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Can you guess who this young lady is?

January 02, 2022 — BarryK

Post deleted.


Tags: general

Happy New Year

January 01, 2022 — BarryK

Western Australia remains covid-free, at least we tentatively think so. Not so on the other side of Australia. Despite outbreaks in NSW, Sydney managed to put on a New Year celebration, with a smaller crowd practising social distancing.


I would like to thank everyone who tested EasyOS in 2021 and reported issues and in some cases provided fixes. I won't post a list of names, in case I offend someone by missing out their name!  

Tags: general

Strawberry tree and Feijoa one year on

October 24, 2021 — BarryK

Spring is well and truly under way, Summer approaching -- officially, summer starts here in Australia on first day of December. One year ago, I took a photo of newly-planted Irish Strawberry tree and Feijoa:

They were dormant all through the winter, even though winters are very mild here. The Feijoa even lost leaves. Now though, they have rebounded:


Heaps of new growth on the Irish Strawberry tree, but the Feijoa is recovering very slowly -- I wonder if it doesn't like the soil conditions? The ground cover plants have done well.    

Tags: general

Various helpful feedback

January 06, 2021 — BarryK

I would like to thank Tom and Holden for information and links about AMD CPUs. Currently not sure whether to invest in an AMD-based PC, as I already have a collection of PCs and laptops. OK, they are all Intel-based, but if I buy another one, it might just sit there unused, or alternatively, the Lenovo PC that I bought in 2020 will sit unused -- which would be a shame. So shelving that one for now.

I will still attempt to get the 5.10.x kernel to be "AMD friendly", for those who want to run EasyOS on modern AMD hardware.

David W. sent me a link to an old chap who retired from a very active job when he was 102. Have appended to this post:

Rick sent me some great dog photos, on the theme that dogs are better than humans. Here is one of them:


Tags: general

Christmas greetings everyone!

December 24, 2020 — BarryK

Another year has rolled by. Back in 2018 I posted a photo of Santa having difficulty delivering presents in Australia:

This year, Santa is taking some time-out on the beach:


Probably a good time to reflect on the meaning of life, and not just see it as presents, drinking and making merry.

Photo courtesy of the Youth Hostels Association of Australia:   

Tags: general

Simple water inlet design for a courtyard tank

December 22, 2020 — BarryK

I grew up in a rural location, without scheme water. There was one huge concrete tank, that collected rain water. We had no qualms with drinking that water, nor water from any other rainwater tanks.

These days it is deemed inadvisable to drink rainwater. Anyway, I don't want to drink it directly, but for the kettle, for making tea and coffee. I also boil water then cool it and keep in the fridge for drinking. I would rather use rainwater -- suspicious about what comes out of the tap.

I know that rainwater is said to have pollutants in it, from the atmosphere. That would depend where you live. I live very close to the coast, and most rain-bearing weather comes from the direction of the ocean, so should be relatively pure. Also the surfaces on which the water flows and is collected, are factors. The roof is clay tiles.

I bought a small tank, 720 litres, which is 190 gallons. Good enough, got it delivered to my backyard. But then, how to connect it to the downpipe?

Devised a simple solution, so thought to post it here, as it might be useful for anyone else browsing the web looking for ideas how to do it.

I made it with 50mm PVC pressure pipe and fittings, here it is:


...only difference from that photo, is I stuck a small length of pipe underneath near the 45 degree elbow, to hold it up more securely.

The top of the tank has a screw-on lid, with a leaf-strainer and mozzie-barrier inside. It was easy to cut a round hole:


But the other end, connection to the downpipe, that is a challenge. I wanted it to be variable, so that when the tank gets full, water can be diverted to flow down the downpipe and not into the tank.

But firstly, cutting the round hole in the downpipe. I know it is due to my inexperience, but when I used the hole-cutter attachment to the electric drill, the central hole started to "wander" and the hole being cut became erratic. So, I resorted to a nibble-tool. Have one of these from my electronic construction days, works fine on thin galvanised steel:


The idea I came up with, to vary water diversion, is a pipe-joiner, that can be turned. The pipe that inserts inside the downpipe looks like this, a cutout-section:


Then I riveted a piece of 0.5mm thick aluminium:


The idea is that the aluminium flanges can be bent inward, for insertion of the pipe, then once inside, can reach in and push them out again. Yeah, that worked.

Perhaps a heavy downpour will bend those flanges. I could have bought some thicker metal, but then, so what if they bend? Even if only half the water gets diverted into the tank, that should be enough. It is a small tank. Perhaps then, no need for those flanges.

It came together and installed OK, but I wonder about that one-in-ten year downpour? If the flanges are turned to vertical, thus minimising water diversion to the tank, there will be a partial blockage in the downpipe. So what happens if the water backs-up, right back to the gutter?

My place has high-front type gutters, with slots cut in the front so that water overflow will be out the front and not back into the eaves, as this photo shows:


That is probably good enough protection. Even if water does flow back into the eaves, it will, at worst, flow into the wall cavity. My place is double-brick, so the inside wall won't perish. Even so, not something that I would want to happen.

I notice that most new houses built in Perth do not have eaves, the gutter is mounted right on the outside wall, so that extra runoff protection is not there.

I could maybe insert something further up the downpipe, to vent-out excess water. Or maybe that is overkill.

EDIT 2020-12-24:
Here is a photo of the completed pipework, showing the small piece of pipe glued on to support the 45 degree elbow:


EDIT 2021-01-02:
At the downpipe-end, the pipe-joiner can be turned, so as to divert the water either into the tank or to continue down the downpipe. I have a tube of "heavy industrial grease", that I applied to make it easier to turn the pipe-joiner, however, later on reconsidered -- ideally I should find a grease that is rated for potable-water.

There are some available, and I purchased HydroSeal tap lubricant:


Bunnings also have another brand, Kinetic tap lubricant:    

Tags: general

Malabar Spinach continues to flourish

December 08, 2020 — BarryK

I posted a snapshot of the Malabar Spinach soon after having planted it:

Look at it one month later:


...and that's after I have pruned it a bit! It was sending tentacles out along the ground, that I cut off, have also been cutting off leaves for salads.

A comment about that, using the leaves in salads and cooking...

On the Internet in various places it is stated that the leaves taste like Spinach. Hmmm, vaguely yes, but the plant is mucilaginous, so the leaves are slightly slimy to chew. Not too slimy though, and I found them OK in salads. Cooked, they turn to mush very quickly.

I also read on the Internet that the stems and berries are edible. Can't say about the berries yet, but the stems are inedible -- they are just too stringy. I cooked them in a curry, leaves and stems. Chew the stems, and you end up with a wad of string in your mouth. Even cutting them very short didn't help.

On the left of the photo is another that I planted recently, the "alba" variety. The two on the right are the "rubra" (red stem) variety. I want to find out if there is any difference in taste and texture. The alba leaves do look slightly lighter green. 

Interesting also, they are not getting any direct sunlight. Mid-summer, the roof eave keeps them in shade all day. In winter however, they will get direct sunlight, which might keep them going all year round. 

Tags: general

Malabar Spinach is taking off

November 07, 2020 — BarryK

I have been taking "before" photos of plants shortly after being planted, with the intention of taking more photos in about a year, to see how they have grown. Here are some earlier photos;

My back yard is a small courtyard with a North-facing wall. The roof eve overhangs the wall, so the wall is shaded most of the day in the summer, the sun does climb up the wall in the afternoon. This is late-spring here in the Southern Hemisphere, so in the winter it will be expected to have more sun on the wall.

There is likely to be one benefit of the roof overhang -- it will reduce likelihood of frost immediately below. Not that we get much frost here, but it can Happen.

About two weeks ago, I planted two Malabar Spinach plants (also known as Climbing Spinach), scientific name Basella rubra. This is a tropical perennial plant that likes hot conditions. It will possibly die if there is frost.

They were very small when purchased, and for the first week didn't seem to be doing anything, but suddenly have taken off. Photo, taken two days ago:


This is the red-stem variety. On the left is a Stevia Sweet Leaf, and in the pot on the right is a Passionfuit plant waiting to be planted.

This morning I bolted a trellis onto the wall, to give the vine something to grow up, but, fascinating, it also makes a great ground cover:

Fascinating also, the entire plant is edible, apparently too, the berries, though one guy on youtube did say might pay to be cautious and not eat the unripe ones.

Stevia Sweet Leaf, scientific name Stevia rebaudiana, has edible leaves and is a sugar substitute. Preliminary observation is that it is not quite so happy in that hot spot -- it remains to be seen how it copes with mid-summer. It was wilting a bit, so put lupin straw around it to keep in the moisture. The Malabar, on the other hand, will tolerate not only the heat, but also dry conditions. 

Tags: general