Dear Diary... February 2013

Thursday 28th February - Another Brick In The Wall

It was a good productive day all told today as I spent some more time finalising the Blueberry Flashback installation, but this time getting the configuration side of the software sorted out with one of my colleagues in another department, the ones who actually tend to use the software a bit more than I do. It worked out well because they could get some of their side sorted, and I could tidy it up a little at the end of it all (for example ensuring any updates were turned off). This then meant that working together proved to get better results.

I also spent a fair bit of time this afternoon documenting a particular piece of software that simply will not install under SCCM, because you cannot successfully call a silent installation whatsoever. I pretty much worked out why that is, and spent a fair bit of time working on screen grabs of how the installation works to explain just why it wouldn't behave and play ball in a way that you would want it to. It's becoming quite a lengthy document but I wanted to definitely make sure that I had all bases covered and explained myself in a succinct way.

I headed home a little later on and settled back with a coffee to watch Pointless as the winning pairing went for a massive £18,000 jackpot, and in the music category they had to get any act with a number one album between 2000 and 2009 which would be pointless. I guessed on around five of them which would be including Franz Ferdinand and Florence and the Machine, so was pretty pleased with myself. All the answers that the contestants gave were wrong, and just to rub it in they mentioned Kasabian but didn't nominate it as an answer - and yes, it was a pointless one!

The Love In My Heart came over later, we had spaghetti carbonara for tea and as a little thank you for being supportive to her over the last few weeks she had got me some Carte Noire latte macchiato discs for my Tassimo! Awwww bless. I had one later and can confirm that they are gorgeous and a really nice drink overall, maybe even pushing the Costa latte close in that department (wooo!) It was nice to settle back with a coffee after tea and we watched back People Like Us from last night as she hadn't seen it, so she was able to see what had gone on.

We then watched a programme on ITV about a wedding dress shop and it seemed to be a really vibrant place to be - with lots of blushing brides to be and real human stories about the people who run the shop and the brides that visit there. For me, it was an affectionate look at how much it means to the dress shop to have a bride in one of their dresses on the big day - and their wall of photos with happy people really did show that off wonderfully. We both felt rather uplifted after watching that to be honest.

Tune of the day seems quite apt considering how things have been at the moment - pretty busy but also lots of feeling like I'm just part of a bigger machine - so "Welcome To The Machine" by Pink Floyd just works on so many levels. I did re-watch the making of the Wish You Were Here album and when you get an idea what was happening to the band at the time tracks like this just seem appropriate to the direction of where they were. It's a pretty epic track to as it builds up with that bass line in the background.

Wednesday 27th February - Another Day

It was a pretty busy day but we'd gotten to the bottom of the Cisco Media Services thing. Apparently, according to Cisco, what you in effect have to do is to do a normal install on one machine so you accept the installation of the driver, and this then places a trusted certificate in the trusted store. Then you can export the certificate out, and using a command line you can import the certificate on another machine first before then doing the silent install of Cisco Media Services. Sounded promising so I gave that a blast, and it seemed to work.

All wasn't so well when my colleague and I blasted it out to a 64-bit machine as it failed on both his and my laptops. As it turned out you have to do the same step of installing manually, exporting the certificate out and then importing it on the command line. Yes, you've got different certificates to install on a 32-bit and 64-bit machine. Thankfully as I would be calling both the Cisco Jabber and Media Services MSI installers using a task sequence in SCCM, I can add the steps to import the certificates at the right time, and you can make a simple dependency on the step running in the task sequence if the OS is 32 or 64 bit, so we tested that and everything then worked properly. Hurrah to that!

It was a positive and made me feel like I could take on my next task of Blueberry Flashback 4. In the end the silent installation was dead easy (simply run the setup with /S and job done) but there's a licence file you create when you run the software, and it hides itself in the user profile's virtual store, not the place to put it, so much better to chuck it in C:\ProgramData\ instead where all users can read it, and putting it there definitely made more sense.

However, uninstallation of the old versions proved to be a bit tricky as we could have either version 2 or 3 on a 32 or 64 bit machine. Each has an uninstaller which again you run with /S which works, but it's how you narrow it down. Using an IF EXIST command in a batch file works if you run the file manually, but call that from a SCCM package or task sequence and it fails. What I had to do in the end was put each uninstall step in a task sequence, but make it continue on error (so if doesn't find the uninstaller it won't bomb out). Unfortunately in a SCCM task sequence you can't have a file existence dependency like you can in Group Policy or else it'd be a darned sight easier to perform the task. Ah well.

I spent a fair amount of the evening catching up on telly, and notably last night's CSI - the original Vegas series of course. It was left on a cliff hanger from the end of the last series and it was a real insight into some of the characters, especially DB Russell and Finn. Mind you, for me Sara Sidle kicked backside in the show when she was really pulling Nick Stokes out of the gutter and getting him to work the case and do the job properly - and kudos to Jorja Fox for really giving that role some relish this time around. And no episode is complete without Captain Jim Brass kicking ass like only he knows how - Paul Guilfoyle really does have that role massively nailed and then some.

I watched some of People Like Us and the main positive was the hairdressers Stax, where the opinionated Donna was the star - she cuts hair and has a chatter about everything, but a fair bit of what she said made a lot of sense - like why should prisoners get x and y rights and be treated as if they were in a hotel? A prison should be such a hell hole that you wouldn't want to go there. Her assistant hairdresser had her baby and that was the talk of the salon when the very little one came in, and rightly so. Also Cathie who lives on one of the streets and her little garden allotment really did show more of the individual side of the place rather than just focus on the scroats. Just a shame that the rest of it didn't follow in a similar pattern and used the typical scroat shock value to misrepresent the local area.

Later on I spent some time relaxing with some Roy Harper on the turntable and CD player, with one of his most well known albums "Stormcock" getting a rightful airing. It's four lengthy tracks of what he is about, but also how intellectual the word play is, the epic guitar playing with some gorgeous acoustics, and on the closing track, "Me and My Woman" the haunting strings conducted by David Bedford really adding depth and feeling to the whole thing and that just takes the breath away. That alone is tune of the day but it's an album everyone needs to listen to at least once, and then own it because of its sheer brilliance.

Tuesday 26th February - Stop! Jabber Time

We spent a bit of time this afternoon mulling over why the Cisco Jabber client wasn't playing ball correctly with the MST transform. Once I'd re-read the manual and seen some of the detail of the additional MSI properties (which you could also put into the command line) it was pretty easy to work out why in the end. We'd been asked to put in the type as a Cisco Unified Presence, which is all well and good, but in fact what Cisco want you to put in during the install is CUP instead for short. Aaaaargh!

I'll test that tomorrow and see what the state of play is, but the more concerning thing at the moment is that we also need to add the Cisco Media Services as well (Cisco call it the Media Services Interface or MSI, highly confusing when you consider what MSI normally means in IT speak) - as it turns out that installer tries to add a driver on, but because the driver isn't digitally signed by Microsoft, it means that you can't do a silent installation - because it will bomb out at the point of adding the driver in. Not good.

I headed home but via the small Asda near me as I needed to get some stuff in to make my lunch for the rest of the week at work, and also to get some coffee for the office as well as a couple of other bits and bobs. It always amazes me to this day just how people get freaked out by the words "cash is dispensed below the scanner" and then they start to wonder and think "well where is it?" despite the fact that it's been where their shopping has been put in for the last few minutes. Sheesh.

The Love In My Heart came over later and she was staying over, which is always very lovely. I made us some chicken with a cheese sauce and some bacon together with some mash and vegetables and she had at least had the good news of her car passing the MOT test without needing any further work being done on the car, so obviously that was good. We snuggled up together and had a chat about our respective days before we settled in for some telly and some chill out time.

First up was The Fixer with Alex Polizzi trying to do her best to overturn a failing funeral business in Fleet in Hampshire, which is a place that my Mum has been to (she says it's pretty posh too). If that's the case you'd expect the business to match that and look all classy, but it didn't - it was just too low rent initially. Once Alex got started with it you could see what was wrong and when the eyes were finally opened, it was a positive move to neaten everything and look the part and actually become more part of the community in a way and that helped their profile massively. Tune of the day actually comes from that programme - "Army Of Me" by Bjork - which you'd have never have expected to be on there and I was massively impressed when it was!

We then saw the programme on BBC Two about the railways and how the works at Reading station in particular were going to be tight and right on the line for the works over Christmas. Having that crowd gather to see them put a new bridge in at Cow Lane must have been pretty intense, as was the work putting a new platform in at the station as well, but what was good to see was the cameraderie between workers, and the man who single handedly ran Twyford station and took real pride in his job and what he did - the real unsung hero so to speak.

Monday 25th February - Long Day In The Universe

There are times when days just seem to be rather long and for no apparent reason. Today just seemed to be one of them. I had managed to get plenty of work done and had started looking at the Cisco Jabber client in earnest with a view to getting it packaged and all up and done by the end of the week. My colleague and I though first needed a way to remove the old Microsoft Lync client and all the Cisco integration with that, and that wasn't easy. Uninstalling Lync wasn't too bad as you could use the uninstall string as found in the registry, which called the installed MSI with a /X for uninstall.

However, removing the Cisco client was anything but easy due to various ways that the client may have been installed, but I'd like to think that we got a way there that seemed as clean as possible and also pretty efficient. After some testing on 32 and 64 bit machines, we were almsot good to go with it, and then we looked at the Jabber client briefly. Thankfully we were given an MST transform file and indeed some values to put inside the MST, so we'll give that a go tomorrow and see how it all works out - hopefully won't be too bad in the end of the day.

Later on when I got home I decided to be a bit on the old school side of things and so put on Guiness World Records on the Wii, which I hadn't played in a long while. Some of the events are pretty silly but good fun, such as the washing machine throwing, the BMX high jump and also the rather frustrating tightrope walk with its rubbish controls. Still, mostly good fun and I did manage to beat my best in the motorcycle canyon jump as well, gearing the bike perfectly and then keeping a good balance as it sailed over the canyon. Not quite lost it yet I hope!

My friend and I then headed out to a Manchester City supporters' meeting which was taking place in the Commonwealth Suite of the Etihad Stadium - we had to remember of course that this was in the East Stand and not the Colin Bell stand, and once we were settled in with a cuppa and some biscuits, the guests who were invited fielded some questions, and it was all very good. We had Brian Marwood, a former Sheffield Wednesday and Arsenal player and now director of City's academy, talking about how that's shaping up and how the youngsters who went to Ghana have had their lives changed by that visit.

We also had the pleasure later of chatting with Andy Hinchcliffe, who was one of the generation of City youngsters who made the first team at the same time in the late 1980s - so the players I grew up with as they did, as they were only a year or two older than me. In that Youth Cup winning line up of 1986 we had David White, Paul Lake, Ian Brightwell, Paul Moulden and Andy, and they all had good spells in the City first team for quite some time.

Andy still to this day gets asked about his goal in the 1989 Manchester derby at Maine Road when City won 5-1, Andy scored the fifth with a bullet header and then celebrated by waving the "5" with the fingers and thumb of his hand at the City fans and showing them how much it meant to him. Great moments they were and he was more than happy to repeat the celebration for us. He also was very well spoken and knew his football, the sort of bloke you'd want to spend time down the pub with to be honest - and that definitely for me made the evening more than worth it.

It was a long but good day and as I settled in for the evening later with a coffee I went back to some C86-era indie/alternative bands, and not least The Darling Buds, who really summed up the mood of that era, before maturing nicely later on with some often overlooked albums. Their final album even has the song "Long Day In The Universe" which I quite like and also featured in a Mike Myers film "So I Married An Axe Murderer" no less, so got to be tune of the day just for that. Fans of the band will remember the singer Andrea Lewis - well she's now running a stage school near her home city of Newport in fact.

Sunday 24th February - Turning Points

It was a good day all round today. First of all it was nice to have a relaxing breakfast with The Love In My Heart, and gave me the perfect excuse (if I needed one!) to have a Costa americano coffee from the Tassimo machine, and have some bacon toasties as well to just get us both up and ready. We headed back to The Love's place as I was off to watch Manchester City later and she was heading out with some friends as well. Before that though, we had a little bit of maintenance to do.

We got some tools out of The Love's place and proceeded to replace the rear right light fitting on her car (the part was the one that arrived yesterday). In fact it was pretty easy - you undid three large nuts, then unclipped all the light cables, and off came the whole fitting. We removed the lights from the old fitting in case they were needed, but as it turned out the new fitting wasn't just the enclosure, it was the whole thing with the lights as well, and so we placed the lot on, tested it and then tightened the nuts back on and everything was working as intended again, and The Love was mightily pleased that it was a relatively quick operation.

It was then waiting in for my friend and we had a coffee at The Love's place before we headed over to Fortress Etihad where it would be City against Chelsea. This game could have a massive bearing on where we finish in the table - we were four points ahead of them before the start of play and as you can imagine, going seven ahead of them would be good, and it'd mean we'd still be twelve behind Man U, but that was what it'd be at the start of the weekend so no ground lost there hopefully.

We did everything but score in the first half to be honest. Jack Rodwell was pretty impressive and his long range shot troubled Petr Cech in the Chelsea goal, and he also had a header which was well saved. Matija Nastasic also had a header from a corner well saved on the line, and Sergio Agüero also went one on one with the keeper but just ran the ball slightly wide. It was promising stuff though and I think on the whole that we were looking pretty good in terms of performance, but it would have been nice to score.

At the start of the second half that almost came to haunt us badly as Chelsea surged forward with Demba Ba running into the area and seeminlgly being caught by City keeper Joe Hart. The referee, who was doing his best to be the 12th man for Chelsea pointed straight to the spot but didn't even book Hart. When I saw the incident played back post-match, it was never a penalty - Ba basically dived and the referee bought it. I feared the worst when Frank Lampard stepped up to the spot, but Hart dived to his right and brilliantly saved the penalty, with Kolo Toure being first to the rebound to clear the ball.

From then on City pressed and after some good work on the left side from James Milner and David Silva, the ball fell to Yaya Toure whom with a drop of the shoulder had lost two Chelsea players, saw a gap to shoot at and placed a delightful shot in the bottom corner past Cech for 1-0. The City fans went mental as we saw how good a goal it was and that got everyone in the good mood singing "Blue Moon" (a la the Supra version we all love, tune of the day there) and getting behind the lads even more.

Chelsea went for it a bit more and even brought on Fernando Torres to try and get an equaliser, but City kept pressing, Agüero was unlucky when his attempted dink over Cech just went over the bar, and I felt we'd score another, and after some good work from Milner (again) the ball was passed along the edge of the box to Carlos Tévez, and he saw a gap, shot for it from twenty yards and in it went for 2-0. After his Community Shield goals, it seems Carlos likes scoring against Chelsea and that settled the game wonderfully well for us.

We were both very happy indeed, a well earned win and one that looked like the way City peformed last season, but with some added positives: Matija Nastasic gets better every game and looked rock solid, Kolo Toure worked very hard, Jack Rodwell's hour or so really got him back into things, but James Milner led by example - he worked his socks off, chased everything, put some delightful balls through and tellingly he seemed to really thrive on being in the centre of midfield. Excellent stuff, and along with Pablo Zabaleta rightly leading by example as captain (a role he's really thriving on) all seemed a lot better than a couple of weeks ago...

Saturday 23rd February - Shopping and Steak

It was a fairly relaxed day for me today, as I spent most of the morning cleaning up the house and also waiting in for a parcel to be delivered, which was for The Love In My Heart. It was a part for her car that she needed and it was something that I'd ordered off a seller on eBay for her. The parcel had been attempted to be delivered yesterday but there was a note through the door that it would be another attempt today, so I waited in, it came and it was really well packaged, so much kudos to the eBay seller for making sure it got here safe and sound.

Once that had arrived and I'd done all the domestic chores for the day, I headed out to Withington and had a good look around the record shop Deco, which has a good mix of vinyl and CDs up for grabs at pretty fair prices. The front window also had plenty of old classic turntables for sale too, along with amplifiers et al, so you could set yourself up with a proper separates system and listen to the music that you might be purchasing at the same time - which is a good idea I guess. I didn't buy anything but it was worth a good look around, and I also perused the vinyl offerings in a couple of charity shops as well just down the road.

From there I headed on the bus that would take me through Cheadle and to Cheadle Hulme, as I wanted to head to Waitrose there to get a few items but also (just so I know) to see what Tassimo discs they sell. I checked and it was only the Kenco Medium Roast and the Costa Americano ones, not exactly an inspiring selection. I did however pick up a few things and got a very nice bottle of pinot grigio for The Love as well as some Skinners Cornish Knocker real ale that I'd not seen anywhere else around these parts, so it was worth the journey just for that!

Later on The Love arrived, and we got ourselves ready to head out for the evening. We'd booked a meal for two at the Ashlea in Cheadle and with a good reason too - they had a deal on where you got two steaks (together with chips, grilled tomato and mushroom) along with a bottle of wine for £19.95 all in, which is not to be sniffed at. We shared a bottle of red wine together and as well as the steak main, we had a starter too - The Love had the pate and I had the mushrooms with a stilton and peppercorn sauce, which really did taste gorgeous - I think she would have quite liked that herself!

I even spoiled myself later on with a sticky toffee pudding for dessert and then we retired to the downstairs bar for a drink, with the Drunken Duck real ale on top form and tasting really good. It was nice to cosy up to the fire in the comfy chairs and have a good chat together about all sorts, and even the journey back home on the bus seemed quicker than we thought - although I have to say it was a tad on the cold side and I'm sure those heading to the city centre for a night out would agree!

Tune of the day just has to be from Kate Bush's album "Never For Ever". I had played Roxy Music's For Your Pleasure album on the turntable this morning and then I went for some Kate Bush straight after. And what more could you want from an album than an opener like "Babooshka" I wonder? Not much as it happens, and still a classic after all these years. And to cap it off, on BBC Four the other night it had Kate doing Wuthering Heights from Top of the Pops. Excellent!

Friday 22nd February - Wii Will Rock You

Two meetings at work today took up most of my time and it really felt as if we'd spent the time constructively in both to be honest, and we'd spent some time looking at the way that we were able to package up the Cisco Jabber client. It looked like it wasn't going to be too difficult, especially as you were able to get a MST transform which would mean that you could fill out the additional values such as the server address and integrate those into the install very nicely indeed, and that made perfect sense to us both looking at it.

I got home and then headed to Tesco to do the food shopping, and picked up a couple of bargains along the way before I then headed home, and made myself a quick spaghetti carbonara for tea before I got the house clean and tidy, as my friend was heading over to mine later. We'd arranged an evening of rocking and possibly other gaming on the Wii, and we'd not done so for a while so thought it good to be able to get together and have an evening of rocking.

And it worked out pretty well - we started off with Rock Band 3 and I'd downloaded some songs that were still half price from the Rock Band store including a massive Queen pack with lots of their songs in, and also a more recent addition, Soft Cell's "Tainted Love" which of course just had to be done massively. We spent a bit of time with my friend on vocals and me on guitar and did a pretty good job of Queen's classic "Bohemian Rhapsody" and so that has to be tune of the day.

We even got the Rock Band 3 keyboard out, and we played a few songs with me doing the keys, including The Human League's "Don't You Want Me?" and New Order's "Blue Monday" with me doing the keys in medium pro keys mode. I must admit it's a lot more difficult than you might think, but once you get the hang of it, it's actually pretty good fun. The game for some reason crashed every time we did The Smiths' "Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before" though and so we switched attention to a couple of WiiWare games that I had.

First up was Fun Fu Minigolf with plenty of crazy golf action and we did pretty well to do all three courses and get under par on all of them. My friend considering it was his first go at it did very well indeed and soon got used to the controls and was knocking in holes in one as well, including some of the more difficult holes on the advanced course. It goes to show that sometimes the simple games are actually some of the best to play rather than relying on overly fancy graphics and all that.

More of the same was when we played Cue Sports: Snooker vs Billiards, one of the WiiWare games that we both own (and have played online together too). It was immense fun to have some games of 8-ball pool first followed by an epic couple of frames of snooker, where in the second frame I cleaned up some difficult colours not on their spots to get a break of 27 and win the frame by 30 points in the end. The first had gone to the black ball and it was like Steve Davis v Dennis Taylor at the 1985 World Championship final at the Crucible all over again let me tell you. All in all, a cracking night!!

Thursday 21st February - Let's Get Quizzical

I had had a busy day at work and it was good to be able to head home and relax a little in the early evening, with Pointless always being the quiz show of choice when I get home, primarily because the chemistry and humour between Alexander Armstrong and Richard Osman works so well. I did get an email from SRO Audiences saying that the new series was being filmed - but it's in Elstree now instead of the now closed BBC studios on Wood Lane, and so a bit more of a faff to get to than before. Shame really but that's how it rolls sometimes.

Later on The Love In My Heart arrived and I started to make us the evening meal, nothing too fancy, a couple of fresh chicken kievs with some skin on chips and peas, but it did the job, and after The Love had settled in to watch some Emmerdale, and I was checking out potential hotels for our Wimbledon trip (I booked the tickets online following our lucky ballot draw, and so it's now all confirmed, we have the leave booked off and we're good to go) - but of course as you can imagine, even in late June, hotel rooms in London are just not cheap whatsoever. We'd like to stay in the Hoxton in Shoreditch, but that's so not cheap, a shame really as I bet it'd be a rather lovely experience.

As there was bog all on the telly we decided to head out to the Ashlea in Cheadle for a quiet drink, but when we got there and got to a cosy spot in the downstairs part of the pub, we noticed that every table had various sheets of paper on. We soon realised that we'd stumbled upon a pub quiz (wooo!) and so the quiz master was doing his best to convince us to take part. I guess that we'd not done one as a couple before (obviously I've done pub quizzes with other people over the years, but usually in teams of four or five). We were handed the picture and dingbats round to do first and spent a bit of time mulling over them.

Then on came the other rounds - the music round was a point each for title and artist, with the last one being a national anthem. I got Kula Shaker's "Hey Dude" first off and thought that others might struggle with that. Later on though both The Love and I had a big grin on our faces, as Soft Cell's "Tainted Love" was played. Did we know that one? Did we ever - it's one of The Love's all time favourite songs of all time and so just has to be tune of the day really. It was thoroughly enjoyable to listen to that and make the most of the time.

So the music round - good. The forty general knowledge questions were definitely a case of either you knew them or you didn't, and in a lot of cases we didn't. The Love excelled though on anything entertainment (as she said to me "See, all that reading of Hello! magazine does come in useful!") and I thought we might have done okay. The wipe out round though - of course a killer. I wasn't sure of some of the answers and felt it best to leave them and just try and make sure we got the right ones in the end - well we thought we had anyway!

After some marking of each other's sheets, the final scores were announced. We'd got a respectable 53 and best of all, we weren't last! Bearing in mind a lot of these quiz teams are pretty hardcore and turned up to the place every week to take part, I can't complain about doing too badly to be honest. We were joint sixth of eight teams but finished seventh because the other team got the tiebreak question a bit closer than we did, but fourth and fifth were only a point ahead too, so as I said, respectable. I think also we did the best in the music round so I was having that all day long.

It was a good night all round though and it was of course lovely to spend some time with The Love In My Heart and just being together and happy. I think there might be an option to possibly get Mum involved at some point and do the quiz as a team of three in the future maybe, but nonetheless it was good to do something different for the evening. We've also booked a table there for a meal on Saturday evening together so it'll be happy days all round as we head out there.

Wednesday 20th February - Meeting Mania

It was a busy day at work today as well, not helped by the fact that a server change had happened overnight which none of us had been warned about, to do with one of our departments' systems. As such this meant that I had to do a fair bit of running around this morning and work out a simple way of getting people up and running, and I managed to get that sorted easily in the end. Previously, the server's IP address had to be in the hosts file on each machine, but now it's a fully virtualised AD server this doesn't need to happen, and so simply had to revert the hosts file back to its original setting in Windows 7. Good when they're easy really.

I had missed one meeting within our team due to me cleaning up this slight mess, but thankfully the team knew it was important that we get that sorted out. Straight away though we had another meeting for our Platform Team at 10am and so it was good to get into our Skype room and be able to discuss some issues that were upcoming, and also because the room has decent acoustics meant we could hear everyone over Lync as well which proved to be very useful too.

In the afternoon I had another meeting, this time a course committee. Thankfully I was allowed to leave this meeting once I'd delivered our bit, but it was good to be able to chat to some of the course tutors there and explain the things from our point of view. I was also able to offer some advice that they had about moving a printer and the consequences that it'd have, and so that was good. I also worked on a strange Mac issue this afternoon that seemed to have occurred on a couple of machines as well.

I stayed back a bit as well this evening to work on a couple of tests for application packaging, but one of which I know is going to be a problematic issue because when a colleague and I looked at it a couple of years back, it was the most user-unfriendly installer and didn't seem to want to have any form of silent installation whatsoever, despite the fact it used a recent version of Installshield. Usually this means a badly written installer (Bizagi Process Modeler is one such case in point) and as such it's a lot harder to do what you want it to do.

Once I got home I decided to ignore the Brit Awards because that would just annoy me, especially with James Corden hosting it. So I put on the Sony Blu-ray player and checked through some music videos of proper music via its Muzu.tv portal including some classic Swing Out Sister, such as "Where In The World" which years after release I still love to bits, so tune of the day there. I also watched an old BBC documentary from 2002 when Snooker Ruled The Word, focussing mainly on the 1980s glory years of the game and its characters such as Alex Higgins, Jimmy White, Cliff Thorburn, Dennis Taylor and of course the legend that is Steve Davis.

Then it was over to BBC Three for People Like Us, and considering all the local pressure on the show to be canned this week, I wasn't surprised that yet again the producers Dragonfly decided to focus on the less sociable people in the part of North Manchester with a problem tenant and a landlord which looked like Harry Enfield gone badly wrong. And indeed far too much focus on the family who run the launderette, which I should add isn't even in the part of Manchester that the show is meant to be about, nice to see a lack of geography knowledge there.

I can completely understand why the locals would be narked off about the programme to be honest, and part of my watching it is to understand just how the media can paint a picture to suit and brainwash the Southern based masses, whom I am sure will wrongly assume that everyone up north and in Manchester is like this. It's important to actually have seen what's been transmitted in order to offer a fair assessment of what was mentioned on there. Trust me, this definitely isn't the case and it's good to see the local MP and councillor quite rightly give the producers the verbal kicking that they so deserve.

Don't get me wrong, I know there's lots of this city that isn't perfect, far from it. Then again, where is these days? However, for most neighbourhoods and communities their sense of belonging and being part of their identity, where they live, is important. I've seen first hand how the local community near me have campiagned hard to save the local library and swimming pool being closed down due to council cuts, and how it's rallied a lot of people together. Normal everyday people who are far removed from what that BBC Three series and the producers Dragonfly aim to portray. Everyday people who work, have families, do normal everyday things. But of course that doesn't make trash telly like Dragonfly have. Hang your heads in shame, all of you.

Tuesday 19th February - Tidying Up

It was a pretty busy day at work today, as I spent a fair bit of time working on sorting out a few things, including looking at tidying up the part of SCCM that we do the most work in - our campus collections. It made perfect sense therefore to separate the test and software collections so that you could then make it more granular and modular in terms of distributing software to machines accordingly. For most of the pieces of software we had a collection and advert in place, so place machine in collection, advert for software runs on machine, job pretty much done.

However, as the collections were already set up, I needed to find a way to move them - and after some research I found out you could do it. Not exactly intuitive though. You have to click the top folder of the collection you want your collections in, right click that and go "link to collection" and then locate the collection where it originally is. It should then make a copy in the collections folder you want, and then it's a case of going to the original source collection and deleting that, which prompts you to delete the instance of the software collection. Very confusing to be honest unless you know exactly what needs doing.

I also sorted out an issue one of our technical staff had with their weave looms and laptops. The laptops are set up connected to the weave looms so that a little piece of software, connected via a USB to serial dongle, sends the warp and weft commands for the weave loom to the loom controller. For some reason it wasn't doing so, till I realised that the loom controller box has to be placed in "enter" mode so it's actually going to receive the commands, and then you send the command to it, and badabing! It works, yaay and stuff like that.

I got home later on and had a very nice surprise in the post. I had applied for tickets for the Wimbledon tennis tournament for 2013, and because it's so massively over-subscribed for tickets, you basically enter to go into a ballot to get tickets. Imagine my surprise then when I got the letter saying I'd been successful and that The Love In My Heart and I would be going. Yaay! I felt especially lucky that we'd got a pair (ie sat together) and so we just needed to check tomorrow that we can both get the time off work to be able to go. That was a very nice surprise all round though and hopefully it's something else I can look forward to and another thing off my wish list of things to do.

I made us some pork loins with mash and vegetables for tea, and after I'd booked some trains and tickets for something I'm going to do on my birthday in a few months' time, it was good to settle in and watch The Fixer with Alex Polizzi on BBC2. Alex was trying to rescue a family photography business with the mum and three daughters effectively being the company. I guess the boredom of having no trade wasn't helping, but to be honest a Comic sans font with "peachy pics" doesn't exactly embody the professionalism that they might have been trying to portray.

Later on was a series on the railways and this time it focussed on Leeds station, and the people who work there and also the journeys from there too, with the massive rainfall in the Summer causing all sorts of chaos, as did all the drunkards who seemed to miss their trains home on a Friday night, and idiots on the ale trail between Huddersfield and Stalybridge in particular. It did make me smile though as the train drivers were real personalities, all whom clearly loved what they did and had so many stories to tell.

Tune of the day in the meantime simply has to be Keith Mansfield's "Light and Tuneful" which for those of you who don't know is the theme tune to BBC's Wimbledon coverage. I'm sure if we've both managed to work out if we can get the time off then it'll be good to go and have a whole different meaning to listening to that track. I know I did Wimbledon at the Olympics last year and that was really good, but to actually go to the proper Wimbledon tournament will be something else. Oh yes it will.

Monday 18th February - Eventful

It proved to be an eventful day to say the least for one reason or another. I had got up reasonably early and was soon leaving The Love In My Heart's place to head firstly into the city centre and then back out again and towards work. I realised that I needed some breakfast down me and spotted the Homes4U place on Oxford Road, which I'd not been into for ages. Of course I soon realised that they did bacon barms and coffee cheap, and if you get the two together, it's a mere £2.20 for the both of them, and you can stay in and drink coffee from a proper mug too, so happy days there.

I had a busy morning, primarily catching up with emails from Friday - and there were a lot of them! - and then cracking on with a few things. I'd had delivery of two replacement desktops on Friday and so spent most of the day imaging them and getting them put in situ for the members of staff concerned. On the whole they were pleased with their new setup and so it was good to be able to get all of that sorted in one day and be able to get a fair few things sorted out.

I also had a productive day in trying to work on a few different projects at once, such as application packaging. Long term I'm looking at having to sort out various different applications but for now the key point of focus is the new Cisco Jabber client. Actually setting up the installation side of it should be pretty easy, but what is tricky is trying to do a clean uninstall of the existing Microsoft Lync and Cisco UC client, as they're pretty messy. I'm still perservering with it thus far, but it is a nightmare, I'll see what I can come up with.

I headed home and watched the recording of City's win against Leeds as it was shown on ESPN. It meant I could take a look at some of the incidents during the game and also get some of the humour more behind Leeds' chants - when you're near the other end of the ground from the away fans it does make you wonder what they're saying because the sound doesn't always travel so well. It did show to me though that we played better than I thought and to see Leeds diehard Gary McAllister sing our praises was enough for me, let me tell you.

Tune of the day in the meantime is Kraftwerk's "Tour de France (étapes 1-3)" which together just makes for an epic piece of music. With the events and programme for Manchester International Festival going on sale soon, I thought back to 2009 when The Love and I saw Kraftwerk at Manchester Velodrome - it was simply brilliant, hot, sweaty and yet awesome all at the same time - possibly one of the best ever gigs that I've been to just purely for musicianship and overall atmosphere, especially when the British cycling team came out and did some laps!

Sunday 17th February - Up For The Cup

It was Manchester City's turn to do the FA Cup thing this weekend as we faced Leeds United at the Etihad Stadium. It was good to see that we were now taking the cup more seriously after our league form had faded as of late, but I think too that if there's a chance of some silverware, ideally you put your best side out possible and try and do the business for the team. In rounds three and four we'd taken no chances and put a quality side out to breeze past Watford and edge past Stoke City in a really close game, and knew that round five would be more of the same.

Both my friend and I were massively pleased to see that City were putting a good side out, we knew that Costel Pantillimon would be in net as he had been for the other Cup games, but it still looked a good side, and Pablo Zabaleta rightly captain for me - he shows the examples that the others need to follow more often. The sunshine was out and for a Winter's day it was pretty bright and quite nice outside. I just felt that an early goal might help calm the nerves a bit but knew that after Leeds beating Tottenham in the last round, nothing should be taken for granted.

Out came City and it looked like they meant business - the Leeds fans, many of them, were in good form, singing their "Leeds! Leeds! Leeds!" anthem (you'll have heard it, it goes "marching on together, we're gonna see you win, na na na na na na, we're so proud, we'll shout it out loud, we love you Leeds! Leeds! Leeds!") but they were soon silenced after five minutes when Yaya Toure exchanged passes with David Silva, the ball went to Carlos Tévez who put the ball wonderfully into the path of Yaya, and he slotted it home - a great goal and 1-0 up will do us very nicely indeed.

We had more chances before on the quarter hour mark we made it 2-0. Sergio Agüero ran in from the left hand side and was being held back by the Leeds defender. Agüero stayed on his feet but was clearly impeded and the referee pointed to the penalty spot. It did look a little harsh to be honest and some referees might not have given it, but no complaints from Sergio as he took the penalty and aimed suprerbly into the top corner to give the keeper no chance whatsoever. Leeds didn't have many chances whilst Yaya Toure forced a good save from the Leeds keeper and Aleksandar Kolarov also went close with a piledriver along the deck.

It was clear that City wanted to get the job done and quick, and five minutes into the second half and it was 3-0 with a lovely move involving Agüero and Silva, with Agüero being released on the left side, feigned the shot and lobbed it in the box for Tévez to score. He went off not long after that as did Agüero as the likes of Maicon, Jack Rodwell and Edin Džeko came on for a run later in the game, but Agüero still scored before he went off, with a gorgeous pass from Silva finding him and a superb shot past the keeper. His son Benjamin (complete with Kun Agüero City shirt on of course) hugged his Mum in the executive box just above us, and all seemed well with the world there. 4-0, easy peasy. Why can't every game be like this?

Later on I had a relaxed evening with The Love In My Heart as we watched a recording of the Jools Holland documentary on some time ago that her father had kindly recorded for us, and it was good to see come classic Squeeze on there (Cool For Cats is still ace, hence tune of the day) as well as seeing how the Big Band came to be, how he's made New Year his own with the Hootenanny and how The Tube really did change music television over here. It was for me a crying shame that there's nothing left of the old Tyne Tees studios now where it was filmed, felt sad seeing that.

And to end the evening, Call The Midwife (which The Love adores) and then the last ever episode of The Hotel, as Mark has sold the hotel to the Richardson Group. In fact you could see that the new owner with his little helicopter as he took Mark around the many hotels he owned in the South West wasn't doing too badly for himself with a hotel in Falmouth, one in Padstow and one in Fowey as well as Torquay too. Interestingly their website makes no mention of the Grosvenor yet...

Saturday 16th February - Chop Chop

It was an early-ish rise for me as I needed to get the food shopping done. With me being out all day yesterday it meant that I didn't have any time whatsoever to get to Tesco and get anything, so thought it best to do so this morning. And of course at 8am there's usually no one around either, so managed to get all of that done in relatively quick time before getting back to the house, having some Rice Krispies for breakfast and then watching the recording of last night's The Last Leg.

It's still for me the best show on telly currently because the three presenters are all genuinely funny in their own right, with Adam Hills anchoring it superbly and Alex Brooker and Josh Widdicombe really having plenty of wit and banter too. I was a bit worried how they'd handle the Oscar Pistorius story, but they actually handled it the right way, no jokes about it, but discussing how they'd all met him at the London 2012 Paralympic Games and how it's desperately sad whichever way it turns out. They did also raise awareness that there will be a day of Paralympic athletics in London on 28th July and people should go and see it (I hope I can!)

It was then into the city centre and off to have my hair done. I got into the city a bit early and so had a quick mooch in Vinyl Exchange before then heading across to The Northern Cutter in Affleck's Palace where the scissors and blades were wielded in controlled measure, and I came out looking a lot nicer and more tidier in the hair department. They're always a good bunch in there and had the Stone Roses on full blast, with "She Bangs The Drums" getting everyone in the right mood, so tune of the day was an easy decision really.

I then headed on the bus to Chorlton, as I wanted to have a good look around Kingbee Records and peruse the vinyl and CDs that they had in there. In short they'd had a re-organisation of the racks and it looked to me a lot easier to find what you were after, with the cheap £1 vinyl still in the crates below the racks. I didn't get anything but you could tell that their collectors vinyl was in very good condition indeed and really did seem like if you wanted to get something rare, not only would you find it but you'd be able to know that it was properly graded and looked after. Yaay indeed.

I stopped off on the way home to Sainsburys as I needed to get a few little items and whilst there I spotted that the store had the Tassimo Kenco Columbian which I quite like - and as I'd ran out felt it best to get some. And now I'm settling back on the red button with the Welsh Open snooker semi finals before then watching Oldham v Everton in the FA Cup later on. City's game is tomorrow against Leeds and I just hope we can win and avoid any trouble..

Friday 15th February - Newport Calling

It was an early rise for me, even earlier than I'd normally rise for work, as I'd got myself a ticket for the Welsh Open Snooker at the Newport Centre. I knew it was a straight run on the train from Manchester and after I'd booked the tickets for the snooker had booked the train tickets at a pretty good bargain price of £14 each way. It did mean I'd have to leave an hour earlier (7.30am) than I'd like, but the £10 price difference was worth the hour getting up - and it'd give me more time to explore Newport itself when I got there, so not all bad really.

So I was up, out and ready and was soon on the new buses on my route heading to the train station. And it was a new one with wi-fi, so I was able to check a few things out on the web before getting to Bread Box within the station, where of course it's a bacon barm and a coffee for £2.50 - not to be sniffed at whatsoever. So with breakfast in hand and the train already in, it was time to head on the 0730 which would end up in Camarthen but go via Newport and Cardiff along the way.

The train was pretty quiet all the way to Shrewsbury and picked up a stream of passengers as it went via Ludlow, Leominster, Hereford, Abergavenny and Cwmbrân before arriving in Newport, bang on time. The train even had a catering trolley with decent coffee so just south of Ludlow I had another coffee to keep me going and that did the trick wonderfully well. And Newport's got a new station building with entrances and exit which actually looked quite smart, and felt much more of a gateway to the city than you'd think.

I walked through the city centre, and like most city centres, you could see retail outlets closing all over the place, but what I did see was that the local council are doing their best to modernise and make the city a really good place to be, with lots of plans afoot to create a new shopping centre on the site of the current John Frost Square location which looks promising. Also, the waterfront by the River Usk is already looking rather good, with a walkway along both sides of the river, an iconic footbridge and the Riverfront Theatre, which looked the part as well, with a gorgeous view from the windows of the café looking out.

I headed back along one of the main shopping streets and to Costa where a well earned Americano for my walking was sipped by myself before I then headed via one of the local fish and chip shops on St John's Square, had some chips or a quick lunch and then walked towards the Newport Centre where the snooker woud be held. Of course as it's a leisure centre the rest of the year round, it did mean that of course you could smell the chlorine from the swimming pool on the ground floor. Also because up to the semis there were no reserved seating, everyone had queued to try and get the front row (as you do) and the queue went up to the first floor main arena where the action was taking place.

The hall was actually quite big too - and you could well imagine that bands playing there would fill the centre there quite nicely Also, only one of the two tables had a commentary booth (table one) and so those with ear pieces tended to head to that table so that they could hear Terry Griffiths and Willie Thorne commentate on the Judd Trump - Pankaj Advani match. I wanted to see that one as well so got a seat four rows up, almost dead centre of the table.

Before the start of play Rob Walker pointed out a couple in the front row, and there was a marriage proposal (second time I've seen that at a snooker tournament now) and after that, he got the crowd warmed up and ready, with Zhu Ying refereeing the game I was watching. Jason Mohammad and Dominic Dale did their bits to BBC Two Wales, on went Rob and he got us all to cheer at the moment he mentioned about Pankaj making history, on came the players (with Stuart Bingham having Queen's "Don't Stop Me Now" as his walk on tune, so tune of the day there) and off we went.

Both matches pretty much got through their first four frames around the same time, with Judd Trump actually playing some good safety shots as well as some decent breaks - nothing spectacular, but it was enough. Advani was missing his chances and often Trump was getting two chances to win the frame, and it wasn't a surprise to see him 4-0 up at the interval. I stayed back to see the remainder of the fourth frame between Stuart Bingham and Ken Doherty, and for me saw the turning point of the match. Ken had gone 2-0 up and even at 2-1 had the colours (albeit with the green not on it spot) to win the frame and make it 3-1. A bad positional shot on the green meant the brown was missable - and he did miss. Stuart cleaned up and was probably a lot happier going into the interval at 2-2.

I just about managed to get a cold drink (plenty of vending machines outside, pretty handy) and head back in before Judd v Pankaj started off, and the Indian did well to pull two frames back, his one red colour and the colours clearance to keep him in it wasn't the biggest break, but with most of the colours off the spots it was very well done to keep him in the match. A break of 69 from Judd in the seventh saw him home, but Pankaj can hold his head up high this week, that's for sure. I think too that with the shorter format it probably meant that if you weren't out of the blocks quick enough that would mean you'd be out in no time.

Of course I stayed back to see the rest of the other match, as their fifth frame was a near forty minute battle with an excellent snooker from Ken meaning numerous fouls from Stuart and so Ken went 3-2 up. Stuart got to 3-3 and then as Ken kept finding the jaws of the middle pockets he got over the line to win 5-3, a good match and a really tense battle towards the end, but I'm sure too that Ken will have enjoyed his run in the tournament this time round. It was a good quarter final too but in a different way and it impressed me that those with a knowledge of snooker had stayed to see that and get their money's worth (and why not!)

I headed out and to the Riverfront Theatre to get a coffee - and that was very nice indeed being sat on the balcony looking out to the River Usk, which at low tide was massively different in height (quite a surprise that), and as I walked back towards the pedestrian bridge and the city centre, there was Zhu Ying. She very kindly had a quick chat to me about the afternoon session and had left before the end of the other match, so I let her know the score. She was waiting for her friend but gladly obliged with a picture, which was very nice of her indeed. She is quietly spoken even off the baize but came across as a really warm and friendly person - and a good referee too.

I walked back to the centre of Newport and had spotted a Wetherspoons earlier and so went in there, had a nice mixed grill for tea and then headed to the station. The train back was a little longer because it stopped at more stations (including Craven Arms, Church Stretton, Whitchurch and Nantwich) although as it was late getting to Crewe it tried to make up time before heading back to Manchester, so we were only a few minutes delayed which wasn't bad at all really. It had been a long day but a worthwhile one and I figured if it was on next year and had some time off, I might do a day or two there, or even just a whole day but stay over..

Thursday 14th February - Feel The Love

It was a productive day at work and I managed to get the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Outlook plugin all packaged up and ready to go, and it's all good there. One thing that was making me struggle a little was that the 64-bit plugin wasn't installing. Once I had a chat to one of my colleagues, I worked out why. Our 64-bit Windows 7 builds have the 32-bit version of Office 2010 (primarily as the 64-bit version of Office 2010 wasn't fully stable) and so trying to install a 64-bit Outlook plugin isn't going to play ball. Once I'd sorted that out, it was very plain sailing from then on in.

Once I got home I got everything in the house neat and tidy for when The Love In My Heart would be coming over for tea later on. I had some nice candles too, so put them on, dimmed the lights a bit, had some Swing Out Sister playing from the CD player, got showered and changed and made myself look lovely. When The Love arrived, she too looked stunningly beautiful in her dress - really elegant and classy with shoes to match. It was so nice to see her and plenty of hugs and kisses were deservedly hers!

I had put the starters in the oven when I knew she was setting off for mine, and so in with the first course - the croquille St Jacques, which we've had before and were very lovely - and so it was tonight. They seemed to have more scallop in than last time too, and was just the right amount to be a perfect starter to the meal. I opened the bottle of pinot grigio we got for The Love, and I cracked open a bottle of Hobgoblin, and soon enough the main was done - some really nice chicken with a herb crust, a creamy centre with some green beans inside, along with some steamed vegetables and potato rosti. It tasted gorgeous and later on we had the berrymisu for dessert, which was an inspired choice - all gorgeous.

It was actually good not to have the telly on, have the music in the background and just talk about all sorts together - to be honest it's something I'll have to look at more often - nights together without the telly. Swing Out Sister's lovely "Beautiful Mess" album went on first, which really did feel nice and warm and the right mood, the candles had little hearts on top and burned brightly, and it was just nice to be so close. I then put on the "Private View +2" album on (I imported it from Japan as it had two extra tracks not on the UK release) and the version of "Incomplete Without You" has to be tune of the day as it sums up how I feel right now.

We later on (at The Love's insistence) did stick the telly on for the Valentine's Day special of Don't Tell The Bride, which admittedly we'd seen before as the groom came up with an idea to put his bride on a white horse and he would be the knight in shining armour. It was all going so well, as he'd picked a lovely dress, and then she realised it had fairy lights in it which lit up and to be honest spoiled what was a lovely outfit. I know The Love was happy to snuggle up and watch it though.

I should also say that we both got each other classy cards, not over the top and full of slush. The one The Love got me was from M&S and had a nice little patter of hearts with the Eiffel Tower on the front, and the words on the outside and inside actually were genuinely meant and the right mood really - more about loving each other all the time and not just on one day which I happen to think is pretty important when you're in a relationship together. We both had an early night though as The Love was off to Scotland early tomorrow morning with her sister and I too had an early start, and it was hard to see her go, but I knew we'd had a lovely intimate romantic time together and that's what it's about, isn't it?

Wednesday 13th February - Kiosks Like Us

I had a bit of a priority on today, and that was to get the credit kiosk that is used to credit printer accounts with cash up and running. I knew that the hard disk had been replaced inside the little PC that sits inside it, and so it was a case of hooking up the network cable from the back of the kiosk box to the socket close by, setting the network to be on the staff vLAN and then ensuring I could image it with the relevant image. Imaging seemed to go okay and it meant I could do other jobs whilst that was taking its time imaging.

I managed to locate the correct document which shows you what you need to do once the kiosk has been imaged too - so in effect shut it down, get the vLAN changed over back to what it was, it should then automatically log in, and then from there just merge the relevant conflicting record in SCCM and then allow the task sequence to run which will then configure the kiosk accordingly - with all the touch screen drivers and all the other little things it needs to do. On the whole it worked really well and so by the early afternoon (and just in time for a Course Committee meeting in fact) I was able to get that all finalised.

I headed home later on and spent some time sorting out some washing and ironing before settling in to have some tea and watch the Welsh Open snooker on the BBC Red Button. I was really surprised to see Mark Selby get hammered 4-0 by Joe Perry, just goes to show that you're only as good as your last game. Judd Trump also didn't look at all convincing as he scraped past Dominic Dale 4-3. Later on Dominic was commentating on the Mark Williams v Robert Milkins match - and to be fair to Mark he was thinking more about his wife Joanne who's due their third baby any day now - Milkins won 4-1 in the end.

It was then over to BBC Three for "People Like Us" which focuses on part of North Manchester. Again though I was in equal measures of not knowing whether to laugh or to look on in despair at the families that they featured - some of them with chronic drinking problems, one launderette where people were just taking pictures from the walls and even having a wee in the premises (ewww) and to just kind of reinforce certain types of people's behaviour, showing some of them watching Jeremy Kyle at 9.30am. I think if I was a local person living there who actually is trying to give the area a better name I'd be pretty cheesed off with its portrayal to be honest.

What was touching though was the bond between Amber, who wanted to go to university to study drama, and her Mum - when Amber realised that moving away, particularly to London, was just too much to bear for her to be away from the family, and the heart to heart she had with her Mum was one that children and parents, no matter where you're from, will have had over the years together. That for me showed a much more human side to everything and proved that a family bond is one that you should be keeping if you can.

Tune of the day though was from something I was listening to earlier - Pink Floyd's seminal 1971 classic "Meddle". If one track could sum up the band around that era, then the dramatic instrumental opening "One of These Days" is just that - it builds up with the same chords and progression and then smacks in a weird bit of psychedelia with the Doctor Who theme and then rocks out towards the end. Superb stuff, it really is, and well worth it if you have the album on vinyl too.

Tuesday 12th February - Busy Busy Busy

I seem to just be busier every day at work at the moment, but I suppose that's also because I'm helping out with a lot of things at the moment. One of which is attempting to spot what sort of calls are coming in and how we can try and deal with them to the best of our ablility. I did notice quite a few calls coming in and when I investigated why, it seems that there's a fair number of accounts which have been suspended for non payment of various fees. I suspected at some point there'd be a clampdown, and that moment happens to be now. It does mean though that we'll see how it goes for the rest of the week.

We had a planned server upgrade and move to a virtual server last night, which didn't happen for a few different reasons. What it meant though was that no one could log in to use the software on the server, and eventually we found out that it was an issue with the old server's DNS entry. Once I got a colleague to very kindly fix that, we were all up and running again and with minimal downtime as well, which was a relief to be honest. I hate it when things go wrong!

I also spent some time looking into packaging some applications for SCCM distribution and one of these is Microsoft Dynamics CRM, which acts as a useful plugin for Outlook. It looks like the 2011 release of this has both a 32 and 64 bit installer (so far so good there) but also that the installation is fairly simple - all it actually needs is a simple SetupClient /Q from the command line and it'll install silently without any interruption from the user. If only every installation was that easy. I just need to see if I can whack in a config xml which will do all the work for us and then it'll be dead easy to distribute via SCCM, yaay.

I went straight to The Love In My Heart's place from work, and was tempted to get the new Metrolink tram service from Piccadilly there, as it now runs close to her place. I decided though that it'd only be worth it if I was actually going to return back on the tram, as it's £2.40 single and £2.90 return at off peak times, so as you can imagine didn't seem worth it - not when I can get the bus to hers and that's covered by my monthly pass. Still, they looked nice and new and it'd be interesting to see how it rolls on Sunday for the football.

We went to Marks and Spencer Food because we wanted to get their dine in for two meal for Valentine's Day, so we'll stay in together then and have a nice time. It worked out well - a lovely starter, main with side dish, gorgeous dessert (we went for the berrymisu there), bottle of wine, and a little box of heart choccies for £20. And if you bought everything separately it'd be around twice that, so happy days. I'd not been in the one in Manchester Fort before so was nice to head around there and have a general mooch as well.

I made us some tea later on and then snuggled up to watch some telly - notably the documentary on BBC Two about Kings Cross station in London and the people who work there. It was great to see the station transformed with its new departure hall and how one of the station staff was heading to his retirement and was proven to be a shining example for all. The lady who would sing little rhymes before the train departed also was a hoot - you couldn't help but smile when she was singing, and trying to keep everyone happy and motivated - not an easy thing really.

Tune of the day happens to be the rather good "Trans-Europe Express" by Kraftwerk, with its obvious train connection and London connection too of course - as the band have been playing their albums in full at the Tate London in the Turbine Hall (and how I wish their ticketing system wasn't so bobbins so I might have actually been there - that would have been pretty nice) and of course the track really does give you that epic feeling of an epic train journey - which no doubt I'll be doing soon..

Monday 11th February - Wish You Were Here

It was another lengthy day at work and for one reason or another I ended up working pretty hard on a few things which were somewhat frustrating. It's just how it rolls sometimes when you are trying so much to keep on top of things but yet there's still lots coming in. I think during term time there's always a tendency for things to come in waves, particularly if there's a hand-ins going on. I ended up assisting one student who for some reason couldn't save her work on one machine, and then was investigating just why a printer decided not to play ball for some reason with a weird error message. I got to the bottom of that eventually.

After I got home I decided to spend the evening relaxed in front of the telly catching up on some things I'd recorded and seeing a couple of programmes tonight. First up was a documentary I'd recorded from late Sunday night that I didn't stay up for (well it was midnight to 1am) which was on the making of Pink Floyd's 1975 classic album "Wish You Were Here". I've always thought of this as a better album than "The Dark Side of the Moon" purely because it seems to work together as a complete piece a lot more, with the epic "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" in two lengthy parts (as a tribute to former bandmate Syd Barrett) being the underpinning of the whole thing.

What was great was that it didn't just focus on that track, but on all the five tracks (the two "Shine On.." parts being two of them). They interviewed Roy Harper on his role in "Have A Cigar" and how both David Gilmour and Roger Waters had struggled to get the tone right vocally. Waters himself didn't seem to be a big fan of how Harper sang it, but both Gilmour and the album's engineer Brian Humphries really did pay compliments to the man - and rightly so in my view. It was a good watch overall and really did also show that it was in a way the beginning of the end for the classic Pink Floyd line-up.

Of course after that I had to put the album on myself and give it a good listen and see just how much it's not aged - and it clearly hasn't. I must admit though that the one that my colleague and I used to listen to a bit at work was "Welcome to the Machine" at the end of side one, with its dramatic keyboard parts underpinning the whole thing wonderfully well. It's also really vulnerable and sounds emotional as well with the way that the song flows, so tune of the day for me without question.

I also saw the latest instalment of Cornwall, although I must admit that Caroline Quentin does get rather annoying to say the least and really doesn't add to the programme as well as she should do. It was good to see the Newlyn Fish Festival get some air time though, although did the producers really have to pull out the token Seth Lakeman track "Lady of the Sea" as a backing? I have nothing against Seth's music at all (I own a lot of it) but just seemed the easy way out for the producers. No 3 Daft Monkeys, anyone? (actually if Caroline wanted some proper Cornish characters she should have spoken to Athene from 3 Daft Monkeys, that'd have been ace)

I also spent some time later on watching again the two part Queen documentary "Days of our Lives" which was a fascinating insight into the band when it was first shown and still is now, with plenty of really good recollections, especially from Roger Taylor, who tends to tell it more like it is. The opening part of Brian May walking past Imperial College with a couple of women turning round thinking "that's him out of Queen!!" was just classic stuff too. Another well made documentary, the sort of thing BBC Four are becoming rather good at.

Sunday 10th February - Lazy Sunday Afternoon

It had been a long week for both The Love In My Heart and I, and so we decided that a lie-in was a good idea - the idea being that we'd then head out for a nice long walk in the afternoon and just have some quality time alone together. However, as I made us some sausages on toast for breakfast, I noticed that the rain was attempting to lash it down, and as we had a coffee along with the breakfast, we contemplated what to do. The Love got herself ready and looked lovely, but it was completely hammering it down by this point and to be honest we couldn't be meithered catching a cold.

We were going to head to my Mum's later in the afternoon so instead made a decision to head there for the afternoon where we had coffee and some very nice cupcakes, some with lemon curd in, and others with an apple flavour in, both of which were very nice indeed. It was good to chatter and catch up and it was also nice to see that Mum was looking forward to my brother heading back from his break in Japan as well. Mum had also booked herself a few days away later this year with a couple of friends and was telling us about that - sounds good to me and right down her street too.

After that we headed out and decided to have a late Sunday lunch and made the decision to head towards Didsbury. We ended up in the Milson Rhodes pub as there was a Sunday roast deal on which worked out pretty good value (we're eating out but economising slightly, which has to be something we all have to do at the moment!) - and I asked the staff if the cask ale that you normally get with the deal could be swapped with another - no problem they said, and so had the Hawkshead "One for the Rhodes" which was a very nice palatable pint indeed, good to go with the roast beef I had.

The Love had the half roast chicken and that too looked massive, all finished off with stuffing balls, Yorkshire pudding, gravy, vegetables and so on, and just was really nice for the price. It was good to sit and chat and see the view out from upstairs, and we'd noticed on the way there that the tram station looked pretty much done and so would be handy for any future trips out - not least because the tram line close to The Love opens tomorrow. Handy, possibly, but we shall see how that pans out.

We headed back to mine for a while and snuggled on the sofa with a coffee before The Love headed home. I watched the World Championship downhill on Ski Sunday on BBC Two and it was pretty good stuff, with Axel Lund Svindal winning in superb fashion. I even watched the women's downhill highlights on the red button afterwards and that was also excellent, with a bit of a surprise winner in the end - all good though. I still like the theme tune to that show - "Pop Looks Bach" by Sam Fonteyn no less, so tune of the day was an easy decision really.

Saturday 9th February - Sifting Through The Vinyl

It was an earlyish start for me as I headed off to Tesco to do the food shopping for the week. For a change I headed to Tesco in Burnage, and that actually worked out pretty well on the whole. Part of me wanted to see what Tassimo discs you could get from there, as I'd picked up the latte macchiato with caramel the other week. Turned out that they stocked at least a dozen different varieties which bodes well for whenever I needed to stock up - all three Costa ones, the Kenco Columbian, Cafe Crema and Medium Roast, Cadbury's chocolate, Twinings English Breakfast tea, Carte Noire Latte Macchiato (normal and with caramel), Carte Noire Capuccino and espresso if I remember. Definitely worth heading there if I need to stock up again.

I headed home and with some breakfast watched the documentary I'd recorded on BBC Four the night before "When Albums Ruled The World". It was a fascinating insight into how the album in the late 1960s and most of the 1970s really defined the music you listened to and how a lot of bands didn't even release singles, instead concentrating their output onto the album format. It was good to hear a lot of songs and see a lot of album covers that I owned myself, and that made me feel pretty good about my own vinyl collection as well.

I did fancy topping that up so the plan later was to head to Kingbee in Chorlton, but the bus decided to go past me at my stop despite me sticking the hand out (which was rather annoying considering it was a half hour wait till the next one) but a few minutes later another bus turned up which I could get to Sifters in Burnage, so decided to go there instead. I'd not been for a while and it was actually quite reassuring to see that the place was relatively busy and people were actually buying vinyl as well, and that did cheer me up no end.

I really wanted a copy of King Crimson's "In The Court of the Crimson King" (I didn't care if it was a re-release or the original pink with white 'i' label) but couldn't locate one. However I did end up buying three albums in all, Rush's epic "2112" with the title track on side one being the whole of the side, Boston's debut album with of course "More Than A Feeling" as the opening track, and Queen's "News of the World" album with its gatefold sleeve that folds out beautifully into its superb artwork. And as it turned out, I got an original release with the lyric inner as well - worth a fair few pounds in absolute mint condition.

I did play that album when I got home and it proved a brilliant listen. Sound quality wise the vinyl had been looked after and sounded gorgeous on my rig, and the tracks really did bring out the well produced Queen sound too. Out of the album it's tough to pick a favourite but I'm not going for one of the singles, instead I'll nominate "Get Down Make Love" as tune of the day. Of course there's also a great cover version of this by Nine Inch Nails which is also great fun to listen to, albeit very different. It was good to listen to that and Rush's "2112" during the afternoon in the way it was originally intended.

After seeing the horse racing and the other football scores in the afternoon, my uncle came over and we watched Manchester City's game at Southampton on ESPN. Even by half time we wished we hadn't bothered, City were playing awfully bad and Southampton deserved to be more than 2-1 up at half time, and when Gareth Barry scored an own goal, it was effectively game over. The Love In My Heart had come over then and we chatted for a while and kept our eyes on City's woeful performance. It really was awful and I realised that the title race was over - it's United's to lose and I can't see them doing that to be perfectly honest.

Later on I made The Love and I some hunters' chicken with horseradish mash and some vegetables, and we had a bit of a cheese board on the go with port salut, Wensleydale and Lancashire cheeses with some crackers as we watched Brave on Blu-ray. I'd missed seeing the Pixar film at the cinema and so was good to get it the other week and have time to watch it. The animation was of course top class and it was great to see the likes of Billy Connolly and Kelly Macdonald do some of the main characters' voices, and even Robbie Coltrane doing one of the clan leaders and really give it some welly. Yaay.

Friday 8th February - The Long But Good Friday

And it's not even Easter. I know. Anyway, today proved to be pretty productive on the whole as I spent a fair bit of time sorting out a projector in one of the lecture rooms that had a lamp that was showing that it needed replacing, hence the projector wouldn't come on. I managed to get some time where the room wasn't being used in the afternoon and so had to work out how to change the lamp. It wasn't too bad in the end as the projector, although a Promethean branded one is actually a Sanyo one in disguise, and so was able to follow their manual to change the bulb over. It worked pretty well in the end and felt good that I was able to do it myself.

I also spent some time in a meeting or two today co-ordinating a few things, and both my colleague and I as incident co-ordinators spotted a couple of issues which we're going to iron out next week, and I also headed through the backlog to clear through some calls that needed to be referred to us to get everything done nicely. On the whole it really felt positive, as I knew I was getting somewhere with a few issues. I could have done without possibly having a massive task to do at the end of the day but managed to get that sorted and in good time too.

I hadn't even thought about getting tickets for Fleetwood Mac (even though extra dates were announced at the O2 no way am I paying the expensive prices) and headed to the Academy box office at lunch time to see if I could get tickets for the Eels for me and my friend. Alas, sold out, and apparently it had been for a fair while as well. Boo. They didn't have the tickets in yet for KMFDM which I really do want to go to, as I'm sure that'd be Industrial and brilliant (especially if they play "A Drug Against War" which I really love to this day).

I knew that The Love In My Heart was on a late shift today and so thought "why don't we head for a drink after work?" and so asked her if she fancied it - and she did, so I walked the mile and a quarter or so from my work to her new location, and it was good to pop over and see her - she always looks smart, classy and somewhat sexy in her work outfits anyway (classy is sexy, natch) and so once she was all finished we headed out. Originally I had thought of just a drink but I offered to get us both something to eat for tea and that just made perfect sense - and she was very happy!

We headed to what used to be The Four In Hand in West Didsbury, which is now called the Greenfinch. The owners Marstons have spent time doing the place up, and it's been well worth it. It looks lovely inside, with nice booth tables, comfy seats everywhere and it now does two for one on the main meals like some of their other Marston's pubs do (such as the one near Cheshire Oaks we sometimes go in after shopping). The staff seemed very friendly (they were anyway) and they even did an at-table service including drinks, so no complaints there whatsoever.

Even more so when we had the food as well - The Love's fish and chips was pretty big to say the least and looked beautifully cooked as well - just how she likes it. I had the ale and hearty pie - and yes folks, it was a proper pie. A big wedge of a massive pie with proper shortcrust pastry, lovely big chunks of steak in an ale gravy and some gravy on the side in a jug too. And they had Hobgoblin on cask as well which can't be argued with one bit. It was lovely to see The Love and spend some time with her - and that made me a happy little bunny.

I got home later and wound down with some rocking on Guitar Hero Warriors of Rock, and that was pretty good stuff to do. I took on some of the more difficult songs with bass, and even did "Black Widow of La Porte" by John 5 featuring Jim Root. On guitar it's absolutely mentally difficult, but on bass it's actually not as bad as you'd think and quite enjoyable to play, so for that reason I'm going to make it tune of the day. Maybe I need to track down the original sometime and give it a further listen...

Thursday 7th February - The Only Way Isn't Harpurhey

I had a pretty productive day at work, albeit working on some fairly lengthy jobs that needed to be done. The first one of the day was to get a laptop re-imaged with the latest Windows 7 image and I also had a desktop PC to do, which also needed a second DVD drive putting in as well. Thankfully that wasn't too difficult and it was soon a case of getting everything all up and running and sorted nicely. I even spent a bit of time doing file recovery from a user's network drive which wasn't too bad to do, and so it was all good.

I spent most of the afternoon in another building and with an external hard drive in hand. Two of our iMacs in one department are ones under the current Apple 1TB hard drive replacement programme, and as such it means that I needed to disk image both of them before they went for repair (so I could then disk image them back). One of them had a fair amount of data on the drive so it meant that it might take some time to back up the image, so had to leave it running overnight (not ideal to be honest). The idea is we then image them back to a couple of older Mac laptops, make sure they work and then lend them those whilst the Mac goes in for repair. Simple, kind of.

I got home and watched Pointless which is always good fun, and made myself a tea from my Tassimo. Yes, tea. They do a Twinings English Breakfast Tea which I'd got a pack of t-discs of, and gave them a blast the other week. They weren't too bad so decided to have one tonight, and just seemed perfect to wind down with as I settled in for the evening. That and Great British Railway Journeys saw me through the early evening till The Love In My Heart arrived for tea.

I made us some spaghetti with meatballs whilst The Love watched Emmerdale, and then we watched what I'd recorded from last night - People Like Us, a documentary based on people who live in Harpurhey, a suburb of North Manchester. It featured some real characters but you couldn't help but get the feeling that BBC Three were trying too hard to make it virtually something like The Only Way Is Harpurhey, using a similar sort of idea. I must admit it made me go "what the hell?" at the telly quite a few times, and for all the wrong reasons.

It was almost as if they'd gone out of their way to find people around the area who were clearly different and not that everyday, such as the couple who had a twenty seven years ago and whom one of them had changed gender from male to female many years ago - and the male in the relationship had a massive drink problem yet cared about his appearance. That in turn might skew what people might see as the everyday person living in the area - more like the family who run the Wishy Washy launderette with their daughter who wants to study drama and yet party in Magaluf.

And besides which, the producers didn't exactly do their homework in the geography department either. Last time I checked, the launderette is actually more in Moston than Harpurhey (the address of Moston Lane is a bit of a clue there), the pub where the drag act took place is actually in Cheetham Hill. Oh, and the fancy dress place - that's in Bury, not Rochdale. Bit of a difference there folks. Sadly all the programme did was portray the area in not the best light, and I'm hoping later in the series it proves not to be the intention - there is like all communities a proper community spirit there but the things that happen in the community like that don't make for good television it seems - a real shame that.

We finished the evening with a game of Scrabble whilst I played Fleetwood Mac's excellent classic album "Rumours" on vinyl, the way it was meant to be played back in the day. For a piece of vinyl thirty six years old, it actually played spot on, and sounded good on my rig. Lots of great songs on there of course but I still really do like "Go Your Own Way" as a great piece of pop music - it has the verse, the chorus and a great guitar solo part near the end - what more could you ask for? Tune of the day without question.

Wednesday 6th February - 21st Century Pop Rock Man

I had a pretty busy day today, and some time was spent sorting out a couple of network connections that had proved to be problematic - resulting in a printer being connected but a PC not working. I knew that a new floor box had been put in for the printer's network socket to connect to, and so I hooked that up, put the socket on the right vLAN and speed, and then set back the other socket for the student PC to be connected to, and once that played ball I tested that out, made sure that the student PC had all of its updates installed and everything worked flawlessly. Hurrah, I said to myself.

I did work a little later than normal tonight though as I was sorting out an issue with a laptop and I'd got half way through the job by the normal finish time, so thought it best to carry on in the same mode and get it finished. It also meant I could then start imaging it tomorow and getting it up to speed for whoever then may need it afterwards, so felt pretty pleased on the whole that I was able to head out of work knowing I'd closed one thing off and started another.

I then headed into the city centre as I really wanted to try and get a copy of King Crimson's "In The Court of the Crimson King". It was remastered a while back as a CD and DVD-Audio set, which I can play i über-high res surround, so would be fascinated to hear what it sounded like. Either that or the original vinyl. Sadly it drew a blank - not in Vinyl Exchange or Piccadilly Records, and as HMV and Fopp can't get new stock at the moment with them still being in administration (HMV own Fopp in case you wondered) so no joy. I'll see if I can get it online but really wanted to walk into a shop and just, well, buy it!

Anyway, after last night I did actually order the CD of Frank Zappa's "Hot Rats" off eBay - brand new of course. Now I already own this on CD but the 1987 remixed version that Zappa had remixed, which for me was good in parts but it wasn't quite the same as the original vinyl version, so when I noted last year that the original album was going to be remastered on CD in its original form, I got a copy for my brother for Christmas (and he was most pleased with it) and so the least I could do then was get myself one. So I did.

Anyway, after seeing England play Brazil and shock horror, actually win, and with Joe Hart pulling off a double save from a penalty before England took the lead, it was on with BBC Four and with Danny Baker's Great Album Showdown. This time it focussed on more pop releases and had Boy George, Grace Dent and David Hepworth enthusing about the pop albums they like. Full kudos to Grace Dent for defending the Smiths and Morrissey a lot, and I was quite surprised but pleased to note that Boy George is also a Morrissey fan - see, it's not just miserable sods who like The Smiths, people! He even recited the words from "There Is A Light That Never Goes Out" in part, so definite yaay moment there.

I did note the thirteen albums selected and unlike the rock era, I didn't own as many (in fact only two of them!), one of them of course being The Smiths' "Hatful of Hollow" and the other David Bowie's "Hunky Dory". Nice therefore to see Bowie get a mention and be an album selected on both of the programmes too. It was good though that out of the rest, I'd heard of most of them even if I didn't own them, and some nice surprises such as the debut Sisters of Mercy album, Kate Bush's "Hounds of Love" and so on.

Still, I did manage to play a little bit of Guitar Hero Warriors of Rock afterwards and as I'd imported the songs from Guitar Hero 5 this did include King Crimson's "21st Century Schizoid Man" on there. I simply had to have a blast on the bass (trickier than you think!) and that proved to be good fun, not least as I've now got the opening bars of the intro in my head, which is understandable when you hear it. A pure classic of an album opener too, so no doubt for me - tune of the day without question.

Tuesday 5th February - The Magic of Vinyl

I had a reasonably good day at work, in that a problem we'd been having with accessing network drives and logging in quickly had been resolved and so suddenly everything started playing ball for all the right reasons. And as it turned out, a perfect opportunity arose to re-image my PC in the office. I'd been a bit worried that there'd been some slowness on the PC for some time and thought it best to re-image it anyway, so backed up the data I needed and then set SCCM to work on it, and it definitely did the trick nicely. I added back all the software required and then made sure that it all played ball, so was massively pleased that I'd sorted it all out.

I headed home and settled in for the evening and first of all watched Great British Railway Journeys as Michael Portillo headed around Ireland for his next instalment. I was intrigued with the old style way of making butter, and how he had to have it on a bread roll and have a buttermilk drink to go with it. The Love In My Heart had joined me by this time and she remarked that no wonder it was very easy for people to get quite overweight if they were having that sort of thing all the time - and I could see where she was coming from to be honest.

I made us some rump steak as she watched Emmerdale, and timed it almost so that I served it during a commercial break. It was cooked fine for me but as it was a thickish steak it wasn't as well done as The Love would have liked (I'm a medium steak person, she's well done) so I made a mental note to try and do them for longer at a higher temperature next time. Normally the steak I get isn't that thick either. It was still good all round though and with that down us, we spent a fairly relaxing evening together.

It was fascinating stuff as we watched The Mary Berry Story on BBC Two. We'd seen it last week and it was a great insight into how she got to be on television, and this final part showed how she ended up being on a daytime programme with Judith Chalmers (those of a certain age will know who she is) and then how a death in her family made her take a step back for a while, but then end up doing cookery classes from her kitchen and learning the secret of great bread making all before then The Great British Bake-Off. Mel Giedroyc really did narrate it well too and we're both wondering if she's going to be solo for the next series of if Sue Perkins will be back. We shall see.

For me (but not for The Love!) the highlight of the telly was Danny Baker's Great Album Showdown on BBC Four. He and his studio guests Jeremy Clarkson, Stephen Street and Kate Mossman divulged into what makes a good rock album and how listening to the genre over the years had shaped their lives. They each nominated three albums each before Danny added a final thirteenth album to make the "Baker's Dozen" (I see what he did there ha ha) and that was an insight for me into how it's not just me who likes certain albums, and the chatter was great banter and discussion in between, the sort of thing I enjoy about music too.

I was even more proud to actually see that I owned a fair few of the albums, and some of them (appropriately enough) on vinyl. For those of you who don't want to flick through the show on iPlayer, the ones I own were Frank Zappa's seminal classic "Hot Rats", The Clash's "London Calling", Fleetwood Mac's magnum opus album that is "Rumours", Pink Floyd's "The Dark Side of the Moon" and David Bowie's "The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars" (to give it its full title) so can't complain. I really do want to get hold of King Crimson's "In The Court of the Crimson King" as well but know the original vinyl copies are pretty rare things now.

Anyway, once The Love had headed home I felt rather inspired and played David Bowie's "Hunky Dory" album and that was great fun. Having "Life on Mars" belt out of the system with the vinyl sounding just as warm and analogue as it would have done back then was great stuff, so tune of the day it definitely is. Of course it just also happens to be the title of one of my favourite television series ever made, so again another good reason. I think too this album is when people realised what Bowie was about and if he hadn't made that, then Ziggy Stardust and his other alter egos might not have worked so well...

Monday 4th February - Rain, Hail and Help

It was a busy day today, and it was a day where things came together in waves which meant I was either being really productive or things were stalling. One issue I'd been spending some time with was one of the pieces of software that our lovely alumni people use, which runs on a dedicated server. It's now in our Active Directory tree and since that work was done, when the users run it, it now seems to want to look at the server for a software update. I'd suggested some ideas on Friday but worked out what I needed to do today and tried two different solutions - one of which was proved to be the correct one.

And as it turned out making the one change to one file on the server meant that the other users that needed to access it could and without problems too, so I felt rather productive in a good way. I think as well when the staff are actually patient and understanding with you and are willing to work with you, that makes things much nicer. And the staff are lovely. I suspect too that now I know what to look out for, it's something that I can keep an eye on in the future and know what needs to be done, yaay.

I also spent some time with one of our printers this afternoon that had a ubiquitous 50.2 fuser error. The first thing that's normally suggested is to replace the fuser and so one arrived today, so I did that -and guess what? Got it in one, still the same 50.2 error. So time to call the engineer out for it though. Makes you wonder if there's a more serious fault though, so fingers crossed that we get it sorted. I've also read up on that it might be the power that's also the source of the issue because the fuser doesn't warm up. Hey ho.

Anyway, getting home proved to be rather entertaining due to the masses of rain and hail that was attempting to fall down at the same time. I was pleased that the bus stop wasn't that far from work at times like this and indeed that the bus came pretty quickly too. I just think that it's going to be one of those rainy evenings where the best course of action is staying in with a coffee. I tried the Carte Noire Vuloptuoso Kenya for the Tassimo as I had ordered them a while back, and my, they're strong!

I also felt like it was a good time to relax tonight and listen to some classic music (not classical!) and so put on Joy Division's "Substance" compilation. The early Warsaw stuff is also featured and straight away I had to play "Leaders of Men" a couple of times, primarily because it's used to so good effect during the film "Control" when it's played live, showing its raw power. Tune of the day definitely, and if you don't have that compilation, you really need to get it as soon as possible along with the albums "Unknown Pleasures" and "Closer". I promise you won't regret it.

Sunday 3rd February - Goals Galore

The Love In My Heart and I had a lie in this morning, and deservedly do after a long week at work and having had such a good time together last night. It was really lovely to be out on the town and as The Love said, as she doesn't work in the city centre anymore she really misses going to the city centre and feeling the general vibe of the place. I do get what she means by that, and I think that it might be something we do a bit more often now (and especially with the cheap evening return thing which I should add also includes Metrolink tram travel in the central zone, woohoo!)

I made us some sausage on toast for breakfast with some gorgeous Cumberland sausages which were flavoursome and lovely, and that really did set me up for the day. The Love headed homewards first as she had a few things to do and was also planning to wash the car before the Manchester City game at home to Liverpool kicked off, so I stayed at home and watched the programme I'd recorded last night when I was out - The Golden Age of Steam, which reflected on how volunteers worked tirelessly to resurrect old narrow gauge steam train lines.

For me at least, seeing the old lines being brought back to life gave me a massive sense of pride in what they did and how their pure passion saw them overcome many obstacles, and today both lines are really thriving with lots of fascinated people (and foreign tourists!) wanying to go on them - and so the likes of the Talyllyn (the first preserved railway wholly preserved and run by volunteers) and the Ffestiniog Railway really do evoke all those memories. Nice touch too that the programme was narrated by Jenny Agutter, who of course had a chief role in the 1970 family all time classic The Railway Children, which made heavy use of the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway (Oakworth actually does exist as a station, you know!)

My friend came over later and off we headed to the Etihad Stadium to see Manchester City v Liverpool. As we walked towards the ground there were two demonstrations of accessible sports for the disabled, showing different bicycles with adaptions, such as a handbike which you pedalled with your hands and a three wheeled bike with different locations for foot pedals etc. There was also a goalball demonstration as part of this which you could try out yourself with blindfold on - trust me, it's not as easy as it looks but it was good to see awareness of that being raised in a positive way.

As for the game itself, it was tense, exciting and a great advertisement for the beautiful game even if the result wasn't ideal for us City fans. Even though Liverpool had more of the play a good break down the left saw a great cross from James Milner which Edin Džeko finished with aplomb from close range. The lead wasn't to last though as Džeko went down under a challenge and stayed down but the referee waved play on, so Liverpool did and Danny Sturridge scored with a screamer from 25 yards. The moment the goal went in Džeko protested, rightfully got a yellow card and it showed that the referee, to be fair, got it right. The fact that we didn't kick it out of play is our own fault to be honest.

It was a tense second half as we really needed to win to try and keep up the title pressure on Manchester United, but Liverpool looked more than capable up front with Sturridge giving us all sorts of problems with his pace. However it was their captain Steven Gerrard who led by example and as the ball was cleared to him let fly from good 30 yards with a powerful shot that Joe Hart had no chance of saving. I was upset we'd not closed Gerrard down but had to respect the class strike from a class player. Let's face it, he could have left Liverpool and gone anywhere but chose instead to stay with the team he loves and wants to win things with - and that's fair enough to me.

So 2-1 down and we need a goal, and if I thought Gerrard's goal was good, it was going to be usurped. The ball was passed forward to Sergio Agüero close to the edge of the 18 yard area. Liverpool's goalkeeper Pepe Reina came out to meet Agüero who ran past him and then, almost close to the corner flag, struck the ball and without bouncing hit the net on the other side of the goal to score. Absolutely stunning stuff and from that tight angle no wonder Reina looked so stunned. 2-2 then and that's how it stayed till the end which wasn't enough, but had at least proved that we weren't giving up without a fight.

Later on after I got home I watched AC Milan v Udinese on ESPN, and after some freak warmup injury, this meant that Mario Balotelli was playing, so wanted to see how he did. The answer was - rather well. He almost scored in 35 seconds, did score the opener with a good finish and after the referee awarded a controversial penalty which in my view never should have been given, there was no doubt in my mind that Mario would take it - and score to make it a 2-1 win at the death. I was surprised he didn't have a "why always me?" t-shirt on like he had at City, but still, Ruff Sqwad's "Mario Balotelli" is tune of the day in tribute to the former City man. I was relieved to see him leave City because of his disruptive influence but hope that for the club he supported as a boy he feels more at home...

Saturday 2nd February - Another Derbyshire Walk

It was good to have a bit of a lie in this morning and one that was in truth needed. I was rudely awoken at around 2am this morning with the sound of someone banging on the front door next door, and I guess that whoever it was was drunk, but knew the person next door and seemed to be getting some abuse from the open window upstairs (it's what it sounded like anyway.) I was asleep at the time and it did take me a little bit of time to get back to sleep, and so thought that a lie in was just what I needed.

And so it proved, when I did wake up I felt good for taking the time to have a restful sleep. I got a few chores done around the house and as I'd cleaned the bathroom last night, it meant that I could put all the clean bath mats and towels in and make it all look rather lovely. It's good to make the effort for when The Milk In My Coffee is staying over, but also for myself to keep the place tidy. I watched some of an old Celebrity Masterchef episode as part of Saturday Kitchen and then decided that I'd head off into the countryside.

I wasn't sure where I was going to go, but I took the bus into Stockport and as timing would have it, a 358 was in the station which would take me via Marple to New Mills. I hadn't been to New Mills for a while so I thought it'd be a good opportunity to, and with quite a few walkers on the bus as well (like me admiring the views from the top deck) it was good to head through the countryside before arriving at New Mills bus station, where I decided that a walk along the Torrs would be a good idea.

I headed downhill past the Visitors Centre for the town and came to the bottom, where the rock climbing wasn't in full flow but the River Goyt was, towered over by the Union Bridge above, and plenty of walkers were heading along the paths and towards the Sett Valley Trail as well, but I was walking then in the other direction, past the old Torr Mill on the left hand side and to the Millennium Walkway, which is a spectacular bridge over the River Goyt which connects two paths. And the view on the bridge is something to marvel at - and well worth it if you get the chance.

Once you've walked past the walkway it's well worth a walk along the River Goyt path for a while if you were feeling adventurous, but instead I headed up the hill and to the railway station, crossed over the platforms and back up the hill into New Mills, and had a lovely walk around all the nice little shops, and there were plenty of them including a lovely greeting card shop that actually priced their cards very fairly indeed and not at expensive ripoff prices either. Yaay for them. It was good to walk around the village and I could smell some very fresh fish and chips from a local takeaway as well which was very tempting let me tell you.

I headed back on the bus to Marple and Stockport and then homeward, but I really felt like I'd had a nice walk and enjoyed some more of the countryside. I maybe should do this more often and take in longer walks - maybe the Sett Valley Trail to Hayfield next time and go from there. In the meantime, the lovely song "Vertigo" by Kristin Hersh is tune of the day. I had it in my head as I was walking around and just thought it suited the mood perfectly as I was admiring the view from the Millennium Walkway and feeling somewhat folk-like. Well worth checking out if you have time.

Friday 1st February - Friday On My Mind

For one reason or another, it's been a really long week at work and it was good therefore to have a few things today run relatively smoothly. It was a positive to have our weekly incident co-ordinator meeting and be able to put forward some useful ideas and feedback as well as manage to feel more positive about a couple of things - and on top of that it was good to clarify a procedure about reporting certain faults, which I was then able to feed back to the team accordingly - again a positive where I'm concerned.

It was an even nicer Friday as I met up with one of my friends for lunch as well. She's a colleague based at another site close by, but we get on really well and as she doesn't live close by, it's sometimes good to escape for a little while and lunch is the perfect time to do so. We headed into Odder and managed to get a table just before a mad rush of people came in, and I ordered myself a ham and mushroom pizza which was well worth the wait - very very crispy on the outside with masses of ham and mushroom on it, and really did taste fab. And the conversation was wonderful too - happy day really.

I spent the afternoon sorting out stuff for next week and also working on a couple of things - mainly trying to clean up any outstanding jobs or at least keep an idea of what I've got to do next week, and also work on some documentation as well in order to get everything shipshape. It didn't help though that Internet Explorer was crashing on certain web pages and I soon worked out why - a corrupted Flash ActiveX control. I simply uninstalled and reinstalled the Flash player, and badabing - all working as it should do. Why can't everything be that simple in life eh?

I headed to Tesco after work to do the food shopping and also headed into Iceland on the way home as well. It was quite productive really (and quick too) and in Tesco I spotted the Tassimo Cadbury's hot chocolate discs, and so informed my auntie that they were definitely there (she's been after them or the Suchard ones and needed to know where had them so it was the least I could do.) Of course as I don't have chocolate any more, it wasn't even tempting to buy them for myself, but there you go.

It was good to wind down with some good telly, first of all Great British Railway Journeys as Michael Portillo headed to Devon. Exmouth looked rather lovely, going to have to head there sometime I think. I'd been to Dawlish before so wasn't surprised to see the sea lashing against the wall there, and the whole section of the line to Newton Abbot was to be a different sort of railway designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, propelled by air pressure and pipes. It didn't work because the pipes corroded, but it was a sign of the visionary that he was at the time.

Railway Walks afterwards would have been much better if it wasn't the annoying as hell Julia Bradbury hosting it, but then A Question of Sport was on usual form. Of course best of all tonight though was The Last Leg, with Adam, Josh and Alex having their usual irreverent look at the week, notably with the now infamous "Is It OK?" questions that people would ask. The three of them really do have a great chemistry and were having a giggle with their guest Brian Cox as he explained the whole black hole theory in more detail and how the Go Compare black hole wouldn't work in reality. All good fun though and my TV highlight of last year goes from strength to strength.

Tune of the day is the theme tune used on The Last Leg, which was also the main theme for Channel 4's Paralympics coverage last year. It just works well for the show especially with the new title sequence as the three of them walking looking cool, so much kudos to Public Enemy's "Harder Than You Think" for really suiting it so well. On its own it just rocks massively, especially with the main chorus line of "thank you for letting us be ourselves" which really did hit home during the Paralympics especially. Yaay.