Dear Diary... July 2016

Sunday 31st July - Sunday Stroll

It was nice to have a lie in and I think for different reasons both The Love In My Heart and I were more than happy to snuggle up and take it easy. Jô decided to hover on the corner of the bed and at one point was snuggled up on the end in between where my two legs were! He was all being sweet and lovely, and only did one little meow of disapproval when I went to give him a fuss, which is much less than he usually does. Brian was itching to go outside and play with his harness on mind you...

Later on after a bit of indulgence and watching some Escape to the Country and wishing we had all that money do be able to do the same, The Love and I decided to head out for a walk. We had a little plan and so were heading off to Fletcher Moss Gardens in Didsbury, and we could head around there for a little while and enjoy the sunshine. It wasn't mega warm but it was dry and sunny, and as we headed to park up, the blue skies were particularly nice.

We took a walk through part of the park and then to the rockery, and enjoyed the calm peace of that, noticing that some new benches had been placed there too. We also then walked along via one of the back paths that takes you through on a suspended wooden walkway over some muddy marshland, and then out to Millgate Fields, and we walked around there to reach the River Mersey, where a nice bench to enjoy the view and seeing those tee off on the other side of the river playing golf seemed all good to be honest.

We then walked past the iconic willow trees close to Ford Lane and walked back to the car, and with time moving too quickly, we then headed off to The Gateway for a spot of lightish lunch. In fact the beer festival was on there and so I had a nice ginger flavoured ale from the Elland Brewery called GPA (Ginger Pale Ale) - it reminded me of the Ginger Marble from the Marble Brewery actually. It also went well with the hot dog I had, and later on I tried a half of the toffee flavoured ale - not the Wells' Sticky Toffee Pudding ale either, but the Naylor's Toffee Mild. It smelt of toffee (even The Love could smell it!) it tasted very very sweet, and as nice as it was, I think more than a pint of that would be too much!

We headed back to Piccadilly station where The Love gave me a kiss goodbye and I had time to head to Waitrose for a free coffee before heading on the 1735 departure to London Euston. I used the Virgin Beam app and watched most of the Senna documentary film which was good to relax to and watch as the countryside sped by, and switched to the iPod later for some tunes, notably "The Ghosts of Highway 20", the title track from said album by Lucinda Williams. It seemed perfect for listening to on the train and so tune of the day for me for definite.

Saturday 30th July - Surprise Saturday

The Love In My Heart and I had been invited to a little surprise birthday get together for one of her work colleagues, where the colleague's daughters had been planning it all in secret. I had researched where the bar was and it was in Chorlton, and it looked nice, and it did mean we could take the tram there. Granted of course we would have to cross the city centre due to no trams running via St Peter's Square, but we didn't mind and it'd be a good way to see part of the city centre at the same time.

The tram was fine till Piccadilly and it got very busy, and when we got off at Piccadilly Gardens it was also busy - possibly people heading to Heaton Park in Prestwich for something, and a lot of people getting off were also walking towards Manchester Central (same way as us) for the comic convention on that weekend. A lot of people were in costume to say the least, with little ones dressed up as Batman, the girl from Pokémon, that sort of thing. And a lot of sad sights as well, such as husband and wife in the whole military outfit and gas masks. Whatever turns you on, love...

We got to Deansgate-Castlefield tram stop, and The Love had a nice surprise - one of the children she used to look after at a former nursery with his father. He had recognised The Love coming to the tram stop, and it was nice for her to hear how they were doing and I know that cheered her up massively to say the least. It was then a simple tram ride to Chorlton, and after getting off, we decided that being there early meant a nice drink at The Bar on Wilbraham Road, and they had nice beer too, so that was me sorted also.

We then made out way to the place in the centre of Chorlton, and it all seemed very nice - outdoor area with little shack housing a multiple games arcade machine, and nice staff and even better, beer in a nice tankard glass and cask ale at that! We got a drink and we got chatting to some of The Love's work colleagues, all of whom seemed lovely actually. In fact we were all in conversation when The Love's colleague's daughters were ushering us around the corner out of eyesight, so that when her colleague came in, it was a nice way to go "surprise!" and be all there, which was good.

Some food and nibbles had been laid on too, so we had some mozzarella sticks and some nicely spiced fries as well. The Love had a cheese with chilli nibble that looked rather strong in the spice department - glad to have kept away from that, for definite! It was good to natter to everyone and later on some of her colleagues' children were playing the games and were enjoying them. I queued up to have a go and they were then watching my one game of 1942 in awe as I got pretty far and racked up a good score - they were like "wow, how did you do that?" and so I tried to demonstrate as some of them had a go next time. Only seemed right really.

We said our goodbyes later and left, and plenty of time left in the day to relax, so we headed back to Chorlton tram station and got the tram to West Didsbury, and went into Wine and Wallop close to the station. It'd been the first time we'd been there and it won't be our last. Granted the wine isn't cheap, but The Love said it was the nicest pinot grigio she had had in ages (and she knows a good wine when she tastes one) and the First Chop AVA ale I had was really good as well. It had a nice comfortable vibe and to be honest I could have happily chilled out in there for a longer time than we did, especially if we had some Swing Out Sister on in the background - that'd have suited the place's chilled vibe. Make "Butterfly" tune of the day for that reason.

We also went across the road to the Greenfinch for tea - I had the chicken passanda curry which was actually really nice overall, and The Love had the barbecue chicken melt thing. They also had the Ringwood Fortyniner ale, so all good there really too. We then took the tram back to Deansgate-Castlefield and walked towards Piccadilly Gardens, and still plenty of people in costume walking around the city centre after coming back from the comic convention too.

Much fussing over the cats Jô and Brian followed later and we settled in to see if we'd won the lottery (we didn't) and then to see a documentary on ITV1 which detailed the 1966 World Cup - it had been fifty years ago today that England won it - and focussed on people who were there, including the two Wembley scoreboard operators, really hanging on for dear life and updating the scores up there, especially when England scored at their home ground. It was fascinating stuff and then time to snuggle with the kitties and The Love..

Friday 29th July - Friday Feeling

Another productive day was done, and it's the end of my first week in the new job - already. I must admit that the time has whizzed by, and on the whole, it's been very welcoming. By all accounts the new person brings in some cakes and stuff at the end of the first week, so a quick visit to Sainsburys at lunch meant the likes of cakes, doughnuts and biscuits which I know everyone appreciated too. It was a good way to really make a nice impression on people (well I hope I have anyway) and it'll be a case of spending the next few weeks getting to know everyone.

And, even better, the HR system issue I had was fixed too. I spoke to two very lovely ladies in HR who have been really good anyway, but saw what the issue might be and referred it higher, and at the same time made sure that they had my bank details in the system so at least that I would be paid at the end of next month (the payroll deadline is soonish so wanted to get that sorted.) It's good to be able to talk to people and to at least be able to deal with things face to face, sometimes easier to get it all done that way.

I headed home first of all and spent a bit of time at home sorting out my weekend case, having some tea, changing the bedding and then headed off to East Croydon station, where the trains were running a little late but that meant the train I did get to London Victoria was pretty much empty, and from there it was a case of a packed tube to Euston. I made sure I got a cold drink in Sainsburys for when I was on the train, and then waited for my announcement for the 2040 departure to Manchester Piccadilly - granted, a little later than usual, but it was the cheaper way!

I then had the iPod on and listened to plenty of tracks as the train sped North, and emptied a lot of passengers out at Crewe - a fair number of which I suspect were changing trains. I never realised the station was that popular really, I always thought that it was the fare of trainspotters who would gaze in awe at the InterCity APT prototype that's at the museum just a few yards from the station. Still, with the likes of The Prodigy's excellent "Nasty" blasting along (make that tune of the day) it was a nice relaxing journey and before I knew it, I was heading towards Manchester.

I had decided to get the tram to The Love In My Heart's place (and a weekend ticket at that) because of the fact that we were heading out tomorrow, and indeed I knew that The Love would stay tucked up in her pyjamas without having to come and collect me. The tram was delayed and a little busy, but I managed to get to the stop okay and I was soon heading across to see The Love. The two cats Jô and Brian were already snuggled up, but they noticed me coming in and were noseying. I literally got in, had a quick chat and then it was time to rest and relax in bed for a nice day out tomorrow.

Thursday 28th July - High Five

I got a nice high five from our lead technical person in our team today, which was actually a good thing as it showed that what I had spotted earlier in the week had in fact borne fruit massively. So it turns out that one of the things in the task sequence for their Windows 10 currently is that it does a little bit of enabling of winrm with a quick configuration which allows users with sufficient administrative rights the option to do some useful remote Powershell type scripting. All good. However, the command line that was being run in the task sequence failed, and I'd made a suggestion for it not to fail.

My colleague had indeed today dug out a laptop and was testing it for Windows 10 complete with any drivers that may need to be added, and it transpired that the laptop seemed to carry on the task sequence rather nicely. In fact a look later showed that the deployment status showed as completed and that the step it had failed at previously had also worked the right way too, and that was rather nice all round. So definitely a good thing to have a nice little bit of influence already.

I had also spotted that one of the applications that is used for a call centre piece of software was basically horribly written as an installer (something my networks colleague had already mentioned) and indeed it was true. The software creates its own main MSI installer with a registry key embedded in for the server of your choice, but it has a graphical install which then suggests all the pre-requisites and then installs. Only thing is - none of that is silent, the detection method insists on installing Visual C++ 2008 even though you have already got it installed. The mind as they say boggles.

I did however create a nifty task sequence to do all the work of all the pre-requisites and the main install and that all did its job wonderfully well. In fact it's a good example to demonstrate how a single package with multiple programs can also be effectively used (with the task sequence calling the programs individually from within said package) as when using the default download and install option, the package folder only needs to download once, carry out its actions, and then remove itself afterwards. Pretty seamless I'd say and that made me happy too.

In fact, I have to say that I do love the new job. I think that the more I've got into it, the more I like the people, and had a good chat with the second line folks today who seem to be on the ball and know their stuff too - one of them I can see being a real star of the future as there's bucket loads of the right professional attitude and a way to really make a difference as well. I think it's going to be somewhere that I know I'm going to make a difference in, and I can't wait to really get stuck in. Tune of the day is "Violently Happy" by Björk, sums up the mood right now...

Wednesday 27th July - Going Retro II

I had a good productive day at work (all good there) and made it on to the 1615 train again so was home at a nice comfortable hour. In fact it is noticeable that the 1629 to Three Bridges is actually a quieter train as it doesn't go to Brighton, but obviously that means a longer wait. That said, it does give me a suitable alternative if I wanted to wait a little longer or if I was going to finish off some work I'd planned and it overran slightly, and it is nice to have options.

With the possible threat of train strikes that could be happening, I've also worked on a tube and tram only route, which effectively would be going from George Street or Church Street in central Croydon to Wimbledon, then the District Line to Edgware Road followed by the Hammersmith and City or Circle Line to Farringdon. Granted this may take a fair bit longer to do, but better to at least be moving than being in queues of people waiting for what trains may be running during said action. The other bus only alternative is the 468 to Elephant and Castle (same as last job) and then the 63 to Farringdon after that. It would take longer too, but those are the breaks I guess.

I decided after spending a fair bit of time today evaluating applications being sent over by SCCM 2007 and seeing what I could improve in their 2012 structure, it made perfect sense therefore to be able to go retro tonight, so as a bit of fun (and also because I don't have the originals on my Commodore 64, or else I'd have been connecting that to the telly and playing on it) I dug out my USB Competition Pro joystick, connected it to the PC, and configured various emulators to use it.

It actually worked a treat and I was soon playing the likes of Manic Miner with said joystick, and all working too. In fact I wanted to try out some of the more obscure games I never got to play on the original C64 (either because they were hard to find or because I didn't own them) and so managed to play a fair few of those first. Then I went to Hole in One, which Mastertronic released on their MAD label, which I used to own and played a lot with my father and uncle back in the day. It was golf but with some nice drawn perspectives.

It's actually good fun, but of course there's no guide as to which club to use on the second shots to the green, so you have to actually attempt to calculate based on the fact of how far the other club would have hit on full power. I did birdie the second hole though so proved that there's still life in me yet with the old games. I also did play The Last V8 and showed just why this game is considered in my view to be one of the worst budget releases, despite the rather good music by Rob Hubbard and indeed sampled speech. The main play area is about a third of the screen, and the controls are just way too fiddly, aligned with a stupidly hard time limit.. The music by Rob is tune of the day though...

Tuesday 26th July - Going Retro

I had a productive meeting this morning with my lead person as we were discussing something I know pretty well - SCCM 2012! It was good to be the one in the know and to go through a few ways of troubleshooting deployments, such as the deployment status (good for the basic stuff) as well as the advanced reports which also have a web interface for being able to view the more detailed stuff. It also showed that the logs for each deployment reported back via SQL are sizeable, hence the sensible decision to have a separate SQL server!

That went well, and in the afternoon I also had a look at their SCCM 2007 current system to see what applications are done and how they were done, and how to effectively look at bringing them in via SCCM 2012 as well, along with possibly good practice structure and deployment methods required, so a possible shift for example to deploying some software in a task sequence that calls multiple programs from the same package, so effectively you can then later on change as needed, which seemed to go down well. The other nice option also is to effectively see what can be done in a scripted application too.

It was all good, and three meetings in the day in total, so good to talk, and good to get the normally planned train home (the 1615 to Brighton via East Croydon) and get back home (not just at the station) at just after 1700. I then spent some time going even more retro and looking at some old games to hack the music out of. It's something I still have some coding skills at, and something which is pretty good to be able to do. For me at least it also shows that it's nice to contribute to a still thriving retro gaming scene too.

I had a look at several old games and two of them both had small renditions of the theme from The Entertainer by Scott Joplin (make that tune of the day in fact) as well as also finding something which was a surprise, and a nice one at that - a previously unheard tune by the well regarded Commodore 64 game author Shaun Southern! It turned out that a small little game called Project X became part of a triple pack of games released by Alternative Software, and no credits in the game itself were found, but digging into a hidden part of the game's memory, it clearly says thank you from the author to all at Mr. Chip Software for all their help (who Shaun was part of) and then thanked him for the music too. That made my day I can tell you!

You see, back in the day, you knew that if your game was made by Shaun Southern, it was usually a sign of good quality throughout, not just on the Commodore 64, but also the Commodore 16 / Plus4 computers too. When I consider some of my favourite games on the '64, there's the likes of Kikstart I and II (the sequel's course designer and better playability was ace), Trailblazer, Hero of the Golden Talisman, Cosmic Causeway, and so on. Ah, classics they were...

Monday 25th July - A New Era

It was off on the usual train I tend to get in the morning, but this time not having to faff around and change trains, oh no. It was a straight run from East Croydon to Farringdon and a short walk from there to the new office, as I'm now working for Save The Children UK. It was good to finally get started and had arrived early before my senior team member had done, who was going to be showing me plenty of stuff during the first few weeks and helping me bed in nicely.

In fact it was good that I had my own desk (a rarity as hotdesking tends to be the norm) and also that I was able to effectively log in, set up some stuff including a connection to my own VDI machine for testing, and then be able to set up all the bits I needed to, including my emails and stuff like that. In fact my account had been set up for a little bit of time already and so as a result it meant that I had some incoming messages which were interesting to read and gave me some background.

I also was asked to send an email to the IS people to introduce myself a little, and thought up a nice little way of doing some icebreaking by giving some background about me and what I'd done, where I came from, along with some little facts or bits of trivia about me to help break that. It seemed to work pretty well as soon a few people had responded and said hello, along with saying it was nice to hear from me. In fact I had done that and then was shown around the building and where people are, but also it was good to say hello and meet various other IS people as well, and put names to faces. Always a good thing I suspect.

The day went by pretty quickly and everyone so far seems really nice and friendly (a positive) and also a few of us headed to Boots or Tesco close by to grab some lunch, and then sit in the courtyard in the middle of the building where there's some seating and tables to have a nice bit of fresh air and relax. That actually was really nice overall to do and the day was good - even more so when I got the 1630 train from Farringdon and I was back at East Croydon for around 1705, and that's not the first train I can technically get either, so most pleased with that too.

I had a good watch of Only Connect later on, and it was always good when it gets to the music connection question in round one which included "News of the World" by The Jam, aka the theme tune to Mock The Week (make that tune of the day) and the connection was newspapers (former and current) which I got straight away. In fact in the missing vowels round I got the first 13 questions before any of the contestants did, which was a record for me. I guess if I was on a team that'd be my strong point!

Sunday 24th July - Homeward Bound

It was a nice final morning spent with friends, as we had some sausage barms and coffee, and saw that the same person who had posted a video with the ten worst Commdoore 64 budget games had also posted one with the ten best ones too. In fact many of the choices were ones we had agreed with, including the likes of Thrust. Interestingly the reviewer added one of my shouts, Codemasters' classic BMX Simulator, as well as the late Codemasters top down F1 game Slicks, which I do freely admit to liking too, so some good research all round we reckon.

The weekend had gone way too quickly and after spending time seeing some epic fails on video and getting all the bags packed, and picking up some very nice gifts from my friend (two local ales and a beer glass to match, mighty impressive stuff all round) it was time to head off to the train station and to catch my 1229 departure towards Lancaster. It felt sad saying goodbye but also will know we'll get together again later this year which will always be a good thing I reckon.

The train was much quieter on the way back to Lancaster, and again I sat by the window to admire the views as even in some rain it looked rather lovely, and before I knew it I'd headed over the bridge to Arnside and onwards towards Carnforth and its infamous Brief Encounter platform, and arrived in Lancaster in all good time before the 1338 departure to London Euston, which only stopped at Preston, Wigan and Warrington before speeding from there all the way down, which was good. I had the iPod on and played lots of class tunes, especially "False Awakening Suite" by Dream Theater which is tune of the day.

I headed into Euston and straight on to the tube to Victoria, where once again Southern were doing their almost usual job of cancelling trains. Thankfully one to Eastbourne and Ore was in the station which I know stops at East Croydon along the way, so I was on that and heading home quickly, and got home in good time to be able to sort out a few things in the flat, watch the Formula 1 coverage in full from Hungary, seeing some good racing but ultimately another processional Mercedes one two.

Later on I then saw the first of the new series of Robot Wars, and for me the jury is out on this one. The new format of four going through to a round robin round of all fighting each other before the top two battle it out means a lot of robots were getting more damaged more quickly and effectively having mass rebuilds done all the time. One of the robots which impressed me and won the heat though was the excellent Carbide. Jonathan Pearce does his usual excellent commentary stuff, but wasn't so sure about the presenting duo, notably Angela Scanlon. Might have to see how that pans out..

Saturday 23rd July - Lakes Weekender III, Day Two

I slept very well on the air bed, and we all got ourselves up where our friend was making a rather nice sausage barm for us all for brekkkie, much appreciated it has to be said. We had some orange juice and coffee too and whilst being up, we watched a video of the 10 worst budget games on the Commodore 64 according to one source. They did mention some we'd agree with, such as Bionic Granny, BMX Racers, Connect Four, Sub Hunt but what surprised us was the inclusion of The Last V8 in there. Granted it's not the best game ever due to its awkward controls and insane difficulty, but the music and speech are more than decent for one. Each to their own and all that.

Naturally too some Angry Video Game Nerd had come on last night, and our friend from South Shields had asked us to check out the Nintendo NES cartridge Action 52, with fifty two games on one cartridge for $199 (yes, really). And as it turned out, almost all the games were absolute garbage. The last of the 52 was about the only decent one, Cheetahman, which then spawned a sequel which had tons of bugs in and the cartridges were re-used cases from Action 52 with a Cheetahman II sticker on. Yes, really.

We soon headed off to the Lakes and the first stop was Coniston, which was actualy really nice. We had passed Coniston Water on the way too, and it was good to arrive there and have some decent weather, and sit and natter for a bit in two very nice pubs, the second of which even sold the Robinsons' Dizzy Blonde Ale, so wasn't going to say no to some of that as we were relaxed and keeping an eye on the incessant rain that meant delays in the F1 qualifying in Budapest too.

Later on it was off via Ambleside and down to Bowness-on-Windermere, where it was nice to spend time and see the many tourists look at all the Beatrix Potter stuff as well as take the lake cruises, and for us also to have a nice chatter and drink too. In fact there were a couple of classier hen dos on and they seemed to be having a good time also as we headed onwards towards the lake, stopping off at a takeaway which I have to say is possibly one of the worst we've ever been in - service not so great, food so-so, and a manager clearly with an attitude and a hygeine issue. So avoid Lakeland Charcoal Grill folks.

We did locate the Royal Oak pub though which was good for many reasons - decent ale, a pool table for 50p a go, and a good jukebox as well, which meant the likes of Faith No More's excellent "Midlife Crisis" being blasted out (make that tune of the day) as well as some epic games of pool. One of which was an impressive tactical match that lasted sixteen minutes or so, and was full of tension and excitement in equal measures. It was good to spend time in there again but the time went too quickly!

We were soon heading down towards the pier at Bowness and to get the last bus back to Ulverston, yes, the 6pm departure. In the old days there was a different bus that ran around 11pm meaning we could have stayed in Bowness all evening, but alas, not any more. On the plus side the bus wasn't that expensive, but still. We therefore had a plan to have a drink in a couple of pubs in the centre of Ulverston (where everyone seemed to know my friend too which was nice) and we did also spot in one pub that there were some cosplayer type gamers who were meeting up in costume for a drink also.

Later on we headed to a much nicer takeaway on the way back, where the chicken and mushroom pizza I had was top notch, and back at our friend's place it was a case of being able to relax and play some more retro gaming stuff including some old demos and also seeing what other games people tended to review in terms of budget titles etc. We were all feeling a bit on the tired side though and I think we'd all headed to sleep before 11pm, but it was a good day all round and some nice pubs as well as excellent company.

Friday 22nd July - Lakes Weekender III, Day One

So it was off up to the Lake District and stay with my friend in Ulverston, and with two of our friends joining us, it was good to get four of us together again for an action packed weekend, where beer and retro gaming will inevitably be involved. I had booked my trains ages ago and so it was nice to be able to get up at a later hour than normal, and then head to East Croydon, get the train to London Bridge (brand new shiny Class 700 train at that too!) and then the tube to Euston, in more than good time to get the 1043 departure to Lancaster.

The train was the slower one up the West Coast Main Line via Birmingham, but half the price of the quicker one, and it meant I'd still get to Ulverston around 3.20pm or so, so all good there. The journey was fine and in fact I took advantage of the Virgin Trains Beam App and watched the whole of Breakfast At Tiffany's with the headphones on! It worked really well actually even on my phone's screen size, and of course the lovely Audrey Hepburn singing along to "Moon River" was just so lovely, so tune of the day. That passed the time nicely and then had the iPod on heading up to Lancaster.

I got off there at Platform 3, and Platform 2 had the departure to Barrow-in-Furness via Ulverston, which meant no climbing stairs etc, so all good. There were a lot of people waiting for the train though, primarily staying in either Grange-over-Sands or Ulverston and heading to the Lakes, and so I managed to get on, place my case in the overhead rack and then get a seat by the window, to admire the view heading across from Arnside to Grange-over-Sands and along the front to Kents Bank before turning left to Ulverston.

My friend was waiting at the station to collect me and one very short drive later we were back at his place, and one of our friends was also there too, and an hour or so later we had all four of us there. As it turned out our friend from Doncaster had made good progress but an accident on the A590 meant massive delays for him to get to us, but it all worked out well in the end. It did mean a nice selection of ales was all good, and our host headed off to Dominos Pizza to collect the pizza order for tea, which went down very nicely indeed it has to be said.

We later on headed off to the Stan Laurel Inn, literally walking distance from my friend's place. It had a nice vibe in there as well as some decent real ales too, and so that was us sorted. We were sat on one of the outside beer garden benches having a natter and noticed that some were driving into the small car park at the back and making a pigs' ear of it, including one who hit one of the beer garden benches too (thankfully not the one that we were sat on!)

Conversation and ale flowed well, and we were chatting about games on the old Commodore 64 that featured speech, and we came up with a quite decent list all told, and were passing goes around the four of us to see how many we'd get. We got quite a lot actually, including some classic budget games too, which then led us to another topic of the best budget games that were released on that format. We all agreed with the likes of Kikstart 2, Thrust, Hero of the Golden Talisman, POD (Proof of Destruction) and so on, but then also wondered about what was the most rubbish ones out there too..

Thursday 21st July - The Last Day

So today was the last day in my current job, with the new one starting on Monday, and I have to say I did feel a little bit sad at the end of it. I spent a fair bit of time this morning sorting out handover stuff, and created a simple email with links to the documentation to hand so that everything my colleagues need going forward is there and all good. In fact, that was quite useful as it meant that they were able to then ask me a couple of things further and I was able to provide the necessary answers too, so all good.

I'd suggested heading out to the local Wetherspoons at lunch time because it's not expensive and also because it's the curry day on the Thursday and you get a beer with the curry, so that kept it all good. I had the chicken korma and that was on form, and some of the team had the vindaloo, some had the jalfrezi and so on. What I didn't expect though was a leaving card, signed by lots of people, and some cash in there as well. It made me feel very humble indeed and it's a nice little thing.

I had brought in lots of cakes, cookies, biscuits etc from Tesco for the team this morning and I know they appreciated that, and that'll keep them all going for a bit too. Every one of them thanked me for that and indeed all shook my hand as they left at the end of the day, and I've passed on my contact details so they can keep in touch should they wish to - the very least I could do. The team I've been with have been a really nice bunch of people and that for me is definitely a huge positive to take with me, that I've been able to settle in and mix with a bunch of talented intelligent people who also made my transition to moving down a breeze really.

It did feel sad as I left, but I know professionally it's for the right reasons. Personally, I think I've made a positive impression on a lot of people and if that's the little bit I've done over the time I've been there, then that has to be a good thing. I also know for a fact that one of the colleagues in another section said to me I've set an example for how change management should be done from an initiator side, and that was a really nice thing - just hoping that positive influence has rubbed off the right way too.

I headed home but went via the local O2 shop on the way home, as I thought that actually it'd be good to treat myself with the money, and so looked at upgrading my current phone. In fact I decided that because I'd saved up my O2 Rewards I could use that too and get a discount, so that all worked out well. So all done, and with nice newer Android phone to boot (LG K4 at that) and with the number swapped to a newer smaller SIM card so I could keep my existing number, all was well. It just meant that I could finally have a more modern Android device and that meant I had something to show for the nice collection too, so that was a good idea.

Even more so, as I'd backed up my contacts etc on to the Micro SD card, and placed that in the new phone, that meant that I could have the same ringtones and so on, so that was all good. In fact one of them is the proper snooker theme, so "Drag Racer" by the Doug Wood Band is tune of the day for that reason. I'm looking forward of course to a nice weekend away up in the Lakes as from tomorrow, but nonetheless a good day all round today and a slightly sad one too.

Wednesday 20th July - Stratford Scorchio

A different way to work today as our workplace was holding an away day at a building close to the Orbit in the Olympic Park in Stratford. This meant a different route, and so the easiest way in was made a lot easier as Network Rail had repaired the sinkhole close to Forest Hill, meaning that I could effectively take the London Overground train to Canada Water and then head on the Jubilee line tube to Stratford. In fact once a pile of people had got off at Canary Wharf, I literally had a carriage all to myself all the way to Stratford. Now how often does that happen at around 8am I wonder?

Once I arrived at Stratford I had a walk around the Westfield shopping centre, and noticed plenty of nice shops which The Love and I could head round, plus also the fact that a lot of restaurants have all opened in a new development next door and close to the Olympic Park. I did stop off by Waitrose in the shopping centre, claimed the free coffee and sat outside on a comfy chair and table and enjoyed the quiet atmosphere, then walked over to the Olympic Park, past the aquatics centre and turned left to head towards Orbit.

Once a few of us had arrived it was nice to chat to everyone and sit in the shade, with there being little wind and already considerable heat, and that was the theme for the day. Thankfully the first floor room where we were overlooked where Orbit was, and we could see the giant slide, and it was air conditioned. Little things like this really do matter a heck of a lot when you're actually thinking about strategy and sitting through presentations, although for me a fair few of them were of the "Death By PowerPoint" category..

We had lunch later on and some very nice sausages and mash were mine, plus some carrot cake too. We were sat on the upper balcony as the sun blazed down, and there was little breeze still, so it was pretty warm all round. In fact the temperature reached around 31 degrees at around 3pm, so doing a team exercise outside in the sun might not have been everyone's cup of tea. Later on we listened to a closing speech which also mentioned a possible restructure, so hopefully that's not going to upset people too much...

There was a drink afterwards at the bar, and myself and a few colleagues sat on the balcony having a chatter, and then headed to The Cow in Westfield for another drink and chat before making our way to the tube and heading homeward, where effectively I did the same as this morning in reverse. Canada Water was a bit busier as I interchanged there on the way home but it was still not that bad a journey, and I was back home before I knew it and watching the Tour de France highlights on ITV4.

I just hope tonight is more comfortable to sleep in than last night, as the temperature stayed at around 24 degrees and wasn't that nice, whereas there seems to be a little more of a breeze now, so fingers crossed that it holds well. Tune of the day in the meantime is the ace "Ich Bin Ein Auslander" by Pop Will Eat Itself, which scarily seems even more relevant now than its release in 1994, especially when you like me have seen the band do it live and put the passion massively into it.

Tuesday 19th July - Super Scorchio

If only the late Caroline Aherne were around now, we could have done with her Poula Fisch character from The Fast Show doing the weather in place of Carol Kirkwood: "Croydon? Scorchio! Blackfriars? Scorchio!" etc. In fact the projected forecast was for the mid thirties ish later on, and in an office with hardly any air conditioning and windows that are effectively a greenhouse, you can only think how unbearable that might actually be. I had all that to look forward to later on.

First off though was my presentation so I took the train this morning and stayed on till Farringdon (a good dress rehearsal for next week actually) and then from there walked down to Hatton Garden (the one with the posh jewellers) and then to Holborn, passing Chancery Lane tube and then arriving at my work site in High Holborn. I had already got myself a croissant and a free coffee from Waitrose along the way, so had that and set myself up for the presentation ahead around 9.15am.

It went very well, and plenty of questions asked along with a live demo of how everything worked, and it did work - flawlessly as it happens too. I was most pleased and got a thank you from everyone along with the fact that they recognise the work that I do. I must admit too that those folks are some really good staff in there, and maybe they're under-appreciated a tad - but not by me, I know what they do. So it was good to really interact with them and all was good there.

After then taking the 68 bus to the office, I cracked on with another document and experiemented with how VNC Viewer Plus can interact with Intel AMT using its KVM interface. It actually worked really well on the whole, although what I would say is that I wouldn't necessarily do desktop imaging with that connected, as the network speed as a whole is then limited by the AMT Serial Over LAN (SOL) interface, which will run slower than the normal speed by some margin.

It was aircon on the train, but not that nice as Thameslink decided to make the 1638 Blackfriars to Three Bridges service just four carriages, so everyone was packed on to that. I did manage to get a seat, but that was a not that pleasant journey really. I was pleased to get home where at least the ploy of keeping the blinds closed did keep some of the heat out, so it was a little bit more bearable in the flat when I got home later on. And it was still mega scorchio outside too.

Tune of the day in the meantime is the excellent "Dehydration" by Pop Will Eat Itself, which was a track from their unreleased 1996 album that finally got an issue many years later as the second disc of a reissue of "Dos Dedos Mis Amigos", called "A Lick of the Old Cassette Box". It's much more dark and Industrial sounding and plenty of guitars with Clint Mansell belting out the vocals, and the title of course seemed pretty apt considering what the day is like...

Monday 18th July - Scorchio

It was the first day of a projected heatwave today, and my didn't I know it? Arriving first into work as I normally do, all the glass windows on the outside of the building had been closed for the weekend, so walking into the office was effectively like opening the oven door and keeping yourself there for a few minutes or so - absolutely baking. Once I got some air circulated around the floor I work on it seemed a little better but to be honest it was a case of getting through the day and working on a few things.

I had put together a presentation for tomorrow morning and so spent some time checking that over as well as being able to identify a couple of potential issues with some software installations and investigating them. I also worked on looking at just why one machine didn't succeed with some of the Intel AMT implementation, and eventually narrowed this down to the fact that it had been provisioned before but with a different config, and so although a reconfiguration should work, the local admin password had been set oddly, do once I logged in to its web interface and reset that, I was then able to apply the configuration in maintenance mode and sort it. Thank heavens for that.

I did get out of work a little later than planned due to the extended troubleshooting, but the only good thing was that when I got to Blackfriars and on the train to East Croydon, the train was fully air conditioned and not many people on it, primarily because everyone had attempted to get on the Brighton train three minutes earlier, which was rammed. I dread to think how uncomfortable that journey might have been to be perfectly honest, but there you go.

I did watch of course Only Connect tonight, and it was intriguing as ever to see the look of dread on the contestants' faces as they undertook the music question in round one. The theme from Swan Lake blasted out as part of the question too, which was thoroughly entertaining to see them squirm (make the adapted version from the film Black Swan tune of the day in fact) - and the connecting wall even featured the likes of the Blue Peter dogs over the years (I got that straight off of course) so that was all good there.

I must admit I didn't want to iron anything today either but felt the need to at least try in the intense heat, and as night fell I did try one or two items. It was not so easy, but with the cooler air coming in as the sun descended it was just about doable. Possibly none of that tomorrow though as the temperature is going to hit the mid thirties possibly and that's going to be fairly difficult to work in - although I am at another site in the morning so I'll need to see how that goes I reckon.

Sunday 17th July - Sunday Shopping, Strolling and Roasting

After breakfast, and after Mum had met up with someone she knew around these parts for a coffee, allowing some chill out time for The Love In My Heart and myself, we decided it'd be nice to head around the shops in Croydon so she could get a feel for what was there, and that worked out pretty well. We took her around the Centrale centre and into House of Fraser, where I was tempted by a couple of items, and so was The Love, and we also went into Next, where The Love picked up some nice new shoes for work for a mere tenner in the sale - yaay for bargains and all that.

We also ventured around the Whitgift Centre and took Mum into Tiger so she could see the nice stuff in there for a sensible price (there is none in Manchester - yet!) and then around a few more shops before then heading back towards the main streets, and walked a bit down Church Street to give her an idea of where more shops are, and then headed along Surrey Street where the market normally is during the week and off back to mine for a little bit. It was good to get everything all sorted and relaxed and with Mum having checked out earlier, all was good for us later.

I'd decided that a nice Sunday roast needed to be done, so we set off earlier for central London and did the train and then tube again via Victoria to Euston, but this time got off at Warren Street and walked around the corner and passing Euston Square station and on to the Crown and Anchor, where nice beer, Pink Floyd's "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" playing in the background (make that tune of the day) and conversation in a relaxed setting were the order of the day, as I got us some drinks in to relax.

The Love had the Sunday Roast chicken, which looked spot on, and Mum had the beef, which was every bit as nice as it looked, with a real nice gravy on the meat and some potatoes and seasonal vegetables to go with it. I of course just had to go for the chicken and ham hock pie, and yes I am pleased to report it was as lovely as ever. Naturally of course it just seems that the nice weather followed us, and we sat outside the pub later with a cold drink, and all was good.

The time had gone by too soon and it was a fond farewell to Mum and The Love as they headed on the 5.57pm train back to Manchester, and I headed off via the tube and trains - Northern Line Charing Cross Branch to Waterloo, then train to Clapham Junction, changing there for East Croydon. I got home later and saw the Tour de France higlights followed by the Open Golf, aka High Noon at Troon, as Phil Mickelson and Henrik Stenson battled it out and really played superbly. Henrik won his first major and it was superb stuff, with the birdie on the last meaning he equalled Phil's course record!

Saturday 16th July - Greenwich and Great Portions

Mum headed over to the flat this morning and I made us all some breakfast, and ensured that a nice cuppa went with that too. Knowing how fussy Mum is about making her own cup of tea, I left her to it, and then sorted everyone out with anything else such as fruit juice or a cold drink as needed. We had revealed to Mum last night we were going to go to Greenwich Market later as it would be her sort of thing, plus plenty of places to rest, have coffee, etc and that we thought was a good call.

So later on it was a nice relaxed walk to West Croydon station and from there and with glorious weather to boot, we took the London Overground service to Shadwell, changing there for the DLR service to Lewisham via Canary Wharf, and headed off at Cutty Sark for the Maritime Greenwich part. In essence yes I know you can change via Canada Water and Canary Wharf, but there's a longer walk out of Canary Wharf to the DLR station, plus less escalators and less people changing this way, and still the same price, so it was a tad easier all round and meant Mum got a nice long DLR trip as well which she enjoyed as it was above ground and she could see stuff!

We headed to Greenwich Market and it was as good as we said it was - in fact The Love In My Heart had got herself a very nice scarf from one of the stalls there (I've bought her one from the same stall too) and also spotted a fair few other lovely items that were tempting too. Mum really liked the stalls and the feel of the place, and said "I could live here!" - and we had to show her the house prices in a local estate agents to give her a suitable reality check on how expensive and desirable the place actually is. We also walked around a number of shops and also went to the Vintage and the Clocktower markets too, which had some nice vinyl that I'd have been sorely tempted at!

We stopped off at The Mitre for a drink in their beer garden before heading round the corner to the Gate Clock, the Wetherspoons, for lunch. Mum was after the fish and chips, so she was sorted, I had the hot dog and The Love had the pulled pork burger, so that was all good and with us refilled we walked along past the Cutty Sark and the entrance to the foot tunnel, then along the Thames and via the Naval College, including a visit into the Painted Hall and the Chapel, before then walking by the side of the Maritime Museum and through a part of Greenwich Park, and into more nice little shops. In fact I got The Love a really nice top in Joy that she was to wear later that evening!

We stopped off at a little café in one of the alleyways to the market, and there they did a nice little cream tea which had a warmed scone with jam and clotted cream, which wasn't so dear, so we all had that and it was rather nice. Naturally of course I reminded Mum to do the scone the proper Cornish way (jam first, followed by the clotted cream) so we enjoyed that a lot, and with that done and one final visit to the Music and Video Exchange record shop, it was time to head on the DLR and train back to West Croydon, seeing a Stormtrooper making their way back from the ExCel centre when waiting for the train at Shadwell! With that in mind, tune of the day is "The Imperial March" by John Williams from the Star Wars movies.

Later on after getting ourselves showered, changed and ready we headed off for a meal for the evening, and so off to the South End and the Restaurant Quarter of Croydon no less. I had booked the Italian restaurant Tre Fratelli, and that proved to be a good move all round. The staff were lovely, and really chatty too, and the food was spot on too. I had the minestrone soup to start which was wholesome and plenty of it, The Love had the bruschetta with shed loads of tomatoes, and Mum had the garlic bread, and that looked rather nice also.

The mains were even lovelier, and lots of them in the portions too. In fact I'd have happily had the main on its own to be honest. The penne carbonara I had (note: you had a choice of which pasta to go with each of the pasta dishes, a nice touch that) and lots of pasta and a good sauce, and lots of pancetta too. The Love went for one of the specials, the lamb in a red wine sauce with some vegetables, and the lamb was stunningly nice, as I tried a piece later. Mum had chicken in a cream and mushroom sauce with vegetables, and there were shed loads of chicken in that too. In fact I'd have had any of the mains we had and have been happy. And the price was reasonable too it has to be said!

We walked back to mine later on and had a drink at the flat, and Mum was really surprised when I showed her how many restaurants were along that stretch and how good the reputation is generally. It's so true - we've been in a couple now and I've been tempted to have a few different places myself tried out when I've been on my own and can't be meithered cooking. I walked Mum back to the hotel later and she was really pleased all round, so good to see it was going well.

 

Friday 15th July - Meet The Parent

So it was a day off today (primarily as I need to use all my leave before I leave the current job, as I won't be getting paid for any untaken leave, a direct contrast to my last place which did so) and the time was well spent mainly sorting out the flat, doing a lot of washing and ironing, and also keeping an eye on the fact that the window cleaners were abseiling down the apartment block and getting all the exterior windows all nice and cleam, and perfectly timed too really.

I also had a Tesco food delivery arriving too and that did so just before 3pm, so nicely in on time and indeed as the concierge was on during the day it meant that they were able to come to the door rather than me have to buzz them in from the front entrance too, so all good there really. It was especially good as all of what I ordered arrived without issue, so it meant plenty in for the forthcoming weekend ahead, and also a nice feeling of being all sorted out and neat and tidy too.

Later on I left the flat and headed out to East Croydon station, and the first train was going towards St Pancras, so I got off at Farringdon and headed along the Hammersmith and City Line to Euston Square (possible practice for trips to Manchester based on the new workplace of course) and then walked to Euston. As it transpired the train carrying The Love In My Heart plus Mum was delayed due to an incident at Nuneaton, and so it was a case of heading off to the pub for a quick drink before then going back to the station.

Sure enough around 25 minutes of delay meant that they both arrived around 7.45pm, but it was good to see The Love and Mum, and we soon were heading down to Euston tube station, "Going Underground" as The Jam would say (make that tune of the day as in essence it was what Mum was going to sing before we reminded her people don't generally speak on the tube and all that). Anyway, we got down to the Victoria Line and it was her first experience ever of that, and suffice to say it's not her favourite. She does at least have a contactless card so it can be used a la Oyster which was useful (saved her getting one and all that rigmarole.) Soon we were at Victoria and made the train to East Croydon too.

We soon arrived at East Croydon and ensured Mum got checked in to her hotel (all was good there and it was easier for her to stay there and have her own space at night) and then we headed back to mine for a bit so she could see the new flat. And she loved it, much more than I expected that she would. In fact it's made her think about that if she does move out of the house with it being too big, she might like something similar in the future. It was good that she liked it and makes me feel even happier about it all.

We watched Celebrity First Dates later on via Channel 4 +1 and were a little surprised to see that none of the dates worked out that well. Ironically as it turned out Scarlett Moffatt from Gogglebox ended up gaining in confidence and then meeting someone similarly beardy a few months later and all appears to be well there. Jo Wood I thought would go for the bloke she was dating but no, and there was no spark with Ashleigh (minus her famous dog Pudsey) and her date either. I walked Mum back to the hotel later and headed home, and snuggled up to The Love as we reflected on a long but worthwhile day.

Thursday 14th July - Porterhouse and Porte Ouverte

Another productive day actually, and one where I did get a lot done. I was asked if some of the Zenworks satellite servers, being physical servers and all, could possibly be provisioned with the Intel AMT configuration, and actually having checked them, they were just standard desktop PCs and so if required could be duly configured after all, so quite a nice surprise that. In essence the way they'd be done would be the same, only it seemed that some of the Windows 2008 servers weren't quite as well configured as I'd like, so it took a little minor tweak to get everything going.

But I must admit I was pleased to see that all but two of them were all configured and ready to respond by the end of the day, and the two that weren't had a good reason - one appeared to be completely powered off, so no power - no configuration, and the other didn't have any AMT stuff enabled in the BIOS either, so no wonder it wasn't going to respond like it should. At least having investigated that it shows that valid reasons are always a good thing to report back.

It was good to be out and about later on, as a few of us were meeting up close to Covent Garden with one of our former colleagues for a catch up and drink - and it was at a place that The Love In My Heart and I have been a couple of times and liked it - the Porterhouse on Maiden Lane. They have a good selection of real ales and beers all round, and with lots of stairs to little floors all in the style of a former luxury ship, it's definitely unique, and you can hear yourself talk too which has to be a positive thing in my eyes.

I did have the rather nice Oyster Stout too, which was lovely and black, argubaly a lot better than Guinness tastes these days, and in addition had a really nice flavour to it overall. I also indulged in the Mad Goose ale too, which looked a nice colour and definitely went down the right way. As I knew I wanted to get the flat all sorted for the weekend and indeed with tomorrow off, I left later on and headed along the short walk to Charing Cross station, taking the train to Elmers End and then the tram home, which actually was a decent journey all round it has to be said.

I was going to go to bed later on but then I saw the breaking news what was going on in Nice, and that upset me terribly. I have spent many a lovely time with The Love In My Heart there (indeed, we were there for her birthday a few months back) and walked along the Promenade des Anglais, always a nice thing to do especially if the weather is lovely. The Bastille Day celebrations meant people were out living life and enjoying themselves, and then along comes a lorry, swerving, firing bullets and attempting to kill as many as possible. Words absolutely fail me how horrible it all seemed.

The locals opened their doors to those who needed it in a sign of solidarity, using the Porte Ouverte hash tag, and sensibly also ensuring that those who needed it got the message privately rather than publicly place their address online (just in case, a sensible move) and the feeling of goodwill in those awful times shows just how much good there is in this world, and how we must all be together as one to spread that goodness and defeat the evil that lurks everywhere. As I went to bed only one song entered my head for tune of the day, the French national anthem La Marsellaise, and especially the last rousing part, where the inspiration is to march for freedom, and somehow that all seems apt. My heart is with the people in Nice right now.

Wednesday 13th July - Changes

Another bizarre day in the political world of this country, to say the least. We have the new Prime Minister in Theresa May and she officially took over from David Cameron today. And what does she do? Appoint no less than Boris Johnson as Foreign Secretary. I'll just leave that there for a second and see what the reaction is - apart from the stunned look of "really?" from all and sundry. When I spoke to The Love In My Heart tonight and broke the news to her, she paused and then went "you what? This is a wind up, right?" or something similar. Hard to believe isn't it?

It was also another date of some change for me too, as I had the official confirmation that all the pre-employment checks all came back spot on, which clears the way to allow me to start the job on the day we had previously agreed. It is all a new and exciting venture, and I must admit I am looking forward to it a heck of a lot. Granted, I will miss the colleagues I've worked with over the last few months and they have been a really good bunch too, but they've also been professional enough to understand my reasoning to move on. And it's not something I took lightly to make the decision of either.

I also spent some time tonight sorting out plenty of paperwork as well, and found there was plenty that needed a good shredding and tearing apart, which is what I did before then taking all the recycling out to the recycling containers at the bottom of the apartment block. In essence, it's been a good move to do, I certainly am wanting to keep on top of the clutter somewhat and also means too that it's all even more neat and tidy than normal ready for the visit of The Love and indeed my Mum this weekend.

I then watched Long Lost Family, and that was really emotional tonight. I suspect many of us will have had floods of tears in their eyes tonight as Davina and Nicky had done their research on two people, whom unknown to them, were actually looking for the same mother, and a DNA test actually showed that the two people were half-brother and half-sister. In the end that unexpected bonus of them finding each other was a real feeling of jou and happiness, which was special. They did find their mother in the end but she wanted no contact, but at least their search ended up being complete - and they have each other, which is a lovely thing.

In the meantime, tune of the day is the lovely "Make It With You" by Bread, which I had a good play of the 7" single that The Love got for me the other day, and sounded pretty good on my speakers too. I know it's something Mum would also approve of, as I can remember getting her the David Gates Songbook compilation CD a good few years back. I think too it's also good to remember the old classics as per the Nationwide advert that it's recently appeared in.

Tuesday 12th July - Haircut One Hundred

It was a mixed bag of weather today, either really sunny or completely chucking it down. In fact I took the light rain coat with me and it made perfect sense to have that on to be honest, as at lunch time the rain came a plenty, and on the way homeward it also made an appearance. Not that I was going the quick way home tonight mind you, as I thought that I needed to have my hair cut, and having found a really good place to get that done, it was on the bus to Waterloo, train to Wimbledon and a quick tube run to Wimbledon Park and off to James Barbers.

The blokes in there are sound and the one who does my haircut usually has a mod style of his own, and judging by the music playing (with a Youtube mix from a Smart TV, good idea) it was mainly old ska and Northern Soul stuff. It turns out that he does DJing as well, and we had a good natter how difficult it is to get the right mix of the classics for everyone to dance around to, and the more obscure ones (maybe earlier on in the set to warm up) for the real fans who like to listen to everything. Naturally of course there are occasions where the balance is tipped (for example a birthday) where the birthday person likes a particular song too..

It was nice actually to hear different tracks, and not all of them necessarily ones you'd hear either, and one stuck out and so is tune of the day - from Gloria Jones, who of course sang the original version of Tainted Love way before Soft Cell. An earlier track of hers was played, "Come Go With Me" and like with many songs of the era were crammed nicely into a couple of minutes of short and sweetness, and indeed, it's definitely well worth a listen. And the haircut looked as good as ever, nice and short without being too short, and all neat and tidy - and I like it like that with the weather being warm particularly.

I also spent a fair bit of time assisting a colleague today with Gerber Accumark 10. For the uninitiated amongst you, it is perhaps one of the most awful pieces of software written. And indeed, not really designed for an educational or enterprise environment - its ideal place is one standalone PC where the single user is a full administrator. The number of hoops to jump through is perhaps sizeable ones of fire. It is the equivalent of how poorly Southern run their trains as part of the Govia Thameslink Railway franchise, yes, that bad.

Anyway, from what I remembered having to battle with 8.5 at my last place, one of the components requires that all users require full registry rights in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE to a set of keys in there for the software, and on top of that they have a startup manager running which asks every new user on login to accept a licence agreement, with no easy way of suppressing that unless you disable their startup manager on login, then have to check that it isn't already running, and run it before you run the main software. Like I said, just awful.

Monday 11th July - Southern Shrinkage

So today was the first day of the revised timetables from Southern Railway, meaning 341 less trains running on their network per day, and in addition, a lot of those being withdrawals of certain services, so no Milton Keynes to East Croydon, and hardly anything from Seaford to Lewes either, which is pretty appalling all round. I did at least manage to get on the 0702 to London Bridge from East Croydon and got a seat, although there weren't that many left, and then took the bus from London Bridge to work.

I got on with plenty today, including further documentation for the Intel AMT project and lots of troubleshooting documentation for if provisioning a machine doesn't go according to plan. In actual terms I've worked out that so far a small number out of 1700 PCs in all (around 50 or so) have failed, most of which are because they're PCs with two network cards, and the network is plugged in incorrectly into the other card. I expected this and did come up with a bit of scripting to stop provisioning happening, but if that runs before the script is able to see what it can do and then run, it would make an attempt..

I also upgraded the licence server software for Solidworks, and thankfully, all seems well indeed (in fact I sensibly took a snapshot before I started). In effect the serial number is the same, and so for a 2016 licence it can serve previous versions such as 2015 and 2014 as well. That also means that there isn't necessarily a major rush to upgrade clients because they'll work as they are. As it turns out though, the client install actually meant I could try something good out, which amazingly does work!

The admin option editor allows you to take control of the admindirector.xml file it uses for an admin based install, and associate different types of install within your admin image with options selected. So for example if one site uses a different serial number and licence server, no problem - in fact you can specify what machine names, what IP addresses etc are all in a group, and then when calling the master admin install, that is checked and the relevant options are used for the install. Actually that works rather well it has to be said.

So I'll spend tomorrow documenting that up nicely, and then tonight relax and listen to MJ Hibbett and the Validators' "20 Things To Do Before You're 30", the video to which is premiering at the moment and should be online in the next few days. It was good to help out with that one (obviously tune of the day) and overall it means that I've achieved another little goal I had - and that was to appear in an indie music video either side of being the big four zero. Success is mine, mwwwahaha (etc)

Sunday 10th July - Sunday Lunch At Mum's

We headed up and after a fair bit of attention given to the cats Jô and Brian, it was nice to have a light breakfast and a coffee, and see some of the wheelchair men's singles final at Wimbledon before the players had to be called off for rain. Admittedly it wasn't too clever weather wise in Manchester either and not far away at the Etihad Stadium a 10k race was happening, with some of the roads closed off whilst it took place early in the morning, and the noise from City Square certainly startled the kitties.

The Love and I headed off to Mum's, where she was making us Sunday lunch, but also we were going to sort out stuff for next weekend as Mum is coming down to visit me in Croydon - and coming with The Love for good measure. Mum had excelled herself with the lamb, beautifully done with potatoes, vegetables, Yorkshire puds and lovely gravy, and that really did fill me up nicely for the rest of the day too. I even had some carrot cake and cream later on.

It was also nice to see my brother and his girlfriend too and have a catch up chat with them. My brother was asking me about the new job, and that all appeared to be well, and also his girlfriend and The Love and I were all chatting about The Great British Sewing Bee - in fact, she used to work at one of those buildings used in this series when she worked in London, so there you go, small world and all that. I definitely am going to discover where abouts the café is at some point and go there too.

The time went by too quickly and we headed off later and had enough time for a quick drink in Sandbar, one of our old post-work haunts, and with it being out of term time it was lovely and quiet, and the Clwyd Gold was on fantastic form too, so no complaints there either really. The Love and I couldn't believe that the weekend had gone by so quickly either, but I guess it was a case of time flies when you're having fun. The Love dropped me off at Dale Street and I headed up to Piccadilly Station via Waitrose for my free coffee. And just in time to see one of the pubs showing Andy Murray clinching the Wimbledon win - so hurrah for that!

It was a leisurely journey back and I had the iPod on with some 3 Daft Monkeys, so the likes of the excellent "Civilised Debauchery" was playing too (make that tune of the day) along with one of my other favourites, "Agnes The Giant Killer" too. I must admit it'd be nice to be able to see them in Cornwall as well again like I did a couple of years back, and at least this time around it'd be a little less of a journey after all from Paddington. Must look into that for their Winter tour dates..

Saturday 9th July - Fixing and Market Shopping

It was nice just to be able to potter about The Love In My Heart's place. The rain was coming in thick and fast which scuppered any plans we might have had for a day out, but it did mean that I could see the free practice three and then some of the qualifying of the Formula 1 race from Silverstone, and in between that be able to relax with the two cats Jô and Brian. Brian particularly loves going outside now on his little harness, and he really does enjoy the fresh air and chasing imaginary flies around the front decking. Awww.

We thought it'd be nice later to head to Levenshulme Market as the weather dried a bit too, and so The Love headed there and we managed to get a space next to the Arcadia library and leisure centre, which did look good inside. I did take a glance from the end of the street at the old house - the sold sign has been removed now and the new owners appear to have been in. Not sure what work they'll be doing as yet to it but I suspect that when they do bits up and rent it out, it'll all be shipshape for someone else to live there and be on a good commuter route. Because of my move away, I had already become emotionally detached from the place anyhow.

We had a good mooch around the market and actually both us ended up buying a little something each from there - The Love saw this lovely little card and snagged that for a relatively good price, and I was sorely tempted by the vinyl and CDs on offer from two different sellers there, but resisted and got something else instead. It was a good mix of people around and it was nice to see that despite the weather the turnout was good. I then nipped to one of the local pound/discount shops and located a DVD lens cleaner for £1, so that was purchased for a little fixing mission later on.

We headed to the Gateway pub for a light lunch, and I ended up having the hot dog and The Love had the cheese and ham deli toastie. It was enough for us both complete with drink, and the telly also showed that Serena Williams had won the women's singles at Wimbledon, so she was lifting the trophy and all that. The weather though was still a bit on off to be honest, and so we then headed back to The Love's place, and we ended up seeing some of the men's doubles finals, where Nicolas Mahut can now be remembered for something other than the epic 70-68 final set defeat to John Isner - Mahut and his partner won the final in straight sets.

We also saw Venus and Serena Williams win the women's doubles later on, so it was a case of epic winnage for Serena today. On a British note too, the wheelchair men's doubles team won, and one of the two, Gordon Reid, was going in the wheelchair singles final tomorrow also. I must admit it's good when Wimbledon produces some quality like this and only makes me more determined to get the ballot form done for next year and apply (and fingers crossed be successful too and make a lovely time of it). The closing theme "Sporting Occasion" by Arnold Steck is therefore tune of the day.

We then saw the lottery draw after putting up with the amazingly thick contestants on In It To Win It, and I used the DVD lens cleaner on The Love's DVD player. It came up and span round, and said "nothing to play" but that's because the disc doesn't have anything to play, it just means putting it in invokes enough of a spin to brush off the dust and crap from the lens. Sure enough, I put in a couple of discs and all was working again, so that was rather nice to be able to have all that done to be honest.

Friday 8th July - Up North and Celebrity First Dates

So it was up North and back to Manchester tonight to see The Love In My Heart, which is always a lovely thing to do, even if it does mean a train journey from London Euston to Manchester. Granted, at least it's with Virgin Trains, who in my view do a very good job with their service, much more so than that awful Govia Thameslink Railway that has Thameslink and Southern under their remit. And in addition, knowing the seat is reserved on the 1840 departure means that all is good there.

As for today, I spent some time submitting a couple of planned changes next weekend, mainly to do with disk drive space on two servers and how that work is going to integrate with the way that the infrastructure can be improved suitably well. On the whole it's a pretty good thing, not least because it means that there's expandability for the future, which is needed, and also a suitable way forward to be able to progress and make sure more applications can be deployed.

I stayed back to write some more documentation a bit and then headed on the 68 bus to Euston. This will actually be the last Friday I do this journey now, as the new job trip to Euston will be a simple case of either Farringdon to Euston Square tube, or 63 to Kings Cross and then 10, 59 or 91 to Euston. Notably as well there's a planned change coming in so if you change buses once in an hour, the second journey counts the same as the first one - nice for pay as you go Oyster users for definite. It did its usual nice journey over Waterloo Bridge, round Aldwych and then straight up to Euston.

Notably, Boots seem to reduce their sandwiches in the station after 6pm, so all the sandwiches were £1, so a chicken and bacon one was just the right thing for me to have for tea and to have something on the journey back up. Of course having an advance text of the platform helps, and so was on platform 5 before the mad rush to board the train. It was relatively chilled, and blasted out some classic Nine Inch Nails from the iPod, including the classic "Suck" hidden track from the Broken EP (make that tune of the day for obvious reasons)

I arrived at Manchester Piccadilly on time, and The Love In My Heart came to collect me. We headed back to hers and after a brief fuss over the cats Jô and Brian, we settled in with Channel 4 +1, so we could watch Gogglesprogs first, and smile at the way that the children on there looked at television programmes, and films too. I would love to know what one of my friends thought of the sprogs' critique of the classic film The Wizard of Oz, not least as it's one of her favourites!

Celebrity First Dates was a real eye opener, and The Love and I enjoyed that. Naturally it's the same staff, so The Love was admiring Fred looking all cool, and I was admiring Cici being all chic. It was fascinating to see Esther Rantzen on a date with a seemingly nice Irish bloke, who fluffed his lines afterwards when it came to the age thing. Oops. I thought that the former woman from TOWIE Jessica was going to go on a second date, but no luck there. I think it'll be fascinating to see how Scarlett Moffatt from Gogglebox does in next week's episode though...

Thursday 7th July - All Systems Go

It was another productive day and one indeed where I'd hit another milestone in Intel AMT provisioning - we're now at around 1,600 PCs in all which have been safely and securely provisioned, so all is good there. In fact I was able to spot that as machines were coming in, which site had the most that had been successful, and so as a result it meant that I could look at ensuring those details were accurate. I also had set up a job to backup the small SQL database with all the records in, and that was successful, with each day having a date stamp in so it will continually do a daily backup too - thought it made more sense really.

I also looked at working on a few other bits and pieces, and documented some others as well, but the announcement that was a little bit of a surprise was that one of our senior managers was announcing that he was leaving too and heading to another university in London. It seemed clear that he'd seen the job, gone for it, gone through some tests etc and then was offered the position. I was amongst the first to congratulate him as I know that it's always a good feeling when you've achieved what you set out to do and get something else that's argubaly just as good - and a new challenge for him also.

I headed off at lunch time to sort out a birthday card and gift card for one of my relations' birthdays this weekend, and also made sure that I posted that on the way home. In fact it meant I was able to get some stamps which I needed to do anyway, as I thought it best to post some other bits off including a notice to the current pension fund that I don't want to transfer from my previous one but to keep all the deferred benefits with them - as they're pretty good and it made more sense to have the eighteen years plus of contributions kept safe and up North too.

I saw some of the tennis when I got home, and noticed that Serena Williams had made it to to the final but will play not her elder sister Venus, but the very good German Angelique Kerber, who definitely seems to be playing a lot better on grass these days. It is the semi finals for the men tomorrow and I know that a lot of us will be cheering on Andy Murray. In fact, I'd like a Murray v Federer final which would be quite fitting, and a chance for Andy to possibly avenge the defeat in 2012, or Roger to end up with an eighth title and be the leading man of all time in terms of Wimbledon wins..

Tune of the day in the meantime is the utterly still brilliantly ace "Everybody's Happy Nowadays" by Buzzcocks, it just makes you feel happy inside as Pete Shelley sings along joyously and the chorus with the chords just gives you a sense of a massive smile. It does to me anyway, and it also gives me a happy reminder of growing up listening to that too. It shows that well crafted punk pop songs last the test of time, and I'll even forgive Ash for their cover version and allowing Chris bloody Martin to sing with them on it...

Wednesday 6th July - Tea For Three

Another trip out straight from work for me tonight, but with a very good reason. The Love In My Heart had told me that her sister and father were heading off to London before then getting the Eurostar tomorrow to head to Brussels, stay there and then head off to Maastricht to see André Rieu play live. The Love's father is a fan, and he enjoys the music, and by all accounts the live show is quite a spectacle. And to be fair, seeing him in his home town would be like me seeing Morrissey in Manchester (incidentally he will be doing just that next month, woohoo) so I can understand just why he'd be looking forward to it.

I had arrange with The Love's sister to let me know where they were when I finished work, and I'd head off to meet them. As it was, they had been on the London Eye, didn't go on the river cruise but were near the Eye, so I suggested heading towards the Festival Pier close to Waterloo Bridge and we could meet there. In fact they had grabbed an outside table at Giraffe close to the pier, so once I got the 68 bus and got off at Waterloo Bridge, it was then a short walk to meet up with them.

It was nice to chatter and catch up, and the sun had come out so the weather was lovely as we sat outside, I had a mineral water to keep nice and hydrated and I think it was good to see that they'd enjoyed being on the Eye, even if the sun was in such a way that taking some pictures from the capsule may have proved to be a little on the difficult side. Still though, it was an enjoyable ride, and he asked me if it was a river or lake close to Horse Guards Parade - it's actually the lake in St James' Park so I mentioned that along the way.

As they both had contactless cards so in effect they could travel Oyster style, I suggested we head back to Euston on the 68 bus, and then head off to the Crown and Anchor for tea - not least as The Love had already recommended it to her sister too. It also meant that they'd be travelling on one of the new style Routemaster buses, so has to be a definite plus. Indeed, it sped over to Aldwych and along Southampton Row and then onwards to Euston. It was a quickish journey, and we soon walked along to the Crown and Anchor, and got a table too - so hurrah for that!

In fact it was all very relaxed there too, and they had the tennis on with Andy Murray, so naturally kept an eye open for the scores there too. I must admit though that it was also nice cos the food was spot on as per usual - The Love's father had the sea bass with the dauphinoise potatoes, and it looked stunningly nice. The Love's sister and I had the chicken and ham hock pie, which was on top form as per usual, and just the right amount of jus and mash to make it all fab. I even had the Orkney Brewery's excellent "Dark Island" which is a nice dark ale too.

I then walked back with them past Euston and Kings Cross and to the Travelodge they were staying at, and they were happy to see me and it was a good evening all round. I then headed to Farringdon and got the train back to East Croydon, and The Love informed me Andy Murray had won (eventually), and then at home saw the Wales v Portugal game, which Portugal won 2-0 with two goals within three minutes of each other. I did feel gutted for Wales but it's proof again that every time you get a really good official song by a band, you do well. "World in Motion" in 1990 and "Three Lions" in 1996 for England, and now the Manic Street Preachers' "Together Stronger (C'Mon Wales)" for 2016. Tune of the day that one, as it's mightily ace and rousing.

Tuesday 5th July - Totally Acoustic 80s Styled

It was off after work towards the King and Queen in Fitzrovia for tonight's Totally Acoustic gig, and indeed seeing someone I'd seen there before who was very entertaining - Kriss Foster. In addition, the possibility of an 80s singalong with a Rock Band 3 keytar and a variety of instruments, plus sung by one of the former staff of Amiga Power magazine got the 80s vibe in for me and made it even more a compulsive "like to go and see it" sort of moment. I knew I had time on my hands before the gig though, so headed towards Russell Square and the Brunswick shopping centre there first.

It was (again!) a whole little meal for tea for less than £1. So I know what you're asking - how did I manage that? Easily as it happens. I got a pot tuna pasta snack from Boots that had been reduced to 50p, all good there, and then into Waitrose as well, and got my usual complimentary coffee and then in the bakery section I'd spotted that some of the pastries had been reduced, so got a gorgeous cinnamon swirl bun for a mere 30p, so all told then, 80p spent and had a main, dessert and drink. Hard to beat I think and also means that for the thrifty Northerner amongst us, more for a drink later if I needed it.

With that all consumed I saw Mark and Steve in the pub, and had a good natter to them as they were fairly relaxed and the acts came in, who were all good. Tim Eveleigh who runs the Croydon Comedy Festival was also there along with the fab Jenny Lockyer too, so was good to see lots of people anyway, and once we were all upstairs and ready to go, Mark kicked things off with two tracks from the new MJ Hibbett and the Validators album, including "(You Make Me Feel) Soft Rock" which had everyone doing the punching the air line with customary punch, sort of like, yaay.

Up next were My Favourite Andy, who were a twosome and sang some good acoustic numbers. Actually, the gorgeous "Hummingbird" was a beautiful song and the two together had some good harmonies also, and that got the audience all smiling. I also liked "Stay" which one claimed was about a relationship, and the other was a bit less generous - referring more to what had happened after a one night stand. Either way it was sincerely and nicely sung too, so that got everyone all feeling all warm inside. Awww.

So next was Dave Green and his Fake Dave Green 80s synth singalong, featuring his mate Rob as the Denmark Massive. Not because he lives in Denmark Hill, but because the film War Games has those words featured when you play as Denmark in the computer war game. And semi-apt too, as the set was all about songs which had a reference to the threat of nuclear war and other such stuff in the 1980s. It was a four song set with the likes of Together in Electric Dreams in there, plus a nice nod to Depeche Mode's "Just Can't Get Enough" and a medley featuring versions of 99 Red Balloons, Two Tribes and Atomic. If that isn't 80s enough for you, I don't know what is. And we all sang along too, ace!

Last but definitely not least was Kriss Foster. He had a little box which got passed round the room, which you opened and had a question for him that you asked and he would then answer with a song, effectively making it a randomly picked set of songs from random people opening the box, which he called his little museum. I adored "Stop Feeding My Cat" which was a case of how the next door neighbour would keep feeding his cat and then ending up rather fat and not eating any food which he had left, plus the story "I Waited For You At The Service Station", a tale of waiting for a date at Bolton West (now Rivington) Services on the M61, and how it ended up that they were on opposite sides (north and south bound), which was hilarious. The best of all though was "Vimto" (tune of the day) which refers to a very popular Northern drink that I love. And it's sung with such affection too. Fab.

In fact some of Kriss' songs reminded me of the likes of Frank Sidebottom, and I had a chat with Kriss afterwards which pretty much confirmed it (and we've both backed the Being Frank documentary) and it was good to see we were able to mention all sorts of good stuff. In fact we were both there at the statue unveiling in Timperley as well (I told him how The Love In My Heart did not expect it to be busy but the police had to in the end close the road off, true anarchy in Timperley as Frank would have called it himself!) - a fab night all round then and was tired but happy when I got home.

Monday 4th July - New Month and New Job Coming Soon

So another day or so of documenting plenty of stuff, and this time the Microsoft BootXRay documents which I had been working on at the back end of last week. I completed the document to do a manual trace of a diagnostic boot, and then worked on the way to sorting out how the client was being distributed and configured, and on top to also show the spreadsheet and all the diagnostic data it interprets. In essence for me it's also about the fact that I like to make sure everything is fairly documented.

Especially as within the next few weeks I shall be starting a new job! Most of my friends already know about this, but in essence I was head hunted for a position that interested me, and after having a telephone interview coupled with two face to face interviews thereafter, I was offered my new position, which I have accepted, and so am currently working my notice in my current job. I have to admit I was surprised to be able to progress in the way that I have, but when I weighed up the prospects between the two (and both did offer opportunities) the chance to go back to the likes of SCCM 2012 was just too good a lure to not take seriously.

It is worth mentioning of course that I had been at my previous job a good fifteen years or so before heading to the job I'm currently in now, so it's not as if I am a serial job mover or anything like that. Indeed, the job I am has given me a chance to show that I'm good at what I do, and indeed I know that many colleagues, not just that within the team I work with, are geniunely sorry to see me go. However, they've also been very professional in wishing me all the best for the future and know that my qualities are those which are valued the right way.

So my current job has been advertised, and I do know a couple of people internally who may be suitable for the position, one of which I had a chat to this morning and suggested strongly that he should apply. He definitely has a good skill set, and also has the right approach to problem solving and getting stuck in, and would also work well with my colleague who started recently who also had been coming up through the ranks internally. I think too that some may see it as a good opportunity, and definitely it's well worth going for if you see it.

As for me, it's going to be a new challenge but one I am going to relish, and one also that I think will really push on from. Although it is more in central London, so more in terms of travel costs, it's actually more than offset by the salary increase, and the fact that on top of that the pension contributions to the scheme that is operated by my new employer only requires around half the percentage that my current one does, that alone may even offset the travel cost increase, so then any extra salary is effectively mine.

When I also think about it, currently I use a Zones 2-5 Travelcard as my station is Zone 1/2 border (handy.) This does mean though any time I go through Central London and Zone 1 (such as travel from Euston to Victoria on the way home from seeing The Love, or heading home from a gig etc) I have to pay the Oyster Extension for the zones I don't cover, normally around £2.50 a throw. So when I add that on to my costs for the travelcard, it does increase it a little. At least when I am working in the centre, all my travel would be covered by Zones 1-5 (in case you're wondering, both Croydon stations are in Zone 5) and that'd be good.

So lots to look forward to, and plenty to get done with the current job to make sure I hand over everything as smoothly as possible to ease their transition, I only feel it right that I do that (and had done the same at the last job too.) It's another exciting challenge, and I don't have to face the stress of finding somewhere to rent, or indeed look at renting or selling my old house, as all of that has effectively been done now. So in effect, all good and good to go.

Tune of the day in the meantime is the classic "20 Things To Do Before You're 30", the opening track by MJ Hibbett and the Validators to their new album "Still Valid". It's spot on in its content and has a good indie pop edge to it, complete with the fact that actually there are much better things to do to be honest, such as eating shortbread. Read my review and then head over to the website and buy the album. I implore you do to so, forthwith!

Sunday 3rd July - Capital Ringing, Part 2

I had a leisurely morning sorting some stuff out in the flat, including some washing and ironing, and also tuned in to see some of the early coverage of the middle Sunday at Wimbledon. It was good to see a crowd who had all got tickets online yesterday being there and creating a good atmosphere, and that was nice to see. In fact Coco Vanderweghe's match against Roberta Vinci was good all round, and I suspected once Coco had taken the first set that she'd get through and win the second one, and so it proved. It was also nice to see she did so with a smile on her face too, hurrah for that.

I decided then to spend a little time this afternoon taking on section two of the Capital Ring Walk, this time going from Falconwood to Grove Park. I was half tempted to try sections two and three, but section three is eight miles so am going to do that another time, and just take on the four miles of section two. It was therefore time to head out to Falconwood, so got the tram to Elmers End, took the train to Lewisham and swapped there for the train to Falconwood, assisting a couple of mums with their prams up the stairs as there was no lift in the station (and they say London is supposed to be accessible? A lift here would help considerably, especially for wheelchair users)

So from Falconwood it was through the Shepherdleas Woods, along to the bridge over the A2 and into Eltham Park South, where the sun was out and the grass was very green. Walking along a tree lined path and past the tennis courts, it was then out and down a road which took me to Butterfly Lane, and at the bottom following a little path which took you to the red brick monument that was the source of the water supply to Eltham Palace. Following a road, it was then alongside a large brick wall and to Eltham Palace itself - and the water supply source was some three quarters of a mile or so away, impressive stuff.

Eltham Palace looked lovely and definitely a place that I'm going to look at visiting with The Love In My Heart if we get chance, especially as the art deco styled building was especially lovely from the outside, never mind inside. The bridge over the moat was rather nice too, and could easily have spent lots of time here to be honest. Instead I followed King John's Walk, past some fields of horses and another with donkeys in, and indeed the view from here over many parts of London was a rather good view to admire to be honest.

From there it was then across a railway line, off to Mottingham Lane, and following a small narrow path with a little mud and dirt, and walking alongside the Quaggy River (great name eh?) and following round the outside of a cricket ground and then to its pavilion, and coming to the road Marvels Lane meant that it was close to the end - and so following the path a bit further and up the road towards Grove Park station meant that the section was at an end. Section three looks a monster but also noticeably looks like a part repeat of the Green Chain section I've done previously, interesting stuff...

So as no trains were running properly from Grove Park due to engineering work, I quickly formulated another plan and so from the station I took the 284 bus to Catford, and got off at Catford Bridge station. It was then a train to Elmers End and the tram back to Croydon which actually worked pretty well, so I'll have to remember that way to get to the start of section three next time around. In fact I got home in good time for the Formula E live race and the Formula 1 race highlights later ..

And wow, what a twosome of races that was! In Formula E, the title rivals Lucas di Grassi and Sebastien Buemi collided at turn three, in a similar sort of way to the infamous 1990 Japanese Grand Prix, Prost vs Senna style. Buemi was able to get his car back to the pits, go early in the second car, and eventually set the fastest lap to mean two bonus points and the title win by those points. Di Grassi was later fairly in my view reprimanded for his actions, as to me it looked like a deliberate move to take Buemi out, and the stewards agreed with my view.

In Formula 1, it was all getting a tad tense as Lewis Hamilton was trailing Nico Rosberg, but on the first corner of the last lap, Rosberg made an error, Hamilton then overtook on the outside of turn two only for Rosberg to hit him, and damage his own car. Hamilton went on to win, Rosberg limped home in fourth, and Jenson Button finished an excellent sixth in the underpowered McLaren, along with Pascal Wehrlein scoring a point for Manor too (and well done him also.) But the war of words at Mercedes and the look of Toto Wolff's face was classic to say the least - would have loved to be a fly on the wall after that! Tune of the day though has to be "Crash" by the Primitives - seemed rather apt actually..

Saturday 2nd July - Capital Ringing

As this was a weekend alone and without The Love In My Heart (boo!) it meant I had some free time to do my own thing. I thought about looking at getting tickets for the Middle Sunday at Wimbledon tomorrow, and had tried via my phone, but no can do. I had got home later and tried, but all gone. Ah well. I must remember to apply for the ballot and go for next year and see if I am successful or not, as that would be pretty good to be able to go again after The Love and I saw Andy Murray in 2013 on Centre Court in the third round (he went on to win it too so that was indeed a very special thing.)

I decided to take on another leg of the Capital Ring Walk in my mission to be able to do all fifteen legs of the whole walk and be able to keep fit at the same time. For me, it's been good as it's allowed me to explore more of London generally and maybe even find some nice new places to visit for myself and The Love, so it serves a number of good purposes. So with that in mind, it was off on the train to New Cross Gate, and then on the 177 bus through Greenwich and onwards to Woolwich, getting off close to the Woolwich Ferry and the entrance to the foot tunnel, where the Capital Ring officially starts and ends its 78 mile loop.

Section 1 was around seven miles or so, and I started walking along the Thames with the barrier in the distance before heading off to the main road and crossing over to Maryon Park. There was a series of steps that was a steep climb to the top of the hill before crossing over in Maryon Wilson Park, with its animal park within. I spotted some lovely deer, especially little baby ones, and had to stop to admire them to be perfectly honest, they were all lovely and adorable. I think it's because I've seen them lots of Dunham Massey before that it just makes me feel all warm inside seeing them. I know. Awwww indeed.

With that it was then up another hill out of the park, crossing to Charlton Park and seeing the many games of football happening there, and then heading out of there, walking down a street and then to Hornfair Park, where a rather good BMX track now is and indeed plenty of people out and about riding. I took a left and crossed over and walked through Woolwich Common, with its large open space and elevated view feeling quite free and happy there.

More hills came about walking up Shooters Hill and the first of many forest paths came up, but with good reason as I headed to Severndroog Castle with its triangular arrangement of turrets. Very eccentric, and the tea room there would have been worth me visiting but the castle was being used for a wedding, which I can entirely see that it would be good. It did start to throw it down with rain so I stopped and paused whilst under the trees by the castle.

I headed down the hill and the sun came out, and the open space by Jack Wood looked rather nice. Jack Wood itself though was plenty of trees, arrows marked in yellow on some trees giving you a sense of direction, and then the mud, and plenty of it too. In fact it was good to eventually follow the path out of there and come to the café at Oxleas Meadows, with its rather elevated position offering an excellent view, and I did admire that quite a bit actually.

It was then through the Oxelas Wood and heading to the Rochester Way, and crossing over here into Shepherdleas Wood, and through there towards Eltham Park North with its Long Pond and that was quite nice too, before then heading along a wooded path running alongside the A2 and the railway to head to Falconwood Station. Lots of green space and woods throughout, and the rain had made some parts a little muddier, but I had managed to get through them relatively okay. It's also one of the longest sections done with, so that's good. Section three is about the longest I think - eight miles, and I've done the 7.5 miles of Wimbledon Park to Richmond also.

I got home later and in time for the Formula E race from Battersea Park, so watched that (the decent tickets were just a little too expensive so decided against it) and it was a good race, although the title battle between Lucas di Grassi and Sebastien Buemi meant both drivers were on edge, and Buemi wasn't handling that too well. He ran into Sam Bird on the line before he passed him as Bird had slowed down due to a shortage of electrical energy and needing to make it before reaching 0%.

I saw the F1 qualifying too and the final session with the rain was mental, especially as the drying track meant moving to slicks was a sensible move. Jenson Button excels in these conditions so for him to get that rubbish McLaren up to fifth, taking chances on the final lap and using his smooth driving style to perfection was something to enjoy. In fact that became third after grid penalties for Rosberg and Vettel, so well deserved all round for him. He was also class in his Channel 4 interview afterwards when asked about the start when he said "I'm not taking Lewis out - it's unfair, he's fighting for the Championship." Respect.

Tune of the day in the meantime is the rather good "Domain" by John Carpenter from the Lost Themes album. When walking through all the woods today I had that in my head, thinking how it would be a perfect accompaniment to someone walking through the woods with someone chasing them, especially the last two minutes or so, which woud work really well. Mental note also made to pick up the next CD in the series Lost Themes II at some point...

Friday 1st July - AMT Is Go

It was good to finally get moving on one the projects I've been working on - and that is getting the Intel AMT hardware implemented on a number of PCs where I am. In fact I had the change approved yesterday and so set things in motion this morning so that provisioning would start. I had all the applications ready so it was literally a case of associating the necessary PCs to the groups for the applications, and seeing what happened. Indeed I also had made sure that those steps would happen in order and that worked pretty well.

In fact by the end of the day I had over 1,000 clients provisioned with very few errors, and there's currently around 1,800 in all. There are more but currently there's one type of PC that has two network cards and a discovery test found that a lot of those were incorrectly connected, so I've put steps in place to ensure that they don't get provisioned yet. I also worked out a way of being able to have a few different views based on the IP address, which ties in to the campuses and sites and so means that will help later on with Powershell scripting.

The plan would then be that effectively I'd be able to script an alarm clock setting and read in all the workstations that are in the views, and so be able to set them accordingly. This then means we can then in turn ensure that Windows Updates kick in an hour or so after power on, and as we know that they will be on, all should be good, and in theory save a lot of hassle where people are waiting for updates to install and crack on with stuff.

I also continued to document the Microsoft BootXRay stuff as well and went through the whole spaces of creating a manual trace, and how that works when you analyse it. I was also asked to make a couple more visual guides for the AMT web access interface (also done) and it's been a caser of cracking on with things as much as I can. I definitely felt positive when heading home from the office today, despite the rather rubbish weather all around me.

Later on I settled in to see the Belgium v Wales game at Euro 2016, with my Tesco food delivery all arriving safe and sound and so meant I could have some tea and keep an eye on the footy. In fact Belgium scored a cracker through Nainggolan, only for Ashley Williams to head home an equaliser and at half time 1-1 was a pretty fair scoreline. I have to say I did think Belgium missed the leadership of Vincent Kompany, and after one good performance the other day, Eden Hazard returned to his usual Chelsea form (ie: he went missing) and was nowhere near as effective.

Wales pushed forward and the ball fell to Hal Robson-Kanu, he Cruyff turned thre defenders in one fell swoop and buried it past Courtois for 2-1. Mental. And what a cracking goal. It's worth mentioning that he currently has no contract at the moment, so what a way to get yourself a job by scoring such a goal. The hunger was there, the desire was there. The Wales fans sang "Are you watching England?" - and we were, mainly to cheer our Welsh comrades on, and when Sam Vokes headed for 3-1, Robbie Savage went all emotional as well as mental, and I didn't begrudge that at all, as it was genuine feeling for how much pride he and the whole of Wales felt.

It also shows yet again what team spirit and togetherness can do and belief in your team ability. You don't see Gareth Bale whinging about not being captain and being the aloof star player, he does his job and the Swansea and Wales captain Ashley Williams led by example. When you see the likes of them and Iceland doing well, and the England women last year, it shows just what can be achieved when you put your mind to it. Tune of the day is the official Welsh Euro 2016 song, "Stronger Together (C'mon Wales)" by the Manic Street Preachers.