the sun's not yellow it is chicken

Category: Work (Page 2 of 8)


My proverbial Significant Other Half just finished designing a small bunch of Valentine themed e-cards for Bag Magazine, an Argentine ‘zine (you guessed right!) aimed at and produced by, ya know, those people who are of the Greek Persuasion — not that there’s anything wrong with that!

I simply love the way she plunders my catalogue of minuscule doodles and dresses them up into something actually worthwhile publishing! Have a look:





… and my personal favourite:


Upgrading MediaWiki On Dreamhost

Warning: techie post ahead, mainly for my own future reference…

Back in 2005 I set up Zappa Wiki Jawaka, a wiki (you guessed it) dedicated to (you guessed it) Frank Zappa. Grabbed the latest MediaWiki package and patiently went through all the loops of setting up a database, configuring php files, customizing, etc.

No more than one month later, Dreamhost made MediaWiki a one-click install. Instead of having to fiddle around for hours, you now had your own wiki at the push of one button — and were able to upgrade it at the push of that same button. Alas, there I was, stuck with my own homegrown 1.4.2 install which didn’t allow for one-click upgrading.

Adding insult to injury, along came the spam– and vandalbots. My poor outdated wiki was taking a constant beating, and there was nothing I could do about it, because every single extension I tracked down required a more recent version. There was only one solution: bite the bullet and upgrade.

Here’s what I did:

  1. Make a back-up of all the wiki’s current files
  2. Make a copy of the database for testing purposes
  3. Set up a new subdomain running PHP5.2 for testing purposes
  4. Did a one-click install of Mediawiki 1.11.0 on the testing domain from within Dreamhost’s admin panel
  5. Pointed the install to the outdated database, hoping it too would be upgraded in the process.

No dice. The installer ran okay for about half a second, then choked, complaining that it couldn’t find a certain table within the database.

MediaWiki’s online manual to the rescue: a huge forest of words and links where you tend to get lost within a minute or so. A couple of hours and liters of cafeine later, I came across a page that looked like it had the answer. It said: go to your maintenance folder, look for two files (upgrade1_5.php and update.php) and run them.

Hurrah! I quickly pointed my browser to upgrade1_5.php and was greeted with the following message: “this script must be run from the command line”.

Uh oh. Command line. Wargames, anyone?

We’re now a couple of hours later, I’ve got some basic shell commands under my belt from various tutorials and I’m staring at the Terminal. Time for the real magic:

ssh password: mypassword
$[server] ls
$[server] cd
$[server] php upgrade1_5.php
$[server] php update.php

… upon which I re-ran the installer, and was greeted with a shiny “Installation complete!” message.

Hello, one-click upgrade!

Crunching Numbers

At work, I spend a fair amount of time taking phone calls from French customers. This often entails writing down phone numbers. One particular range of numbers tends to drive me nuts: 70 through to 99.

Take the number 78 for instance.

Let’s have a look at how this is written/pronounced in other languages that I’ve more or less mastered:

  • Dutch: achtenzeventig
  • English: seventy eight
  • Spanish: setenta y ocho
  • German: achtundsiebzig

Pretty straightforward, right? A seventy and an eight or an eight and a seventy. Now for our French friends: they thought it would be better to conceive it thusly:


That’s a sixty, a ten and an eight. To write the number 78 you have to start at sixty, and then add 18. It’s the equivalent of saying “sixty ten eight”.

But wait! How about the number 97! Here, the number is broken down into quatre-vingt-dix sept. In English that translates to “four twenty ten seven”. Yes: the number 80 is composed of 2 numbers itself. Having established the 80, you then add 17 to that, and you’ve successfully processed 97 in your mind, and are now ready to write it down.

Except of course, at this point the person on the other end of the line has already rattled off the last number. Which was 94. Or 79.

The funny thing is that in the French language there are other perfectly legal ways of naming a number within the aforementioned range: septante (seventy) and nonante (ninety). Walloons (the french-speaking part of Belgium) use this.

But the French? Noooo. As the English refuse to drive on the right side of the road, so the French refuse to name numbers the way the rest of the world had envisioned it.

Now if you’ll excuse me: the phone is ringing…

The Tom Waits Bio: All 12 Illustrations

I just sent off all 12 “final” illustrations for the Tom Waits biography to the publisher. Gaby and I hadn’t looked at them for a while, and seeing them again now I must say we’re both rather pleased with the results. Below you’ll find thumbnails which, when clicked, will reveal the full collage. We’re interested to know what you think about them — and oh yes: signed and numbered high res prints on luxurious heavy-weight paper are for sale!
Without, as they say, further ado (click pics for full view):

Old Shoes and Picture Postcards

Asylum Years

Looking For The Heart Of Saturday Night

Warm Beer And Cold Women

Foreign Affairs

This One’s From The Heart

Swordfish Trombones

Frank’s Wild Years

The Large Print Giveth And The Small Print Taketh Away

Who Are You Now?

What’s He Building In There?

The Long Way Home

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