Manchester United 1 – 2 Blackburn Rovers

Have you ever turned up at an event and realised you’ve left your ticket at home? 😕

That’s what happened to Pete today. It was his turn to drive so he picked me up at about quarter past one and we made our way to the ground as usual, parking up with about an hour to spare before kick off. As we crossed over the road to White City, Pete began checking his pockets and patting his jacket. I knew what he was going to say before he said it. 😡

We went through the options: he could drive back home and return with it, probably catching the last half hour of the game; we could go down to the ground and try to buy a spare from a tout; he could listen to it on the car radio or try watch it in a nearby pub.

On the journey down we had both been saying how we weren’t really looking forward to today’s game at all, fed up with “Sir Alex Sexton’s” negative tactics, bizarre team selections and the general poor atmosphere at Old Trafford these days. We decided to abandon the match and head back to Oldham. 😐

We tried all the usual pubs on Huddersfield Road and Ripponden Road but none of them were showing the United game, so we ended up at the Bull’s Head who were advertising the Newcastle vs. City game. As luck would have it they were actually showing Chelsea vs. Aston Villa so at least we got to see a decent game of football. 🙄

As the scores came in from the other games we saw Blackburn had taken the lead, United equalised and Blackburn won it a few minutes from the end. I’m actually quite pleased we didn’t have to endure the game in person, knowing exactly what style of football United are playing at the moment. I’ll watch the highlights on TV tonight but I don’t expect to see many chances. 👿

Friendly Spider Day

Yesterday we drove down to London Zoo so that Sara could attend their Friendly Spider Programme.

Sara has been scared of spiders for as long as I’ve known her. Seriously scared. 😯

I recently e-mailed her this picture of a Huntsman spider, which are quite common in Australia, and she ended up running out of the office screaming and wouldn’t come back until someone shut down her computer. 🙄

We read about London Zoo doing a hypnotherapy course to help people overcome their fear of spiders so, with Australia in mind, we thought it was worth a go. It’s quite expensive at £110 but they offer a 50% student discount – good job Sara was working on enrolment this week! 😎

I spent the day at the zoo, which was a bit boring on my own, and then wandered around Regents Park waiting for the session to finish. Sara came out in tears because she couldn’t hold the tarrantula, pictured above, at the end of the day. 🙁

Big deal. I’m not scared of spiders but there’s no way I’d want one of those buggers on my hand! 😯

It worked, Sara can now capture a spider in a glass and remove it from the house. It might not sound much but that’s a huge improvement for her. I’m really pleased, it was well worth the 450 mile trip. 🙂

Happy Anniversary

This blog is one year old today. 😀

The original purpose of was to let our friends and family know what we were getting up to once we emigrated to Australia. At the time we had no idea that the visa process would take so long. With all the paperwork now approved, we are only waiting for the Australian Imigration department to request our medicals and police checks. That should take place in the next few weeks and, fingers crossed, we’ll be in Melbourne early in the new year. 🙂

More importantly, though, this week Sara and I also celebrate “living in sin” together for 11 years. It’s hard to believe that we moved into this house at Grains Bar in September 1994. It will be hard leaving it behind but we plan to rent it out, rather than selling it, at least until we’ve properly settled down in Australia and want to buy another place of our own. 😮

True to form I completely forgot about this “anniversary”, so it was a nice surprise when I got home from the football to find that Sara had been out and bought champagne and party food. Everything was laid out and waiting when I got in, which really cheered me up after a miserable afternoon at Old Trafford. She’s a gem. 😀

Manchester United 1 – 1 Manchester City

Having missed the Villa game with a broken foot, today was my first game of the season. In fact it’s the first time I’ve walked any sort of distance since June. 🙁

The game was very disappointing, exactly like most of the games over the last couple of seasons. Same dull tactics, poor team selections and lack of ambition on the field. It was also sad to see many of the regular faces around me were missing and the fans’ Stretford End banners had all been taken down. 😥

Van der Sar, who I think is a great signing, was outstanding on the couple of occasions he was called upon. Heinze had a decent game, too, taking up the vacant left wing position when the real winger had wandered elsewhere. Rooney was the only other player I would say did well today, really wanting the ball and showing the spirit that the others are sadly lacking.

The bad points: Silvestre’s usual lack of concentration nearly gifted City a goal; Darren Fletcher was absolutely awful again; Scholes played too deep and had a quiet game; Smith has the heart but not the skill to make a decent central midfielder; Park is busy but ineffective. Ruud van Nistelrooy barely had a touch of the ball except for his goal right at the end of the first half. 😡

City’s equaliser came midway through the second half when Joey Barton managed to knock home the rebound when Van der Sar parried a good strike from Andy Cole. Ferguson brought on the big guns, Giggs and Keane, but with only 15 minutes to go there was little chance for them to turn things around – perhaps the strongest team should have been played from the outset? City could have won it in the last minute but for another excellent save from Van der Sar.

The only good thing I can say about today is that my foot feels OK after the walk. 😕

Start of term

After eight weeks of peace and quiet, hordes of students returned to college today. Only the new first-year full-time students are in this week; second year returners and part-timers start next week.

The logs show that 768 new users have accessed the network today and everything seems to be in good working order. The real test will be next week when another 3000 of them log on. 😯

Having moved away from the main I.T. Support office and their constantly ringing phones, it’s been a nice steady day with plenty of time to monitor servers and systems to see how well everything is working. I’ve been using a new tool, Microsoft Server Performance Advisor, which examines server performance over a short period of time and then generates a comprehensive report showing exactly what’s going on. 😎

Here’s an article about it, for those of you who may be interested in this sort of thing. It’s really good, much better than using PerfMon to graph individual performance counters. 😕

The reports show that one of our HP StorageWorks NAS boxes could benefit from some extra memory, but all the other servers seem to be coping easily with the demand. 😛

End of the summer work

It was a close call but we managed to finish all of this summer’s I.T. projects with a half day to spare:

  • Bought 360 new PCs and replaced the oldest ones on the campus; donated old units to charities.
  • Reinstalled all 1250 machines with the latest software. Replaced dozens of old printers.
  • Created a new online testing suite for City & Guilds, Microsoft, CISCO, CIMA and OCR online examinations.
  • Moved 80-odd staff to new offices, creating new classroom space. Fitted 10 new projectors and 20 new interactive whiteboards.
  • Upgrade the Virtual Learning Environment servers (although the supplier has made a pigs ear of the software upgrade). Introduced six other new servers including new H.R. system and new external web server.
  • Installed a new core router and separated the college network into 20 separate VLANs.
  • Replaced troublesome wireless building-to-building bridges with proper fibre optic backbone
  • Carried out preparation work for forthcoming JANET 10Mbps internet upgrade
  • Trialled ”Blackberry” mobile e-mail devices and then implemented them. Improved anti-spam measures.
  • Split the I.T. Support team into two and moved offices. My new office is like a stock room at the moment, with boxes and old PCs piled all around my desk.

The whole team have worked really hard this summer, doing countless hours of overtime to get everything completed before students return on Monday.

As a gesture of thanks I took everyone to the pub yesterday lunchtime. The weather was superb so I suggested going to the Dog & Duck and sitting in the beer garden, like we used to do every Friday before the college introduced a strict no alcohol policy. 🙁

Got the shock of my life to find that it’s been painted pink and white and is now a gay bar! 😳 We went up to the Three Crowns instead.