Dear Diary... July 2011

Sunday 31st July - Fabulous, Darling!

We had a pretty early start to the day today as we were off to the Cornerhouse to see the Sunday matinee film. What they do every few weeks is have a classic film showing at noon on the Sunday and often during the Wednesday afternoon. Of course what this means is that you can have some brunch first and then see the film which is all rather lovely. And we'd booked tickets for today, as the film happened to be no less than the classic Breakfast At Tiffany's, with no less than Audrey Hepburn of course. I quite like Audrey as a style icon and actress, and it's a film classic, even if the ending isn't true to the book.

We left mine and headed to the city centre and were soon at the Cornerhouse a few minutes before it opened at 11am. Once it opened we went upstairs and got ourselves a table, and a very nice waitress popped over straight away to take our order, which was good as they must know that some of us were seeing the film at 12. We both had the bacon sandwich which was very nice indeed, and other breakfasts I spotted, such as the croque monsieiur looked very lovely too. I had a coffee and The Icing On The Cake had a tea, and it was proper tea leaves and everything in a little pot which all infused nicely.

It was then across the road where Screen 1 is, and we thoroughly enjoyed the film as did everyone else who was there, including four women behind us who for some it was the first time they'd ever seen it (so good to see that they had taken the time out.) I always wanted to see it on a proper cinema screen but of course wasn't born when the film was released in 1961, and so this was the next best thing. Of course Audrey is just stunning in this - both as an actress and those black dresses. And she sings "Moon River" the main theme from the soundtrack ever so wistfully, so that's tune of the day right there.

We then headed out of the Cornerhouse and walked along the canal towards Castlefield, passing Deansgate Locks and Dukes 92 along the way. We went back via the front of the Museum of Science and Industry, back underneath by Beetham Tower and on to Ra!n Bar, where some dipping chips and a pint of The Governor was mine which was lovely. It was nice to sit out and get some fresh air and see the canal boats making their way up the locks. We also went along the canal till we got to Piccadilly train station and then headed on the bus back home but having had another lovely day, which is always good.

And I have to say that The Icing looked every bit as lovely as Audrey herself today, in a black and white striped top from Next with a little gathered flower finish to the top right, black trousers and shoes, simple but elegant just like Audrey herself would have done it. It just made me realise that I am a lucky man full stop to have such a lovely woman who really does care tons about me. And it's been over three years plus for us now and do I want that to be longer still? Oh yes I very much do.

Saturday 30th July - Walking

I had a busy morning, mainly cleaning the house from top to bottom and getting it all sorted for when The Icing On My Cake was staying over tonight, and I just wanted to get it all looking good. I had to also nip to Asda for some stuff I couldn't get in Tesco last night, and that went pretty well. In, get what I need and get home again before it started to get way too busy in there for my liking, so that was all good. I even managed to catch up with some of the cricket by listening to Five Live as well, so all was good and even though England weren't perhaps doing as well as I thought they might, it was still decent stuff thus far.

I decided at the very last moment that I'd head into the city centre and meet up with the Flickr folks who were meeting up. I wasn't sure how long I'd be out for, maybe have a drink in Font or maybe have a walk around, just a case of seeing what was happening. I got to Font and there were already several people there having a drink there including some familiar faces, so it was good to say hello and chat to them all. There were some new people coming along and one of them had this really old Polaroid camera that used to belong to a studio, but gave out the same old school Polaroid prints straight off - I'd be intrigued to see how the shots of that would come out during the day.

After some liquid refreshment it was off for a nice little walk, along Oxford Street, around by the side of the glass office buildings on Chepstow Street, past Ra!n Bar and then through past Beetham Tower and on to the Museum of Science and Industry. Not been there for ages so it was good to have a little jaunt round, particularly at the courtyard, where lots of classic cars were on show for the masses to look at that were entered for a competition at the same time. I particularly liked the 1980s Ford Capri which had a whacking great big POLICE sign on the back as it used to be one of the last Capri pursuit cars that they used locally, and one vintage car which had a little Noddy on the front.

Some of us stopped for ice cream before we headed towards Castlefield where two sights were to behold. Close to Albert's Shed there were some women tottering down in massive heels, all in sailor outfits, to a canal boat which was going to take them all on a trip. Only thing is it's cobbles all the way down to the canal towpath from there, so you can imagine lots of them in high stilettos trying to get down a steep cobbled slope! There were also some parkour free runners around the corner along with some young ladies who were being shot with all urban and moody looks - and a few of us joined in taking shots of them, as you do.

We ended up in the White Lion pub on Liverpool Road, and The Icing very kindly joined me for a drink later on which was lovely as the Brakspear was back on by that point. Outside was rammed but we got some tables inside and it was a curious mix of real ale and all sorts of Chinese and Caribbean food to eat inside, including curried goat, jerk fish (yes, fish not chicken) and that sort of thing. It just seemed slightly surreal to me but I guess that's what the owners or the chef like to cook, so fair enough. Wouldn't fancy curried goat though - just don't like the sound of it.

Myself and The Icing headed off then and after a quick stop at mine it was on to Fletcher Moss for a lovely little walk. We went along the tree lined path to the banks of the River Mersey and followed the path the other way around Millgate Fields which took us eventually to the path we walked the other night, but this time we took the other exit which takes you to the back of where the tennis courts are, and so we then walked back towards the church behind the gardens and on to The Didsbury pub, where a very nice pint outside was very much called for - it was gorgeous!

I got home, made us some lovely chicken with potatoes and vegetables for tea and relatively relaxed with another old episode of Top of the Pops on BBC iPlayer, which had some gems and some horrible songs on too. Anyone remember Glamourpuss? No? Thought not. Imagine a middle aged 1970s attempt at the Spice Girls and you're sort of there, with girls in maxi dresses singing away not that well, and clearly trying to go for what would now be a factor beginning with M and ending in F, but I'll leave the adults amongst you to work out what that means. Tune of the day is from that show though: "You Are My Love" by Liverpool Express, a really nice mellow number and pretty well sung too - perfect for those summer nights.

Friday 29th July - Eeeeee

Eeee, it's been a right week at work it has. And today was the culmination of the week's work that really did show the effort I've been putting in as of late. This morning I started off the task sequence that delivers virtually all of our applications that we need to have on top of the student build. And considering the number of large applications we have the fact that they all deployed successfully in around an hour and a half wasn't bad. We have so far the following with a couple more possibly still to go on, but on the whole it seems pretty good, and it goes a little something like this:

And all but a couple are fairly massive installers too, so I'm sure that it'll be appreciated with the time and effort that I've put into it all. One of the products from the Autodesk Building Design Suite that does need to go in though is Autodesk Ecotect Analysis 2011, which allows for various scenarios to be played out over your architectural image to see what effects sun, rain etc have on your building. Unlike all the other Autodesk products in the suite though - no deployment install. In fact the installer seems rather messy in that it extracts certain files to its install folder, then performs an MSI installer for its licencing and then plays around with some shared folders. And no silent deployment. Yuck.

Thank heavens then for EMCO MSI Package Builder which does installation monitoring and turns that into an MSI for you. This worked - to a point. The MSI that it created did allow for the software to install, but running it showed that the licence couldn't be located. I soon found the answer. Inside the installation folder in the uninstall folder was the MSI which did the licencing part, so I simply ran that MSI to perform the install, and then it worked. In effect if I run this in a task sequence I just call the MSI for installation of the software that I made and then the MSI for the licencing (I put the MSI in the same source folder as the source on the network I'll call the installation from). And it works, so I'll test that a bit more on Monday before rollout.

I headed to Tesco on the way home to do the weekly food shop, and was pretty pleased that at least the shopping trolleys that you now have to put a pound in were all stacked neatly near one of the entrances. The last few weeks it's been a bind to find one as I use the more shallow one - no need for a large one for me you see - and that gets me all I need without being tempted to spend lots that I don't have to (there is method in my madness you know). In fact I did pretty well and got most of everything that I needed so that was good - although for some reason you always have to try and spot a good wine on offer (this is for The Icing On My Cake as I know she likes her pinot grigio) and I did okay there too.

I got home and saw the cricket highlights on Channel 5. My, England were really lucky that Stuart Broad had his batting boots on because his 64 really saved England's innings from being a total disaster that it could have been otherwise. And with James Anderson getting a wicket first ball it is nicely poised. I just hope that tomorrow the batsmen can get stuck in and really make a go of it to keep on top of the game, but nonetheless it showed just how good India are as a side and that if England want to win by two Tests to become the number one test side, they're going to have to work very hard to get there. Tune of the day is the theme tune Channel 5 now use - "The Time Is Now" by Russell Ballard, quite catchy too!

Thursday 28th July - Chorlton Minus The Wheelies

Had a bit of a relaxing evening and after another long day at the office. I spent a fair bit of time today playing with the standard AutoCAD 2012 to see if there were any major differences between that and the AutoCAD profile you get with AutoCAD Architecture - and if there weren't then I wouldn't need to install AutoCAD whatsoever (not daft me you see). I managed to use the deployment tools to package up the installer and deployed that to my test workstation. Once that was done I tried it out, and compared that to my desktop shortcut to run AutoCAD Architecture with the AutoCAD profile. I took a screen grab of each and to be honest they were identical in look, feel and function. I checked with a colleague and he was of the same opinion as me.

I then decided as I'd been testing plenty of my test rig that I needed to give that a re-image so that I knew that it would be all clean for some task sequence testing to bring down all the applications that I'd installed so far and that way I knew that it would work perfectly well. So I put the machine in our OS Deployment collection in ConfigMgr, cleared the PXE Advertisement from the machine and next time it booted, off it went to deploy the main OS core image we have with Windows 7 and all our gold software - which has been working really nicely on the whole and getting us all up and running wonderfully well. I could leave that till morning and then finish it off all ready for another challenge.

I headed to the city centre where I was meeting up with The Icing On My Cake and one of our friends as I had a different idea for a night out. Rather than stay in the city centre we'd think outside of the box a little bit and head to Chorlton for the evening. Myself and The Icing like it there and of course with the new tram line now opened we could take the Metrolink tram there, which we thought would be a rather nice idea all round. We met at Mosley Street tram stop as the Chorlton line goes from Victoria and so doesn't stop at Piccadilly Gardens, and before long a bright new tram arrived to take us there. It was pretty faultless really, turning left just after Trafford Bar and heading along a former railway line to Firswood and then with the Morrisons on the right, Chorlton station itself.

We headed out of the station and across to The Bar on Wilbraham Road, where The Icing and I head to after our walk along the cycle path sometimes. It was good to relax in there and the Ginger Marble was on top form, so that was me well and truly sorted for the day to say the least. In fact it was good to catch up with our friend, who told us of his escapades as he and a friend almost ended up on a long journey to the middle of nowehere and how things had been in general on his holiday, so that was good. In fact we stayed in there for another drink as the place has a good ambience and I went and put on some tunes on the jukebox, which needed to be a bit louder I reckon. Still it meant I could have Depeche Mode's "Master and Servant" playing which is ace, so that's going to be tune of the day.

We then walked down Wilbraham Road through the centre of Chorlton and then up to Manchester Road, turning left and following St Clement's Road to Chorlton Green, where it looked like one of the trees in the green had been yarn bombed. Upon closer inspection though it turned out that the trunk of the tree had been surrounded by several rags which were done as an art form, but from a distance it definitely looked like the former. Still it was pretty good all round and it would have fitted in very nicely with the craft fair I reckon.

We then went to the Horse and Jockey and I had a very nice pint in there as well as the three of us having something to eat for tea. It was hard to decide what to have but our friend went for the chicken burger, The Icing went for the burger with extra red onion and I went for the fish and chunky chips. I think I made the right move as the fish was massive, and really well cooked too. Might have done with a little more tartare sauce maybe, but nonetheless it was spot on. I even had treacle tart and clotted cream for dessert, and why not? I'm allowed a little treat now and then and something like that was just perfect.

After this we then went along Beech Road, stopped to peek in the window of Loop and see the Scrabble mugs and all the other stuff that they have before heading to The Lead Station for a drink. My brother seemed to like it in there when he's been but for me, it wasn't as nice as I thought it would be - no cask ale for a start and they had Black Sheep in bottled form, but almost £4 a throw. When you consider it's 3 for £4 in Asda normally for the same ale it just goes to show what sort of markup was in there. The vibe was nice though and certainly that felt quite nice in there so that made up for the beer disappointment I think.

We walked back towards the tram station (further than you think actually) and soon we were heading on a very empty tram back to the centre of Manchester where we said our goodbyes to our friend and the two of us headed home back to The Icing's place where a coffee, catch up on the day's news and a snuggle up together was definitely in order. It was nice to take things easy and I'm sure that with the weeks that go by with work being busier I'm going to appreciate moments like this to take it easy it has to be said.

Wednesday 27th July - Running Around Without The Scooby Snacks

Dear me, has the day stopped yet? I've been running around a fair bit today and with good reason. First of all I was in a meeting with a couple of colleagues discussing a situation we currently have with long format printing with the new printing system we're going to be using, and how that affects us, which it does. It's too complicated to explain but three of us who were there bashed our heads together and came up with some ideas as to what to do next, and my line manager will be presenting those at some point very soon. It was good of him to ask myself and my colleague and that felt better.

Then after that I had one of our PC repair engineers come over and replace a faulty motherboard on one of the PCs I was working on last week, and once that was done it then meant that we had a full suite of PCs back up and running - always good to have that. Then when I got back we had one of the printer engineers come over an we were checking out a weird error with one of the new printers, where the jobs would only staple at the end if multiple copies were being sent - so if you sent 3 copies of the same document, you'd expect each one of the 3 to be stapled, but instead it staples just once at the end. We reckoned after some extensive testing it was down to a driver profile issue so I need to see what can be done.

By all that happened I wanted to get back to packaging some more applications, and thankfully this meant that it wasn't too bad to crack on with the next task - seeing if I could turn off hardware acceleration by default for Autodesk Revit. Unfortunately it seems to be on all the time and if you've got an onboard graphics card as some of the PCs we have do, then hardware acceleration crashes the program - and I proved if you turn this off, it doesn't crash whatsoever. The .ini file it uses is hardcoded to the particular machine though, so you can't just set it there and have done with it. What I managed to work out was that there's a utility that Autodesk released that takes the .ini files you set from a PC and merges it into an XML file as part of its deployment, which then creates the .ini file on the machine with your settings.

When I realised what it changed, it was just adding a set of a few lines which basically told the .ini file to add a section for Graphics and by default when any user runs the program to turn hardware acceleration off. I did this, and eureka! It worked rather well and I was able to get that done for both Revit Architecture and Revit Structure so that felt pretty good. It's not too bad to implement but it did mean that I had to update the distribution points with the latest version of the install just so that it knew what needed doing when deployment happens. So far, so good, it seems to work rather nicely.

I headed home and spent some time relaxing and checking out the possibilites of heading to a gig in December not in Manchester, and that looks very doable. Indeed. And so that was all booked, something to look forward to for Christmas (especially as yours truly has booked the week before Christmas off from work as well, not daft me you know) and that made me feel much happier. Tune of the day in the meantime is "Scooby Snacks" by Fun Lovin' Criminals, a real belter of a tune and one I used to love back in the day (and still do now) because of the Tarantino film samples, the cool feel and sums up my running around (admittedly not robbing banks, but still!)

Tuesday 26th July - Onwards

Another productive day for me today, and it's always good when that happens. I tested my deployment install of Revit Structure 2012 and it all worked, and the student user was also able to use the program without interruptions. Then I hit a bit of a problem and worked out what to do. You see, AutoCAD Architecture has around 20MB of settings that have to be put in the user's profile and has hard-coded registry which you edit on the fly, all via this script which Autodesk themselves released. All well and good If you launch Architecture first, as for a mandatory student user there's no registry or application files there and it'll go ahead and launch, but if you run Revit first and then Architecture, there's registry there and the script ignores the copy, and you get an error.

Digging into this further there's basically a command in the script which checks for the presence of the Autodesk folder in the user's application data folder. If it's present, then it ignores any settings in the script and just quits, so I did two things: first of all amended the script so it checks for the presence of Autodesk/ACA 2012 and then will do its work, and also amended the batch file I run which calls the script and launches AutoCAD Architecture so that if the profile folder is present, it'll ignore the script step. This then made it all work nicely, so I was able to launch any Autodesk program from the suite in any order, and AutoCAD Architecture worked every time. Result.

It was nice therefore to get a text from The Icing On My Cake to see if I wanted to head out for a walk later on in the evening. With the weather being very nice, it'd seem a shame to waste the time and I had to agree with her, and so once I got home from work, I did all the chores I needed to do, made sure plenty of ironing was done so that if I needed to pack an overnight bag that was all taken care of clothes wise, and also put the oven on and put the fish and chips in that we were having for tea, so that when she came over, it meant that we could have the food shortly after she arrived, meaning more time for us to head out.

And after tea was consumed it was off to Fletcher Moss Gardens in Didsbury. We like a nice evening walk around there and it's usually very pleasant. What we did for a chage tonight was walk from the bottom of the hill on Ford Lane along the tree lined path towards the River Mersey, then from there follow the path through Stenner Woods and turned left half way along the path to follow the woods through and along a mainly wooden raised platform and this takes you to the top of Millgate Lane, and from there a walk along past the Alpine Tea Rooms to the rockery, and around there we went. Of course the rockery is always lovely in the evening and that really made for a nice time.

Of course no evening there was complete without a nice little drink so we sat outside the Didsbury pub on Wilmslow Road and only two cask ales were on. Boo! Thankfully one of them was Wainwright so that went down very well indeed with me. It was good to chat and head outside in the evening sky and really feel relaxed, and we both felt good to be able to wind down after a hard day of it. She told me how things were going for her at work and I listened and offered some practical suggestions, as it's often handy to be able to bounce ideas off each other. As you do of course.

Tune of the day just seems to suit my frame of mind at the moment, as it's one of The Icing's favourite songs ever - "Lola's Theme" by Shapeshifters. Sometimes it's nice to appreciate someone else's music taste and for her I know there's good reasons why she loves the song so much - not least the words. To be fair she loved the song before she met me and when a song like that stays with you, it's hard to ignore. It's like me and most Morrissey songs to be honest, so fair play to her. Of course it's an uplifting tune, the sort of thing it's hard not to like!

Monday 25th July - Progress

I seemed to make significant progress today when it came to packaging up some of the other applications in the Autodesk Building Design 2012 Suite. None of them appeared to be as tricky with user configuration as AutoCAD seemed to be, and the packaging of the deployment installer was exactly the same for other products, so it meant that it was easy to work out what to do with them all - always a good thing I reckon. It meant that during the morning I could package up Autodesk Inventor Professional 2012, test it and make sure it all played ball rather well - which it did. I just had to set one bit of registry which told it not to take part in some customer participation programme, and it didn't need anything else. Woohoo!

Flushed with success there, I then turned the attention to Autodesk Revit Architecture 2012, and again the deployment creation followed the same guidelines (the suite is consistent I'll give them that) and when I tested this one as a student it didn't need any configuration settings bringing down at all - it worked perfectly fine out of the box as it was. That felt rather good, and at the end of the day I'd packaged up Revit Structure 2012 and was installing it on to my test box to see what would happen. Hopefully it would mean that if I can get that working then all is well with the world there and I only possibly need to do 3ds Max Design 2012, which for some reason isn't in the bundle of discs I had. I've queried this with our supplier to find out why this is.

But nonetheless in between all that a fair few of our team were called upon as we were taking delivery of 150 monitors - they should have come with the PCs that we had delivered in January but there was no available cash to get them then - but there was some near the end of the financial year so it's been decided to get them now and make them look all new and smart. We ended up forming a chain line on the edge of Oxford Road as the main delivery entrance was being worked on - the pavement being replaced, so we used one of the other exit doors to get all the stuff in. Felt positively like I'd had a workout with all that carrying!

I spent some time tonight watching the cricket on Channel 5 - and with good reason. England played ever so well against India over the last four days and I tried to avoid seeing what the final score was before watching the highlights so I could watch it all unfold. At first I thought India might get away with a draw but gradually as the time ticked on the wickets fell and once the second new ball came in all the seam bowlers were accurate left right and centre and soon dispatched the Indian batsmen, bowling them out for 261! That of course was very good and a comprehensive England win all round.

Tune of the day is "Do Or Die" by The Human League, one of the less well known tracks from their "Dare" album mainly because it wasn't released as a single, but for me it sums up nicely their outlook back in 1981. I also liked it because it was covered in the 1980s by some famous Commodore 64 musicians, therefore giving it some extra kudos when I was younger. I love the synth lines and leads in this one, really does take me back to being a lot younger too. Excellent!

Sunday 24th July - A Walk In The Park

The Icing On My Cake and I had a leisurely and relaxing lie in this morning, and after the hard work we've been doing at work it was nice to just take it relatively easy and just not do anything but lie back and sleep for a fair while. I think the brain's been taken a lot of itself lately with work and a good recharge and rest was just the thing for me and for her too. It's also very nice just to wake up and find that someone you love is there next to you, it feels all warm and cosy and lovely. Suffice to say I would feel a lot more sad and lonely if that wasn't the case right now.

We had some late breakfast and decided that with the weather still being very nice it would be good to head out for the afternoon, and after some thought we plumped on Lyme Park for a nice walk around. The traffic was pretty busy once we got there and the car park was full to overflowing with some taking any vantage spot possible. Plenty of families and children were out, a lot of whom were checking out the new play area at Crow Wood, just up from the Timber Yard. I guess it made the place a lot more popular now and with a shop for them with the signs "parents allowed under child supervision" which we found nice, it was good to see so many families and kids out for the day.

We walked around the lake near the Timber Yard before heading on the fallow deer path around the back of the house and gardens. We didn't see any of the deer out but noticed as we reached the end of the path and back towards the house that there were a few cows around, some of which had left large cowpats on the path that we had to make sure we didn't walk into. We got back around and headed for the house courtyard to admire the view and noticed that there'd be a Beatrix Potter exhibition in the house in the Winter, so we might have to head back for that I reckon.

We then went around the Timber Yard for a water and a cake, and then walked back some more before heading back to The Icing's car, where we headed out of Lyme Park and then on to Marple, where the very nice Midland at Marple Bridge pub was waiting for us with a nice drink. It was nice to sit on the edge of the river and just have a nice chatter whilst I had a good pint of Young's too, all was very well with the world there I reckon. It was good too that the place still feels as good as ever, and certainly as we walked out later on we smelt how nice the food all was. Got to go back there soon I reckon.

The Icing left for home later and I spent some time watching the F1 highlights. And wow, what a race it was with Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton and Mark Webber scrapping almost all the way for the lead. Hamilton's pass around the outside of Alonso was something else and he deserved to win the race, and win well. Just a shame that Jenson Button's hydraulics failed just after he claimed 6th place, as he was going to catch both Massa and Vettel and possibly end up 4th, but still a good fight back nonetheless and he should take heart from that. In fact, make "The Chain" by Fleetwood Mac tune of the day - it is the F1 theme after all.

Saturday 23rd July - Rusholme Ruffians

Had a pretty good and relaxing day today, although by the end of it I have to say I was completely tired out and glad to be heading to bed, it has to be said. First thing first though was to have a little bit of a lie in after the night out last night, where Gary Numan was excellent and that my friend and I had a great time. I spent a bit of time this morning making sure that the house was tidy, I did food shopping in Tesco, and got some starter and dessert for tonight's meal, as well as then make sure that I packed the right lenses with me for my trip out this afternoon.

I headed out of the house and towards the Edinburgh Cycle Company on Wilmslow Road in Rusholme, where I was meeting up with a few of the Manchester Archives people along with some Flickr folks for a walk through the Curry Mile and onwards to the Mega Mela in Platt Fields Park. There were six of us in all as Flickrers, but it meant a nice cosy small group of us as we headed down past the many curry restaurants and shops. It took a little time to head down basically as we were getting several different shots of the area and making sure that it was representative too (I'll be placing these on Flickr over the next few days). One shot I loved was that the six of us were facing a shop window and we could see Wilmslow Road and ourselves in the reflections, and shooting away worked ever so well!

We then headed to Platt Fields Park and noticed that the fun fair next to the Mela had a ride called the Mach 1, where plenty of people were heading up in the air and swinging around at a rate of knots, some 40 metres up from the ground. It looked pretty scary and we all agreed that going on it might not be a wise move. We passed the funfair for now and headed to the main part of the park where the Mela was, and we noticed that the main stage had some form of world record attempt going on for the largest mass participation Bollywood dance. It looked pretty good from where I saw it, but they failed first time round and were allowed to go again. Second time around by all accounts they broke the record though!

We headed around the stalls and there were plenty of arts and crafts stalls, a tent with some religious nutter spouting something very odd which we thought "kind of out of place really" and many many clothing and food tents around all with tempting food to eat, as well as three ice cream vans with badly drawn Disney characters on the outside of them (and I mean very badly drawn) and lots of small stalls selling the Kulfi ice cream. As the weather was very warm, lots of those were getting plenty of attention as you can well imagine.

It seemed like a good crowd had come along, and we noticed back on the stage that a cringeworthy moment was about to happen, as the Lord Mayor and several other senior dignatries including Gerald Kaufman MP were attempting to dance Bollywood style. Believe me, some of the "dancing" that they got up to was like dad dancing, but only worse. If anyone remembers the Mary Whitehouse Experience sketch with Hugh Dennis as the embarassing dad, you've pretty much got it nailed there really. Fair play to them for being there and supporting it at least, and with the fair attracting lots of people (and money!) it was time for some liquid refreshment, so a pint at Hardy's Well was very well earned, let me tell you.

I walked back from there along Dickenson Road to Stockport Road and then caught the bus homewards, and timed it well so that The Icing On My Cake arrived a few minutes later. We had a nice cool drink and caught up with plenty of chatter about each other's day before I started to make the tea - first off some mushroom soup and crusty bread, followed by a tagliatelle carbonara with extra bacon lardons that just added some more meat to the whole dish, and then some New York cheesecake with cream for afters, which all went down very nicely indeed.

After us not winning on the lottery and with not much on the telly, we put on BBC iPlayer on the Wii and watched a couple of things on there. First off an old Top of the Pops from 1976 which had Candi Staton's "Young Hearts Run Free" on. It's still a disco classic now and as The Icing knows all the words to the song and has fond memories of dancing to it (she probably still would at a wedding I suspect!) then it's tune of the day all the way for me. In fact plenty of old classics were on there including The Real Thing's "You To Me Are Everything" as well as a very young Billy Ocean, the Sensational Alex Harvey Band, and Elton John with Kiki Dee. Not a bad line up all told then.

But what was a lovely surprise was that we watched the BBC Four documentary "The Art of Cornwall" and how the local artists of St Ives and the surrounding area became a magnet for some of the more modern contemporary artists to base themselves there and end up producing some stunning work that inspired future generations. The art professor who wrote and presented it was clearly passionate about the subject, and for us it was nice to see parts of St Ives, the Penwith peninsula and so on get a good airing, including the Levant Mine (been there) and also having 3 Daft Monkeys' "Dance of the Old Man of Storr" being played too (and the band knew about that so they were chuffed) so that clearly made my day too!

Friday 22nd July - Numan! Numan!

I had a half day in work today and eventually worked out how I was going to get the user settings for AutoCAD Architecture 2012 down to the user without errors. I knew that changing the user shell folders registry for the user would set the settings up, but that wasn't allowed, so I found a very nice little bit of scripting that Autodesk themselves released, mainly for people using Citrix terminal technology. However, it pretty much worked in a Windows 7 environment as well. There's one batch file which uses the script to copy the profile from the admin account to a folder and extracts all the registry out. Simples. Then there's a batch file which then does the same but copy the settings to the user's profile. It also copies the registry file to the local machine, changes the hard-coding (plenty of settings are hard-coded to the user account that's logged in) and then launches the application correctly.

I felt good as I knew I had a workaround that I could in theory apply to other Autodesk programs as well should I need to, so that felt pretty excellent all round. I also had one of our PC suppliers in carrying out some repairs to a netbook that I was waiting for them to sort, and they were pretty much there in what they needed to do, and so with a good day's work all pretty much done, it was time to leave, and so I headed off on the bus to my friend's house as we were spending the afternoon heading to York and seeing Gary Numan at the Barbican Centre, as you do.

I arrived and my friend and I tried out the vocal harmonies mode in Rock Band 3. Of course he has two Wii microphones which helps massively with this, and we were able to really do well David Bowie's Space Oddity, then we ramped it up and did Devo's "Whip It" on expert, and we nailed it 100% all of the way, which was rather impressive to say the least. We both did a great job and of course the chorus is where you can really rack up the points together, so we managed that nicely. It was good to have some fun like that and it gave me an idea for something in the future.

We set off on the M60 and M62 heading towards Leeds first, and then on to York. Along the M62 after around junction 25, heading to 27 (the M621 turn off for Leeds centre) the traffic crawled a fair bit, but I suspected that once we got past that we'd be okay, and that's how it was. Looking on the other side of the road the traffic was queueing as they were looking at two lanes of M621 heading out of Leeds joining in with the main flow, so that was a go slow too there. We soon headed up the M1, A1(M) and then along the A64 towards York, and turned off just after the race course for the A19 and right into the city centre, where the car park opposite the Barbican was waiting for us to park up at.

We had some time spare, so we went into the centre of York and I showed my friend a few places such as the city walls, the river, and the old Shambles before we decided that we needed feeding. We managed to find Pizza Hut close to where Clifford's Tower is, and as we'd not been there for ages, we decided to head there and have something. The menu had all changed, but seemed pretty good, with the incentive of free salad with any main. I went up and snagged some sweetcorn and couscous, which tasted pretty good, and we had some very nice pizza - the barbecue chicken one I had was spot on, with lots of bacon, chicken and sweetcorn and some delicious sauce. My friend had the profiteroles for dessert and I went to the ice cream factory like the big kid I am - well I am allowed!

We then headed around the back of Clifford's Tower and along the walls to the Barbican Centre, and in good time. The doors opened a little earlier and we went for a drink and chatted about how my friend first got into Gary Numan (picture discs were his thing and he bought one with Numan on and that was it) and before long we headed upstairs where our spaces were in the slips. They were to one side of the stage but it meant we had no one in the way of us and we were able to view the stage very nicely indeed, so that was good.

On came the support Luxury Stranger (official site) and they were very good. They reminded me a little of early 1980s bands a fair bit, and the most obvious comparison was The Cure, especially as their lead singer and guitarist was trying to look like Robert Smith of The Cure. They played a good set and went down pretty well with the crowd. I liked their new single, "Empty Men" and they generally played tight, efficient and the drummer was certainly powerful with his sound too. I liked what they do and will have to keep an eye out on what they get up to in the future.

At around 10.30pm, with other venues for the festival that this show was part of all finished and with fans heading to the Barbican, on came Gary Numan (official site). Of course seasoned Numan veterans such as me and my friend were more than pleased that he started off with "Down In The Park" and played quite a fair bit off his more recent darker Industrial albums such as the title track of "Pure", and also from that same album "Rip", which is possibly my favourite track on that album, so I was belting it out vocally as you'd expect. And "Haunted" from Jagged, which sounded positively and brilliantly dark - that I loved to bits.

We had "Cars" of course which had everyone going for it, and also as is the want a brilliant version of "Are Friends Electric" which piano intro and outro that just made it dark. The sound rig was spot on so even though it was very loud it sounded very clear as well - kudos to them for that. And "Metal" benefitted massively from that so all was well with the world there I reckon. But best of all was "I Die You Die" during the encore, that sounded positively spot on with tight punchy synths and drums and more rocking out for all concerned. Tune of the day no question. It got to around midnight when the show finished so got a good set all round, hurrah! We headed home and the traffic was non-existent so it was a tired but happy me that went to bed at 1.30am.

Thursday 21st July - Vinyl Revival

Got a bit further today with AutoCAD Architecture 2012. What I ended up doing was setting up a task sequence which delivered all the pre-requisites required and then went on to install AutoCAD, and that initially didn't work. Then I realised my error. In the deployment guide it actually tells you to use the root of your deployment folder for ConfigMgr, and then your command line is AdminImage\Setup.exe plus whatever parameters you need for the customisation .ini file afterwards. Of course I'd set the package to use the AdminImage as root. Once I sorted that out and tried the reinstall, it worked without any problems. So that's good.

What's not so good however is the fact that when the user first runs the program, the MSI kicks in and sets up the settings for the program for each user. It turns out it adds some 24MB of settings and registry to the user's profile, and then launches the program. Obviously second time around it doesn't need to do that but it's something to bear in mind. Thing is though when you log in as a student user, and folder redirection is switched on, then it's a case of the program not liking the folder redirection and going into a bit of a strop to say the least. Hmm... need to work on that one.

I arrived home and had a bit of time to myself to rock out with Rock Band 3 on the Wii. I had played online with my friend last night and had a good time of it all, and so wanted to try a few different songs to see how well I could nail them. I did very well in Blondie's "Heart of Glass" and that despite the high pitched notes too, so that was all good. I also was pretty pleased that I managed nicely in a couple of other songs, such as INXS' "Need You Tonight", which isn't as easy to sing as you think it is!

The Icing On My Cake came over later and I made us some lovely sirloin steak with chips and peas for tea, which went down very nicely indeed. She was pleased that I'd made something nice for her and we snuggled up whilst she watched Emmerdale and Coronation Street. I knew that something was going on with Ken Barlow and the grandson James who was being a theiving little git, and once Ken had him sussed I knew that the fireworks were going to go off and it was mass kick off time. I smiled as I revealed after the show had finished that I actually had read up on it so knew what was going to happen, haha!

We then had a game of Scrabble, highlighted by my seven letter move of STAMINA (blank used as I, word on double word score), which also made OILS and scored 72 points overall, so was very pleased with that. Whilst that was on I played some classic vinyl, including side one of Roxy Music's "For Your Pleasure" album which sounded ace, and then a bit later on the Best of Blondie LP. Of course "Heart of Glass" was on there too so I enjoyed that second time around - so tune of the day that one most definitely is.

Wednesday 20th July - Surprise Surprise

Went into work today full of confidence and by the end of it felt a bit brain dead. I had started on packaging up the first of the main Autodesk Building Design suite, namely AutoCAD Architecture 2012. I had followed their deployment procedure and created an install, and set this up in ConfigMgr to be sure that the deployment install would work. I tried it out, and it failed. Every time. It wasn't looking good. Then I noticed at the root of the install folder there was a shortcut that would install it for the user, so I tried that - and noticed something. It installs the full .NET Framework 4.0, Faro LS (whatever that is) and even Direct X (even though technically it doesn't need it) before installing the software. Hmm... I think I know how to sort that out!

Anyway, as I'd battled with that I completely lost track of time and then I realised that it was 5.30pm, way past my normal finishing time at work. As you can well imagine I thought to myself "hmm.. need to get away from here" and stumbled upon a brainwave along the way. I knew that The Icing On My Cake was due to finish work herself shortly, so why not walk up and meet her? And that is exactly what I decided. I headed up to her workplace and just hoped that she hadn't left early, and as I got to her office a friendly face smiled at me and was quite surprised. Well that was the plan!

She had driven in to work today because of having to attend a meeting on the other side of the city earlier in the day, so originally the plan was to go for a drink near the city centre. But then I thought "let's have some tea together!" and so I suggested somewhere to go, and I'd treat her, and she was more than happy to take us there. So off we went out of the city and to the Elizabethan in Heaton Moor. We love it there, the food is good and the atmosphere is lovely. Plus they also do this ale called The Governor, which has been brewed in association with Marco Pierre-White no less. Woohoo!

We got ourselves a table and both decided on the fish and chips, and my was it rather good! The way it was served was something too - the fish, chips and peas were on a greaseproof paper sheet which on the other side had mock newspaper headlines, so mimicking how a lot of takeaways used to serve the dish. The paper was wrapped neatly and all placed on the plate so to appeal massively. Let me tell you - it did. We both rather enjoyed that and it was good to take some time out together, enjoy our company and have a good meal too at not an expensive price. Everyone wins!

I got home later on and settled in to watch the Ian Botham documentary about the 1981 Ashes series and the background behind it. It was good to see a few people who know their cricket have their say. Of course Stephen Fry was going to be involved but it was actually really good to hear from the former Prime Minister John Major, who is a self-confessed cricket nut. He was the one to remark that the Lord's execs who gave him the stony silence after Botham's failure in the Second Test made sure that Botham would never acknowledge them again because of the way he was treated, and how they according to Major "were a vicious bunch". Of course it's then great to see Botham smash the ball at Headingley for 149 not out, how Mike Brearley as captain was clever psychologically and got Bob Willis angry and fired up for his epic bowling spell, and how indeed that Botham became the hero once more. Brilliant stuff. Tune of the day comes from that documentary and was also used in the trailer for it. No less than Blondie's "Atomic" in fact.

Tuesday 19th July - Twenty Two

I had a package that I'd been waiting for - and one that I knew we'd have to deal with when we got it. It was Autodesk Building Design 2012 suite, and what a sizeable suite it is too. I wondered why the package was so large and then when I saw the container for all the discs, I could understand why. The suite comprises various pieces of software in both 32-bit and 64-bit form and comes with all the necessary tools and more to design everything (and even invent stuff along the way). The cost of this to you the dear adminstrator? A massive 22 (yes you heard me right, twenty two) discs of stuff. And not just CDs either. Yes, DVDs. Ouch. I'm going to have a lot of fun with that I reckon.

I spent a fair bit of time in the afternoon sorting out the last bits from the room I was spending time imaging in. It worked pretty well in the end once I worked out that if you rename a workstation, you want the configuration manager heartbeat to catch it before the active directory heartbeat kicks in, and registers it incorrectly. So I ended up removing the workstations from ConfigMgr and then manually running a data discovery collection cycle and then restarting the PCs in question, and this actually worked, putting them all in with the right names, so that was something to behold at least.

After I got home my auntie came over to see me. She had arranged with me to pop over as she wanted to do an up to date CV as she was applying for another job and they wanted to have a look at one. She had brought over all her exam certificates so we could cover that on the CV and went through the job history to make sure it was all covered. In the end it was pretty good how it turned out and I think that she was most pleased with the result, as was I. We had a good chat about other things too and I showed her the film camera pictures from my niece's birthday do, and they came out well she said. It was nice to help out and I know that she appreciated it massively, so fingers crossed she gets the job now.

During this time I had a knock on the door with the doorbell also going, and it was a very nice person from the Home Delivery Network with a package from Clarks Shoes for me - it was the shoes I ordered on Saturday. That pleased me no end as I'd specifically said on the delivery instructions to try and deliver between 5 and 7pm if possible, and they did. And I was most happy with what I'd ordered - they looked exactly right and when tried on they felt right too. I'm going to feel pretty good in them heading around the Cote d'Azur I reckon and am saving them till then.

It's kind of given me a reminder that I need to sit down at some point and update my CV accordingly. Of course when you go on lots of courses that are organised by internal trainers, it's not always that easy to be able to remember them all so I have noted down the majority of the ones that I've been sent on. And of course like you should, I've kept all my examination certificates as well including my PRINCE2 practitioner ones, which I am the most proud of to be honest. So maybe it's time I got off my backside myself and got it done? After all you never know what the job market would bring and it's always good to be ready I suppose.

The Strings On My Guitar came over later and whilst she was having a well earned shower I was making us a very nice chorizo sausage pasta bake, which is one of my little specialities and I've got it mastered. I tried it tonight with penne pasta for a change and that worked out nicely, so I might do that again instead of using fusilli, always good to change things around I suppose. We had a good chat and catch up whilst tea was being finished off and we sat together and ate, making sure that she could face the telly to watch Emmerdale on ITV1 +1 (cos I'm like that). We caught up on the predictions on the Everybody Votes channel on the Wii and all that jazz too.

We had a good game of Scrabble afterwards and I played some vinyl - first off Fleetwood Mac's "Rumours" album which always stands the test of time and it's something that The Strings likes too. I even tried something different for her and put on side one of Frank Zappa's legendary "Hot Rats" album. I think it's his finest solo work, and the vinyl version just sounds right compared to the CD, especially as Zappa remixed it for CD release, always a bone of contention amongst fans. Out of side one, I have to say I like "Son of Mr. Green Genes" the most, just the way it builds up, so tune of the day right there for pure ballsy effort.

Monday 18th July - Back and Forward

It was a day where I ended up going back and forward between the building I'm currently working in and the building that we were imaging some student PCs with Windows 7 plus some additional applications. One of my colleagues had got in early and set it all off nicely, and seemed to bring down the main applications no problem, but then when it came to the additional applications, it was a bit of a no-no all round really. Mainly because the application installers had to download from the distribution point to the machine first, and then from there be able to install the application. What normally happened was that the hash values would clash even though the application was fine, and be affected more so by the downloading of the installation files.

In the end, we decided to do what needed to be done - and that was in effect run two task sequences. The first one would just bring down the core operating system build and any of the main applications already on there. Then when the machine was restarted and any conflicting records resolved, it would then be a case of running a second task sequence which would install the software that was needed. In the case of the machines I was working on, it would be Adobe Design Standard CS5, Corel Draw X5 and Adobe Acrobat Pro 9. In terms of the software installations it worked pretty well all round really.

That took up most of the day as I was having to head between the office and the room, and in the rain it wasn't a pretty sight. I was just glad that I had my coat with a rain hood on but even so walking between the two I felt a little like The Great Cornholio, needing to get to another location quickly before I looked too daft with the hood on. It was good to see though that I wasn't the only one having potential issues with this and in the end it meant I didn't feel so alone. And on top of that I had a member of academic staff being very demanding and wanting everything done now. As if I've not got enough to do already..

Anyway, moan over. I had a bit of fun and games in the evening as I wanted to try something out. Back in the day one of the first Commodore 64 games I used to play was Tales of the Arabian Nights, and what enticed me was that it had plenty of speech which told the story of the game between levels. Of course the game was so hard that getting anywhere beyond level two or three was something of an achievement so I never got to hear all the speech really. But I wanted to see if I could extract it and play it for SID emulators and indeed for the real thing - and because one of my friends that I spend weekends with occasionally along with two others is a big fan of the game and its speech, he always impersonates it when we meet up.

I soon discovered that the speech routine was pretty intricate - easy to access, but it basically worked on putting together a series of phonetics to make a word, and it read a certain part of the game's code which had the phonetics in and used those to do various bits of the speech together. In essence having lots of small snythesised samples of phonetics means you have more room to make more complex phrases, and in fact there's ten of them - one to announce the game and who it's by, one for each of the eight levels and one for the end screen too. Got all that sorted and eventually all playing, and felt rather pleased all round.

Tune of the day in the meantime though is the rather apt "What's Going On?" by Senser. It may not have been released as a single but like the majority of the "Stacked Up" album it just has that feeling of rocking at 100mph with plenty of intensity both in the lyrics and playing. Now it stands the test of time rather well and proves just how impressive it was back in 1994. The chorus yells "What's going on..." and then swears at you with "what the f..." and that was kind of me today when things weren't going according to plan.

Sunday 17th July - Rain Out

After a nice relaxing morning with some lovely breakfast and with the Open Golf in full flow, having seen Sergio Garcia sink an absolute monster of a putt for a birdie on the 4th hole, The Sunshine In My Sky and I headed out around lunchtime to the city centre. We both wanted to do some shopping to get some clothes and bits for our holiday and as we'd been paid on Friday we thought it might be a good time to do so whilst we've got some money to be able to do so. The rain was trying to lash it down but we left her place with just enough time to get to the bus stop before the next lot of rain came in.

We first headed to Boots to get a couple of bits and then it was on to Debenhams. I did see a couple of shirts that I liked but baulked at the price being close to £40 as you'd expect, so wasn't going to bother there but bide my time instead. The Sunshine saw a couple of nice items but again they weren't quite jumping out at her, so we waited too. It was then a little walk down Market Street to TK Maxx and down to the men's section which for some reason seems way more organised than the women's wear is - you can actually find stuff, in the right size, and in the right section. As The Sunshine says to me the women's wear is often resembling a jumble sale at times!

Anyway down I went and I spotted one very nice shirt in my size, and The Sunshine said to hang on to it. Then I saw another in the clearance section that also met with her approval, and so decided that getting both would be a rather good thing to do all round. One is a green and grey check Pierre Cardin number, and that was £14.99, the other a Lee Cooper red and white check one, and that was £12. No complaints there at all, and I've felt like I've got my outfits well and truly sorted out now. We headed from there to Peacocks and The Sunshine got a nice pair of jeans and also this rather neat bag for carrying her holiday stuff in (the hand luggage and also for general days out) and that was a mere £6.50. She loved the bow on top I reckon.

And more was to come. I was having a look in Waterstones to see if I could spot some travel guides for our holiday destination, and whilst I was doing that she was doing rather well in New Look next door and got a very nice top with slits in the arms and a nice purple colour. and nice Summer dress as well with some nice print and sparkly bits all in one, and that was a mere £18 for the two of them. So she had spent wisely and got some nice items. She texted me later when she got home tonight and said that they all fit lovely, especially the jeans, so that was rather good to know.

From there we walked around to Next, where nothing jumped out at us, and then Marks and Spencer, where to be honest the men's sale items weren't that good. One pair of trousers I thought would be nice for heading out in, but did they have my size? That's a no then. Ah well. With the rain driving hard we headed out past Albert Square and on to Table Table near St Peter's Square as we were meeting up with some friends for a meal later. We'd got there early so had a nice drink (and that meant Hobgoblin on cask for me - hurrah to that!) and they had the telly on so I could keep my eye on the golf. Dustin Johnson had hit out of bounds on the 14th and that pretty much gave Darren Clarke victory - and well deserved too.

It was good to see our friends and we had plenty of chat and a lovely meal too. The staff in Table Table were their usual wonderful selves and looked after us well (we're almost regulars now I guess) and the food was spot on. I had the breaded mushrooms to start and they were ace, and the main of the hand battered fish was really lovely and soft, melt in the mouth all round. I even tried the orange and ginger torte for dessert and that really did melt nicely in the mouth. In fact everyone's meal was good and it was good to catch up with everyone and chatter too. Of course me and my friend are off to see a gig soon so we were excited about that - and also decided when we see Henry Rollins next year we'll go to Table Table first to munch. Good idea I thought.

The rain was still lashing it down as we all headed home, and although it was sad to say goodbye to The Sunshine In My Sky, I knew we'd had a lovely weekend together and that was the important thing. Tune of the day in the meantime is Paul Weller's version of "Thinking of You", as of all places Peacocks were playing it over their sound system whilst we were in there earlier. I pointed this out to The Sunshine and I think we were both impressed that they were playing decent music and not supermarket versions of famous songs. Hurrah to that!

Saturday 16th July - Steak In

I had a rare lie in this morning. I felt that I deserved it after a hard week at work and also because I wanted to take things relatively easy before spending most of the weekend with The Sunshine In My Sky. It was nice just to potter around the house a little bit when I did wake up, and pack up an overnight back as I was staying at The Sunshine's place, which was a nice change to do. Just as I got on the bus to head to the city centre the rain started to absolutely lash it down, and I was glad I was undercover and not getting soaked. The shower just about stopped by the time I got to Piccadilly and it was straight on the bus to The Sunshine's place.

I arrived unscathed with the weather and once I'd unloaded my overnight bag, we went over to see The Sunshine's Mum and Dad for the afternoon. It was good to see them both and her father wanted me to check something over on his PC - for some reason Internet Explorer was taking an age to start up. I soon discovered this was due to far too many Temporary Internet Files that needed clearing off, so I did that and it started up much quicker (which was good). I then of course set it so that it would periodically delete that history so that it wasn't as clogged up, and once I rearranged the start menu back the way he wanted it, he was a happy man.

After a cuppa and a good chat with everyone, including The Sunshine's sister and niece who'd also come over, we then headed firstly to the Currrys Electrical Clearance outlet on Great Ancoats Street, where clearance PCs tempted me but I was good and resisted. I mainly wanted to look at any camera lenses and laptops that might have been on offer for cheaper, and then after that it was off to Morrisons to get some steak that we were going to have for tea. We also got some nice little potato skins to start as well so that was all good, and once we arrived back at her place I relaxed and watched some of the Open golf and we also looked at a few things on the PC.

In fact, I did even order something online whilst being on the PC - some new casual stroke walking shoes for when we go away. I saw a nice pair in Clarks online that were half price, and as I've got a pair of their shoes for work I know how comfortable they are on and how well they fit me. Plus as well they would also go for a more relaxed look when I was away. It's this pair - the Mode Season in black and grey. They had my size and I thought to myself "well I've been paid so why not then?". They were a good price too really so no complaints from me.

The Sunshine had made some lovely food for tea though and it was nice for me to enjoy her culinary skills - she's tons better than me anyway. The potato skins were lovely, and we had the steak with diane sauce, some lovely roasted potatoes and carrots and with some mushrooms too - all gorgeous. Not just that either but she'd also made me some of her gorgeous lemon cheesecake that I absolutely adore - that and some cream with a coffee whilst watching the lottery quiz show was nothing short of heavenly, let me tell you.

After us not winning on the lottery yet again, we settled in for the evening and had a game of Scrabble together. We put on Swing Out Sister's debut album and that served as nice background music for us as we played. I ended up using the Q a mere four times in different moves, firstly playing QUEEN on double word (blank as N) for 26, then playing QUA down the left hand side for 13, then EQUAL (E on the very top left) for triple word and 42 points, and then EQUALITY so that the Y was on the other triple word for 60 points. Neato use of the letter, I thought to myself.

We then watched a fascinating programme on BBC Four about how some pieces of music end up becoming anthemic, followed by a look back at Top of the Pops appearances between 1964 and 1975. There was some good stuff on there especially when seeing some of the old acts in black and white. I asked The Sunshine who was Dave Clark in the Dave Clark Five and naturally most people don't go for the drummer, who actually is Dave Clark. Some classic appearances though such as T Rex's "Get It On" with Elton John on the piano, or Rod Stewart's "Maggie May" with no less than John Peel on the mandolin (apparently he was asked by Rod to be on there!)

However, there were three highlights for me - Queen being on with "Killer Queen" as it was the first real sign you had of just how big the band were going to be, and still one of my favourite Queen songs ever simply because it was a a great pop song with intelligent lyrics (tune of the day for that reason) and without saying David Bowie's "Starman" complete with him and Mick Ronson in full 70s glam style really showing the kids how it was done back in the day, and also - and you may be surprised at this - The Osmonds doing "Crazy Horses", one of the first real green anthems. Simply also because they rocked out and proved they were much more than a teenybopper band. It gave them tons of credibility.

Friday 15th July - Going Old School

I had a productive day today as after our team meeting over Microsoft Lync (which we're getting used to now) I have made good progress and got all the initial campus site applications running correctly with their shortcuts doing what they need to do. I've brought down the registry, files that are needed and a shortcut which we're putting in a folder in the start menu called Campus Applications, so it's easier for people to find where stuff is. The good thing is that because I've previously done similar things in Novell Zenworks to get all the right information added for the user when the application launches, I could simply use the same files and registry to create the same effect. Hurrah to that!

I spent the afternoon running around between three of the sites, firstly I had to head up to the server room which is currently not the most accessible because the building is being renovated, so had to be careful up there and get all the backup tapes changed over. It was then to another building as I was doing a test run on the workstation image in one of the rooms to see how it would all work. Thankfully it was going well but then failed when installing one application but I knew which one that was, so at least if I needed to I could then reinstall it later on with minimum fuss. I also spent some time also doing yet more testing.

Once I'd done the food shopping down at the local Tesco, I headed home and made myself some tea before settling in to watch The Open golf from Sandwich. It looked a very pretty seaside course but of course that meant that the wind could and did make things tricky. Right up to the end of transmission it was unsure where the cut would be placed at but you could see how tightly bunched everyone is - those who did make the cut are only a mere seven shots off the lead, and you can easily make that up on a course like this if you keep your cool and everyone else makes mistakes (which does happen let me tell you).

I then went a little bit old school for the hell of it later on. Back in the day I used to be able to extract music from Commodore 64 games and play them either on the 64 itself or be able to play them in your local friendly SID chip emulator. I'd been trying out some old retro games just to see how much fun they still were and one of them, WitchSwitch, released back in 1984, showed how much stuff has progressed. The game is okay but very frustrating to play, but the music for back then wasn't too bad, and it was a case of working out how to extract it as a standalone file to play. It was a good challenge and in the end I worked out not only how the player worked but where it was getting its data from and how to initialise each tune (the important bit) and once done, it all came nicely together.

Tune of the day though is also going old school. I watched the highlights coverage of the golf later so that I could see anything that I missed whilst at work, and of course in true tradition these days, the original classic theme tune has been remixed. Bah. Bring back the original, as it was a classic piece of 1970s theme music that still for me whenever I hear it says "yes, golf on the telly". So Brian Bennett, take a bow. Not only did he do the rugby theme of choice but then came up with "Chaseside Shootup" which is the golf theme - it just works. Amazing that the drummer from the Shadows would go on to write such iconic theme music. He even had a hand in the New Tricks theme before Dennis Waterman wanted to star in it, write the theme tune, sing the theme tune... (well okay he didn't write the theme tune!)

Thursday 14th July - Vive La Policy Revolution

I had an all round good and positive day in the office, as I made some really nice discoveries to do with Group Policy Management and how we'll be deploying it for Windows 7. In essence you can bring down files and registry settings for the user policy so that when the user logs in, there'll be the necessary settings that you need for the corresponding program. Ideally of course you want to only have the settings for the applications that are present on the PC itself, so if you have a shed load of settings for Google SketchUp Pro, and the application doesn't exist, you don't want any of that.

Here's then when item-level targeting comes in, which you can do for application shortcuts and files. In effect you put this in as a rule so that the executable file to run the program has to exist, and the machine name is one of a group of machines that you'd expect it to be. Do this, and on a PC that doesn't have the application the shortcut doesn't exist and no settings are brought down. However we wasn't sure how this would work with registry but I found out something good to do with that.

In effect if you have a swathe of registry settings for the application, simply import them into your machine that you're doing Group Policy editing on, and then use the registry settings wizard to browse to the section of the registry you want. However, you need to tick every entry you want to add - thoroughly annoying that. Once done, the registry wizard creates a "collection item" folder, which you can rename to something sensible (for example Google SketchUp Pro). Then if you right click the folder, you can then do item level targeting and say to only apply that group of settings if the executable exists. And in testing - it worked! No registry present if the file wasn't there, and on PCs it was there on, it all came down wonderfully well. Just like I want.

I headed home after finishing a little late as I wanted to nail the settings for one application in particular, and once that was done it was a quick tidy up around the house as The Love In My Heart was coming over straight from work for tea and a relaxing evening. She had had to drive one of the family to hospital this morning before heading to work, so she had the car with her and figured it was easier to come straight over. Not that you'll see me complain about that - always good to have some more quality time together. I made us some lovely free range chicken with charlotte potatoes and vegetables whilst she was relaxing watching Emmerdale, as is her wish.

As we were having the tea, BBC Four had an old Top of the Pops from 1976 on, and very entertaining it was too. Plenty of old songs and the fact that the presenter rejoiced when the Wurzels weren't number one made me smile massively. What was number one though was a classic disco number that The Love likes, and even knows the words to as well, so had to be tune of the day - namely "You To Me Are Everything" by The Real Thing. It's the sweetest song that she can sing, oh baby....

Wednesday 13th July - Packaging

I spent a fair bit of today packaging up some applications for use with Configuration Manager, which thankfully was less painful than I thought it would be. First up was Corel Draw X5 which I had to repackage from scratch - the reason being that Service Pack 3 is out for it and whenever you launched the application, once you exited it a nice big reminder would ask you to update it. So I ended up recreating the adminsitrative install package that Corel themselves give you an option to do, and integrated all the service packs into it, and then made sure that the package had the right install parameters, tested it on my Windows 7 rig, and I was good to go on that one.

Next up was Google SketchUp Pro 8. I had the download link and the licence information emailed to me today, and so I set about packaging the install, which was actually really easy. Google supply an MSI installer for you to do the job, and so all I needed to do was edit it very slightly with Orca so that the desktop shortcuts weren't created, and then made sure that when you did the install, you made sure that the option to install the Google toolbar was turned off, and rightly so of course. That done, it was then a case of setting up the application so that I entered the licence information and put the licence file on a pre-agreed destination that students could read the file from. Once that was all done and dusted, it meant that when it ran, it went to the licence server and that made life easier all round.

Flushed with success, I headed off to my friend's place as he wanted me to look over a couple of forms he needed to fill out, and it would be good to chat to him anyway. As I got there he had a David Bowie live CD playing at full pelt, and "The Jean Genie" sounded especially good, so tune of the day right there for me. I had a good chat about the forthcoming gigs that we were planning to head to, and on top of that I also chatted about the football and how we were both looking forward to the new season. My friend's wife headed out for a walk (she's been doing a lot of that lately) which meant we could chatter and have a brew and speak even more footy, as you do.

It was good to see them both as ever, and I did a bit of window shopping at Clarks as I'd spotted some possible comfy semi-casual shoes for my forthcoming holiday. There's a really nice pair for half price and it meant that instead of having to possibly go to the shop itself and find that it wasn't there, I could see what they looked like online and if I wanted them. I mailed them to The Love In My Heart and she actually liked one of the pairs too, so I might have to look at ordering them for collection in the local branch - I could have them posted to me but of course there's always the risk of them being delivered when I'm not in - and I don't fancy a trip over to Trafford Park to snag them!

Tuesday 12th July - Sportsfest

After a hard day at work, and with The Love In My Heart having a well earned rest for the evening which I suggested that she do as she's had a tough few days herself, I decided it would be nice to settle in and watch some sport DVDs that I've not managed to get round to watching yet. So with tea consumed and a nice cup of coffee in hand, it was time to kick back, put the surround rig on and then was able to put on the first DVD, and what a one to start with, I said to myself.

I put on the Manchester City 2010-11 season review DVD. Of course being a season ticket holder and seeing all the home games first hand really did make me remember all the good moments that my friend and I had over the course of the season. It also showed too just how the team developed, as a team, too - and how the end of season run apart from the odd defeat or two was pretty impressive with five wins out of the last six league games, including some corking goals. Of course the FA Cup run was a wonderful thing and one that I really enjoyed seeing again, but the league games against Tottenham at home, Chelski at home etc were all really good to see.

I then put on the last half hour or so of the Bathurst 2007 DVD, which has three hours or so of highlights from the world famous Mount Panorama circuit. At times the track goes up the mountain it's a mere 1 in 6 hill, which is pretty steep to say the least. Add some light rain falling and cars on slick tyres and you've got a real test of skill with 15 or so laps to go. Unsurprisingly a few went off at the same place, the safety car came out, bunched the leaders up and then it was literally all the drivers going for it towards the end with some really good racing. It's unbelieveable to see again and makes me want to head to Australia to see the race for myself one day.

I then changed discs and went for the last 40 laps of the Bathurst 2010 DVD and that was no less dramatic either, with lots of lead changes and battles and with one safety car near the end bringing the pack together, and Craig Lowndes held off his team mate Jamie Whincup to claim his fifth title and his driving partner Mark Skaife's sixth win. Under the rules in 2010 you couldn't partner up with your regular team mate and so had to pick someone else. As Skaife had retired and become a commentator on the V8 Supercar series, he still had enough knowhow to drive well and it was a cracking effort from all concerned. Good fun too.

Tune of the day is "Ivory Tower" by Giorgio Moroder from The Neverending Story soundtrack, as it used to feature on BBC's F1 coverage when the grid was introduced with the godlike genius of Murray Walker introducing the pole position as normally Ayrton Senna as it was back in the day. It was good to hear Murray do his thing back in the day and when he was there in the commentary box observing Martin Brundle and David Coulthard commentate, the fact that Murray stepped in at the end and took us on a hot lap was just awesome, completely ace.

Monday 11th July - Humid Imaging

It seemed to be really humid for most of today with the threat of rain seemingly not being present, so that meant a fairly warm journey home on the bus which for some inexplicable reason decided to have its heating on full blast. No wonder people were getting off as soon as they could really! It was also a fairly warm day at work as I spent a bit of time trying to sort out two of our multifunction printers before realising one of them had a severe jam that I needed to call our print partner out to. It was rather warm in the room where the printer is though and so that didn't help either!

Myself and my colleagues also spent today using multicasting with Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager to get an IT Zone of around 90 PCs done. After a few aborted attempts due to a misconfiguration centrally we managed to get them all going, and out of them all, we initially had seven failures. We did them again and it went down to four, so something was going awry with them somewhere. Not sure what exactly but if we get down to one or two we may end up unicasting them individually (always an option anyway) and seeing what happens there.

I headed home and spent some time checking over the pictures I took around the Northern Quarter on Saturday (the ones from Ancoats are now up on Flickr too as you may have seen from the home page) - some of them look pretty good when going all urban and gritty in black and white, so I've made sure they look the part for when I put them up later on in the week. I also made sure that I claimed the money earned back on topping up with my O2 mobile - the plan being is that I'm going to save this up for a bigger reward at some point.

Tune of the day is the excellent "Let's Move To The Country" by Joey Ryan, which makes me think of how nice it would be sometimes to leave all the urban life behind and instead head to the countryside and spend the most of my free time there - not having to worry too much but instead see the commute as a trip homewards to somewhere completely free of everything you don't need. "Darling come with me", says Joey, "we've got everything we need as we leave this life behind" and maybe that's why the likes of Escape to the Country on BBC2 prove to be so popular I wonder?

Sunday 10th July - Car Boots and Birthday Books

The Love In My Heart and I got up really early - well for a Sunday anyway, as I wanted to head to a couple of car boot sales. I'd not been for ages and I fancied a trip out there to see if I could find any vinyl but also to generally have a look around. The Love gave up her lie in to come with me (thank you!) and so we soon headed out of Manchester and first off towards Holly Lane in Styal for their car boot. It was £1 to park, which wasn't too bad I guess, and soon I was spending time heading around the stalls there. It was tricky to decide whether to get anything, but there were plenty of stalls around that had lots of good stuff.

It was then out from there via Wilmslow and then Knutsford to Chelford (sort of forgot the way, but remembered on the way back what the easy way was) where there's a pretty large car boot in someone's farm. It's a massive £2.50 admission per car though, so it might be worth getting four or five of you in there to make life easier. It is massive though in terms of size and stalls, and bumped into my brother and his girlfriend whilst we were there. Nothing took my fancy but there were plenty of old games consles and games if I wanted them - even an old Sega 8-bit Master System and a couple of Megadrives if I wanted to satisfy my retro fix.

We headed back via the Alderley Edge bypass and around Wilmslow and got home in next to no time, and The Love went back for a well earned sleep whilst I stayed up and watched the British Grand Prix on BBC1HD. Amazingly, Sebastian Vettel didn't win, but he did finish second to Fernando Alonso, who took full advantage of a Red Bull pit stop disaster and won on merit by pure speed. Vettel had Mark Webber all over the back of him in the closing stages before being told to back off by his team, something which Mark didn't like at all. Lewis Hamilton ended up scrapping with Felipe Massa on the last two corners to just hold on to fourth by two hundredths of a second.

Later that afternoon we headed to see my uncle as it was his birthday today. He liked the Man City DVD and the mug we got him, but I knew that the present he'd like the most was the one we gave him last. I made a photo book online as I had some vouchers for Photobox, and this meant that I could upload several pictures from the FA Cup semi final that we went to and put them all together in a book. It worked pretty well and he was very happy with the results, so much so that he was going to take it to work tomorrow to show everyone. Plenty of the family was there and we had a coffee and chat and the afternoon soon went by!

I made myself and The Love some tea later before she headed home to get everything sorted for work tomorrow and to get a nice night's sleep, and that left me to watch Top Gear on BBC2 afterwards. Sebastian Vettel was on and he came across really well, and even beat Rubens Barichello's time on the F1 Star in a Reasonably Priced Car section, which was impressive to say the least. I quite liked their idea of seeing how much the £6995 of a new car would get you second hand and they were able to find some good bargains as well. Excellent!

Tune of the day in the meantime is "The Big Battle" by Lalo Schifrin from the Enter The Dragon soundtrack. As a piece of soundtrack it's utterly superb and really does capture the mood superbly when all hell breaks loose on Han's Island as Bruce Lee and friends decide to hit back, notably after he manages to escape his shackles and prove that he is the man after all. It also shows that with the right music, a film can aspire to be greater than the individual parts when working as a whole sum.

Saturday 9th July - Every Day Is Like Sundae

I had a pretty good day all round today. First of all, I headed into the city centre as I was going to the Bridgewater Hall to get some tickets for myself and my friend to see Henry Rollins do his spoken word thing. It's not till 12th January next year, but I wanted to be close to the front and so my friend and I would be able to enjoy the show when we do go. The staff in there are really nice and friendly and so makes life much easier. Once done, it was then back down Mosley Street past the crowds who were getting on the tram to the cricket at Old Trafford, and along towards Oldham Street.

I decided to have a coffee in the Mcr Coffee Co on Oldham Street before taking a walk around the Northern Quarter with my camera, and it proved to be a good move all round. The rain started to hammer it down for a small shower and I was having a nice coffee whilst all that went on. The rain stopped as I finished, and was then able to have a walk around some of the streets and take some more gritty urban shots which sometimes I like to do. It's amazing even though there's still development going on just how a lot of the old buildings have retained their character too.

It was then off down Great Ancoats Street and to the New Islington development close to the Ashton Canal to see the Gelato in July ice cream festival close to the canalside. In effect it's a celebration of Italians in Ancoats and also so that you could have some nice ice cream in nice weather. The sun came out and as well as the vans of ice cream there were plenty of stalls selling all sorts from cakes on a stick to hand made fascinators, either for retro or burlesque use that looked pretty cool. There was also a small exhibition which featured an old ice cream cart, stuff like that. It wasn't too bad really, and crowds were heading there for ice cream. Best of all the van I had a lovely strawberries and cream ice cream from was the Everyday Is Like Sundae van - what a great name. In honour, Morrissey's song "Every Day Is Like Sunday" is tune of the day.

I headed back into the centre of Manchester, and spotted no less than Johnny Marr outside the Dry Bar, seemingly doing an interview for the Manchester International Festival. I didn't want to be really geeky and ask for his autograph or picture, but he looked the epitomy of cool nonetheless. It made the day complete for being a good one thus far and I headed home for the afternoon so I could peruse the pictures I'd taken and also to finish off fixing the laptop I was working on last night, which went ever so well.

Later on The Love In My Heart arrived and we went for a lovely walk - the four miles down the Fallowfield Cycle Loop line all the way to Chorlton. And of course the Metrolink is now open, so at St Werburgh's Road we had to make sure that we crossed the tram lines safely before heading over to The Bar for a well earned drink and a raid of the jukebox. I had a pint of the rather nice Ginger Marble beer and that definitely went down well indeed. The weather was still nice and we noticed how many people were now using the trams and how convenient it proved to be for them.

We headed back home later on the bus and I cracked on with the tea - I did three courses again! It was a nice mushroom soup to start with some crusty granary bread, followed by some rump steak with chips and peas for main, with a really nice big piece of rump each. The tiramisu for dessert we had with a coffee from the cafitiere too so that worked out pretty nicely. We even had a game of Scrabble and I managed to make CURATES (also making HUGS with the blank used as an S) for 77 points, so that worked out pretty nicely indeed. The day went far too quickly before it was time to snuggle up. Awww.

Friday 8th July - That Friday Feeling

Another day, another set of meetings. I'm getting to the point now where I just want to get on with things and not have to meet up, but this is the life I guess. First things first, we had a team cascade brief where our manager told us what went on at the manager's meetings and indeed a few interesting things came out of it - not least that the email signature we were told to use was in fact not quite right, so I amended that as I soon as I got back to the office, as you do. We then had a video conference type meeting where we set up our large screen trolley kit with mic and webcam, and that worked reasonably well all told.

I spent a bit of time in the afternoon checking out two PCs where it turned out that the graphics card was faulty, so I had to remove those out of there and let the two of them use the onboard VGA for now. Not ideal of course but at least it means that they can be used, so it was a call to our repair people (they're under warranty thankfully) so that the replacement parts could at least be ordered, so that was good. And I ended the day checking one of our kiosk machines to see what size PC could fit in the little space that it had.

It was then off to Tesco, and thankfully on the way home it had rained and then stopped so I was hopeful of avoiding the weather and seeing what would happen there. I managed to do that and noticed the massive queue of people who were all after EuroMillions tickets. Of course having done mine online I could relax and therefore not have to worry too much about all that. I got some lovely food in for the weekend and during the week and headed homewards pretty happy with my purchases all round.

Later on I watched the re-run of the F1 practice on the BBC Red button whilst I was looking at a laptop for my cousin's girlfriend. She had mentioned to me the other day that it was playing up, and so I said I'd see what I could do with it. As it turned out the machine had plenty of nasty bits of spyware, mainly from ad toolbars such as Hotbar, so got rid of those, made sure the out of date Norton 360 was uninstalled, put some antivirus software on there, and then did a full scan, which found a couple more items too. And on top of that the BIOS needed an update which meant it ran quicker as well, so as they say, so far so good.

Tune of the day is "2112" by Rush - the title track of their album and one that takes up the whole of side one on the vinyl release - all twenty plus minutes of it. Of course I've played it all in Guitar Hero Warriors of Rock which was just an epic thing to do - it goes to show how much care went into the game overall really. I really do like the whole story that unfolds in the seven parts of the song though, especially as it gradually builds up to a dramatic climax at the end. Just what we want!

Thursday 7th July - And Then There Was Five

Today was a day all about meetings, so it seemed. Earlier on this morning our manager had a meeting with the five of us who've been at the forefront of the project work that we've been doing with the Windows 7 development and rollouts, and that went pretty well on the whole. Then later on there was another meeting about Group Policies and settings for staff with regards to how things will work for them once we have some rollouts processed. And in the afternoon there was another meeting of sorts as we had a colleague come over and we were able to discuss about the new printing systems coming into play. All in all then pretty busy.

I headed home and managed to get plenty done around the house in good time before The Love In My Heart came over for tea later on. She had had a long day at work and I could tell that she just wanted to relax in front of the telly and snuggle up. I gave her the telly remote whilst I made a start on the evening meal for us both, namely spaghetti carbonara with extra pancetta (well okay technically bacon lardons but they're near as good as the same thing if you fry them properly and drain all the fat off) and I think that went down pretty well with The Love, not least as I let the garlic bread get nice and crispy for her.

We then saw a bit of Coronation Street, as I like to indulge her sometimes, and watching it proved to me just how out of touch I am with the soaps and why in essence I don't watch them either, so I don't get addicted to them. From what I saw last night, it seems that Fiz is in jail for an indeterminable future and she's asked Roy and Hayley to look after her baby Hope. There's also the surreal plot of Sophie and Sîan helping out the homeless charity they've been doing stuff with by Sophie using her father's online banking to draw £20K out of it. Well considering he just threw the letter in the bin and didn't shred it, what was he to expect I wonder?

It was then on to BBC One for the Apprentice, as they had a feature on the final five contestants. I must admit I've not watched this series as much, the contestants don't seem to strike any accord with me. Out of the five of them, well Jim is an arrogant sales person who's happy to let anyone else take the flak but him, Natasha is a loud mouth who keeps saying "yeah?" and "yeah?" every so often, and doesn't come across all that well, Susan, who may seem young in years but mature in head, and certainly can roar back from a tough situation, Helen, who won shed loads of tasks on the trot but went to pieces when one didn't go her way, and Tom the inventor blokey. Difficult decision as to who I'd pick but maybe Tom - he seems to have something for some reason. Ah well.

We both saw the news and how the News of the World is to be no more after Sunday. The events of the past week with the newspaper being exposed as having plenty of malpractice in its recent years casts doubt really on any investigation that they've done as to how genuine it was and what they had to do to get that story. Personally anything owned by Rupert Murdoch isn't the best anyway, but cynically it's a tactical ploy - you watch them bring out The Sun on Sunday or soemthing (incidentally the domain name was registered two days ago so make of that what you will). At least it's meant though that at last some of the media tactics are going to at least get a thorough going over. And not before time either.

Tune of the day in the meantime is Morrissey's "The Harsh Truth of the Camera Eye" which in today's news seemed pretty apt for what's been going on. It's also possibly one of his most under-rated tracks, from his Kill Uncle album. I've always liked it anyway, it's pretty melodic and has plenty of random piano in parts just to make it seem that more edgy as well. I even used to have the t-shirt from the inside cover where Morrissey heads a football, and it used to be one of my favourites. Ah, memories.

Wednesday 6th July - Popular Post

I'd had another hard day of it at work, with me first of all deploying two PCs and then attending a meeting with a few of our team with regards to how the new print system is going to affect the large format printing that we specialise in. In truth it isn't very pretty whatsoever and I think there'll be several jumps through hoops before we get there and get everything right that we need. In the afternoon I spent some time with my colleague installing the ConfigMgr console and explaining just what we have to do in terms of bringing down a workable image to a PC - and we left a laptop running doing just that so fingers crossed.

I headed home later and to my surprise there was plenty of post waiting for me - and a couple of packages in there too. There were the tickets for the Midge Ure acoustic gig at the Lowry that my friend and I are going to in November, and also the tickets for James with orchestra and choir at the Bridgewater Hall that I'm also going to along with The Love In My Heart, so that was good. There was also the latest arrival from Tesco DVD Rental that I was waiting for - namely FIFA 11 for the Wii, so I can see how good it plays compared to the older game anyway.

And to top all that, pictures too. Yes, real ones! My latest roll of film that was processed by the lovely people at DS Colour Labs arrived as well, and they were pictures I took with the film SLR at my niece's birthday on Sunday. They came out really well as did the CD of the pictures that they also made for me as well, meaning I could look at them on the PC as well. I was pleased with the one of my niece and her friend, they almost were doing the rock salute side on and it was a cute picture.

My brother in law came over later as I had a back drain that looked a tad on the blocked side and wanted to see what could be done about it. It turned out after he'd managed to get the excess water out from the top and get the old cast iron grid cover off there was a golf ball stuck in the u-bend of the drain, which meant that over time all sorts of gunk had stuck to it and blocked everything. With that safely out, we did a couple of water tests to make sure that the drain was doing its job properly (which it was) and all was well with the world thankfully. Hurrah for that!

Tune of the day is the rock classic "Smoke on the Water" by Deep Purple. Hard to believe that it's actually all based on a true story when they were recording the album "Machine Head" at Montreux, how a fire changed all their plans and what they ended up doing to make sure the album was done. Of course it helps having one of the most iconic rock riffs ever and of course the middle solo is rather good too. One of those songs that you might not know the words to (I do actually, having sung it enough times on Guitar Hero Greatest Hits and Rock Band 3) but you know the riff to. You know you do!

Tuesday 5th July - Sextuplet Sadness

Another day and settling into the new office nicely methinks. We spent a fair bit of time today deploying some new replacement workstations, one of which is in the basement of the building (one we tried to get in yesterday but failed) and that was pretty good to get that all sorted out. Another two were in the reception of one building and as they weren't that far away from the office, that was good to get those done. In the afternoon the rain decided to try and make an effort to pour it down, but we were resourceful and used a bin liner to cover the trolley of two replacement PCs that we had, and managed to get over to another building unscathed, so that was pretty good all round really.

After work I headed home and to the local post office to post a parcel that I'd been waiting to post for a few days now - something I sold on eBay but wanted to wait until I received the money for it before I decided to send it off. I'm always honest with the postage charges, as it only seems fair to me to do so, and this meant that I was able to correctly pay the right amount of postage for the item and indeed send it special delivery as I'd promised that I would do. Our local postmaster is pretty good and makes sure that everything is done properly, so that always feels good.

The weather was still quite muggy and close though, and it certainly felt more so when I started to cook the tea for myself and The Sunshine In My Sky who was coming over later. I did some lovely peri peri chicken with some charlotte potatoes which I boil first and then drain and oven cook them in a dish just to make them taste that bit more roasted - works pretty well once you get the hang of it. It was nice to be able to do a good meal and then settle in and relax for the evening with her.

I showed her the clip from Top Gear on iPlayer on the Wii where the three of them drove around the Monaco Grand Prix circuit in their hot hatches, and certainly when they were on the roads above Monaco you could see how lovely the Mediterranean coast is. It sure looks tempting anyway from where I can see it, so that's good. We also did a bit of online shopping on the Wii to see if I could get myself a comfortable set of footwear for the holiday whilst the sales were on. There were a few pairs I liked but nothing jumped out at me, if you know what I mean.

We then watched the documentary which showed the first sextuplets in the UK for sixteen years and the family's trials and tribulations with the birth and so on. It was really sad that two of them didn't make it beyond a few days and it must have been heartbreaking for them to lose one, never mind two. The hospital that looked after them were so good to them, and the nurses were spending a lot of time looking after the little ones as they were of course all born prematurely. They all looked lovely and the picture of them one year on says to me that there's lots of happiness for the family ahead - the little ones look so cute.

Tune of the day in the meantime though is the somewhat lovely yet sad "Death Is Not The End" by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. It somehow seems to sum up that even in sadness you need to realise that it's not always the end of the world if someone dies. I thought how brave that family were when they knew that they had to let two of the sextuplets go, and it made me realise too that being a parent is a special and most beautiful thing too in that they loved their children so much that they knew it wasn't worth them sufering any pain but instead going to a better place.

Monday 4th July - Muggy Monday

Another day at the office, albeit in my new home. I managed to get everything set up well enough so that I was able to use the PC that I'd brought with me, and also had sorted out the phone and the desk space, so that meant I was able to get on with the job in hand. I went over to one office which was in a basement of a building so that we could set up a replacement PC, and we're very near the end of the rollout phase now. We would have got another one done but unfortunately the office was closed and no one had the key - which defeated the object there.

In the afternoon I spent a fair bit of time with one of my colleagues explaining just how the ConfigMgr console works within our place and also just how we've got everything organised. In real terms it actually worked pretty well as she was able to pick up quite a bit of stuff, and it also meant I could have a coffee at the same time and relax whilst demonstrating everything. The weather was quite muggy and close outside when I left for home though and I was pretty glad therefore to get home and be able to relax in the slightly cooler house.

I headed out to the local Tesco to get some food shopping, mostly lunches for the office now I know there's access to a working fridge and microwave that I can use, and also to make sure that I got some other little items. In fact it worked out pretty well because I could also get some parcel wrap for an item I need to send soonish, so saved myself lots of time. I'd also posted a small packet off to DS Colour Labs in Didsbury, which is the latest batch of 35mm film I need them to process - I had my film SLR with me yesterday and hopefully it'll work out nicely for some pictures of the birthday party I went to.

Later on I did a bit of rocking online on Rock Band 2 on the Wii, and tried my hand at some of the downloadable content I'd got for it. I ended up getting 100% on REM's "Stand" at long last, I'd tried a few times and got very close but mucked up one phrase, so once I'd got that sorted out I was able to work out a good method for getting a pretty high score, so was very pleased with the outcome of that - tune of the day really. I also then managed quite well to do Tenacious D's "Master Exploder" as well and was a mere 100 points off my best score - and I'd recorded it too. Mwwwahaha!

I settled back later and saw some highlights of the Aussie V8 Supercars latest round, and certainly the safety car near the end of one race made it pretty interesting - there was all sorts of carnage going on at the first corner after restart but it worked out well for some drivers to take a good position at the end. One of them had worked up from a lowly grid slot to be top 10, so not too bad at all really. And I even watched the bit of Sunday's Top Gear again when they went round Monaco in their little hot hatches. And yes, I was jealous! I'd have loved to have been a passenger in there.

Sunday 3rd July - Birthday Boing

Had a pretty relaxing morning all round with the sunshine beating down on what was to be a rather gloriously sunny day all round. I made us some croissants for breakfast and The Strings On My Guitar and I had them with a coffee sat outside in the back, which was a nice change for us to do so. The weather certainly helped to make it feel like we were elsewhere rather than my back yard, so that was good. Whilst The Strings was getting herself ready and showered for where we were heading to later, I played some vinyl singles I had and relaxed with those, including the 12" of Depeche Mode's "Master and Servant" amongst others, so tune of the day there I think.

We then took the Deluxe Scrabble outside and had a game of that in the sunshine which worked pretty well to be honest. I was pretty pleased with myself as I scored 87 in one move, I played RISKING down the right hand side (the K was a black) which also made INK and XIS as well, and with me using all seven letters at once that helped rather nicely. In fact we used six of the eight triple word scores and came up with some nifty uses for the large letters, such as DAZE and EXIT and later on I did JET in the bottom corner, and with not many tiles left that was a good move all round.

We walked over to my sister's for the afternoon, as it was a get together for my niece's birthday which was last Thursday. With the weather looking very nice, they laid on a barbecue with a really nice gas operated barbecue which cooked everything spot on, so had some burgers, a hot dog, some pork and some lovely savoury rice. Everyone was there and it made for a good afternoon as I spent some time catching up with the family and having a really good time of it all, and with the cold drinks flowing it meant I could keep cool in the heat.

My sister had the trampoline set up in the back as well, so that meant that the little ones were all having a go. I ended up having a go too and ended up bouncing around and pretty high too. I'm sure at some point my uncle was filming it on his iPhone but hey, I don't mind, if I can still do the odd star jump at my age I have to say I'm pretty pleased with myself. Even Mum had a go too and she certainly was having a good laugh with it, and the niece and nephew of mine joined hands with her and they all bounced together, which was really sweet actually.

Time went by far too quickly and even if the shade had come over the back garden it was still very warm and just the right sort of day for a lovely barbecue and lovelier company. My little nephew is the cutest thing ever and we all kept him occupied, although most of the time he was more than happy to crawl around the mat we had out for him and occasionally stop for the cheesy puff crisps he had, and loves them to bits he does too. I felt especially good that everyone was getting on well and that they as usual made The Strings feel very welcomed as well. When we headed home later on we both said that we'd had a wonderful time and it made the weekend even nicer.

Watched Top Gear on BBC2 later on and of course they had their little hot hatchbacks, and when I spotted what they were I thought "weren't they filmed going around Monaco in those that I spotted during the F1 coverage?" and sure enough, off they went around the circuit. Jeremy Clarkson was like a big kid with all his wishes come true, but at least he spoke to David Coulthard, Mark Webber and Rubens Barrichello about going round the track (Rubens of course went and did the F1 drivers' challenge in the reasonably priced car so he knows of Jezza anyway) and that paid off handsomely as he drove around the circuit. I kept thinking that I wish I was a passenger for those runs!

Saturday 2nd July - Going Social

It was a pretty good and warm day all round today, and the first port of call was the city centre, as I wanted to treat myself with the Fopp gift card that one of my sisters had got me for my birthday, and also to get the Dine in for £10 offer in Marks and Spencer as I wanted to treat The Strings On My Guitar with something lovely later for tea. I headed off on the bus into the city centre and soon made my way to Fopp, where plenty of CDs were there for the knock down price of £3, and several of them I already owned as well (and paid similar prices for it has to be said) so it was a case of deciding what I'd not got and treating myself.

In the end I ended up with five CDs, which worked out to be pretty good all round. I got two Rush CDs, namely 2112 and Moving Pictures. I'd been after both albums for a while, particularly as I'd played the title track of 2112 and "YYZ" from Moving Pictures in various Guitar Hero games, and it seemed a good time to get them. I also got the remaining two Nick Drake CDs, "Bryter Later" and "Pink Moon" as well, along side Lynyrd Skynyrd's first album "Pronounced 'Lĕh-'nérd 'Skin-'nérd" which of course has "Free Bird" on it as well as "Tuesday's Gone", so those alone make it a pretty essential purchase.

I headed home after a visit to Marks and Spencer where I got some lovely stuff for tea, and then once I'd droped all my initial shopping off headed to Chorlton so I could have a good look in Kingbee Records. I'd not been in there for ages so it was good to have a look around and see what I could get. Plenty of vinyl at good prices, and lots of CDs too, and all seemingly crammed into a little treasure trove of everything from cheap singles to expensive rare albums. I love it in there and still do - and ended up getting a couple of 7" singles, a 12" single and an album, namely Gary Numan's "I Die You Die" and Swing Out Sister's "You On My Mind" on 7", a Spanish import 12" of Soft Cell's "Tainted Love" and Ultravox's "Rage In Eden" LP. Excellent!

In the afternoon I spent some time listening to my purchases whilst doing plenty of house work and ironing, and played the Rage In Eden album in full. I have to say that "We Stand Alone" still ranks up there with me as one of my favourite Ultravox tracks and so hearing that live when I saw them was something else. It's also a bit rockier than their electronic output of the time, so definitely stands out too. Tune of the day for me that one - and a reminder of how good that album was. The last three tracks on side two segue into each other rather nicely to feel like one long track.

The Strings came over, and we headed out to Didsbury and had a nice walk through Fletcher Moss Gardens, particularly the rockery and round the back of Stenner Woods before heading to The Didsbury pub for a well earned pint, as you do. We then went back to mine and I started cooking the three courses for our tea - two of which were part of the Marks and Spencer dine in for £10 deal, the other was an add-on which I got from Tesco the night before. So we had mushroom soup to start, with some nice crusty granary rolls, followed by some peppered chicken with fresh new potatoes and vegetables, with an individual panna cotta for dessert, which being raspberry was very tart indeed, but lovely.

The Strings enjoyed the bottle of white rioja that came with the offer, and I had a nice pint of Brewers Dark, considering that it was a mere £1 a bottle in Morrisons it tasted even better. I put on the DVD of The Social Network for us to watch after our non-win on the lottery, and we both thoroughly enjoyed it. The Strings was admittedly waiting for Justin Timberlake to come on and do his thing (and to be fair he acted pretty well in this) but definitely you could tell the fast moving pace of the film suited the Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross soundtrack perfectly. It really did show how murky sometimes the computer and Internet industries can be, but also a great film to boot. Well worth watching if you haven't seen it already.

Friday 1st July - Moving On

Another day, but a day of change and one that will mark the end of an era for me. After eleven years of working from the same building, I've now moved, albeit at least temporarily for the next few months, to another building where some of our team are. I'd had plenty to do in the morning as we were deploying some more PCs to the basement of one building, and thankfully we were able to get through the roller shutters which take you down to the basement without having to get down plenty of stairs beforehand, so that saved us plenty of time and effort whilst we were getting on with things.

In the afternoon I made sure that everything was pretty much packed away, and my set of drawers along with my PC, widescreen monitor, keyboard and mouse, along with plenty of other stuff, was all loaded onto a trolley by my good self. I'd made the phone call to one of my colleagues so that the phone number would be switched over, and then wheeled the trolley over to the building I was moving in to. Thankfully it wasn't that far and at least I knew all of the fellow members of the team I work with in there, so that made perfect sense to me to be able to head there. I got settled in, made everything work, and it was pretty good all round really.

After work I headed out for a drink with some of our team and to see one of the webmasters who was leaving today. It was good to head to Kro2 and have a nice pint of Wainwright beer, although I guess it would have been good to head to Sandbar as well for some Black Cat. Plenty of chat ensued and it was good that a lot of it ended up talking music and what we were planning to go to see - and indeed how much we hate arena gigs as a whole too, so that was all spot on. It was a nice way to wind down after a week where it'd been pretty busy complete with moving left right and central everywhere.

I headed then to my sister's again, as I said I'd take a look at their router for them. As it was, the router seemed to not want to power up properly and even using a different power adapter with the same voltage helped things slightly, but the router would still want to go and reset itself every minute or so and not seem to want to perform, so I couldn't even attempt to try and restore the default firmware to it and see what would happen there. In essence, it was goosed. I suggested that they ring Sky and see what happens, but I'd keep a look out for a replacement router just in case.

My sister, brother in law and niece were heading out for the evening later on (with my little nephew at a relation's for the evening) and what made me smile was that my niece had on the dress that she got from myself and The Strings on My Guitar yesterday. She looked lovely, and I felt pleased with myself that it was the right decision to make. In fact my auntie popped over and she said how nice it was and how well I'd chosen. And to be fair, I had. I liked it straight off and when I showed it to The Strings, she approved wholeheartedly so I pleased the fashionista out of the two of us!

I headed home later via Tesco, which was pretty empty to say the least, and then had some tea and kicked back with some music. And some Swing Out Sister to boot. I still really like their "Beautiful Mess" album and brings back memories of myself and The Strings seeing them live at The Lowry a few months into our relationship. I adore "My State of Mind" as it has a really laid back but yet beautifully melodic feel, and Corrine's voice sounds spot on, ably assisted by the lovely Gina backing her up, which just adds to it all well. Tune of the day easily!