Dear Diary... October 2011

Monday 31st October - That's When I Reach For My CD Collection..

Halloween came and went tonight without anyone knocking on the door for Trick or Treat whatsoever. Oh, the joys of living in a quiet avenue with no through road, let me tell you. I guess because there isn't that many houses on the street either people will sort of assume (oh, no one is probably in anyway) and so therefore leaves us to it. Probably for the best to be honest though, as I didn't stock up on any chocolate. As some of you may have been aware, I've given up chocolate for the last two and a half years now, and it's one of the best things that I ever did. If I had have got any on the offchance of anyone visiting tonight then I'd have probably been the most generous person ever and given them a full fun size bars of Milky Way or something.

The day itself had been pretty busy with me finally deploying a couple of PCs to one of our main postrooms. They had held off a bit for a couple of reasons but I had agreed a date with them to get it all in and today was that day. It worked out very well in the end as it meant that I was able to get everything done in well under a morning, leaving me time to get some other jobs sorted out during the course of the day. I also spent some time looking at some complex databases which were made in Access XP to see if they'd work in Access 2010, as the plan is to eventually move the staff away from the old version of Access if possible. Of course they didn't unless you turned macro security off and that equals possible security risk. Hmm.. maybe trusted locations might be the answer?

Anyway, I headed home and had a shed load of ironing to do, but as Pointless was on BBC1 at the same time it made the task much less boring and dull. I smiled when the question came up to name the most obscure 2010 F1 drivers. I got two of the three pointless answers and I'm sure Karun Chandhok wouldn't have scored many either to be honest. Later on there was also a question on Wham's top 40 hits and I knew several of them but hadn't a clue on the one pointless answer that there was. It's trickier than you think to name the obscure actually and get it right.

I spent some time tonight listening to some early Moby albums - and realised that I actually have a fair few CDs of his. To be exact, twelve of them. I've not got the latest one "Destroyed" but might have to sort that out before the year is out methinks. It was kind of invigorating to listen to the early stuff, especially as his record company Instinct was keen on getting as much exposure as possible out of his techno roots - why else release a B-sides compilation and then stick on a second CD of fourteen mixes of "Go" for example? That said, "The Story so Far", a re-release of the eponymous album "Moby" with an altered track listing does have some gems on there. Notably of course "Thousand" for obvious reasons.

Mind you, if I had to pick one Moby album I love above all else, it's his experimental guitar-heavy album "Animal Rights". It seems full of feeling and anger and a complete departure from his ambient and techno stuff prior. Lots of people loathed it but once you got to listen to it a few times it all actually made a lot of sense why he'd do that. "Someone To Love" from that album is a perfect example of anger, angst and passion all in under three minutes and is a deserving tune of the day for me. You can imagine rocking out to this and bounding like a loon - mosh central, sort of.

Sunday 30th October - Decking and Jealousy

It was a pretty eventful day for one reason or another. Of course the clocks had gone back which had me thinking that I might have missed the start of the Indian Grand Prix, but thankfully not. I left The Love In My Heart to have a well earned lie-in, and watched the race live. It was predictable in that Sebastian Vettel would win, but well done Jenson Button on getting past Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber on the first lap (no DRS allowed, so all due to his skill!) and keeping Vettel honest throughout the race. The track is good but the lack of passing, even with DRS zones etc, does make me wonder if Hermann Tilke is becoming a bit too design robotic with some of these tracks.

The Love had very kindly brought over the pressure washer from her father's, and after she had cleaned up her decking outside her place the other day, we were to blast the decking in my back yard and clean it all up. The overnight rain and some moss had made it slippy outside, and I'd put away the table and chairs (had to unscrew the table and then fold it all away) - and whilst The Love was moving a couple of things to the outer shed, she slipped and fell on her arm. There was a bit of grazing to the elbow and wrist but it wasn't great, and I felt really bad for her because it was at my place that she'd fallen over. She's a tough cookie though and still was helping me out - but I knew that must have been painful.

Anyway, the pressure washer was set up and it even had the right attachment to fit the hose to the kitchen tap that I have (not the easiest thing to find either it has to be said) and then it was a case of switching it on and applying the pressure. Did that to the paving stones outside the back door first and that was pretty good, and cleaned them up rather nicely. Then it was the decking, and we knew that this would take some time to get sorted out. What was good was that you could tell that it was cleaning the dirt off nicely, and all that green moss too. What was hard was that as the decking is grooved, it inevitably had dirt in those grooves and getting that out proved difficult!

Still, around an hour and a half later it all looked good and we felt pretty pleased with our efforts. I'm sure once it all dries up (thankfully there's some dry weather forecast for the next day or two so that's good) it'll look like a proper decking should again. Maybe once a year I should clean it all up and get it sorted out so that there's no build up of the slippy stuff - that'd make a lot more sense to me. We then headed to my uncle's place as it was my cousin's birthday today and we dropped off a card and present for him - and had a coffee and chat to my uncle, auntie and mum and a few others, so all was well with the world there.

We headed off to The Elizabethan in Heaton Chapel later and I insisted on treating The Love to a meal seeing as it was down to my decking being all slippy that she fell off - and I felt very responsible. We had a lovely drink and meal in there - she had the Lancashire hotpot which she said was ace, and I went for the steak and ale pie which is always brilliant in there. It was nice to sit and relax and chatter and I always feel special when we do that - it's just us being us and I love her to bits for that, so there you go.

We got back to mine and I had time for a relaxing game of Scrabble with The Jam's "Compact Snap" on there. It was good to listen to the classic songs and seeing as The Love is quite a fan of Paul Weller anyway, I'm sure she wouldn't object. She did QUOITS and SEALS for a massive 54 points, only to be usurped later by my REVERSE and RE for 82. Still, she does well at this Scrabble lark these days it has to be said. Tune of the day is from that Jam compilation, no less than "Start!" which we saw him do when he was touring solo at Halifax a couple of years back - and it brings back happy memories for us both. The Love headed home to relax and watch X Factor and I headed out.

I went to a local bar near me as the upstairs room was hosting a production by The Levenshulme Players, who were performing as part of the Levenshulme Festival. They were doing a radio type performance of a play written by one of the group called "Jealousy". As one of my work colleagues happens to be part of the players, the least I could do is head along and give my support but also enjoy it. Dead on 7.30pm they started, and it was an intriguing hour and a bit or so across two parts. Basically most of the population was killed by a plague, the few survivors have small communities and a stranger is found dead - but who killed her?

It was really enjoyable to watch actually, and they had a projector with some visuals and some audio as well to heighten the effects nicely, but also with a few mics up front the various parts got up and did their bit. Of course a performance for radio means standing up reading the script, but this also meant you got an idea of how it'd sound when broadcast too, so that's rather good all round. I was impressed by the emotion and feeling from everyone and how they really got into their roles all in a good way - and I'll have to look out for anything they plan in future. If you get chance to see them do their stuff, do. That's my view.

Saturday 29th October - Wolves At The Door

It was a fairly relaxing morning as I first watched the Indian Grand Prix qualifying before heading off in the direction of Chorlton, as I wanted to have a mooch around Kingbee Records and then head over to Morrisons. They have nice real ale there and they usually have Brewers' Dark for a mere £1, which simply can't be argued with whatsoever. As it turned out, there were some nice items in Kingbee but nothing that jumped out and said "buy me!". Mind you, lots of vinyl albums for a mere £1, so if you wanted to top up your collection with something 1980s, then you'd be pretty much sorted.

Heading to Morrisons, next to the tram station in Chorlton these days, proved to be a much more successful mission as well. I managed to get some Brewers Dark, result, but they also do 4 bottled real ales for £5.50, so not too shabby. Especially when there happened to be Hobgoblin involved as well as The Governor, which is the new JW Lees ale I've had a fair few times which is brewed in conjunction with Marco Pierre White no less. It's quality stuff so two of those and two Hobgoblin, me sorted. I did notice too that they had boxes of 8 bottles of Hobgoblin for £8, absolute bargain if you ask me and if my hands weren't full I'd have been tempted to take a box of those home and get two other beers instead.

My friend picked me up later and we headed to the Etihad Stadium to see if Manchester City could carry on the same recent form against Wolves, whom we'd beaten 5-2 in the Carling Cup in midweek. I suspected that the league game might be a bit harder, not least as teams now come to mainly defend and not really go for it that much, and so it proved initially. Samir Nasri brought a good save from the Wolves keeper, and he had an even better save from Sergio Agüero as well, so that was gutting. Mind you the referee was shocking, with every tug and pull on Agüero and Edin Džeko unpunished, but every time they went down - free kick. Every single time. It was almost like Sir Alex Ferguson had paid the ref!

The start of the second half saw the breakthrough. A pass back to the Wolves keeper should have meant a clearance but he dallied too much and Agüero blocked the clearance. It fell for Džeko who had the easy task of finishing it off for 1-0. Much relief around and a bit more relief too when not long after we doubled the lead. The ball was played forward nicely and a shot from David Silva was spilled by the keeper, straight into Aleksandar Kolarov who did what a striker would do and follow up very nicely. Well played and spotted by Aleks too.

Then the referee clearly thought that we were far too ahead and started giving all sorts of silly decisions in their favour and it was only a matter of time before something cracked. Unfortunately a Wolves shot on goal was parried out by Joe Hart, and Vincent Kompany hauled the Wolves player down. Looking back at it later, it was a definite penalty and definite red card, which was the right decision, but because the referee had been so poor no one at the time knew what he was doing. It was tucked away for 2-1 and City faced the last quarter of an hour with ten men.

Wolves couldn't break City down though as we went a bit more defensive but still looked dangerous on the break - as it proved. Mario Balotelli put in a good tackle, surged forwards, drew lots of the Wolves defence to him and laid the ball to Yaya Toure who in turn fed Adam Johnson to fire a left foot curler into the bottom corner. 3-1 and all well with the world, which would confirm that City would still be five points clear at the top of the table, so that's good and everyone went home reasonably happy even though we had played with ten men against twelve!

Later on I headed with The Love In My Heart to her father's place and sorted out a PC problem that he had in Word (thankfully he had it on web page preview and once we set it to print layout it all worked) - and then headed back to mine where we had butternut squash soup to start, sirloin steak with chips and peas for main and then some nice cheescake for dessert. It worked out really nice and was always well worth doing a lovely meal too. I indulged The Love with The X Factor whilst I was avoiding it making the tea and probably a very wise move to be honest.

Tune of the day is kind of right seeing as it's almost Halloween but also because of such a bad game that the referee had today as well - and what better than some Slayer, eh? I thought "Black Serenade" from their "God Hates Us All" album seemed appropriate somehow, it's a complete antithesis of anything X Factor of course but also it's a really tuneful evil rocking number, not that thrashy at all which people accuse them of. I just like the fact that it could really be a perfect wind down to mosh to after a hard day at work!!

Friday 28th October - What Now?

I had a bit of a busy day today, and first off it was off to see one of our staff in our Design Studio. They'd had a new PC a few months back and for some reason when working on a document, they couldn't use the Zapf Dingbats font that they originally had on the old PC. I eventually found out why - and there's two different ways you can do so. Firstly, older versions of Photoshop used to come bundled with the old Postscript Type 1 fonts, of which Zapf Dingbats is one of them. If you install the fonts in the Common Files Adobe Fonts folder, then any Adobe product can see and use the older fonts. All well and good.

But what if you use Quark Express or other non-Adobe products? Well thankfully the staff member still had a backup of the old Adobe Postscript type 1 fonts, and you then use Adobe Type Manager Light which runs as a service on startup, and you can then choose which of the type 1 fonts to add, and it then allows you to see and use them as normal(ish) true type instead. Of course eventually OpenType fonts were the future, and later Adobe products do come with some OpenType fonts but not Zapf Dingbats (which gets bundled with Mac OS X incidentally).

The first "what now?" moment of the day was that I had to attend a technical group meeting that was scheduled for 10.30am. We all made it on time and were about to start the meeting when the fire alarm decided to go off. It made me wonder if it was a series of drills going on as one of the buildings I work on was apparently evacuated an hour earlier with a similar fire drill. Anyway, we were thinking "we don't want to wait outside for ages" and so all of us went somewhere close by for a coffee and had the meeting in a quiet space in there. A bit impomptu maybe but it actually worked out pretty well - maybe something to suggest in future!

After the rest of the day went by with some testing of software drivers and also some of the new configuration settings for the next Windows 7 gold build that we're going to use for the masses, the next "what now?" occurred when out for a little leaving do for one member of staff. It was good to see a few people and have a good drink with them and indeed the rather nice real ale I had in Kro2 (no less then crafty devil, with lots of very nice cinnamon in there) but I was debating whether to stay for another one or to head to Boots to do some Christmas shopping and to also get some wrapping paper. In the end, Boots won - just!

And so off to town where the next "what now?" decision had to be made. I had seen some nice items to get for some of my relations, and there was also a really nice thing on special offer which I knew that someone would love to bits. What do I do, get it now whilst it's there on offer or wait to buy it as part of a 3 for 2 even if it means that the item would work out more expensive? In the end, the decision was easy - I ended up getting four presents (three were in 3 for 2, the other was a great offer) and on top of that got plenty of wrapping paper and gift tags so that when I do get presents arriving, I can then wrap them up.

After a jaunt to Tesco to get the weekly food shopping (not as much as normal thankfully because of me being in work only two days next week and also seeing Throwing Muses a couple of times along the way too) it was then a relaxing evening spent by me, and thinking my final "what now?" of the day - deciding if I maybe should break with my initial thoughts a while ago and actually do the whole Twitter thing. Part of me thinks that I don't really want to spend more time in front of a PC that I already do (after all that's the day job!) and that I don't want to really spend too much time on very short thoughts when I'm usually better off writing something like this where I can express myself much more fluidly. On the other hand, it might also be a challenge to see how I can compress my thoughts too. Decisions, decisions.

So, what now? Should I sign up to Twitter or not? Feel free to contact me and let me know what you think. I'd be intrigued to know whether my original stance is probably one of seeing people just write any old bobbins on their Twitter pages, or if it would enhance anything or not. I the meantime, tune of the day is the excellent "Cold Rock The Mic" by Apollo 440. It reminds me of The Prodigy on top form but of course features Mary Byker (now in Pop Will Eat Itself) on vocals as well, and just rocks pretty hard, as the band were doing then - a far cry from their earlier work!

Thursday 27th October - Soft and Gentle

It was completely manic at work today. I don't think I hardly spent any time in the office at all as I was out doing jobs, and one of them this afternoon certainly had the grey matter flowing in bucket loads. There had been some large format Epson Stylus printers moved to another building, and as they were on a different IP range from where they came from, the static network IP addresses would fail to work and so needed new ones. All well and good and some addresses were assigned, but one of the printers for some reason just wouldn't talk correctly to the network.

After helping a colleague out this afternoon, I worked out why this was. The Epson Stylus 9800 by default doesn't have a network card in it, but you can add one in as an add-on for the printer. All well and good of course, but what this also means is you don't see an option on the printer's display panel to configure it - unlike HP's JetDirect cards which at least show up and allow you to configure them. Instead what you have to do is to set the network socket to be on a DHCP vLAN, restart the printer and do a network test print so you can see what the IP address is. Then, using a web browser you can log in via this IP, change the IP address via the web and send that to the printer's network card. Then, restart the printer, change the vLAN over for the network socket, and wahey! All good to go.

I felt rather pleased with myself as I went home and spent a fair bit of time cleaning the house, doing some ironing and watching Pointless on BBC1, where the types of coffee round proved to be quite intriuging (how the hell did cafe au lait get a mere 1 point, are people not that cultured anymore?) and also saw the local news where Liverpool seemed to be having a semi-protest, semi-consultation about the cuts that they have to make for the next year. Seemed a little odd, but I guess for a lot of local councils there will be some tough decisions to make again over the next few months.

The Love In My Heart came over tonight and I have to say that I've really missed her lots this week, and was really pleased to see her. She had lots of hugs and cuddles and kisses from me, that's for sure. I made us some tea and indulged her with the soaps, of which I have to say the one who plays Moira from Emmerdale looked pretty feisty and showing her cleavage a bit, but what the hell was she doing going 1 on 1 with Cain Dingle for crying out loud? Mind you, a lot of it I had no idea what was going on (probably a good thing to be honest) and there was also Corrie for The Love to enjoy too.

It was time for Scrabble afterwards, and it was a nice relaxing game with us having time to chatter away in between moves too. I put on Fleetwood Mac's "Rumours" album first, and that got us through the game pretty well. We can now play a whole game in forty five minutes which is not bad going at all, and The Love played some excellent moves throughout, including WAGE on triple word score (neato) and AXE with a double word too, so nice. It was good to listen to that album though as it reminded me of how some of the songs are now renowned as classics.

We snuggled on the sofa and I put on the original release of Seth Lakeman's "Freedom Fields" album which was on in the background as we chatted and held each other close. I know that there's one track that The Love adores on it which is "Band of Gold" so that's got to be tune of the day - it's a cracking song and has the right amount of uplifting feel too which is always nice. And the calm nature of that album just means it's nice to listen to at night and just be close to each other. I didn't want her to head home later and I just felt so wonderfully close that it showed me how much I had missed her. Awwwwwww. I know!

Wednesday 26th October - I'm A Fan Of Five Goals

After a hard day at work, which really is becoming the norm these days (no bad thing but you have to wonder how much you can get pushed to be honest) - it was off on the bus to my friend's place. He very kindly had invited me over to watch the Man City game at Wolves in the Carling Cup, and it served as a double plan because he was getting a new fan and heatsink for the PC and so wanted me to fit it and make sure all was well. Of course as you can imagine, with the CPU temperatures of his PC reaching around 70 degrees, he wanted to keep it cooler.

He'd bought the new heatsink and fan earlier in the day, an Arctic Freezer 7 Pro Revision 2 - and it looked the part too. Like most modern CPU heatsinks and fans, the fan doesn't sit directly above the heatsink, but side on to the heatsink, which means you can have a bigger heatsink to keep everything cool. What it also came with were all the fixing mounts for both AMD and Intel socket boards, and so for the Intel 775 type board my friend has, you simply add the mounting plates, push the pins in to secure it, and then screw the heatsink to the mounting plate - much easier. I had to put it in one way so that it wouldn't get in the way of anything, but all looked well.

The temperature tests we ran showed that the processor was running with its four cores (Intel Core 2 Quad in case you wondered) and it was a mere 46 degrees, a massive improvement. Leaving it running with doing various tasks on the web showed a pretty stable temperature too, so that's also good. Pleased with our success, we had something to eat for tea - me a nice chicken pizza and for my friend some canelloni, which timed nicely with the impending kick off of seeing Man City on Sky Sports 2.

I must admit when Wolves took the lead at 1-0 they deserved to go in front - they were the better side and thoroughly deserved to be ahead. They looked dangerous up front and they wanted it. Then of course Roberto Mancini decides to get City to turn the screw a bit, and we soon equalised not long after. A ball came out from Edin Džeko to Adam Johnson who curled a gorgeous strike home for 1-1. All good. Two minutes later Johnson found Samir Nasri with a peach of a ball and Samir did the rest to make it 2-1. Even better.

That would have done nicely till half time, but just a minute later it was 3-1, and this meant three goals in the space of three minutes fifty seconds (wow!) - the ball came across from Johnson, debutant Luca Scapuzzi struck at goal, and the keeper's save went straight to Džeko, who isn't going to miss from there. We were pretty gobsmacked and the City fans who were there started chanting "We want six" for obvious reasons after Sunday's demolition derby. We were pleased and had a little mini trifle at half time to enjoy.

The second half started like the end of the first did, with Samir Nasri's shot going to Luca Scapuzzi who shot on goal, it rebounded off the defender and the Wolves keeper, so really an own goal but 4-1 nonetheless. And ten minutes later a flowing move involving Nasri, Scapuzzi and Džeko meant that the Bosnian had the easiest of finishes to put City a massive 5-1 ahead. Wow. Jamie O'Hara scored a deserved consolation for Wolves, whom to be fair, kept going and trying to play the football the right way, and kudos to them for that really.

I headed home later on and reflected on the manner of the victory and how well City are playing at the moment. It really does make you wonder how we've managed it but at the same time am so pleased. The City fans are right behind Mancini at the moment and really show it in the song that they sing too - a song I sing a lot as well as it only seems fair to me somehow. As it's based on Domenico Modugno's "Nel blu dipinto di blu" (as later made famous by Dean Martin's version "Volare") and as Mancini's Italian, then it's tune of the day for me easily.

Tuesday 25th October - Up For The Cup

Had another pretty busy day today in work - mainly due to me trying to sort out some problems that a member of staff had encountered. They had configured their Outlook Express client at home to connect to our Outlook server, but when they got in work the next day they would only be able to see their current Outlook emails from that day, none other than that. At first I thought there may have been a rule in their Outlook client, but none of it. Anyway, I suspected that what they were doing was using Outlook Express to download their email via POP3, and then of course not choosing the option to retain it on the server. Ouch. We shall see what happens.

I also spent time during the afternoon working on some of the old laptops that had been returned in exchange for the new ones. Ideally I wanted to get one of them cleaned up and see how it would work as a standalone machine but also I'd first test it to see how a nice secure hard disk wipe with DBAN would work and how long it would take to really zero fill the hard disk and make the contents completely unreadable. I'm thinking for safety's sake really if they went elsewhere and had a user's data on it, and with the disks being fairly big it'd be good to see the time span. I set it off before I left for home tonight so see what happens.

Later on my friend and I headed to the Etihad Stadium to attend one of the Man City supporters' association meetings, and there happened to be a special guest there - and not a player! No, the FA Cup no less was on display and before the meeting started you could get your picture taken with it, and so of course I had my trusty Nikon D3000 and 50mm lens (perfect for low light of course is the 50mm it's just gorgeous!) so that I could get a good shot of my friend with the cup and got another fan to take one of me with the cup - simply had to be done of course.

We also had a special guest in no less than Dennis Tueart, a proper City legend both as a player and later on on the board of directors. Quite a few questions went his way about the 1976 League Cup Final and that overhead kick goal which was voted the best ever goal in League Cup history, and also about how the recent Tévez saga at the club has been dealt with. He was also quite a raconteur recalling stories as a player, how we might have won the League in 1977 if Colin Bell wasn't injured for the whole season, how we might have signed Graeme Souness during that season if the board wasn't waiting for Colin to come back, all sorts, ace.

Dennis also has an autobiography out next month but had copies of the book for fans to buy and get signed, which was a nice touch all round really. It looks like it'll be a good read and I might have to put that on to my Christmas list yet - particularly if the story telling is as good as he seemed to be when speaking to the masses tonight. I got a good pic of my friend with Dennis, and he seemed like a top bloke all round. Yaay to that and a cracking night all round really.

Tune of the day is something that's been a part of this year for me in a big way and is fast becoming my favourite album of the year too - the title track to PJ Harvey's "Let England Shake" album. It just sets the tone perfectly well for the album and has the right feeling of emotion and movement all in one, even having an unsteady tone with the instruments as the song starts to give you that sense of being there. It's a well deserving album to put on your must purchase it now list.

Monday 24th October - Dust, Anyone?

I had a bit of a mixed bag of a day today. First of all, I'd spent some time last night sorting out the pictures that I'd taken whilst in Bradford and was pretty pleased with a couple of them that seemed quite urban and down to earth. I kind of wish I'd have taken one of the parquet flooring in the Hungarian Social Club as it seemed to properly represent the era that the house was built, but the ones I did take I was relatively pleased with - I think that the 50mm really does help when thinking about composition as you have to see it as you do without any zooming - just get the shot framed, think about what you're doing and take it.

With that done, off to work and a busy day ahead of me, not least because I ended up having to spend half the day re-imaging one of the PCs in the suite that we use in conjunction with the laser cutters that we have. They're great bits of kit and they're designed to be able to cut through wood and metal to get either etched designs or even intricate cuts without having to try and do it with a saw yourself, which as you can imagine is pretty tricky. The PC has the standard software plus Corel Draw X5 with a custom palette that the cutter reads, and the printer driver which tells the cutter what to do. It works very well as long as you know which way round you need things to go, and I remembered all that from last time around.

Then in the afternoon I had a Macbook Pro on my desk as I wanted to see if I could upgrade the RAM on it before re-imaging it with our latest Macbook staff image (we do always try and keep one up to date as it makes life a lot easier as well) - and so I managed to locate some DDR2 RAM for it. However, this particular Mac only likes a maximum of DDR2 PC5300 (667Mhz) memory, and so when I tried 2 1GB sticks of DDR2 PC6400 (800Mhz) it failed, miserably. Ouch. I put the existing RAM back in and it worked, so obviously that meant no RAM upgrade for now unless the member of staff wanted to pay for it themselves. I'll set about re-imaging it tomorow I reckon.

I headed straight from work to my friend's place, as he wanted me to have a look at the PC of his and see just why it was shutting off after so long. I took a look inside the case and soon found out why it was - basically the processor fan was choking with dust, which meant that the fins were just keeping all the heat instead of dispersing it and making the processor very hot. I did a test just in the BIOS setup and it was reaching around 90 degrees, not very good at all really. Once I'd got some of the dust out and placed the processor fan back (not easy with those horrid push pins that come with Pentium 4 and Intel Core 2 fans!) it seemed to drop by a good 25-30 degrees, so all good. I think my friend's probably going to get a better fan though and see if that helps even more, so here's hoping.

Tune of the day in the meantime is a rock antidote to what was the X Factor's so called but nowhere bloody near rock week, with a proper rock song that shows that the people watching such crap like that on the telly deserve all they get. Why not have some proper rock instead, you know, with proper guitars and not sampled ones, and people who can sing too? So I'll give it to The Sword and their almost anthemic "How Heavy This Axe" which shows the kids a thing or two about how to rock. And it reminds me of seeing them live - happy times let me tell you.

Sunday 23rd October - The Joy of Six

I got up this morning and The Love In My Heart and I had different days planned - she had a jet wash and was going to clean her decking as well as catch up on stuff around the house that she wanted to do, and I was heading out with some of my Flickr folks to a photography festival in Bradford and to also do some urban shooting around there too, which made a lot of sense to do. Of course sod's law was that it was planned weeks ago and the Manchester derby just so happened to be moved to the Sunday afternoon as well. Why does that sort of thing always happen?

Anyway, The Love dropped me off at Victoria station and there I met one of my Flickr friends, and the two of us got the train tickets sorted and we headed to the platform for the train to Bradford. The train got delayed before Castleton as we were stuck behind a series of Transpennine Express trains on diversion, but once we got past Rochdale it sped through the likes of Hebden Bridge, Sowerby Bridge and Halifax before heading along to Bradford Interchange, which looked still pretty much as I remembered it from my visit in 2002 when I saw Man City win there 2-0.

We headed first of all to the National Media Museum where two of the exhibits as part of the festival were on - one of them was by Donovan Wylie and focussed on outposts, both in Northern Ireland with disused ones that were from the times of the troubles and also a set where he'd been given permission by the Canadian Army to join them in Afghanistan and take shots of their outpost positions in Helmand province. Some of them had some gorgeous toning to them and really did set the scene well for how it must have looked when wars were on. The detail was excellent too, and the size and scale showed how small the people looked compared to these outposts too.

Also in the National Media Museum was the early photographic works by Daniel Meadows. For me this was the best one of the day - he used to tour around the UK on an old Routemaster type Leyland bus in the 1970s and take ordinary shots of ordinary people around the country. A lot of them were in a book that he brought out as an excellent visual documentary. Other early works of his focussed on a street in Salford with old terraced houses that was to be demolished and how the ordinary people looked then, another showed the former barber's shop in Moss Side that he used as a photography studio, and another about the demise of the textiles industry. It just really evoked all sorts of emotions inside and was brilliant.

After this it was a short walk down to the Bradford 1 and Impressions Gallery which thankfully were open on the Sunday. One exhibit in there was by Red Saunders, where he got people to re-enact famous historical moments and scenes and capture it on to a large scale canvas. It worked really well and evoked the memories of the times back then - not least with the detail of the human actors who really did their bit to get the enactments to date. Fascinating stuff, and also in there was the Jeremy Deller "Poking About" exhibit, showing salvaged pics taken in the former studio on Manningham Lane - and intriguingly quite a few shots of married couples of different race, showing how the country was changing.

It was getting to lunch time so we found a decent pub and had a nice pint in there, and lunch too - gorgeous fish and chips, and for me a steak pie which was pretty good all round. I was munching away when my uncle rang me - pretty happy to say the least. He then told me the score and no wonder he was happy. Bloody sod's law isn't it that for the first time in years I've not seen the derby on telly, and we go and win. 6-1 too, and three of those goals at the end in stoppage time. Unreal. I couldn't quite take it in but at the same time just had to smile, as had I watched it we may have lost, so there you go. Match of the Day 2 will have to be watched methinks.

After some well earned food it was a fair walk uphill past Forster Square and Manningham Lane, passing old disused night clubs and former antiques shops and even Bradford City's ground before heading to the former Hungarian Cultural and Social Centre for an exhibit by Diane Bielik. The centre closed down in 2010 due to lack of funding and the photographs of how the club was effectively were pasted on to the walls of the club in large poster style, really adding something to the feel of the place. And with its original parquet flooring, be a shame to see the place be demolished and not kept with its features, but you could tell it had bags of character (and 1970s wallpaper decor!)

We headed back to the city centre the way we came and were going to stop at one of the bars that the festival recommended, but that was shut on a Sunday. In fact, everything in the city centre pretty much was closed on a Sunday - it just seemed empty, desolate, void of feeling. It made me wonder if they're not missing a trick or so because everyone who wants to do shopping would just head to Leeds instead and give them their money instead. Contemplation is always a good thing I suppose, and certainly quite a bit today made me think about that and think about how I take photography, so good to take stock.

It was a much more relaxed journey heading back where we had plenty more chat, dissing off the X Factor and remembering the true bands with girls in who had done tons more than the so-called Spice Girls et al (one of the photography exhibits had a Spice Girls branded camera which made us giggle). We recalled the days of Transvision Vamp, The Bangles, Patti Smith, Siouxie Sioux etc, and certainly showed that there were plenty of proper females in rock and pop that had proper girl power. Yaay. We said our goodbyes and headed homewards, and as you can imagine, I was on cloud six (heeeehee!)

Tune of the day simply has to be something that sums up the feeling of being a City fan right now and how much it means to everyone to have really caned Man U - and although not getting carried away, it shows that we do mean business this season in the title race. So I'd like to give the accolade to "Pounding" by The Doves, who are big City fans, and of course the title seems apt considering what happened today, a pounding, a walloping, a pasting, insert adjective here as you will. Oh yes.

Saturday 22nd October - Darwen and Not Rock

I had a pretty busy day today, first of all heading up to Darwen to see my uncle's friend and boss at work and his wife. He also knew my dad very well too, so we go back a bit anyway, and the two of them wanted me to take a look at their PCs and see what was up with them. It was a nice train journey too, heading up to Bolton and then along the single track line through Bromley Cross, passing the small village of Entwistle and through the tunnels towards Darwen, which looked quite pretty in the Autumn sky.

I was picked up from there and at their place we had a coffee and chatted and caught up - and it was good to do so really. The cottage that they've now moved in to is an old weaver's cottage that also used to be a local village shop in the early 20th century - and they showed me a picture of how the shop used to look when it was set up as one dating back from the 1930s. It was intriguing stuff and you could tell with the low ceilings that this was indeed a real original style cottage with tons of character and charm, hard not to fall in love with those sort of places especially if you watch stuff like Escape to the Country.

I managed to work out that the small Shuttle PC that they had was creating a lot of noise and my suspicions were dust around the heatsink and fan areas meaning that the PC was having to work harder and spin the fans at full pelt. Sure enough I opened up the case and it was dust central, but thankfully you can unscrew the back fan and sort that out, and it meant all the dust from that and the rear heatsink grille, as well as inside the case, was able to be removed. Once that was done it fired up a lot quicker and also much quieter, so I sorted that, their wireless printer issue and also did a full malware scan of which it was very clean, so all good.

They also had a tower PC which they said appeared to be running a bit slow with possible malware, and I managed to clean that up as well as numerous browser toolbars as well which were all slowing things down. There were even rogue dial up connections which went too and once I updated a few things such as the version of AVG Free on it, it ran really nicely. We had a bacon sarnie for lunch, chatted a bit more with a cold drink and I showed them the pics of the recent holiday to Nice, and it was really in a nice peaceful setting, and good to see them both too.

We headed back to Darwen station and I said my goodbyes before heading on the 3.10 departure back to Manchester. The train going had about three people on it, but it was tons busier later on. Lots were heading to Manchester for a night out and I suspect heading back on a later train home, but maybe starting their night out earlier to then get last orders back in Darwen too? By the time we got to Bolton it was pretty packed and at Victoria it was full, and lots of people headed towards the city, me included as I needed to pick up a Christmas present from Debenhams along the way.

I got home and The Love In My Heart was heading to mine too, so once she got here it was off to the local Tesco to get the food shopping in, and I got some lovely stuff for our tea, which we'd have whilst Strictly Come Dancing was on the telly. I did us some lovely mushroom soup and a granary baton to start, with the main being penne pasta and Italian meatballs in sauce with garlic bread, followed by an apple pie and cream for dessert. The pasta was filling and the meatballs were so gorgeous, I'll have to get those again for definite.

Then The Love wanted to watch The X Factor so I indulged her, but kind of wish I hadn't. It was Rock Week, so they claimed, but were most of the songs even rock? No. Two of them did ballad versions of rock standards that completely took the soul out of the original song, and only two really understood the genre properly and put in anything like half decent performances. One of them did Lenny Kravitz's "Are You Gonna Go My Way?" which was decent enough and the best of the night did The Darkness' "I Believe In A Thing Called Love" and actually vocally got it spot on. I'll have to though give the original tune of the day as well just to redress the balance.

All it showed though is why I hate and loathe X Factor so much. If you're going a do a genre, respect it and actually do it justice instead of calling anything with a hint of a sampled guitar "rock". No my friends, no. Doesn't work like that. If you wanted to do a ballad, then maybe Guns and Roses' "November Rain" or Metallica's "Nothing Else Matters" would have sufficed, and you could have picked classic rock such as Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, that sort of thing. And of course let's see, Slayer, Megadeth, Machine Head, Sepultura, etc. Imagine one of them doing "Raining Blood" by Slayer? Of course not...

Friday 21st October - Man vs Woman

Had another pretty busy day at work today, as most of the morning was spent sorting out some of the rooms in the building for what's to be spaces for Interior Design to be able to use their PCs and Macs. We've had them all imaged and ready and now with the network points pretty much good to go, my colleague and I spent some time getting all the kit up there, security padlocking it so it wouldn't go anywhere, and then making sure that it all worked. It was good that at least we were able to have things up and running and that it seemed a bit more normal up there now.

In the afternoon I came across an interesting problem. One member of staff was putting together some clips in Windows Movie Maker, but when you come to save the video, it crashes out. Boo. At first I thought it was because the original clips were in some weird video .MOD format, but converting some of them to a native Windows Media WMV format, and then putting them together in a Movie Maker timesequence and saving that as a video also failed. Not good. I had used VLC to convert the MOD files to WMV which it did an excellent job of, but it made me wonder what had happened.

I eventually worked it out and it was down to Windows Media Player vs Windows Movie Maker and one of them getting in the way. Windows Movie Maker uses a particular DLL which is to do with ASF - the audio stream of a Windows Media file, and on a Windows XP box it's called qasf.dll. Now with Windows Movie Maker in Windows XP SP3, it's version 9, but if you've got Windows Media Player you have version 11, which for some reason Movie Maker doesn't like. However if you make sure the version of this file in your Windows\system32 folder is version 9, it allows a save. Hurrah! So let's see what happens during the save now..

I had stayed behind a little at work and indeed ordered a couple of Christmas presents, so that was good, and I headed into the city centre and to Ra!n Bar to meet up with The Milk In My Coffee, as we were heading out for the evening together. The plan was to eat there and then head to The Lowry to see Lee Hurst in his new show, Man vs Woman. Unfortunately after I'd got the two of us a drink I found out that for some reason Ra!n stops serving food at 6pm on a Friday night, and why that is we didn't know - especially as there were no notices up to that effect. Meh. Very meh.

Still, we headed to The Lowry anyway and got a table in Bella Italia, and had a nice little meal together, with me having the carbonara and The Milk having the bolognaise, with some lovely garlic bread on the side to have with it too. It was good to sit down and chat and gaze longingly into The Milk's eyes (she has gorgeous eyes too, I should add) and just catch up for a bit with all sorts. The food was lovely and it was nice just to relax before we headed across to The Lowry, picking up our tickets from the box office and heading then to the Quays theatre at the far end of the building.

Lee Hurst came on and the show was effectively in two halves - the first one was him doing stand up and he was very funny - and considering he'd not toured in ten years you wouldn't know. He mentioned about speeding and how you get caught, and various things to do with driving, and his own medical conditions and what he had to do to get them sorted. One of them he talked about was an inability to swallow properly and how it felt like he was constantly swallowing pubic hair, but couldn't tell his mum in those terms so used a packet of crisps analogy instead. It was all very funny and the audience appreciated it.

At the interval came the start of the Man vs Woman part - you were encouraged to anonymously write down a question from a man's or woman's perspective and then they'd all go in a large jug, and in the second half Lee would then talk about the question and make light humour with the audience. I wasn't sure what would happen but it actually worked very well - even if some of the questions were going to be an obvious one to ask, such as "Why do women go to the loo in pairs?" One question made me smile was when it was asked if men look at each other's penises when at the urinals, and how Lee mentioned that the code is that if there's a urinal in the corner, you always go to that one - and it's very true! It was all good natured fun and certainly had the crowd in stitches throughout.

All in all a very different but good show and if he is planning to head back on tour next year I might just have to go and check it out. In the meantime, tune of the day is "Love Spreads" by The Stone Roses. Having seen the band before, I wasn't in the scramble for tickets this morning, which sold out in a mere 14 minutes, and even with a third date added that also sold out in under an hour, making for some sort of record. It shows you how people still regard them as alternative rock legends and how desperate people are to see them again after all these years. I'll just have the music and enjoy it, and rocking is what I plan to do with that track. Oh yeah yeah yeah...

Thursday 20th October - Libyan Liberation

I was out on a job this afternoon checking out one of the halls connections, and managing to make some headway into just why certain access appeared to be rather slow, and it was all going reasonably well. I usually test BBC News to make sure that there's a good connection for the student and that the pages are loading as expected, and then BBC News loaded up, I noticed the headline progress from the fact that Colonel Gaddafi might have been killed to confirmation that he was definitely killed, and that celebrations were taking place all over the country.

It seemed a little bit much to take in at first but when I got back to the office, a few of us had spotted the headline and we could tell that it was a symbolic day for Libya really. It had been a bloody and torrid time for them over the last few months as gradually the world was trying to do their bit to help, but in the end it was the strong will of the people themselves that proved to be the strongest bond of all - a common goal, helped by the recent changes of power in Egypt and Tunisia, that said that if enough people got together they could get what they wanted - democracy, fairness and a chance to help shape their country in future.

Even here in Manchester where there's a reasonable amount of Libyan people who've settled here, the streets of one part of the city were sounding car horns and having people chanting - mainly with joy and happiness but also with some relief as well, that they might be able to reunite with loved ones that they may have left behind. Watching the main news later, you could see that a storm drain under a road was where he was tracked down to and from there you've not got really anywhere to go. It's a start but there's still a long way to go for the country and in the end the people will know that the hard work starts to make their country what they want it to be.

One shining light in all this was the national football team, who despite all the unrest going on, managed to qualify for next year's African Cup of Nations. They had to play their last two home games outside of Libya in neutral venues but against all the odds made it. The day they qualified brought national joy to everyone, and I can imagine if they do well in the Cup itself, then that might just be the one thing to really gel the nation even more. In all the chaos, sport can sometimes be the really unifying factor - I mean you see how it is when England are in the World Cup for example, so imagine what qualifying did for the people there? Amazing when you think about it.

It took a while to take in, and I had a relaxing evening with The Milk In My Coffee making us some mushroom tortelliini pasta with sauce and tear and share garlic bread for our little meal together. As The Milk had had a bit of a stressful day I indulged her with the soaps for a fair while, so she got to watch Emmerdale twice and Corrie as well, and it's intriguing just how things change and then don't change in soaps - the stories might but some of the characters don't. Each to their own I guess, but it was good to note in between all that there was a classic Top of the Pops on BBC Four which was rather enjoyable.

In fact, The Milk was reminiscing about quite a few of the songs that she remembered and how good that they were first time around when listening to them. To me it seemed a little odd that a band like Pussycat could be number two with a really weak Country and Western style effort, and also Rick Dees and his Cast of Idiots with the appallingly bad "Disco Duck". Ouch. Not good. But much better is the song by England Dan and John Ford Coley, "I'd Really Love To See You Tonight", which you won't necessarily know by the band, but when you hear it, you'll go "oh yes, that one!" - and definitely that's what we both thought. Tune of the day easily really.

Wednesday 19th October - Oooh Balotelli, He's A Student..

It was the open day where I work today, and as you can imagine it was rather busy with lots of potential future students, parents and the like walking around the buildings, getting guided tours and also seeing how it really is for next year when they potentially have to pay all those fees. It's a sign of the times that the emphasis now really is more on recruitment because of the competitive nature it is out there to get people on board. I was pretty busy anyway working on a couple of laptops and trying to get them all sorted out.

Later on I had to head over to see one of my admin staff in another building, and was sorting out some email issues she had when accessing a colleague's calendar. In the end it was down to a Windows and Mac compatibility issue and I found that if the colleague logged in on a Windows machine, she could effectively share the calendar properly, and so that was all sorted. I went to see one of our PAs after that who told me that no less than Mario Balotelli had been visiting one of the buildings, and was enquiring about some courses. That'd be pretty good if we could have him as a student, I thought.

Last night at the City game by all accounts he was in one of the boxes and cheering the boys on, and having seen his post match interviews his English is okay but not brilliant, so maybe now he's settled down in Manchester he's going to learn more of the language. After all if your boss Roberto Mancini is doing pretty good on the English side of things these days (although he keeps using the word "important" far too much and needs to tone that down a touch) then you need to follow the manager's example. And by all accounts there's proof of the fact that Mario was in the building too.

It was a fairly good evening too as I spent some time playing TOCA Race Driver 3 on the PC. I must admit it's a little old these days but the game plays pretty well, and the tracks that are on it are recreated pretty well. I just want to get to the point where I can drive the legendary Mount Panorama circuit in Bathurst, that would be ace. Just need to drive a bit more carefully and not hit cars sometimes, but it's learning when to go just that little bit faster without going off the track - the key is always to stay on and make sure it's a clean lap.

Tune of the day in the wake of the Stone Roses announcing their reunion and what's sure to be two massive sell out concerts at Heaton Park in Manchester is one of theirs from their legendary debut album. I'm going to go for "This Is The One" because it has happy memories of the song being used as the BBC's opening theme to the 2002 Commonwealth Games coverage in Manchester, and what a great occasion that was for the city. Seemed apt to play a classic track from a classic Manchester band on there too. Maybe next year this is the one that the fans have been waiting for?

Tuesday 18th October - At The Death

Another day at work, and another day of incessant rain for most of it, and I was caught up in that during the afternoon as I headed to visit one of the student halls of residence to sort out a network connection issue. The cable that was there originally was stuck in the socket and we managed to gently prise it out, and then we found out that the access was also disabled for the student as they had file sharing software running. We informed them that it should be removed which was done, and then it all seemed to play ball again, so felt pretty pleased that everything was doing what it was supposed to do.

Later on I headed home, watched Pointless (which had a pretty mad round which was types of shark - go figure on that one) and had something to eat before my friend came over to mine and we headed towards the Etihad Stadium for tonight's must win Champions League game against Villareal - and with us only having one point from the first two games a win was completely essential to be honest. We were both nervous and a nice warm cuppa from The Milk In My Coffee certainly helped make me feel a bit more at ease before we headed to the stadium with gloves and hats on to keep off the cold - a very wise move in my view.

Things didn't look so good with just three minutes on as we gave the ball away in midfield, a shot was parried by Joe Hart only straight into the path of Cani, who made no mistake and the visitors took a 1-0 lead, which was not in the script whatsoever. Gradually we recovered from that shock and were heading forwards quite a few times, with Aleksandar Kolarov forcing a good save from a well struck free kick and putting in some good crosses. It was from one of these that the equaliser came before half time - he hit it low and hard across the box and before the ball got to Edin Džeko, the Villareal defender had put the ball in his own net, hurrah!

I got us both a pie at half time which did the job very nicely indeed, and we set about the second half and pressed forward. Džeko should have scored from a free header early on or at least hit the target, and although Villareal had the odd chance I was convinced we could do the business - although as the game went on I was less thna convinced. We brought on Sergio Agüero on for Nigel de Jong, and James Milner for Samir Nasri, who had an awful game it has to be said. At least both the subs looked like they were making an impact, and there was some more determination and drive, but still nothing.

The board went up with three minutes of added on time, and although Pablo Zabaleta had a header well saved I had a feeling it wasn't going to be our night. But then right at the death we headed forward, Gareth Barry passed to James Milner, his drive and passion took on a defender and he laid a gorgeous ball to Zabaleta. Pablo kept his cool, aimed it across the six yard area and there was Agüero. Could he finish? You bet he could! The crowd went mental, I was just hugging everyone and screaming "YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS! Get in" or words to that effect, and it showed that if you leave a game early, more fool you. It turned out to be pretty much the last kick of the game which is what I call leaving it late!

I saw the highlights on the Net later and according to Sky Sports' coverage, the goal was scored with a mere ten seconds left of added on time, which is cutting it close. But a great win nonetheless and keeps us very much in the hunt still for qualification. If we can go to Villareal and get a result there, we might be in the driving seat, so here's hoping. Tune of the day is the Champions League theme which really does get the passion flowing before the start of the game - and it did tonight. Come on City!!

Monday 17th October - Rain Rain, Go Away

Today wasn't the sort of day to be out on a job or three in another building, but that's pretty much what I had on to be honest. It was pretty relentless weather wise and I have to admit that I was very glad to have put on my coat with a rain hood that's also waterproof to keep the wind and rain away from me. It still wasn't that pleasant though when I had to head to another building to sort out someone's printer not being correctly detected. In the end this was due to a bad printer driver issue that was also corrupting the print spooler, so had to stop the spooler from starting automatically, restart the PC and remove the driver, and then restart the spooler and install a new clean driver. Not for the faint hearted, that.

I got home later on and tried out We Sing UK Hits for the Wii. It seemed okay enough and also seems to resemble the Wii equivalent of SingStar on the PS2/PS3. Some of the UK hits were good enough to try out and sing along to, but it seems that using the Rock Band mic I have made some of the detection a little bit over sensitive. I know I can sing certain songs well but it made me wonder how well when I tried them on expert level. I did manage scores in the 8000+ range which for that game is decent, but some of the lyrics that are spoken were showing as attempted to be sung, which did throw me a bit.

That said, some of the songs were really good to do - and some that I've played before on other music games, such as David Bowie's "Let's Dance", Queen and Bowie doing "Under Pressure" (and you can pick to be David or Freddie as vocalist in single player mode, a nice touch), Queen's classic "Don't Stop Me Now" (I'll make that tune of the day as it's an all time classic of all time), and even Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up". As all the songs feature the original videos you could always select it and see if people think that they'd been "rickrolled" of course, ha ha ha. Mind you, there's also the likes of Radiohead's "Creep", sadly without the swear words in, and Blur's "Girls and Boys" too.

That is balanced against some total pop dross though, such as The Spice Girls, The Saturdays (just, why?) , Plan B, Tinie Tempah et al. All fine if you like the modern stuff and I guess the game has to appeal to all ages and all that, but maybe people don't want all the new stuff. Interestingly the same people are bringing out a We Sing: Rock version which at least has some good rockier numbers on there - although some of them I've already played on the likes of Rock Band and some of them in my view aren't even rock. It's like someone who decides the songs for the X Factor has kind of selected it - but hey ho.

Sunday 16th October - Beer and Birthdays

I got up early this morning and left The Love In My Heart having a well earned lie-in whilst I saw the Korean Grand Prix. Despite all the new tricks of DRS and KERS, the racing might have been close but the passing not as much as I thought it'd be. In the end everyone up front did a two stop strategy and whilst Mark Webber and Lewis Hamilton battled it out for second place, and Jenson Button holding off Fernando Alonso for fourth, all these battles in race meant Sebastian Vettel went out front and won rather easily and ominously it has to be said.

We had a relaxing morning watching the Something For The Weekend show before heading later on into the city centre. The Manchester Food and Drink Festival was on and thought that it would be nice to check out the various food and drink stalls as well as see if they had any of the Build A Rocket Boys beer from the Robinsons Brewery. As I half expected that sold out pretty quickly but it was nice to walk around Albert Square and see the various food stalls on, all selling lovely looking and tasting food. In fact we did go to the bar there and I had a half of Dizzy Blonde whilst The Love had the mulled wine - which reminded us both of Christmas!

We headed to St Ann's Square and there were plenty more of stalls there, including a cheese stall run by Sean Wilson,who played Martin Platt in Coronation Street no less. He's been selling his own cheese for a few years now and seems to do quite well with a stall at the festival in this location. All the talk of food was making us rather hungry and looking forward to seeing some of the family later for a get together, and so we headed into a few shops where I even got a Christmas present all sorted out, and that was good to do.

We went back to The Love's place before then going to mine, and from there taking the short walk over to my uncle's place where it was my cousin's 18th get together. It was good to see lots of the family and there was some lovely food laid on - including some gorgeous chicken curry and rice. The younger relations are always lovely to see, especially my one year old nephew who always seems to have a big smile on his face and seems to want to walk to everyone too - he's such a cute and happy little one - bless. It was good to see my cousin and he certainly was most relaxed with everyone around, so that's good.

It was hard to say goodbye to The Love, but I knew we'd had another great weekend together and I spent the rest of the evening plotting some Christmas present shopping, so that was good. Tune of the day in the meantime has to be something by Elbow from the "Build a Rocket Boys" album considering I almost had the same beer today - and what better than the opening track from that album "The Birds" which is simply one word - epic. I love that and it sets the album off on all the right tones throughout. Kudos to them!

Saturday 15th October - We Are Top of the League

Another good day all round for me today, and it started off with a gentle jaunt down to Asda to pick up a bit of shopping and mainly to get some food bits I didn't get last night. It worked out quite well actually as I wanted to get a few bits and some of them that I was after were at a cheap price too - so when putting two full massive recyclable carrier bags through, the cost was less than I thought - the two most expensive items by far being the shampoo for my hair and some shower gel, which I thought was on offer but wasn't. Ah well, you live and learn.

I watched the F1 qualifying on BBC iPlayer and settled in for a relaxing morning before my friend came over and we then headed in the direction of the Etihad Stadium to see if Manchester City could beat Aston Villa. We were keeping one ear to the early kick off at Anfield as Liverpool faced Manchester United, and as we were heading to the ground after dropping the car off, we could hear cheers from the cars near the ground, and one of them told us that Liverpool had taken a 1-0 lead. All well and good as you can imagine, and even the 1-1 scoreline at full time was still decent. It meant that if we won, we'd be top by two points.

All that excitement had me reaching for a chicken balti pie as we settled in before kick off and got ready to cheer the boys on. Of course City were up for it and after an early scare with a good Joe Hart save, City went forward with purpose and James Milner hit the post, Mario Balotelli went close with a curler and I thought it might only be a matter of time before we took the lead. And sure enough we did, the corner came over, Micah Richards chested it and Mario Balotelli overhead kicked it in with a sweet finish, which shut up the Villa fans who were winding him up. That'll teach them.

It stayed that way to half time but the second half saw City go up a gear. An audacious pass from Yaya Toure made the Villa defence make an error, and Adam Johnson slotted it into the bottom left corner for 2-0. A few minutes afterwards some good work and pressure from City saw a goalmouth scramble force a corner, and from the resulting corner from Johnson, captain Vincent Kompany headed the ball down and past former City keeper Shay Given to make it 3-0, and all was looking set for us going top.

Not even a Villa smash and grab goal from their defender Stephen Warnock made any difference either, as City headed forward again and scored a gorgeous fourth goal. James Milner placed a gorgeous crossfield ball to Adam Johnson (the Match of the Day commentator later said it was the pass of the season!) and from there Johnson and Gareth Barry worked well to lay the ball back to Milner who curved it in from 25 yards, a sweet finish and a well deserved goal for him. For me he was man of the match today and really looked like he was hungry for a win and well up for it.

We headed to see The Love In My Heart after the game and have a well earned cuppa whilst discussing the football and all sorts of stuff. It was good to have a brew and we noticed the other results which went pretty well - and meant two points clear at the top of the league for us. Hurrah! My friend headed home later and I stayed at The Love's place as she was making us a lovely tea, and she didn't disappoint either - some gorgeous chicken, some roast and mash potatoes, whole baby carrots, Yorkshire puddings, gravy, the works - gorgeous it was. We even had a raspberry roulade for dessert too. And the day got even better for The Love as she got three numbers on the lottery to win a tenner too - hurrah!

Tune of the day was one of many I was listening to on CD as I was transferring some CDs to the PC as MP3 content so if I needed to transfer them to any music devices, I could do. I had the 2-CD best of Renegade Soundwave RSW 1987-1995 on, and certainly on the second CD are some of my favourite mixes of RSW tracks. On there is the Leftfield remix of "Renegade Soundwave" that was on the CD single of said tune, and here onthe best of it makes perfect sense, it's one killer mix full of bass lines and hooks that just make you want to groove on down, so an easy decision really. Why the hell were they so under-rated I wonder?

Friday 14th October - Pay Day Is The Long Day

Thankfully it was pay day today, as the normal pay day for many of us, the 15th, is a Saturday, and so it's normally the first working day before. There's quite a few advantages of being paid the middle of the month, one of them being that when it comes to Christmas you don't have an early pay in December and then have to eke it out till the end of January, and so the months are nice and consistent, which is good. It was good though to be paid today as I needed to go and get my hair cut, which I did at lunch time, and the lovely folks in The Northern Cutter worked their magic once again!

The afternoon was mainly spent formulating a plan for the next week or two, where I'm mainly doing some laptop deployments for academic staff. They already have an existing laptop and so I'll be basically doing a swap over, and today I made sure all the new HP Probooks we have are all good to go. In effect they've got a really nice 13" screen, and are Core i5 processor, but I just wish the touchpad mouse was a little less responsive - it's a bit too much for my hands I guess. Still, it works very nicely indeed and flies at speed, so should be good for all sorts.

After work I headed home to sort a couple of things out and then headed back to the city centre to meet up with The Love In My Heart and take her for a drink in Ra!n Bar after she had finished work on her late shift. It was good to relax there and as the weather was mild enough to sit outside so with a pint of Hopmeister, it was nice to chat and catch up a bit. The Love always looks lovely for work and today was no exception - honestly, it just makes me fancy her even more than I do.

I headed into town afterwards as The Love headed home for a well earned rest, as I needed to get some birthday cards for a few birthdays coming up. Thankfully these days the Arndale Centre is open till 8pm so plenty of time for me to head out and get some cards, and think I'm pretty happy with what I got in the end. I even stopped off at Tesco Express on the way home to get a few bits of shopping, mainly lunches for work for next week whilst there were some offers on. I didn't need that much shopping, so it was a quick escape home.

I spent some time tonight finishing off my Christmas lists, which are now done. I'm comitted now but no bad thing, as I pretty much know what's out there on the wishlist and also what albums I might have been buying as they come out between now and then, so not to include them there (one of which was the new Pop Will Eat Itself album of course as I knew I was going to buy that) and then distribute it accordingly to family and friends - and job done. I know my youngest sister was asking me first as she wants to get her shopping done early, and good for her for thinking that!

Tune of the day though is some more Pop Will Eat Itself, and went back to listen to one of my favourite albums ever, "This Is The Day, This Is The Hour, This Is This" - an album where skipping a track is not an option. I still quite enjoy "Can U Dig It?" though as it really does namecheck lots of good stuff with a crunching guitar riff for the chorus part too, whilst still sounding fresh and vibrant. I even have the US promo 12" and CD single with the Justin Strauss house mixes, which do divide fans as to if they're good or not. But any song that name checks that they did Renegade Soundwave is fine by me (in fact the clashing of metal just after the title lyric in their track "Wake Up Time To Die" is either from RS's "Kray Twins" or "Blue Eyed Boy) so yaay!

Thursday 13th October - The Return of the Incredible PWEI

I've just got back from the Club Academy and I feel rather hot and sweaty to say the least. And with very good reason. I've just been going mental seeing one of my all time favourite bands of all time live again. And you know what? It was bloody awesome. I can remember when I first saw Pop Will Eat Itself live and that was way back in October 1990 at the International 2 (which isn't even there anymore, folks). That night was awesome and every time I've seen them live since it's always been a great time. Of course when they reformed in 2005 and did that reformation tour, I headed to Birmingham and that gig is still one of my all time favourites for very good reasons - one of them being the only time I've ever heard them do the classic "Beaver Patrol".

So, six years on and Graham Crabb, the only original member of PWEI, has basically formed the new mark 2 version with Mary Byker formerly of Gaye Bykers on Acid and Apollo 440 on vocals, Tim Muddiman on guitar, Davey Bennett on bass and Jason Bowld on the drums. The new album is pretty good and the acid test for me would be if the band could carry it off live, and if indeed they'd actually play any of the old stuff. Tonight was the second night of the tour after playing Glasgow last night. Interestingly, the gig got moved to Club Academy from Academy 2, a sign to me at least that tickets weren't selling so well.

I got to the Club Academy around 8pm and noticed that it was just a DJ set till 9pm and then it was Pop Will Eat Itself and that was it, so I got myself a drink and relaxed at the seating area at the back of the club venue. The merchandise looked good but £20 each for a t-shirt (no matter how cool the grey PWEI Product one looked) and a mere £40 for a hoodie was taking it a bit far to be honest. I had my classic long sleeved PWEI skateboarder t-shirt on which has seen me through many a gig of theirs, and as 9pm drew near the DJ was playing some classic punk and indie songs including Neds Atomic Dustbin's seminal "Kill Your Television". Ah, memories eh.

At around 9.10pm the opening came on with "The Incredible PWEI vs the Moral Majority" with the Jimmy Swaggart speech, before Pop Will Eat Itself (official site) came on. They opened with "Back 2 Business" before going full pelt into the classics, and no less than "Wise Up! Sucker", possibly my favourite song of theirs. of course I was going mental and pogoing but incredibly it sounded just as good as it used to with Clint blasting the vocals out, and with the guitars sounded just as intense. Tune of the day no question, let me tell you. We also got "RSVP" too and even if vocally it wasn't perfect, it just got everyone in the right mood for an excellent show.

Of course the new album "New Noise Designed By A Sadist" was going to feature heavily, so an excellent "Chaos and Mayhem" ensued, which is possibly the least PWEI-like track on the album, but it does work with all the guitars coming at you. We also got "Oldskool Cool" which really did sound quite raw, but no bad thing there and the end track "Wasted" - albeit the opening part only with lots of venom and power throughout. It all was boding quite well and of course with more classics such as "Everything's Cool" which I had to mosh like a madman possessed for and "Get The Girl Kill The Baddies" just to keep up the speed of everyone bounding around, it was going well.

The familiar intro sounded to "Ich Bin Ein Auslander" and Graham very kindly said a thank you to the likes of Clint, Adam, Richard, Fuzz etc for all their work over the years. Whilst it'd have been nice to have the original line up, it's also good to see Graham respecting them for what they did, and certainly the way the Mk2 band carried this off was excellent, and a real feeling of power and anger that still resides in the song. Good! And after the newbie "Mask" came a nice surprise in "Cape Connection" which I didn't expect whatsoever. "Disguise" was a bit of a timing disaster I'm afraid, they need to work on that one a bit more live I feel.

But that didn't stop them in their tracks, and they asked "Perverts! Are you ready?" which meant of course only one thing: "Preaching to the Perverted" which really did sound guitar driven and all the better for it, and followed up by my favourite on the new album, "Noisebleeder Turbo TV" which really does come at you at pace. It was all great and the crowd were going for it as I was, and there were some lovely people in the crowd who were all smiles as we just went for it. I ended up having hugs with lots of random people afterwards, I think we were all in shock at how good it was.

The encore was intensely good too, first off just to get us all in the mood was "Captain Plastic" before going way back to the all time classic "There Is No Love Between Us Anymore" which really did make everyone jump up and down and all sing the one line throughout the song together, which was a gorgeous moment. And if that wasn't enough, their version of "Their Law" which PWEI wrote with The Prodigy. It was just great seeing plenty of us around my age think "sod it" and go for it in such a mental way. It was great fun and I'm sure afterwards a lot of people were glad to get outside and get some fresh air. Folks, I have to say, if you didn't go and see them, then why the hell not? The incredible PWEI are back, and that's a good thing. Hurrah!

Wednesday 12th October - Castrol nVidia GTX

After work I headed over to my Mum's, mainly to see my Mum but also my brother. Mum had just come back from a week away on holiday in Tunisia so it was good to speak to her about the trip there and how much she enjoyed it. By all accounts the hotel was lovely with plenty of nice swimming pools and a lovely view of the sea. She showed me the pictures that she had taken with the digital camera and it looked pretty good from what I can see and it also looked like she had had a good time too, so no complaints there really. I suspect as well that it might have been a culture shock because the country is different from here, but nonetheless she did say that she would go back, which has to be a positive.

My brother had a little something for me which I was going to take home for the PC - an nVidia GTX 460 graphics card. He'd been sent a couple of them to look at for review purposes and was allowed to keep them, and so passed one on to me for a reasonable amount of cash, which was fair enough. He also threw in a Molex power connector to the 6 pin PCI-E power connector, as the graphics card requires 2 of those (I've got one in the PSU already, so just needed another). The card's meaty enough with a massive fan whacked in there for good measure.

I got home and set about installing the card. Because of the heatsink and fan it takes up effectively two slots on the back of the case, and so you have to note that when inserting it. I had the case open, worked out how I was going to put the card in and inserted it, connected the DVI cable and then fired up the motherboard BIOS setup, telling it to disable the onboard graphics and use the one from the PCI Express slot instead. Once done, the PC started up and I downloaded and installed the most recent nVidia drivers to make sure it was all nicely up to date.

And sure enough it was. In fact I tried out the settings on FIFA12 with everything maxed out for my DVI display, and it ran as smooth as a baby's bottom. The players actually looked very real indeed, especially when I played as Manchester City and the players really did come alive spot on - I recognised them even without seeing the numbers on their shirts which told you something. It ran so super smooth and slick that I really felt like the full game would be something else - or maybe even the manager one which has FIFA12 style graphics for watching the game being played.

I'll try some other graphics out soon and see how they fare, but all seems initially well and trying out TOCA Race Driver 3 was super smooth with everything maxed out - granted not the most recent game but it gave me an inkling of how much I've upgraded the kit in one fell swoop - from an old AMD Athlon 3000 XP to now this lovely quad core Phenom II X4 beast. And it is that - a veritable beast of power and guile all in one. I'll try and download Crysis 2 and see how that performs - be good to see.

Tune of the day meanwhile is the rather classic and epic title track of Dream Theater's "Octavarium" album - clocking in at around twenty four minutes. It seems to doesn't last that long but yet all each individual parts of the song work together really well to have plenty of drama throughout. The later part with Mike Portnoy on vocal really makes the song feel claustrophobic before giving way to a guitar and string section which leads into the end part rather beautifully. Well worth getting the album if you haven't already.

Tuesday 11th October - Little Man

It was a busy day for one reason or another today but finally managed to sort out a problem with the normal.dotm Word template and the fact that it wouldn't be set for the mandatory student user. We discovered that in Word 2010 documents are set by default as 220 ppi. All well and good for documents without images in, but once you get documents with images, it means that sending such documents to print gives everything the big slow down. Not good, as you might expect.

Now in the advanced options in Word 2010 you can choose what resolution to have your documents at. And this is important, as a 150 ppi doc with images is at least over half the file size of the 220 ppi one. And not just that, it also prints a fair bit quicker too (although not as quick as setting the driver correctly for one set of printers to be ImageRet 4800 which seems to fly quite well) - and the changes to this are saved in the normal.dotm file. So you'd think place that file in the relevant section of the mandatory profile and it should have those settings, right? Err.. no.

And then I found out why. With the mandatory profile as is, Word assumes that you've never run the program before and generates the normal.dotm template from scratch as a first time run, and either overwrites or renames the one you actually want to use. So I thought "there's got to be a way around this!" and today found the answer - a simple registry key which needs adding to the mandatory profile. All it basically tells Word is that I've run before so use the normal.dotm in the profile and you're good to go. I did some testing and it all seemed to confirm my thoughts and ideas - always good when I'm right (sort of)

After work I headed home and relaxed a bit before The Love In My Heart came over. We first went over to Tesco as she needed to get a couple of things from there and it was easier to do so on the way, as we were heading to see my auntie. Her son (my cousin) and his girlfriend had had their first baby, a lovely boy, on the Friday, so thought it'd be nice to head over and see them all. And what a cutie their little boy is. He seems quite placcid when he's being fed, but also seems to adore company and look at you with lovely eyes. I'm really pleased for them both and it was good to see them - and they liked the little outfits we got for him too. It makes me happy to see them happy.

We went back to mine later and I made us some lovely tagliatelle carbonara for tea, and that went down very nicely indeed, before snuggling up on the sofa to see Don't Tell The Bride on BBC Three. I must admit that having a registry office wedding, where the groom does one and heads off to Ibiza to wait there for his wife to take a surprise flight over might have been pretty weird, but nothing as awkward when the bride turned round and didn't like the dress, and then spent six hours being a fuss pot and picking another dress instead. Oh dear oh dear me.

In the meantime, tune of the day is the rather nice "Chaos and Mayhem" by Pop Will Eat Itself, as it blasts forth from the speakers and really sets off their new album on a good way. It might have seemed a little odd hearing Mary Byker's vocals instead of that or Graham or Clint, but once you get used to it with the screaming guitars it actually works pretty well, although not necessarily sounding like classic PWEI. I will have to see what their live gig brings won't I?

Monday 10th October - It Asda Be Done

Another Monday at the office and certainly one that had me running round chasing up lots of stuff but also speaking to plenty of people and getting lots of stuff done as well, so that felt a bit more positive. It felt good to be able to be back in the building I used to be based in and doing some hard work there, pleasing the masses and trying to get to the bottom of things. What didn't help was the heavy rain which meant that some of the work I'd planned to do I had to put on hold instead, not that pleasing really.

I headed home but got off the bus a little earlier than I normally would because I wanted to check out the new little Asda that had opened close by to me. It used to be a former Netto but as Asda have effectively taken over the Nettos and transformed them, the plan is to make them little Asdas to try and compete with the likes of Tesco Metro and Express, Sainsbury's Local etc. The advantage of course is that they've got ready made sites which they just need to effectively rebrand properly, and do the insides, and effectively transform the store, which they did in a matter of just two weeks. Pretty good that!

I did note that the store was pretty well laid out with most items easy to find and with stuff like sandwiches to go at the front of the store so you'd be able to just find them. And quick pay tills too of course which meant life could be made easier if you so wanted to. It seemed pretty busy and I spoke to one of the manageresses on the quick pay till who was supervising, and she said that it was good to see people use it - and this despite a large Asda a mere three quarters of a mile down the road too. I managed to get a couple of items I was after too - a glass measuring jug and also some wine glasses, which were 6 for a mere £2 and looked pretty good!

I spent a bit of time this evening working on my Christmas List, as several of the family have asked for it. I guess too that if they have something to work from it gives them a bit of an easier job all round, and as everyone is effectively trying to start earlier this year with their present buying and spreading the cost out somewhat, it makes sense. I've seen quite a few things I could be after though anyway, so I'm sure that it will help populate the list somewhat, and then it's a case of splitting it up and sending it various people's way, as is my norm.

Tune of the day in the meantime is the excellent "Noisebleeder Turbo TV" by Pop Will Eat Itself. I just hope that on Thursday when I see them live it's as good as it is on record really. I think it might just be me but I'm anticpating good things from it if they can capture the same sound as on record - which is bloody fast and loud, and I like that. Not least this track which is fast becoming my favourite on the album as it seems to go at a breakneck speed with lots of classic PWEI stuff in it.

Sunday 9th October - Suzuka and Shopping

I got up reasonably early on the Sunday morning and one of my friends was already up and watching the Formula 1 - it was the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka, so that was pretty good all round. It was about two thirds of the way through the race but I hadn't missed that much so watched the rest of it from there. It was superb stuff with Jenson Button battling ahead and keeping off challenges from both Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel to win. In fact Button only just had enough fuel to win the race before stopping at the end of the pit lane, but well done him!

We had set the Virgin V+ box to record the whole thing so we could go back and see Martin Brundle's grid walk as well as the start of the race, and I have to say that Vettel forcing Button almost off the track was a bit much to be honest. Mind you, I saw that Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa were at it with each other yet again with a clash close to the chicane that reminded me of Ayrton Senna v Alain Prost in 1989, that sort of intensity. I have to say that Hamilton needs to pay more attention to how Button drives, as his team mate is showing him how it's done properly rather than be so rash all the time.

After some lovely breakfast the time caught up with us and it was time for us all to head home, and hopefully not the last time we all get together, and I think I'll have to organise another get together down here sometime I reckon. I headed back on the Metro from Simonside to the Central station, and back up the escalator to the station. I nipped into Sainsbury's to get some lunch for the train, and then it was off to the platform to get the train back to Manchester.

I had the iPod on for most of the journey and probably a good thing as the train went on a go slow between York and Leeds as it was following a slower train and then it was rammed at Leeds with lots of people getting on. After Huddersfield it had to divert around Sowerby Bridge, Hebden Bridge and Rochdale and through Manchester Victoria before looping back to Piccadilly. I was glad I had tunes on and even bumped into one of our members of staff as well who'd got on at Leeds. I had a shuffled selection and tune of the day is the excellent "The Root of All Evil" by Dream Theater, which helped a fair bit of the journey pass by, as did the title track of Rush's "2112" for obvious reasons.

The Love In My Heart was waiting for me at Piccadilly as we were going to head out and do some shopping as I'd had the good news over the weekend that my cousin and his girlfriend had had some great news - his girlfriend gave birth to a lovely 8lb baby boy. I thought that we'd head there in the week to see them once they'd settled back at home and thought it was a good idea for The Love and I to head out and get a little present. We headed to the Trafford Centre which was busy but it meant we had plenty of shops to choose from, and we eventually found something nice along with a card, so all well and good there.

After the shopping it was time to have a nice meal together and headed to the Ashlea in Cheadle (we did try the Elizabethan in Heaton Chapel first but it was full!) and Sunday roast was ours - I had the gammon and The Love had the pork, and it was nice and relaxed in the end and we spent most of the time catching up and chatting together. Before we knew it, it was time for me to head home and The Love to head home too, and I felt sad that the day together had gone so quickly but also knew that we'd had a great time together. Roll on another great weekend soon!

Saturday 8th October - South Shields Weekender II, Day Two

We all got up and it was time for a nice coffee and some lovely bacon and sausage barms, which our friend very kindly made for us all. It was much appreciated from me as we all enjoyed the food and we'd noticed that the Japanese Grand Prix qualifying was on the red button, so it was good to be able to watch that and see how that turned out. We all thought that Jenson Button was pretty unlucky as he was just edged out of pole by Sebastian Vettel by a mere nine thousandths of a second, which is nowt really, and in fact on the home straight in Suzuka was a mere 63cm between the two - that over a 3.6 mile lap. Wow.

We headed out to Simonside Metro station and got ourselves an all day ticket which would serve us well for our day journeys, and first headed east to the centre of South Shields. We walked from there along the main road of shops and then past lots of bed and breakfast places as we got closer to the coast. From there we headed to the Dunes centre, which as well as having amusement arcades and a bar also has a pretty good 12 lane bowling alley. And because it's independent they don't charge you shed loads either, which meant four games for the price of two, so just under a tenner each. No complaints there.

Our friend from round these parts certainly gave us all a bowling lesson though winning three out of the four games that we did, with my friend from Ulverston winning the other. And with winning scores such as 156, 145 and 133 that's rather good all round isn't it? As for me I got over 100 twice and got 99 in one game, so was reasonably pleased but know I need to spend more time practicing I think. Nonetheless it was plenty of good banter and a particularly ace moment where were recreated Mr T as "bowling fools" - a moment I captured on video which just had to be done!

We then walked back along the main street back towards the centre of South Shields and veered off left and aimed for The Voyager pub. No real ale, but a pool table that was 70p per game or two for £1, which wasn't bad at all, and a pub jukebox that had tunes that you'd never ever get at another jukebox, such as Suicidal Tendencies' classic "Institutionalized" and Renegade Soundwave's "Probably a Robbery" (tune of the day that one just for that!) but also when I selected Mike Oldfield's "Tubular Bells" it pretty much played around the last eighteen minutes or so of Part 1. Awesome value for money and the games of pool were pretty good too.

Our friend had a nice surprise for us as we headed through the centre of South Shields and on to another pub - The Maltings. It's where they make Jarrow Brewery beer downstairs and the pub upstairs had a very good selection of real ales. Well worth a visit that was especially as conversation and beer is the order of the day and not loud music or anything like that where you can't hear yourself (not good let me tell you) and also their own beer is literally fresh out from downstairs so that you know you're going to get yourself some decent ale too. Hurrah!

It was then on to the Metro from South Shields and on to Gateshead where we walked downhill from the Metro station and on to The Central, which had its own October beer festival on. The Hoptoberfest beer I had was lovely, and we found the upstairs balcony lounge to be nice and quiet so we could have plenty of chat whilst enjoying some good beer. I was tempted possibly by the food as well but nonetheless it was all very nice and I'm sure if it was a sunny day the roof terrace would have been rather nice to sit outside as well and take in the sun as well as the beer.

After a stop for pizza at a local takeaway which was very nice indeed, we walked along the High Level Bridge which had cracking views of the Tyne Bridge as well as Gateshead and the millennium bridge over to the Sage Centre, it was then down the hill and past a few cobbled steps towards the riverside, where we stopped off at The Quayside, which was pretty busy as you'd expect for a Saturday night but none the worse for it as you could hear yourself chat and we had all sorts of fun in there. It was good to see that the beer was on good form and I'm sure we could have sat outside if it was dry, but it was still weeing it down.

Another walk to another pub and this time the ace Crown Posada pub which had some really nice local ales on and I like the narrowness of the place but also the fact that their tunes are played on an old turntable with proper encased wooden case, and that regulars are encouraged to donate vinyl to be heard there. I liked the atmosphere in there and that was pretty good all round, and then it was on to the final pub for the evening, Fitzgerald, which had some good Jarrow Brewery beer as well. We were flagging a bit after an all day out, so we headed to Monument Metro station and headed back to Simonside. I ended up crashing out on the sofa (oops!) before heading to bed, but the day was ace and as always with great company.

Friday 7th October - South Shields Weekender II, Day One

It was that time of year again where I'd be meeting up with three of my good friends and getting together for a weekend of beer, bowling, and then some more beer. And why not? It was good to take the day off work anyway after a pretty hard week and I just wanted to relax, so a perfect opportunity really. I spent some time cleaning the house having already packed the night before, and so before too long it was lunch time and time for me to head to Piccadilly Station, where I'd be getting the 1327 departure to Newcastle.

The train journey was pretty good all round really, with not much happening in terms of delays apart from a little glitch just after Leeds where we were stuck behind a local train for a little while before speeding on to York, Northallerton, Darlington and Durham before I arrived in Newcastle just a few minutes after the scheduled time. From there it was through the arrival gates with ticket in hand, and then a short walk to the Metro station and after getting my ticket, it was on to the South Shields line to Simonside, where it was a short walk to my friend's place. Tune of the day was on my iPod as I listened to it on the train, the excellent "Let England Shake" by PJ Harvey.

When I got there, the other two friends were already there too so the four of us were all good to go. We spent the early part of the evening watching some of the recordings of "World's Craziest Fools" with no less than Mr T as host. Most of it was pretty funny and we ended up doing some impersonations of said actor and came up with some retro gaming inspired names, such as "Spectrum fool!" and such like. We also had a superb curry along with some rice and poppadoms, which really did fill the gap nicely and set us up well for some gorgeous local ales as well as the likes of Hobgoblin as well, excellent.

The England game was on the telly and my friend had got Sky Sports 1, so it was a good idea to watch that. Or at least we thought it would be when goals from Ashley Young and Darren Bent put us 2-0 up in Montenegro. Of course all looked good till they pulled a goal back just before half time to make it 2-1, and with a moment of madness resulting in Wayne Rooney being deservedly sent off (just what was he thinking to be honest?) it was then a case of if we could hang on with ten men. We couldn't, as Man City defender Stefan Savic put the cross in for the equaliser to make it 2-2. As it turned out it meant we had qualified for Euro 2012 and that Montenegro were in the playoffs, but even so. Not good. At all.

After that we relaxed for a bit with more beer before heading out to a local takeaway and there were some right characters there including these two blokes who were very drunk and seemed not to know what they wanted. I had a chicken burger which was okay but some of the kebabs by all account weren't that good, so I guess it was a case of we tried it and it wasn't that good. Mind you, it was a long day all round especially with all that travelling, so we all ended up crashing out around midnight ready for the day ahead tomorrow, which promised to be another great time.

Thursday 6th October - iCan!

It was good to get plenty of things done and nailed today so I could effectively have a long weekend and know that everything was taken care of perfectly. One such problem though had me racking my brains till 6.30pm and that was something that I didn't need, but it was good to get to the bottom of. For some reason, one of our Novell iPrint servers wasn't taking any connections from any user, and indeed when users did attempt to print they'd either get an authentication box or they would have no printout if secure authentication was turned off. At first we thought that this was related to the old charging system being turned off, but that didn't go anywhere near the existing staff printers.

It was a case of narrowing it down one by one, so with the help of a colleague in our central team we removed any erroneous printer queues in case any of them had any stuck jobs that weren't being allowed to be cleared, and then from there it was seeing what would happen. Still nothing. In the end I revisited some trouble shooting on Novell's web site to do with iPrint, and it mentioned that in terms of authentication there's several ways of looking at it, but one did lead me in the right direction, and that's an important file called ipp.conf (which is in the sys/Apache2/iPrint folder), which basically sets the configuration for how iPrint clients connect, whether installing or printing.

For some strange reason which I wasn't able to work out why, one of the ipp.conf files on the server cluster that I was looking at had reverted itself back to an original out of the box version and not the one amended with the necessary information so that the authentication would work. Comparing it with other working sites I soon noticed that there were two offending lines which was causing all the pain. And it's like this. The wrong line mentions the standard DNS context of some random unknown server, which doesn't work. So we have this, which is wrong.

AuthName "iPrint_LDAP_Authentication"
AuthLDAPURL ldaps://servername.dnscontext.com/o=ldapbasedn

Of course we can see that the URL will never ever authenticate to the domain because the domain doesn't exist like that within our network, and also the auth name isn't a user that's set up in eDirectory either, so that clearly isn't going to work. Instead what you need is to either copy the file over from a working configuration or to replace these two lines with ones from a working configuration. I've changed the line a little bit so as to keep the work settings private but in essence, it's like this:

AuthName "UserName"
AuthLDAPURL "ldaps://localhost:636/???(objectClass=user)"

Where "UserName" is the user name that you'd use to authenticate. Localhost in this case authenticates to the same server that the iPrint printers are installed on, and that normally works fine (it does on all our other servers). Once this was changed and the Apache services restarted (or simply do a restart server if you know no one is around) myself and a colleague was then able to authenticate to the printers on the cluster and indeed print successfully without issues. We still haven't been able to work out why the file was changed but I've at least managed to fix it and that it's all been documented now. Phew!

The Love In My Heart picked me up from work and we headed home where I made us a lovely chorizo sausage pasta bake for tea, and we settled in for the evening with some lovely telly and some lovely tunes. I had on the Swing Out Sister "Beautiful Mess" album whilst we played Scrabble, and I did a move which scored two lots of double word as well as get 50 points for using all my letters, which was nifty. I did AGONISE which made AI, COWS and EA and that scored a massive 93, yaay. Tune of the day in the meantime is the excellent "Time Tracks You Down" from the Swing Out Sister album I've mentioned, it has such a lovely vibe.

Wednesday 5th October - Nosebleeder Turbo

Had a pretty busy day in work today, mainly because I was trying to get a few bits done before the end of a shortened week. I finished off imaging some Windows 7 workstations for our CAM suite downstairs, and the machines are linked to a laser cutter which really does some smart work. I had an issue with one last week so wasn't expecting the best to be honest, but I hooked the Windows 7 box up to the cutter, the drivers installed and everything worked first go out of the box, like it should. Why can't everything be that simple?

I went into the city centre after work as I was after the new Pop Will Eat Itself album. Yes, you did hear me correctly. Even if it is just Graham who is the original member of the band still in it, he's at least recruited some good people to be the new band members. Of course as a diehard I had mixed feelings about whether just one original member would be enough, but by all accounts the former band members have given him the go ahead, so that's something. I would have bought the album from Fopp but did they have any copies? No. None at all. So it was off to HMV instead where they at least did have it - but hidden away down below in the new releases section. And they wonder why no one buys any music anymore?

I headed home on the bus and just managed to get home before some driving rain arrived and settled in for the evening. Of course I had to fire the CD up and it was a perfect excuse to listen to it whilst doing some ironing and generally getting all my clothes sorted out. Having had an initial listen or two, it's hard to really pick a stand out track at the moment, but one has got me a little bit and I've played it a few times now - "Nosebleeder Turbo TV" - it goes off at around 100mph, the pace is relentless and doesn't stop. Part of it appeared on the now infamous "Sonic Noise Byte" sampler in late 2005 which gave fans a glimpse of what might have been... nonetheless it's tune of the day.

In a lull in the weather I headed out to the local Tesco as I needed a few little bits of shopping and gave me the excuse to make sure I handed over the voucher to entitle me to £2.50 extra Clubcard points. I also noticed though that they along with most of the other main supermarkets are supporting the new Health Lottery which people might be enticed by - the prize structure seems a lot more simple, and the fact it goes towards helping the local health authorities might just mean that the money you spend on the ticket at least goes to a known good cause. I'm tempted to try it myself. But then you look at the odds and you have to think about it carefully. Getting £50 for 3 numbers sounds good, but bear in mind that you pick five numbers from 1 to 50, and having worked it out, the odds are around 1 in 214 as opposed to 1 in 54 for getting three numbers and £10 on the National Lottery.

I went back to the Pop Will Eat Itself album for another listen and it's sort of growing on me. Having heard the Sonic Noise Byte sampler in 2005, there's bits of that I recognise that are parts of the full tracks that eventually were released here (and would have been on the abandoned Vileevils release incidentally) but good too that there's brand new stuff to get the teeth into. "Chaos and Mayhem" might have thrown me had I not known that Mary Byker (formerly from Apollo 440) is on vocals too and it made more sense that way as well - but all in all so far so good. The acid test will be live next Thursday.

Tuesday 4th October - Snuggly

Another long day at work today and I got plenty done, including the finishing off of a laptop trolley which had been causing some issues for me yesterday. I finally found out the reason why. Our task sequence in SCCM for the laptop loan image basically registers the Windows 7 standalone MAK keys we have, as it doesn't need to constantly talk to our licence server. However, when I tried a command prompt to activate this MAK key, it told me that we'd actually ran out of them. I guess with a fair few laptops around that everyone had imaged, we reached a limit. Once Microsoft kindly increased our limits, we were then able to do a little task sequence to register them on power up which worked.

It was good practice too for me to see how my software task sequence went and amazingly all but one of the seven I set off imaging last night worked - and I simply re-ran the task sequence on the other one to make it all work correctly, so that was good. I then spent some time heading over to see the members of staff who were going to be mainly using them and explained how they all worked under Windows 7, but it was good to get probably the last of the student rigs completed and on the standard platform to work well.

I headed home and had a bit more time to sort out the last bits of the transfer of data between the old and the new PC, and once I'd got Dreamweaver reinstalled, I simply recreated the site settings and that sorted out all the indexing etc so I could use it exactly as before, so that felt pretty positive too to me. It was pleasing to see that in fact the machine was happy to be so responsive and overall it's been a positive experience thus far. My brother's confirmed he has a nice Geforce GTX460 up for grabs, which should handle things very nicely on the rig to say the least!

The Love In My Heart came over later and it was lovely to see her, and I think we had a fair few hugs before I started making us some lovely rump steak, chips and peas for tea whilst she indulged herself with Emmerdale. Then it was mainly snuggling on the sofa and watching some evening telly - and first of all the Great British Bake-off final. I must admit I was really pleased that Jo won, because she seemed the most down to earth of the three in the final with her "Philadelphia, lovely!" type of accent but also a real earthy feel about her - yaay! Sometimes the nice ones do win, we thought.

After that it was Don't Tell The Bride, which was based in and around the Tenby area. In fact in one shot of Tenby you could even see the old lighthouse which had been renovated and done up in a Grand Designs programme from the week before. The wedding was unconventional in that the ceremony was in a pub overlooking the sea, the bride and groom went by boat to Tenby, where the fisherman's church was the blessing place followed by a reception right on the seafront. A bit mad, but hey, each to their own and even using Haribo sweets as wedding rings. I'm sure plenty of brides to be are looking at their partners now thinking "don't even think about it!"

Tune of the day is Seth Lakeman's "Lady of the Sea" which played on the night before the wedding where the groom was cleaning up the fishing boat to make it an actually presentable sea vessel for the big day, and I guess it made sense in the context of the programme. And of course it's a cracking tune by Seth himself, although I do prefer the version on the original release of the Freedom Fields album, which sounds a bit more acoustic and rough around the edges too.

Monday 3rd October - I'm A New PC

It was a tough day at work today, and I'd spent a fair amount of time during the afternoon trying to sort out a problem one of the student had with their halls connection. Their laptop just didn't want to respond to websites despite the network connection working correctly, and trying out the office netbook showed that in fact the connection was live and working perfectly well. In the end I worked out it was one of two things causing the error: a badly configured laptop or possibly Norton 360 that was stopping things working. It does frustrate me though when in fact there's something odd causing an issue you can't get to the bottom of.

After work I headed to one of the local PC components retailers (not Micro Direct though, who by all accounts are struggling a bit - they closed their second site close to where I live) and I'd already been through with my brother a suitable spec for a PC replacement. I've had my trust AMD Athlon XP 3000+ for almost eight years now and when it came out was pretty cutting edge. Now it's showing its age a bit but always was a reliable beastie and I'm sure I could still use it as a Linux based rig for testing - maybe chuck Ubuntu on to it or something.

The compoents I wanted were all in stock, so when I got home it was time to start building. I normally put the processor and RAM into the motherboard first and also fit the processor fan as well - much easier to do this when they're out of the case. Then, as I've got a separate power supply, put that into the empty case chassis, fit the motherboard mounting screws and then screw the motherboard into place, not forgetting the back plate of course. I then put in the drives, connect the cables from the case to the motherboard, and then connect the drives and fit all the other cables in. I remembered that the processor needs 2x 12v 4 pin power cables going in (and the power supply has that) so that was all done easily enough.

It's always reassuring when you boot up the new PC, go into the BIOS and see that everything is working as it should be. The processor was there as was the RAM and drives, and as the board's got onboard graphics and sound (I'm going to buy a high end nVidia card soon enough as my brother's got a meaty one he says I can have cheapish) I could get started without too much extra outlay, and of course I'd always have that to fall back on if the graphics card dies - so there is some kind of method to my madness, honest. Windows went on without issues and I have to say was pretty impressed with the speed overall.

What's left now, and I've done most of it already, was to copy the data from the old machine to the new one. Thankfully I'm pretty organised with folders etc, so know what I needed to copy over, including a folder with the software installers that I'd need, my website source files (obviously!) and stuff like that. I simply hooked my old PC to the router like the new one was (both wired) and as my Iiyama monitor has DVI and VGA in, I could swap displays between the two to check on progress. I shared the hard drives over the network and did the copy that way, and it was pretty quick and painless. Hurrah for that!

Tune of the day in the meantime is from one of the many MP3s which I copied over from the old drive to the new one, as part of my mass file copy. I archived plenty of my CDs to that format for use with the trusty iPod, phone which has a music player etc, and listening to Kraftwerk's "Tour de France Soundtracks" album reminded me of a track which explains the speed of cycling but also the speed of the new PC beastie too - "Aero Dynamik" - which has a killer bass line which plays throughout along with some sweeping trademark Kraftwerk synths. Gorgeous I tell you.

Sunday 2nd October - Birthday Meet

After a relaxing morning and catching up on some rest, The Love In My Heart and I were heading off to the city centre. A Flickr Manchester meet had been organised as one of the members happened to have their 70th birthday today, so he was getting a few of us together, we'd head around Manchester during the afternoon and then meet up later. As it turned out the lovely Lisa from the Sweet Mandarin restaurant in the Northern Quarter was going to do us all some dim sum as well, which was very nice of her too, so all set for a good day really.

We met everyone else in Kro in Piccadilly and I couldn't resist having a pint of the Build a Rocket, Boys! ale, named after the recent Elbow album (and for that reason I'm going to make the epic "The Birds" tune of the day too). It was a very nice pint and I got chatting to plenty of people that we knew there so it was good to see them all out. Each of us that were going to enter a little competition (basically your best pic of the day would be entered and you'd win a prize, nice!) and so those that were entering would write their names down on a little notebook. It was good to see some older faces I'd not seen for a bit too and one of them had their little boy with them who was being adorable.

Once we'd all had a drink and a chat it was time to head out and do our own thing for the afternoon. Some of us headed towards Castlefield where there was an artisan market going on. The Love and I walked along the canal path to avoid the protest that was going on to do with the cuts, and soon arrived in Castlefield and the market that was on seemed pretty good - lots of home made produce and plenty of really nice items to get - olive oil, some lovely breads, all that sort of thing. What was also good was that most of them were small independent traders and it was good to feel that they were getting a chance to sell to an adoring public.

There were also some dancers who were dressed in 1950s outfits and showing off their skills to the masses. They certainly were moving really well and the two of them looked a good working partnership. I adored it when they got together and were doing little hitchkick jives, and they really seemed happy to be there. Unfortunately for them and for several of us not long after it started to chuck it down with rain, and so The Love and I sought solace in Dukes 92, which proved to be a good move all round. It was busy but not rammed, and so I had a coffee and we relaxed and chatted in there for a bit.

Later on we walked up Deansgate as the rain still lashed down a bit, and we went past the Patisserie Valerie which looked far too nice in terms of cakes and made us salivate and look longingly at the lovely cakes in the window. We went through the Arndale which meant we kept a little bit drier before leaving around the back way and then moving across the Northern Quarter towards Sweet Mandarin. I spotted a couple of people were already there and we made our way in, and I got us a couple of non-alcoholic Becks to have with the dim sum due later.

It was all good, and the food in Sweet Mandarin was lovely. Everyone made their way there and there were about fifteen of us who were happily chatting away about all sorts, and we wished the birthday bloke happy birthday, with the staff at Sweet Mandarin even making a little cake too - just how good? We were just expecting a little dim sum which would have been good, but we even had some little main courses together with rice and noodles - the likes of sweet and sour chicken, beef in black bean sauce, sizzling pork, all that. Beautiful! The Love and I decided we need to eat here again on a night out some time as the food is gorgeous. Special thanks to all of the staff there for making us feel so welcomed.

After all that it was time for us to head home but we'd both had a lovely day and it was great to see lots of people - made me feel a bit more relaxed and lots of them took the time out to chat with The Love which was also much appreciated too. The rain still lashed down as we headed back to mine and it was hard to say goodbye to The Love after such a lovely weekend, but I knew that we'd see each other again soon and have another great time. Hurrah for Sunday afternoons!

Saturday 1st October - Beer, Party and Walking

It was a busy day and a half for me today. First off was a solo trip out to Dunham Massey and the Dunham Massey Brewery. Part of the reason was that I wanted a nice walk around the little village there but secondly it was to visit their shop to get some lovely beer. Their real ales are gorgeous and I am sure that anyone who's ever tried their chocolate cherry mild, which has won plenty of beer awards, would agree with that sentiment. It was a bus out from mine and then another one into the centre of Altrincham, and from there it was the 38 bus which took you to Dunham Town (the official name of the village of Dunham Massey) as it did a little loop around the village to stop there.

This of course meant I could walk around the village, get lots of fresh air in the warm weather and then head to the brewery. It was so difficult deciding on what beers to get because they're all lovely, but in the end I settled on some of the chocolate cherry mild and some of the dark mild as well as the Bowdon Parish Ale, which they did in conjunction with one of the churches in Bowdon (one of the really posh parts of Altrincham). It's always difficult when so many of their beers are nice (Big Tree Bitter, Dunham Light, Little Bollington Bitter etc) but that's a good thing.

After heading back home, it was time to then have a bit of a break before heading to see my sister as it was my nephew's first birthday party. It was good to see lots of the family and of course see my nephew having a wonderful time, and lots of food for both the children and adults were available to eat so I definitely tucked in to some lovely stuff. There was even a little table set for the childen attending with it all laid with balloons and other party things so that they could eat their little meals in there complete with jelly and ice cream - a really nice touch all round.

I stayed there for a while before heading home and getting showered and changed as The Love In My Heart was coming over later on. We decided it was just too warm to go to the cinema and instead headed to Fletcher Moss in Didsbury for a walk. We headed all the way down Stenner Lane and part of Ford Lane till we got to Simon's Bridge, and then from there walked down the riverbank to the health walk, did a lap of there and ended up at the other end of the gardens, past the Alpine Tea Rooms and then on to The Didsbury pub, always a good final stop of course.

The two of us sat outside and had a rather nice evening meal there, with The Love having the gammon and eggs and me having a rather nice steak and ale pie. And yes, folks, it was a proper pie and everything! Of course it tasted rather good with plenty of steak crammed in there and a cute little jug of gravy to go with it. It was good to enjoy the time there and we noticed some rather nice candles being lit in Parsonage Gardens close by. We later found out this was for an event for the Didsbury Arts Festival that was going on, so that all made perfect sense in the end.

We got back to mine and I indulged The Love with a bit of The X Factor whilst I poured out some drinks. I had the chocolate cherry mild that I'd got earlier and it tasted rather good to say the least. That said I don't think you'd want too many pints of it in a session though as you might end up being sick. It is quite a rich texture and that would mean that it might not agree with you further down the line. The Love had her wine and I got out some lovely Gü lime cheesecakes to have as a dessert following the meal earlier.

Of course earlier I'd been cheering on City whilst having the BBC Final Score on as City trounced Blackburn 4-0 away with all four goals in the second half. I had been singing the Balotelli song when City went 2-0 up as he scored a deserved goal and the goals kept coming in. Man U did win 2-0 to keep them top by one goal though, and this was despite Norwich coming close to scoring on several occasions. A sign? Maybe. But I wasn't worried and for once we were first up on Match of the Day so it meant we could see the boys do the business, and a cracking strike from Adam Johnson.

Tune of the day though is REM's "Leave". One of their most epic songs and still one of my favourite non-single tracks of theirs, and the pinnacle of their vastly under-rated album "New Adventures in Hi-fi". It starts off all gentle and melodic but then after the first minute sirens come on, all hell breaks loose, and it turns into a rockier piece all round, and really does have an uneasy edge to it. It's a rather cracking track all round, and the calm and noisy parts reminded me of what I have to put up with when there are people close to my house who row and argue all the time - not good.