The Sorrows of a Noob Admin

Warning: may contain technicalities.

The little phpBB forum I found myself administrating (more for reasons of enthusiasm than competence) about half a year ago has been finally updated to RC7. And what a trial it was. The first time I forget to backup and check what the new update included it all goes terribly wrong.

First the PHP Notice: in file /index.php on line 107: sprintf() [function.sprintf]: Too few arguments error (outdated language pack, temporarily fixed by deleting the offending code and corresponding line in the template, since the new language pack hasn’t been spotted yet). Then, not being able to login to admin panel (interestingly, other people could do it. Blamed the incident on the firewall), which was soon miraculously fixed. And then all was quiet for a while (read: the admin was to busy to tinker around).

On the next visit to the admin panel, I’m welcomed by the ‘database-not-updated’ notice. Clickety click, go through the updating procedure again, thoroughly, all the time trying not to wonder that went wrong the first time. Still didn’t read the RC7 released post, since the update half-worked the first time. But this time it did. All custom template related errors included. Thankfully, the delete-template-and-replace-by-renamed-prosilver method worked and the forum is back to almost working perfectly. Still have to fix the go diagrams functionality (sgf viewer working nicely though).

The moral: thou shalt not update whilst under time pressure.

I should probably go sulk in the corner and wait until I stop acting like a complete noob.

But the worst seems to have passed. There are some minor battles left to fight with Joomla and I’m filling the blanks in my SQL. The website in question will be dragged kicking and screaming into the Century of the Anchovy*, if need be.

* see Discworld.

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Not a movie poster

Akce Praha
The city of Prague is looking for new police officers.

About a month after a Czech student was making fun of how the authorities are trying to attract new police personnel, one of the famous jumbo posters finally appeared. It’s quite clear why it does it’s job at spreading the word well. It’s also hard to disagree with what she was pointing out, really: do they want to employ people that joined because of all the action? (Doesn’t the jumbo really look a little bit silly? Hard to say. After a while it might even grow on you).

But it certainly doesn’t stop with the police. Prepare yourselves for a real jewel of advertising books. Wanna go buy a book? Who needs a drink anyway :-) .

Levne Knihy
No, thanks. I’d rather have a book!

And finally, does the word ‘probably’ really fit into the advertising vocabulary? It’s been bugging me since I first saw this (almost two months ago) and it’s still a mystery.

Probably the best

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250 is, among other things, the total number of intersections on my newly acquired go board (on the below photo, together with a full set of plastic stones). Hopefully this new feature of room 715 (what a boring number!) will prompt the few curious visitors (“What is it that you’re doing?” “How do you play?”), as well as my roommate, to ask some more questions and maybe even to learn the game :-) . We shall see how the master plan works, bwahahaha.

13×13 board

250 is also the natural number following 249 and preceding 251. More interestingly, as a Mandarin slang term, 250 (二百五 pinyin èrbǎiwǔ) is an insult meaning “stupid person”, which brings up an interesting (though quite pointless) question:

Why are the dimensions for the small go boards 9×9 and 13×13? Is it possible that the wise monks planned this ahead of time in some sort of an inside joke on people that play on them?

I’m still trying to banish the idea about how smart the happy owners of such boards are.

Otherwise, life has been interesting this past week. The Prague ZOO is great even when the weather is not good (and you get make some photos of people in winter coats and scarfs taking a stroll in a jungle). Yes, I said hi to all cousins and even tried to get the tiger to play go. No such luck :-) . The lights went out for the second time in the past month (or quite probably the third time), so the 250 board might have just been some sort of a foreshadowing. On the other hand, because of that the prospects of playing Tarok more often are looking up, so all is well.

Source: 250 (Wikipedia)

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Late night adventures

So I crawled out of bed, skipped the part where practical but possibly inconsiderate people look for the light switch, relieved the laptop (who goes by the name Črtomir and doesn’t complain much on working overtime) of all unnecessary cables, fished the glasses from the working mess on the table and climbed back under the warm duvet [1]. And promptly lost the always endangered biopticon [2] somewhere between the sheets. Not a good idea, when you’re trying very hard not to wake up your roommate during a nightly writing session. When I reached the stage where I had to type the password, I was very grateful to myself for learning touch typing. Useful skill, indeed.

As always when I plan a good hot-blooded rant, by the time the product seems satisfactory not much is left and I’m at peace with the world again, laughing at myself. But for the sake of it, without head or tail, here are the remains before the final stage:

In the past week I was moody enough to ignore the blog just because I could, though it is true that there was a lot going on. Too much, maybe, since the motto “be kind at me, I’ll be kind right back at you” (‘at’ is intentional) has evolved in interesting directions. Is it the food, the weather or the people, I have no idea. Could be that Italian/Spanish temperament is contagious.

Much ado about nothing really. Though the general feeling will probably still hide in some corner tomorrow, it’s out of the system now. Aware that this might have some people worried and at the same time confident in my ability to convince them otherwise, I’m publishing this post (urged on by Črtomir, who needs some electric juice).

[1] While searching for this word, which was right on the tip of my tongue, I found this interesting collection of things one can find and do in the bedroom. Or it might be just me.

[2] I had my suspicions, but I certainly did not expect the term Geek Chic in Wikipedia.

P.S.: How come I never before noticed that Firefox has this neat way of switching between tabs with the up and down arrows? I must be getting old :-) .

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Maths cool enough for graffiti

e, i, pi
On a building near Národní divadlo.

When I woke up today, I certainly did not expect to see this. Whether a product of a moment of inspiration or careful planning, it certainly brightened my day – it’s the little things that make you smile (and things like getting all mushy over an equation that get you thinking how far you’ve already gone :-) ).

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Languages ‘r fun

Campus manager’s note
A part of a bilingual note in the kitchen. Erasmus strikes back. There have been suggestions to replace the whole paper with a new one. With a proper English notice.

A truck
A truck. You might have to be Slovenian or something of the sort to understand this one.

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Stone Age

Since October 21st, building 7 in Hostivař is disconnected from the wide world, again. Though not as bad as in the beginning, when the easiest way to get online was a good five minutes away in the cold and drafty main hall, the circumstances do not allow for a lot more than checking the daily load of mail. While it can’t be denied that surfing the web while standing in the kitchenette, laptop balanced precariously on the trash bin is a mostly adventurous and not at all unbearable, it’s still not something you’d want to experience repeatedly until the end of semester. This particular occasion has made me realize just what WiFi means.

WiFi in the kitchen

Unexpectedly (or is it?), this has improved the general mood rather than spoil it (which can be said at least for myself[1]). Being wire(lesse)d can indeed function as a chain to the marvelous device that is the laptop, but that is a chapter to itself. Benefactory or not, the lack of internet is hampering work, studying and contact with home, thusly becoming more and more of a nuisance. Whether this pondering is anything more than just denial of the obvious[2] remains to be seen.

[1] This experiment, in which we have been unwilling participants, shows that we can consider the number of people in the halls and corridors as a decreasing function of the quality of internet connection in the rooms.


[2] As my roommate has been repeating over and over these days: “I will kill them. I want/need internet”. Others have been saying much the same thing, myself included, though the choice of words might have been a bit more diplomatic.

Update: the connection seems to be back. Trust Murphy to prevent me from even getting something out of complaining :-) .

Update on November 11th: wireless unstable, again. What are they doing?!

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