I suppose that this is really a blog, though I hesitate to call it that. The real bloggers seem so much
more interesting. I cover stuff which I find interesting, and I hope that you will too.
If you really want, you can get an RSS feed of Chateau Gladstone news here:
For more information about what I'm interested in, see the Ponding pages.
Voice over IP experiences
16 Aug 2004
We decided to go with VoicePulse for a VoIP provider. The outcome has been mixed. When the quality is good, it is essentially indistinguishable from a regular landline. However, it is more common to get dropouts -- bringing the quality down to a not very good cellphone call.
I use WonderShaper to provide traffic shaping on my broadband connection (Comcast). This fixed the interaction between surfing and voice calls. However, we still get significant dropouts. The cause appears to be packet loss somewhere in NYC -- this is based on running traceroute at the troublesome moments.
On the upside, the service is cheap -- but it sounds that way too.
31 Jul 2004
We have finally moved to our new home. We have a new, larger, pond with an assortment of wildlife. We moved the majority of our fish from the old pond to the new pond, and we have hardly seen them since. The bad news is that we saw (twice) a snapping turtle in the new pond -- whose diet is fresh fish. Photographs will follow soon once the house is somewhat more in order!
The weather stuff is all shut down for now until I get the mast installed again. I'm hopeful that the pondcam can be made to go again, but it seems unlikely that it will ever see any fish. I reckon that that new pond is around 1,000,000 gallons, so the chance of seeing anything is small!
If anybody wants to buy the old house (with working fishpond and some fish), then please call our realtor.
The Hummingbirds are back
11 Jun 2004
The hummingbirds came back. We have (at least) one pair -- they were displaying the other night.
This picture is not that good, but the light was fading when I took it. I think that in more light, I'd get a shorter exposure and more depth of field.
The pondcam will be moving soon
6 Jun 2004
We are selling our house -- the open house is today. We will be moving to another house which has a much larger pond. The pondcam will be back once we complete the move.
The new pond will be so much larger that I am worried that the pondcam will never see any fish at all. It may take a couple of seasons for them to breed up enough! We will be taking our existing goldfish and shubunkins (those that we can catch), and the new owners will probably end up with all the 2004 babies!
Pond is working again!
18 Apr 2004
We finally got eh pump going again today -- the waterfall now falls. We cleared out the muck at the bottom, and pulled out a number of dead frogs and fish. The problem was that (I think) the top pond almost froze to the bottom. Only three fish (of about 20) survived.
The pipework also suffered from the cold -- one of the sections (made of Schedule 40 PVC) had fractured and needed to be replaced. It was (of course) in a very awkward spot.
We planted up a bunch of Canna Lilies that had overwintered inside. I also have 100 (or so) Yellow Flag Iris that overwintered in the pond. The idea (in the fall) was to try and sell them on Ebay, but in the spring, it seems much less like a good idea!
The ice is really melting now and things are floating to the surface
6 Mar 2004
We have now had almost a week of reasonable weather, and the pond ice is melting quickly. However, this also means that 'things' are floating up to the surface.
This afternoon (Saturday), I found one of our two Golden Orfes floating on the surface. We have had them for about five years, and this one was around 10 inches long.
We will miss him (or her!).
28 Feb 2004
I had placed a sheet of insulating foam over the pond to try and protect it from the cold weather that we have been having. The bubbler was bubbling away quite nicely underneath it. Then we went away on vacation for a week, and then today I decided to look underneath the foam.
What I saw shocked me -- there were 14 fish in about half an inch of water that that accumulated under the foam and above the ice on the pond. Most of the fish were lying on their sides, half out of the water. At this point, panic set in.
It appeared that the bubbler had stopped, and that there was no way to get the fish back into the pond. One of the fish was dead, but the others looked salvageable. I grabbed a bucket and filled it with snow and then added tap water -- so I ended up with a few gallons of water at 32°F. We rescued 12 fish fairly easily, the thirteenth (a large Shubunkin) was partially frozen into the ice. After a bit of work with some cold tap water, we got him (her?) out of the ice and into the bucket.
A bit of work with boiling water opened up the hole back into the pond (we still have at least 10 inches of ice), and we transferred the fish back into the pond. We are hoping that they all survive.
Is this the year of Voice Over IP (VOIP)
14 Jan 2004
I've started to play with Asterisk PBX. This is an open source IP PBX. The hassle is getting a device that can talk to a phone. I suspect that the best route to go is with a device like the Cisco ATA (as used by Vonage and others). The Sipura 2000 seems to be rather cheaper and is used by some newer IP vendors. However, it is not clear that my IP service over my cable modem is really reliable enough. I probably need to start to monitor uptime.
My plan is to try and route all outgoing calls out over IP and use the landline for incoming and emergency outgoing. I feel that Free World Dialup features somewhere in the solution.
On a related note, I found UK-2-ME, which gave me a UK phone number that rings my phone in the US. For free. A UK person who calls this number pays the national rate -- i.e. regular long distance rates. A great deal -- especially at weekends.
Logs to Burn
30 Dec 2003
My grandmother -- Honor Goodhart -- wrote a poem in 1926 entitled "Logs to Burn" that describes the burning characteristics of many different types of wood. The context was a coal strike that (presumably) restricted the supply of coal, and hence boosted the use of wood for heating.
Most references to this poem do not have the correct attribution, and this note (may) start to set the record straight.
SPAM -- a modern scourge
22 Dec 2003
I have been playing around with SPF which adds a layer of verification on top of regular SMTP mail. The idea is prety simple -- mail coming from my domain should only be sent from a limited number of mail servers. A spammer or email worm who tries to forge the from address as me will get blocked.
To set this up, you just have to publish an SPF record for your domain in DNS. This record is a TXT record of a specific format, as described at the site above.
If you are also an MTA operator, then you can turn on SPF support in your MTA -- again, instructions at the site mentioned above.
Is this the solution to SPAM? Definitely not, but it is a piece of the puzzle.
You can send email to firstname.lastname@example.org
and the daemon will return a recommendation for your SPF record. It will also tell you if your existing SPF record looks good.
The Citizen Weather Observer Program is a loose collection of amateur weather station operators.
Open source audio/video streaming software -- this drives my pondcam
Information about SPF (Sender Permitted From)
Open source server for the Rio Receiver -- this is what I use.
Neat description of the Gunnera Manicata -- a truly monstrous plant!
The Doc Searls weblog -- he seems clueful and I read him.