Things have been going fairly well at the LHC, with no major problems encountered recently as the machine is being prepared for operation. The last two sectors (34 and 67) are almost cool (see more about this here). Not mentioned in the CERN Bulletin article is that there has been about a week and a half slippage with respect to the schedule of a month ago, with the current schedule having powering tests finishing in the last two sectors around November 20. Attempts to circulate beams and begin the beam commissioning process should begin shortly after that.
CERN has also recently decided how to handle the media campaign for this second attempt to start up the machine. Unlike last year, there will be no media event associated with the first circulation of beams, just press releases issued at that time, at the time of first collisions at 450 GeV, and at the time the beam energy is raised to a world record (above that of the Tevatron, 1 TeV). There will be a media event planned for first collisions at 3.5 TeV/beam, but the date for this will only be planned about 2 weeks before it happens, and confirmed a day or two before the event. It’s possible that this will happen later in December, just before the holiday shutdown, but maybe it’s more likely for January. CERN has a web-site set up for the media on this topic, see here, where all they say “The first high energy collisions will most likely occur at a date after mid-December 2009.”
In other LHC news, there has been an ongoing campaign to simulate the bad interconnections that are still known to be there in the machine, and these simulations have led to much more confidence that the potential dangers in the case of a quench are understood. The simulations show that operation at 3.5 TeV/beam should be safe, but going up to 5 TeV/beam without fixing the interconnections (which requires warming up the sectors involved) still seems risky.