Dear Diary... October 2009

Saturday 31st October - Vinyl Exchange Still Rocks

I had to nip into the city centre this morning for a few things: I needed to get my hair cut as it was getting rather annoying, and also needed to pick up some birthday cards for my Mum and my nephew, and maybe even get a CD if I can find one cheap as well, so something new to listen to. I got up and for the first time in absolutely ages, had some porridge for breakfast. I figured it was getting a little colder in the morning and at night now, and so what better to warm up than with a bowl of the hot stuff? I always make it with milk (porridge with water is just evil) and that certainly warmed me up nicely for breakfast before heading out.

As it turned out the weather was pretty good anyway as I headed into the city centre on the bus. The first stop was the lovely people in The Northern Cutter, who did their usual brilliant job with my hair and made sure that it was all up to scratch and looking rather spot on - even had the eyebrows sorted out so that they weren't sticking out too far, which made a lot of sense. It just felt much better when I left and then headed down Market Street and towards HMV. I had a look at some of the CDs in there and the two I was particularly after weren't too cheap really, so I thought "ah well" and checked out DJ Hero in the games section, which they had on demo. Semeed quite intriguing although I didn't want to pay close on £100 for the game and deck..

It was then on to the card shop to get the birthday cards and it didn't take me too long to find the nice ones that I was after. In fact all the staff were dressed up in Halloween-esque costume, reminding me what day it was today. Is it me though or has everyone gone completely overboard with trying to promote Halloween as more excuse to part with your hard earned cash this year? For me, it didn't work and it was much better instead having a stroll through the shops and seeing who had made the most effort. Some of the staff in the card shops though did look nice in their outfits, it was done classy and with style, praise to them.

Next stop was Poundland, as I decided that I needed to pick up some SD card readers for work, and these have the added advantage of reading SDHC cards, which my camera currently uses. My old card reader and floppy drive combo doesn't read them and already have one of the small readers, but believe it or not, the same one is in Poundland for a mere quid, and works just as well. I got three for the office so we can use them if we need to help anyone, and also this neato USB little mini vacuum cleaner, which really does do the job - I got plenty of dust out from udnerneath the keyboard making it a lot better and safer to use later on. Hurrah.

And then on to Vinyl Exchange. I hadn't been in for a while and though that if anywhere was going to have the CDs I wanted for a lower price then this was the place to go - and so it proved, too. I flicked through the indie section and found Ben's Brother's second album "Battling Giants" for a mere fiver. It had been a great gig when myself and The Milk In My Coffee saw them live earlier on this year and I always meant to buy the album and as I hadn't put it on any of my Christmas lists, I was free to do so - hurrah. In fact when I got close to the counter I noticed they had the new Juliette Lewis album, which was the other one I was after, behind the counter for a mere seven quid too, so money spent and both CDs purchased. Good old Vinyl Exchange, it bloody rules it does!

I got home and had the Juliette Lewis CD on whilst watching the F1 qualifying and also speaking to one of my friends online about why her website wouldn't play ball with IE8 and RSS feeds. After some tests here, I reckon it was a combination of both the browser not liking any add-on toolbars but also the fact that IE8 doesn't handle feeds quite right for some reason (although when I installed IE8 on my box here, it seemed to be okay with it - for now). However as her site's powered by Wordpress, it's normally pretty much standards-compliant, so usually the culprit is IE. Of course, as all good websites good, it works perfectly well in Firefox (as you'd expect). I would recommend if you have time, have a peek - especially if you love knitting, crochet and tea and old school cakes!

Back to Juliette Lewis then - plenty of the songs reminded me of her excellent gig the other night at Academy 2, and possibly my favourite song on the album is "Uh Huh", which she claimed at the gig was a song that she wrote about "making out" (for those not versed in American slang, that's getting a passionate snogging session) and how you feel when you're about to do that. It's a really catchy rock number and shows that having the bloke from The Mars Volta involved in her new album was a good move all round. Tune of the day - without question.

Friday 30th October - The Beautiful People

Had a busy day today, mainly taken up by the technical group meeting that I attend. It was decided now that there was one attendee per campus, so to speak, and so I was there for all of us in the Campus Team. I had collated all the information together with regards to any queries that needed to be raised, and although the meeting was long, it was a case of that I was able to put my foot forward and definitely put my points across. Knowing that there was a team meeting on Monday, I spent time this afternoon composing a document with a summary of all of what's happened in the meeting and what I was able to work out, and then all was well with the world. Hurrah!

I nipped home and then off out to do the weekly food shop at Tesco. Intriguingly there were only certain things I needed but was able to get them all, then it was a case of deciding what I was going to cook for tea tomorrow night when The Milk In My Coffee is coming over. I had some ideas in my head and so made sure I had all the ingredients that I needed and put them in my trolley along with all the other bits that I needed - and as it was a good deal on the fabric conditioner I got that too just to be on the safe side, then ventured home and started rocking on Guitar Hero 5.

In fact I tried out the downloadable content for 5, as I had 200 Wii points left, and one of the tracks that came out yesterday as part of a Halloween track pack was Marilyn Manson's "The Beautiful People" which is one of my favourite tracks of that band. The download was dead easy and it was on to the SD card for the Wii in seconds, and so I was then able to play the track on the guitar. It wasn't that difficult to do, but nice to see that they've put it in and allow you to really rock pretty hard anyway, so all good fun - tune of the day for me definitely.

It was then over to my uncle's place as my nephew's birthday was today. I decided to put some money in a card because he wasn't sure what to get, and as I knew he was off out with his friends tonight he could go out on the town and have a few beers and all that (and why the hell not eh?) and it was also good to be around and see everyone. In fact my niece was there too and she was all kitted out in a little outfit. They had been doing face painting at the local Asda and so she was face painted like a cat and even had the outfit to match, which looked very cute to say the least. It was good to have a giggle and even see how she reacted to my little Dalek impersonation, awww.

I got home later and back on went Guitar Hero 5 for a bit, as I played my way through the likes of Spacehog's "In The Meantime" and then, because I could, David Bowie's "Fame". Not quite sure yet about trying out the vocals for the end bit, bet that's quite hard. Anyway, it was then on to book some trains later for a forthcoming trip. Rather weirdly at first, you could only get advance tickets for both parts of the journey separately, not together, which struck me as a bit odd, but later on I was then able to get everything booked the right away round, so I've managed to book the trip down to Cornwall in January for a mere £28.50 each - which isn't bad. Bizarrely, you have to change at Birmingham and Plymouth on the way down, yet there's a direct train back. Go figure!

Thursday 29th October - Love And Coffee

After a fairly hectic day at work with plenty going on in the background and even more going on in terms of being able to do stuff, it was straight into the city centre to do a little bit of shopping. I needed a card for one of my relations as it was their birthday tomorrow, and I also wanted to pick up a Christmas present or two whilst I was in there too. In fact I spotted a couple of good ideas in one of the card shops of all places in that some of the presents I was buying were not the easiest to wrap because of their shape, so get a little gift box to place it in - and in fact one of them had a very nice one indeed which did the job. And I picked up the present I was after a little later on too, all power to me.

I then had a text from The Milk In My Coffee saying that she was missing me (aww) and admittedly I was missing her a bit too, and as I was in the city centre and thought that she'd be on her way home after the late shift, I decided that I'd wait at her bus stop for her and give her a nice surprise. However, as it got close to her finishing work she texted me to say she was in Marks and Spencer doing a bit of shopping, so I decided to ring her as I was walking down Market Street with a very jovial "Bonsoir, mon cherie" as she answered the phone, so I walked down to M&S and met her in there, which was nice.

We decided that as she might be checking out other stuff in the store afterwards that we'd pause in their café and have a coffee and a little slice of lemon cake, and that worked out rather nice. It was lovely to be able to catch up and I did have something to tell her in that even though I did put a Wii Fit on my Christmas list, not to get me one. I had been umming and ahhing about whether to get one, and the cruical thing it always came back to was "would I use it enough?" and to be honest, the resulting thing would be no. Of course when there's a chance to rock, what option would I take eh?

It was lovely as ever to see The Milk though, and as we parted later so that she could do more shopping and I could head homewards and watch the classic F1 footage (plenty of excellence abound there let me tell you) and then later on watch the classic Eurostar ad and enjoy the music (which I have) - so I must make Philip Glass' version of "Heroes" tune of the day for that very reason. In case you're wondering why I'm thinking of Eurostar at the moment, it's all down to a possible plan to make a weekend of it in London in February...

Wednesday 28th October - Five One

It was off with my friend after work to the City of Manchester Stadium tonight to see Manchester City in action in the fourth round of the Carling Cup, as City were taking on Scunthorpe for a place in the last eight of the tournament. I must admit that being a City fan at the moment is a bit up and down, on the one hand we've only lost one game all season, but in the other the last three league games have all been draws, which isn't boding positive for the future. Hopefully tonight might be a chance to knock some goals in and also therefore be able to progress nicely.

We got to the ground just in time for kick off, and surprisingly there were more people than we though there'd be - even the top tier was open. Maybe the "kids for a quid" offer for half term helped a bit, but to be fair Scunthorpe brought plenty with them and they provided good vocal backing for the masses, notably when they were attacking. As you can well imagine, getting there on time proved to be a good move when after two minutes Shaun Wright-Phillips released Stephen Ireland and Superman did the rest, curling a shot in the corner to take the lead. But.. we took our foot off the accelerator, Joleon Lescott was having a right nightmare and he really should have cut out the low cross that led to Scunthorpe's deserved equaliser.

We did at least go 2-1 up before half time. Excellent work from Pablo Zabaleta down the right resulted in a perfect cross for Roque Santa Cruz to score his first goal for City with a header into the corner. It was good for him and indeed for us, although admittedly we didn't play that well and we both knew that we had to up the game in the second half to be able to perform properly. Thankfully, it sounded like Mark Hughes had taken note and we were tons better second half both defensively, and in attack. Lescott made up for his earlier error when he headed home from a well taken corner on the hour to make it 3-1.

After Stephen Ireland almost scored a fourth, he made way for Vladimir Weiss, whom I told my friend was definitely one to watch. And so it proved, he ran Scunthorpe ragged, was unlucky not to score a couple of goals himself and looked very good indeed. He might be worth a run out at Birmingham on Sunday, I reckon, and my friend was impressed. It was Weiss' low cross which Carlos Tevez couldn't miss to make it 4-1, and after that Tevez made way for Benjani and Gareth Barry gave way to Michael Johnson, and the Urmston midfielder did his best to prove he was back with a stunning 25 yard strike a few minutes later to make it 5-1. One of the stewards behind us had actually put a bet on for that scoreline, so when Weiss shot just wide she breathed a sigh of relief (although of course 6-1 would have been even better).

It was a good night really and it only proved sometimes that when things go right in football, they go well. When I got home I thought "you know, sometimes being happy doesn't make you stupid, does it?" and proceeded to play MJ Hibbett and the Validators' excellent album opener, "Being Happy Doesn't Make You Stupid" - tune of the day there easily. In fact, the singalong chorus of "Hey there, emo boy, give us all a smile" is enough to get everyone happily singing along without too much effort - a real masterstroke if ever there was one. Hurrah for good old fashioned indie music!

Tuesday 27th October - Scrabbletastic!

I had had a pretty long day at work and to be honest I was glad that I was able to put my feet up and relax a while before doing anything else. I did however get home a little later than planned due to traffic, and so it was a case of nipping out to Tesco before The Milk In My Coffee arrived for tea a bit later on. I needed on the whole lots of cleaning stuff - wipes for the kitchen, loo roll, toilet cleaner and on top of that, some washing powder. Interestingly, I did notice too that all the games for the Wii seemed to have disappeared from the shelves and instead were being replaced by books, and also of course many other seasonal items with Christmas not that far away.

I got home and had a text from The Milk saying she might be a bit delayed and so not to make tea just yet, which was good of her. When she did arrive, we had time to catch up on our days and then be able to enjoy what I'd done - some pasta with ham and tomato along with a pretty spicy arabiatta sauce, coupled with some nice thin crispy garlic bread on the side. It went down well and after we'd relaxed a bit and let the food settle after tea, I decided that I'd play some Fun Lovin' Criminals and see if she fancied going in March, which is possibly when I was going to head out there and see them at Academy 1.

I played it safe with their first album "Come Find Yourself" which is pretty funky and laid back but also of course has the Tarantino-tastic "Scooby Snacks" (tune of the day simply because it's such a clever use of dialogue throughout the song) and their excellent cover version of "We Have All The Time In The World" along the way - most excellent. We in fact had two games of Scrabble which lasted about the length of each of the albums I played - the first one to this, where it was a tight game in terms of the board but we scored pretty well, and then the second to John Mayer's excellent "Room For Squares". I'd have been tempted to go to see him in January but it clashes with other stuff.

Anyway, as John did his guitar thing (much like me on Guitar Hero 5 earlier in the evening, nailing Wild Cherry's "Play That Funky Music") I managed to pull off some good moves, the best of which meant I used all seven letters and played CLADDING down the left side of the board, with a blank being one of the Ds. With double letter on the L and triple word, it scored me 36 for the word and another 50 for using all the letters, thus 86 points, not a bad move at all methinks. And that certainly sped the night through and before we knew it, it was time to grab some shut eye.

Monday 26th October - Night And Day And Night Again

It's really awful now the clocks have gone back - because it starts to get dark much earlier and in fact when I got home tonight it was already dark. Not good. However I did get home later than usual from work and with good reason, but more on that a little later on. Today was definitely a day where I felt good and felt on top of things - and indeed having a couple of students say a nice thank you for helping them out made my day. One of them had a problem in that their camera card wasn't reading, and I soon sussed out it was down to it being an SDHC card, and the readers don't take them, so I informed her where you could get one and indeed where to buy one cheap for use at home. It's good to make people feel happy you know.

In fact I killed three birds with one stone when I went over to another building: I made a network point live and tested the point to make sure all was working, I updated the licence on a PC that wasn't hooked up to the network and needed doing, and then after that it was a case of sorting out why someone couldn't run IE. In fact they couldn't run much else because they had run out of hard disk space, and so a bit of Partition Magic was needed in order to sort everything out, as you do.

Later on as I left the office I thought "It'd be really nice to see The Fret Buttons On My Guitar, I am really missing her" and so I texted her to see if she fancied a coffee after work. No reply. She might have had it on silent, so I got into the city centre and got to the bus stop she gets on the bus at, hoping to intercept her there. I then looked up at the bus that was just about to leave and spotted her, so rang her on her phone and as the bus left, asked her if she fancied a coffee. She got off the bus at the next stop and I walked up to meet her half way. It was a nice little surprise and to be honest, I was quite missing her (I know, I am such a softie at heart aren't I?) and wanted to chat.

So we headed to Night and Day whilst it was still day light, and she had a tea (black tea of course) and myself a latte, and we chatted about our day and also a forthcoming trip that we are planning, and all was well with the world as we let everything go by. By the time we left and headed on our buses home darkness had indeed fallen and we walked together to the stop and it was rather lovely to do so. I am so lucky you know, I really am. In fact it was also good just to be able to slow down a bit after work and I think we both appreciated spending that bit of time together.

I headed home and decided tonight was time to rock out, and after playing Rammstein's "Du Hast" on Guitar Hero 5, I remembered the excellent song of theirs "Feuer Frei". In fact I also remembered the excellent video someone made of the song with Lego men performing as Rammstein, even with Lego Darth Vader in the audience. That alone makes the song tune of the day and you really do need to see the video, it's a classic and a perfect example of what a good film maker can do, even with the likes of Lego. Just imagine it's the opening scene and the acting here's better than Vin Diesel, hehe!

Sunday 25th October - Birthday Bonanza

Myself and The Fret Buttons On My Guitar decided to make the most of the extra hour gained this morning (the clocks went back in the UK, in case you wondered) and so had a bit of a lie in. We deserved it, we felt, after working so hard in the week and having a busy time last night, but in a good way. It was also rather nice just to potter around the house when we did get up, and therefore make the most of the time we had. Eventually it was time to head back to The Fret Buttons' place, as Man City were at home later and my friends would be coming round to see the game, then we'd all be heading out later for my friend's birthday, which would be ace.

We had lunch back at The Fret Buttons', and as time wore on and kick off went nearer, I was worried about my friends turning up for the game at her place. Turned out there were loads of road works, plus they had gone almost via my place and then realised of course I wasn't there! Oops. Anyway, they got there safe and sound, and myself and my friend headed to the ground and my other friend and The Fret Buttons had a hot date with the X Factor recording she made from last night. Well, rather them than me, it has to be said - I can't stand the programme and all I know is that some stupid twins who can't sing are apparently ruining everything. Good, haha, that'll teach Simon "I once gave the Teletubbies a hit single you know" Cowell.

But enough of my ascerbic wit. By 5pm it was almost ascerbic swearing at Manchester City and in particular at the players, who had let myself and my friend down pretty badly. To be honest, we didn't play that well at all and Fulham were the better side for most of the game. Quite how Bobby Zamora missed his chance in the first minute of the second half from six yards only he will know. It did serve as a wake up call for City and a scrambled corner was turned towards goal by Emmanuel Adebayor, with Joleon Lescott getting the last touch, and a few minutes later when a Martin Petrov superlative strike went in for 2-0 all seemed good.

And then it went down hill. Two minutes later Fulham pulled one back through slack marking from Lescott allowing Damien Duff to hit home, and then from a cross a few minutes later Clint Dempsey rose above Lescott and headed it right in the far corner, giving Shay Given no chance and for the score to be 2-2. We had thrown it away and we almost lost 3-2 but for Given's goalkeeping, whilst at the other end predictable punts up to Adebayor weren't working - it was route one at its very worst. Quite rightly, the players and Mark Hughes got booed off and the general consensus of the fans as we left the ground was very telling, backed up by hard facts. In the first games of the season, we kept clean sheets with Richard Dunne and Kolo Toure in the centre of defence. Since Dunne left on 31st August, we've not kept a single clean sheet in the league. You do the maths.

After that, it was back to The Fret Buttons' place, and we headed into the city centre a bit later on (and of course a suitable change of course, out of my City retro away shirt!) and to Table Table on Lower Mosley Street to meet up with my friend and her boyfriend, as it was her birthday we were celebrating, admittedly a few days later. It was actually her birthday on Tuesday but as she'd just got back from America for two weeks thought it best for us all to meet then. It was all very lovely actually, we had a really nice table where the six of us could sit round and have a good natter, and all was well with the world. We diseccted all sorts and had three very good courses, I had the breaded mushrooms, then the gammon and then the ice cream with blackcurrant coulis, yum yum and in my tum.

My friend was chuffed to bits with her presents. We got her a gift card for Debenhams and also one of the charms by Chamilia for the Chamilia charm bracelet that she has, in the shape of a handbag. We thought it was rather lovely, anyway. My other friends got her another Chamilia charm (full of hearts), along with the new Michael Buble album and a Jodi Picoult book, so she was rather pleased with that too. It was good to see her boyfriend too again, he seems a really good bloke all round and I know that I could tell my friend had a sparkle in her eye, which is absolutely gorgeous to see, hurrah!

In fact, whilst discussing what Sunday telly used to be like (Space 1999, The Love Boat, Hart to Hart, even bloody Highway To Heaven which my Mum used to love) there was even some 1980s music over the speakers, namely Prefab Sprout. We all remembered them quite fondly actually, and any band who has a chorus that has the lines "Hot dog, jumping frog, Alberquerque" gets a win in my book, so the song that lyric is from (The King of Rock and Roll) is tune of the day. I know there's other good stuff they did, but this one just reminds me of sunnier and warmer days than we've been experiencing lately!

Saturday 24th October - Live On The Big Screen

Had a good idea today in that I was going to head in to Stockport to get my brother's Christmas present. I had seen something in one of the major department stores, and knowing that they had a branch in Stockport, I thought "go there, get what I need, wrap it up, job done". Or well, so I thought. I got there, searched high and low to make sure that I wasn't missing out on anything I might have spotted (and even checked the sale stuff in case any nice jeans flew out at me in my size for cheap while I was there) and the present I was after wasn't in. No problem, just headed on the bus into the centre of Manchester, where, after a little bit of hunting in their branch, managed to find what I was after. Phew. It did mean a couple of extra journeys that I might have otherwise done without though, but hey ho, that's what happens.

I spent a bit of time during the afternoon getting all the presents I'd bought recently wrapped up, along with my friend's birthday presents, and also caught up on the cleaning and ironing. Well, they have to be done, best get out of the way now eh? I did have one eye as ever on Gilette Soccer Saturday on Sky Sports News, and I have to say that the result of the day was Stoke's win at Tottenham, which was well deserved because of the way they battled, never gave up, and got a good goal at the end to smash and grab their way to all three points. I have to say their goalie was brilliant and deservedly in my view man of the match.

I had a blast of Guitar Hero 5 during the afternoon as well, I made some time for it so I could play my way through some of the songs in career mode. I failed miserably with the extra challenge of whammying some of the sustains on Coldplay's "In My Place", I managed around 25 seconds or so when you need 30, so almost got there. I'll have to work out the best technique and give that another go a little later on. Mind you, tune of the day was a song I played a bit later, David Bowie's "Fame". I'm glad it's the original version to be honest, it just seems much more together and tighter, and has a good funk feel to it. Not looking forward to trying to nail that end bit of the vocals with the falling "Fame" singing.. that's going to be a toughie.

What was nice was that I had the pleasure of welcoming in The Fret Buttons On My Guitar later on, as we were going to head over to my Mum's for tea, always a nice thing. We both had a catch up, and we'd missed each other quite a bit. It was good to have a coffee, and chat about all sorts. I did mention the fact that I'd got us tickets for Swing Out Sister in London next February (cos we wanted to go!) and I was in the process of sorting out somewhere to stay, so we're going to make a weekend of it as well. Well, why the hell not? In fact she was very lovely in her outfit, and once we'd got changed, the rain was pretty heavy so it was a taxi to Mum's.

We arrived at Mum's and she was sorting out the tea, which proved to be rather lovely - a nice big piece of chicken wrapped in bacon, with some potatoes, carrots, peas and this nice sauce too. It was very filling though and thankfully the pavlova for afterwards was very light, or else I might have had to refuse it to be honest. We did have plenty of wine and chatter as well, which was rather nice to do, and Mum mentioned to me before we came that it might be a good idea to bring a DVD or two round for a surprise. Hmm.. I was intrigued, so I took with us Little Voice and Miss Potter and so we could allow Mum to choose.

Anyway, what it turned out was that my brother had got a projector which they would then project the image from it on to the white wall in Mum's living room - it was dirt cheap on eBay, apparently. My brother then had the Xbox 360 hooked up via component cable, and so you just played the DVD from the Xbox, and widescreen is yours. Of course once I sussed out how to operate the DVD controls with the Xbox controller, all was well and, as Mum had seen Little Voice before, we put on Miss Potter, whcih she thoroughly enjoyed. She was quite surprised at how good Ewan McGregor was in it, and indeed in parts I could now appreciate why The Fret Buttons seems to think that Kristin Hersh looks sort of like Renee Zellweger (of course I don't agree!). We later looked at the Virgin train on the laptop to reassure Mum about our future trip and before we knew it, almost midnight and time to head back homeward. What a lovely evening!

Friday 23rd October - I Am Tiger Woods!

Another day at the office, but one which at least did have signifcant reward to be honest. I was starting the day off by doing lots of student account moves, and then later on a case of installing some of the financial software on several PCs in another building, which worked out pretty well on the whole. In fact I even managed to sort out a scanner, re-deploy a printer back to its usual place as well as deal with plenty of queries from students. One of them later in the day had a problem with her Mac, and as I'd helped her before she said I was "Magic Man" because I could fix things, which was nice. It's really rewarding when your customer base praise you and admire you for what you do, cheers me up no end.

After the usual Friday evening trip to Tesco (even got myself a small treacle tart for dessert in the reduced to clear section, what am I like eh?) it was time to have something for tea and then settle back and watch the final of Masterchef - The Professionals, which I had recorded last night whilst watching Juliette Lewis. On balance, it was a really tough show, and having to cook for all those Michelin starred chefs (plus of course Michel's senior sous chef Monica Galetti, who looked rather gorgeous!) must have been daunting, not least when they were actually doing Michel's own dishes. That said though, it definitely was a good effort by all three finalists and it really was going to go down to the final cook off to see what could be done.

All three of them pushed themselves really hard, but I had a feeling who was the most calm and methodical and who was going to win, and that feeling was true. It was nice to get a profile of the three finalists on the final day, with Steve showing his roots and how the loss of his father helped him realise he had to work hard to get where he was and does, Daniel with his North East determination and the love of his girlfriend, and Marianne, being a private chef to the stars and also having a real touch. In the end, the final cook off showed us the deserved winner. Marianne got her timing slightly wrong which was always going to go against her, and Daniel made the mistake of not taking the skin off the turbot before serving it, whereas Steve's main course was unbelievably good - and Michel Roux Jr himself couldn't fault it whatsoever. Steve did deserve it in my view, and good luck to him for the future.

It was then a blast of Tiger Woods 09 on the Wii. I'm still making my way through in career mode, doing the amateur tournaments before being allowed on the professional PGA Tour and all that. My latest tournament was the Desert one at Aviara, where I had to battle through four rounds of match play before being declared the winner, and I won the last match 4 and 3, which was comfortable (ish) but still had to make the shots when it mattered, and I did, which pleased me no end. I think in terms of game longetivity it has bucket loads of it, because you're only ever as good as your last round after all. Hurrah!

Tune of the day is one I heard yesterday, Patrick Hernandez's "Born To Be Alive". It may be cheesy disco pop but you know what? It's good fun, and sometimes music just has to be that - fun and altogether an escape from the real world (which let's face it isn't always so good at the moment). And the video is just as cheesy too, which certainly gives it all that late 1970s disco pop edge, you know?

Thursday 22nd October - My Name Is Juliette

It was a pretty busy day (as per usual at the moment) in the office. That said, I have been doing quite a green thing during today and being able to re-use fully working older printers and donating them to members of staff that need one. Obviously a) it saves money and b) resources and c) the environment, if you're not having to get a new one. It turned out that when some staff left there were printers that came with their machines, so I managed to get a fully functioning Deskjet 5550 for one member of staff and a Deskjet 5940 for another, which is more than adequate for their needs. One other member of staff mentioned that a Scanjet 4850 was left in their office by the previously departed member of staff, and could they use it? I arranged for a setup to be done tomorrow and all was well with the world.

After heading home and taking things relatively easy, having something to eat and then a quick blast of Guitar Hero 5 on vocals to get me more used to the idea of being able to sing my way through the game (which admittedly will be tricky!) it was then off out to Manchester Academy 2 to see Juliette Lewis. A lot happened since she last toured (which I missed, silly me), her band The Licks are no more, and there's now a new band, The New Romantiques, who play and tour with her. Her new album "Terra Incognita" has sounded pretty good from what I've heard and of course seeing a former film star turned rock chick is always intriguing (not to mention her guest vocals on a Prodigy album, like, how cool?)

The Academy was already quite busy when I got there, and I was going to get some tickets from the box office from future events, but there was a queue, so I did that in between bands. In the end, I later got tickets for Public Image Ltd for myself and my friend, and one for Slayer for me. I know, me going to Slayer and all that! It'll be interesting not just to see how many long haired thrash fans will be rocking, but also to see and hear just how they are on stage as compared to on record. And that will be worth it alone. And PiL, well, wonder what John Lydon will have for us for that? Bit steep with the ticket price for that though, a mere £36. Ouch!!

Anyway, up soon were Attack! Attack! (official website) (myspace) and they weren't too bad at all, they were a very tight four piece who really did concentrate on rocking the place nicely and got things warmed up well. They were from South Wales (as they told you lots) and they really did want to show their craft in a good way. Out of the stuff they played, an obvious favourite for everyone was "Hey You", a catchy number and even more so because of its appearance on Guitar Hero 5. They certainly seemed to be enjoying themselves immensely too, and definitely a band I'd be more than happy to see again. Yaay them!

That got everyone in the right frame of mind for Juliette Lewis (myspace) and all was well there too. Understandably, plenty of stuff from her new album was played, and amongst the highlights there were the very bluesy feel of "Hard Lovin' Woman" which really reminded me of old school Led Zeppelin, in a good way, and also the catchy pop feel of "Uh Huh" which had the whole audience happily bounding around the place, and that felt rather nice. The haunting broody feel of "Ghosts" was another highlight, showing that she has plenty in her reportoire, not just fast paced rock numbers where she could bound around the stage effortlessly with her new band in tow. The bass player was cuteness personified too, all rocking and all smiling - much kudos to her.

What was nice to see was that she hadn't completely forgotten her old band stuff with Juliette and the Licks (her new lot are The New Romantiques, in case you wondered) and the superb "Got Love To Kill" sounded rather rocking and got everyone in the right mood, so tune of the day right there. Add to that a rather nice short and sweet encore of the excellent "Hot Kiss" and you did have one rather fab gig. She even came on stage to Patrick Hernandez' disco number "Born To Be Alive", which, by some amazing coincidence, I once composed a Commodore 64 cover version of! How these things fit together eh?

Wednesday 21st October - Overheating

It seems that keeping my cool despite the heat of everything was the key today. I nailed the problem with the Officejet printer eventually. For some reason, the HP installer asks you for all the information, installs the driver and other software, and then at the end asks you again to select a detected printer and/or model and how it's all connected. Strangely, if you don't do that last part and skip setup, whenever you add the printer with that driver, it then fails to print through NDPS/iPrint, but once you do it right, it's fine. I tested it first on an Intel iMac, then went to the Intel Macbook we were using for testing, before trying another Intel iMac upstairs and all three of them worked happily. Hurrah to that, I said to myself.

The afternoon was mainly spent doing some testing and firefighting of calls, but also to see how a few things could be done with regards to replacing a CMOS battery on a Toshiba laptop. I did manage to locate the service manual, but to say that finding it to remove involves minor surgery would be the master of the understatement. It certainly from the diagrams seemed that way, and after also being able to assist a colleague in trying to sort out an annoying problem with a Vista laptop. We did mange to be able to see the data when the hard drive was put on to another machine though, so at least that's a start.

Then it was on to my friend's place to see if we could get to the bottom of why his PC was just not performing as it should and shutting off without warning all of a sudden. We did some initial run tests and within half an hour or so that shutting off would happen. I changed the graphics card for a lower spec one to see if that was more stable, and it was till it hung, and even changed the power supply back to the old one he had too, and still the same thing. It was at least proving that it might not be the PSU which was causing the issue, and so then I had an idea. I would look at the temperature of the processor in the BIOS set up and see how that was. When I looked, it was rather warm and got to around 97 degrees centigrade before giving up the ghost.

Now we knew what the issue was, the attack was two fold. First off, it was a case of taking off the heatsink and fan once it had cooled down (it was red hot to the touch so had to be careful) so that we could try and get the dust off it. As it happened, the top of the heat sink was caked in dust, so had to be vigilant to get all of that off to ensure everything worked properly. Once that was done, we then put some more thermal silver paste on the processor die, and after a few attempts, managed to get the heatsink back on (those Intel heatsink designs for their boards are really poor, the prongs are ever so fiddly to say the least!) and then fire up the PC again, with the graphics card and power supply back to as they were. The temperature looked better, and so fired up the PC and installed the motherboard vendor's software so we could monitor things.

The temperature stayed at a maximum of around 60 degrees centigrade and seemed to be pretty stable, the fan went round at a good pace and everything seemed to be detected rather nicely in terms of what was happening. It felt good and the PC was happily running for almost two hours without any signs of any possible crash, so that was definitely a positive thing to behold. Excellent! And we had a good chat in the evening to boot as well so no complaints from me there - all together a good evening's work. And to celebrate, I got home, updated the Wii for the new shop channel and then transferred all the content from Guitar Hero Smash Hits to work with 5 via the store in the game - 21 of the songs can be done, yaay. And that includes tune of the day, "Shout At The Devil" by Motley Crue. Hurrah!

Tuesday 20th October - Rocking The Trafford Centre

After a long day at work where I was to find out quite a few things about what's going on and what the future holds at work (not altogether a surprise although some of it was in a strange way), I had also managed to start to get to the bottom of a niggly problem that had been bugging a few of us in that one of the new HP Officejet printers would fail to work with our print charging system and NDPS/iPrint. I had a feeling that because the printer doesn't support Postscript, and Apple's standalone driver seems to be pretty much Postscript only, would be that you'd need the HP driver and all the gubbins that goes with it to work. Before I left to head home I happily got it printing via direct IP, so I was on my way there I reckoned to myself.

I got home and needed to put some money on the electric, so charged my key fob up at the local shop and headed home and soon enough The Thread In My Needle headed over, which was all rather lovely. We had a chat and a catch up, and she had a shower as well whilst I made the tea - chicken in bacon and cheese with some new potatoes and peas - pretty healthy, I thought to myself. It was nice just to take things easy and also to be able to spend a bit of time doing that. We'd both had up and down days so it was good to let all that go out, before we had a brainwave. Let's head out and do some shopping and get my friend's birthday present sorted out.

Off we headed towards the city centre and then out again to The Trafford Centre. I'm not a massive plan of the place, in fact it's the first time we'd ever been there together, but I guess it has its pluses. And it was pretty empty as well, which certainly made for a gentle stroll. Starting at John Lewis and heading all the way down to Debenhams, we had a peek in a few of the shops and got my friend's presents along the way. In fact we took a good look in Debenhams anyway as they had some good Christmas gift ideas, not least the Wallace and Gromit alarm clock which looked rather fab. I also spotted a good idea for my brother so I might just get that at some point too.

We then headed along to HMV, where I nipped in and noticed that Mario and Sonic at the Winter Olympic Games was on, so that looked pretty good and justifying my choice as a possible present for myself at Christmas. But then I noticed that Guitar Hero 5 was reduced in price by some way - in fact much cheaper than anywhere else, so one purchase later (plus another Christmas present purchased at the same time) and it was mine! I tried it out later, and it seemed pretty good fun all round, not least the promise of being able to import some of the tracks from Guitar Hero World Tour and Greatest Hits, so we'd see what that would bring, I reckoned to myself.

What was nicest of all though was just to be able to saunter around the shops at our own pace and take things relatively easy, but also chatter away at the same time. We even thought of some nice ideas for other people for presents as well as being able to pick up a nice card for my friend too. In fact all the card shops now have the Christmas cards in - and believe it or not, you can now get cards either to the cat or from the cat! Seems a bit too far to be honest, but as they say, each to their own eh? It was hammering it down as we left there but thankfully it wasn't far to go before we were heading back homeward, where Masterchef The Professionals was waiting for us. Cooking for Kevin Pietersen must have been a right buzz, I reckon!

Tune of the day is Arctic Monkeys' "Brianstorm". Apart from being the opening track of their excellent second album "Favourite Worst Nightmare" it's also featuring on Guitar Hero 5, which is good to see. I did have a try on vocals and sort of got it pretty right, but it's quite hard to get some of the faster phrases spot on without remembering exactly how the original's sung. Kind of wish it was another song off that album to make it easier, but no matter - it was still immense fun anyway and of course what makes it all work is that you do feel as if you're rocking out, always a good thing that!

Monday 19th October - All Go On Monday

After such a good weekend it's always a little bit of a downer to head back in to work and to get things done, but that's how it is sometimes. The tricky bit is always motivating yourself enough to be up in the morning and indeed to be ready to rock and to be full of ideas and ability for the day. I did set myself a couple of good tasks to do though and one of them was to finish off my documentation I was creating concerning imaging the Mac. I had captured the screenshots and had typed up most of the Word document guide on Friday, so it was then a case of finishing off any loose ends and then being able to produce a quality documented guide, which I also made in PDF format as well to be on the safe side.

The day certainly was pretty busy so I was glad to be able to get home and to take things a little easier, although not that much easier. I decided that tonight I was going to spend some time sorting out some of the Christmas presents that I'd purchased and wrap them all up. Indeed, a couple arrived in the post by the time I'd got home so it meant I could open the packages, check that everything was okay and then get them all wrapped and tagged. I know it sounds like I am starting early, but the way I look at it is that if I've managed to get everything sorted by December, I can take it easy and relax quite a bit then and not have to worry about paying top whack for stuff (there's method in my madness you know!)

I also spent some time on Tiger Woods 09, especially as I wanted to see how I could progress during the season. There was a one round April Fools' Day tournament on one of the courses and my golfer pretty much did the job and put in some excellent approach shots, not least one which came to within centimetres of an albatross. Still, an eagle was more than helpful as I made a pretty good go at getting -10 for one round and winning that tournament, plus then one at St Andrews where you had to play match play across four days to try and win, which I did. It's nice that there's plenty and scope and longetivity in the game, in that you can play it for hours on end and not get that bored either.

Masterchef The Professionals of course went on later, as you'd expect of course, and that was rather brilliant to say the least. The final three are really having to up their game now and after having to do all that high tea for the likes of Michel Roux himself, to then translate that to proper desserts was something rather fun. I liked the tequila themed trio of desserts but the one that caught my eye was the one based on the old sweet shop favourites, with the lollipop scoring a hit with the judges, which was rather different! Tune of the day though is the wonderful "Teeth" by Kristin Hersh, which just set me off nicely towards my sleep at the end of the long day.

Sunday 18th October - On The Button, The World Champion

Well, today was supposed to be a bit of a less busy day than yesterday, and so it proved. After The Thread In My Needle headed home, and I did feel rather sad about that, it was then time to head to Asda to get some bits of shopping in for later, as some of my relations were coming over to watch the City game at Wigan on Sky. I scootled around Asda in double quick time, and that gave me time to head home and generally relax a bit as well as catch up on stuff. In preparation for the F1, I even watched back some of the classic British Grand Prix that I had Sky Plus recorded from ESPN Classic some time ago.

My uncle came over around 2.30pm in good time for the football so this meant we had time for a round of golf on Tiger Woods 09 on the Wii. For a first go he did really well, getting the hang of the controls and knocking together some excellent shots, not least on the 16th par five on Kiawah Island, where the third shot just off the green went on the green, bounced, rolled and in for an eagle three. I think that made his day to land such a great shot and overall it was a good effort. I must admit I was pleased with my round of six under par as well, really did try to hold it together where possible and save par on numerous occasions.

My brother in law had arrived in time for the football as well and the three of us had a brew at the ready and watch the City game at Wigan. The first half wasn't good for chances but it was a case of cancelling each other out, and just as we thought that half time would be 0-0, a low shot across the City goal could only be palmed out by Shay Given and Charles N'Zogbia reacted first to make it 1-0 to Wigan at half time - not exactly the first half finish any of us were looking for really, so more tea and some snacks ensued at half time to see what the state of play was.

Mind you, second half we got running straight away and good work from Carlos Tevez down the right meant he had time to put a cross in, and even though Shaun Wright-Phillips had missed it, Martin Petrov didn't and he smashed home a shot with the left foot to make it 1-1. Sadly Pablo Zabaleta got sent off in for a second bookable offence and playing the last twenty minutes with ten men certainly didn't seem a good idea, but we hung on and were unlucky not to get a pen when Wright-Phillips was fouled in the area, but the draw seemed about the right result for me.

Later on it was then time to watch the F1. Now I knew that the F1 would clash with the footy so I set the Sky Plus box to record the race, and as it turned out I knew I could watch it whilst it was being recorded, so set it to come on and watched the whole thing "as live", and wow, what a race. The first lap was full of incident and that clash between Jarno Trulli and Adrian Sutil wasn't good - and especially as it took out the unfortunate Fernando Alonso too. In fact Jarno squared up much like Nelson Piquet did to Elizeo Salazar many years ago at Hockenheim, I thought it was going to be a repeat.

Once the safety car had come in, Jenson Button was on it and nailed Sebastian Grosjean and then Kazuki Nakajima on two consecutive laps, and then had to contend with Kobayashi for the next few - he was weaving all over the place but Button did get past, as soon as he did, he pulled a few seconds gap out with no problem, underlining his true pace. Of course, it was then a case of seeing what happened with Barrichello and Vettel. Vettel only got past Button at the second round of pit stops, and once Barrichello had been passed by Lewis Hamilton and had to have a tyre change due to the clash, it was all over and Button finished fifth to comfortably win the world title. He even gave a rendition of Queen's "We Are The Champions" on the warmdown lap, and the original tune is tune of the day for that reason.

Saturday 17th October - The Dark Of The Matinée

It was a pretty good and busy day all round for myself and The Thread In My Needle today, as we were going to see a friend of mine and her partner, and then off to see Franz Ferdinand in the evening. As we didn't have to be out till a bit later in the morning, it meant that we could take time to get up and just relax a bit, which is always a good thing. I made us some croissants and fruit juice and we were able to just saunter around. In fact when the postman arrived, I was up like a shot and wrapping presents. In fact three of them had arrived but one of them was for The Thread, and I didn't want her to see what I had got her (you see, I have to be careful!). The new MJ Hibbett and the Validators single also arrived with a nice little note from Mark himself,. so it certainly was a nice little package that all arrived.

We headed on the bus to Piccadilly station, and as we got close to the station, we saw that the roadworks was making the traffic head a bit slower out. As it happened though, it wasn't too bad and got to the station okay, got our tickets and headed on the train to Huddersfield to meet up with my friend and her partner. However, it was one of those journeys today. Just before Stalybridge we had to wait at a signal to ensure that the local stopping train via Ashton under Lyne came through, and then at Stalybridge itself we had to stop at the station and wait for the signal, which was well annoying - in fact it was some thirty five minutes wait there. I had let my friend know we would be delayed and suggested she head back home, and I'd let her know once we hit Marsden as the time between there and Huddersfield is about right.

We then were also delayed once we got to Diggle, as the signal there was red. Turned out that they needed staff to operate some of the signals manually and so had to wait for them to be in position before we could proceed. Once that was done, through the Standedge Tunnel (it's like border control!) and then through Marsden and Slaithwaite in to Huddersfield itself. A look at the clock showed it was 1.15pm meaning the train we were on was almost an hour late, and we were forty five minutes delayed in meeting up. We headed out of the station and my friend and her partner were there to greet us, which was rather lovely.

We headed back to their place and spotted a rather unusual sight as we went back. Along the road, I kid you not, was a woman walking an animal. No, not a dog or even a cat, but a goat. A proper goat, with horns and everything. You had to be there to see it as they walked along the main road. Later, relaxing over coffee, plenty of chatter ensued. It was great to see my friend very happy and very much in love as well - there were definite signs of her jovial self really coming to the fore (lovely for me to see of course) and she was really proud of her partner. And in my view rightly so - he's a good all round bloke who has his heart in the right place and seems a very laid back and relaxed but also hardworking person - the sort of qualities I like in spades, meself.

After having a very nice pie with mash and vegetables for lunch with some gorgeous rice pudding to follow for dessert, we then headed out for a short walk along by the stream which runs close to their place. In fact there's a sizeable hill on the other side, so it means that they're often quite sheltered from the cold weather, which is good. Later on we also headed out to the rather nice Castle Hill, which is really high up and you can see all over the place, down over the hills and to the towns all around. It's certainly a great place to view Huddersfield itself and also the television transmitter tower on Emley Moor not so far away.

The hill also had a wedding car there when we arrived, and in fact it had the bride posing by Victoria Tower at the top of the hill, before she went back into a very nice old school car. We had a look at the tower itself and walked up part of it to see the view from up there, and had a walk around the top of the hill before heading out and checking out Emley Moor's transmitter before heading back to their place. I had borrowed my friend's camera and got a really nice shot of the two of them, so they were able to have a peek at those once I transferred the images over for them - and even emailed some of them to myself. What was nice to see from those shots was just how dramatic the landscape is up there and the views certainly were spectacular.

More coffee and chat ensued and they day had gone by very quickly - a good sign in my view, and sadly it was too soon that we headed back to Huddersfield station. We'll be seeing each other when we all go to Seth Lakeman though in November, so that'll be rather fab indeedy. We can't wait. In fact the train arrived a few minutes after and we were then able to get back to Piccadilly rather quickly and on time, heading home to have something nice to eat before we were off out again - what are we like eh?

This time it was to the Apollo, and to see Franz Ferdinand. We'd been looking forward to it for a while and The Thread quite likes some of their songs, so a good idea to go I reckoned. My friend did tell me earlier that she thought they were good when she saw them live, so that was a definite plus, and I reminded myself of seeing them support Morrissey and how good that they were then. The Apollo was busy and everything in the venue was making a killing, from the expensive merchandise to £2 per coat for the cloakroom (ripoff!) and the fact that they were selling cans of beer, tipped upside down into plastic pint glasses, for a mere £3.70 a throw. Needless to say I didn't bother!

First up were Music Go Music (myspace) - who weren't that bad. Their lengthy songs did have a nice artistic edge to them and they certainly had the crowd going nicely. However, their set was spoiled not by them but whoever was in their charge of their mixing desk. The sound was really muffled and didn't help their songs or the lead singer, who was trying her best to at least be clear and crisp. I think with a better sound man it would have been better for us, but it was just rather all muffly and sounded a bit more droning and repetiive cos of that.

No such sound problems for Franz Ferdinand (official site) (myspace) though, thankfully. Their sound man had everything right, and as they came on with a drape of four heads of their figures behind them backstage, they tore into "Do You Want To" with a real verve and power that had the audience really up for it. That didn't stop there though as throughout the set they played plenty of stuff from their debut album (perhaps an admission that they haven't quite topped it yet) as the likes of "Tell Her Tonight", "Michael" and, tune of the day, "The Dark of the Matinée" which they slowed down slightly between verse and chorus to make it seem a little more punchy, and it so worked well in their favour. I really enjoyed that.

Of course, the audience were soon well up for "Take Me Out" and that had everyone singing the riff as well as the main vocals which sounded rather joyous to say the least. We also had the excellent "Ulysses" and plenty of stuff from the new album "Tonight" too, so that was good. The encore was pretty lengthy (and it needed to be as the first part was an hour or so) which included "Jacqueline", "This Fire" and then right at the end a very lengthy extended workout for the whole band, with the same hookline playing on synth and with plenty of improvisation. One thing wrong: it was way too long and way too self-indulgent to say the least and it bored me about seven minutes into its fifteen minute duration - not the way to end the set in my view and left a slightly sour taste to what was an otherwise very good gig that we both enjoyed.

We headed homewards and as I relaxed and checked out the images that I emailed myself and caught up with a couple of things, I left The Thread to watch X Factor from earlier. I didn't want to watch it - I'd rather see proper musicians making a proper effort with their songs like Franz Ferdinand did tonight. You wouldn't see any of those X Factor people attempting the likes of "Take Me Out", would you? I just can't wait for the day that the reality TV bubble bursts and real music reclaims the television once again.

Friday 16th October - Autumn Evening

I had a pretty busy day in the office today as I again was faced with the fun prospect of configuring more laptops. I had to eliminate a possible piece of spyware from one and managed to get that all sorted nicely. I also then had to test out a repaired laptop an ensured that all booted up nicely, and in the afternoon a student came to me as they couldn't connect to the wireless network. After a bit of checking of their configuration I spotted that for some reason there were some weird DNS server addresses in there, and once I removed those and set it to automatic, it connected happily without any problems - and I'm sure that in other libraries he might try on the road now it will work pretty well.

The bus came late so I made the conscious decision to head to Tesco to do the shopping for the week. In fact it was pretty busy and for some reason they had stopped stocking the fresh pasta, and after an enquiry it turned out that it wasn't selling enough, which was a shame really. I did manage to get everything to make some nice pasta and meatballs for tea tonight, and then got plenty of food for during the week. In fact there was a good offer on the wine which included some of the nice Hardy's wine, and at three for a tenner, I thought "why the hell not?" and got two white and one red, as you do.

After a while The Thread In My Needle came over, and we had a very nice pasta and meatballs for tea. The meatballs were the Swedish style ones, which saves me of course from heading to Ikea for them, hehe. We enjoyed that and then headed over to see my uncle and auntie, as it was my nephew's birthday tomorrow so wanted to drop him a card and pressie off, as you do. It was good to have a natter over a cup of tea and generally catch up on things in general. It was also very good to see how their loft conversion was coming on - it looks really good and I'm sure will be worthwhile when it's all done and dusted.

We headed back to mine and generally relaxed a fair bit, and it was nice just to take it easy as well. We even caught up with the predictions on the Wii Everybody Votes Channel, where we saw perhaps the closest vote of recent times - with "do you stay in or go out on your day off" being the question. 50.2% said "go out" and as I'd predicted that and The Thread the other, it meant that I won - yaay. It was pretty close stuff though which goes to show what a good question it was in the first place. I even had a quick blast of Wii Sports earlier in the evening.

I did also have some packages arrive with presents in though, so I felt it best to wrap them up quicker so that they couldn't be seen. In a way, doing it all now means less stress later on, so easy peasy. Mind you at work today too it was a case of sometimes having to press Control Alt and Delete (yes, it really does work) to try and fix things - and so tune of the day is MJ Hibbett's song "Control Alt Delete" because it explains everything really nicely in a two minute burst of indie pop goodness. Hurrah!

Thursday 15th October - Pay Day Is Shopping Day

Must admit I did feel quite proud of myself today - as I got our faithful Designjet 800 plotter to work with the Macs printing via direct IP. It was something that my colleague had tried out ages ago but whenever he sent a print job the plotter would just crash and burn, not good. As it turned out we were looking for versions of the driver which would work with iPrint, but none of them are actually Postscript native for the plotter. However, HP released a suite of DesignJet Mac drivers which would work with 10.4, and as it happened, the installer was a Universal binary, so I tried it on 10.5.

You install the drivers first, and then when you add a printer, select Other in the printer select screen (ie: not IP or Bonjour or anything, just other) and select HP IP printer from the list. Type in the IP address of the printer, it'll detect the right Designjet HPGL2 driver and off you go. In fact I tried it, did a couple of printouts, and they both worked without any crashing or anything. As it turned out too, when I tried the same driver on OS 10.6, it also worked well too, so that's very handy to know. Of course, the driver won't work on iPrint, as you'd expect, but at least we know that the Macs could potentially print to it if we ever found a way to charge for direct printing in the same way, oh yes.

I headed into the city centre after work and did a fair bit of Christmas shopping. In fact I managed to get four presents, three in one shop and one in another, which was one for The Arms In My Cuddle. I was getting a birthday card for one of my relations in Clinton Cards when the phone rang and it was The Arms - she suggested meeting for a drink after she finished work. I didn't mind - that was very nice and I knew that she wouldn't dare look in my bags of shopping to see what present I'd got for her. In fact it was lovely to see her and it's just a sign that we're getting closer each day - aww.

Anyway, we went for a drink in Kro first and then headed over to The Waterhouse to have our tea in there. Two big positives, it was the curry deal on the night and also they very kindly let me have another cask ale instead of the Ruddles you normally get, so the Pendle Witches Brew was mine, which went very well with the chicken korma that I had. Very nice indeed that to be honest. I went home later and felt pretty flushed with the fact that I'd made a good start to the Christmas shopping and done so well with it all. I suppose with a few presents to get this year it's going to be a good start that I need - and of course it means that I can relax in December a bit more.

Interestingly, tune of the day is something I heard when I got home from work - I just decided to put a CD on at random and see what I would select that would be enjoyable. In fact I selected John Mayer's excellent "Continuum" album as a preface to his new album coming out soon (and UK tour in 2010 - might just have to go!) and "Vultures" got my vote. It's got a lovely riff that underpins the whole song, and it has a mellow almost bluesy feel to it, perfect for late night listening.

Wednesday 14th October - Michelin Starred

I spent a bit of time during the day testing out a few things on the Mac, not least of all Snow Leopard (ie: Mac OS 10.6) which I picked up from one of my colleagues. I did it as a brand new install and not an upgrade on one of our Intel iMacs in the office (the new OS only works on Intel kit you see) and so was able to have a look at it in more detail. One thing that did spring to mind is that the networking support seems better than it was in 10.5 - for example connecting to our secure wireless network was a right pain in the backside - and it also works more reliably and stable.

One thing though: if you're thinking of installing Microsoft Office 2008 on OS 10.6, do remember that you will need to install Rosetta as an optional part of the install - or ask the Office installer to head off online and install it for you - or else the installer fails. The program itself works fine enough though, and as you'd expect, OpenOffice also played ball without a single problem. The Novell GroupWise client also works, although you will need 8.0 SP1 client to happily play ball with 10.6 - the 8.0 client throws a Java error at you.

Part of the reason of installing 10.6 was to see if the Novell iPrint client would work with it. Well, on that score there was good and bad news. The client installed, but when you wanted to add a printer, it would just throw an error at you and not install any printers. Not so hot. I have mentioned this on the Novell forums so hopefully someone will come back and produce a working client which will play ball with the new 10.6 version. Still, it was good to be able to try things out and keep my hand very much in the loop with regards to the new OS and how everything works.

I got home later and after doing two loads of washing and ironing, I timed it perfectly so that I'd be able to make some tea for myself and The Arms In My Cuddle when she arrived later on. I did us some very nice spinach and ricotta pasta with some sauce, and that went down very well, then it was on with Masterchef The Professionals. Having to cook in a Michelin starred restaurant with someone's reputation on the line is quite daunting as you would expect, but also being able to handle the pressure is something else too, to be honest. I certainly wouldn't want to do it - and of course then having to cook two dishes for the likes of Michel Roux Jr is something that would be daunting. The one who won tonight deserved to - his presentation and flavour combinations were spot on and he'd taken on what he had learned in the posh restuaurant, hurrah!

We relaxed for the rest of the evening and took it relatively easy, and I even had a blast of Sonic Unleashed on the Wii, which seemed pretty good fun, not least as Tails even featured a little bit too, which was a nice touch. The animated cut sequences were good too, be nice if you could skip them though, you know? Still, it certainly made for good fun and I even remembered good old Sonic The Hedgehog on the MegaDrive, still a classic of its genre. Tune of the day is the first level tune "Green Hill Zone" by Matsako Nakamura, who was also a member of the Japanese J-Pop band, Dreams Come True. It just sets the scene perfectly for good old Sonic fun. Yaay.

Tuesday 13th October - Unlucky For Some, Sometimes

Well if I thought yesterday was lucky then all the bad luck was saved, appropriately enough, for the 13th. First thing this morning there was a fire at a factory just outside Stockport, which meant that the buses that take me to work were all stuck in traffic jams and delayed. No bus came down to pick any passengers up for around half an hour or so (there's normally a good nine or ten in that time) and when it came it was pretty rammed, I considered myself lucky to get on as it then flew past the stops further down the road and towards work. It meant too that I got in late and that's not a very nice start to the day really.

In fact for most of the day I was playing catch up with the time I had lost yesterday due to the power cut. In fact something strange happened in one room and one side of the room in question couldn't connect anywhere. I investigated it fully and found that the network switch that they were connected to had four points which for some reason had been disabled - bizarre, really. I rang up the relevant people and got them all reconnected and as soon as I did, everything fired up and did the honours nicely, which was rather good all round really. It did end up later in the day with a mere four laptops on my desk!

One of the four was a Macbook Pro which I had to use DiskWarrior to rebuild the directory structure, which brought it back to life - although I will suggest to the user to back up their data. Another was a Toshiba Portege tablet which we had got back from our supplier after they had fitted a replacement motherboard - which took its time - and I tested that. Another was a Samsung P400 which I needed to check for viruses and spyware for the end user, and the last was a Samsung P510 which I was finishing off all the imaging stuff for - so as you can well see, no flies on me let me tell you!

After I'd got home and made myself something to eat for tea, I was heading out to first the city centre and then out to Salford City's ground to see them play Blyth Spartans in the FA Cup 3rd qualifying round. As I got on the bus I thought about The Buttons On My Shirt and knew that she would be finishing work soon, so I texted her to see if she fancied getting a coffee in Costa. As it turned out she got my message just before she headed on her bus home, so she waited for me (awww) and after heading into Boots to top up my mobile credit (and we also picked up a Christmas gift guide, as you do) it was off to Costa to have a well earned coffee together.

We caught up about our day and spent a fair bit of time browsing the Boots gift guide and getting some potential ideas for Christmas presents for people, and also having a good all round chat about stuff - and she's coming to mine for tea tomorrow. Hurrah! It was sad to let her go home and me walk towards the bus stop to get to Salford's ground later, but it's nice too that she's supportive of what I do and she could tell I was excited about having a football night out at grass roots level once again. I think sometimes you appreciate it more that way.

And thaty was certainly the case tonight, as Salford City versus Blyth Spartans turned out to be a cracker, especially in the first half. The atmosphere was good, the Salford fans in the main stand making a good noise and the Blyth fans were behind the goal they were attacking in each half too, and a good crowd came to see what the FA Cup really is about. Blyth took the lead with ten minutes or so gone, but a couple of minutes later a Salford City corner was headed in at the near post and that was good. Blyth took the lead again after the Salford left back was skinned and the ball across was a simple tap in, but then just before half time Salford equalised, a long range effort squirted off the Blyth keeper and in went Rhodri Giggs to make it 2-2.

Both sides did go for it in the second half too, especially Salford, but both sides seemed tired towards the end of the game. A couple of near misses were about the best of it, but right at the death Salford had a corner, and instead of floating one in the box to see what happens, they tried a short one and the ball went out for a goal kick - what a waste that was. Half time saw me get a pie and a coffee for the mere price of two pounds (bargain or what eh folks?) and that certainly kept me going during the second half - felt warm inside and was able to chant for the lads too with some of the others.

I made my way home back on the 93 into the city centre and then the bus home, and as it passed the Apollo there were lots of women making their way home from the Nolans concert - and I think for sure that it was virtually all women who went to that gig! Still, each to their own and if it pleases them, and if they enjoy it, well good for them I say to be honest. Tune of the day is miles away from that though - it's The Specials' "Too Much Too Young" which we had over the tannoy at Moor Lane tonight - the 12" extended version at that. Nice surprise, that!

Monday 12th October - Is 12th The Lucky Day?

Had a rather different day at work to be honest. I had got in early (thanks to The Buttons On My Shirt dropping me off, aww bless her) and I got cracking on a laptop that I needed to sort out and was just about to finish the last imaging steps of it, when - bang - all the power went off to our room. Thinking it was just the fuse box in the corridor that had tripped, I looked outside our office - only for all the power not to be present either. And looking around the whole floor and indeed the whole building seemed to have lost all its power to the rooms. We had to evacuate the building at around 10.30am, and it seemed whatever power cable had been snapped, it also affected four other buildings nearby as people were being evacuated out of that.

About three quarters of an hour later it was time to head back in, and even without any lights on, the daylight was okay for some rooms, and I stood firm in our office just in case anyone needed assistance and I could explain what had gone on. Our friend and webmaster from upstairs then popped in to say that we were being sent home by management because by all accounts the power cable was going to take all day to repair, and it would be a Health and Safety risk for us to be around the building instead. Some of us walked down to another building that did have power and had a coffee and a chat in there before making our ways homeward.

I had tried to text The Buttons to see if she fancied a coffee during lunch, but no reply. I popped in to see her and had a brief chat to explain what happened, but she had no time due to meetings, so I headed homewards from there. She did appreciate me offering though, so that's good. It also meant that with the afternoon off, I could catch up on some recorded telly but also sort out all the loose change in my jar. I tend to keep all the 1p and 2p coins and save them up for use for money off in the local Asda - as they have a Coinstar machine, so got home, checked what change I had, bagged it up and off to Asda.

You see, for a while they've had Rock Band for the Wii at a reduced price, and I thought "well with the money from the loose change that's a bit off isn't it?" and after checking that they had it, it was off to Coinstar. My bag contained just over £3 of two and one pence pieces, not to be sniffed at let me tell you. So it was then to the music and games section, I picked up Rock Band and went to the till. The lady rang it through, and she said "is that right?" and asked her colleague to check it. It got scanned again, and - get this - it had been reduced to a mere one pound! Bargain of the year or what, eh? Needless to say I said "let me pick something else" and off I trotted, and with Sonic Unleashed being reduced again down to a tenner, I picked that up too, so with the £3.06 off, I got both games for a mere £7.94 - excellent day's work!

In fact I played Sonic Unleashed when I got home for a while and it does look good fun. Sonic has had some sort of spell cast so he changes into Sonic The Werehog (werewolf claws and fur) when the moon is out, but during light he is good old Sonic that we know and love (well I do). The day and night stages are different, and it certainly in the initial stages I've played does make the gameplay a lot of fun. And good old Tails makes an appearance too which is of course rather lovely - hurrah! How nice is that?

Tune of the day is the main theme from the SEGA game "Let's Tap" for the Wii, which I enjoyed playing at my friend's place the other week. The main title theme can also be played in rhythm tap mode as well where you tap the boxes in time to the rhythm which makes the Wii remote move slightly. The main theme is Shoes' "Tap de Papapaya" and it's one of those infectiously catchy 80s-esque synth pop numbers that you simply can't resist just enjoying all the time when you play the game. And seeing the online trailer for it just reminded me just how ace it is - so there you go.

Sunday 11th October - Matalan Sunday Afternoon

It was a good Sunday all round. Myself and my friends got up, I did us all croissants, fruit juice and coffee for breakfast and we had a good chat as well as watching some of the sports highlights on Sky Sports News, and even putting the Wii on for a small while before my friends started their journeys home. It's always sad when they go because we have such a good weekend together, and of course we've thought about the next one - maybe in Newcastle next time so that my friend from South Shields can have a bit less travelling time - in fact he can get the Metro in, which would be pretty smart all round!

It was sad on the one hand when everyone left, but after getting some cleaning up done, it was also nice to see The Buttons On My Shirt for a while too. I had admittedly missed her over the weekend, so she headed over, and we had a chat about the weekend and how much I'd had a great time (which I did) and then she mentioned that she'd been out with her Mum yesterday to Matalan and how something that she was after in there wasn't there anymore, and she was a bit gutted. I came up with the suggestion of trying three local ones near me to see if we had any joy there, so we ended up heading to Openshaw, Stockport and then Baguley. Sadly none of them had what she wanted, meh. I consoled myself with a very nice Mr Whippy ice cream from the van near the Baguley one - couldn't resist.

It was then a case of heading back home to mine and so we had a couple of good games of Scrabble whilst listening to Swing Out Sister's "It's Better To Travel" album, and I did pretty well in the first game but it was quite a tough one, with all the initial vowels coming out first making the later moves difficult to play. The second game was a fair bit better and by this time we'd switched CDs to Natalie Merchant's "Tigerlily" an album which I love. In fact, "Carnival" sounded rather lovely even now, so I'll give that one tune of the day I reckon. The second game was much more open and in fact it meant we both scored large, I did GROANED which also made another word as well and as the former was on triple word and I used all my letters, a massive 92 points were mine. Add to that straddling XI along another word, also making OX and LI, and that was 52 points as well, and add to that ZEAL (with double letter Z and triple word) scoring me 69 too. Oh, the fun!

As The Buttons watched Z Factor with Robbie Williams showing himself up on comeback (he was so up his own backside and The Buttons asked me down to see it, and I wasn't disappointed that he'd acted like such an idiot) I sorted out uploading the pics from the weekend for my friends and also catching up my 365create stuff at the same time (now done, hurrah). In fact I noticed that one of the pictures from Saturday had a nice reflection of Albert Square in the band player's trumpet, and so I cropped that and added that as one of the creative images for the day, neat idea I reckoned...

Anyway, after that we settled in and watched some of the snooker final from the Grand Prix all snuggled up. Neil Robertson's win in the 58 minute ninth frame was absolute key - from there he went on and won the next four to get a 9-4 victory and you do have to wonder how much it took out of Ding Junhui mentally to put all the effort in, recover from snookers down, and still lose the frame. Moments change matches and that was certainly one which I would bear in mind when looking back. Fair play to the Melbourne Machine, and indeed thanks to him my image on Flickr of him from the 2009 World Snooker Championships has shot up in views, too.

Saturday 10th October - Manc Weekender V, Day Two

So, the second day of me and my friends' weekend jaunt. We got up and got ourselves sorted, and I whacked on some breakfast for us all - some sausage barmcakes and some fruit juice to wash it down with. That all was rather well with us and it was good to make us something substantial to wake us up with. In fact, we had put all the glass bottles from the beer into a large bin bag, so I headed off to the local Tesco as they had a bottle recycling bank, so spent a few minutes there arranging it all into order and getting that sorted out. It was a good and positive thing to do, and I bumped into one of my friends on the way back as he wanted to get some bits from Tesco (including the lottery, hehe).

Once back at base, it was time to put the Commodore 64 on for a bit (we simply had to) and had a blast of the old Interceptor Micros game, Tales of the Arabian Nights. One of the features this game has is the synthesised speech, which was pretty amazing. It's something one of my friends impersonates pretty well, and his impersonation was good. In fact the speech was better than we all remembered it, but what did make us giggle was that the speech was by a company called "Don't Ask" who must have hired the technology to Interceptor. Hehe. But all good.

I even found some of my old tapes of games too so we had a blast of loading up a few of those for the fun factor, especially the likes of Octapolis (cue obvious "look at the parallax scrolling" comment) as well as Rollerboard and many other old games to boot. That along with Soccer AM (grrr, why can't Sky call it Football AM and call it properly?) certainly made the morning wake up seem a little easier, and it was soon time to head into the centre of Manchester to call at the Food and Drink Festival and then on to watch our chosen game of football, Salford City versus Hyde United in the FA Cup 2nd qualifying round replay.

We decided to get the bus that took us to Albert Square instead of the one to Piccadilly. This turned out to be a very good move indeed, as around the time we arrived into Albert Square, the English Defence League's "protest" met head on with the Unite Against Fascism crowd, and only the actions of the police stopped a full scale riot and battle going on with both sides contained inside Piccadilly Gardens. To be honest, as much as I hate what the EDL stand for, I don't think that counteracting a separate protest in the same way would be the way to go - all it did was create a stand off, focus the news attention on Manchester and highlight the EDL thugs instead of just everyone walking past and ignoring them. Hey ho.

Anyway, we didn't have to bother with that, thankfully, and a much happier atmosphere was in Albert Square for the Food and Drink Festival. We headed to the bar, got some very nice German beers and indeed some Lancaster Amber ale that went down a treat, and relaxed in the square as some people in German traditional garb played some traditional songs, complete with trumpet and instruments. In fact one of the players couldn't keep himself from a smile and a giggle and couldn't hold himself together at all. It was immensely good fun though because they saw that some of the St Helens fans on their way to the Rugby League Grand Final were around, and so played "When The Saints Go Marching In" just for them - how cool, eh? The food stands next door were from all places, and I even grabbed a Wagamama takeaway box of their gorgeous ginger chicken udon for lunch, oh yes, get in!

It was soon time to head from there along to Blackfriars Street where the 93 bus to Kersal would pick us up and take us to Moor Lane, the home of Salford City FC. They had drawn 2-2 midweek against Hyde United in the FA Cup and so the replay was today (as most other sides would be playing their 3rd round qualifying game). It would go to extra time and penalties if needed, and I'm sure that it might need it if it's as close as the first game. We got to the ground and paid the £7 admission, and it was old school grass roots football for sure. One main stand along part of the touchline with a little covered terrace on the other, with fences around the pitch. Their club house had been burned by scroaty arsonists last week, but one of the local construction firms gave them some portakabins so that they could have a bar, a shop and a tea bar too. In fact my friend got a round, and two cans of Boddingtons, a bottle of Stella and a can of diet coke was a mere £5.50. To be fair, that's excellent. My friends got some burgers close to half time and for two quid, they were reasonably good, so all was well there.

The game itself was a tense first half, with Salford having most of the chances, but a much better second half as both sides went for victory. The quality of the play increased and Salford were a little lucky not to have their goalkeeper sent off for handballing outside the area. That said, it was a bit close and I think the ref gave him benefit of the doubt. But the more the game went on you could tell that Salford scented victory, and after having a good goal ruled out for offside, they broke down the right and Rhodri Giggs (yes, that is Ryan Giggs' brother!) slotted the ball low and hard in the 83rd minute for Salford to take the lead. They did their best to hang on and indeed could have had a second on the counter attack, and even the Hyde goalie went up at the end to try and salvage the result, but not to be. Salford 1 Hyde United 0, and they face Blyth Spartans in the 3rd qualifying round on Tuesday (I might even go).

The atmosphere was really good too - even some chanting inside the main stand, and plenty of characters around the ground. My favourite was the old guy with the rattle who would shake it and get behind the lads as mcuh as possible, and he was jumping around everywhere when Salford scored. Good for him I say, if everyone had that same attitude to life, it'd be a lot better. In fact the community spirit of the club really shone through with most of the people there volunteering to help out and the little touches like that made it a good place to go. We all agreed it was definitely well worth checking out and something like that might be on the agenda again next time we're here.

We headed back on the 93 into the centre of Manchester and first stop was The Waterhouse on Princess Street. The pub was busy and we found a table, only for some right loudmouth rugby players drinking and being very loud on the other side, which meant we couldn't hear ourselves talking. I scoped out another table and we located it in a much quieter section, which pleased us all no end, let me tell you. In fact we decided that having something to eat for tea in here was also a good idea - two of us had the chicken tikka massala, one had the beef and Abbot Ale pie and I went for the gammon steak - which were all good solid choices, and I really enjoyed mine lots.

After this and a walk into Ra!n Bar and out again (most of their cask wasn't playing ball and no Coronation Street ale, meh) it was then to Sandbar, one of our favourite haunts. I put some money in the jukebox as I supped a very nice pint of Hopsack, my friend was drinking his favourite Black Cat, and German beers for the others, and all was well. Out of the five songs on the jukebox, I deliberately picked Led Zeppelin's "Black Dog" (therefore tune of the day) because of the fact that BBC2's "Shooting Stars" has the moment when Matt Lucas as George Dawes comes on at the start of the show, with Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer going "he's a baby, he's a baby!" along with the tune. Of course, we couldn't resist and sang that quote at the right time to Black Dog, hehehe.

For some reason Sandbar then decided to have a DJ who was intent on playing utterly rubbish hip hop tunes, and we weren't the only ones to be disappointed with that choice. A throng of people soon left and after we'd supped up, we followed suit. The key to a good bar is relaxed atmosphere with a good jukebox so you can put on tunes should you want to, not have some rubbish DJ who'll play stuff that only a selection of people might like in there. Hmm.. something I need to bear in mind I reckon at some point. We then headed over to Kro on Oxford Road and had a relaxing last pint of the evening in there - the Wainwrights was on top form - before heading to mine via Gulbahars, where the pizza I had was okay but I didn't finish it all - it wasn't exactly what I had in mind. Soon after, we all felt tired, and so with the Sky+ box set to record the Bathurst 1000 for me, it was off to bed.

Friday 9th October - Manc Weekender V, Day One

It was the first day of the weekend for me and some of my friends, as we all met up at mine for the weekend. It's now the fifth time we've done this at mine, and it's always the scene of some great fun, cameraderie and also laughs, beer and gaming all in one. I don't mind having everyone over - I've got room, plus it means that we can head round the many fine establishments in Manchester and have a few drinks, as you do. It also was well timed with the Manchester Food and Drink Festival being in town, so we would be sure to check that out of course.

I got up and did any last minute bits I needed around the house to get everything all ship shape and tidy, mainly sorting out the bathroom and cleaning the kitchen so all was very well there, which didn't take me long. In fact I had some time to spare so I ended up watching I've Loved You So Long on DVD, which I got from Tesco DVD Rental as the latest one to hire. With that all sorted, I nipped out and posted the DVD back and also headed to the local bakers to get a couple of sausage rolls and a pastie for lunch, to keep me going till later when I'd sort us all out with tea and have an evening in of gaming, as is our usual Friday night job.

Not long after 2.30pm two of my three friends arrived in quick succession, so I put the kettle on and made us a coffee, and we watched the recording of Micro Men from BBC4 the night before. It was a really good drama and the perfect thing for us retro gaming enthusiasts, as it told the tale of Sir Clive Sinclair and how one employee, Chris Curry, was treated pretty badly, so off he went and formed Acorn. The rest is history, while Sir Clive did the ZX80 and ZX81, the Acorn Atom was released as a higher grade machine. Then, both companies fought for the contract to have a machine with the BBC name on (the BBC model B, of course) which Acorn won. And although Sir Clive did release the Spectrum which went on to sell shedloads because of its gaming potential, the crash in the computer market meant they both had to sell on, with Amstrad picking up Sinclair and Olivetti taking on Acorn - the sight of all those Electrons in the warehouse must have been scary. It was well acted though as Alexander Armstrong and Martin Freeman were both excellent.

After this and a bit of good old Ninja Warrior (well you just have to love Stuart Hall's commentary don't you?) my other friend arrived, and it was time to a) get the beers on the go and b) have plenty of chatter and fun. In fact whilst I got the oven on to make the meatball pasta bake that I'd got from Tesco as part of their meal deal, I let the three of them loose on Fun Fun Minigolf, which seemed pretty good fun and they all got the hang of that no problem. In fact on the hard course two of them scored under par, which pleased them no end. It was certainly the start of a good evening's entertainment, and soon the pasta bake and the garlic bread were ready to devour, and that followed by some tiramisu for afters certainly filled the gap rather nicely.

More beer was consumed as we turned our attention to Tiger Woods 09 for the Wii and ended up playing a four player 18 hole round, with random holes picked by the computer so that we could all try them all out. There were some excellent shots played including a couple which were close to being an eagle on a par four hole, an impressive feat. Everyone got hold of the control system pretty well and appreciated the nice dose of realism behind it, and all was well there. I did pretty okay and scored level par for the round with some very difficult holes in there, and we all knocked in birdies as well as the odd bogey or two, so it was a good effort. My good friend from Ulverston way was rather pleased with finishing second, for sure.

Time had got on as it had taken some two and a bit hours to go through the golf, so we headed to Topkapi so that they could get a late night takeaway. Admittedly, although by all accounts it was still decent, it didn't seem to taste as nice as normal, and I had a feeling why - it looks like they had been taken over and possibly be given a new name, which might explain things. Still, most of that did get devoured and after a slight rest it was then to Carnival Funfair Games, which worked really well in four player mode, especially stuff like A Day At The Races (ie: Kentucky Derby) and Hoops (basketball) where it was four player split screen, rather neato to be honest. All good.

Tune of the day has to be a tune featured during Micro Men, Duran Duran's "Planet Earth" - it really did take you back to the 1980s in a good way as you heard the tune playing whilst a party was going on to celebrate Acorn's BBC Micro contract. And as one of my friends is a fan of the band, well it just had to be there didn't it? It was all good fun to be honest and certainly something that we enjoyed, hurrah!

Thursday 8th October - There's A Stinger In The Tail

I felt like I made progress at work today, and pretty good job too as I'm off tomorrow for the rather marvellous weekend that I've got planned. But it was a case of getting things moving nicely with iPrint and Linux, and that certainly felt positive. I used another laptop to build up SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop (SLED) and installed all the modules I needed. The iPrint client is native on SLED, so no tweaking required you see. I thn went to the server, and managed to add the drivers in the broker no problem, and then associate them to the relevant printer and specify that the drivers were for Linux.

I then installed the main A3 and A4 printers (A3 colour, A4 black and white, A4 colour) and each time I wanted to print, it correctly asked me to authenticate. So far so good. They printed out. Even bettter. Our print charging system deducted the correct money. Excellent. In fact it was a breeze really, as the HP Laserjet P4515TN driver is actually based on a modified HP Laserjet Plus driver for Linux and that worked, and the 4700 and 9500 printers had a good working native one. I felt rather pleased to bits, and more so when I went to the Ubuntu laptop and tried that. You had to initiate the iPrint client with a couple of terminal commands, but when that was done, you could install the printers and send jobs to them. The A4 black and white did its thing and debited the account too, so all looked good there - not least as Ubuntu isn't officially supported. Haha!

Feeling flushed, I went to the large Tesco on the way home from work and got all the food in that I needed for the weekend, including something to eat for the breakfasts along with a nice meal deal plan for Friday evening, and also some stuff for during the week as well that I may need. It was a fair chunk of shopping that I had to carry home with me but I managed fine, and that meant that myself and The Buttons On My Shirt didn't have to venture out later. Good job too, as she was delayed getting to mine due to it being kick out time at the Conservative Party conference, and the buses ended up being in a traffic jam. It took her almost forty five minutes to do a normally twenty minute journey back to mine.

That done though, we headed out for a bottle of wine (at her request) and then I made us the tea - chicken and bacon tortelloni in a pasta sauce with mushrooms, and some garlic bread on the side. That felt pretty nice overall, and we were able to sit back and watch Masterchef - The Professionals. Monica was very steely eyed in the heat and you could see the contestants crumbling under the intense pressure. There's something about her, like I said, that makes her very attractive indeed for some reason. When it was the quarter final stage for the food critics, they really were savage on them - one of them failed to get dessert out and it completely went to bits - and another missed some ingredients from their meals. Both of us knew who would get through - and we were right, thankfully. Michel Roux Jr had no hesitation.

Then it was a game of Scrabble for us both as I put on Queen's "Night At The Opera" DVD-Audio disc. In fact The Buttons quite liked it, not least "You're My Best Friend" which sounded ace in surround as you'd expect (as I mentioned yesterday in fact) and as we played, I even came up with a seven letter move, STINGER, which also made LOGS as well, and a triple word down the bottom of the board made for quite a few points there it has to be said. As we played the Queen disc finished so I put in the Jonathan Richman "Home of the Hits" DVD-Audio disc and of course, I simply had to play the fab "Ice Cream Man" (make that one tune of the day) and it made me realise that I wished I'd got a ticket for his live show on Sunday evening in Manchester. Aaargh.

Later on it was time for a quick blast of Fun Fun Minigolf on the Wii - we'd not played it for ages but it certainly made for an entertaining game of course. The trick is all in the accuracy - hit it well and you'll usually get a hole in one or two and without getting over par. I even did a hole in one on one of the tricky par fours later in the difficult level, which made me feel pretty pleased with myself. It's a cute little game and one I certainly enjoy from time to time. Then - with time getting on and with The Buttons having to head to work tomorrow - bed called and certainly I felt happy that we'd had a good little night in - preparing me for the weekend. Yaay.

Wednesday 7th October - Will You Do The Cleaning Fandango?

I had a fairly busy day at work today too. I ended up spending a bit of time with one of the laptops that we'd got back from the laptop trolley - they had been replaced with the new ones that I imaged and one of the old ones was being borrowed by a member of staff whilst theirs was in repair situ. Imagine then my shock and alarm when I booted it up, fired up countless Windows updates and then restarted it only for Microsoft to claim that, despite the key being a volume licence one that we use at work, that it was supposed to be invalid. One restart later and that seemed to go away - so whether it was a glitch or not I don't know.

I'm also investigating if I can get Ubuntu Linux 9 to print to our student printers wirelessly or not. They use the Novell iPrint system and the iPrint installer is only an RPM package for Linux for the likes of Red Hat. However, that didn't stop me re-creating a Debian package DEB installer from the RPM, using the rather neat alien module that you can get for ubuntu. It works fine, re-creates and package, and away you go. In fact, the installer was pretty good to go then. Now only one little snag remains: to add an iPrint printer, the driver needs to be on the server - but you can only upload the Linux driver if you have a Red Hat-based Linux installation. Hmm.. might have to use SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop and try that to see if I can upload the drivers to the server, and then see if I can install them in Ubuntu. Plenty to think about for next week.

I got home and spent a fair bit of time cleaning up downstairs in preparation for the weekend visit. I had a clearout of magazines and stuff that I don't use anymore, and made sure that everything is neatly tidied and vacuumed. The key to this above all else was to wheel out the cabinet with the TV and all the hi-fi separates on so I could use the Dyson behind there to get some of the dust out. I also swapped the two seater sofas around, at the suggestion of The Buttons On My Shirt, as I often sit in one of them and not the other, so it means that they are plumped up around the same over time. It was the first time I'd changed them round in ages which meant I was able to then get the Dyson out and give it a good Autumn clean too.

Something rather nice also arrived when I got home - the DVD-Audio of Queen's "A Night At The Opera" album that I ordered from Play a couple of weeks back (and to be fair they said it could be two weeks to be delivered, so fair play). Of course, Bohemian Rhapsody sounds rather wonderful in full advanced resolution 5.1 surround (not least the operatic section which just comes at you from all angles) but the more rockier tracks on this album really have room to breathe and flow, notably "I'm In Love With My Car" for example. It's really well done, with each track having the lyrics displayed on screen and changing screens for the next set of lyrics at the right time, a neat touch. My father used to have this album on vinyl and I always appreciated it back then, but now in this mode it just sounds gorgeous. Tune of the day has to come from this album without hesitation, and it's got to be "You're My Best Friend" which reallty does benefit tons from the surround mix here - and also because I love the song anyway :)

Tuesday 6th October - Scrabbulous

It was another long day at the office today, but for a different reason and most of it pretty good. I spent some time this morning with one of our staff, as they had one of the new Macbook Pros reserved for them, and so I went through all the features and what it does with them. I've become a little bit more comfortable with the Mac myself now, so I feel much more confident about showing people all the features and what they do. The user concerned was a complete Mac virgin, so it was good that some of the software on their machine was actually just the same on there as it was in a Windows environment. I also explained about the different network locations and a lot of it actually made plenty of sense to her, so we were both pleased bunnies.

I spent some time when I got home from the office later sorting out all the duvet covers and pillows and spare bedding for the weekend, and also blowing up the spare airbeds as well. Thankfully I have a good foot pump for this, although of course an electric one would be rather ace - much quicker and less hassle. Still, it meant I got a good exercise workout as I managed to pump up both of them and get them spot on, and also all the duvet covers etc were dry, so it was a case of putting them all back on so everything was nice and clean ready for the weekend. It's always a good idea to be able to have everything looking as spick and span as possible, makes more sense to me somehow.

The Buttons On My Shirt came over a little later and I cooked us up something to eat for tea, whilst we had a chat about the days we'd had and also caught up about all sorts, and settled in to watch Masterchef The Professionals. We're quite big fans of the show to be honest, and I think when the professionals have to really do their best it's a lot of pressure on them. Of course, four of them start, but only three get the opportunity to cook for Michel Roux Jr - first they have to pass the tests set by Michel's top sous chef, Monica Galetti. And she's rather forthright about how the food should be - and difficult to please. She also dresses rather well, and I must admit, does look pretty sexy actually.

Later on, the two of us had a good blast at Scrabble for a game, and it was quite nice to get on with that and listen to Moby's "Wait For Me" album. The title track is really good, so tune of the day for that one methinks. I really also like the fact that Moby is now releasing it on his own label and breaking free from the corporate machine. As for the Scrabble, I managed hoax and ax together, with the former being on a triple word, so scoring me quite a fair few points along the way. Mind you, the board played quite well and The Buttons also scored pretty well too which was good - and certainly she's getting better with every go and mastering the techniques well - hurrah!

Monday 5th October - Boom Boom Boom!

It's been a fairly busy day today, and that's the master of the understatement, as ever. I spent a bit of time today getting a few more laptops up and ready, and being able to sort them out and get them all registered and also working properly too. It is so much easier now I've created a standard image for the Macbook Pros that we've got, and I can simply roll that out to them over Firewire using target disk mode, it means that I don't have to go through all the rigmarole of doing all the installs on each and every one, and also getting the wireless network settings done either - it'll all just work.

I nipped into the local Tesco on the way home as I needed to get a few bits of shopping, mainly washing powder and fabric conditioner, but also picked up some essential bits of food for the forthcoming weekend, as I've got some friends coming over - it's always a blast when that happens. On the way home, I walked past what was the now closed Cooltrader, and discovered that not only on the outside doors there was a notice about the place being granted planning permission, but a huge sign above the building that says that Iceland will be opening a branch here in November. I consider that slightly ironic, only because Iceland were here many years ago and eventually closed the branch down, almost at the same time that Kwik Save changed to Somerfield and became rubbish. Now the powers that be have obviously realised that Tesco is doing a roaring trade here and that it might actually be worth them re-opening it again.

I spent a fair bit of time tonight admittedly playing Boom Blox on the Wii. I've rented it and tonight's been the first real chance to play it. I have to say I really did enjoy it - it's definitely got that one more go factor when you're attempting to do the levels, and the amount of thought that's gone into the different types of puzzle certainly make it all the more worthwhile. I was stuck for a little bit on one level where you have to pull blocks out to score points, and when I pulled certain blocks out the whole tower was collapsing and not doing well for me. Once I worked out a good strategy I managed to get enough points to move on, and that showed me the beauty of the game - the difficulty level was right without being too frustrating that you give up. Tune of the day is Mark Mothersbaugh's theme tune to the game - it's simply good fun.

Sunday 4th October - Let's Tap

We both had a relatively relaxing morning today, The Buttons On My Shirt and I, as the last couple of days had been non-stop and it was time to take it easy. I had Sky Plus recorded the F1 from early this morning so I got up to watch that and let The Buttons rest up. The F1 was okay but not great from Jenson Button's point of view, only one point to be gained for him and he had to hold up Robert Kubica near the end after a safety car came due to Jaime Algusueri's accident near the end of 130R. It was at least a race with some incident though but to be honest I have a feeling that Button's going to throw away the title if he's not careful.

I needed later to make a trip to Asda and also to Aria Technology as I said to my friend I'd pick up a PCMCIA wireless card for the laptop I was looking at on Thursday. Indeed it was a worthwhile trip: whilst I was managing to get the wireless card and also get some shopping from Asda for next weekend's jaunt with my friends that I'd planned, that meant that The Buttons could watch the recording of X Factor in peace and I'd not have to watch it. Hurrah to that, that all worked out for the best. When I got back she was positively swooning over Will Young, awww, what is she like eh?

We headed to my friend's after lunch as he was not too well the other day and so we wanted to see how he was, and his wife (also our friend) was there too. I got the laptop sorted out and it soon connected to their wireless network no problem, and it all worked happily enough which was a good thing in the end. In fact the connection speed was pretty reliable and everything was all up and running nicely, and over a coffee we chatted about the weekend we'd had and also how London was, and even reconfigured the router so that the admin password was a bit easier to access (for some reason it was not playing ball).

Had a blast of Let's Tap for the Wii later, and that was good fun, especially the Tap Runner game that my friend and I did all sixteen levels of. For those of you who haven't played the game, it's bascially a box that you rest the Wii remote on, and you tap the box, and the vibrations that go through the Wii remote are enough to make the response you need, so you can tap light, medium or firm and indeed also quick or slow too. The runner game is basically tap repeatedly soft to run and hard tap to jump, with the harder tap being a longer jump, so it's working on getting that right. All the levels are quite tricky in the end but good fun, and we certainly enjoyed that part of it.

We got home later and The Buttons On My Shirt headed home. We had had a lovely weekend together and the more time we spend together, the more I know that this is how I've always wanted love to feel like. It doesn't have to be all soppy and romantic but just being together and also being able to be individual and not lose that or your independence means that it's the best of both worlds for us both in that we can have a life outside of ourselves but be able to make the most of the time that we do have together. I suppose really that what I'm trying to say that I treasure the love we have and because we're not with each other 24/7, it's staying fresh and that's a good thing, and it suits us both nicely. Isn't life great?

Tune of the day, meanwhile, has to be the Who's "Who Are You?" In case you're wondering why, CSI is back on the telly in the USA, which means hopefully it'll be on Channel 5 sooner instead of later. And of course as that's the theme tune to said show, it just serves as a wonderful introduction to proceedings. And, apparently, Sara Sidle is back. Woo! :)

Saturday 3rd October - Cracking Day Out, Gromit!

Myself and The Buttons On My Shirt were up rather early today, as we had a train to catch. Indeed, the train was the one to London and it left at 7.15am with us both on it. You see, we had planned a day out in London and in order to make the most of it (and because we wanted the cheapest fare possible) we had to leave at an early hour. What that did mean though was that we could spend a fair chunk of the day in London and as we had tickets to see the stage performance of Breakfast At Tiffany's, then you can well imagine that it would be rather lovely.

We arrived actually a few minutes early into Euston station, and so after a quick top up of our Oyster card, it was time to head on the number 10 bus towards the Royal Albert Hall and head down from there to the Science Museum, where we were going to see the Wallace and Gromit exhibit "A World of Cracking Ideas" there. The idea was that you'd get to see some of the science and information behind inventions all presented with your two loveable characters. In fact, we'd even printed off a voucher from the Science Museum web site which gave us two for one entry into the exhibit, so that came in rather handy.

The place was busy but we got to the second floor where the exhibit was and entered. Straight away you were shown plenty of items which were useful around the house, with Wallace and Gromit's notes on each invention (which was a nice touch). You also got to see little recreations of scenes from the Wallace and Gromit films, with several of them taken from the recent short film "A Matter of Loaf and Death", so you got the front room, the dining room, the restaurant where Wallace takes Piella Bakewell for a date and so on. All of those were the best bits for me, created rather painstakingly and with lots of love, attention and detail too.

Mind you, lots of hands on activities were there for everyone. You could sing in the shower if you so liked (yes, really, a working video karaoke and everything, using a shower hose for a mic) and also use a contraption where you threw bean bag balls through a hole, then enough of those would light up the lights on the wall and when enough was lit it would move the television set closer to the viewers, who could also operate the hand remote control with the joystick too. It was hilarious stuff, and not least because the children there with thir parents were having a whale of a time, let me tell you. I also noticed as well that the balloons you could pump up and then set off with a button were the ones as used in A Matter of Loaf and Death, so that was a neat touch.

I could go on about the whole exhibit for ages, suffice to say that if you're a fan of Wallce and Gromit, you definitely need to make a visit there as it's all good fun, and plenty of useful information to educate and inform everyone along the way. In fact one of the best bits was this machine where Wallace would enthuse about it giving you ideas and then it'd break, and you'd have to stamp your feet on these pressure pads to make the machine work again which then spat out these folding thinking caps, how ace was that? Indeed it just meant that it was another way of showing you could have fun whilst doing science stuff, and certainly if all the kids and parents there were enjoying themselves, including, as we spotted, one Trinny Woodall with her children (you know, her with Susannah Constantine off those "what to wear" type programmes!)

We had a look around some other parts of the Science Museum before we left and headed back to Kensington Gore to get the bus back to Trafalgar Square, but not any other bus, oh no, we got the old Routemaster heritage number 9 bus. Well, it'd have been rude not to, to be honest, and it also meant that we were able to sit at the front upstairs and admire the whole view from there. The traffic did crawl a bit as we headed to Piccadilly Circus but we got through that and were soon at the square, and we headed across and to the National Portrait Gallery.

The Buttons had read up about a photo exhibition in there which showcased Twiggy from her 1960s early modelling career to now, when she commemorates her 60th birthday. Suffice to say if I look half as good as she does when she's 60, I'd be happy too. What intrigued me were the early modelling shots of her being all young and fresh faced to the shots of her gradually getting older and more vivacious and sexier (and very sexy in her forties, it has to be said). It also had some original prints of her career which included the album cover from David Bowie's "Pinups" album (yes, that is Twiggy on there you know!). It was really interesting and on the way out we also saw the photographs from Bob Dylan's 1966 UK tour, and that included the iconic shot of him waiting for the Aust Ferry near the River Severn, which was mentioned on BBC2's "Coast" the other week.

After a pub lunch it was time to head back to Haymarket and to the Theatre Royal Haymarket there for the afternoon matinee performance of Breakfast At Tiffany's. Now, with me being an Audrey Hepburn fan and all, I knew no acting performance would top hers in the film version, even if it didn't stay completely faithful to the book (the ending of the film for example is that "happily ever after" ending that doesn't happen in the book for example). However, the production her stayed closer to the book, and to be honest, I saw that as a good thing. It meant that they weren't just going for a film to play translation. The seats were high up in the Gallery but we still had a cracking view of proceedings and indeed were able to enjoy it even more in the second half, as the three people sat in the row in front didn't come back for some reason.

Nonetheless, we both enjoyed it. The Buttons isn't an Anna Friel fan, but she said that she was okay, and I must admit it took a little time for us both to get used to the idea that her version of Holly Golightly has blonde hair. However, for the most part she carried the role with some vivacity and poise when required, although I did notice occasionally she slipped back into a Rochdale accent instead of an American drawl (takes a Northerner to spot that). Joseph Cross as William (aka Fred) was the real star for us both though, he handled his role with sensitivity and also some real emotions too, and was also able to carry off key parts with diction and passion, and you certainly felt that.

Some reviews also mentioned the fact that Anna Friel gets naked in one scene. Well, yes she does, but it's tastefully done, and you can't see any of her bits whatsoever (so if you want to go there to perve, well, you can't). In fact Joseph Cross is naked in a bath in a scene later on which as you can imagine had some of the women there whooping a ltitle, but again, tastefully done and you couldn't see anything either. The stage set was well used with two staircases reminiscent of the flats where Holly lives, and how the split level stages also meant that that different floors could be used well for the scenes they were at, with a portable bar coming on and off when needed, and also the likes of a bed, a bath etc as required. They also had a real cat for the parts where the cat was featured, and the cat was lovely. Aww, I know. Overall I thought it was an excellent effort and it's well worth seeing if you can get a ticket for it.

After all that culture, we just wanted to head to a good pub for tea, and so got the 91 bus back to Euston and then walked along to the Crown and Anchor close to the station. We'd been in there near my birthday for a meal and we had a great time then, and it was the same story this time around. The place had a good atmosphere again and some excellent cask ales on choice (I went for this lovely pale one brewed in Yorkshire, the name escapes me!) and the food we had was brilliant, my beer battered haddock being massive and delicious, with the skin on chips and mushy peas just adding to the overall meal value, and The Button's lasagne didn't look too bad either. I even indulged and had a baked cheesecake with summer berries fruit for afters , which really did hit the spot nicely.

We finished our drinks and headed to the station and got the 7.40 train back, which seemed to be on the go slow for some reason. When I spotted Milton Keynes Central station out of the window, I looked at the time and reckoned we were late - and so it proved. We got into Crewe some 22 minutes late, so the train due at 9.56pm would be more like 10.20pm in the end. In fact I reckoned we were behind a slow local train up to then and when the announcer made the announcement, I was proved correct. But still, we got back eventually and it was straight off to bed when we did, as it had been a long day and rather tiring with all the travel. Tune of the day incidentally is Arctic Monkeys' "I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor" as that's what I sang in the "sing in the shower" bit at the Wallace and Gromit exhibit earlier in the day...

Friday 2nd October - Truelove's Bridgewater Gutter

It was the start of a very lovely weekend tonight, as myself and The Buttons on My Shirt were heading to the Bridgewater Hall to see Richard Hawley. For me, it was another gig ambition fulfilled as I had wanted to see him on the last tour but didn't, and it also meant that I had someone to go with too. In fact I had booked a half day off work because I wanted to get some time to get things around the house sorted, and it also meant that The Buttons and I could have some quality time before the gig too, such as eating out for tea and stuff like that.

We had a coffee at mine and relaxed a while and then took the bus into the city centre, and walked towards The Waterhouse for a drink in there. I had a very nice cask pint which was pale and relaxing and it gave us time to catch up on the week's events as well as see the progress of the Olympic bid decision on Sky News at the same time - just before we left we realised that Chicago had been eliminated from the bidding process, despite of course President Obama's own appeal to try and get the games held there. Makes you wonder if the disastrous games at Atlanta in 1996 were the reason behind it?

We then went to Table Table close to St Peter's Square to have something to eat pre-gig, and we noticed all the security cordoning for the Conservative Party Conference next week. We took advantage of a good deal that they had in there where two dine for £10 between 12 noon and 6.30pm, and I had the scampi and The Buttons had the minute steak, which looked very nice indeed. I also had a caramel apple crumble for dessert and The Buttons had the special - a poached pear. The liquid it was poached in reminded us both of mulled wine - it had that smell to us both. Well, it is less than three months to Christmas after all.

Checking the show times, the support act for Richard Hawley wasn't on for a while so it gave us time to head over to Ra!n Bar and have a drink in there too, and the Brewers' Dark was mine. We did put some tunes on in the jukebox including "I'm Throwing My Arms Around Paris" by Morrissey. A couple were stood close by and then they put their selections in the machine, and the bloke made his selections with that same song and indeed Franz Ferdinand's "Take Me Out" - a solid selection if ever there was one. It was getting a little wet out there but thankfully we managed to make it back to the Bridgewater Hall before the rain began in earnest.

Upon getting to where we thought we'd been sat, we came across a major problem. The powers that be at Ticketline had given us Side Circle D47 and D48. However looking at the map this meant that we'd be sat at the ends of rows either side of the middle section of the circle meaning that we'd be sat apart. How the hell Ticketline allocated the seats like that and didn't realise is beyond me, but as you can well imagine, that didn't make us both very happy. I will definitely be complaining to Ticketline because as a ticket sales company they should make the effort to know the venues they serve and indeed how the seating allocation works, and if they don't, well don't bother.

Kudos then must go to the staff at the Bridgewater Hall, who were all wonderful. The usher very kindly phoned the ticket office and asked us to head there and they'd try and sort us out. The person on the box office desk was also very helpful indeed and spoke to his manager, who informed us there were a couple of returns of twos and would row F in the stalls be okay? Definitely so, and we were really pleased that they'd been able to do all that for us. It wasn't even their fault, but the fact that they were so courteous and also very polite and helpful showed just why it's such a good place to see a gig. Well done them!

This dead mean we missed the support band but nothing we could do about that but then entered the venue ready for Richard Hawley (official site) (myspace) and that was, at least in my view, well worth seeing. He played all eight songs from his "Truelove's Gutter" album and although in speed they were slow, in craft and musicianship they were excellent, with a really tight live band. It didn't feel like the songs were slow paced, just thoughtful and deeper more lengthy pieces, which I have no problems with. Out of the stuff from that new album, I have to say that "For Your Lover Give Some Time" was wonderful - it had just the right amount of emotion and gentle feeling to really carry the song well, so tune of the day it is. Other highlights for me were "The Ocean" from Cole's Corner, and "Remorse Code".

The Buttons On My Shirt wasn't as impressed as I was, and she said that Richard was a cross between the looks of Mark Lamarr and the style of both Johnny Cash and Jim Reeves. Although I can see some idea in the looks similarity, musically they're all very different people, in essence. Still, Richard did manage to respond to some woman in the audience heckling him "I want to dance!" or words to that effect. When he was talking about the Hacienda he mentioned about how it was a shame that it was closed down and the woman said "I used to dance there" - to which responded "You're still there now, love!" which was hilarious. I did think it was brave to play the slower, deeper stuff, but for those who appreciated his music it worked rather well. We both headed home afterwards pretty satisfied with the evening and it was pretty much to bed, as it was late, and we had to be up early in the morning.

Thursday 1st October - Keyboard Fun and Games

Two of my friends came over to visit me tonight, which is always nice. Basically, one of them had purchased a laptop and although everything else appeared to be okay, for some strange reason the keyboard wasn't playing ball in terms of being able to type anything. The seller (they bought it second hand) did say that the keyboard connector may have come loose in transit, so it was a case of being able to locate where the keyboard is connected and also then finding out if it was easily slottable again. Now, every single laptop has a different way of getting the keyboard part out, but eventually I was able to work it out.

There was a screw behind each of the covers that connect the top section to the bottom part, and once those were undone a small plate at the top of the laptop was able to come off, which then had screws holding the keyboard in. Undo those and then you could see that the keyboard connector wasn't even connected. I soon managed to slot the connector in the right place and fired the beastie up, and what do you know? The keys all started to work and after typing my favourite phrase "the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog" (simply because it uses all the letters in the alphabet) all the keys played ball well.

The wireless adapter, after much searching, was an Intersil adapter as part of a combo adapter with that and the modem. Unfortunately, the adapter was made many years ago and as such a) only supports Wireless B and not G, and b) does not support WPA encryption, which you think would be a requirement these days. In any case what I found after a bit of searching is that the particular model doesn't have any up to date drivers whatsoever and so you'd be stuck with that. Turning my wireless router to WEP did mean it could connect, but who'd want that? We did however locate a PCMCIA wireless adapter which would do the job though so my friend's going to head off to a local PC shop tomorrow to get that all sorted out.

It did at least mean that I was able to solve more problems, a bit like at the office today actually. Sometimes it's just good to get your teeth into something and solve quite a few issues with regards to printing but also to be able to assign and image some of the laptops, install some of the additional software, and also be able to try and be the font of some knowledge. I don't mind when I've got time to do everything, but right now at the moment that's definitely not the case. In respect of that, tune of the day is "Out of Time" by the Inspiral Carpets - still one of my favourite songs of theirs.