Article History

September 2011



Cherry blossom festival at Cowra Japanese Garden

On the way home from Bateman's Bay last month (Monday 22nd) we passed through Cowra and I saw a sign promoting this festival. It's on the 24th and I'd like to go to photograph the cherry blossoms. Mum and Dad are interested. I wonder if I can interest Andrew too. I'm sure his kids will enjoy it, although it is a bit of a drive.


The Cowra Japanese Garden isn't mapped on OpenStreetMap, so I figured this would be an opportunity to make a real contribution to OSM. And since I made my first minor edit at the start of last year, we now have the use of Microsoft's “Bing” aerial imagery. I first mapped the pond in the middle. Then I started mapping the paths that go around the garden. One problem — they‘re not so clear on Bing’s photos. So I opened Google Maps and that helped show where they were, and allowed me to pick them out on the Bing photos. But then I wondered, is this now a derived work of Google's copyrighted images? So I cancelled that edit and wrote an OSM journal entry asking for clarification.


Last night while rinsing out my mouth after cleaning my teeth, something might have happened to the wound where my wisdom tooth was taken out just a week ago. I felt a sharp pain and immediately stopped rinsing. I felt some aching during the night but it still seems to be okay. I think today was the first time I‘ve dared to feel the site with my tongue. Oh, and the suture for the wound is gone. The loose ends used to be tucked in behind the last molar tooth. Perhaps that’s what went last night? Dunno. There's still a second suture along the outside of the gum.

Went for a slightly longer walk. I walked down to the skate park next to the entrance to the hockey fields for a rest. I then walked along the river to Stephens Lane and up Tandora St. like I always do now.


Went to the Computer fair. We got a replacement power supply for Baal (which is now clearly gummed up), and two 2 TB hard disks for Mars.

Went for the slightly longer walk again.

Had a day-early Father's day dinner with Andrew, Liss, and the kids. We hadn't seen them for a few weeks so it was good to catch up. Zac had an Elmo doll that was borrowed from his preschool and apparently they'd been inseparable since he got it.

Upgraded to CM7.1.0 RC14 on my phone.


Oh boy, really slept in today. Gave Dad a Father's Day card (which Mum bought). Scott rang him up and told him about the Australian films he's been watching at University.


Played around with “osmosis”, a Java tool for working with OSM dumps. For a while now I‘ve been downloading a dump of the Australian OSM data from, every few weeks or so. At first it was for GPSmid on my Nokia, now it’s OsmAnd on my Milestone. It's a big download and it only gets bigger. What I'd like to be able to do is simply download the much smaller OSM diffs to keep up to date. But I‘m not sure if they’ll work on an Australia-only dump. Will it create new nodes/ways/relations? Will it just fail? I don't know, I haven't tried it yet. But today I tried importing the australia.osm file that I have into a PostgreSQL database. That took a while and now I'm wondering what to do, and how to do it.

Mowed the back yard. It's been needing it for a little while. I guess I'll soon be back into the routine of mowing every several weeks.

Went for a shorter walk than usual since the mowing is some exercise.



The remaining suture, in the side of my gum, was breaking up. I kept finding little white blobs in my mouth. It didn't seem to be moving with my tongue, but it came out easily with my finger. I then washed my mouth out a few times and got extra little pieces. I found a few more in my mouth later in the day.

Mum and Dad decided not to go to Kendra's wedding in November. Apparently auntie Laraine was hinting heavily for them to do that since she's trying to cut down on numbers. But both Mum and Dad have already scheduled time off work, so now they're trying to come up with places to go instead during that time.

Completely by chance, I found that the Parkes Observatory (radio telescope) is finally having a 50th anniversary open day this year. And it's in just one month's time!


The invitation for Kendra's wedding came in the mail. Mum again spoke to Laraine on Skype and they are going after all. Which means I'm probably going too. So I need to renew my passport and decide where I would like to go while over there.

The weather got kinda shitty so I didn't go for a walk.

Built kernel 3.0.4 on zoe using gcc-4.5. I haven't been able to upgrade kernels on the last two remaining x86 machines on the network because of a bug with an illegal instruction. It seems gcc-4.6 currently tries to execute a CMOV instruction, which was first added to the Intel Pentium Pro and sometime later by AMD to its CPUs. So zoe (an AMD K6-Ⅲ) and baal (an Intel Pentium MMX) have been stuck for some months now. This bug has not been fixed by the Debian maintainer(s), so I installed gcc/cpp/g++ 4.5 and changed the kernel Makefile to use them. It took a while on this old machine, but it eventually built and booted. Now I'll try the same on even slower baal.

Played around with LXC (Linux containers) on taliesin. At first I was having trouble because the “debian template” tool wasn't setting up the network interface in the lxc configuration file. It also was creating a Squeeze/stable system and my attempts to upgrade it to Sid/unstable failed when the new libc was installed. It turned out I could simply pass SUITE=sid as an environment variable to the script to override its default. And I installed a few necessary basics to get a fairly good “base” system. I‘m not sure what I’ll do with LXC, but it's interesting.


Overcast all day. Didn't go for a walk again.

Mum and Dad blew the main electrical circuit in the house by running both the microwave and clothes dryer at the same time. So a few computers got to try out the new version 3.0.4 kernel a little earlier than planned, including mars. I accidentally turned it off because I thought it was already off. I need to fix the LED's on a few of our machines. Being able to see the power and HDD LED's is incredibly useful at times. Especially when several systems are close by and you can't judge by the sound of fans alone if a machine is running.

Trying to get a container on taliesin to start up with an encrypted root. I've got as far as having a simple “initramfs”-like tree that can run a simple /sbin/init script. The script uses cryptsetup to “open” the LUKS-formatted encrypted filesystem, mounts it, and then uses pivot_root to swap the old root with the new. That should all work, but cryptsetup asks for the passphrase and the console provided through lxc-start or lxc-console confuses it somehow. It appears to only take one character before thinking the passphrase is complete and, of course, failing. I could store the passphrase in a file, but having that on the same system as the encrypted data kinda defeats the purpose of encrypting the filesystem in the first place.

My GP rang and said the Black Dog Institute results had come back and made an appointment for me next Thursday.

The feeling of anxiety has returned. I finished my previous bottle of “Blackmore‘s” valerian tablets a few days ago and have been trying some “Swisse” tablets that Mum got me. They haven’t been working nearly as well. Maybe I should up the dose to two tablets each night.


Mum and Dad are off to Grandpa's for his roughly-monthly visit.

Rebooted buster, our MythTV machine, and later baal, our router, to bring them up to kernel version 3.0.4.

I finally managed to get a self-compiled kernel on taliesin. I started with the config from mars and made the changes I thought I needed. But that failed, unable to mount the root filesystem. Oops, I hadn't enabled the ext4 filesystem. That still didn't work, so I added support for EFI GUID partitions. That helped, but then the network didn't work. Okay, I need bridge support since I'm using that for networking in LXC containers. It finally booted up okay then. So, at long last, all of the Linux machines I look after on the network are running Linux 3 kernels.

Upgraded to CM7.1.0 RC15 on my phone.


I have been meaning to walk all the way over to Andrew and Alissa's place for a little while now and thought this would be a good opportunity. The weather hadn't been great lately, but I thought it was still passable. When I left the house it was chilly and I thought walking would generate enough heat. I fired up Beem on my phone and told Andrew that I had just left. He answered saying it was raining at their place. I had looked over in their direction earlier and thought the bad weather was further off; it was getting closer. Oh well. So I asked him to just come pick me up. I was only a block down Tandora street when I turned back, and a few drops of rain appeared on my phone screen. In the few minutes it took me to walk back up the hill it began kinda raining — more strong spitting. It only rained a bit and had long stopped by the time Andrew turned up.

We did the usual stuff we do when I go over. We watched Youtube videos and talked about all sorts of stuff. Zac was crabby. He napped a bit, then threw up lunch. I asked about the possibility of Liss and the Kids coming with Mum, Dad, and I to go see the Parkes Observatory (since it's on race weekend). Andrew reckoned they weren't that interested in seeing it. Oh well. But they were still interested in going to Cowra for the sakura festival.

I had a late lunch there, which I had brought — a frozen meal I had heated up before I left and put into a sealed lunch box. They also gave me a bit of their dinner. Mum and Dad rang up an hour or so before they arrived home. They didn't know I was at Andrew and Alissa's, so with the sounds of the kids in the background Mum thought they were visiting our house. Later when they arrived they sent a text. A little while later Andrew drove me home.

It looks like I'm going to New Zealand with Mum and Dad (and probably Grandpa). So I need to update my passport. I got it on the 1st September 1999, which means it expired 1st September 2009. But you can then renew your passport up to two years after that. Which ended eleven days ago. Fuck.

So Mum and I did another search for my birth certificate. I remember I got it down in Sydney, probably to get this (now expired) passport I have now. Dad might even have driven down (or dropped in on his way through) to deliver it. It was folded into a long-ish envelope, kept somewhere close to my passport on my shelves. But where it got to since I moved back is somewhat of a mystery. We couldn't find it back in June when I got my learner's license, but I was able to get by on a few other forms of ID. I still don't know where it is, but now I really need it.

Mum's boss is also a JB. So she'll take in some of my other forms of ID, get her to sign/stamp/whatever the photocopies, and send them off to get a copy of my birth certificate. That should arrive by the end of the week and then I can continue on the process of getting a new passport.


With the weather almost back to normal I went for a long walk, my new usual route along the river.


Went for the long walk again. As I arrived at the skate park an aboriginal woman was yelling obscenities as she walked along the footpath that goes along the highway to Kelso. At first I wasn't sure who she was directing them towards and just ignored her, thinking she might be mentally unstable and yelling at anyone nearby. But as I sat under the shelter to have my usual rest, I heard the kids on the skate park talking about her. After a minute or two they yelled more attacks at her. I don't know who started the altercation, but the kids weren't innocent.

Con's ashes arrived by mail. Mum was expecting me to have to sign for it, but it either arrived while I was asleep or on my walk. So Dad went into the post office to pick up the package. It's not big, and very light.

Again more anxious feelings. Why did Mum have to get different valerian tablets? The other ones were working fine.


Took a bus into town and got a bottle of Blackmore's valerian tablets from Woolies. I then walked home. All of this walking is giving me some pretty strong, muscular legs. But it's not doing much for the rest of my body. I guess there's no getting around having to do sit-ups and push-ups.

Fixed up some things with the Cowra Japanese Garden on OSM.


Again took a bus into town to see my GP. The Black Dog Institute results indicate I have Dysthymia (I think that's right), a somewhat mild form of depression that usually responds to discussion with a psychologist or psychiatrist. So no drugs. He wanted to arrange some sessions with a psychiatrist at the BDI in Sydney using a video hookup (Skype?). But that may be in late October because he's going to take another break during the school holidays. Great.


I've been watching the OSM dumps on for the last few days waiting for an update. The previous timestamp was on the 13th and they finally updated this morning. So much for daily dumps! I downloaded the Australian and New Zealand dumps and processed them for OsmAnd on my phone. Sadly it didn't include some of my edits from the last day or two, so I‘m left wondering how old these dumps are by the time they’re made available.

I found a australia-oceania.osm file on Judging from its name and size, it includes both Australia and New Zealand, and probably the small South Pacific islands. I didn't download it. Instead I checked again the instructions on the OSM wiki for maintaining your own “planet.osm”.


Got out for a drive with Mum. It's been over a month since I last got some practice. It was late evening and the Sun was low. We drove around Kelso a bit to get used to driving again, and then headed into town. More driving about there. I still don't like roundabouts. We pulled into the almost-empty carpark of the old shopping centre and practised pulling into some of the spots. Then it was off home.

Finally managed to get the latest Doctor Who episode (and Confidential) downloaded. I then stayed up way too late watching them.


Oh boy, I'm really tired. I also had a lot of trouble getting to sleep.

Got my birth certificate copy from the post office, as well as a set of passport photos.

I got to bed a little earlier.


Feeling much better with the extra sleep.

Tried out Cronos Ginger X 1.6.0 on my phone. It did seem snappier than the CM7.1 that I‘ve been using for a while, but a few things didn’t work and it had Launcher2. I installed ADW and then had to remember where I put all of my icons and widgets. Ugh. In the end I restored CM7.1 and updated to the latest 11.09.14 release.



Got one of our neighbours, who have been here before we moved her in 1988, to be my guarantor and sign my passport photos. I thought I had gotten all of the required information from her, but filling out the online form I found I also needed her birthdate. Mum rang her up and got that somewhat sensitive information. She's actually a few months younger than Mum. With this information I could finally finish the online form, only to find that It gives me a PDF to print out. The PDF is the form plus my answers filled in. It requires not only my signature, but that of my guarantor. I'll get that tomorrow.

Went to concert at Sarah's school.


Went next door again and got our neighbour to sign the passport form. I then rang up Australia Post to make an appointment on Monday.


Mum, Dad, Andrew and myself drove to Cowra for the annual sakura (cherry blossom) festival held at the Japanese Garden. It was sunny and quite warm. I ended up a little sunburnt. The garden looked lovely, although there weren't really many cherry blossoms.

We had a small lunch there — yakisoba and yakitori — and eventually left in the early afternoon. We first drove a little bit up the road to the lookout.

We also visited the war cemetery and the site of the internment camp where the Japanese breakout occurred (which ended up producing the Japanese Garden). We then dropped in on the café we always visit on our way through Cowra, for a little more to eat, then it was back home.

We dropped Andrew at his place and he had a little accident. His phone must have fallen out of the car when he opened the door, because he then stepped on it. The screen was really broken. Crap. Well, he was talking about getting a smartphone.

It had been fine all day at Cowra, but the forecast for Bathurst hadn't been so good, and there were some almost-storm clouds hanging about when we returned.


We had a storm in the morning, with lots of thunder. But I was sleeping in.

Andrew visited, mostly to quiz me about getting a new mobile phone.


Went into town to drop off the roll of film I shot on Saturday to be processed. Then I went into the Australia Post shop to have my “passport interview”. It was all done at the counter! And it didn't take long. I turned up 10 minutes early because the woman on the phone told me I should, but it was all over before the appointed time. So what was the point of making the appointment? Strange. I walked home.

Andrew came over again, this time to order a mobile phone. They don't have a credit card, so it's quicker to order things online using Mums card. The phone he'd decided on is the HTC Desire Z — the phone I almost got. It has 512 MiB of RAM instead of my Milestone's 256, and it doesn't have a locked bootloader. And he's now able to buy it for roughly what I paid for my second-hand Milestone in February. So I'll be paying close attention to his new phone, and probably regretting my purchase even more... :(


Went into town to pick up processed roll of film from Saturday. Then I walked to Andrew and Alissa's. Andrew arrived home not long after I turned up.


Scanned the roll I shot on Saturday, as well as one from the Mother's Day dinner on the Central Coast in May.


Wow, really crappy weather. And it changed often. It rained a bunch of times, even hailed a few too. But the sun came out a few times as well. Pretty chilly too.

Andrew's phone was delivered.

I found the 2011-09-29 release of CM7.1. kabaldan/nadlabak sometimes doesn't update the website after uploading a new release. While I was at it, I went looking for other ROM's on XDA. I found iceandfire, which is based on CM7.1, and downloaded it. I made a nandroid backup of my current CM7.1 install, did a factory wipe and installed iceandfire.

Andrew came over to pick up his phone. We got it powered up and running. He didn't want to put his SIM card in yet because he still wanted to get some data off of his phone and operating it with an almost completely broken display is not easy. It's much easier to leave it on and in a known state until he's ready to make the switch.


The iceandfire ROM on my phone isn't working 100%. So I backed it up with nandroid, restored my previous backup of ordinary CM7.1 and updated to the 2011-09-29 release.

Alissa needs me to look after my niece and nephew while she goes to Big-W for a job interview thing. But while I was getting ready to head over at 1 pm, Margaret rang saying Grandpa was ‘sick’ and couldn't talk. She handed me over to a nurse, who said he'd had a ‘TIA’ — a temporary stroke — and was sending him off to hospital in an ambulance. Oh great.

I got a taxi to Andrew and Alissa's house, arriving a few minutes late. Sarah was feeling sick and upset, and didn't want her Mum to leave. I tried to ring Mum at work but I got her voice mail because she was off for lunch, so I sent her an SMS. Alissa eventually managed to get away and Sarah cried against the outside of the window at the front door. She walked inside and then paused just inside the lounge room, crying. I looked and saw a puddle of vomit on the floor. Oh bloody great. She got to the bucket that had been left out and threw up some more. It really stank and was making me sick! Good old butanoic acid! I found some paper towels in the kitchen and started mopping up her vomit on the floor. I heard a voice outside and saw Alissa back. I told her Sarah had vomited and she came back in, annoyed that Sarah was making her miss her chance at getting a job. Thankfully she cleaned up the vomit, and much quicker than I had been!

Mum left for Grandpa's place.