Dear Diary... February 2012

Wednesday 29th February - Leap Year Despair

It's that rarest of days today when it's the 29th February of course, and not exactly a day for the faint hearted either, especially if you're me. I spent a bit of time this morning in another meeting to do with the wireless communications and how we're improving things. It was good to have our information officer there with us too, as she's always got some useful thoughts and ideas and we did agree on a few things, so it was good to feel that positivity really.

For most of the day I was in the new building, first off taking over four PCs that would be set up and that were well in warranty, and so as the new monitors were all there it was a case of being able to have them rigged up, fired up and ensuring that everything worked as it was intended, which was good to do. I wanted where possible to make sure that the cables were as neat and tidy as possible so that there wasn't much of a mess of tangles of cabling around, and that seemed quite positive.

It was then liaising with the team leader over in the central campus and getting four PCs in the room that were the new ones for the staff that we'd promised, and once done, I set up the new cages that affix to the back of the monitor stand, and then they're all one singing and dancing neat little unit. They all needed imaging with the latest version of our Windows 7 build of course, and that took some time so had to stay behind to make sure that they were finished. It all looks very smart though and I'm sure there isn't that much left to do over the next couple of days.

I headed home and was about to do a session on the Wii Fit when I was watching BBC News, and immediately I thought of a couple of people in the family - and The Sparkle In My Eye rang me to confirm what I already knew, in that Davy Jones of the Monkees had passed away. All a bit sudden too - heart attack in his sleep which proved to be fatal. Only last year the Monkees toured and played Davy's home city of Manchester, and I'm sure those that went to it had no idea it was probably going to be the last ever time that they'd see him or the band together. Quite a sad day really.

And even more sad was watching the England v Netherlands friendly football on ITV, and although the first half was quite cagey, the second half opened up a bit too much, and two excellent goals from Arjen Robben and Klaus Huntelaar meant it was 2-0 in as many minutes early in the second half. England recovered and rallied with Gary Cahill of all people moving forward and scoring, and a few minutes later a neat flowing move saw Ashley Young equalise for 2-2, so we went from despair to hope - and then despair again as Robben finished off a move with a deflection off Cahill that deceived Joe Hart to be 3-2 to the Netherlands.

Quite a few Man City players were on both sides too - Joe Hart, Micah Richards, Gareth Barry and Adam Johnson all started for England, with James Milner coming off the bench later on, and Nigel de Jong played the full game for the Netherlands and looked pretty commanding in the holding role, a good sign to see for the rest of the season, I think. But still, I was just pleased that they and the other City players on international duty, including a goal for David Silva in Spain's win, and Sergio Agüero up front with Lionel Messi for Argentina doing a good job, then all was well.

Tune of the day can't be anything else other than a Monkees song really - even though I'm not a fan as such I knew a few of the family are and I can only imagine how they're feeling right now. So it seems quite fitting that in times of sorrow that we should remember the happy times that music gives you, and those are the memories to take with you, and with that in mind, it can't be anything other than "Daydream Believer", which even if you play it at a do now always gets everyone up and singing happily - and that's when you know a pop song has lasted the course or not.

Tuesday 28th February - In A Scrabble Daze

Another day and another set of meetings to go to, which these days seem to be taking up more of my day than anything else. This morning though it was actually good to have a meeting really - the first one for our now newly re-named Platform Team and the start of thinking in more detail about deploying Windows 7 to our staff base. There's a fair few dependencies on this happening though:a move of data to the new Windows storage based shared area as well as any Access XP databases which won't work properly with Access 2010. We thought that now was the time to move and so it was good to see everyone.

It was also good that a fair few of us got a glimpse of one of the new buildings where quite a lot of people are moving into over the next few months. From my viewpoint, it's also where there's some of the staff that we look after are moving to, and so it's good to know where everything is and how it'll shape up, and I brought over the fax machine that they needed along with a few other items as well, so now the office that is moving first is gradually taking shape. I'll be spending a bit more time in there this week as well even though for some reason the building reminds me of a set from Space 1999.

In the afternoon was our weekly team meeting so it was good to get on with things and be able to share how the development side of it was going so far. I do think that it's a positive that we're able to at least get together and spend some time to iron out any minor issues before moving on, so that felt quite positive. In fact one of the rooms close by to our meeting was hosting an event with free tea and cakes, which was very tempting to stay for let me tell you.

I finished a little later than planned becuase I was sorting out an Orange mobile broadband dongle for a member of staff, and also getting to the bottom of why their laptop wouldn't connect to our secure wi-fi. In the end it was actually pretty easy to solve but it was a case of knowing just why it wasn't seeing anything at all, and realising that the account's Group Policy was that restricted that it was preventing anything else from seeing out instead of allowing the user to at least check the configuration and ensure it was correct. Whole world of right pain right there.

The Sparkle In My Eye came over later on and I made us some spinach and ricotta tortelloni with some meatballs, and that did work pretty well on the whole, even though I probably overdid the meatballs in terms of cooking time slightly. The Sparkle and I though settled in to watch Don't Tell The Bride on BBC Three, where the couple getting married lived in a caravan on the bloke's father's land, and the bride to be really had standards and was a bit on the mouthy side too - so you can imagine her shock when they had their helicopter ride to the reception as part of the wedding day.

Later on it was time for Scrabble and on with Swing Out Sister's "Beautiful Mess" album, and that was a perfect backdrop to our intense concentration playing the game, with "Something Everyday" being gorgeously beautiful, so tune of the day there. The Sparkle played very well, using the triple letter to maximum effect when playing DAZE, doing double letter on the J and double word for JAIL, and followed that up with JARS for triple word score as well, thereby playing the three best moves of the game. I've also ordered us the new updated Scrabble dictionary as we think there might be the odd new allowed word that we've tried and failed to play - we shall see.

Monday 27th February - The Grand Tour

It was a different day at work today, as some of the day was taken up early on by a meeting of sorts, and part of it was also taken up by being able to fix a couple of issues with laptops and on top of that having a test of an old Paradox database together with the necessary checks. It felt quite positive and it meant that I could have a lunchtime meeting with a difference and with a clear conscience. In fact I didn't know how long it would take so I allowed myself a couple of hours to be on the safe side.

I had signed up along with a couple of my colleagues to go on a tour of the work in progress of the new building that we were being based in, and so had to visit the site office to have all the health and safety precautions and be issued with all the safety gear: hard hat, protective gloves, eye glasses, work boots and hi-vis jacket, the whole works. To say we all looked like the construction worker from the Village People was a master of an understatement. Still, it meant that we had access to the site and was able to at least be taken around, so we went through the ground floor plan first and made our way to the hoist.

The hoist would take us up to the top of the current tower that's being refurbished, and this meant that we could see from the hoist itself the view you'd get - rather spectacular all round really. It was then from the top of the building that you could see the work inside and how it was much more open plan than before, and that at least meant it was all good. You also got to see how much of the flooring had been kept intact, and how much new flooring that there was to be done - and some of it did look rather nice, although with it being all in black I could imagine that it could show all the dust very quickly.

It was then down through the floors, to the posh new loos on the fourth floor (been there, done that) and then to the ground floor, where it showed the new showers that were being put in and almost ready. I suspect that it'd be handy for cyclists so that they can get changed out of their bike stuff and into more of a work mode, and that has to be a positive thing - they look all posh too, so I might even envisage using them myself if I want to head out on a night out straight from work - we shall see. Then it was back into the new building in progress and up from the top you could see it all taking shape - the Design Shed at the back with all the specialist rooms and then up front the large gallery area that's going to have a ground floor café, and all looks positive.

I headed home later, caught up on normal Pointless with both Friday's and Monday's episodes (I got home from work a little later than planned, so thank heavens for series link!) before testing out a couple of things on the PC and relaxing in front of the TV with some more catch up stuff - such as last Thursday's Top of the Pops from 1977 on BBC Four. I also watched an interesting programme about The Tube in London and how they were trying all they could to avoid fare evasion by going undercover. Nifty how they've spotted the double swipe of someone's Oyster card to try and simulate a free fare (which dosn't work now - loophole closed, haha)

Tune of the day in the meantime is the excellent "Break-In City (Storm the Gate)" by Tenacious D. I wanted to test out my surround rig and see how it performs now, to get an idea of what it should sound better than when I look at my AV upgrade. Of course this means that I needed a rocking scene with some surround and so I whacked on the Tenacious D Pick of Destiny and got to the scene where Jack Black was going to get in to find the pick via the secret entrance through the air vents - and with the soundtrack in full surround, it proved rather useful - so much so I watched some of the film from there!

Sunday 26th February - Penalties and Pointless

After a relaxing lie-in and indeed having a rather nice breakfast courtesy of The Love In My Heart, we pottered around for a bit, got some ideas and inspiration with Jamie Oliver's 30 Minute Meals on More 4 (I'm convinced that's becoming her favourite channel because of the repeats of that and indeed Location Location Location!) I headed back home in the afternoon as The Love needed to get stuff sorted for work and because of doing other work-related stuff during yesterday hadn't had much time, and so it was good to let her get on with things.

What this did mean was that as the Carling Cup final was on BBC1 HD, I thought that at least I could watch that and see how it turned out, and due to the TV having picture in picture, meant I could test out my Commodore 64 games to put on eBay at the same time (crafty, me!). In the end the football was rather good and after testing the games out, the football went full screen and with good reason - because it was getting pretty exciting! Cardiff had taken the lead and although Liverpool had more possession and shots, it took them till the second half to equalise through Martin Skrtel.

Extra time loomed and surely cramp and tiredness might set in, and as the second half of extra time got underway, I felt it was a matter of time when Liverpool would score. And sure enough they did, with substitute Dirk Kuyt following up his own mis-aimed shot and doing a lot better second time around, whacking it in to the bottom corner for 2-1. Now Liverpool had ten minutes to hold out, but that wasn't doable. Cardiff had a corner late on and Kuyt himself headed off the line, and from the next corner, the ball was bundled home which meant 2-2 and the prospect of the dreaded penalty shootout.

It was going be tough on someone who would lose, but Liverpool's record in shootouts like this is pretty decent (they've won one in the Champions League Final for example!) and even though Steven Gerrard missed his penalty and then Charlie Adam missed his, and Cardiff went 1-0 up after two penalties, the pressure would come further on in the shoot-outs. Dirk Kuyt did well to score his, as did Stewart Downing, and Cardiff missed one in the meantime meaning it was 2-2 with one penalty left each. Glen Johnson scored his and then it was up to Steven Gerrard's cousin, who plays for Cardiff, to try and force sudden death. He missed and so Liverpool lifted the Carling Cup this season. I did feel for Cardiff as they'd tried really hard and their fans really did back them to the hilt, and knew that hopefully this would spur their season on.

Later on after making myself some very nice king prawns with lemon rice for tea, I settled in to watch the Celebrity Edition of Pointless, which was on last night when I was at the football. I was looking forward to seeing who was on, and was quite happily surprised to see Monica Galetti and Michel Roux Jr on one team, with Jon Culshaw teamed up with Penny Smith on another. Penny looked striking in her hair and dress, but I have to say that Monica looked classy and rather lovely in her jeans and black top, fitted her well and she looked much less scary than she does on Masterchef (in fact Jon did a great impression of Gregg Wallace which was really light humoured all round.)

The celebrity one works quite well on the whole really - not least because the questions are still as difficult as they are for the normal people, and in addition sometimes the celebs can also be pretty clever themselves. I knew that Jon Culshaw would be witty and intelligent so no surprise he survived the first round, and indeed that Michel and Monica knew their geography as well as making sure they had correct answers in round two. I was pleased though that Christopher Biggins exited in round one - can't stand him. Sorry, but I can't!

Tune of the day in the meantime is "Sudden Death" by Megadeth, which would have been perfect if the football had gone on longer with an extended penalty shootout today. As it was, listening to that during the penalties would also have worked pretty nicely, to heighten the suspense somewhat. And yes, I do still prefer the Guitar Hero Warriors of Rock version, it just sounds more crisp and punchy and also a little more evil with the lyrics, but nonetheless it pretty much rocks and kicks backside.

Saturday 25th February - Three and Easy

Had a good day all round today, as first off it was time to get the food shopping done. In fact I didn't need that much primarily because I still had plenty in the cupboards and in the fridge, and so it was just getting some minor bits such as sparkling water, some bread and milk, and coffee. I even had a voucher for £1 off the Kenco Pure coffee which I normally get anyway, so thought that I may as well use it and get some money off. It was a quick trip and I was soon back home, where I did an hour plus on the Wii Fit to try and keep the fitness regime going along nicely.

I also ventured out to Sifters, a record shop in Burnage on Fog Lane. I bumped into one of my work colleagues in there who'd been buying some funk LPs, and even though I didn't see anything I wanted, there were plenty of good vinyl and CD releases which if I didn't own them already might have been pretty tempted to purchase. I even saw some of the albums for 99p and there were some 80s classics in there, which again I had some of them. Interestingly the owner's now stopped selling any new stock whatsoever (he used to get the new release CD singles and albums in) and gone to just secondhand only.

My friend came over later and we were off to the Etihad Stadium to see Manchester City take on Blackburn Rovers. City had won earlier in the season 4-0 at Blackburn and I expected us to win, but with Blackburn at the bottom and battling to stay up, sometimes these games aren't easy, so it was just a case of making sure that City got a professional job well done. After seeing The Love In My Heart for a little while and having a well earned coffee, we headed over to the stadium in good time for the kick off and thankfully the rain held off, so it was dry albeit quite windy in parts.

City stated their intentions well straight from the first minute, with Mario Balotelli forcing a save from Paul Robinson the Blackburn keeper, and a few other chances saw the likes of Yaya Toure and Sergio Agüero come close too. Ingenious was one corner which was flicked on by Vincent Kompany but well saved by Robinson. With Blackburn doing nothing up front it was important that we got a breakthrough and it came soon enough, with a pass from Yaya Toure sending Aleksandar Kolarov down the left, and his cross was met perfectly by Mario Balotelli for 1-0. Nice one, Mario! His t-shirt said that he loved Raffaella (I assume it's his girlfriend?) and all was well with City.

The second half saw plenty more chances, and Blackburn showing just why they're down the bottom - no ambition, no desire and no hunger. No wonder so few fans of theirs turned up despite the short distance from there to Manchester (around 500 I think) and they had more to be disappointed about. A David Silva corner was parried away by Robinson, right into the path of Agüero who blasted it low and hard straight in for 2-0, and later on after Balotelli was substitued for Edin Džeko, Edin got on the end of an excellent Kolarov cross to head home with ten minutes left for 3-0. City could have scored more with the number of chances that we had, but in the end I predicted 3-0 at the start of the game and it was a comprehensive victory - the thirteenth on the bounce at home in the league this season, matching Newcastle's record from 1995-96.

We headed back to The Love's place for coffee and a chat, and all seemed well with us Blues and with the other results meaning that we'd stretched the lead above some clubs close to the top of the table or maintained the gap to them, the professional performance paid dividends and it was good to see that we now put the pressure on Man Utd for their game at Norwich tomorrow, on top of us being top at the league for at least another week minimum. All we can do is win the games we can and see what happens elsewhere, but it was a positive feeling I felt for sure.

Later on, The Love made some very nice garlic and herb crusted chicken with some dauphinoise potatoes and some carrots etc, and that was lovely. We snuggled up to watch The Bank Job on Channel 4, which once we got the hang of the rules actually worked out pretty well on the whole. It was interesting in the early rounds to work out what the tactics were and how they'd work to their best to see if you stayed in or not during the game, and the final ended up being quite close but ultimately a steal half way through proved to be totally crucial meaning that a nice handsome £49K win was on the cards. Oh, how I wish that was me!

Tune of the day was something I heard earlier in Sifters as I was perusing the vinyl and CDs, with the owner playing various 1960s hit songs to keep the feelgood mood in there going during the Saturday afternoon. No bad thing of course, and I think that sometimes you don't want to scare potential customers off with thrash metal, so it makes sense. And the tune that I had in my head for the rest of the day was "I'm Into Something Good" by Herman's Hermits - a true classic of the era methinks. And I am into something good - Man City!

Friday 24th February - Pool Shark

It was a relatively not as busy day today, although I've been dotting the I's and crossing the T's in terms of getting things finalised for an office move a week on Monday. In fact today they received their new IP telephony phones and had been having a play with them, and on top of that I've been on standby to sort out a couple of laptop issues so spent some time with them as well to make sure that it was all sorted. It was a good way to sort of wind down the week as I know the next two weeks are going to be pretty mental all round, and that's not exactly ideal, but hey ho.

I'd been asked to head out with a few of the folks from work as one of our Modern Apprentices was leaving as he'd got a job. Several of the other apprentices were heading out, one of whom I mentored originally, and it would be good to head out for a drink or two and indeed maybe even have something to eat for tea and save having to faff around cooking myself something later. So as the day drew to a close, I made sure I had everything with me that I needed and headed the very short distance to the Footage pub, as it wasn't expensive for drinks or food in there.

We got the pool table near to the front and all put pound coins on the table so that we'd have use of the table for a fair bit of time and for most of the time were playing in teams of two against each other which worked out well - it meant we all had a go of the table and that we could try and play reasonably well. I still have it occasionally when playing and so was able to knock a run of a good few balls in and put some good shots on, which rubbed off nicely on the others too because they were soon putting some excellent efforts in and hitting some great shots too.

The place was getting busier and warmer inside, but the pool was good. I even treated myself to a Guiness for a change, partially out of necessity because of no real ale, but also because of the need for something different, and it was actually a decent pint as well. We had some more pool, toyed with the idea of battling with the quiz machine, but as a table had become free, we headed for it and then ordered some food for the evening. In fact as they do two meals for £6, I simply put together with someone else and we both went for the Southern fried chicken, which for the price was decent enough.

I headed home around 8pm and I'm sure the rest of them had a great time later on, and a good send-off for our leaving member of staff, who really did knuckle down and get on with things, and would sometimes ask me a bit of advice here and there, so good to see that I was able to be of use. I listened to Black Sabbath's "Paranoid" album when I got home, and in full 5.1 surround too as I played the second disc of the 3-disc set I have which is the 1974 quadrophonic stereo mix, and very very nice it is too, let me tell you. "War Pigs" at full blast - awesome, so that's tune of the day.

Thursday 23rd February - Chickee in der Baskee

I had a pretty productive day at work, with lots going on and plenty to do for me especially. It was nice though to take some time out to resolve a fair few queries as well as do some testing on a Windows 7 test box of mine. Knowing that one of our departments has a massive database which they've worked on with the Design Council, it was imperative that if they were to carry on using it that it would work correctly on a Windows 7 rig. And of course, the database is written in Paradox (I know, ugh!) and so would need some careful playing with to ensure things worked.

Thankfully I'd pre-empted a lot of work on this because last year when I was packaging up applications for our Windows 7 distribution, I wanted to make sure that Paradox would work, and so packaged up Corel Paradox 8 as an MSI to make sure distribution was nice and easy. Thankfully, it worked rather well, and it also ran on Windows 7 which was a nice surprise. Of course, this meant that hopefully any databases would work too, and I ran some tests on the ones I knew would be the ones that'd be used - I made a copy of the whole folder and added it to our shared area that'll be used by Windows clients only, changed the shortcuts to open the databases to resemble the new drives, and badabing - all working. Felt rather pleased with this myself I have to say.

I stayed behind a bit after work because I was meeting The Love In My Heart later and she was on a later shift, and so it made sense to be in the office doing a bit of web browsing and also perusing at my possible AV rig upgrade path. I've pretty much decided on which Blu-ray player I'm going to get (either Pioneer BDP-440 or LX55, or if money really allows, Denon DBP-2012) as all three of them can be made multiregion for DVD by the hi-fi dealers which I need to, and then for the receiver it could be one of many choices to be honest, but I do need one that can handle the SACD's DSD signal directly so I can listen to them digitally via the receiver. Sadly, some of Sony's models don't do this (crazy stuff seeing as they bloody helped invent SACD!) so I'll have to choose carefully I think.

Anyway, I walked up to meet The Love, and she seemed quite stressed with work and everything, so for her it was good to head out for the night. We were going to meet one of our friends along with their partner, and we got a text from him to say that he was in St Anne's Square and was trying to escape it kicking off. It turned out that as Man Utd were playing Ajax in the Europa League later on, Ajax fans are known to cause trouble and so some of them had been drinking most of thre day and so bumped into some Man Utd fans and it all kicked off. I have to say that on the whole it wasn't the fault of any of the Man Utd fans, notably as some bars in Castlefield were damaged later on.

We went to the Virgin Money Lounge as that was open late, and this meant that the three of us could enjoy a coffee in there (our friend's partner was poorly as it turned out) - it was good to relax in there with a nice coffee and a chat at the top level, and I showed our friend where we're going to at the Monaco Grand Prix - think he was quite impressed. It was good to take it relatively easy and I think that just started the evening off all wonderfully calm, which is what you want sometimes.

We then walked to Spinningfields and into the Oast House, a rather odd building that seemed quite old fashioned compared to the new towers of glass in the area, but because it had been built to look old fashioned it seemed to have plenty of character. It had some real ales served from their casks so I tried a very nice Cumbrian one that was there. There was also a band of two people, one on piano and one on guitar, who were very good and playing some well known songs to give it that relaxed feel. They did a cracking version of Crowded House's "Weather With You" which made me want to listen to the original, so that's tune of the day for me.

We were planning to eat in the Oast House but it was too full and too noisy, and so we headed down the road to the Alchemist, where we got a very nice table and the three of us could chatter and have some lovely food. I had the cheese and chorizo nachos for starter, very nice but in my view not enough sour cream to go with them - and then for the main both The Love and I had the chicken in a basket - plenty of well cooked Southern fried chicken and chips (and coleslaw if you wanted it, I didn't!) which came in a basket, and the basket's shaped like a chicken! It's well cool and I could imagine the Swedish Chef from the Muppet Show approving - bork bork bork!!

I was way too full to have dessert really because the nachos and the chicken had filled me up nicely without being over the top, so that was good stuff. We then walked back to Kro in Piccadilly and had a drink or two in there, and we noticed that the far end of the bar was closed off for a private party, and some of them ended up in the main bar looking pretty merry and drunk - indeed some of them were leaving in a sorrier state of wear. We had to giggle though as it looked to me as if one couple seemed a tad mismatched - the girl seemed pretty enough but the guy just acted really camp and over the top. I felt like the infamous David Baddiel sketch where we'd go up to the girl and say "I don't know if anyone's told you this, but you could do so much better!" which made us all giggle thinking about it.

It was almost 11pm by the time we left for home, but we'd all had a lovely time and it was great to catch up and chatter lots too. I think it's usually a good vibe anyway as The Love and our friend get on famously (he's been The Love's friend for years before we met you see) and it's nice to see them both happy to be honest. He paid me a compliment whilst The Love was in the loo to say that he knows I'm looking after her and making her happy, and that she's never been so happy. Awww. It's nice that other people close to her see that and that I'm (hopefully) doing the right thing.

Wednesday 22nd February - Score In Nineteen Seconds

It was only a half day in work for me today, as I had booked the afternoon off work to be able to get to watch Manchester City's Europa League game against Porto with a rather daft 5pm kick off (yes, 5pm!). As you can imagine, I wanted to watch that and so see City finish the job after the 2-1 away win last Thursday evening. I did though have a productive morning, with me sorting out the backup tapes and changing them over ready for the next set of backups to be done, then re-image a machine for a member of staff, check over a faulty CD drive in a laptop and also then sort out a few database issues over email as well, all good.

I made my way home which was pretty painless, and then spent over an hour on the Wii Fit, doing lots of exercises with a bit more time on my hands to do them than I normally would get, and so that meant the extended ten minute hula hoop session, the six minute rhythm boxing, extended step and also a few goes at the ski jump as well, where I actually beat my own personal best as well after a mammoth first jump which I nailed perfectly. I also spent some time then watching some telly as well as showering and getting changed ready to head out later on.

My friend came over and we headed to Fortress Etihad in good time, indeed we got there early and managed to get inside the ground just before the rain decided to set in. We got to our seats and it looked rainy, so we went back inside, I got us a brew and we chatted football in the seating area on the inner concourse, and that was a sensible move. The game got closer, we took our places and the rain was positively lashing it down out there and it wasn't the prettiest day ever to be playing. This really is when I think the footballers do earn some of the masses of amounts of money that they get.

And wow, what a start! Virtually from the kick off we headed forward, but we then intercepted a Porto pass, Yaya Toure fed Sergio Agüero who slotted it in the bottom corner with a mere nineteen seconds gone. Yes, nineteen seconds! I wasn't disappointed with that one bit, and that certainly got the game off to a good start. Porto did have a lot of possession in the first half but weren't making any of it count, and Agüero rounded the Porto keeper, chipped it over the last defender and the ball cannoned down off the bar and out, so close to a wonderful second for him. It stayed 1-0 till half time and that meant 3-1 on aggregate, which is decent, it has to be said.

City looked more professional second half and the defence wasn't being tested that much and dealt with everything that came at them. City brought on James Milner and Edin Džeko to try and break the Porto defence down, and eventually that worked rather well. The industrious Agüero won the ball in midfield, surged forward despite some cynical challenges, and threaded a perfect ball to Džeko who slotted it underneath the Porto keeper for 2-0. One of the Porto players argued with the referee, who was having none of it and showed him a second yellow card, and straight off as that meant a red. Looking at it on replay, Džeko was onside, so no arguments really.

City then brought on David Pizarro towards the end, and what an impact he had. He won the ball on the far right hand side, did a nice little one two with Džeko, and then put a perfect low cross across the box from which David Silva couldn't miss for 3-0. Awesome. And a couple of minutes later Pizarro went through the middle, did a one two with Džeko and even though the Porto defence tried to intercept the return pass, it went to Pizarro anyway and he slotted it home very nicely indeed for 4-0, great stuff. And indeed a 6-1 aggregate win - against the current Europa League holders. We didn't play at our best, but were lethal in front of goal and if anyone had offered me that scoreline, I'd have bitten their hands off.

Tune of the day is "Pounding" by the Doves, which normally plays before most Man City home games these days but also probably describes how Porto feel right now, having given so much to the game and yet seemingly on the scoresheet taking a hammering. The Doves are of course all City fans, so it makes sense that they've got some involvement on match day, and you also know when that comes on it's close to kick off and to cheer the team on. And boy did they give us plenty to cheer about tonight. I love City, I do.

Tuesday 21st February - Meeting Mania

Another day, and another set of meetings to go to. More of my working life now seems to be spent in meetings of some sort, whereas the practical side of me just wants to actually get on with doing the work in hand and getting on with things instead. But sometimes you've got to meet and do stuff, so I guess it comes with the territory of the job in hand now. And after setting off a few more PCs to image, I headed over to our new building and met with one of the managers from another campus team so we could go over the locations for the movers.

It also meant I got to see the new building close up and at hand, and I have to say it reminds me of something akin to Space 1999 - concrete and glass everywhere. I guess there's an attempt at being ultra-modern somewhere but it seems also rather brutalist as well - with lots of glass panels that go from floor to top in amongst the concrete too, and I'm not so sure that it is the best ever. The main thing that really does get me is that some of the rooms are almost like glass fishbowls and for me that's not the nicest working environment ever. We'll have to see how it shapes up when people move in.

The early afternoon was then spent in another course committee meeting, as we've got staff off at the moment so I filled in and covered accordingly. I didn't mind too much because some coffee and cakes were laid on as well, so at least it wasn't sparse and minimal during it, and it was nice to be able to offer something on top of the blurb that we'd sent on in advance, which I thought at the time was a very sensible thing to do - and so it ultimately proved.

The rest of the afternoon was finalising the transfer back of some 395GB of data from our Mac backup hard disk back to the member of staff's Macbook Pro I was sorting the other day. They had had the hard disk replaced under the AppleCare warranty, and so we were then able to re-image it with a recent Mac OS image and get it up and running correctly, which was good. In fact I had just enough time to get Adobe Master Collection CS4 on there which they were licenced for, so that was good to sort that out and hand it them back.

I went home via the O2 Apollo to get some tickets to see The Human League in December. I had found out that if you paid cash at the box office, then there'd be no booking fee whatsoever, so I had some cash with me and headed there to sort it all out. When you consider that the face value of the ticket is £27.50, and the booking fee is £4 per ticket plus a £3.25 postage charge for them being posted out, it's pretty easy to work out that in fact it was a massive saving and indeed one that means I can do more gigs if I wanted to later in the year, so all good there.

I got home and put the Wii Fit on, and beat my personal best on the ten minute rhythm boxing mode as well as getting very close on the six minute hula hoop to my record too, so I pretty much still had it for most of that time. I got into the shower, got myself changed and then started the tea for The Love In My Heart and I, so we could enjoy it when she came over. We had some chicken wrapped in bacon with some mini new potatoes and some steam fresh vegetables, and that went down a treat in the end.

Later on we saw some of The Brit Awards, but I have to say that I was a little disappointed on the whole. I think allowing choice of the best album between the viewers of Daybreak and the people who read the Bizarre column in The Sun newspaper might not be the best in terms of appreciating music critically but going along sheep-like with the masses, which effectively meant even though she was nominated, PJ Harvey hadn't a cat i hell's chance of winning the award. Adele did, which wasn't bad I guess, but then why cut her speech off short just because Blur were performing? The mind positively boggles.

Tune of the day though in the meantime is actually "Grounds For Divorce" by Elbow, because I was watching on my Humax Freeview HD recorder the Cornwall programme from last night that I missed, and it had a bit where the local villagers near to where Debs who has the campsite all played cricket, and they were trying to play all their games despite the weather - and as it rained down the crunching guitar section in the middle of the song played, which is just, well, ace really.

Monday 20th February - Back To It

So after the weekend, back to work and indeed back to the grind too, as I'd spent some time over the last few days working out a plan of action for the staff in one office who are very soon moving to a new office in a new building, and yours truly has been tasked with ensuring things go pretty well for all concerned. The good thing is that I get on well with all the staff, and so today I spent time in their office getting some of the PCs that are being taken over with them re-imaged and ready to proverbially rock.

It took some time, mainly because of the fact that when you wanted to get them re-imaged, it was a case of ensuring that they had the correct naming convention for the new names, and also that everything worked and went smoothly. It took a little bit of time to get one of them going and picking up the server from PXE boot, but a couple of little tweaks in the end meant it was really easy to do, and got them up and going in no time, so that was good. I just felt positive about the whole thing and it was good that we were able to help out in whatever way that we could.

I spent a fair bit of time this afternoon sorting out a faulty laptop and helping a colleague out with it. I had booted to the Windows XP recovery console from CD and started work on performing a chkdsk. It was still running when I left the office a couple of hours later, but I suspected strongly that the hard disk was on the way out massively, and that either a drop or some form of shock must have occurred for the drive to be down in such a way that it'd also knock Windows out from booting correctly with all sorts of missing files going on. Not so hot.

After keeping up to date with Pointless and seeing that no one won the jackpot despite some good answers and a good effort all round from the winning pair, it was then time for me and my friend to head out to Fortress Etihad (in other words, Man City's ground) and there was a supporters' meeting going on. The guest was Fred Eyre, who used to play for City in the late 1950s and early 1960s, has been a fan ever since and now does the commentary for the away games on the local radio. He was really good actually and told lots of stories from his playing career and then some.

The biggest cheer of the night was when he said that (rightly) no player is bigger than the club and that the way that Carlos Tévez has acted is nothing short of disgraceful. I think no matter what happens, a lot of fans don't want him back and see him as more of a disruptive influence on the team instead of a positive one. Cynically now he's back in Manchester I think the fact we refused to pay his wages for so long and that it's hurt him in the pocket is the real reason he's back - although he's still shot himself in the foot as he's not named in our Europa League squads, and if we went on to win that - no medal.

So all in all, a positive and good day all round, and it was nice later to kick back and listen to some Slayer whilst doing a ten minute step session on Wii Fit. Not quite sure I'd want to step to the beat of Slayer's drums as that might be too fast, but it meant that I felt pumped up and motivated listening to the music as the same time, so "Black Serenade" by them is the tune of the day - it reminds me of listening to the Christ Illusion album on the way back from Inverness as I headed through the Scottish countryside and thinking how much it'd be good to kick ass up in the Highlands again soon..

Sunday 19th February - It's Time To Play The Music

It was nice just to relax a bit this morning, and once I'd had a suitable rest it was on with the Wii Fit and plenty of exercise for me as well. I just wanted to make sure that I kept up my run going because at the moment I am consistently getting better at some of the exercises, and want to make sure that I get a good workout done on an almost daily basis. In fact I beat my personal bests in the six minute version of rhythm boxing and also came close in the advanced step to toppling my record, so there's always an incentive to do well there if I can.

Once all that was done and dusted, I made sure I packed my overnight bag and it was off with The Love In My Heart back to her place before we then headed on the bus into the city centre. We'd planned to go the cinema but as the bus got into the city early, we decided that we'd have a quick look around Debenhams. The Love showed me this rather gorgeous dress that she'd seen, and it was beautiful. I suggested that she try it on along with another top she liked, and she looked gorgeous in both of them it has to be said, so it was a case of being tempted to buy it her there and then (I resisted, but was tempted).

We then made our way along to AMC Cinemas near Deansgate, as one of the little staff perks I have is that we get discount rate in there, so that's a rather good thing. It means that effectively all films are £4.80 each, which isn't too bad at all really. We were there because I really wanted to see The Muppets, as ever since I was little I've always enjoyed The Muppet Show, and Kermit the Frog is one of my all time favourite people ever, part of my childhood and even adulthood in some measure. The cinema wasn't too busy either so it was good to be able to relax.

I won't spoil it too much if you've not seen it, but let's just say that it was rather enjoyable all round for me. It was so nice to see lots of the old gang again and see how they were located to get back together - Gonzo running his own plumbing firm with Camilla the chicken as his PA sounded mad, but in execution it actually did work rather well too. The songs made it in parts seem a little like a musical, but then again there were lots of musical numbers in The Muppet Show, so maybe there is a lot of logic in that. Of course, plenty of moments for the big and little kids alike, and as "Mah Na Mah Na" is even in there somewhere, that has to be tune of the day - not least when you see the Children in Need effort from last year. Makes me want to hum it all day!

So there you go. We stopped by for a drink on the way back to the bus stop, and then headed home for a rather nice tea of chicken and mushroom risotto, that The Love had picked up from the posh section at Morrisons. We then settled in for the evening to watch Call The Midwife, which was actually much better than I thought, especially with Miranda Hart doing a more serious action role - and then Upstairs Downstairs with Keeley Hawes looking very 1930s styled, but very demure all the same, and a nice way to wind down the weekend.

Saturday 18th February - Lounge About

I had a little bit of a lie-in this morning before doing some domestic chores and then heading off on the bus to the large Tesco Extra to get the food shopping done. I wanted to head to the larger one because I wanted to get the Tilda lemon basmati rice that only that branch seems to stock, along with some of the Young's stir fry cubes of salmon, so I could make a nice evening meal of salmon and rice and compliment each other perfectly. In fact the shopping trip was successful despite the heavy rain as I was also able to get some other nice bits of food as well, so that was good.

Once the rain had stopped I decided to head into the city centre, as I wanted to get my hair chopped to bits. The lovely folks in The Northern Cutter weaved their scissors and clippers like magic, and soon my hair looked nice and short and manageable again, so that was all rather pleasing. It was good to then to walk over to Fopp and have a look inside. I kind of wish I hadn't. The shelves looked quite bare and the bargains to be had were all of their "Swap Shop" variety in trading of used CDs. Gone were the cheaper CDs for £3, and considering that the other large HMV in the Arndale has now closed down to be replaced by a Superdry, it makes you wonder if HMV actually have got their strategies right or not.

Anyway, I wanted to also head over to the new Virgin Lounge on King Street. Yesterday I got an email from Virgin Money asking me if I wanted to sign up to use their new lounge, and with the promise of free use of iPads, iMacs, big comfy chairs and free tea and coffee to unwind, I thought "well why not then?" I brought some proof of ID along with me, showed them that I had registered online (which you need to do before you go) and they soon had me issued with a membership card. They also took my picture with a little Logitech camera so that when they swipe your card for admission, they'll see it's you as the cardholder.

One of the staff showed me around the place - there were comfy sofas, a kids' play area and a free tea coffee and soft drinks area on the ground floor, and up on the first a nice meeting room, more comfy seats, another tea and coffee area and a nice telly with Freeview on, and finally on the second floor a nice section by the window with some plants and tables, two iMacs with web browsing and also another large sofa with a Freeview telly. It really did seem nice and informal and relaxed, and the coffee was rather nice too. So much so that I watched Football Focus on the telly and did a bit of web browsing on the iMac - all rather good it has to be said.

I didn't want to leave, but put it this way - the place is ace, and certainly makes you feel a much more valued customer, that's for sure. I think as well that people with other banks or have their credit cards with others might see that as an incentive to sign up, who knows, but it certainly comes across as a good idea to me and one well worth it too. Well done them I say, and I think I'll have to head back with The Love In My Heart tomorrow for a coffee, biscuits and a much more relaxed feel to the day - and it is free after all, so that's all good. There's not many of them as yet, only Manchester, Norwich and Edinburgh thus far.

Tune of the day meanwhile is the vastly-under rated "Get Together" by the Human League. When sat in the Virgin Lounge it made me think of the band and this track, and how it'd be a perfect accompaniment to having a coffee in there - of course Human League were on Virgin for a while although back in the 1980s contracts were not a pretty thing whatsoever. However, it also reminded me that I needed to make sure I get tickets soon for their gig at the Apollo!

Friday 17th February - I Said Now, Silent Bob!

Today was another busy day at work for me. I had a long meeting this morning with regards to the forthcoming move of departments to a new building and as I'm involved with the IT side of it for some people that we look after, it was good therefore to offer my input and at least make sure everything was spot on and ready to go. I thought it best that we were at least going to get a few things sorted today, and I'm meeting with one of our managers next week to go over a few things and make sure everything is right. What pleased me most was that I could sit back a bit, let some people argue their points and then come in with a common sense informed approach. I can be good at that these days.

I had a very nice lunch in Sandbar with a few of my colleagues as I thought it would be nice to at least have a bit of time away from the office, and indeed their chicken burger with tarragon mayonnaise and some lovely big chunky chips really did fill the tummy rather nicely. It was good to get all that down me and be positive and give myself time this afternoon to work some of that off, as I'd finalised a mere 400GB or so of data backup from a department head's Mac, which he collected later and was very pleased that I'd made the effort to get as much off as possible.

The last thing to sort out this afternoon was distributing Visio 2010 to a few machines. We don't have a site licence for it, but a few of our staff had paid for the licence, and seeing though no one had as yet packaged it for SCCM, it made perfect sense for me to do that and ensure that everything was working with it. Creating the package with a simple answer file to make the install silent was easy to do, and then from there I simply added the SCCM package, added the program to install which would run the necessary command line - and after doing a successful test on my test PC, I was then able to distribute it and all was well with the world there.

Later on after having some tea my friend came over, and we headed to the O2 Apollo. We'd booked ages ago to see Jay and Silent Bob Get Old, a night featuring Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes, who are of course Silent Bob and Jay respectively from a few of the Kevin Smith films (Clerks I and II, Mallrats, Chasing Amy, Dogma etc) and it'd be interesting to see how the evening works. The doors said 6.30pm so we got there early and got our places right near the front (well done my friend!) - and we listened to some good tunes in the background whilst everyone came in and took their seats for the evening.

Thing was though that all the bars closed around 8pm and Jason and Kevin didn't come on till 8.15pm which begged the question why they needed to have doors at 6.30pm? Anyway, it was an enjoyable evening nonetheless. The two were basically sat at a table with microphones whilst they shared memories of being out on the road, how Kevin tried to educate Jason about Manchester and he mentioned the film 24 Hour Party People, along with some of the bands in there such as Joy Division. He even played "Love Will Tear Us Apart" from his own Mac, so kudos for that - tune of the day obviously.

Later on they both were obsessively almost talking about sex and how they'd "get a boner" in various situations. Some of this did actually bore me a little bit because you can only do it for so long (the joke that is) before it becomes repetitive. However, there were also many other funny moments which overshadowed that massively, such as being in London and locating a Chinese massage for various reasons and how Jason would just get himself into all sorts of weird stuff, which really did sound off the wall but at the same time you could imagine him doing so.

For the finale, it was "Let Us F**k" with three audience members being picked out to help Jason re-enact some positions of different titles that Kevin would name. They picked out one guy from the audience who basically was dressed in the same garb as Kevin's character Silent Bob would be - long coat, hat and beard. When the fan got on stage he even was acting the same way too - not speaking or anything, which Kevin had a right giggle over. To balance things, they called the first two positions the "Manchester United" and the "Manchester City" before the Silent Bob lookalike got his turn in the "Jay and Silent Bob" position, and that was hilarious - ended the night brilliantly.

I got home later and we both agreed that it was a good night all round, and that certainly being close to the front had an advantage, but also that the humour was still very much in tact. I was very tempted to put on my Region 1 disc of Clerks: The Animated Series but was feeling rather tired so I decided to opt for bed instead, but I might have to do that over the next few days to re-acquaint myself with the humour from that - still can't believe to this day that the cartoon got pulled after two episodes and it took a DVD release to get the other four out there...

Thursday 16th February - The Kun-back

After another long and tough day at work, with me sorting out plenty of issues and being able to advise staff on how to solve a few others, it was good to get home and relax a bit before the Manchester City v Porto game later in the evening. I headed first of all on the way home to Iceland, as I wanted to make sure I had enough milk in for coffee later and also some crisps for a half time snack for me and some of my relations who were coming over to watch the game with me - as it was on ITV1 HD and with my Humax box supplying that channel, it made sense to watch the game in high definition.

I still managed to do my usual exercises on the Wii Fit as well as being able to get several things around the house done, and it meant I could chill out and relax on the sofa prior to everyone coming. In the end my uncle and brother in law came over within a minute of each other, and in good time for the kick off. As you can well imagine, I was looking forward to seeing how City would do and against a Porto side who haven't exactly got the worst home record ever, so of course it would be good to get any sort of result there.

The first half was pretty even with Mario Balotelli's header and Micah Richards' follow up volley meaning we went close, as did Samir Nasri when put through as well. However, Porto scored first with Hulk along the left providing a telling cross for them to score. Even though we'd conceded I didn't feel too downhearted because I knew that with Yaya Toure back and ready for action, we had the class to come back. And indeed Balotelli almost scored after a delightful through ball and as the half went on, we carried on applying pressure and keeping it going.

Half time cuppas and crisps all round then, and my cousin joined us for the second half, and hopefully we'd go on and improve. That we did. Balotelli was fouled by the Porto defender Pereira and thankfully Mario didn't react, but just thought to himself that he would score and get the last laugh. And that he did a few minutes later as a ball through from Yaya Toure to Balotelli didn't get to him, but he did enough for Pereira to be put off by the challenge and head right into the centre of his own net, and so 1-1. All good then, and an away goal is pretty priceless in these sort of knockout stages, so that was positive.

Balotelli came off for Sergio "Kun" Agüero a bit later on, and you could clearly hear that Balotelli and Yaya Toure were being racially abused by the Porto fans. Absolutely pathetic, and yet if that happened at the Etihad Stadium from our fans, UEFA would be climbing down on us with a ton of bricks. However, Yaya put that to one side and kept playing his brilliant game (man of the match for me tonight), and after good work from Gareth Barry to win the ball, he passed to Samir Nasri, put Yaya through and unselfishly put the ball across the box for the mighty Kun to finish from six yards. YES! Get in there for 2-1! And Sergio's twentieth goal of the season too, not too shabby at all eh?

So as you can imagine we were all pretty pleased with the outcome and I think that it was good to see City show that they can still cut it in Europe. It sets it all up very nicely for the second leg at the Etihad on Wednesday and we played pretty well. Tune of the day in the meantime is Supra's version of "Blue Moon" as I'm sure playing that before the game would motivate anyone, not least the City players, and with the fans belting it out full blast before the final whistle to show their appreciation, it just goes to show that being a Blue these days makes me very proud indeed.

Wednesday 15th February - Thirteen Years Of Work

It was a busy day all round for me today really, and had to carefully plan everything so that I could get everything done in the day that I wanted to do where possible. I spent a fair bit of time this morning finishing off the two laptops that I'd started work on during the Monday and part of yesterday, and found out that one of the drivers for the laptop (the Intel HECI driver) failed to install for some reason. After some digging, I worked out why, and this might be useful information for anyone else who's imaging and might have come across a similar problem.

The original laptop image I had had installed a different version of Intel's Management Engine Interface (which often includes HECI as a service). Even though I uninstalled the software, it left behind a service remnant in the registry in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\Current Control Set\Services called HECI. Thought "hmmm.. tha was odd!" and so after the software uninstall also deleted the registry key, as I knew the driver at that point wasn't present. I restarted the laptop, installed the HECI driver for it, and badabing! It all worked flawlessly now. Handy to note, and something I'll need to spread the word about.

With that done, it was off to the first of two meetings that I had during the day, and this wasn't too long at all, which was good. I think though because it's a relatively new course there isn't that much to sort out, and so was able to relay all the things happening from our point of view and be able to put that across rather well. The earlier than expected finish meant not only could I finish the two laptops in question and get them over to the members of staff concerned in the early afternoon, but I could also sort out a weird Safari browser problem for a member of staff's Mac with Outlook Web Access, so that was good to go.

Most of the afternoon was spent in another course committee meeting, which took a lot longer than I expected. I did have to field some questions about various things including wireless, but I tried to explain things as clearly as possible so that everyone would be able to appreciate where we were coming from and also that in fact we wanted to be as helpful as possible too. It's not always easy but I think sometimes it's better to be practical and pragmatic instead of matter of fact, so to speak, so that took up pretty much the whole of the afternoon.

I also knew that today was an anniversary of sorts. It is officially for me thirteen years to the day that I started work at my current employers - the first eighteen months or so being in administration and then the remaining time working in IT - the job that I'd eventually wanted to get but never managed till then. It's been good to me really and the way I think of it is that I've developed myself both personally and professionally over that time and have grown from being a mid twenties still eager person to a late thirties one who knows more about the ins and outs of how office politics works as well as getting the job done better, and my logical mind suits it well.

I did feel a bit brain tired though later, so I whacked on some CDs to keep me going. One of them was "Automatic" by the Jesus and Mary Chain, which is a classic for me to this day. Either lots of trademark feedback or some catchy tunes with guitars, and one of them happened to be a source for the Pixies to cover later on, namely "Head On" - so that's tune of the day. Ideally you need to be listening to the original somewhere on the road travelling down to the beach, that's how I've always thought of it anyway.

Tuesday 14th February - Everyday Love

So it's Valentine's Day. Woo freaking hoo. Big deal. I think people don't appreciate like I do (and thankfully, so does The Love In My Heart) that if you love someone, you love them all the time, every day, not just when the marketing folks dictate that today of all days should be your big romantic gesture. I can be romantic when I want to be, but at the right time and much better too when it's a surprise that becomes such a wonderful and special one. I can remember the last time I bought The Love some flowers, she never expected it and I know that she really loved the effort I'd put in. Little moments, but at the right time.

We had got ourselves a card each but that's all really, and even then we both had versed the writing in our cards to say that it was more about loving each other all the time, which was good. The Love's card to me was gorgeous, it was the words I Love You, written many times but done so that they'd form a heart shape in all silver, and it looked both very classy and very sweet at the same time. I had got The Love a nice Emma Bridgewater card which had flowers and a mug in front with "I love you" on, and it was simple yet lovely gestures from us both, and that was all it really needed to be honest.

The Love and I relaxed with some gorgeous sirloin steak, chips and peas for tea, and she had brought over some little creme brulees in their glass ramekins to have for a little dessert afterwards, which we had whilst relaxing in front of the telly. The Love did want to watch Don't Tell The Bride, and we both had to laugh at how pathetic the wedding idea sounded, knight in shining armour leads girl on white horse through very very muddy field, whilst also putting tacky fairy lights in the bottom of the bride's dress. Honestly, you couldn't make it up. Oh, and hiring the local badminton hall for a mere tenner. Classy. Not.

We also watched The Exit List, which we'd never seen before. It actually isn't a bad format, but could we have a different presenter instead of Matt Allwright? I always think of him and his mate on a bike shopping some dodgy double glazing salesman in Bromley or somewhere like that with a load of hidden cameras. Some of the questions were rather difficult and the exit list also became pretty tough too, and the twist of taking an offer or seeing if you could exit out and remember everything was pretty neat to keep the interest going. The one doing the exiting failed to remember paparazzi for one group of answers, and he was so unlucky really. His mate though had banked on him not getting out correctly, and so had banked the offer of £5,000 for them both. Neato.

Tune of the day is "Twilight World" by Swing Out Sister, as I played the first album of theirs for us both to relax to whilst I was making the tea and we were chatting about out days. I still love the album and I think for me this was possibly the best single off it, even more so than the much more widely known "Breakout". It also seems to translate very nicely live, having seen the band a couple of times over the last few years.

Monday 13th February - Back To The Office Future

It was straight back into the working week for me, which did feel a little unusual after a split week of working and doing the course. As I expected, there was plenty of catching up to do and I spent virtually the whole of Monday morning checking emails, responding where appropriate and also seeing where I was up to with the outstanding jobs that I had in hand as well, and chasing those up where appropriate. I had also been asked to deputise for my managers for a couple of course committees later in the week and so I wanted to read the minutes of the previous meetings so I knew where I was at with them.

I guess when you're away from the office for a bit like that, you just need to work out what's the best plan of action and to take it from there, and sometimes it's knowing which way to get things done and in what order, so that you're then able to progress onwards. I did have a couple of laptops arrive that were for a couple of our maintenance folks, so I spent some time in the afternoon bringing down one of our master laptop images to see how effective that it would be with the laptops that had arrived. I suspected as the last image had drivers for some of the HP kit at least some of it would work, and that was proven to be correct (well, ish, anyway).

I got home later on and it was good to have sent a lot of packages this morning that were due to eBay purchases of my old Commodore 64 games. Generally a lot of people are very organised and pay pretty quickly, so the least you could do of course is to ship them pretty fast, which is what I aim to do. It's been a good exercise in managing to shift what you don't use but also seeing in more detail how eBay can work for you rather than not for you. Of course, I'm keeping the stuff that I do still play from time to time (mainly on disk) and if someone else gets the pleasure out of playing a classic computer game, then that's me happy too of course.

In fact I put another batch up late last night and so far all seems well, I've had the odd bid here and there but I often know that people will just peruse what I've got and then put an initial bid down if need be, and go from there. Sometimes people do forget to bid at all and then realise they forgot, so sometimes relisting it is a good thing to make sure I sweep up anything like that. And of course it's mainly down to the smaller cassette games now, so they're also a fair bit easier to ship and post anywhere if required, so all good there.

I did also watch Pointless tonight, the first of the new series (at bloody last!) and it was in HD as well. One interesting question that came up was UK Born female solo singers who've had a number 1. Surprisingly how few people said Kate Bush I thought, so I had to play "Wuthering Heights" rather speedily after the programme. It's tune of the day that, a real classic and one I still love now. Mind you, apart from a few, there weren't many answers scoring more than 10, unless you got it completely wrong of course!

Sunday 12th February - Zambia's Zenith

I had a very lovely evening last night with The Love In My Heart, as we had the dine in for two (the posh version) from Marks and Spencer. It all worked out gorgeously with the croquille St Jacques (scallops with potatoes and cheese in a scallop shell) being a highlight, but the main of the chicken was gorgeous too, and the dessert of the champagne and strawberry souflees being also rather lovely. The Love had a nice bottle of wine to enjoy and yours truly just couldn't resist having one of the bottles of the Build A Rocket Boys ale that I'd got earlier, and that went down very well indeed, almost too well.

The weather looked miserable during the morning and even though we'd had a lie in, I wanted to head out for a walk somewhere, get some fresh air and generally try and keep fit, but it just looked misty and rainy and pretty horrid, so instead we watched a bit of telly, listened to some music and generally pottered around the house for a while, till we decided that enough was enough and that we'd venture out to do some shopping of sorts as well as head out for a bit.

So off we went to John Lewis in Cheadle, and that proved to be a good trip all round. It was nice to see that we were able to avoid all the really tacky Valentine's Day stuff and concentrate on the things we wanted to look at - the technology and TVs for me, and I showed The Love the TV that I'll eventually want some day over the next few months. The Love commented it was rather nice and slimline and that it'd look good in the front room of mine, and also that the picture quality seemed to be spot on too. Yaay! Always good to get a second opinion on that one. The Love also looked at some clothes and dresses and we both had some ideas for me in terms of clothing too, so that was good.

We even stopped at The Place To Eat on the first floor and went in for coffee and cake, which proved to be a good move. The Love had a pot of tea and the strawberry meuille feuile, which looked heavenly, and my coffee and almond slice hit the spot rather well methinks. As we looked outside we saw how foggy it was getting and knew that we needed to maybe make a move a little later before it got too dark and couldn't see a thing. The fog did lift before we left and it was nice just to peruse around and have a stroll.

Later on The Love headed home, much to my sadness as it's always hard to say goodbye when the time is so special, and I made myself some prawns and egg fried rice as a nice little combo, before putting on ITV4 and watching the final of the African Cup of Nations between Zambia and the Ivory Coast. The latter team had Kolo and Yaya Toure of Man City on there, so it would be nice for them to win, however Zambia had come to the final in Gabon knowing a win would heal a lot of the wounds from 1993 when a plane crashed and wiped out a lot of the team from back then - and it wasn't far from where the final was being played.

The game was a real stalemate but with chances at both ends. Yaya Toure missed a good chance but not as good a chance as the penalty which Didier Drogba also missed in the second half, meaning that as the game went on, it was deadlocked at 0-0. Extra time came and went and all the subs were used (so Yaya was off before the final whistle) and still 0-0, meaning that a penalty shootout would decide who was going to win. At that point I thought that Zambia had fate with them and that they would sneak it, and certainly as the penalties were being scored at will they looked the most calm.

It got all the way to 6-6 before a penalty was missed, and both sides missed one each. Ivory Coast then missed the next one before Zambia took their next one and scored, with scenes of delirium around everywhere, and rightly so. It was a real story of showing what team spirit, will to win and almost fate could do, and you could see to the players how much it meant to them to win it. I applauded them at the end, a lot of league teams here could take note of their togetherness, with their singing in between penalties as one. Well done them and unlucky to Ivory Coast, who didn't concede a single goal in regular time across the whole tournament but still it wasn't enough.

Tune of the day is quite apt really considering the sort of day it was: "Winter" by Kristin Hersh, one song that I go back to now and again, because like the whole album "Learn to Sing Like A Star" it just draws you win with some gorgeous guitars and strings, and what better recommendation than that on a cold, frosty, misty Winter's day I wonder?

Saturday 11th February - Build A Saturday Rocket

I had a fairly busy morning, mainly because I was spending time cleaning the house, and also then doing my Wii Fit workout. I wanted to push myself and the twenty minute free step had become available, so that was me giving that a good go. It was a long twenty minutes but I pushed myself to do it, added on some hula hoop and jogging, and together with the cleaning that certainly burned off any calories that I might have accumulated with the tea last night, and so was able to shower and get nice and clean for the day.

After posting a few things and getting some padded envelopes from the local discount shop, ready for some future eBay auctions of mine finishing, I headed on the bus to Chorlton. I wanted to do two things: the first of which was to go into Kingbee Records and have a good browse at their vinyl, CD and rarities. I did see some nice rarities but were a bit on the expensive side, but they were tempting, but I looked in their discount racks and that paid dividends.

I managed to get two Duke Special 10" singles, "Portrait" and "Last Night I Nearly Died" and both of them have the main track on one side as 78rpm (!) and the second side with all the B-sides as well as the single at a more playable 33rpm. You try finding a 78rpm turntable! Still, nice rarities to have especially for £1 each. I also went into the singles section and plenty there for 50p each, and ended up getting two, Paul Hardcastle's 80s classic "19" as well as the Levellers' "Julie EP" on clear vinyl, which looked like it hadn't been played whatsoever. I do like a good bargain me and it had to be done.

I then went over to Morrisons, close to the Metrolink station, as they often have a good selection of real ales in bottles and don't charge the earth for it either. In fact they had the Brewers Dark beer as a two bottles for £2 offer, so that was good, but also I then spotted something else which I just had to get - the beer made in conjunction with the band Elbow "Build A Rocket Boys" (named after their most recent album) and knowing how much I loved that beer when I had it in Kro Piccadilly, I simply had to get some of that as well. What a result that was eh?

I was though saddened this morning by the news that Manchester City defender Micah Richards had decided to close his Twitter account because of some racist people who were basically giving him abuse all the time. It's a sorry state of affairs and a growing sign that racism in football does need to still be tackled with zero tolerance. We as fans can do so much in that we can stand up to those who don't behave and give them suitable stick and tell them they aren't really proper fans, but you've also got to look deeper into the game and set an example.

Which is exactly why events at Old Trafford weren't exactly too savoury today, particularly in light of what happened last time Manchester United and Liverpool met in the league at Anfield. If you thought it was going to be buried and we moved on, we were wrong. The editors of Man U fanzine Red Issue need to take a hard long look at themselves for their publication providing racist face masks with Luis Suarez's face on, and no wonder the police confiscated them. However, the actions on the pitch were much worse. Suarez refused to shake hands with Patrice Evra, despite Evra offering an olive branch after the racism row that dogged the last league meeting.

Of course that got everyone's backs up, and Rio Ferdinand then didn't shake Suarez's hand either and you could tell it possibly was going to kick off. It did in the tunnel by all accounts, and at the final whistle Evra was celebrating the win, but possibly a bit too much and in the face of Suarez a bit. However, to a point, I can understand why Evra was emotional - the win was payback for him in some way. Mind you, it's going to be very interesting what Match of the Day's Alan Hansen has to say about his old mate and Liverpool boss Kenny Daglish tonight - as I don't think Daglish covered himself in glory with the post-match interview.

With all that going on, tune of the day simply has to be Pop Will Eat Itself's "Ich Bin Ein Auslander", an anthem when it came out back in 1994 and much of it still rings true today in that the rise of the right wing and racism must be stopped, and that "freedom of expression doesn't make it alright", a sentiment that is so true. In fact seeing them live last year and seeing the energy from fans of all walks of life join in, belt the words out and go mental, shows even now how far ahead of its time the song was even then.

Friday 10th February - Fabulous Friday

The last day of the Windows 7 course was today, and it was very much the home stretch for us all as we were seeing the light at the end of the tunnel of the large course manual. The last three sections were getting slightly into more advanced territory, but also some of it wasn't too relevant if you're using System Center Configuration Manager 2007 (which we are). Still, some very useful bits of information on the likes of how to troubleshoot some login and resource access issues, and what to look for there.

We also did a bit on file encryption, possibly useful if we've got some staff who insist on having any local data encrypted in some way. The key thing is that if it's on their own machine and they use Bitlocker, unless they have kept safe the unlocking key, then it's pretty much game over. It also explained file permissions and which particular order that they're granted, which will come in handy when we have to look further down the line at shared folders and how the rights to it are propogated out too.

Last of all, the afternoon was spent looking at applications, how they can be installed using Group Policy if you so wish, but also how you can also block stuff that you don't want people to run, and even lock it down in other ways such as if the application isn't compatible either. It was good to get an idea behind the execution for some of that because it at least means that I've got something that I've picked up and can go from there and learn more. I even was tempted at lunch to try one of the farmers' market burgers, but they were too expensive really.

However, what I did do on the way home is pop into Marks and Spencer Food, because they have an offer on at the moment for the weekend and indeed into Valentine's Day - you effectively get a starter, main course, side dish, dessert, bottle of wine and a little box of chocolates for £20. The Love In My Heart and I agreed that this was the way forward for us to have a nice meal tomorrow night, so I picked all the parts that we both would like and it was a nice simple checkout later - good when things just work, isn't it?

I headed home and put all the nice food away and then headed to Tesco to get the rest of the shopping, which worked pretty well as I didn't need too much and could be home in pretty quick time overall. I got home and got back on the Wii Fit after missing a couple of days through illness, and it was good to get back into routine, so much so that I did an excellent bit of rhythm boxing tied in nicely to some hula hoops, lots of yoga and muscle workouts too. So I felt pleased that I was back into the swing of it.

For the rest of the evening I relaxed mainly in front of the telly, keeping an eye on some things but also watching the Queens of British Pop that I had recorded and watched the other night on BBC2. It reminded me just how much I quite like Kate Bush, and certainly in terms of how she did her only ever tour said to me that she set some standards for a lot of people for their future tours in the way it was meticulously planned and executed. Her songs were of course good too, so "Hounds of Love" is tune of the day - she looks rather lovely in that with her hair especially.

Thursday 9th February - Recovering

I'm slowly getting back to normal with the cold, and I suspect that the decongestants that I got in Boots yesterday are doing their job rather well. I don't feel all headachey in the head and I can at least breathe a bit through the nose without wanting to deposit half the contents into a tissue, so I at least felt like I'd be able to concentrate a bit more today on the course and get things done, as is my want. In fact, going there is argubaly easier than going to work because there's more buses from my house there, and more often, so I normally don't have to wait too long. Indeed it was around 8.30am when I got to the course, well in time for the 9am start.

Today was about three more modules of the course, the first of which was hardware, which involved an interesting discussion into what can really muck up if your hardware fails, and also now how Windows 7 stores its drivers in a different way so that anything previously installed will just work, even if you're not an administrator. That does make some sense to be honest so that you can work without interruption. We also got to do some stuff on networking and how that effectively plays ball under the hood, with lots of references to the fact that DNS has to be spot on if you're running Active Directory (something we're pretty much aware of).

I ventured out in the cold at lunch time and Boots Meal Deal was the lunch of choice, which meant I could have a multivitamin fruit juice as well as the nice pasta salad and this yoghurt with granola and berries, which I tried to at least be healthy with. It certainly perked me up for the afternoon and I was pretty pleased with how the course is going as a whole - I'm getting there and if nothing else the training material we have does prove to be a useful reference manual when I need to look at it.

I got home, cleaned up the house a bit and also spent some time working on a couple of plans that I've got for the future, and that all worked out well (more on this as it comes to fruition), and I was then able to kick back and relax before The Love In My Heart came over for tea after a long day for her at work. It was nice to just make some spaghetti and meatballs in a nice pasta sauce and make it a quick and easy meal so that she wasn't waiting forever. She was thinking about a glass of wine and I remembered I had a bottle of pinot grigio in the fridge, so she was one happy bunny - result!

In between her watching the soaps, we settled back and watched Top of the Pops on BBC Four that I'd recorded earlier. It always fascinates me to see how music and the charts were back in the day and February 1977 certainly had a mixed bag of stuff around then. I mean, who would have thought David Soul would be number one for weeks? But on the plus side, it did have Thin Lizzy doing a storming performance with Phil Lynott and co showing the really bobbins bands of the day how to do things properly. So, "Don't Believe A Word" has to be tune of the day. Bit weird though seeing Gary Glitter on there...

Wednesday 8th February - Windows Wednesday

I know, it's alliteration central with the diary entries at the moment. But I'm trying to get these typed as soon as possible as really today I struggled massively with the cold - it's taking over the head and I feel headachey and have been blowing the nose all day to try and get the rubbish out of me. I look more like Santa Claus at Christmas or Rudolph the bloody Reindeer now, hmmm not very attractive at all I think. I got myself up, showered and struggled to get some Shredded Wheat bite size down me to try and give me some energy and brain power for today, the first day of a three day course.

Most of our courses are held at QA in Manchester, who are very close to Piccadilly Gardens bus station as well as Piccadilly train station and as such is a good central location for people to come to. For me, it means more choice of buses from my house into the centre of the city and to Piccadilly, so it's actually easier for me to get there and do what I need to do. I got into the city centre, got myself some Mentholyptus extra strong, and then headed to the building QA are in, and it was like old times - I've done so many courses in there over the years that I've lost count.

Things have changed a bit since I was last here though. The large table in the middle of the delegate area has gone, to be replaced by round tables and chairs, with a comfy leather sofa area to the far end. Tea and coffee are free from the vending machines, but other snacks etc you pay for, and, they've now stopped completely doing any form of lunch, so you have to venture out into the city centre if you want to get something to eat. This for me kind of rankled a bit - you've paid so much for your training, then you should really get lunch thrown in as part of the package.

I did learn a lot despite feeling like poo today, such as the easy way to log in locally to a workstation that is in Active Directory, and also how you can determine what Group Policies are being applied to which user and PC, and how you can see what wins, which was good. In fact some of it proved to be very good for discussion and indeed I know I can use this new found knowledge to good use, so that has to be a massive positive for me. The only downside is as such that I could have done with this around a year ago when we were thinking of doing the rollout stuff for Windows 7, but hey, not complaining.

I ventured into the city centre a little at lunch time and specifically to Boots, as I wanted to chat to their pharmacist to see if he could recommend me something to try and help shift the bunged up feeling somewhat. He said that sometimes if you have watery eyes it's the sinuses that are blocked and you'd feel congested, so Boots' own decongestant tablets it was, and they're behind the counter strong stuff as well, so that made me feel good. I took some after lunch and they did help me feel less rubbish during the afternoon, so I'll get through the course of the box of tablets and see how the land lies afterwards - might need to get some more later in the week though!

I got home and a nice surprise was there in the form of a parcel - and not just any parcel either, but my Region 1 DVD of trhe new series of Beavis and Butt-Head (effectively Volume 4, but actually all of Season 8) which I just had to fire up into the DVD player for viewing. And yes, the almighty bunghole that is Cornholio is back, in an extended length episode to boot that has so many brilliant moments that it alone makes it worth the mere £14 asking price, never mind anything else. Add to that little extras on the second disc and this might have to be watched in one long session of "huh huh, that was cool" mode.

Tune of the day is the rather apt but oh so true "Headache" by Frank Black, one of his earlier singles when he went solo after initially leaving the Pixies. I quite liked the song back then and still do now, it's got a bloody catchy chorus and certainly has lots going for it. And it's a song that I can happily even now sing the chorus to without any problem at all, even with a slight accent to boot. I thought about my space, and it really got me down (well the cold has anyway), so that certainly made for good retro listening - I say retro cos it was back in 1993, almost twenty years back!

Tuesday 7th February - Terrible Tuesday

If I thought Monday was going to be a day when I'd feel like rubbish, I didn't account for the lack of sleep Monday night and the general feeling of being woozy this morning. I really wanted to cry off sick but thought that to be honest people have been in for much worse than me, and it's a bit of a weak excuse not to come in. Plus because I was on a course later this week I wanted to be sure that if I needed to get stuff done, today was the day to do it all. In fact even despite my cold, it proved to be the right decision.

One of the members of staff came to see me during the day as their Blackberry just wasn't doing anything in terms of charging correctly or even working. I tried a different charger and different battery (the first thing that you try of course) but this failed miserably too - and so I suspected that it was duff and that we needed to order a replacement, and as we got approval from the budget holder, I put the steps in motion so that everything would be in place to get that in and approved so that it could all happen during the time I'm on the course (thereby being sensible all round.)

I also then spent a bit of time looking at a slight problem a colleague had with an Excel spreadsheet. Some data validation rules had been put in, but when you looked at it on Excel 2007, you couldn't see the values that had been entered for the validation. Turns out that these values were put on another sheet within the same workbook, and this had been created in Excel 2010. For some odd reason, 2007 wouldn't see it unless you specified the sheet name and reference manually (doh!). Anyway, one solution was to at the far right of the worksheet to have the data validation values in columns there and then re-organise the validation rules accordingly, which would then work happily on both.

With all that sorted, I got myself home, reached for the Lemsip, and kicked back and watched the recordings of Pointless that I'd set for the last couple of days and was a bit miffed to find that tonight's episode was a repeat. Darn! I am suspecting that the series had ended with no-one winning around £10K, but I suspect they'd carry this over to the next series and have the second go at the game couples back to start, and after checking Richard Osman's Twitter account, he not only confirmed my suspicions but also gave the date of next Monday for the new series to start - and in proper HD too! Woooooo!

I made myself some chicken korma with lime and coriander rice, thinking that it might be useful to try and sweat out some of the cold a little bit. It sort of worked but I had felt all bunged up all day and so with the headache and sinus pains also looming, I didn't want to stay up too late and so thought it best to try and head to bed as soon as I could - not that sleep was coming easily. I felt like the lyric of the Faithless classic "Isomnia" (make that tune of the day) where Maxi Jazz just comes out über-cool and says "I can't get no sleep" and I know where he's coming from with that tonight.

Monday 6th February - Bunged Up Monday

I didn't get a good night's sleep to be perfectly honest, despite the best intentions with putting some Olbas Oil on a tissue inside the pillowcase hoping that it would clear my head enough so that I'd be able to breathe a bit better and try and sleep. I'm not coughing, which is probably a good thing, but all inside my head just sounds bunged up and rotten, not the ideal scenario when I've got to be in the atrium of a building today and spending some time there during the working day.

We've started a series of roadshows for staff so that they can come along and we can check their device configuration and ensure it's set up for the secure wireless network we have, which only the staff can use. Many of them are hooking on to the public wifi network we have for the students, which eventually means the number of network addresses runs out and that means people can't connect whatsoever. So, the cunning plan is that we make sure that they're using their secure network, freeing up lots of addresses.

As it was the first roadshow, initially it was a little quiet, but as word got around (as it tends to do in these parts) people came along with all sorts, and a susprisingly high number of iPads as well. Many of them were connecting incorrectly, so we did some correct setup, and they were much happier afterwards once we did the setup and also pointed them to our new online guides, some of which I actually helped to write (so it was good for me to test this out and be sure it was the case that my documentation worked!) - and as I had my Macbook Pro and Windows 7 laptop connected correctly wirelessly, I could do a demo of what stuff they could do extra on that network - hehe, nothing like live demos eh?

In the afternoon after a nice walk out to get some fresh air I was involved in another meeting, this time to do with a massive building move to a new building which is happening over the next few months, and as this affects our users to some extent, I needed to be on board so I could pitch in accordingly and help out with some useful information and pointers. With plenty of people much more senior than me, I also guessed it made a lot of sense to be sensible, methodical and controlled in the approach, coming in at the right time. It's something I need much more practice of doing if I want to progress into a management role one day.

I must admit I was glad when the day was over because of my general bunged up-ness, and on the way home I could just feel everything kicking in and getting a bit worse. I got some über-Lemsip on the way home and made sure that I made myself something nice and warm for tea, before then dosing myself up and having a quietish evening. I just about felt strong enough to do some Wii Fit exercise and cracked on with that, but that really did make me feel rather tired and much more headachey, especially after some of the yoga workouts, so I might have to give it a miss till I recover and get back on the feet again.

I spent some time later listening to some New Order, in preparation for when my friend and I go to see them in Manchester in April (yes, we managed to get tickets, so rock and freaking roll there) and started off with the Power Corruption and Lies album, as it's a really good album on the whole. The opening track for me just sums up what New Order's albums were about, they're more cohesive in a different way than their singles and really does give it a more guitar pop edge, so "Love Vigilantes" just has to be tune of the day - kind of hope that they play this live when I see them!

Sunday 5th February - Lazy Bunged Up Sunday

I actually slept a bit longer than planned this morning. By all accounts I'd felt a tad bunged up overnight and wasn't too good sleeping, but when I did get up, I just couldn't face it whatsoever and so headed back to bed, snuggled up, and then went back to sleep for another hour or two. My head did feel a bit on the unclear side and wasn't sure if I was coming down with a cold after being out last night in that snow when watching the football. Even though I am in a covered stand the wind and snow was blowing in so I could still feel it, which was something else.

I eventually got up and pottered around a little, and The Love made us both a very late but lovely brunch type breakfast with some bacon, egg, mushrooms and toast which went down a treat. We noted how slushy and icy the snow was, and decided that it'd be best if we stayed in and had a relaxing afternoon, and seeing as I was feeling a tad bunged up anyway, this made perfect sense to me. We had a game of Scrabble as The Love watched Jamie Oliver's 30 minute meals thing at the same time, and we came up with some good words throughout and some good moves.

The Love's father had very kindly recorded us the episodes of Mad Dogs from Sky 1, and we had two episodes to catch up on video, and The Love and I had coffee and cake whilst watching it mid-afternoon, very civilised indeed that was. Both episodes were good and it's just lining things up for a conclusion which we'll probably watch at some point next weekend, as I'm sure The Love's father will do the business for us. It's about the only thing I'd seriously watch if I had Sky 1, but there you go. The afternoon went by and it was just nice to snuggle up.

I still felt a bit bunged up though and I didn't want The Love to catch anything, plus I wanted to get some bits done at home, so I headed home early evening as the sun was going down and day turning into night. I got home remarkably quickly really as the buses ran very well indeed - straight on one to the city, and straight on another to mine - why can't it always be like that? I watched some telly, tested out some more Commodore 64 games before putting them on eBay, and then settled in to watch something I'd been waiting to see all week - the "Queens of British Pop" documentary on BBC2.

I was so pleased with the choices overall and none of them really could be argued with, starting with Dusty Springfield, and then Sandie Shaw (whom of course I adore), so them showing her performing "Long Live Love" was an obvious highlight for me. In fact it was nice that they interviewed modern day Sandie about it, so that was good. We then had Marianne Faithfull, Suzi Quatro (let's face it, a girl rocker in leather, what wasn't there to like about that for a lot of men back then?) and finishing with Siouxie Sioux and Kate Bush. What was good was that John Lydon waxed lyrical about Kate, really singing her praises big time, and that was a good surprise to have.

It also had the still gorgeous Clare Grogan from Altered Images speaking about Siouxie Sioux and how her whole attitude and determination was part of how she was, but also how that inspired others (remember kids, Altered Images were originally goth before they turned pop due to some producers!) - so that was also good. Lots of cracking songs played too, but I'm going to plump for a Kate Bush one, namely "Wuthering Heights" - a true classic, and the record company didn't want her to release it, but Kate insisted, and proved everyone wrong. Yaay! So tune of the day was an easy decision in the end.

Saturday 4th February - Snowy Fortress

Looking at the weather forecast today didn't make for that much pleasant reading with snow forecast for the mid-afternoon. That'd be all well and good of course if I was staying in all day, but later I'd be off to the Etihad Stadium to hopefully see Manchester City beat Fulham, and if the snow was coming down it'd make it a bit more fun to say the least. As such, I spent most of the day inside, wrapped up nice and warm, and testing some of my old Commodore 64 games as well as playing some Wii Fit and Lego Pirates of the Caribbean on the Wii, which is rather good fun when you get into it.

I ventured out briefly only to nip to Boots as I needed some credit for my phone, and seeing as Boots give you a stack of Advantage Card points when you top up it made more sense to do it there and at least get something extra as well. At least though it'd mean free calls and texts to O2 numbers for a month, handy as a lot of the family, friends and The Love In My Heart are with them too - so the money put on does go quite a bit of a way, it has to be said. You could see around parts of the city that people were trying to get things done and then get home before the snow really kicked in.

My friend and his wife came to collect me and we headed to The Love In My Heart's place, and thankfully even though it was snowing at least the main roads appeared to be pretty clear, so we got there without too many issues. It was good to see The Love, have a well earned cuppa before my friend and I set off to (at least for league purposes) what has become Fortress Etihad, with City winning eleven out of eleven league games at home which is something else at the moment. Could we make it twelve out of twelve and keep the run going, I wondered?

The snow was starting to come down more as the game kicked off and the light turned to darkness, and I really hoped that all of the players were up for this one, not least as Vincent Kompany had injured his knee and so wasn't playing. Thankfully soon enough we were answered with a goal. Adam Johnson cut in from the right and was cropped in the box for a penalty. On replay it looked like he made the most of it but I wasn't complaining, and Sergio Agüero stepped up and buried the spot kick rather well for 1-0, excellent. Later on in the half a cross came in from Aleksandar Kolarov, it missed almost everyone and Adam Johnson hit it back across goal, off Chris Baird and an own goal meant 2-0. Yaay!

The only thing that might have stopped us was the snow - it was coming down pretty hard and at the start of the second half some of the pitch had a light coating of the stuff, which made me wonder if we'd get through the ninety minutes. In fact during the second half, they had to get men on with shovels to clear the pitch line markings of snow so that the referee could see the areas clearly marked out. But that at least meant we'd get through the game unscathed I reckon.

City's patience was rewarded in the second half when a very good run from Agüero meant he simply had to lay it off for Edin Džeko for a simple tap-in, and that's how it finished, 3-0 to City and that meant three points clear at the top. You have to smile at the City fans though, as five minutes of stoppage time was announced (some of it for clearing the pitch of course) as they sang "We want to go home, we want to home, it's f**ing freezing, we want to go home!". Can't say I blame them to be honest, it was a tad on the cold side with the snow and all.

We headed back to The Love's place, warmed up with a coffee and then it was just The Love and I to have a later than normal evening meal, with her concocting some lovely chicken with brie and some dauphinoise potatoes to boot, which really did fill the hole nicely and we warmed up with Million Pound Drop, and we had to giggle at some of the contestants who didn't really have a clue. The last question of the night was a mean one though - I guessed correctly but that's what it was - a guess!

Tune of the day though has to be "Transmission" by Joy Division which seems to play at the Etihad these days when City come out for the second half. At least now I know that's a regular occurrence so I made it back from the queue for a half time cuppa in good time, and knew that as long as the song was on that we hadn't kicked off yet, so didn't miss a piece of the action. And a good job too all things considered. Makes me want to play all of the first two albums of Joy Division right now, in fact.

Friday 3rd February - Everything Stops For Tea

Well, it did for me at lunch time today anyway. All this week and all next week we've got a special little installation happening near one of the galleries in one of the builings, namely called the Holden Tea Room. Effectively it's like taking a trip back in time to when tea rooms were the place to go with lovely cups of tea, lots of dainty little sandwiches and cakes and all that sort of thing. Of course for someone like me who's actually braved the queues to get to Betty's Tea Rooms, you can well imagine that something like this would go down a treat with people.

And - it has. I'm so pleased for all of those involved, because you can see the sheer unbridled joy it's bringing to people's faces when they visit and have a lovely time there. I have to say that I've walked past it at work during the week and thought "ooh, it looks rather lovely" and been tempted to go in, but normally take some lunch in with me to work. Well today was the exception and so I thought "why not?" and off I went on my lunch break there. And I was pleasantly surprised to see that I was not only able to be served and get in, but sit on one of the comfy sofas and relax there with the two birds in the little aviary for company.

I had a rather nice coronation chicken-like sandwich on some lovely soft giraffe bread (well seeing as Sainsbury's have renamed it, so shall I) which really was flavoursome and full of a good plentiful supply of chicken. Add to that their cake and coffee deal for a mere £2.50, with a properly nice cup of coffee and a gorgeous slice of lemon cake as well. In fact the only difficulty I had was deciding what cake to have, such was the rather nice taste all round really. I have to say that it was well worth the money and I felt rather special to sit there and relax with a spot of lunch, early 20th century style. If you get chance, you absolutely must go. End of.

So with that making the day seem much more lovely, the evening was also a relaxing and yet enjoyable one but for different reasons. First off after the food shopping at Tesco and making myself some fish and chips for tea, it was time to catch up with the episodes of Pointless that I'd recorded over the week. One round was Premier League footballers and the countries that they play for, and in each pass I got all of them and correctly guessed the lowest score in each too - so that was pretty neat. Kind of made me wish I was on that round and earning some money into the bargain.

I also spent some time playing some more Commodore 64 games and testing them before putting another few more on eBay for sale. One game I really did enjoy back then and did tonight was Activision's Toy Bizarre, which really does have you scrambling around with some platform action attempting to get the toys and balloons in the toy factory. It's pretty fast paced and you have to be careful where you jump - as jumping without any gaps upwards means you almost inevitably float along into a toy that's waiting for you to lose a life. Ouch. But nonetheless, pretty good fun all round really.

I also played the Activision Decathlon, which for its introductory tune has a version of Leo Arnaud's "Bugler's Dream" (make that tune of the day) to get you in the mood. Just like the classic Atari 2600 version, it's joystick waggling all the way and I'm sure that the 400 metres was never this tiring when you played it on the Atari, but still, a true classic of its genre that. On the Atari the trackball meant high scores were tons easier to get, but on stick, you really had to waggle like mad. I can still get 1000 points plus in most of the field events though, so I've not lost it just yet!

Thursday 2nd February - Fit and Fetching

Had a pretty busy day today at work, as I'm normally on a Thursday the first line of response to any calls that come in. Usually I like to put in a response very quickly and try and contact the staff or student member as soon as possible, so that they know the call is being dealt with appropriately, only seems the right and fair thing to do to me. I did also manage to solve a problem we had with a piece of software no longer running - it had a licence file and a dongle that the software checks against to make sure it can run, but for some reason the software wasn't allowing anything to run correctly.

I spoke to the software vendor, and they told me that they could regenerate the licence file to sort the issue. However, what we didn't know at the time was that their licence generation system had gone a little bit wrong, and so was generating the files, but actually sending me corrupted ones. Finally on the fourth attempt they fixed things at their end, the new software licence file was correct, and the software was able to run correctly and without issues. Must admit I felt quite pleased to be able to get that one all done and dusted, and made me feel better because of it.

I got home and straight away went to work on the Wii Fit, doing a pretty good job of beating my record on rhythm boxing for the ten minute bout, and also doing rather neat on the advanced step as well as the six minute hula hoop. I am trying to push myself a bit now and at some point I'll have to get Wii Fit Plus, as there's more workouts and aerobic games on there which might be useful - especially as it carries over all your saved stuff from the original so you don't have to unlock everything again (hurrah to that!) - maybe might be worth me looking when I'm out and about tomorrow?

The Love In My Heart came over later on, and I made us some spaghetti carbonara for tea. It's so much nicer when you've got some fresh spaghetti, and kudos to Tesco for realising that their packs are better split into two so that it makes two handy portions that'll feed two nicely. It doesn't take too long to get together all the components and make it lovely, and I always add some more bacon lardons to make it a little more meaty as well, something which The Love heartily approves of - almost as much as she does of the soaps that are usually on as they were tonight!

I had recorded Top of the Pops from 1977 on my Humax recorder box, so set to watch that whilst we set off on a game of Scrabble. It's amazing how many songs from then you actually remember but you forget the names or the artists, so it was good to see that they had their exposure a tad there. It was then on with Paul Weller's "Studio 150" album as the game continued, and some good moves came about. The Love played QUIP in the top middle (blank used as U) for 42 points, and I made FETCH (also making EVENT) at the top left corner for 56 points, and later on near the end had the remaining letters to make FETCHING down from the top (blank used as G) to score 45 points there, rather handy that.

Tune of the day is Paul Weller's version of "All Along The Watchtower". Whilst it might not be Dylan or Hendrix, at least Paul has some respect for the original song and gives it some well earned justice with the way he performs it on guitar with some strong backing from a choir in parts, all very listenable and shows when an artist actually takes the time out to listen to the original that in fact you really can put a different spin on some songs - well at least sometimes anyway.

Wednesday 1st February - I'm Selling On eBay...

Today certainly felt like it was a busy but ultimately very worthwhile day indeed. I spent some time today working on a desktop PC that needed a hard disk changing and then re-imaging, and it's one of those machines which has some weird graphics card inserted into it. The reason is pure and simple: the card controls a daughter controller which fires up a Wacom monitor/tablet. The tablet side doesn't work on Windows 7 and the graphics card is actually very old - a Trident 9397 type card, actually. However, when we first imaged it a while ago for Windows 7 I actually pulled the drivers off a Windows XP CD, which amazingly worked - and so did the same trick again for that.

We also had a conference on for the student representatives in the building I'm in today, and was asked to help out with a few things to do with that - mainly with ensuring that one of our loan laptops could connect wirelessly, talk to one of the projectors in the main theatre, but also then be set up so it would effectively show on screen anything with a particular hash tag. I got that set up easily enough and I sent a test tweet with tag from my own Twitter account - and a couple of minutes later there it was, on screen. I made the browser window full screen and that added nicely to the display, so all was very well with the world there.

I went home via Mum's tonight, as Mum wanted me to drop off a couple of things for her that she wanted me to print out - a holiday confirmation for one, and then also I needed to drop off my sister's birthday card for tomorrow as she and Mum were heading out for the day, so made sense that she could have it in the morning and all that. I had a cuppa at Mum's and she was asking me about the possibility of going to Haworth in the future. Thankfully I'd done my research and had the answers there and then and informed her how doable it all was, so that she could at least go with us sometime, which'd be lovely.

I got back home and had a bit of a session putting up plenty of my old Commodore 64 games on eBay that I simply don't play anymore. All the stuff I really want to keep that I do play occasionally I am keeping, but the biggest time consumer was testing them to make sure that they all work, after all what's the point of buying something and then finding out that it doesn't play ball whatsoever? I had done some extensive testing over the last few days which meant that I had a bit of time creating around thirty three listings for games (added to some I did this morning) and so there's now thirty eight in total up for grabs.

Hopefully someone will find something that they've been after for a while or even a little more obscure something they'd want and it'll find a good home. Certainly a lot of the last batch did - a fair few went abroad, one as far as Australia, and it's good to see that they're all arriving safe and sound and that it's been a positive experience. I've been very careful to ensure that the postage charges are fair - padded envelopes I can easily get very cheap, so no point charging for those, and my digital scales mean I can weigh everything spot on and ensure that the postage charge is correctly reflected accordingly - a plus point I definitely think.

All this selling on eBay made me think of a Weird Al Yankovic song "eBay" which is going to be tune of the day - in effect it's a parody of "I Want It That Way" by the Backstreet Boys, but with the words changed to reflect the popular auction site, with the chorus line ending in "I bought it on eBay" and working rather well to suit. It's at times like this you have to bow to his genius: finding the words to fit another song and then singing it really sincerely and with a proper band. I so enjoyed seeing him live in London - that was well worth the trip!