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Yesterday evening, after work. I popped by Lidl to see if they had replacement chainsaw chains. In a word, no. Because that's a promo for the 27th of March. I was early.

But speaking of chainsaws, I decided that I was chilly, which was weird given it was something like sixteen degrees and pretty hot. So I pulled out the power cable and hooked up the chainsaw and dealt with the willow logs.

Log bits
Log bits.

Maybe tomorrow, if it's nice, I'll collect them and the branch bits and finally get that area tidied. Because slicing through trees? EASY! Tidying up the mess? Uh.... Uh-huh.



I bought a cheap little ESP32Cam from Amazon (DollaTek, ASIN B081JNJS52). I hooked it up, with the +5V coming from a USB lead wired to a thing I built to convert USB into two push-on headers. The serial port was a different USB lead, to save trying to run the thing through the serial chip. And, of course, GPIO 0 and GND connected together to force the thing into upload mode to be able to flash it.

Nothing. Not a peep. I was getting 3.3V on the far side of the VREG, so I'm not sure what was going on. Just in case, for some reason, there was a different serial protocol in use than the 115200bps default, I hooked up my oscilloscope and there wasn't anything at all on the serial port. Zip, nada, rien. As dead as the proverbial.

The new ESP32Cam not working
The new ESP32Cam not working.

I've opened a return through Amazon. Have to make up the packet and take it to the post office. What a pain in the proverbial. And speaking of proverbials, I left a one star review. I wonder if it'll be accepted?

My other ESP32Cam had an annoying habit of crashing when the image size was too big. Going to it with the browser would result in a report that an empty response was returned.
Since some rain came through this morning (while I had the washing machine running, ho ho), I found a nicer camera firmware on GitHub. I unpacked it, and got the Arduino IDE to build it.
At which point, like fifteen bloody minutes later, it choked. I looked at the issues log in GitHub and it was a known issue. You need to have this version of the IDE and not that version. You need this library and not that library. You need this board (and apparently not the board that the instructions tell you to use).
To hell with that. I'm a tolerant and patient person, but the ESP32 compiler in the Arduino IDE really pushes all of my buttons the wrong way. I swear to god, you could probably make a faster compiler in JavaScript... Plus, it seems to insist upon building everything all the time, and... it's just a really really shitty way to develop anything.

So I went back to the original camera-webserver example and rebuilt that, and flashed it. I also set UXGA as the default instead of QVGA. It works with images up to around 360,000 bytes, so you wouldn't want to do UXGA at qualities above about 12-15. But, given the capabilities of the OV2640 camera, all it's really going to be doing is making the file larger without much increase in "quality" to account for this increase.

Yes, it's me!
Yes, it's me!.

I might have a crack at fiddling with the camera example code to pull out all the crappy face detection stuff. It's slow, it only works on tiny frame sizes, and more importantly it doesn't work on my device. Better to poke in some better code for, for instance, controlling things like the flash LED or saving preferences for the next time, etc.
But don't hold your breath. I detest the IDE's extreme lethargy.



Step one, fix the rotovator. I can't do anything about the propensity of the engine to die when it has been running for around five or six minutes. Let's just say it probably needs a complete overhaul, and I'm not sure if I'm even able to find new seals and that weird membrane that the carburettor uses (it is... a peculiar design).

What I can fix is the broken starter cord. ☺

Fixing the starter cord
Fixing the starter cord.

Once the rotovator was functioning (mostly), I turned the ground of last year's potato patch for a second time. The first time (last week) I did by hand and it took nearly an hour of backbreaking work. The rotovator did it better in the eight or nine minutes before it spluttered to a halt.

I then raked it flat, and sowed rustic grass seed. A different grass than the wild stuff around here, but it's the same as I put on the other side of the stream last year and, well, it seemed quite pleasant.

~Sowing the grass
Sowing the grass.

After that, I dug up various packs of wildflowers, butterfly flowers, insect flowers, and four packets that I got from Lidl (something silly like €0,29 a pack!) - Capucine (also a cute name for a girl), flower prairie, giant cosmos, and eschscholzia.
I put the capucines by the remains of the old fence because I doubt I'll pull it down this year, and it looks like they might want to climb over something. The rest was just scattered here and there.

Now, you might be wondering "hang on, isn't your little possibly autistic brain going to freak out if the flowers aren't in some sort of pattern?".
Actually, precisely the opposite. You see, bringing order to nature is a fool's errand. You cannot predict where a raindrop will fall. Sure, with sensing and lots of processing power you can look at wind patterns, cloud density, and such in order to predict when and where it may rain (with varying degrees of success, it only rained once today, not most of the day as was forecast yesterday!), but you can predict the path of an individual raindrop about as well as you can predict the position of a lightning strike. Nature is chaotic and random. So I'm perfectly happy with the wildflowers turning up wherever. To put wild flowers in neat tidy lines is... wrong. And since some non-wild flowers are included this (though, let's face it, the california poppies are doing a pretty good job of colonising out front), the same rules apply.

The final job was to rake the ground again in tiny motions, basically to shake up the soil and seeds so they weren't all lying on top.

All prepared.
All prepared.

That's it. The rest is up to nature.


First Spring flower pics

With the meadow-to-be in the background, here are some daffodils. I thought I'd put croci down here, but I guess not. No big, these are pleasing. Maybe for next year I'll see if I can get hold of a bunch more and plant them.

Daffodils - and this one is a lovely colour combination.


Pretty in pink
Pretty in pink.

For years, the wall by the place where the rotary washing line (and where I sit in the summer in the shade of oak trees) was buried under thick bramble.
I slayed (slew?) the brambles last year.
This year, a little thank you. ☺

~Daffodils by the wall
Daffodils by the wall.

And, of course, I know Spring has arrived because the Epic Weeping Willow is turning green, and the Sweet Almond has exploded into flowers.

~Sweet almond in flower
Sweet almond in flower.

More flowers than usual... you're welcome.

The apples and cherries are not showing much sign of flowerification. The Sakura cherry was beginning to flower on the 4th of April last year, so a few weeks to go yet.
This time last year, daisies were popping up all over on the 19th, following a bizarre sepia sky as the result of a massive dust storm (exactly today a year ago).

However, in 2020, the Sakura cherry was starting a month early!
But, then, god knows, 2020 was not a normal year.


The sound of a falling tree

As I was sowing the seeds, was wondering if a tree that falls in a forest makes a sound if nothing is around to hear it.

Note that I said "nothing", not the usual "no one". Because we aren't the only creatures with ears.

~Here kitty, kitty.
Here kitty kitty (photo by Dall-E after lots of prompting).

Now, don't get me wrong, audio waves will be created by the falling tree mostly as a result of it pushing air molecules around. This happens anywhere there is an atmosphere and things are happening. It even happens on other planets (though that's mostly the sound of wind, given that other planets tend to lack life beyond the odd tardigrade or two that hitched a ride on the spacecraft).

It's more a case of perception. Is a sound a sound if nothing hears it? Of course, this discussion is complicated by the fact that we lack a specific word for "that which is heard" as opposed to "vibrations in the air". We call both "sound", but they are actually quite different concepts.
Then again, we use the word "free" to mean "at no cost" as well as "unconstrained". It gets messy when talking about modern ways of distributing software, leading to such nonsense as "free as in beer".

We can, of course, take this to the illogical extreme and ask that if there is nothing to sense (hear, see, touch) the tree... does it exist?

Maybe this is why I spend time writing this crap. If I have no impact, however small, on the lives of others, did I ever exist?

In reality, both questions are thought experiments. Because it is extremely unlikely that there will be a tree falling in a forest with nothing able to hear its demise. No critters, no birds, no fairies, no... even insects that, while generally lacking what we'd understand as ears, many do have antennae that can detect the waves that we interpret as sound (see how torturous it can be to not have a separate word for this?).
Likewise, no tree lives in complete isolation. Bugs walk upon it. Birds nest in it. Bears shit beside it. And ivy grows up it. So, yes, the tree exists.



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Anon, 18th March 2023, 09:37
If a man is alone in a forest and speaks, and there's no woman around to hear him... is he still wrong?
Rick, 18th March 2023, 14:07
Mom was a bit of a feminist, so I'm hardwired to reply "yes". 
Rick, 19th March 2023, 11:02
Oh well what a surprise. 
Leaving a one star review saying that the device is non functional, and why, and.... Amazon declines to publish it. 
You might want to ask yourself why. Or, rather, how many one one star reviews might have been suppressed, potentially leading to a completely different product rating that it deserves. 
J.G.Harston, 19th March 2023, 23:11
I tried to leave a complaint on Amazon on something claiming to be a "LED fluorescent" lamp. MYFMU It's *either* LED *or* fluorescent. It's like talking about a "coal electric oven". Yes, they both generate heat, but they are two completely different things. 
But it refused until I gave it at least a one-star review. 

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