RANT: House Costs

Arrrg, National and Labour are arguing about first time home buyers, and it’s driving me nuts.

I’m reading some good posts from NZ econ people, which frame it nicely in econ speak, but it’s just so simple in my mind.

If you want first time buyers to get cheap houses, all house must be cheaper, so that there are cheap houses for them to buy.

I will now make up some numbers:

  • 60% of the population owns houses (group A)
  • 15% of the population wants to own houses but don’t because they are too expensive (group B)
  • 25% of the population don’t own houses because they understand the can’t afford them (and are not bothered) or they want the flexibility of renting. (group C)

So with these made up numbers in mind, we have the two main political parties frothing at the mouth because group B can’t buy houses, and its always been their dream.

Queue sad story of dreams here…. I dream to… oh dreams of the group B people, anyway we all have dreams, work towards them and realise you can’t have it all. Because I have lots of dreams, and so far I’ve not been to the moon!

So to me the “first home buyers” argument is really group A needs to lose some of their capital wealth in their houses to help bring all house prices down, so group B can have cheap houses. How has the big drop in house prices worked for the USA so far???

So which party would be stupid to ask the majority of the country to lose money now and forever, so that another group can get a house. None, they don’t talk about it in this frame of reference, but they are one and the same to me.

How would we go about destroying that value group A thinks they have: be that with tax (first time buyers grants, government houses for cheap, etc) or allowing faster building of houses, or destroying the markets desire for NZ property, you know act ‘North Korea like’ until the world is scared of us. Ether way “The Answer” is going to be unpopular.

National’s solutions seems to be a non-solution solution, but a political “response”.

What I don’t understand is why did Labour start playing this debate/issue.

There are the core base in the Labour camp, who will vote Labour ether way? Are they trying to rev them up, and get them to mobilise the swing voters? Are they trying to win the hearts of the swing voters, the group B people might like the idea of cheaper houses, but as soon as they own a house they will want to increase in value, thus become group A, and not want this policy again. Or the group A people that “have a heart” but are too slow see what this would “require to fix” or is Labour also not really caring about the issue at all, and just trying to make National demonstrate has “no heart for the poor”

I say this as swing voter, that’s not found of National’s sell it all policy, because how well did the Toll Rail  sell/buy back program work out? So now there’s no way I can vote for Labour with a stupid policy stance like this, so I’m back to National, thank Labour.

It all drives me nuts, mix in the NSA spy electronic crap, and NZ rolling over for trade agreements, Labour of all people lowering the drinking age, to vote buying (n years ago) because 18 year olds are “adults”, yet also insisting we need more/tighter tobacco/drink/drug control because those aforementioned adults need to be told how to live (long live the nanny state).

Mean while the politicians embarrass themselves and our country with their antic’s in the “debate” chamber, and around the country. What a bunch of clowns.

And there lies the rub, I don’t trust them to do a mediocre job, I’m not sure how to make them be less stupid, so do I shut-up take my lumps, or join them. Sigh….

Live View Silent Raw on D7000

The D5100 had a string “A:\\LvRaw  .raw” that I notice soon after first decoding the firmware files. I could never fulling put together the how and why of what the code was doing (looking in Task 30 of the D5100 firmware or @0x1AC268 of v1.01 firmware)

After the Magic Lantern guys announced RAW movies and it becoming a hot topic I doubled my efforts to work out how the code worked. But still it evaded me.

Then I bricked my D5100 and I stop working on the project for a month as I’d lost my mojo. Also my replacement D7000 was pretty much all a man could need. But that elusive RAW video mode the Magic Lantern guys have was a very shinny target.

So reading the D7000 firmware with more vigor I discovered why the D5100 didn’t make sense, Nikon had removed the liveview raw saving code, because it’s present in the D7000, and with a simple tweak I got it working.

So for now it’s truly the raw buffer (the part that’s put in the .NEF but with none of the EXIF data), and it takes a hack to turn on, and I’ve not nailed the FPS, nor do I have a clue how to speed it up, but it’s all very cool.

Form the two test video’s I’ve done, the first took 25 frames in 18 seconds so 1.33 fps, on an Extreme 45MB/s San Disk SD card. The second video with an Extreme Pro 95MB/s San Disk SD card, I got 15 frames in 10 seconds, so 1.5 fps. Not ground breaking stuff, but the code to do this was already present in the D7000 firmware. So making it “better” will take a while.

I’ll post a couple of files in case anybody is keen to try decode them. https://simeonpilgrim.com/files/Liveview_silent.zip

Turns out that after some data review, the files contents appear to be the left over ram from taking previous pictures and not the current raw buffer. sigh. Well at least we now how a button, that is wired up to run in live view and a complete understanding of the file handling process, albeit a slow process.

Wheel of Time - Completed

Ah, it only took ~15 years, but I have now completed the series. What started out as a racing set of books, then slowed into a crawl for book ~8, 9, 10, 11 and turned back into a racy  adventure by book 12 and was a full on blood bath with plots getting sorted rather fast and furious in the final book 14.

Quite pleased how it went. Glad some main characters died. Over all very pleased.

I didn’t get much else done in the last month, so now I am free to enjoy other things, and am currently having the ‘completer type’ sense of done-ness about the whole thing.

Thanks Jo for getting me into the books and lending the early ones to me, and thanks Harvey for lending/giving the latter ones to me. Much appreciated to the both of you.

Petrol Price Math

For the last couple of weeks I’ve filled up at the same petrol station, and then entered the details into Gas Cubby and the docket price is 2 cents different from that displayed on the ipod….

Fuel Docket
Fuel Docket

2.119 x 27.94 = 59.20486, which should round to 55.20

I could forgive 55.21, but really 50.22, that’s magic rounding, or they are using more decimal places than shown.

To make the checking easy I’ll assume infinite precision and thus the rounding will trend towards .5 of the last digit. 2.1195 x 27.9405 = 59.2198898 thus 59.22, so it could be both figures are misrepresented or just the $/litre, as when you don’t fudge the price and only the litre amount the total rounds to 59.21.

Or maybe they  just have bad programmers and the company is not evil.

Which reminds me of how my TelstraClear (now Vodaphone) bill never added up. If you telly the sub totals reported to 2 decimal places, the total was off 1 to 2 cents every bill. Scary was that two of three sections were fixed price, and the third was fractional. So how they did that I was never sure.

Bricked My Camera

Sigh, I loaded my first altered firmware on my trusty D5100 on the 25th November 2011, and my last on 22nd May 2013.

Strangely enough we are not sure what was wrong with the patch, weather the area we put the code in was not truly free space,  or if the area we were putting data in was not spare, if the jump to the new code was wrong, was the return wrong, was there an error in the code, or did we take to long and a watchdog triggered.

[Edit 7 July 2013] Hi Nikonrumor people, the problem with the patch was an incorrect sequence of assembly instructions used, and it was a development test patch. So “released” patches are much more “safer” but there is still a real albeit small risk.[Edit]

It’s hard to know but the camera doesn’t boot anymore. The led doesn’t even flash when you put batteries in/out.

So now I get to buy myself a new camera, it’s a little frustrating, as the project had been getting donations, but we had not gotten enough for a D5100 body yet and my plan was to get one for one of the other developers, so we could speed up testing time, and spread the risk. The other guys have different models so are not directly applicable at this “but how does it all work’ stage. And because I started the project we were focusing on the D5100 model as it was the most understood.

If my camera was damaged and I could claim insurance, I wouldn’t get a replacement D5100, I’d likely step up a model, not because I’d out grown the D5100, it’s a fantastic camera, it’s just I’m prepared to spend a little more to get more, compared to when I brought my first DSLR. But getting a D5100 makes the most sense as that’s the model we know the most about from a team perspective.

I rang the Nikon Service centre and it will cost 50% of the new camera price to replace the mainboard. And you can buy replacement off ebay for half that again, but I’m not a hardware guy. They plan is to send the body to a team member and see if they can get the JTAG link working to force reprogram it.

Michaela joked that I should dump Nikon and go with Canon, because of ‘disgust with a camera that’s so easy to break’. She took the news better than I expected.

So ignoring the Canon joke, I’m torn between personal camera needs/wants, and project team needs, and I’m wondering if there’s any community opinion, and if the community is willing to help fund that opinion in anyway?

I’ve previously not directly asked for money for camera bodies, as I didn’t want to ask before having something to show, and I felt we could stop at anytime without feeling a huge sense of dept to the community. So I’m keen to understand what people think.

By the way, we have been able to partially dump the D7100 and it’s ARM based verse Fujitsu FR based and uses a different OS. So the newest camera’s are a whole different kettle of fish, but should be easier to work with, as there is more ARM based disassembly tools.

Looking for D3200 Alpha Testers

I just released v1.13 of the online patch tool today, and it has the time limit removed for D3200 movie recording, but…. it’s not been tested, as none of the core developers have a D3200.

So we need a brave soul to test it for us. If keen come on over to the forum and let us know so we don’t have 100 people all trying it at once. ;-)

Bitcoin Pain

With the Bitcoin network chain problem requiring a full re-download of the chain, this meant that my 150GB network limit was used up in 24 days, because of 85GB of upstream Bitcoin traffic. So for now I’ve stopped my client.

As I opted for reduced network speed verse overage fees, the family is making do with 64bps, which is dial-up internet really. Strangely enough mobile devices are less effected due to light weight apps, but computer based web surfing is almost out of the question.

Wordpress Page Spam

I’ve been getting spam to my page’s and pictures for years, but this last weekend I got 400+

Grrr, time to fight back.

The annoying thing is that both Media and Pages don’t have the ability for the Admin (out of the box) to say “no comments”, which is what I do to all my posts once I they get enough spam, and I don’t want to leave to open for active discussion.

So I found this support post with this code to stop Media comments:

add_filter( 'comments_open', 'no_media_comments', 10, 2 );

function no_media_comments( $open, $post_id ) {

$post = get_post( $post_id );
// wordpress refers to images as attachments
if ( 'attachment' == $post->post_type )
  $open = false;

return $open;

I then found this page in the Codex with the ‘post->post_type’ defined and added another clause to block posts to Pages also and ended up with this:

function no_media_comments( $open, $post_id ) {

$post = get_post( $post_id );
// wordpress refers to images as attachments
if ( 'attachment' == $post->post_type )
  $open = false;
if ( 'page' == $post->post_type )
  $open = false;

return $open;

add_filter( 'comments_open', 'no_media_comments', 10, 2 );

Which I placed at the very bottom of my functions.php (Appearance -> Editor -> functions.php)

Getting SageTV to work with HDHR3-DT with NZ DVB-T Freeview

So the default install process of SageTV (7.1.9) and HDHR3-DT (release 20120405 or 20130117beta1), is incompatible for me with DVB-T/New Zealand Freeview.

When I did a channel scan, SageTV stops when it get’s to the first channel with content. Yet the HDHomeRun tools scan/dispaly all channels correctly.

The work around is to add the Video source’s as normal but don’t do the channel scan, add the second video source like the first (but use same guide data), exit SageTV and stop the service. Then edit the Sage.properties file and alter the ‘mmc/dvbt_region=Christchurch@Sugarloaf‘ entry to ‘mmc/dvbt_region=

thus from this:

Test to remove
Test to remove

to this:

with text removed
with text removed

Now restart SageTV, do the channel scan, and it will complete as expected.

But don’t select ‘DVB-T Region’ menu item, otherwise you’ll have to edit the configuration above again.