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The trees

I had somebody visit this evening. He looked at the walnut and the spindly (but leaning) willow behind, and said that it was going to be hard to take down because of the placement of the lines and the house. Some umming and erring. I mean, he's not wrong. If it was a simple job I'd have chainsawed it myself. Looking up, it's actually quite a bit taller than I first thought.
It's going to be four hundred and fifty for this tree, I thought.

Cent quatre vingt dix, hors taxe.
Which is €228 with VAT added. Oh, and that's for both trees.

Given that it was less than I was expecting for the one, I asked him how much it would be to finish what I had started and whack down the trees that are still around the phone line. There are... quite a few. They just need decapitated, but still, it's work.

He looked, and saw another that doesn't need cut but might need a few limbs removed so the cable people have space to work in. I'm thinking "well, there's my four hundred and fifty".
He said he could do that for an extra hundred, so €326 all in.

I said okay.
It'll be a relief to me to get a professional to do the work, somebody who knows what they're doing, plus it will free me up so I can do stuff like, say, cut the grass (again! it needs it!), and not have to risk injuring myself or lose a fight with the bugs.

Two examples. You'll see later that I have a big bandage on the base of my left thumb. The saw fell out of the tree as I was climbing down and I instinctively reached out to catch it. The only reason it wasn't a worse injury is that I realised at the last moment and got a message to my muscles to reverse course, so the blade was travelling only slightly faster than my hand, and both in the same general direction, so the blade pierced my skin and then sort of bounced off. Had my hand being moving towards the blade, aïe god...
...but still, my skin was pierced. Blood gushed, it sprayed. A beautiful fountain of burgundy, scarlet, vermilion, brick, cherry, merlot, rosewood, amaranth, claret, and carnelian. It squirted over the tree stump. It soaked my clothes. It sprayed over the wall of the house. It rained down on my neighbour half a kilometre away...
I'm getting a bit carried away with this, aren't I?

Suffice to say, my immediate reaction - so very British - was to close my eyes, sigh, shake my head slightly, and calmly say the words "Oh, Rick, you f@#king idiot".
No, I didn't yelp or scream. That requires emotional reactions and I'm not good with those. To add insult to the trauma, I went into the kitchen and doused the wound in alcohol-based hand gel (which stung, somewhat), and slapped a plaster on it. And another for good measure (it was bleeding quite a bit). Then I put on my chainsaw gloves and went back out to finish the mess I had started.
Look on the bright side, it was a mishap with a static (but sharp) blade, not the chainsaw...

The second thing is that I've had nights of bad sleep. Something bit me when I was up the tree. On my other thumb and on my right leg. My immediate reaction (to the leg bite) was to feel like there were ants crawling all over me. That went away after a few minutes, to leave a big angry red lump that itches like hell. Apparently (some Googling) it'll take a few days for it to go down. The one on my thumb has finally started to go down, I can touch it now. The one on my leg is still quite tender and itchy. I don't fancy a repeat performance. I didn't break out in hives, but I definitely had some sort of allergic reaction to whatever the hell that bug was. So, yeah, I'm more than willing to hand somebody nearly a week's worth of wages to make the problem go away.

He said he can't do it this week as he is all booked up, but he has noted the date and - weather depending - it'll be the start of next week. I'll get a proper devis (quotation) by email, probably tomorrow, to read and agree to.

 

My car?

They don't have the car that I was supposed to be getting in stock, and it looks like it might be October now until they have a car ready. This isn't a great surprise, when I asked about the Citroën Ami, I was told "order now, maybe get it in a year". Really, if companies want to push for electric cars, they need to have more available stock... or be able to produce them more rapidly.

What he does have in stock is this one. It isn't brand new, it has been on the road. You can tell because it has a little green insurance sticker in the windscreen. It also looks like this model has regular headlights rather than LED ones. I can't imagine, if it's like the 40Ah in my current car, that it'll run the main beams for long...

My car car?
My new car?

He sent me photos and on has a better shot of the reflection of that piece of paper in the windscreen. If I flip it around and fiddle with it, some things are visible. I can see that it looks like the manufacturer's guarantee is good until 2026/04/03 and it seems as if it has done 2,752km. By my calculation, it looks like this car might have been on the road for about seven weeks, and somebody drove it nearly 80km a day for every single working day during that time. That's like 1¾ hours of commute. I can only imagine that whoever did that, a car like this maybe isn't the best option for them? Imagine the yearly distance. My goodness, they'd need their 5K service every season!
As part of my financing, I said to assume that I'll be doing 10K a year. Going to work and back is a little under 6K, which leaves me 4K to do all of the other stuff in life (dentist, nearby vide greniers, etc etc). I probably won't, as I don't go to Châteaubriant that much any more, just from time to time, but it leaves enough leeway that I don't need to worry about going places. I just did a quick check and I could go to work and to Châteaubriant every single Saturday of a year, and still have ~1000km left over.

It does mean, of course, that this car will never get me to Clisson. I never plucked up the courage to try driving, because, well, because I really don't like driving... but there's no way I'm going to get to Vallet (about 92km) or Clisson (about 100km) in a car that can do 80km between charges. And it's not a Tesla supercharger jobbie, it's a simple mains-powered charger for a battery that's either 48V or 72V.

It is the slightly older model of e-Aixam. They tweak the "look" every so often. Well, every manufacturer does that, wasn't the Big-Arse Clio the third or fourth revision? Anyway, it is supposed to be slightly better specced (he said it has a larger tablet, as if that is the thing that will be of interest to me) and also has a range of 80km per charge.

He told me this car is €19,500 (the paper in the window says €17,000 but maybe that's without tax? If you add 15% (I have no idea what tax is on electric cars) then it comes to €19,550. Anyway, he said he fiddled the price down to match the one I had requested so my agreed-to financing can apply to this car. If I am willing to accept it, then it ought to be delivered to him sometime in the week, and to me, well, maybe Saturday? Or the one after?

The colour is okay, and...

That's a nice big boot
That's a nice big boot.

As the caption says, it's a nice big boot. And right at 'floor' level too, which makes it really easy to load and unload stuff, especially if - like me - you buy packs of bottled water.
This was one of the biggest changes between Felicity and Caoimhe, the boot door opened all the way down. You might remember when that guy stopped me to try to promote his Microcar Dué (a rival brand), one of my criticisms was that the boot didn't go all the way down.

Whatever, I'd probably be a bit miffed if I was buying a new car and something else was offered, but since I'm effectively renting one for three years, with nearly two of that being under manufacturer's guarantee and the motor/battery guarantee (*)... it's less important. I can say "okay" to this, and have a replacement car sooner rather than god-knows-when.

Oh, and this one has a small (much less blatant) spoiler, and guess what, the middle stop light is in the rear of the spoiler. Surprise, huh?

* - the battery guarantee is 100% for the first two years (or until 32,000Ah of charge given), then it drops to 90% (for 40% of the battery consumed), 60% for 60% of the battery consumed, 30% for 80% of the battery consumed. The rest I would have to pay. 100% consumption appears to be designated as 80,000Ah of charge given. The battery being inadequate is defined as "under 75% of its capacity". Which for a car with a supposed autonomy of 80km means an actual autonomy of 60km. You can see know why I wanted the larger range one, right?

 

The Livebox 6

I don't know why I have a Livebox 6, when it seems that everybody in town has been given a Livebox 5. Maybe the 6 is better with longer distance cables? Maybe they're going to roll out some sort of 4G repeater service in the future and I'm in a blackspot? I don't know.

What I do know is that there is quite a difference between the boxes. The Livebox 5 is a flat black thing with three orange LEDs on the right side. People who had Sky in the '90s will probably understand if I said that it reminds me of those Videocrypt decoders that you could attach to your Amstrad receiver to degarble Sky.

The Livebox 6, on the other hand, is a very different beast.

The Livebox 6, unpacked
The Livebox 6, unpacked.

In order to help emphasise its green credentials, it comes in a carton box that doubles up as its posting package. The casing is entirely recycled plastic, and the fabric on each side is a bit like a cross between jeans and that stuff that cushions covers are made of. It has been specifically designed to look good in a domestic environment, and isn't unlike a sort of connected speaker in appearance.

But... on the other hand... it comes with a larger three amp power brick, so it clearly uses more power than the older box. Which means my little UPS unit probably won't be up to the job. I'll need to see how the new box behaves, if it can cope with riding out a brownout (like my Pi can) or if it reboots at the tiniest flicker, quiver, or waver of the power.

What I can tell you is that it is bloody heavy.

The Livebox 6 is heavy
The Livebox 6 is HEAVY.

I saw a teardown video on YouTube, and it looks like there are two motherboards inside. One does the processing and the DSL stuff, the other does the radio comms, and there are huge heatsinks. That's why the weight. It looks also that there are various Broadcom chips inside, but unfortunately Broadcom is quite notorious for not releasing datasheets so it's hard to know what the specification actually is. I'm going to guess that it is probably something not unlike a Pi, but instead of a super-sexy GPU (pitifully underused with RISC OS!), it'll have a super-sexy network-routey-thing.

On the back, the usual selection of sockets. There are five network sockets - the normal ones are Gigabit networking, the bright orange one is 2.6G speed. Beside/below that, a lone USB3 port. Across, the power input, then the fibre input (covered), and finally two ports for telephones.
Keeping with Orange's weirdness, the RESET does not reset the way you think it would. For that, you must turn the box off and back on again. No, the RESET is a painfully literal "discard all configuration and restore factory defaults". Quite why anybody would want this as an easily-pokable button is anyone's guess, but that's how it's always been chez Orange.

The I/O
The I/O.

Here is the front. This is, actually, rather interesting.

The front
The front.

On the left (top when the box is standing) is a long slit that will have an LED behind it. If it is solid orange, things are good. If it is blinking orange then the box is busy (connecting?), and finally if it is white then there's a problem.
Below that (or beside in the photo) is a screen that looks like it has multiple things on it. This is correct. I think they have tested this box by plugging it in and it has said "Démarrage en cours...", followed by "Branchez le câble optique entre la Livebox et la prise murale optique". There is also a thingy that has counted from 1 to 4, a '?' help button, and of course the 'orange' logo that likely appears during the initial boot.
The fact that you can see all this shows that my box was tested before it was sent and that the information screen on the front is a little eInk display.

Not only that, it's a touch sensitive eInk display. You can use it to control various aspects of the Livebox, including selecting two sleep modes. A light sleep will keep only the telephone working, while a deep sleep (saving 95% of energy) will effectively power down everything. Which makes me wonder why you'd bother? Surely the ON/OFF button does that just as well?
What would be interesting would be a low power mode that disables WiFi but keeps the wired network running... this already exists, it is called WiFi scheduling and I can set up times when WiFi is inactive on an hour-by-hour day-by-day basis. It probably wouldn't take much work to add that as a power mode, to - say - allow WiFi to be turned off while everybody is asleep to save some power?
I wouldn't use such a thing myself, as pretty much everything around here uses WiFi.

Speaking of which, traditional WiFi is at 2.4GHz (as are all those little ESP32 modules). For a while now, because the 2.4GHz band is utterly cluttered (microwaves, Bluetooth, baby monitors, and lots of other crap uses 2.4GHz) so they introduced 5GHz. But there is still a huge amount of 2.4GHz-only equipment around.
Well, this new Livebox supports WiFi-6e. As you might guess from the name, yup, it's at 6GHz. So now there are three WiFi bands.

And, finally, in terms of data transfer, it can support up to ~600Mbit upload and ~2Gbit download. Not that I have anything that is liable to be capable of making use of that kind of speed.
On the other hand, maybe I'll be able to get some decent results from my security camera rather than having to use the lame SD quality. To give an example, the picture below is looking at the weeping willow. The left is SD quality, the right is QHD quality. One passes my ADSL's treacle-slow uplink speed, the other is a never-ending spinny-circle-of-doom.

Security camera quality
Which do you prefer?

Obviously, since I don't yet have fibre, I'm not going to plug the box in and talk about what the firmware is like. The user guide implies that it'll replicate the setup of the existing box (including the WiFi credentials) so everything should just continue working. This is, actually, what I did with the Livebox Play that I got from John and a spare Livebox 2 that I got from a boot sale. They all have the same SSID and configuration. The plan is that if something, say a thunderstorm, knocks out a box, I can switch in a replacement right away.

Orange, interestingly, have requested that I return the Livebox Play to them (it'll get melted down and turned into another Livebox 6). Why this is interesting is that it's the box John gave me. The one they are renting to me is a Livebox 2. However once I had connected the Livebox Play, my customer status started to say "Livebox Play" instead of "Livebox 2" and somehow automagically got updated to associate that box with my account. In much the same way that they know that I'm still using my Samsung S9 with my mobile account despite having bought two Xiaomi phones from them subsequently. There's a lot of chatter that goes on in the background, isn't there?
I asked their customer service forum and the guy looked at my account and said that it was the Livebox Play and that was the thing that I had to return. I asked about the Livebox 2 and the reply was basically "Meh, what do we care? Keep it."
Don't get me wrong, I'm not actually bothered what I send back. In the absence of anything that resembles ADSL on twisted pair, neither box will be useful for much. They're all far too locked down to even be recycled as a media sharer (for a start, they're hardwired to 192.168.1.1 so I think if I tried to put it on a network with the Livebox 6, the two would duke it out until chartreuse blood sprayed across the living room...
If you're the sort of person who can only think in the regular known colours, that's a yellowy green, a very ectoplasmic snot colour that makes you feel a bit queasy just looking at it. My life isn't like that. For me, it's not like that. If you think "pink", I default to "Hello Kitty" as that's probably what you mean, but that's not the same as watermelon, fuchsia, or flamingo. And despite what HTML will have you believe, fuchsia is not the same as magenta. But, then, they can't get cerulean right either, and you know how I feel about that colour! ☺

 

 

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John, 29th May 2024, 09:06
LH pic looks like a tree, RH could be aerial view of a conurbation with a huge rocade, perhaps serving an aircraft manufacturer. 
 
But it does look like a tree as well.
David Pilling, 29th May 2024, 15:19
There's a mode of operation in retail where they offer something for sale, and then after you put up the money, they say "sorry what you wanted is out of stock, but look we have this other thing". 
 
I've no idea, but all the headlines are of vast numbers of Chinese ev's being parked up at the docks with no takers and hence low prices. Maybe USA - big country, starting to discover ev's don't have the range. Tarrifs coming, orange man says his tarrifs will be bigger. EU going to have tarrifs too. 
 
Neighbour just got MG - classic Chinese ev. Headlines say 7 year guarantee. It was interesting to read about the battery life promise. Bit like when people worried about dead pixels. 
 
I have range anxiety (but no ev), I'd put a small petrol generator in that huge boot space. 
 
I'd not go out on the road without lessons. UK, various volunteer driving improvement groups who are delighted to find people who want to improve. No I would not go along to them - opting instead for the hard school of life. 
 
Trees - like micro-pigs - cute then big problem. Been there done that. Tree men very tactful about this side of the problem. 
Rick, 29th May 2024, 21:49
John: The reason the right side looks like an aerial view is because the resolution is good enough that you see the details, rather than the left side's "tree shaped blotches". 
 
David - it's quite common to over promise and under deliver. I think Citroën may have lost a fair few sales of it's little Ami due to the excessive wait time. A woman at work said she had to wait a long time (6 months?) for her (proper) electric car. I think they're still making these things to order, rather than cranking them out like with combustion engine models. Problem is, that sort of mentality risks losing huge amounts of market share to the cheaper Chinese models. 
 
Yes, my battery promise descends according to battery consumption. The more I use the battery, the less that it is covered, meaning a heavily used battery could pass it's fifth year of "guarantee" with the warranty covering 10%, the remaining 90% being on me. Hmm... 
 
As mom always said: The big print giveth, and the small print taketh away. 
 
I love the idea of strapping a petrol genny into the boot. Now that's preparedness. Actually, TRUE preparedness would be that with a bottle of water, a low wattage kettle, and a box of teabags. After all, it'll be a bit of a wait getting some charge into the battery... 😂 
 
Tree men won't complain. Our mistakes are their occupation. 
A tree-dwelling mammal, 30th May 2024, 00:26
I think JC (no, not him, the other JC - Jeremy Clarkson) hit it on the head when he came up with a solution to the range problem... 
 
Remove the battery, fit a tank, fill that tank with an explosive liquid, and use that to make the car go. No messing about with charging, when the explosive liquid runs out you just put more in (which takes a couple of minutes) and you're good for another few hundred miles. 
 
65 litres of explosive liquid in mine will get me nearly 600 miles if I'm careful.
David Pilling, 30th May 2024, 13:51
There was a time when we carried a can of petrol in the boot. Probly before mobile phones. There is now an established mechanism, various people one can call who will for a price fetch petrol. Occasionally one will see a car on the roadside and then a bit later someone with a petrol can walking. 
 
There was the Rover 2000 which had a reserve tank, pull a handle and it was connected. 
 
I've only gotten near the bottom of the tank once in the current car, and it made a great fuss with 50 miles to go. 
 
What of ev's? The AA says if you run out of power they will tow you to the nearest charging point. Part of the standard cover. 
 
Although it would be pointless - why don't evs have solar panels on their roofs. 
 
No French equivalent of the AA/RAC - online says recovery tends to be part of car insurance. 
Rick, 30th May 2024, 14:22
Back in the Top Gear days, JC was a bit of a climate change denying twat. 
Since he's gotten into farming and has actually been able to observe the effects, he's changed his opinions. 
 
65 litres for 600 miles? Are you driving a tank? Mine does about 330 km between fills, and it costs me about €18. So I reckon that's about 10 litres at current prices. 330km is a little over 200 miles. So, 600 miles would be about 30 litres or so. <cough>And about twelve and a bit hours of driving</cough>
A tree-dwelling mammal, 30th May 2024, 22:27
Not quite a tank. It's a 2007 Audi A4. 2 litre diesel engine. It's also the Quattro version, so uses a bit more fuel as it's powering all the wheels. 
 
On the other hand, the front wheel drive version will chew its way through a set of front tyres every 8,000 miles or so. On this one, they last over 20,000. 
 
Just to put this into context, the kerb weight of mine is just under 1.7 tons. Apparently the air con takes quite a bit of power to run as well (it's climatronic on these, so it only turns on the compressor when it actually needs it). 
 
So overall, according to the trip computer, on a long motorway trip I average around 50mpg. The previous car (a slightly older A4, front wheel drive, with a 2 litre petrol engine) managed high 30s. So basically 25% better fuel economy, and 'some' torque. 
 
Going back to JC - I don't think he was ever a 'denier', I think his point was that the emissions from vehicles were tiny in proportion to those from industry etc. The three of them made a good point with the environmental impact of manufacturing an EV - the damage caused by getting the rare earth metals out of the ground to make the battery (which apparently can't be recycled once it becomes life expired) is far greater than burning some fossilised dinosaur juice. And that's not taking into account the environmental loading of scrapping a perfectly good diesel car which has many years of life left in it, just to replace it with something that is still unproven. 
 
I still think hydrogen fuel cells are the answer, but they're still a way off. Let's just hope my trusty diesel keeps going until I can buy a hydrogen car.
C Ferris, 31st May 2024, 08:47
You can burn Hydrogen in a petrol / diesel engine keeping the fuel in a tank for any length of time is not easy.
C Ferris, 2nd June 2024, 08:42
Funny how one looks at things - a quick look at the page title - The bees - is Rick getting a hive :-)
A tree-dwelling mammal, 2nd June 2024, 12:33
Rick - quick question. Is there any reason why you're still using HTML 4.01, and not using the 'new' HTML 5 elements (I say 'new' as HTML 5 has been around for a decade and a half now)? 
 
For example (I hope your comments page can parse out the HTML tags and display them 'raw', apologies in advance if this breaks anything) your photos of the Livebox. You're currently wrapping the IMG tag inside a DIV, with the caption inside a SMALL tag underneath it. Try doing things this way (indented for clarity): 
 
<figure> 
<img src="livebox.jpg" width="640" height="480" alt=""> 
<figcaption>My brand new shiny Livebox</figcaption> 
</figure> 
 
Much neater code, and uses contextual markup. You'll need to set some CSS definitions to style it of course. 
 
Of course it may be that you're sticking with HTML 4.01 to support RISC OS browsers, in which case fair enough. Having said that, I believe Netsurf supports HTML 5 and CSS nowadays.
Rick, 2nd June 2024, 15:30
This blog was originally designed and put together in 2008 where part of the testing was that it had to work with Fresco, Oregano, and MSIE. 
The W3C recommendation for HTML 5 was issued in 2014, while the specification was first a thing in 2008. Which means that when I was putting all of this together HTML5 would have been largely unknown. 
 
All of those browsers have since been dropped, since NetSurf exists for RISC OS, and these days I pretty much only support the legacy (Acorn-era) systems "by happy accident" rather than design. 
However, the blog process is the same as before, as is the snippet of image code that I copy-paste. ;) 
 
Yes, it needs an overhaul, but I don't have the time nor the inclination. What I have works, and while it's not the most pleasant way of doing things these days, there's far FAR worse out there. ;) 
 
Oh, and if you read the tiny text at the top of the comment section, it says "Oh, and don't bother trying to inline HTML". It won't break anything, it'll just be converted to text and shown as-is. 
A tree-dwelling mammal, 2nd June 2024, 21:38
Ah, Fresco, I remember that. And Acorn Browse. Don't think I ever used Oregano, but I do remember ArcWeb. 
 
I only mentioned it as I was 'caretaking' a few sites that I maintain recently, and one of the things I did was to rewrite large swathes of code as HTML5 with CSS. Sure, it ended up with a 14K external CSS file, but the source for quite a complicated page was about 4K of HTML. Previously, doing it the 'legacy' way, the HTML was about 15-20K. 
 
Of course Google loves it on page rankings as there isn't a load of cruft at the top of the page. 
 
I completely take your point though about "if it ain't broke, don't fix it". As long as the HTML4 validates then all is well. 
 
Yes, I recall seeing the tiny text at the top of the comments section, but that seems to have vanished. Hence why I was a bit concerned about putting HTML source into the comments - but all seems well. 
 
As an aside, I think the old source code may be on the archived disks from the old (de-commissioned) server from when I used to host this for you. Right up until all the magic smoke came out of the server's PSU. Such is life - but the server did get repaired and ran for another few years until I upgraded to something with more RAM and disk space. (16GB RAM and 2TB mirrored disks, which I ran until about 4 years ago.) Now I'm running on a system with 8GB RAM (the previous server wasn't using anywhere near the 16GB I'd fitted) and a 2TB SSD. All works lovely, especially given that newer versions of PHP (6 upwards I think) automatically cache the compiled bytecode so you don't have to recompile the script every time a page is accessed.

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