshop CS2 for free. Just in time to try it with my new Microsoft box. Followed the link, but for some reason I couldn't access it. Then I found a statement from an Adobe employee: On behalf of Adobe Systems Incorporated ... You have heard wrong! Adobe is absolutely not providing free copies of CS2! What is true is that Adobe is terminating the activation servers for CS2 and that for existing licensed users of CS2 who need to reinstall their software, copies of CS2 that don't require activation but do require valid serial numbers are available.

Wed, 09 Jan 2013 00:22:42 UTC

Public Records Office Victoria wiki

Posted By Greg Lehey

One of the mailing lists that I am on receives regular informative mail messages from the Public Records Office Victoria. They continually release sensitive documents whose protection has expired, sometimes after as long as 99 years. My family has been in Victoria for 120 years, so I thought it might be interesting to take a look. To my surprise, they're running a wiki. It looked as if I had to sign up to have any access (misassumption on my part), so I tried that: Bloody Captchas!

Wed, 09 Jan 2013 00:01:38 UTC

More build machine issues

Posted By Greg Lehey

Into the office this morning to find my world and kernel build complete, so shut down, restarted the crashed version of the VM, installed and booted the new kernel, and tried to install the new world. No go: sys/conf/ dirname: not found I've seen that a couple of times before, always related to this kind of not-quite-normal installation. The last time I did a little research, which suggested that it only got run if sys/param.h was newer than osreldate.h.

Tue, 08 Jan 2013 02:20:15 UTC

Investigating DxO performance

Posted By Greg Lehey

My new Microsoft machine should be here shortly, so spent a bit of time investigating why DxO Optics Pro runs so slowly under VirtualBox, discussing with others on IRC. I've recently been noting the processing time estimates that DxO makes, and comparing them with actual elapsed time: Camera       Estimate       Actual       Ratio Canon       5:33       ...

Tue, 08 Jan 2013 02:13:52 UTC

Virtual Machine pain

Posted By Greg Lehey

Continued with my installation of a reference new machine under VirtualBox. It kept hanging, and after a while I got panics related to disk space allocation. What went wrong there? I see I'm now using journaled soft updates. Is there some issue there where the file system is left in a broken state after recovery? Went back to an earlier snapshotmuch earlier, as it turned out: it didn't have any ports installed. That ran, so I decided to bring userland and kernel up to date, after whichhopefullyI'll be able to reinstall them on the newer snapshot and continue from there.

Tue, 08 Jan 2013 02:07:34 UTC

Catastrophic TV reception

Posted By Greg Lehey

In mid-afternoon I record Al Jazeera news and then watch it. Today there was a problem: the normal recording is 2.1 GB. Today I got 48 MB. And of course there was no content. Previously I have had trouble on ABC, but this was SBS, normally not a problem. It also wasn't a problem of SBS getting as bad as ABC: ABC was so bad that I had no reception whatever. Did some further investigation and discovered that I could barely receive anything at all. Rebooted the machine, which of course didn't help, but in the process discovered that the tuners were running very hot.

Tue, 08 Jan 2013 01:54:20 UTC

Network problems recur

Posted By Greg Lehey

It's been nearly a week since my last network interruption, a relatively long time for my recent experience. And I didn't get disconnected today eitherI just fell back to GPRS and stayed there. Discovered that I can force a reconnect without stopping the PPP connection by disconnecting the antenna, and sure enough, it returned to UMTS modefor a few seconds: Jan  7 14:07:16 nerd-gw fstats: +CGREG  1  81E3  142 Disconnect antenna, reconnect Jan  7 14:31:18 nerd-gw fstats: +CGREG  1  81E3  8FC48E8 Jan  7 14:31:31 nerd-gw fstats: +CGREG  2 Jan  7 14:31:33 nerd-gw fstats: +CGREG  2 Jan  7 14:31:33 nerd-gw fstats: +CGREG  1  F40  142 Jan  7 14:32:19 nerd-gw fstats: +CGREG  2 Jan  7 14:32:25 nerd-gw fstats: +CGREG  1  F40  142 By observation, the 3-digit IDs at the end of those reports are for GPRS cells, while ...

Sun, 06 Jan 2013 23:49:13 UTC

eBay conflict resolution

Posted By Greg Lehey

Last month I bought some horse accessories for Yvonne on eBay. They came from the USA, and the shipping cost an arm and a leg: $46.00. But that's (pretty much) what USPS Priority Mail International costs, so grudgingly I coughed up. The packet took a while to arrive. When it did, the reason was obvious: it was sent with First Class Mail, which only costs half the cost. OK, no worries. Contacted the seller and asked for a refund of the difference. But he (she?) came up with some cock-and-bull story about having to pay people to package the goods and take them to the post office, 20 miles away.

Sun, 06 Jan 2013 23:29:58 UTC

More work on system upgrades

Posted By Greg Lehey

Once again I've been dragging my heels on my system upgrade method. In principle amd64-stable now contains all the ports I asked for and a relatively recent version of FreeBSD 9-STABLE, but I still need to customize it, and then I'll be in a position for the first upgrade. Spent some time customizing /etc/group and /etc/master.passwd; the latter contains a lot of history, user IDs and passwords from people who must at at least one time in the last 20 years have accessed the machine. Should I remove them? It's somewhat nostalgic to have the IDs there, and they won't really do much harm.

Fri, 04 Jan 2013 23:51:32 UTC

A computer for Microsoft

Posted By Greg Lehey

I had intended to change over dereel (test computer) and cvr2 (TV receiver) and then using the ex-cvr2 to run Microsoft for DxO Optics Pro. That idea failed for no better reason than that the tuners wouldn't both fit in the motherboard. But then it occurred to me: this would require me to buy a new version of Microsoft (Windows 7 or 8people recommend 7 because of the draconian licenses of 8) would cost me about $100. For that price I can buy a used computer with Microsoft on itcan't I? Did some enquiries and found that yes, I can. The cheapest machines on the market seem to come with Intel Core 2, 2 GB RAM and Windows Vista, and they start round $80.

Thu, 03 Jan 2013 00:22:24 UTC

Did you use your credit card?

Posted By Greg Lehey

Renewed the registration for today, and paid by credit card. Within minutes I had a phone call: I'm Cindy from ANZ. Did you use your credit card to pay Gandi a while ago?. Should I answer? She didn't ask for any confidential details, and the fact that she knew at all suggested that she must have been well informed. But it's this kind of thing that lowers people's security thresholds. The banks should really have a way of authenticating themselves beyond knowledge of transactions (after all, somebody at Gandi could have done it too). But I was curious: why did she want to know?

Mon, 31 Dec 2012 23:56:58 UTC

More network problems

Posted By Greg Lehey

Another drop-back to GPRS mode on my network connection today: Dec 31 14:12:35 nerd-gw fstats: +CGREG  1  81E3  8FC8E66 Dec 31 14:12:41 nerd-gw fstats: +CGREG  1  81E3  142 That 3-character code in the last column appears to be an indication that the cell only does GPRS. The result is immediate: 64 bytes from icmp_seq=74 ttl=54 time=88170.030 ms 64 bytes from icmp_seq=75 ttl=54 time=87189.031 ms 64 bytes from icmp_seq=76 ttl=54 time=86198.000 ms Tried restarting the ppp process, with only limited success: it came back in GPRS mode again, but soon changed to UTMS: Dec 31 14:17:46 nerd-gw fstats: +CGREG  1  F40  8FC48E8 Dec 31 14:17:52 nerd-gw fstats: +CGREG  2 ...

Sat, 29 Dec 2012 23:09:14 UTC

The new cvr2

Posted By Greg Lehey

It's been over a week since I got the new Ethernet card, a prerequisite to swapping the bodies of dereel (test machine) and cvr2 (TV recorder). The latter machine is much faster, just what I need to install Microsoft on and run DxO Optics Pro at a bearable speed. The problem is that the Ethernet chip on the dereel motherboard was damaged thanks to a Powercor power surge. Thus the new Ethernet card. Problem: it didn't work in the motherboard for which it was intended. It worked fine in cvr2, but that has a functional interface on the motherboard. Was it the difference between FreeBSD (dereel) and Linux (cvr2)?

Sat, 29 Dec 2012 04:11:09 UTC

Joining MPEG clips

Posted By Greg Lehey

Yesterday I took a couple of not-very-good video clips of Yvonne and Chris riding horses. Yvonne wanted to join them together, something that I've tried before with only limited success. Finally got round to writing a minimal script to do the joining, in the process determining that yes, indeed, there's some problem with the avidemux2 audio. So mencoder it is: joinmpeg ()   {   RESULT=$1   TMP=/tmp/clip$$   shift   cat $* > $TMP   mencoder -forceidx -oac copy -ovc copy $TMP -o $RESULT   rm $TMP   }

Wed, 26 Dec 2012 23:44:25 UTC

Package installation complete?

Posted By Greg Lehey

Continued installing packages on my FreeBSD reference virtual machine today. With a couple of minor issues, it went very well, much faster than compiling ports. That's not only because I didn't need to compile: I also didn't need to answer configuration questions, nor address strangenesses in the build. And it used the best part of 2 GB of traffic. About the only hold-up was that postfix wanted me to answer a question about the default mail configuration. Things aren't over yet. A number of these packages printed out information, some possibly important, that scrolled off the top of the screen. A good thing that I've saved a transcript of the installation.

Wed, 26 Dec 2012 23:02:49 UTC

Control point detector or random number generator?

Posted By Greg Lehey

After my experience with Subhash's panoramas a couple of weeks ago, I was interested to see this thread in the Hugin mailing lists. Another case where somebody had extreme difficulties assembling a panorama. He made his images available, so I had a try. Once again, It Works For Me: But another person responded, also with an image: He had had more difficulties, but had managed to get past them. But his image is different. Yes, it's not cropped, but if it were, parts would be missing that are present on my image.

Tue, 25 Dec 2012 23:39:25 UTC

FreeBSD upgrade procedure, next attempt

Posted By Greg Lehey

After accepting the failure of my previous ways of trying to keep up to date with FreeBSD, continued today with the virtual machine approach. I had a base machine with no ports. How should I install them? There's this thing called PKGNG (Package New Generation) which should enable me just to download binary packages, and thus eliminate this eternal configuration that the Ports Collection requires. Problem: As a result of a recent security incident, no official packages are available. So for the time being, at any rate, I have to download binary packages the old way, with pkg_add -r. I already had most of the infrastructure for that in place, but discovered I had never put it to the test.

Tue, 25 Dec 2012 22:53:32 UTC

Copyright puzzles

Posted By Greg Lehey

I don't use the various file-sharing services on the Internet. I disagree strongly with the copyright holders' heavy-handed protection of their rights, but currently they have the law on their side, and I don't intend to break the law. But more and more it's becoming clear to me that the whole business is lopsided. I can, for example, buy a DVD or a CD with multimedia content. I own the medium, but not the content. Recent developments, of course, get rid of the medium, so I don't own anything. Either way, I am not allowed to give this content to anybody else, and that's what the file-sharing services do.

Mon, 24 Dec 2012 00:51:23 UTC

Sending the Christmas Letter

Posted By Greg Lehey

After writing our Christmas letter, the next thing was to send it, of course. The idea was to post it as status on facebook and also send it as email to a list of people we know. Yvonne sent me a list of her contacts, and then I added my own from my ~/.mail_aliases file. How old that is! There are people in it whom I haven't communicated with for 20 years, and sadly I know of at least 7 who are dead. The death of Dennis Ritchie is well known, of course, and at my age you'd expect people to gradually start dying off.

Mon, 24 Dec 2012 00:44:38 UTC

More weather station pain

Posted By Greg Lehey

It's been very hot latelytoday we had a top temperature of 41.3°, unusual for so early in the summer. But that's not what my weather software showed: in fact, it showed nothing. Further investigation showed that the external transmitter wasn't transmitting the humidity, and that one of the few functions I hadn't written myself, dewpoint(), wasn't handling 0 humidity correctly, returning NaN. So for the first time in well over a year I had to modify the software. It's not done: it seems that the station is also reporting random incorrect temperatures, over 10° from what they should be.

Sun, 23 Dec 2012 23:52:28 UTC

More panorama processing

Posted By Greg Lehey

Continued with my TIFF-based panorama processing today. Some of the numbers are amazing: === grog@eureka (/dev/pts/8) ~/Photos/20121222 266 -> du -scm . ../Hugin-build-eureka/ 41593   . 4216    ../Hugin-build-eureka/ 45808   total   PID USERNAME    THR PRI NICE   SIZE    RES STATE   C   TIME   WCPU COMMAND 47437 grog          1 108    5 10971M  4488M CPU1    0   6:21 100.00% enblend 23871 grog          1  28    5  1063M   479M select  2  57:56  1.37% hugin That du output is in megabytes: the project used over 45 GB of disk, most of it in deletable TIFF files.

Sat, 22 Dec 2012 23:33:23 UTC

More TIFF processing

Posted By Greg Lehey

Last week my experiments with TIFF images in the intermediate processing of panoramas weren't overly encouraging, but I had this recollection of surprising sharpness in the details while processing the garden centre panorama. So today I decided to try it again. I thought that last week I had cleaned up most of the strangenesses in processing TIFFs, but today I found many more. The really frustrating one seems to be that ImageMagick's convert doesn't copy EXIF data for TIFFs. I can copy it myself, but it takes about 30 seconds per image, at least partially because exiftool copies the entire image, all 75 MB of it.

Sat, 22 Dec 2012 00:14:36 UTC

multimedia, technology

Posted By Greg Lehey

While going through TV programmes on cvr2 today, discovered I didn't have any programme data for PRIME7. That must have happened the last time I ran the channel configuration through Shepherd. Irritating, but no big deal. So I re-ran configuration, and then ran mythfilldatabase to get the data. Not quite what I expected: 2012-12-21 17:09:47.283 XMLTV config file is: /home/mythtv/.mythtv/.xmltv 2012-12-21 17:09:58.249 FAILED: xmltv returned error code 256. 2012-12-21 17:09:58.249 Error in 1:1: unexpected end of file 2012-12-21 17:09:58.249 Updating icons for sourceid: 1 2012-12-21 17:09:58.249 New DB connection, total: 4 2012-12-21 17:09:58.250 Connected to database 'mythconverg' at host: localhost 2012-12-21 17:09:58.250 No programs found in data.

Thu, 20 Dec 2012 01:21:00 UTC

New Ethernet card

Posted By Greg Lehey

Finally received the Ethernet card that I had bought on eBay nearly a month ago. Why Ethernet card? Thanks to Powercor, one of my motherboards (currently running dereel) lost its USB and Ethernet ports, and I'm running it with an ancient 3com 3C509 PCI card. But it makes sense to use it as a replacement for cvr2, the video recorder box, which has a much more powerful processor which I could use to run DxO Optics Pro natively, in the hope that it would then be considerably faster than in a VM. I don't need USB for cvr2, but I do need Ethernet and 2 PCI slots for the tuners.

Wed, 19 Dec 2012 00:53:48 UTC

GPS navigator strangeness

Posted By Greg Lehey

While in town, dropped in at Gays, coming from the direction of the Botanical Gardens. My GPS navigator went crazy. The route is pretty much straight down Gillies St, but it wanted me to turn left and head through Victoria Park. That was with the profile shortest route, which it clearly wasn't, so waiting at the lights crossing Sturt St I tried fast, and it told me to turn right, which is also clearly wrong. Carried on straight ahead and got there, and it still wanted me drive about 3 km in a circle and then come back to where I was.

Wed, 19 Dec 2012 00:31:38 UTC

Yet Another Upgrade Strategy

Posted By Greg Lehey

It's been over 10 years since I first tried to find a simplified way of staying up to date with FreeBSD. I still haven't succeeded. It's becoming an issue again: teevee is running relatively well, but the installation is about 18 months old, and it's running firefox 6.0. Not that much of a problem, but for reasons I don't understand it now pops up an additional Please upgrade tab every time I open a new tab. I can't upgrade from their site, because they don't have versions for FreeBSD, and I can't upgrade to the latest and greatest because I'd get caught in a dependency nightmare.

Tue, 18 Dec 2012 04:05:04 UTC

Open calendar project?

Posted By Greg Lehey

Mail from Julian Stacey, whom I know from my visits in München nearly 20 years ago. Though he's been living there for ever, and is married to a German, he remains somewhat British, and it seems that he's been maintaining a file /usr/share/calendar/calendar.british, which should be part of the FreeBSD calendar program that I'm currently looking at, but somehow it doesn't exist (/usr/share/calendar/calendar.australia, for example, does exist). The message was in reply to a message from Peter Tynan, who has been doing something similar for Debian Linux. But his file didn't look very Linux-like: /*  * United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland  * compiled by Peter R Tynan  *  * $FreeBSD$  */ I queried that, but it seems that Linux doesn't have its own calendar program.

Tue, 18 Dec 2012 03:47:39 UTC

Emacs highlighting: can of worms

Posted By Greg Lehey

So now I have this nice white space highlighting running with Emacs, and it's a great improvement. Only one problem: by default trailing white space is highlighted in red, which on the one hand is somewhat irritating, but on the other hand a real problem: a single space at the end of the line looks just like a cursor, and I kept trying to input data there. Time to change the colour. But how do you do that? GNU Emacs has changed a lot since I first installed revision 18.39 in late 1989, and it looks like there is a whole new infrastructure around the display.

Sun, 16 Dec 2012 23:08:34 UTC

Hardware failures: picking up the pieces

Posted By Greg Lehey

Spent quite some time attending to yesterday's hardware failures. In the case of the GPS navigator, there's an alternative to assuming the battery is dead: what if it didn't get charged? The indoor charger is a generic USB device, but the one I used wasn't the one it came with, and it looked a little anaemic. So I tried the correct one andit worked! One problem solved, one to go. Into town to buy a new disk. After some consideration, it made sense to buy a 2 TB external drive with USB 3.0 connection and use it for photo backups. It's becoming clear that eSATA is no longer a viable option.

Sun, 16 Dec 2012 22:55:06 UTC

Photo processing progress

Posted By Greg Lehey

Into the office this morning to continue with my photo processing. The remainder of the photo processing with DxO Optics Pro hat taken 6 hours, 12 minutes, and just copying the TIFFs and reinstating the EXIF data took 20 minutes. Processing with TIFF is really slow. I should do some comparisons to see whether it's worth it. This time I gave up and tried it with JPEG instead. Eventually got all but one panorama processed, the garden centre one, which suffered because of the light wind. Interestingly, the control point detection was even worse with JPEG than with TIFF, but at least one of the control points in the TIFF was completely wrong, half an image apart.

Sun, 16 Dec 2012 00:33:37 UTC

Multiple failures

Posted By Greg Lehey

As if the photo processing wasn't frustrating enough, a couple of other things ganged up to annoy me. After this morning's excursion, put the GPS navigator on to charge, and came back a little later to see the charge indicator showing purplenormally it's red (for charging) or blue (for charged). And the thing didn't work. More playing around brought a bright, uneven screen, which then died. Resetting helped enough to get the thing to start booting before crashing. And when I reconnected the charger, it didn't charge. All suggests a dead battery, which isn't user-replaceable. I've only had the thing 18 monthslooks like I need a new one.

Sat, 15 Dec 2012 23:51:13 UTC

Still more panorama experiments

Posted By Greg Lehey

The weather this morning was not good enough for my house photos, and I had planned to put them off until tomorrow, but by mid-afternoon things had picked up, and I managed to get them done. This time I had decided to create TIFF images, after a suggestion from Subhash. Not easy: I needed to modify most of my scripts, and there were all sorts of problems. DxO Optics Pro creates TIFF files which are dubious to say the least. Here's what ImageMagick's ambiguously named convert has to say: 20121215: Unknown field with tag 50341 (0xc4a5) encountered.

Sat, 15 Dec 2012 01:20:23 UTC

Emacs indentation progress

Posted By Greg Lehey

Continued playing around with my Emacs indentation macros today, and finally got not just what I wanted, but more. Now I can finally place the braces where I want them, indented with the block which they delimit:       if (mytime.tm_year < 0)                   /* not a valid year, */         {         basetm = localtime (&base);             /* get base in struct tm format */         mytime.tm_year = basetm->tm_year;       /* use this year */         hms = argv [*arg];                      /* and reinterpret this value as hms */         }       else         hms ...

Sat, 15 Dec 2012 00:53:34 UTC

Focus stacking: how?

Posted By Greg Lehey

Lots of new flowers in the garden, but the weather's been pretty moist, so I took photos from the protection of the verandah. That means telephoto lenses, and that means focus issues. So I took two photos from the same place with different focus, intending to merge them to show both foreground and background in focus: The problem is that the images are of different size .

Thu, 13 Dec 2012 23:54:18 UTC

Emacs C indentation

Posted By Greg Lehey

I've been using versions of Emacs for ever, about half the history of digital computers. It's wired into my fingers. But Emacs hasn't stayed the same. One of the very first things I wrote for MINCE (MINCE Is Not Complete Emacs), in about 1980, was a set of functions for indenting C sources. When I got GNU Emacs, I hacked the indentation macros to match. And gradually the indentation functionality in the Emacs distribution increased, to the point that it became desirable to change to it. But how? I have my own style of indentation that nobody else seems to use, and my attempts to adapt to it ultimately came to nothing.

Thu, 13 Dec 2012 23:46:03 UTC

More Hugin experiments

Posted By Greg Lehey

I've been doing more thinking about the control point mismatches that have been plaguing Subhash (mainly) and me this last week or so. One unexamined clue was the problems I had in August, where the control point detectors discovered control points in exactly the same location on each image. Could this be a problem with the sensor, maybe dirt or flawed pixels? And conversion to JPEG would be enough to hide them, but TIFFs are too accurate a representation? Tried multiple conversions of August's images, using both CPfind and panomatic. Nothing. I couldn't reproduce it. OK, that's enough for the moment.

Wed, 12 Dec 2012 23:42:33 UTC

More hugin stitching issues

Posted By Greg Lehey

Subhash sent me his photos to look at overnight, along with a project file. The photos stitched perfectly! The project file, on the other hand, was a complete disaster. He described what he had done, and it all made sense. So what's the problem? He keeps all his images in DNG format, and converts them to TIFF before processing. I don't have the same tools as he does: I extract the raw image from the DNG using the Adobe tool and then process it with DxO Optics Pro. But I've seen problems with TIFF images and Hugin before. Could it be something similar?

Tue, 11 Dec 2012 23:19:16 UTC

Subhash's panorama problems, continued

Posted By Greg Lehey

Subhash is still having problems with Hugin, so I got him to send me his latest batch. He has asked me not to show them, but there's not much to see: It Worked For Me. Why not for him? More investigation needed.

Tue, 11 Dec 2012 23:03:14 UTC

More calendar pain

Posted By Greg Lehey

Spent most of the day looking at calendar(1). What I had expected to be a simple bug fix goes much further; partially code is missing, in many cases it's (almost) duplicated, and I'm left wondering whether to apply a band-aid or rewrite the parser. But then, there's always a tendency to reinvent the wheel. More thought needed.

Tue, 11 Dec 2012 00:30:14 UTC

Virtual hardware problems

Posted By Greg Lehey

I do my test building in a virtual machine, and today it hung. The console messages were unnerving: Dec 10 17:31:12 swamp: kernel: (ada0:ata0:0:0:0): WRITE_DMA. ACB: ca 00 ff bb 74 40 00 00 00 00 00 00 Dec 10 17:31:12 swamp: kernel: (ada0:ata0:0:0:0): CAM status: Command timeout Dec 10 17:31:12 swamp: kernel: (ada0:ata0:0:0:0): Retrying command Dec 10 17:31:12 swamp: kernel: g_vfs_done():ada0s1a[WRITE(offset=3917053952, length=65536)]error = 6 Dec 10 17:31:12 swamp: kernel: (ada0:ata0:0:0:/: got error 6 while accessing filesystem Dec 10 17:31:12 swamp: kernel: 0): lost device Dec 10 17:31:12 swamp: kernel: /: got error 6 while accessing filesystem Dec 10 17:31:12 swamp: kernel: (pass0:/: got error 6 while accessing filesystem Dec 10 17:31:12 swamp: kernel: ata0:0:0:/: got error 6 while accessing filesystem Dec 10 17:31:12 swamp: kernel: 0): passdevgonecb: devfs entry is gone Dec 10 17:31:12 swamp: kernel: g_vfs_done():ada0s1a[WRITE(offset=3917250560, length=16384)]error = 6 ...

Mon, 10 Dec 2012 22:48:58 UTC

More calendar fun

Posted By Greg Lehey

For various reasons, I've had more to do with the calendar(1) program than I would have expected, notably when Chris Yeardley tidied it up for a university project. And then at the end of last month I discovered this: 25 Nov* First Sunday of Advent (4th Sunday before Christmas) That's nonsense, of course. The earliest date for the first Sunday in Advent is 27 November. So what did it say for the real first Sunday in Advent, 2 December?

Thu, 06 Dec 2012 23:40:47 UTC

Why I don't like Facebook

Posted By Greg Lehey

Everybody uses Facebook today, even most of the people I know. And I spend a lot of time talking in IRC, which is arguably something very similar, and I also keep this diary. But try as I might, I can't get to like Facebook. Why? There are a number of reasons: The format is neither like a conversation (IRC) nor like letter-writing (email). It falls somewhere in between. Arguably there's nothing wrong with that, but I can't find a use for it.

Tue, 04 Dec 2012 23:48:27 UTC

Friends computers, more pain

Posted By Greg Lehey

While in town, dropped in to the Friends of the Ballarat Botanical Gardens with intent to attach an Ethernet cable for the third computer and a USB cable extension for Lorraine Powell, who hates fiddling round behind the computer. It turned out that the third computer already had a cableit looks like I had done it myself and forgotten. And I couldn't attach the USB cable because the computer only had two sockets at the back, and they were both in use. It's a funny looking little metal cube with strange controls on the frontI'm continually looking for the power buttonso I investigated and discovered a couple of secret flaps, one hiding a DVD drive, and the other a set of connectors, including two USB sockets!

Tue, 04 Dec 2012 00:20:46 UTC

Internode: 3 ADSL dropouts per day are normal

Posted By Greg Lehey

I've put in a ticket with Internode support about the continued poor quality of service I've had with my wireless Internet connection, which continues. I made the mistake of supplying not only the obvious information, like the remote termination requests, but also supporting information like the frequent cell hopping. So I get a reply saying that cell hopping is normal, and ignoring the real problem. From my reply to them: You also haven't addressed this part of the ticket: Apart from this, I continually receive remote termination requests: Nov 29 09:55:42 nerd-gw ppp[63956]: tun0: LCP: deflink: RecvTerminateReq(7) state = Opened Nov 29 09:55:42 nerd-gw ppp[63956]: tun0: LCP: deflink: LayerDown Nov 29 09:55:42 nerd-gw ppp[63956]: tun0: LCP: deflink: SendTerminateAck(7) state = Opened Nov 29 09:55:42 nerd-gw ppp[63956]: tun0: LCP: deflink: State change Opened ...

Mon, 03 Dec 2012 00:22:06 UTC

More X hangs!

Posted By Greg Lehey

While working on the panoramas, ran into an old enemy: the X hang with the cursor jumping between the screens. Not once, but twice in quick succession. I suppose I should report the bug, but they want me to log in, and I'm not sure I want to share my account details with them.

Sun, 02 Dec 2012 23:13:41 UTC

Fisheyes and stitching suboptimal panoramas

Posted By Greg Lehey

My investigation of fisheye lenses is on hold for the moment. The lens I was looking at fetched a record $532, far more than I had thought it was worth. But the discussion goes on, and on the Hugin discussion Erik Krause pointed me at this description of the projection of the Samyang lens. Much more to learn. On the German list a side topic sprang up: Subhash wanted a tutorial on using Hugin, and then ran into trouble with a series of photos not originally intended as a panorama and thus not taken with a panorama bracket. And he couldn't get them to stitch.

Sat, 01 Dec 2012 00:09:54 UTC


Posted By Greg Lehey

I hate Captchas! And they seem to be getting more and more prevalent. A couple of days ago I received a mail message from and replied from an address different from the one he sent the message to. Bang! A reply with subject My spam filter requires verification of your email address. Not a problem; I suppose it really does help reduce spam. Follow the link, enter the detailsand fill out a particularly emetic Captcha! No, I won't do it. Let him do it if he wants mail from me. Then today I had the problem again. Yvonne is attending a training session in Rokeby with Robyn Hood next week.

Wed, 28 Nov 2012 22:52:44 UTC

eBooks: The pain

Posted By Greg Lehey

I've had to deal with eBooks before, and I wasn't very impressed. At the time the issues were more with the device than the medium. But now that Apple has started bringing out high-resolution displays, I don't suppose it'll be long before eBook readers do the same, and that would fix one of my biggest gripes. Today, however, I got an eBook from the State Library of Victoria. How do I display it? The library gave me three possibilities: view online for 10 minutes, extend for one day (without saying whether this extension would cost anything), or download the eBook and view offline for a week.

Sat, 24 Nov 2012 01:02:25 UTC

Computer education for the next generation

Posted By Greg Lehey

Next year Jashank Jeremy will finish school with the the Higher School Certificate or HSC. Today he complained about the quality of his textbooks, unfairly, I thought: Today most mobile phones include digital cameras, internet connectivity using both local 802.11 access points and 3G networks, Bluetooth and also GPS receivers. All these connectivity and other hardware features have resulted in an ever increasing number of innovative Apps coming onto the market. As he said, It's so badly structured, the grammar and spelling is typically terrible, all sorts of things are mentioned and never explained....

Thu, 22 Nov 2012 23:17:50 UTC

dirname: not found

Posted By Greg Lehey

Mail from David Noel today, referring to a problem I had 1½ years ago: creating osreldate.h from /src/FreeBSD/svn/head/include/../sys/conf/ dirname: not found He asked how I solved it. I have no idea. I suspected it might be something to do with environment variables, but despite the verbosity of this diary, I managed to leave out the important part. The best I can find is that shouldn't be run at this point, which suggests some discrepancy in timestamps.

Wed, 21 Nov 2012 23:12:05 UTC

Gizmodo spam?

Posted By Greg Lehey

Strange message in the mail this morning: Date: Tue, 20 Nov 2012 18:31:39 +0000 From:  "FDIC Alert" <> To: Subject: You  reqired to install a new security version Message-ID: <>                  Your Corporated and Business Online Banking Federal                  DepositInsurance Corporation          Your ACH   operations have          been provisionally stopped in order to ensure your security, due to          the expiration of your security version.  We advice you to download ...

Tue, 20 Nov 2012 23:10:15 UTC

DxO: your fault after all!

Posted By Greg Lehey

Over a week ago I finally got DxO support to understand a problem report I had sent in, to stop claiming that it was all my fault, and admit that they had a bug that would be fixed sometime. It was the culmination of over two months of banging my head against a brick wall, including resubmitting the ticket twice, and it felt so good when it stopped. And then a couple of days ago I got a message asking if I was running DxO Optics Pro in a virtual machine. I was quite impressed that they had gone to the trouble to analyse the logs, which were months old.

Mon, 19 Nov 2012 23:55:54 UTC

Network access for the Friends

Posted By Greg Lehey

Last week I discovered that the Friends of the Ballarat Botanical Gardens are paying an arm and a leg for telephone and Internet access. They've somehow become lumbered with a telephone service with a whopping $44 per month rentalfrom Telstra, of courseand surprisingly high call costs. The result for last month, for very few calls, was a bill for nearly $60. And the Internet connection is just as bad: $40 for a line that, if I recall correctly, has a 512/128 kB speed and 3 GB cap. Why am I so vague about speed and traffic? Looking at the web site, I can no longer find it.

Mon, 19 Nov 2012 23:31:25 UTC

FreeBSD compromise fallout

Posted By Greg Lehey

A couple of months ago somebody gained access to a couple of machines in the FreeBSD cluster, apparently by stealing an ssh key. There's no evidence that he did any particular harm, but everybody's taking it very seriously. In my case, I discovered I had private keys on two of the machines, like we all did in the Good Old Days. And it's quite possible they got stolen. So another round of generating new keys, the first in 10 years: -rw-r--r--  1 grog  lemis      683 30 Dec  2001 authorized_keys -rw-r--r--  1 grog  lemis      844 14 Oct  2002 authorized_keys2 -rw-------  1 grog  lemis      736 28 Jan  2002 id_dsa -rw-r--r--  1 grog  lemis      612 28 Jan  2002 -rw-------  1 grog  lemis      951 28 Jan  2002 id_rsa -rw-r--r--  1 grog  lemis     ...

Mon, 19 Nov 2012 23:17:06 UTC

More gdb investigations

Posted By Greg Lehey

So why is gdb setting breakpoints in the wrong place? Why, is gdb setting breakpoints in the wrong place? Did some investigation which proved inconclusive. What I found was: On FreeBSD-CURRENT on the i386 platform, it sets the breakpoint correctlyif I don't include debug symbols. On FreeBSD-CURRENT on the i386 platform, it sets the breakpoint 17 bytes from the start if I include debug symbols. On 9-STABLE amd64 it sets the breakpoint on the entry point.

Sun, 18 Nov 2012 23:05:37 UTC

gdb: Your friend in need

Posted By Greg Lehey

Message in the mail today: I had managed to mess up my change to locale(1). It wasn't immediately obvious why, so I went through with gdb: (gdb) b main Breakpoint 1 at 0x8048b41: file /src/FreeBSD/svn/head/usr.bin/locale/locale.c, line 241. (gdb) r Starting program: /usr/obj/src/FreeBSD/svn/head/usr.bin/locale/locale charmap LANG= LC_CTYPE="C" ... Program exited normally. That first command was a breakpoint on main. It should have hit there before doing anything. What went wrong? Took a look at the entrance to main and found: (gdb) x/20i main 0x8048b30 <main>:       push   %ebp 0x8048b31 <main+1>:     mov    %esp,%ebp 0x8048b33 <main+3>:     push   %ebx 0x8048b34 <main+4>:     push   %edi 0x8048b35 <main+5>:     push   %esi 0x8048b36 <main+6>:     sub    $0x1c,%esp 0x8048b39 <main+9>:     mov   ...

Sat, 17 Nov 2012 00:24:15 UTC

More df work

Posted By Greg Lehey

As planned, more thinking about the changes in df today. The block size calculation was: /*  * Convert statfs returned file system size into BLOCKSIZE units.  * Attempts to avoid overflow for large file systems.  */ fsbtoblk(int64_t num, uint64_t fsbs, u_long bs) {         if (fsbs != 0 && fsbs < bs)                 return (num / (intmax_t)(bs / fsbs));         else                 return (num * (intmax_t)(fsbs / bs)); } No description of the parameters, of course.

Thu, 15 Nov 2012 22:40:13 UTC

Making df legible

Posted By Greg Lehey

Surprisingly there was little feedback on my changes to ls, so today I continued with df, adding a -, option: === grog@eureka (/dev/pts/14) /src/FreeBSD/svn/head/bin/df 22 -> df /Photos/ Filesystem  1024-blocks       Used     Avail Capacity  Mounted on /dev/ada1p1  1952969248 1474989512 458450044    76%    /Photos === grog@eureka (/dev/pts/14) /src/FreeBSD/svn/head/bin/df 23 -> df -, /Photos/ Filesystem    1024-blocks          Used       Avail Capacity  Mounted on /dev/ada1p1 1,952,969,248 1,474,989,512 458,450,044    76%    /Photos It's interesting to note that commas in sizes are standard in Microsoft's COMMAND.EXE.

Thu, 15 Nov 2012 00:54:40 UTC

More USB pain

Posted By Greg Lehey

Recently I've been having trouble with the wireless keyboard on teevee, my TV computer. For some reason it can no longer reliably communicate with the USB dongle. It's not the dongle, since the mouse has no difficulty. So yesterday I plugged in a cable USB keyboard. And then today I could no longer use the remote control! I've been moaning about lirc for years, but lately it's been running well, and I've forgotten how to debug it. Finally found irw and tried it out. No reaction. Ran ktrace against lircd. No input. Took another look at the running lircd process: USER         PID %CPU %MEM   VSZ   RSS  TT  STAT STARTED      TIME COMMAND root         961  0.0  0.1  5336   608  ??

Wed, 14 Nov 2012 23:42:31 UTC

More panorama reprocessing

Posted By Greg Lehey

Continued looking at my photos of 27 November 2011 today. It seems that it's not a good idea to use the old project files for images that have been reprocessed. Here again the comparison between the original, the reprocessed version using the old project files, and the reprocessed version starting from scratch: Interestingly, the stitching results were not overly good.

Mon, 12 Nov 2012 21:35:24 UTC

Another X hang!

Posted By Greg Lehey

It's been well over a month since I installed the new nVidia driver for X and solved my X hang problems. I thought. Today it happened again, again under similar circumstances. The symptoms are not quite the same: It's slower now, and it's possible to move the mouse cursor a little from the edge of the monitor before it jumps back. But it's just as fatal. In fact, it would seem it was more. My ›ŸC monitor came back in 1280×1024 resolution. Investigating the log files showed: (WW) Nov 12 14:47:47 NVIDIA(GPU-0): Unable to read EDID for display device CRT-0 ...

Mon, 12 Nov 2012 20:49:03 UTC

Researching Dr. Livingstone

Posted By Greg Lehey

A couple of days ago my daily cron job sent me a calendar entry that looked wrong: Nov 10  Henry Stanley asks David Livingston, "Dr. Livingston, I presume?" , 1871 Livingston? That should be Livingstoneshouldn't it? Checked in the source of all knowledge and confirmed it. But also that the date was 27 October 1871. OK, we can fix that, so I did, and committed it. This morning I had not one but 5 messages awaiting me from Marc Balmer, who had successively discovered that the German Wikipedia had 28 October, and that the entries for Stanley in both languages had 10 November.

Mon, 12 Nov 2012 00:23:46 UTC

DxO problem report: success!

Posted By Greg Lehey

It's been well over two months since I reported a problem to DxO: the Process tab of DxO Optics Pro now displays all images, taking a long time to do so, and they're out of order. After three attempts to get the support person to read the problem report, I got theincorrectinformation that there was no way to suppress the display. When I asked him yet again to address the issue of the incorrect sort order, he closed the ticket without any further answer. So I entered another ticket, this time in German to get a different support person, and got an inappropriate answer.

Sat, 10 Nov 2012 23:29:04 UTC

Radiation tower affects property values

Posted By Greg Lehey

One of the objections raised to the radiation tower in Bannockburn on 13 March 2012 was that the presence of the tower would greatly devalue the property. Elaine J. Stroud-Kaminski of 2895 Colac-Ballarat Road, Dereel, on the corner of Swamp Road, claimed the presence would greatly devalue the property, by between $60,000 to $100,000. That's clearly nonsense, since the online property valuations suggest that the property is only worth about $150,000, but possibly she believes it, since the house is now up for sale. The truth, of course, looks very different. Got a call today from a bloke who didn't give his name, but who was thinking of moving to Dereel and wanted to know what the current state of play was.

Sat, 10 Nov 2012 23:23:50 UTC

Pointy hat for grog

Posted By Greg Lehey

Into the office this morning: I was less than thorough on my last commit to ls, and Peter Wemm had cleaned up the mess. I had replaced space sequences with corresponding tabs everywhere. That's desired in indentation, largely irrelevant in comments, but it makes a real mess of format strings, and ls -l no longer lined up. Another pointy hat for my collection.

Sat, 10 Nov 2012 01:27:35 UTC

More source tweaks

Posted By Greg Lehey

Yesterday's FreeBSD commits didn't go unchallenged. Somehow my Emacs configuration has reverted to using spaces instead of tabs for indentation, and that's in violation of style(9). So another couple of cosmetic changes.

Sat, 10 Nov 2012 01:04:06 UTC

Unexpected issues with clang

Posted By Greg Lehey

The FreeBSD project is in the process of changing the C and C++ compiler from gcc to clang, mainly, I think, because of license issues. The transition is going relatively smoothly, and one day I might even get used to the horrible gaudy error messages. And maybe they'll get the compiler to run in less than 2 GB of memory. But today came a message on the FreeBSD-current mailing list: calendar(1) has stopped working. The last serious work on that was done by Chris Yeardley, coincidentally committed a year ago today. So I took a look: /usr/share/calendar/ warning: missing terminating ' character [-Winvalid-pp-token] 12/16   Don McLean's "American Pie" is released, 1971                   ^ That wasn't in colour, but it clearly comes from clang.

Thu, 08 Nov 2012 23:57:12 UTC

Finally: the commits

Posted By Greg Lehey

Finally I've got round to committing all the patches I have been collecting, and while I was at it also addressed the checklist I made last month. Some of it, anyway. I'm still thinking about the rest, and since the recent change of compiler from gcc to clang, I'm not going to bother about fixing gcc.

Thu, 08 Nov 2012 00:26:46 UTC

Completing the ls work

Posted By Greg Lehey

I've made a number of modifications to ls over the years: the -X option to display file names in hex, the -y option and also the LS_SAMESORT environment variable to work around the mandated breakage in the standards. Most recently I've added the -, option to break large file sizes with commas (or whatever your locale provides). But I still haven't committed any of them. I described the issues a while back, but it's been nearly a month since then. So finally I prepared the commit. First thing is clear: I have waited far too long. It's been nearly 4 years since I did the LS_SAMESORT stuff, and of course the sources have changed since then.

Mon, 05 Nov 2012 21:55:02 UTC

Mixing photos

Posted By Greg Lehey

Yvonne showed me a funny photo yesterday, a statue with holes in itclearly a montage of two photos. It was on here today, gone tomorrow Facebook, so I can't find it any more. I can do that too, I said, thinking of Hugin, so I set to to take some experimental photos. The first one didn't work at all well: the control points were all detected correctly, but the resultant image looked nothing like what I expected. At a guess took another series with a second image to the right: In principle I only need the first ...

Sun, 04 Nov 2012 01:52:05 UTC

Radiation tower: when?

Posted By Greg Lehey

As a result, did a bit of investigation about the state of Wendy's appeal to VCAT. Not good: according to this discussion the date for the hearing has still not been set, after over 6 months. It should have been heard (and dismissed) by now. And there are suggestions that NBN may then postpone the erection until 2015! Under those circumstances, I wonder if we shouldn't be looking to build somewhere else.

Sat, 03 Nov 2012 21:48:15 UTC

More network issues

Posted By Greg Lehey

For a change, I didn't have a network con