Dear Diary... June 2014

Monday 30th June - Packaging and Stirring

It was a mixed bag today, but quite a different sort of mixed bag. I had a planned change to achieve today, which was moving the Vectorworks licence dongle from an old iMac in one building to one of our central racks, complete with the necessary setup needing doing on one of the servers concerned. In a good way it was great to be able to liaise, take the dongle over, check the dongle rack was correctly configured for all the servers that we need it to see, and then make sure the licence software was running.

I'd done a fair bit of the research beforehand so I knew full well that it made sense to have the licencing software installed, add the dongle in, and then have one of our Mac technicians add a modified version of the file nethasp.ini which makes the software look for the right licence server. That was all done, and it worked spot on and first go - and I could see from the licence monitor that everything worked correctly as intended as well, even better as far as I'm concerned.

I also this afternoon worked out just why even though I'd created the deployment for Autodesk Building Design Suite 2015 - it was failing to install. The reason is that even though the command line etc is correct, not all the content was sent to the distribution point correctly and so instead of around 30GB of install files, it only had 13GB there, and crucially a file missing which was the ini file that setup needed in order to make sure that everything was deployed correctly. Ho hum eh?

I had a nice walk part of the way home tonight in the sunshine and it was good to hear some nice tunes when I got home too, decided to put on Metallica's "S&M" live album which they did with a full symphony orchestra. Hearing the likes of Master of Puppets performed that way (make it tune of the day) definitely proved that it was a way that you could successfully put together guitars and strings and make the whole thing sound even more gorgeous and dark at the same time. Yes.

Later on I indulged a little in something nice to eat before the second half of France v Nigeria. I had some button mushrooms, some chicken, some beansprouts and these noodle nests, so I boiled a pan, put the nests in to simmer and cook nicely, then diced the chicken and sliced the mushrooms, added them to a pan and later on added some nice sauce and the beansprouts and noodles, and voila, one nice little stir fry dish done in next to no time, and indeed for much less money than I thought. Eating healthily for less? Yes please.

I also noticed that Rolf Harris had been found guilty of offences against children, and ironically with him being a children's television host and personality, it seems that there were many who could abuse their position of trust and power. It leaves a very sour taste in the mouth to think that plenty of us grew up with programmes with him presenting not realising what was actually happening behind the scenes. I'm just hopeful that by finding these people guilty that it shows that just because someone is famous that they're not above the law whatsoever.

Sunday 29th June - Late Night Drama

It was a fairly relaxed morning, as I spent some time sorting out the pictures I'd taken at Kew Gardens yesterday. Ironically the rain actually added to the look and feel of some of the shots because of the really dark clouds, and putting one of the palm house in black and white worked a treat, just to give it that moodiness and feeling rather dramatic. Sometimes without intending it, having a shot in black and white is a different challenge, you think more about how you're going to have it look, what brightness and contrast you want for best effect, and definitely a medium all on its own.

I spent some time in the early afternoon catching up with episodes of the new series of CSI that I've got on series record on my trusty Freeview HD recorder. It works out pretty well because I can then skip the commercials (two presses of the skip button = four minutes fast forward) and be able to really enjoy the episodes without interruptions. The second one I saw today was where they had a sort of Masterchef type competition but one of the contestants mysteriously died, and then another, and it all turned out to be an act of revenge, most likely best served cold (or to the other contestants as cooked eyeballs, ewww)

Later on I headed to my sister's place, as she was having a little get together for my niece's birthday, which is tomorrow - she'll be nine years old. Already. Time flies too fast and all that. My brother in law was doing a cracking job on the barbecue and had some really gorgeous Scottish steak burgers, that were rather nice, especially with a toasted sesame seed bun to go with it. The Love In My Heart was stuck in traffic due to all the cycling going on in the city centre, and it was lovely to see her when she arrived.

We tucked in to some rather nice food all round, and there was even a carrot cake for afters which I simply had to have a piece of, had to be done. There was a bouncy castle for the little ones, and they were happily bounding around on that - even my Mum had a go only for my three year old nephew to decide he wanted to play pile on with my Mum! It was all good natured though and everyone had a big grin on their face because of that - so all good really.

We headed back to mine later on and it was nice to sit back and relax for a bit with The Love. We ended up seeing most of the Celebrity edition of Catchphrase, primarily because one of the contestants was raising money for a charity very close to The Love's family's heart. I was also pleased for them that the particular contestant won and had a good go at getting the jackpot before landing over £16k in money for them - so that was pretty nice to see.

The rest of the day was taken up by the game with Greece and Costa Rica, which was dull as anything till Costa Rica scored - and then a bit later had a man sent off. Greece eventually decided they'd have to go for it and equalised in stoppage time. Costa Rica hung on till penalties with their goalkeeper Navas pulling off some superb saves to keep them in it. He also saved one of the penalties and with five superbly taken strikes, Costa Rica went through 5-3 and into the quarter finals, well deserved in my view.

Tune of the day in the meantime is the excellent "Shoot the Runner" by Kasabian, which I saw them perform on BBC Two as part of their headlining Sunday night Glastonbury set. They looked in pretty good form although someone did remark that the Greek striker Georgios Samaras and Serge from Kasabian could have been separated at birth if they wanted to be. It started off their set rather well though and by all accounts (I kept flicking over as I was seeing the football) it was a great end to a weekend for a lot of people..

Saturday 28th June - Kew The Rain

It was an early start for myself and The Love In My Heart this morning as we were both setting off for London together. We'd planned a day out a while back to head to the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, as we both wanted to go there and had never been. We also knew that we had a 2 for 1 voucher courtesy of the Days Out Guide, which meant that we'd be able to get in for £15 for the two of us, thus making it a rather nice day out for not that much money - always appreciated I think.

We got to Manchester Piccadilly station and headed on the 0815 to London Euston, which was a nice and stress free journey. It was interesting to see at Piccadilly just how many people either couldn't find their seat reservations, or were of the whinging type that were "oh, I'm not facing forward!" despite that option only ever being a preference when you book the ticket. We got to Euston on time and then headed up to the concourse, got our Oyster cards charged up, and then down to Platform 9 to get the London Overground service to Willesden Junction, changing there for another Overground service to Kew Gardens.

It was quite nice arriving at Kew Gardens, when you exited the station there were lots of nice little shops in a little shopping parade close by, and it really did feel quite a nice community and village spirit about the place, which we both loved. We followed the road to the Victoria Gate entrance for Kew Gardens and already noticed that it was starting to absolutely throw it down with rain. Indeed when we got through the admissions desk and had paid, we took shelter in the Victoria Arcade and café and had a well earned coffee there.

With a brief respite from the heavier rain, we headed over to the Palm House and walked around there, taking the spiral staircase to the top floor to get a view over the house, and indeed then went down to the basement to see the aquarium and even see two little clown fishes, effectively as I said to The Love that I had found Nemo! Of course plenty of families and children were doing the same sort of thing and waiting for either clown fish to appear from under the rocks as well, so quite interesting really.

We then walked along one of the main paths and towards the Princess of Wales Greenhouse, staying in there for a while to avoid the rain, as it lashed down and we saw the tropical plants and also the more cooler conditioned plants - each room was a different zone and air temperature, really nicely controlled overall. We headed out of there later and it was throwing it down, and even escaping to a nearby greenhouse with its rock gardens and waterfall close by wasn't enough.

We carried on walking and eventually the sun made an attempt to come out for a little while, and we soon arrived at the Orangery, and had some lunch there. It was nice to have some gorgeous chicken and sage soup, really well home made, with some crusty bread. The Love had some hummus and vegetable sticks along with some crisps, and that tied us over nicely - good to sit down too of course. It was still raining but not as heavily and so we walked onwards and headed to Kew Palace.

Kew Palace was really interesting actually, it had lots of historical features and some of the walls had been stripped back so you could see how they were built, along with exhibitions detailing how George III would have been here to escape the watching world and be able to play in the beautiful gardens and have the servants feed their every need. It was a real eye opener and well worth popping in to if you get chance whilst inside the gardens. The Queen's Gardens at the back with its nice tunnel of plants and rockery are also gorgeous too.

We walked along towards the back paths of Kew Gardens and soon saw one of the little stops for the road train, and next to that a view of the rather lovely King William's Temple, which we walked over to and admired the view from within. It was a nice surprise to find that and exiting the temple and following a path to the left led us towards a nice tree lined vista and towards the Temperate House. Of course, this gorgeous glass house is actually in the main closed for refurbishment, but you could go inside and see the work that needed to be done.

Inside you could see the beauty of the place: lots of spiral staircases leading to an upper level walkway, and the glass and white really showing off the building's gorgeous architecture. We also spotted a rather large peacock who was sheltering from the rain but also really bossing the place, walking around and strutting as if it was their own place. We then walked along towards the Japanese garden and discovered the pagoda (and another peacock) and it cost more to go up all the steps of the pagods to the top (some 250 plus steps too incidentally) and we would have had to go back to the ticket office to get a ticket. We did admire the view a lot though.

From there it was back via the ruined arch (you can see the ruins and the bits that have fallen off) and then past two galleries and the Temple of Bellona before arriving back at the main entrance, having a good look around the shops before exiting and facing yet more rain. We both agreed that despite the weather that the gardens were a beautiful place to visit, and the little shops in Kew itself were something that had to be admired. Indeed we noticed a nice pub next to the train station and so headed there for a quick drink - very nice it was too, especially the Notting Hill Amber ale!

The Love had a call from her sister - it turned out that she and her niece were heading back to London from a university open day in Guildford that they'd been to - and in fact they'd be in central London the same time as us. The Love and I worked it all out and so we headed back via London Overground to Euston and then walked across to the Crown and Anchor. The Love's sister and niece were directed there by her, and soon the four of us were all together, me with a nice pint of the 13 Guns from the Thwaites Brewery - which was gorgeous.

We all had tea in there, and I had the rather gorgeous chicken, leek and ham hock pie. I was miffed it wasn't a proper pie, but the filling inside and the gorgeous mash and vegeables helped make up for it somewhat. The others all had the half roast chicken which I have to say looked gorgeous, and well worth it - so much so I'd have wished for it myself. I did have the lemon and lime crumble tart for dessert and that was really nice, and the Brazil v Chile game was on so I saw that for a bit too whilst chatting.

Later on we headed on the train back to Manchester, and as it turned out The Love's sister were in a seat literally a row from the ones we'd reserved. As her sister had booked a table, and the other two table seats were available, the four of us sat at the table and had a really nice enjoyable journey back to Manchester, chatting about all sorts and really making the most of the time together. The Love's sister even kindly gave us a lift back to mine, and in good time to turn on BBC Two and see that Metallica's headlining of Glastonbury was very much on.

I was really pleased that Metallica were kicking backside and proving their doubters wrong, with storming versions of lots of their classics, including "One", "The Unforgiven", "Nothing Else Matters" and a blistering version of "Master of Puppets" which had the diehard fans at the back of the stage belting it out almost as loud as James Hetfield was, so that was cracking. It was also apt that during the encore there was a nice cover of Thin Lizzy's "Whiskey In The Jar" followed by a final flourish, lots of black inflatable balls for the crowd to play with, whilst belting out "Seek and Destroy" at the same time, which was awesome - tune of the day for sure for me.

Friday 27th June - Stirring It Up

It was the first night in two weeks without football (yes, really) as the group stages had finished and the second round started on Saturday. As such this meant I could have a relaxing evening either in front of the TV or watching some films on Blu-ray and keeping myself nicely wound down for the weekend ahead. It had been a long week at work and made even longer by some announcements later in the week, which to be honest have left me with a sour taste in the mouth. I can't really talk about it too much but I think it only strengthens my resolve to see what else is out there.

I did however look at Autodesk Building Design Suite 2015 today, as we purchased a suite of licences plus extended support and maintenance, which means that year on year we can get the latest release as part of it. I checked with the staff concerned, and they're more than happy to go with it. I had the download available from Autodesk and that was some 13GB, highly compressed. Once it was uncompressed it created an installation folder of some 52GB (yes, really) and from that you could then create the deployments and so on.

First thing first was to get our licence server set up with the licences, so I registered the new serial number (you get a new one each year these days) and entered the host ID and licence server information, which generated the file. I then made sure the licence server read the file, and when started, I looked up the information and it showed that the 50 licences were available correctly. Excellent. The packaging of the applications wasn't too bad as they create one deployment with them all in, and you can customise them to your heart's content which is pretty nice.

The install though was still running as I left for the weekend, with an estimated installer size of some 37GB. Ouch. That's going to take a fair bit of time to be deployed when I get to the deployment stage of some of the student machines, but I suspect too that it makes perfect sense to actually have them all bundled together rather than do each one individually in turn. The likes of Inventor and Revit are pretty big as well as AutoCAD itself, so plenty to consider and think about.

I headed home and via my local Tesco to do the food shopping, and thought it'd make good sense to get all the ingredients for a nice little stiry fry. I already had some noodles and some chestnut mushrooms, and so got some nice blackbean sauce, some beansprouts and some fresh chicken which I was going to split into diced portions, and voila, chicken and mushroom blackbean sauce stirfry. I could have got some carrot batons and thrown them in as well as another ingredient, but still I was pretty happy with the results overall to be honest.

I settled in and watched Control on Blu-ray, and it was good to watch it again and of course at full 1080p resolution on the telly. It was especially good as I was seeing just how enjoyable it was to see it again and spot different things I missed when I saw it twice at the cinema (yes, I saw it twice, get me eh?) I think the fact it was filmed in black and white and very styled like its director (and huge fan of Joy Division) Anton Corbijn wanted, really added to its feeling.

There's some great performances from the band who are Joy Division in the film, and their performace of Transmission is superb - tune of the day for sure. It actually was on the soundtrack CD to give you an idea of how good it was. In an exercise of art imitating life, Sam Riley (who played Ian Curtis) ended up dating Alexandra Maria Lara (Annik Hororé) and have been together ever since. The film is brilliant and anyone who needs to appreciate just why the band were so good need to watch it and then go and buy both albums Unknown Pleasures and Closer.

Thursday 26th June - Working Things Out

It was a rather busy day at work, and finally managed to nail Solidworks. My hunch about my test machine was right - something was definitely up with it. A re-image and then applying the application and that worked a treat. It also correctly showed that the application was installing (the deployment status was still showing "installing" all the way through) and then finally had all the desktop icons and showed a correct install. I was pretty pleased on the whole as this meant that it was another one nailed and without too many issues, thankfully.

I had to head over to meet a couple of people in the afternoon to do with pricing up costs for some floor boxes for both network and power points so that one of the courses could have all their PCs and Macs together in one location. It made perfect sense to me to get our folks in and then work out a suitable cost to have everything done. Of course as it was still in the take down period for the shows this meant that a number of things were in a different location and hence it was hard to move in the room to see what was what, but there you go.

It was the final group games of the World Cup today, and far from Germany and USA playing out a draw to see them both through, instead the Germans went for it and the USA were hanging on a bit. They scored through Thomas Müller in the second half, and news filtered through of Portugal leading 2-1 against Ghana. As it happened that currently was enough to send the USA though on goal difference, but it was still a tense final half hour as Portugal went for more goals and the USA tried to equalise to make absolutely sure - the sort of final round of group matches you actually want to see really.

It also meant that the last round of games tonight would determine who they'd play in the next round. Belgium, despite being reduced to ten men, actually beat South Korea 1-0 with a goal from Jan Vertonghen, so that was pretty good for them - maximum points. It also meant that Algeria could draw with Russia and qualify, and a Russian win would see them through. Russia scored early on but Algeria equalised in the second half, which meant Russia were piling everyone forward in an attempt to score but no joy. This of course now sets up Algeria v Germany, and I suspect the Algerians want some revenge for what happened during the 1982 World Cup..

Tune of the day in the meantime is the rather excellent "Touched by the Hand of Cicciolina" by Pop Will Eat Itself, their 1990 World Cup anthem. It somehow sums up the beautiful game using lots of commentary to effectively give you the feeling you get when watching football, along with a great dance inspired tune and then band in the video in either Juventus or Fluminese shirts kicking the ball around and getting to meet a certain Italian film star. Ace stuff.

Wednesday 25th June - Solid As A Rock

So it was time to spend today packaging up Solidworks 2014 for SCCM. Of course the packager that you get with the software is normally pretty good, as it allows you to enter the serial number, have that verified online, and then point it to where your licence server is going to reside, and get everything running correctly on it with the minimum of fuss. Of course as the installer allows you to integrate service packs into the main install (in this case 2014 SP4) what it meant was that you could get everything up and running as a package.

The package itself was over 7GB in size, so not a small order to go and install really. I did want to test it though, so it transpires that the startswinstall.exe has a number of shortcut paramaters. When I tried this before it always showed a graphical user interface and so for SCCM was not worth doing (you needed someone to actually click on a button and when distributing as a system user this wouldn't work). However it looks like this has improved as of late, so a startswinstall /install /now generally bypasses the five minute warning prompt, does the install silently and doesn't have a graphic interface (you can use a switch to show the GUI if you want though)

With that done, it'd then be a case of packaging for SCCM and making sure that the installer would perform under SCCM okay. And yet it didn't. It seemed to want to run the command line okay but would bomb out after around five minutes. Upon further investigation the laptop that I was testing it on appeared to stall whenever it was installing one of the component dependencies required, and so just failed. I suspected that a re-image of the laptop followed by the software deployment would work wonders, and so I thought it best to give that a go and see what would happen tomorrow.

I headed home and saw some more of the football, and definitely for me the France v Ecuador game was a massive let down. It seemed to be a case of going through the motions and so I turned over for the Switzerland v Honduras match and as the Swiss needed to win, they went for it, and deservedly won 3-0 to get through to the next round as runners up to France. Of course the incentive for France to win the group was clear: they'd avoid Argentina, which based on the form of Lionel Messi at the moment wasn't a bad thing.

It was the Messi Show earlier as Argentina played out a really good open game against Nigeria, with Messi scoring after three minutes with a well taken rebound before Musa equalised with a cracker for the Nigerians. Messi scored a wonderful free kick just before half time (thereby missing the shaving foam sprayed near the ball by the referee on the way) and the keeper was rooted to the spot. Musa did score early in the second half for 2-2 before the Argentinians had a corner bundled in a few minutes later, and so Argentina would now be getting Switzerland, which might prove to be an easier match for them.

Tune of the day sums up the day somehow: "Happy" by Ned's Atomic Dustbin. Not necessarily for its title either but for its opening line which was me attempting to package today: "Feeling so frustrated, even antiquated" and it was me ageing with time as I was attempting my best to try and get things packaged correctly. New day new start for me tomorrow and hopefully I will be able to get it all done and dusted in good time...

Tuesday 24th June - England? Bothered?

Even though I managed to get home from work in good time to see the England v Costa Rica game, to be honest I wasn't that bothered watching it. I think primarily because I knew that England had already been knocked out of the World Cup and were only really playing for pride. Costa Rica were also through and it was left to see who of Italy and Uruguay would top the group with them, so the Costa Ricans were of course going to rest some of their players too as they'd find out later that evening who they would get in the next round.

England didn't play that well and there were few chances in the game. I think that it was a good idea to give some of the younger players a run out and try to bed them in a little before the start of the Euro 2016 qualifiers in the Autumn, and of course to see what they could do and if they were good enough. Chris Smalling and Phil Jones didn't look good enough whereas Luke Shaw seemed to fit in much more nicely: and credit too to Ben Foster for pulling off a pretty good save to deny a certain goal from a long range effort. So even as it was confirmed we'd be bottom of the group with a single point, it could have been worse I suppose.

The Love In My Heart came over later and I made us some tea - namely some rather nice gammon steak which I did über-done under the grill together with some fresh rustic chips and some peas (thanks this time around to Sainsburys). It actually worked out really well and I was pretty pleased that it at least showed that I was going to make different stuff. I'm also trying to balance the food I have a lot more and cut down on bread - and doing that should hopefully mean that my continued weight loss will continue.

We headed to my Mum's later on as I wanted to drop a card and gift off for my brother's girlfriend, and it was good to have a coffee with Mum and catch up anyway. I think too that she was still buzzing off her weekend away and it sounded like a really nice little trip actually, especially as you ended up in the likes of Skipton and Howarth and making the most of the time that she had there. I definitely think that it seems to be the thing I've inherited from Mum in a way - go and explore places.

Tune of the day sums up that mood of exploring somewhat: "Where In The World" by Swing Out Sister, a song that I adored when it came out in the late 1980s and seeing the band live over the last few years, having them perform it in a much more chilled out way, shows just how much that the song has also developed. It's always goof to go back in a way and play the song as originally intended and then compare to what it sounds like now too. Call it a stage of development.

Monday 23rd June - In The Creative Cloud

Spent some time packaging up Adobe Creative Cloud for Enterprise 2014. This effectively is the education and business licencing model for the latest Adobe suites, meaning that you don't have to sign in with an Adobe ID, and effectively still be properly licenced for everything. In addition it means that with suitable enterprise tools that are provided, you can package everything up in a couple of neat fell swoops and get it to the masses sooner rather than later.

Thankfully, there's a new packaging tool for this, which replaces the one for CS6. It works in a similar way though: you ask what options you want the installer to do (such as turn off all updates, highly essential for enterprise) and then pick which components you'd like. Adobe themselves mention that Adobe Muse still needs an Adobe ID when you run it, so if you don't want to have that option, remove it from the list of applications installed. It then downloads the whole suite to the PC you're building the package on, and then compiles it with any updates that needs to be applied (Adobe Camera Raw for example, massively handy for DSLR users)

Once all done, there's then three stages which you need to put into your SCCM task sequence (and similar if using Mac method of deployment such as Casper) - first, Acrobat Pro XI needs to be installed via the exceptions folder (handily there's a command line which is provided to do this), and then the main suite package (Windows MSI) gets installed. Once that is done, you go back to the exceptions and install the remaining stuff that you selected earlier (usually Edge, Lightroom and Gaming SDK and Muse if you left it in.)

Doing a test down to a 64-bit laptop using SCCM, the whole package took a massive 1 hour 45 minutes or so to install, and a colleague tried it on his Mac running Bootcamp and fully connected to AD and SCCM, and that took a little longer. Another colleague is trying it out to make sure it all works. The key thing is that we know that the installation will take time and need to be therefore patient when doing a mass rollout. The install files are something in the region of 12GB to start with, and that expands to around 20GB or so when installed. Ouch indeed.

I got home and it was good to hear Andy Murray had got through the first round at Wimbledon. One nice thing about having the BBC Sport app on the Freeview recorder box and the telly is that you can see multiple courts to choose from - I counted nine earlier. You could of course see two on BBC 1 and 2, and two more on the two Freeview red button channels (302 is back up and running) and so I saw Daniel Evans lose in four sets, and smash his racket and run off like a stroppy teenager after he lost. Not really what I want to see I'm afraid, he needs to learn how to lose with good grace rather than be so petulant.

Tune of the day in the meantime is for the Croatian national team as they take on Mexico in a game that should decide who else qualifies from Group A (assuming Brazil beat Cameroon of course) and a few years back, Slaven Bilic got together with his band Rawbau (he plays guitar in said band, fair dos) and their hit "Vatreno Ludilo" looked back at their World Cup 1998 run but also forward to their Euro 2008 hopes and beyond, and how the team would inspire them. As a standalone rock song it's pretty good, but as a football song it's one of tbe best foreign language official anthems out there. It's their Three Lions, seriously, it's that good.

Sunday 22nd June - Moving Screens

It was good to let The Love In My Heart have a lie in this morning: she had had a very busy week at work and it was sensible to allow her lots of rest and relaxation, and I just pottered around and did a few things myself, such as a chunk of exercise on the Wii Fit. I do like the skateboard arena, and now I've got a little bit better hang of the controls, it's now a case of seeing if I can beat the best score I did at the beginner level where you get to learn the different skills before then combining them all in the final section. I didn't do too bad but went back to the rhythm boxing and nailed that massively, second best score ever for the six minute rounds.

I made The Love some breakfast later and then we thought about a plan of action. I still had my former Samsung 37" TV, which I was going to give to The Love. This then meant that my even older JVC 28" widescreen CRT job would be replaced. It made perfect sense to me - she gets something good out of it and we then are all happy and sorted. We bubble wrapped the main screen and back just to be sure and loaded the LCD beastie into The Love's car, and headed back to hers where we were welcomed by the two lovely cats. Awww.

It didn't take us long to lift the old telly out of the way, set the new one up and have it all up and running. I even programmed the remote code in so that her Samsung DVD and video recorder combo would also work with the same TV remote, and that was pretty good. It also meant then that the two cats wouldn't be able to jump on to the top of the TV (they did that all the time with the old CRT). Once that was set up and ready, we then loaded the very heavy CRT into The Love's car, and headed to the recycling tip to recycle it. Yes, I could have sold it on for a small fee (possibly less than £20-30 to be honest) but it had seen me and then The Love well when her old TV broke down for years (I got it in December 2002 to give you an idea) and so saying goodbye was actually a little sad, but needed.

We thought a nice late lunch / early tea was due for us both after all that carrying stuff around in the mid afternoon heat and wanted a pub we could sit outside, so we headed to The Gateway, and the outside part of it is pretty nice. We sat in the sun, and even better, the fish and chips was on offer for a mere £4.99. That and a pint of the Zesty Bear from the Beartown Brewery. The Love had the barbecue pulled pork sandwich and that looked pretty good actually, and we had a good chat and relaxed there for a while. It was just nice to have a relatively relaxed Sunday and I think we both needed it for different reasons.

The Love headed home later on and I settled in to watch the remainder of the football for the day - with Belgium eventually scoring late on against Russia to put them through, and Algeria beating South Korea 4-2 to give them a good chance to get through as well. The late game had all the drama though: Portugal went up early against the USA only for a stunning curled equaliser from Jones and then a close range bundle in from Clint Dempsey meaning that they were 2-1 up. If the scores stayed the same, Portugal would be out, but amazingly they scored in the final of the five minutes of stoppage time to keep alive their very faint chances of qualifying. Surreal really.

Tune of the day in the meantime is the excellent "Andy Townsend Rap" by Goldie Lookin' Chain, which really sums up the monotone and rather not very good delivery of a certain ITV co-commentator and pundit. Some of the words are a bit sweary, but effectively, any track that has the line "Pass, shoot, it's a goal, Andy Townsend should be on the dole" is a winner with me. Now only if we could also get rid of the rather dull Martin Keown on commentary for the BBC as well, and we'd all win...

Saturday 21st June - Solstice and Sunshine

It was rather nice and sunny today, and I decided that first things first would be a good bout of exercise on the Wii Fit Plus, trying out some of the newer balance and aerobic games that came with that game. I did quite like the cycling on first play a while back and it proved to be the same again, stepping to do the cycling and using the remote to steer the bike. I managed to work out a shorter route on the whole and that helped me to do a little better, and also the segway riding was fun too. I think if I vary the routines each day I could get back into that easily and take it from there.

I then got changed and ready, had some breakfast and headed into the city centre to do a little bit of shopping, mainly of the window variety as I saw nothing that I was particularly after. I did decide to walk up from near Piccadilly to the Central Retail Park in Ancoats to have a look in the large Currys there, but nothing floated the boat as such. It was quite interesting though to hear the sales people talk apparent bull about some of the television sets and why any potential customer might want a soundbar - well maybe if they don't have an AV receiver, but still.

I then walked it from there up and down the hills of Great Ancoats Street and Pin Mill Brow to the Currys and PC World clearance store. It was pretty busy with people looking at all sorts of clearance stock with dented doors on fridges, scratched screens on LCD monitors (and without cables too, absolute no-no) and even a number of refurbished tablets (Nexus 7 for £80 and Galaxy Tab 3 for £75, yes indeed) and it was a bit manic. However I didn't see anything there and so walked along Devonshire Street, past Ardwick station and past Universal Square and to the bus stop home.

It was nice to see The Love In My Heart, and we headed to the recycling tip near me as she had helped her father clear out some stuff in his house, and once we'd done that it was time for a shower and change before relaxing for the evening. I made us a very nice Wiltshire ham gratin with some dauphinoise potatoes and some peas, which went down nicely, and saw too that Argentina had scraped past Iran thanks to the genius work of Lionel Messi near the end.

We did both want to watch the final episode of Tigers in the House, and that was fascinating stuff to see them grow big and outgrow the house that they stayed in. Seeing Spot have a really bad eye condition and have a specialist operation only to find that the left eye was already developed in terms of its damage, they realised that he'd have to have an artificial eye replacement and not see out of it. Heartbreaking it was, but good to see that they wanted to keep him alive and let him have a peaceful life with the other tigers, whilst Stripe would eventually go to breed (hopefully) and continue the good work there.

Later on too we relaxed with seeing the lottery draws (no we didn't win!) before The Love headed to bed and I watched Bosnia against Nigeria, with the Nigerians winning 1-0, despite the fact that Edin Džeko had a goal disallowed which wasn't offside in any way, and indeed he had a chance near the end that the keeper saved and went on to the post, which meant Bosnia were also on their way home with a game to spare, real shame that. Tune of the day is Del Amitri's classic for the Scottish team many years back "Don't Come Home Too Soon" which in this year's case doesn't apply to England, nor Spain, nor Bosnia for that matter.

Friday 20th June - Aftermath

It was a bit of a deflated atmosphere back at work today as everyone came to terms with what had happened (unless of course you're Scottish, in which case you were probably pretty happy). It was good to get into the swing of things somewhat and not think too much about the result the night before, but ultimately the tone of discussion was at work that mainly that England were a side undergoing some transition, and as such we need to basically not expect too much until we start to perform with the youngsters who will then form the core of the side. Consider too that Spain with all their supposed great players are also heading home early, so worth noting I think.

I headed home on time and this allowed me to get home just in time for the start of the first of the evening's games, notably Italy v Costa Rica. Realistically I knew England were out already but if Italy beat Costa Rica the agony would be prolonged till at least the final group game on Tuesday. What I didn't think anyone expected was Italy to be so below part, and Costa Rica took advantage with a deserved goal - especially as they'd been denied a certain penalty a few minutes before. Bryan Ruiz headed home and the ball bounced off the underside of the crossbar and in - with the technology showing it had clearly crossed the line.

So that was that then - and with the result, England confirmed that they were out. I wasn't surprised or disappointed, and to be honest now it makes Italy v Uruguay an effective second place play off to qualify for the next round, so that game is going to be rather tasty to say the least. I hope ITV see sense and show that on Tuesday instead of England (both the last group games are played at the same time remember) as to me it would make a lot more sense.

I had my groceries delivered from Sainsbury's and this meant I was then able to make my tea - and something different too - a mushroom stir fry with noodles, mushrooms, beansprouts and carrots in a katsu sauce. It actually worked out really nicely, quick to make, and definitely worth savouring with a nice cold drink as I tuned in to see France against Switzerland, and what a game that was. How France only scored five was a mystery, and they were 5-0 up before the Swiss pulled back two late goals. Even then, France scored at the death only for the referee to have already blown the final whistle.

Tune of the day in the meantime has to be simply "World In Motion" by England / New Order, the best official England football song that there is. Worth thinking about that the better the official England song, the better the team do. The John Barnes rap in this one only added to its greatness with a great New Order tune, and that and Three Lions (for Euro 96) stand head and shoulders above the rest. What was our official England song this year? A re-hash of a Take That song. Look how we did. I rest my case.

Thursday 19th June - As Expected

Me, my brother, brother in law and uncle all gathered at mine this evening to watch the England game against Uruguay in the World Cup. For England, it was basically win or bust (or have to rely on Italy thumping Costa Rica and Uruguay and then England beating Costa Rica) and so you'd expect the players to show some passion and go for it. I mustn't have been the only one expecting them all to belt out the anthem loud and proud like the Chileans did last night in their game against Spain.

The game got underway and like against Italy, the biggest worry was the defence, and they didn't look their best. Glen Johnson looked a little too lazy when attempting to defend at times, and often it was left to Gary Cahill to clean up on his own, unassisted by the likes of Phil Jagielka especially. England did look better going forward: Wayne Rooney had a free kick that went close, and also headed against the bar from a Steven Gerrard free kick which was agonising to watch.

Of course Uruguay had Luis Suarez back and it was no surprise to any of us that after some good work in the Uruguay midfield, three England defenders didn't get close enough to Edison Cavani and his gorgeous cross was met by the head of Suarez and past Joe Hart for 1-0. Disappointing, but I had to ask some questions of the defending: couldn't one of three players at least tackle or cut out the cross? Basic stuff really and something that I know needs to be looked at in more detail.

England did come back better in the second half and Rooney again, flourishing in his more natural role, forced a good save out of the Uruguay keeper, and with a couple of changes, some added impetus from the side. Glen Johnson showed he's much better in attack than defence, and his excellent ball found Wayne Rooney for him to break the World Cup duck and score the equaliser. I must admit after him getting battered in the media I was pleased that he was able to level it, and so 1-1 it is.

However, that only stayed the same for a few minutes. A punt upfield from Uruguay's keeper met the head of Steven Gerrard, who didn't get a call from Jagielka to leave it so he could clear. Instead the back header went straight to Suarez, and you can guess what happened next - he doesn't miss those chances and 2-1 it then was, and despite a late flurry of pressure, that's how it stayed. Uruguay all smiles (notably Suarez) and England pretty much out, confirmed if Italy and Costa Rica draw tomorrow.

Despite my somewhat occasional negative feelings, I must admit before the tournament I didn't expect us to get past the group stage: the way the team played in the friendlies leading up to the World Cup itself should have given more people a clue that maybe we're not quite there as a side as yet. There are a group of young players who are announcing themselves a bit more on the world stage (notably Sterling and Sturridge against Italy for example) and it would make good sense for a group of those players to start to form the nucleus of the national side and be allowed the time to grow together and work hard to become a team.

It's maybe important also to mention that time is of the essence: there's no quick fix for this. However, we should look at a number of players and think "that is the starting building blocks" and get other players to think the same ethic as they do and play not only with skill but with pride and passion as well. You saw the passion of Chile last night, reminded me of the England team at Italia 90 - they may not have been the most pretty to watch at all times, but my could they get a result when they had to, and a real determination to carry that out too.

One thing that we maybe need to consider is to scrap the Premier League. Really, I hear you say? Yes. The amount of money being spent on world wide players and bringing them to England may be all well and good for entertainment value, but what use does it have developing a national side? Not much to be honest. It needs to be far less about money and more about a system that encourages people to want to develop and grow young players into men, those who will want to wear the three lions with the same pride and passion that the fans have for their team.

I should also maybe mention that the women's team won 2-1 in Ukraine tonight, meaning that they need just one point from their last two games to be certain of qualification for their World Cup in Canada next year. The one goal they conceded was their first in almost eight games' worth of football, and a hard won win which sees them in pole position - a point against second placed Wales for example would do, although I think they might want ten wins from ten. The women's game saw a managerial shift from Hope Powell, and as much as she did an excellent job, the team are reaping the benefits of this change and also having a Women's Super League pretty well focussed on home nation players.

Tune of the day in the meantime sums up how I feel: "No Contest" by Pop Will Eat Itself. Somehow it channels the passion and feeling of resignation in my mind right now after watchin that game, with Clint Mansell perhaps summing up that feeling in the main line "No contest, you lose, no contest, you lose" with a stirring guitar backing driving the song home. It made a lot of sense after the game to listen to that and try and work out what went wrong tonight..

Wednesday 18th June - Humid and Hot

Was it me, or did it feel rather humid today? I think the thing is when the warm weather comes around Manchester, it just seems to hang in the air with an uncomfortable degree of humidity. When it's actually a dryish heat it's much more bearable, but the moisture just makes you feel rather hot and sweaty in a matter of seconds. Not an attractive look, I am sure you will agree, but I suppose this is where air conditioning in the office makes the world of difference to be honest.

I had the afternoon to sort a few things out around the house that I needed to do, and it was good to be able to take things relatively easy whilst still doing a shed load of washing and drying that needed to be done. As you can imagine, having anything like that on in the humidity wasn't recommended, but the airer would do for most of the clothes I needed to dry naturally anyway - the warm air would soon see to that one. I also though spent some time watching the second episode of the Tigers in the House documentary too - had to giggle when I saw them chewing on the furniture the way that they did.

However, for Giles, the tiger lover and keeper of Spot and Stripe at his house, the heart breaking moment was heading over to Sumatra and seeing first hand in the country there just how many traps are being laid to trap tigers and kill them, along with the damage that they do as well. A demonstration really did bring it home and just thinking about the two cubs possibly being caught in such traps if they were in their more native habitat really hammered home the job he needed to do for conservation's sake to ensure that they stayed alive.

In fact looking at the Australia Zoo website, the two tigers have since been renamed a much more sensible Clarence and Hunter, and indeed you can have your pics with them for a fee, and also part adopt them too and help raise the conservation issues. It's worth noting too that it's this very same zoo where Steve Irwin made his name (in his honour the main road that heads through the town of Beerwah where the zoo is located is actually called Steve Irwin Way no less) and so of course already has a pretty good reputation in terms of its conservation anyway.

I did see all three games of football tonight, and the Netherlands v Australia one was rather good. Superb strike from Tim Cahill for the first Australian goal that has goal of the tournament placed all over it, and a spirited fightback from the Dutch to overturn a 2-1 defecit into a 3-2 win, and pretty much book their place in the second round. That was confirmed as Chile put in a superb performance to overturn Spain 2-0 and thoroughly deserved in my view - sending both Spain and Australia homewards with a game to spare as well.

Last up was Cameroon v Croatia, and once Alex Song was sent off for a rather distasteful elbow, Croatia ran riot and it could have easily been eight or nine had their finishing been better, but I'm sure they'd have taken 4-0 before kick off. For me as well it showed that you simply have to keep going and get the result that you want. In the meantime tune of the day is the excellent Croatian national football song that they did a few years back for the Euro championships: "Vatreno Ludilo" by Rawbau, featuring no less than one of their football legends Slaven Bilić as well. Uplifting, rocky and rather ace.

Tuesday 17th June - Tiger Tiger, Sleeping At Night

It was good to be really on the ball at work today, and the main priority was to task sequence in SCCM one of the machines we use that is connected to a big screen in the office with Windows 7 64-bit, and so once done we could then look at installing the latest 10.3 SR6 release of HP Web JetAdmin, so we could effectively look at and monitor the printers that we have more efficiently. It took some time, but getting the machine up and running with 64-bit worked fine, SCCM did it first go, and then sorted Web JetAdmin out.

I've now got it all configured so it does a daily discovery of printers with an IP range, and from that discovery it's filtered into groups, one for all printers, and then sub groups by location. This should help ultimately to be able to locate devices that may be offline or even ones that don't work or have an issue for some reason. I also worked out an easy way for the machine's interface to be viewed by others, so they can put the IP address in of the machine running WebJetAdmin and the console would launch on their web browser (provided they have NET Framework 4) so I'll look at that tomorrow and get it sorted.

I arrived home just in time for Belgium's opening game against Algeria. I do like Belgium not least because of their captain, and Manchester City captain, Vincent Kompany. They've also got plenty of Premier League based players and have all come together pretty well through the ranks, so that's good. It might not have been so good when Algeria took the lead though, but the substitutions made the difference in the second half, with first of all Marouane Fellaini (yes, him who plays rubbish for Man Utd!) scoring the equaliser before a really cracking finish from Mertens which meant a 2-1 opening win for Kompany's team.

Of course ITV's coverage would be a lot better if they could please just sack off Andy Townsend. I was half tempted to watch the game with the sound down so I could at least not hear him saying the absolutely obvious, at all times. I'm not the only one to think that either - Welsh rap group Goldie Lookin' Chain (you do remember them right?) have come up with a genius of a single, "The Andy Townsend Rap" which describes his inabilities in full. There is swearing, no not suitable for everyone, but the sentiments are spot on. Tune of the day - any song that has the line "Andy Townsend should be on the dole" and "When you hear Andy Townsend everybody press mute" is a winner for me.

The Love In My Heart came over later and I made us some chicken mini roasts with some extra mushrooms as well as mash and petis pois, which went down well. The Brazil v Mexico game was turning into a bore fest fast too (it was 0-0 in the end, say no more) and so we instead decided to watch the first episode of Tigers About The House, which follows tiger expert and Australian Zoo worker Giles Clark, who decided to make the decision to raise two rare Sumatran tiger cubs at home and make sure they had the necessary care at all times.

Cue plenty of "awwww" moments throughout as we watched them be born by their mother, and then gently raised and with the whole family giving them love and attention. Giles has been around tigers for a long time, and the way that the cubs and mother respected him and didn't see him as a threat was a wonderful thing: he really did care lots, and having a feature on them for Australian telly so he could raise the issue of conservation was lovely too. Another really good quality documentary from BBC Two, and well worth watching on iPlayer if you get chance - I'll be doing that with episode two and the final one being shown tonight.

Monday 16th June - USA! USA!

There were three more games in the World Cup this evening, and I had planned to settle in for the evening and watch most of them - although I wasn't completely in the mood for them to be honest. I think a mixture of having to be mentally planning ahead a lot at work and also having to be there for The Love In My Heart at the moment due to the current stresses of her job meant that on the whole I've really been trying where possible to use any time that I have on my own to take it relatively easy (albeit without the Cadbury's Caramel due to my self-imposed chocolate ban, five years plus now.)

First up was the Germany v Portugal game and for me it had potential for the most exciting game of the evening. Germany were playing very well and soon raced ahead to a 2-0 lead. However, it was unfortunate that Thomas Müller had to spoil a quality performance that would later see him get a hat trick by feigning a hit to the face and winding up Pepe for Portugal, although Pepe should have walked away instead of attempting to headbutt Müller and get himself sent off. In the end Germany won 4-0 and it could very easily have been more.

Attention then focussed to the other game in the group with Argentina and Bosnia (who had played the previous evening late on) and it was Iran versus Nigeria. Interestingly, the Iranian president tweeted a picture of himself watching the Iran players on the television, and maybe his watching inspired Iran to be dogged and not give up. It was amazingly the first draw of this year's World Cup with all the other games having been a result one way or the other. 0-0 was disappointing though and a real let down for many people who expected Nigeria to have a bit more about them.

I had a chat with The Love In My Heart in the evening and it was nice just to be there on the other end of the phone and listen to her, let her get her day out of the way and for me to explain what had gone on for me too. I was also pleased that a few things appeared to be on their way to be sorted for her too. I did say I'd possibly stay up to watch the final match tonight, USA versus Ghana, and with Germany's win earlier it was vital I think for either side to get a victory and put themselves in a good position.

And so with Blacksmoke's epic "USA USA" playing before the game (make that tune of the day) out came the teams, and to a mass of American fans who had made the trip from North to South America. The anthem was sang loud and proud (although not by a lot of the players which surprised me massively) and then the game kicked off. What I didn't expect to happen was for former Fulham marksman Clint Dempsey to score a well drilled left foot shot at around 30 seconds into the match - one of the fastest goals ever in a World Cup finals. Amazing stuff.

Ghana did come back into it somewhat but didn't score an equaliser till pretty late on, but despite this the USA went back up the other end and it was somehow predicted by the goal scorer himself John Brooks, who headed home from a corner with four minutes of normal time left, and four minutes after Ghana had scored. They held out and the victory, particularly against the team that knocked them out at the last 16 stage back in 2010, must have been pretty sweet for them. Time for bed though I think!

Sunday 15th June - Post Mortem

I had my uncle and my brother together with me and The Love In My Heart watching the England game until the early hours of this morning. I must admit that I've not really fancied England's chances of winning the World Cup, this was more about seeing how the youngsters in the side could potentially develop themselves on the world stage and look with a long term view to Euro 2016 and the World Cup in Russia in 2018, provided of course that we qualify for them.

The four of us were enthralled for most of the game. Italy though did take the lead mainly thanks to a well worked corner from Italy. The still influential Andrea Pirlo dummied well and allowed the ball to come to Claudio Marchisio, who drilled through a packed crowd of players and into the bottom corner for 1-0. Thankfully though with us thinking doom and gloom, England rallied and a neat ball on the left found Wayne Rooney, whose cross was perfectly placed for Daniel Sturridge to equalise - and a mere two minutes after the Italian goal. Get in there indeed.

Half time meant top up of snacks and drinks and a well earned brew for some of us, and then the second half got underway. Italy still looked dangerous in attack and it was somehow of no surprise that Antonio Candreva headed down the right, and his well worked cross was finished superbly at the post by Mario Balotelli (yes, him, the former Man City player at that.) It was a well worked goal and although England did pretty much camp themselves in the Italian half for a lot of the second half, there was no way through, and the best chance was hit well wide by Wayne Rooney with plenty of the goal to aim at.

We all saw the players and manager give their spiel before my brother and uncle headed home and The Love In My Heart and I headed to bed. In truth England hadn't played that badly, but defensively we looked a bit on the weak side and the Italian right wingers particularly gave Leighton Baines a very hard time. No one could control Andrea Pirlo's genius in the middle, and up front it seemed odd having Wayne Rooney play down the left whereas he needs to be in the middle, up front and at the heart of the attacking play.

Of course with Uruguay losing to Costa Rica earlier it pretty much means that the game on Thursday night against Uruguay is a must win game if we want to look at qualification - and indeed I'd be tempted to take the positives from Saturday's game forward. Raheem Sterling showed good promise, Daniel Sturridge proved his goalscoring prowess when given a decent ball, and when Ross Barkley came off the bench he wanted to have a go and run at the defenders as well. Difficult of course when you've lost to see those positives, but I think it was better than to be expected, despite the result really.

During today The Love In My Heart and I headed out to the Degree Shows at the Manchester School of Art, dubbed this year "Always Allways Land" (no, I didn't understand that either.) On the whole it was nice to see a variety of excellent work by many of the students, as well as those which made you either think "oooh that's clever" or "what the hell is that about?". I suppose with art of course it's always at times quite divisive: you can either love a piece of loathe it.

For me one of the highlights was one of the graphic designers who had a mock astroturf football pitch with a flow chart which eventually depending on your answers (and indeed the questions based on this person) to Manchester City skipper Vincent Kompany. Someone else had also devised some neat graphics for the likes of "We'll fight to the end" as well. The photography was also very good: some thought provoking ideas and a whole narrative for some of the multiple image presentations which really did work wonderfully well - gave me something to work on myself.

The Love enjoyed the textiles (lots of nice scarves so the scarfista was happy) and the fashion items, shown with the video of the catwalk show, impressed too. It was just nice to head around there during the afternoon and it was then a case of heading to one of the pubs in Fallowfield (after we'd been to Sainsbury's no less) and having a well earned late lunch, with the nachos that I had particuarly gorgeous - coupled with a pint of real ale. Sometimes it's just nice to relax to be honest.

Tune of the day somehow sums up one of the ways I could possibly evaluate England's efforts in the early hours this morning: "At Least We Tried" by Moby, one of the under-rated tracks from his "18" album. The title does say it all but it somehow would have been the perfect track to play post-match too for that 1am chill out moment as I'd be settling off to bed. Somehow it's not always about the winning, but the way that the press and media are, it seemed to be everything. Maybe not this time.

Saturday 14th June - Humid and Hoping

I'm writing this diary entry before England's game with Italy, as an 11pm kick off means that effectively the match finishes early Sunday morning. Plus most likely I'll be doing my utmost to stay up and make the most of the time that I've had today just relaxing and making sure I don't expend all my energy too early, as you do. I did though have a nice surprise in the post, a new high speed HDMI cable that I'd ordered from the folks at ThatCable, which I was going to use to connect the new TV to my Onkyo AV receiver, and thereby make full use of Audio Return Channel. This means that I can have the sound from the TV routed through the same HDMI cable that sends from receiver to telly, and have stuff in 5.1 surround if transmitted that way.

With that done, the bedding changed and the house cleaned, I also noticed that the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games website has finally announced a ticket resale window for those who have tickets that they now cannot use. In my case, this was due to the massively over-expensive accommodation costs (£200 a night for a Travelodge, and hotels charging £350 instead of £60 a night in some cases) and I refused to pay stupid money to be honest. The resale form had to be filled in and then posted off with your tickets, so I made sure they went Special Delivery. One word of note though: there's a £2 per ticket handling fee for resales. Surely £2 for the whole transaction would have been fairer?

You've also got to be pretty quick as well, you have to have the tickets returned before 26th June, so less than two weeks away, hence my need to have them sent off as soon as possible. For me at least it was good that I was able to spend the time filling in all the forms and making sure that everything that was needed to be sent back was, and despite my local post office being closed for refurbishment, I remembered where the next nearest one was and so got that sorted.

I also noticed the humidity in the air as I was out and about this morning, heading to the cemetery to see passed away relations - and with it being close to Father's Day, it was understandably busy. That humidity hung thick as well as I then headed to the city centre, and then back to the local Asda near me to stock up on real ales and take advantage of their 4 for £5 offer, which was good. I got one each of Dizzy Blonde, Manchester Pale Ale, Two Hoots and Trooper, all of which are made by local breweries and indeed all I've had on cask in pubs - they all taste good too.

I then settled in to watch the England women do their stuff against Belarus in their World Cup qualifier. It wasn't being shown live anywhere on any UK channel that I could find (sadly) and that wasn't good for the ladies, who were doing their best to make sure they qualify with ease. I did note that the FA had a link to a Belarus FA site which seemed to be streaming the game live (albeit with Belarus commentary!) and that was watchable. Goals from Eni Aluko and Steph Houghton and a last kick of the game goal from Lucy Bronze resulted in a 3-0 win for the women, which meant that they'd won all their games, and not conceded a single goal as yet. Impressive stuff.

Tune of the day in the meantime is the best England football song of all time, namely "World in Motion" by England with New Order. The song was actually a bloody good song on its own, and if that was released as a single it'd have still done well. However, having John Barnes' excellent rap in it, and a great chorus of "We're playing for England, Eng-er-land! We're playing this song. We're singing for England. Eng-er-land! Arrivederci, it's one on one" really did get you pumped up for the games. Might play that tonight...

Friday 13th June - Spain Spanked

It was a productive day for me at work today, with us finally being able to run SCCM task sequences to image machines, after a fix had been found following some firewall issues earlier in the week. It also meant that I was able to set off correctly one laptop and have that done, so that one member of staff who had been waiting for it to be ordered could come and collect it. They'd also ordered a rather nifty Kensington laptop combi lock, which had a small piece of metal which fed into the lock slot, then you can put the main lock over that. Makes it a lot more difficult to remove and looked the part for them.

I spent lunch time in one of the local bars with one of my friends: a nice way to start the weekend and indeed because it was pay day (the 15th is a Sunday so the money would go in today) it meant we could treat ourselves a little. It was also nice that the special was a mushroom risotto, which was packed with lots of different types mushrooms and tasted absolutely gorgeous. That and the Phoenix Arizona ale was on top form, so good to catch up and chat as well.

I headed home from work in good time and saw most of the first match of three of today's World Cup matches - namely Mexico against Cameroon. Again the refereeing left a lot to be desired as Giovanni Dos Santos had two goals disallowed that shouldn't have been: he was onside for the first volley on goal, and his header from a corner had actually come to him from a Cameroon head. Eventually Mexico did score as Dos Santos's shot was saved and Peralta scored with a good low shot for the rebound, and 1-0 it stayed. A deserved victory for them as well.

The big match was tonight, and on BBC One, so decent commentary, check. 5.1 surround sound? Check. Gary Lineker and Thierry Henry as presenter / pundit combo? Check. Interactive BBC Sport app features such as player and tactical cameras? Check. All the more reasons why they're just so much better at doing football than ITV ever could be. And no commercials too. The Spain v Netherlands match was a rerun of the ill tempered 2010 final, and I had a feeling that it could go either way.

Spain were good enough in the first half and a controversial penalty was given as it was deemed Diego Costa was tripped in the box. The Brazilians were booing him all the time, because he decided to choose Spain instead of his birth country of Brazil and this even was despite having played for Brazil's national team a couple of times, so they saw him as a traitor. Xabi Alonso scored the penalty and 1-0 to Spain. David Silva then had a good chance to dink the ball over the Netherlands keeper for 2-0 but it was saved, and a couple of minutes later Spain were made to pay, with a great ball from Daley Blind finding the head of Robin van Persie, whose header from 18 yards out cleverly was placed to loop over Iker Casillas. 1-1 and all to play for at half time.

What was clear from the second half was that if Louis van Gaal is going to get the best out of Robin van Persie at Manchester United, it might revive them. You could feel the love between them when van Persie scored the equaliser, and he was on fire, as was Arjen Robben, who took down a great ball from Blind and controlled it before slotting it home for 2-1. A free kick was then met at the far post by de Vrij and that was 3-1, and before we knew it Spain were crumbling in a way ill befitting of their current world champions status.

The way the Netherlands tore Spain apart reminded me of Manchester City's 6-1 win at Old Trafford a few years back, get in front and then go ruthlessly for the kill afterwards. This was shown as Sergio Ramos' backpass was miscontrolled by Casillas, allowing van Persie to rob the ball and slot it home for 4-1. That was then 5-1 later on as Arjen Robben went on a run, bamboozled Casillas and then struck it past two defenders on the line. It was a master class from the Dutch and it showed just how good they were on the day. The BBC commentator made a REM reference at the end, quoting lyrics from "It's The End of the World As We Know It (and I Feel Fine)" (make that tune of the day) and that was that.

The final game I did stay up for with an 11pm kick off here was Chile v Australia. Chile scored two in two minutes early on and a trademark Tim Cahill header got them back into it to 2-1 at half time, and that's how it stayed until the Wigan midfielder Beausejour scored late on and settled the score in Chile's favour. Their game against Spain is now massive as you would imagine the Netherlands beating Australia, and if Spain lose, then wow,. they're pretty much out.

Thursday 12th June - ITV and FIFA Keeping Up Their Usual Standards

The World Cup of course started today, with the opening ceremony (with added J-Lo, woo freaking hoo) and then the first match of the tournament, as hosts Brazil would be facing Croatia in Sao Paulo. Of course it's been important to note that there have been constant protests in Brazil itself about the fact that plenty of money has been spent on the likes of the stadia and infrastructure, when the money spent could have gone to much better use such as health care, hospitals, sanitation, all that sort of thing. I for one can see both sides of it, and I have to say that the amount of protests have shown the depth of feeling over there.

It was with a little bit of excitement mixed with resignation that the tournament started, with Sepp Blatter taking his seat and in my view getting rightly booed by sections of the crowd. Because of an investigation that calls into question the legality of Qatar's World Cup 2022 bid, and how several people were acting in a corrupt manner, Blatter then decided to call the claims racist (without proof). The big blow was dealt by UEFA, who then said that effectively there's nothing racist about a corruption claim and that he should go.

Remember folks, this is a man who decided to interrupt a one minute's silence held by FIFA in memory of Nelson Mandela the day after he passed away and just idly chatter away, showing massive disrespect to a man who did far more for the good of the world than Blatter ever will. It seemed too that FIFA passed a regulation so that there was no age limit for senior executives within the organisation - a deliberate move so that Blatter could if he wished to stay on again. This man has no place at the head of the game. When you want to avoid corruption, you need to start from the top and go downwards, and root it all out. Tune of the day for that reason is "Reclaim The Game (Funk FIFA)" by Pop Will Eat Itself.

Anyway, with The Love In My Heart with me and with us both having had tea and settled in for the evening, it was time to see what could happen during the game itself. And a disaster for Brazil at the start as Croatia took the game to them and an own goal from Marcelo meant that it was 1-0 to Croatia. Faces looked worried, but what was more worrying was ITV's completely rubbish efforts. Despite the fact the World Cup is in HD, they don't transmit in 5.1 surround sound (the BBC do) and of course apart from Adrian Chiles not being that good a presenter, you then have Andy Townsend alongside Clive Tyldesley. Clive is fine, he's a good commentator and deserves better than to be paired by Townsend to be honest.

Brazil did come back and who else but Neymar found the equaliser with a well taken shot, and so 1-1 at half time it was. Mind you, the referee did seem to be overawed by the occasion, getting carried away with the first use of the vanishing spray to show the 10 yards the players had to be back from the ball for a free kick, and getting several decisions wrong. He got one terribly wrong in the second half, as Fred went down theatrically in the box and a penalty was given. It was never a penalty, and Neymar scored (who to be fair should have also been sent off for an elbow during the first half) to send Brazil wild.

Some gloss was put on the scoreline at the end with Oscar finishing a neat run with a toe poke in the left corner, and it was maybe just the tonic the country needed. However, back in Rio de Janiero, where several broadcasters have a studio in a building close to the beach, some of the protests had turned nasty, and part of the glass window by the ITV studio had a crack in it where something had been thrown. Although you could have joked and said they were protesting Andy Townsend's commentary, it did also show the sheer contempt the protesters have for FIFA and want to make their point in whatever way that they could..

Wednesday 11th June - Vision On

It had been another frustrating day at work for me, and so with the weather being pretty decent I decided that a nice walk at lunch time would be good to try and keep myself motivated and get some fresh air. In fact it proved to be pretty good, it meant I did around a mile or so walking in a loop close to work and arriving back in good time. I think the time spent having a break is doing me the world of good to be honest: it's too much sometimes to just stay in the office, even with my cup a soup for lunch (which I am keeping up incidentally, so trying hard to get the weight off.)

Anyway, with the day done I decided to have a walk into the city centre and see what was out there in terms of shopping and also to have another walk and get some more exercise. It actually proved to be quite intriguing, seeing how people were heading out of their city centre businesses and on to the packed tram station at St Peter's Square, along with the fact that the Central Library, although open, is only just about accessible due to all the roadworks and building work going on nearby - not exactly ideal, especially if you're staying or dining at the Midland Hotel opposite!

I soon headed to Richer Sounds on Deansgate and thought I'd nip in on the off chance. I had seen a really nice new Samsung 40" HD and 3D television that seemed to be pretty good and tick all the boxes for a new telly for me. My existing Samsung 37" LED 1080i Freeview set is coming up to eight years old now and still going strong, and most likely once I get a new one, it'll be going to The Love In My Heart to replace one of my old sets which she currently uses with a Freeview box.

So there I was having a mooch, and I saw the 40" set in the flesh again. It all looked good and I thought I'd just see what else was out there, and in terms of price and value, nothing was getting close to touching it, unless I paid another £100 or so, which defeated the object. I also knew that as John Lewis were price matching it at Currys (although John Lewis gives a 5 year gurantee, the same as Richer Sounds, so more comparable a deal) had it been in stock the other day when I was in there I could have purchased it then.

I thought "let's just ask if they've got one in" and so asked, and yes, they'd had a new delivery about an hour or two ago and were already down to two left in stock. I thought about it for a second and The Love In My Heart had said to me on Sunday when we were out "you work hard, you can afford it, why not?" and I could see her logic in that to be honest. The thought of what she said was enough for me, and a few minutes later I was heading home with a rather large box containing the Samsung UE40H6400 1080p 3D Freeview HD LED television. Oh yes indeed.

I got home and after sorting the stand out, went through the setup wizard, and this prompted me for a software update. This was big and would take some time to download, so I made myself something to eat and listened to the rather good "Watch The Bitch Blow" by Pop Will Eat Itself in the meantime (make that tune of the day). Once I'd made the tea and everything, all was well and the firmware had updated to the latest version 1110. And so now to have a play!

And.. yaay! The latest software version means that BBC iPlayer and Demand 5 are now operational, so like last year's Samsung Smart TV range, you've got those plus 4OD and ITV Player, so lots of catch up opportunities for you. And with a separate download, I soon had BBC Sport and BBC News as well. Nice. I finished off the day watching Finding Nemo in 3D, and that was pretty good - not least some of the scenes with Crush the turtle in them - they came alive massively. I feel a review coming on soon...

Tuesday 10th June - Cooking and the People's Poet

Another day of work, but one that proved ultimately frustrating. Could I multicast? No. Could that mean I bring down a task sequence in SCCM with a WIM image? No. So in effect all the work I had put in to test out and make sure that a test laptop I had was going to work correctly was put on hold, as I was liaising with a couple of colleagues during the day and being able to test things to see if they work correctly. It looks like some form of configuration issue but attempting to get to the bottom of it is proving somewhat difficult. Ah well, a new day, a new challenge I suspect.

It was really nice to see The Love In My Heart later on although she had an unusual request of sorts - she wanted to clean the carpets in her car, and wanted to see if I had a plug socket close to the front of the house so that she could plug in her little vacuum cleaner and do the job. I improvised with one plug close to the front window, opened the window and so the cable could head out there, and it meant she could do what she needed to go and got the car all nice and clean inside.

Once that was done, she indulged with Emmerdale and I made the tea - I was trying these pork belly strips with a Chinese style sauce, and do them with some rice. It worked out pretty well in the end although I think more sauce was needed on the whole to make it a little less of a dry dish, but still it was a hearty meal and made me not want to eat anything else. And not that many calories either, more to the point, which was good. I think being on a drive to eat less and do more can only hopefully go one way, I reckon.

We watched Celebrity Masterchef later on and it was intriguing to see how they did with the box of ingredients before they headed to a professional kitchen, and then went for the two course meal effort at the end. It was hard to split the three women up as they all did well, Jodie Kidd was consistent and surprisingly after some nerves Susannah Constantine brought out a Middle Eastern inspired main dish that tasted probably better than it looked. We both knew it was between Todd Carty and Russell Grant to leave though realistically.

Tune of the day in the meantime is the rather good "Ace of Spades" by Motorhead, and with good reason. I'm still gutted from hearing the news last night that Rik Mayall, British comedy legend and part of one of my all time favourite TV series ever The Young Ones, as well as the likes of The New Statesman, parts of Blackadder, the character Kevin Turvey, Bottom etc had passed away. I put on some episodes of The Young Ones last night and of course the classic opener from Series 2, Bambi, which has the band performing as the four of them head to the TV studios for University Challenge.

Of course, there's a great scene where no one likes Rik Mayall's character Rick, and so he attempts to take an overdose of pills, without realising they are laxative pills. But somehow the speech he produces, as the self proclaimed "People's Poet" seem somewhat apt for this time too. As Rick, he proclaims: "This house will become a shrine! And punks and skins and Rastas will all gather round and all hold their hands in sorrow for their fallen leader! And all the grown-ups will say, "But why are the kids crying?" And the kids will say, "Haven't you heard? Rick is dead! The People's Poet is dead!" - and delivered whilst having more laxatives, a surreal and yet brilliant moment. We'll miss you.

Monday 9th June - Making The Connection

It was good to be in the swing of things today, even if the weather couldn't make its mind up - from cold and a little rainy in the morning to glorious sunshine on the way home. What I did know was that I'd almost got to the point of clinching testing out one of the new laptops with all the necessary driver packages and additional pieces of software in order for things such as the wireless hotkeys and the Bluetooth functionality to work correctly. I get quite OCD about things like that, I want to make sure that it's been properly road tested and working in the right way.

I did have a think about a few things today and it's clear that at the moment there is a little calm before the storm of a massive amount of work that needs to be done over the Summer period. Granted we may not be having that much of the day to day stuff to deal with, but there's plenty on, and on top of that a couple of major events happening which we need to be somewhat on top of too. I'm trying where possible to work out what is needed to be done and think about time and resources.

I got home in time for Pointless this evening, and the first question on 1980s chart hits by a number of bands would have meant that for two answers I gave to chart hits by The Smiths, I would have had some pointless answers, including my all time favourite Smiths song "Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me". In fact after the show I pretty much played the CD single of that which I have (original Rough Trade issue no less) and so tune of the day was an easy decision really.

After a good chat with The Love In My Heart later on I settled back and relaxed with some food before then switching over to BBC Four and Only Connect, with two of the teams who'd lost their second round match back in the repechage. Even from early on I suspected that the Software Engineers would win, and indeed once they'd got their noses in front, it was only left to make sure they did well on missing vowels (my strong round it has to be said) and that was them nailed.

Must admit though that in a way I do prefer the straight knockout elements though where at least if you lose, you go home. It also means effectively you have more teams (16 instead of 8 for example) and can have the series over 15 weeks, only two more than now, and that worked pretty well. It's also the final series on BBC Four before its popularity has meant a move upwards to BBC Two, although to be honest I do like the fact it's on an intelligent channel like BBC Four which has quality all over it. Maybe an attempt to be less highbrow? I hope not to be honest. I like the fact that Only Connect is bloody hard!

I did settle in after that with some of the race highlights from the 2008 Formula One season review DVD, namely to see just how much had changed on some tracks. Lewis Hamilton won in Monaco that year despite skidding off into the barriers in the wet, and then the epic race in Brazil where the rain played its part right up to the end as well. For me, the rain really does become a good leveller and it's those who can master changing conditions that show their mettle (Jenson Button is normally good at this to be fair) - and of course that year there were a few wet races such as Belgium as well. Epic stuff.

Sunday 8th June - Oh, Canada!

The Love In My Heart and I had both had a long hard week at work (her more so than me) and so a nice relaxing lie in was more than deserved, especially for her. I thought it best to leave her to get as much rest as possible, and later on we decided to head out to John Lewis, primarily as there was a telly that I'd been having a look at online with a view to a possible future purchase, and wanted to see it in the flesh to see what it looked like. It also meant that we could have a relaxing afternoon mooching around should we need to.

Anyway, we got there (via a detour to Tesco Handforth Dean to top up petrol and use the Tesco Fuel Save to get shed loads off for The Love) and had a look around, and indeed one of the TVs that I liked was there. It looked pretty good and checking around the back, a nice useful four HDMI inputs if that was your thing, including an audio return channel one for your AV amplifier and stuff like that. It was also very slim and a nice stand, and to be honest if any of them were in stock I'd have had one. They and Richer Sounds in Stockport didn't have any in, but ah well, at least I know which one I really would like now.

I headed then to my Mum's as I needed to drop of my weekend case for her to borrow, and Mum had already said that she was making a Sunday roast and we could stay for some if we wanted. Of course we weren't going to say no to that and so we headed there, had a good chat in the back garden, and had the roast alfresco outside, with some lovely lamb, potatoes, peas, carrots, Yorkshire puddings and some gorgeous gravy to top the lot. It was much appreciated and really nice to have a chat and catch up.

Later on The Love headed homewards and I settled in for the Canadian Grand Prix, always a good race usually. I can remember the epic 2011 race that Jenson Button won, and usually the track results in good racing. Today was not an exception to that, it was impressive stuff. Initially it was about the two Marussia drivers taking each other out, and after the safety car went in, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg in the Mercedes went off after each other, and it was literally the two of them way in front for a while till both cars suffered system failures.

Indeed at the second pit stops, Hamilton's brakes overheated which then resulted in him missing the hairpin and allowing Rosberg back in front, only for Hamilton to then retire the car, and Rosberg had to watch the car carefully and try to at least get it home. Felipe Massa pitted from the lead but was soon on fresh tyres and chasing hard, with the Red Bulls of Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel chasing down Sergio Pérez who was now second. Jenson Button was also charging, he'd got past Valteri Bottas and was now closing in on Fernando Alonso and Nico Hulkenberg, but was still 8th at this stage.

The last three laps were incredible: Ricciardo had got past Pérez and was hunting down Rosberg, doing a DRS pass at the final chicane. Two laps to go then. On the penultimate lap, Vettel got past Pérez for third, and he was then under pressure from Massa. Both Massa and Pérez went off and smashed into the barriers with a force of apparently 27G, ouch indeed. Unseen by the cameras but spotted by me before the F1 commentators in terms of positions, Jenson Button had got past Alonso and Hulkenberg to go to 6th, and the crash ahead meant that he ended up in 4th place, impressive stuff from him.

Ricciardo took a richly deserved win, Rosberg somehow nursed the car home to second with Vettel completing a Red Bull 1-3 on the podium. Hulkenberg was 5th and Alonso was 6th. Later on I saw some of Alonso's footage from the second to last lap: he had to brake to avoiding hitting Hulkenberg at the hairpin but went wide, Button sneaked on the inside to take the place and then passed Hulkeberg on the final chicane and so before the double waved yellows for the Massa-Pérez incident. Great stuff from Jenson to be honest, I was really pleased for him. Tune of the day has to be the F1 intro theme: "The Chain" by Fleetwood Mac - just ace.

Saturday 7th June - Walking In The Rain

It was nice to have a little bit of a lie in, but I did want to make the most of the day and so was going to head out for a nice walk. I had worked out that the local cycle path, which follows the old Fallowfield Loop train line, was a good four mile walk to Chorlton, and it's a walk I've done before with The Love In My Heart, so I know it well. It's also good because it means I can get the bus back at the other end back homewards too. I also thought that if it stayed dry I could even mooch around a couple of the record shops in Chorlton and look around for a bit.

As I set off, the weather did look a tad cloudy but it was still dry. It was pretty much till I got to the Sainsburys in Fallowfield, where lots and lots of people were waiting for the cash point machine inside the store, but also stocking up on alcohol and essentials for their trip to Heaton Park for the Parklife festival, with lots of them in wellies and shorts, quite a different combination but with the weather supposedly chucking it down later, possibly sensible to have something on to wade through the potential mud at the site.

I carried on my walk and as the path headed towards Princess Road, it was clear that the rain was getting worse, and by the time I got to the bridge at Alexandra Road South, it did make me wonder whether stopping was a good move. Then again I thought: "No. I'm doing the four miles and if I get a little wet, so be it" and so carried on, and eventually stopped at the tram stop at St Werburgh's Road for a couple of minutes before completing the last leg along the back of the streets close to the tram line and into Chorlton itself.

I must admit I was pretty wet though and couldn't face heading into any record shops and so looked at the time and realised that there was a bus back homeward, so I headed on that instead. Good move that, as I could then head home and have some lunch before deciding to sort out the wardrobes a fair bit. I realised that I had lots of old clothes which I didn't really wear anymore, and so bagged up two large bags full and headed to one of the large Tescos near by, as they had a recycle clothes bank for Oxfam, which meant at least I knew that they'd be recycled in a good way and for a good cause.

Later on The Love In My Heart headed over to see me, and I cooked us some tea - two courses at that. First off some nice mushrooms with a crumb top and some garlic, and they went down nicely. The main was some nice chicken in a lemon and herb butter and crumb, together with some mash and some carrots, and that was enough to keep us going. The Love insisted on seeing most of the Britain's Got Talent (less) final, but that was a good trade off for me watching the England game later on. What was clear to me was that some of the acts could sing and all, but it just didn't feel right that they had to actually go on a show like this to make it.

Anyway, on went the football and to be brutally honest, even with the interruption for the electrical storm and ITV's hapless attempts to fill in the time (which were awful) it was a game to forget. Not being able to break down ten men for the last half hour or so was a real worry and in truth there were no positives for England to take from that game whatsoever, in fact Honduras probably deserve a bit of credit from it. During the storm we turned over and saw a chunk of Father of the Bride 2 on BBC Three which was argubaly much more entertaining to be honest!

Tune of the day in the meantime is the rather apt "Getting Away With It" by Electronic. It certainly summed up the England performance, but also the opening line summed up my walk earlier: "I've been walking in the rain just to get wet on purpose" and it certainly felt that way as I'd carried on regardless. It's possibly also one of the finest things that Bernard Sumner ever wrote, and has a really nice hookline and chorus throughout. Still vastly under-rated in my view. Thankfully watching the French Open women's final did dry me off nicely though.

Friday 6th June - Reclaiming The Game

It simply had to be done. I have ordered not just the CD single (11 tracks at that) but also the t-shirt for the new Pop Will Eat Itself single "Reclaim The Game (Funk FIFA) and you can do that yourself at their online shop if you wish. You may have to be quick though: there's a mere 200 t-shirts and 500 CDs. Apart from that the track will be available digitally, so you can then download it via the usual iTunes and Amazon stores from Monday should you wish. It is simply tune of the day and definitely catchy as well as having a really good message about how massively corrupt FIFA are and how we need to take the game back.

Of course it hasn't escaped me that the World Cup starts in six days. It's amazing just how many times BBC Three seem to want to repeat their "50 Greatest World Cup Moments" this week though. I've already seen it shown twice and it is on again tonight. To be honest I'd have much rather have something else football related instead of the same thing over and over. There's only so much of Olly Murs and Rio Ferdinand (who were hosting it) someone can take, you know, even with the likes of Guy Mowbray, Mark Lawrenson, Alan Hansen, Gary Lineker, John Motson et al offering some excellent insights into those moments.

In another positive move, the Football League teams have basically told the Football Association that they have no appetite for the FA's proposals for "League Three", effectively ten Conference teams and the rest made up of B teams from Premier League sides, so the players in those teams can play at that level. There's so many reasons why that and other FA proposals are just suiting the so-called big teams, and for me, that doesn't sit with me very well at all. If the Football League are helping just that little bit to reclaim the game, then so be it.

I suppose as I'm getting older I'm thinking more about not just me but the world around me, and what that'll become in years to come when I do get to the point of eventually leaving work and retiring with a hopefully happy life in front of me. I think though that in the long term I also need to evaluate where I am and what I'm doing, and see what I want to do in the future which would hopefully carry me through to retirement in a good way. Even if of course the age of retirement keeps going up and up, and it's becoming increasingly hard for those in work at a later age to either get a job or even stay in work as the next new bright young thing comes along.

I did have a strange dream about what would happen if I did win the lottery, maybe spurred on by the sizeable EuroMillions jackpot tonight. In some ways, I actually wouldn't want anyone to know - couldn't cope with the media attention, the letters and possible threats that may come along because suddenly I might have come into some money. I might however look at possibly moving to a part of the world that I'd really like to call home - possibly Cornwall, the south of France (hmm, actually Monaco would be tempting if I'd won all of the £80 million, an apartment would be reachable then) or somewhere nice. I can only dream!

Thursday 5th June - From There To Stockport Market

It was a busy day (again) in the office, but it was also good to see that I had at least managed to seize the initiative and get the office tidied up somewhat. I thought that it was a good idea to make sure that everything we could was pretty clean and organised, and this also meant me boxing up some stuff and getting it all sorted neatly away. I think that way it's also meant that I can think with a clean head too and try to get to the bottom of a few issues which have been bugging a few things as of late.

That said, I did stay pretty late to try and set off a laptop and see if it would image overnight, and so with that set off it was time to head home, and then stay in and pretty much set a few bits of washing off, as well as then sort out a few things for Mum too. In a way it was good also to kick back and relax a bit with some quality music on including the likes of Pop Will Eat Itself, Apollo 440 and The Prodigy before The Love In My Heart arrived for tea and a nice relaxing evening after a hard week at work for her.

Whilst I got the evening meal sorted, she settled in with Emmerdale at first before I switched over to BBC Four for Top of the Pops from 1979. It was a pretty good episode too with the likes of Tubeway Army, Squeeze and Chas and Dave with their classic "Gertcha" - which they got into trouble for as they weren't supposed to sing the word "cowson" because apparently it was deemed to be a swear word, and they sang it before the first chorus. No one would in truth bat an eyelid now.

We had some nice pork medallions with a Mediterranean sauce, coupled with some mash and petits pois, and then I indulged The Love with the soaps for a bit, as she was clearly having a tough week mentally at work so thought it was best to just make her feel much more chilled out. In fact though I was also flicking over to the BBC Three coverage of the Diamond League athletics from Rome as well, as there were some good feats such as the high jump where that bloke from Qatar came very close to smashing his own African record..

The thing we were both looking forward to was From There To Here, as it was the final episode tonight. As Daniel (Philip Glenister) woke up from his attack and saw both his wife and mistress there, it must have been a shock. As the episode developed though it was clear that everyone had their own lies to be revealed: Charlie started gambling with the money from the factory into property investments and making a cock up of it, Louise has an affair with one of the workers from the factory, Robbo ends up having the club closed down and he pretended not to know dealing was happening (not least from Joanne's son Ryan), and Daniel wasn't adopted by Samuel (superbly played by Bernard Hill) after all.

Some quality tunes in this one too, not least quite aptly as well Bizarre Love Triangle by New Order (tune of the day an easy decision there) which was perfectly timed to come in - and some Doves too, which continued the Manchester theme nicely. And at the end, maybe a glimmer of hope as there's Joanne running the sweet stall on Stockport Market (recognised it a mile off) with the children and a possible hint at reconciliation with Daniel, with Joanne superbly played by Liz White (her and Philip were of course in the all time classic Life on Mars too, so there you go) and it showed some really excellent timing throughout. Well worth watching on iPlayer if you didn't get to see it tonight.

Wednesday 4th June - Ecuador Error

It was a productive day at work, but I was trying to do what I could to keep a clear head and make sure that things were getting done but also trying where possible to be able to do some testing as well. In a way it was good that I was able to be productive and test out what needed to be done, and have a solid testing procedure. I also made sure that one of our software installers updated correctly on to our SCCM server so it was able to be distributed to clients without any problems. I like it when things work.

Later on I headed to Tesco to get some bits of shopping, as my friend was coming over later and we were going to watch the England game against Ecuador, live from Miami on ITV. It was good to catch up anyway and we had a good natter about all sorts whilst keeping an eye on the French Open Tennis, where Andy Murray had taken a two set lead in his quarter final (he eventually won in five sets and so was pretty relieved to see that result later on to be honest).

We then put ITV back on for the football, and as much as I loathe ITV for their football coverage (Adrian Chiles - bobbins. Andy Townsend - bobbins.) they did at least show the game live for everyone, so I suppose it's better than being on Sky and having less people be bothered to watch it. Playing James Milner at right back we thought was a bit of an error really, and that soon was borne out when he was keeping the ball in, it went to the Ecuador midfield and one cross and good header later, it was 1-0 to Ecuador. Shocking defending as Alan Hansen would have probably said.

England did at least start to play a bit and it wasn't long before some good work down the right involving Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain meant that a cross wasn't cleared, the ball fell to Rickie Lambert who hit the post and from the scramble Wayne Rooney pounced first for the equaliser and 1-1. We were still looking a bit bobbins defensively though and it did concern me just how easy it seemed for us to be exposed. Plenty to think about as we had a pizza and chatted with a cold drink during the first half, before switching over to see what was happening in the tennis.

Back for the second half, and England took the lead thanks to an excellent run from Ross Barkley who found Rickie Lambert, and he drilled the ball powerfully home for a 2-1 England lead. It did go downhill a bit from there though and one of the subs came on and rifled a beauty home from distance that really the defence (especially Milner) should have cut out before it even got to that stage. Later on Raheem Stirling went in for a meaty challenge with Antonio Valencia, who lost it and went to grab Stirling by the neck. Although the tackle was a little high, the referee shouldn't have sent Stirling off, but Valencia's was a red and then some. Disgraceful behaviour, but then he is a Man U player so what else did we expect?

After the football I put on the Wii and we had a good time playing The Cube on the Wii. He'd never seen it before and wanted to see how it played, and his reaction seemed to be that it played pretty well on the whole. For me I have to say that it worked excellent in the two player sprint mode where you had to complete five games in under five minutes, and the split screen meant that you had to keep an eye on what the other was doing. Tune of the day is the iconic theme tune from said show!

Tuesday 3rd June - Happy in Hebden Bridge

It was a busy day and I was quite pleased that all the traffic issues of the day before seemed to have resolved themselves. I did take an alternative route into the city centre on the bus and walked some distance to work: whether that helped or not I am not sure, but it definitely did me no harm whatsoever to walk anyway. The weather was still middling between the sun and rain, but at least I was able to feel a bit more positive about things and get on with them - including looking at a laptop and seeing what could be done in terms of driver support and seeing if it would actually work with our Windows 7 SCCM task sequence.

It was admittedly nice to get home and just be able to get a few things done around the house: mainly some washing and all that, but I really wanted to just kick back and do some gaming for old school sake. So I did. On went Wii Sports on the trusty Wii, and I thought I'd see if I could break my record for the target practice tennis game, where you hit the targets and serve back and forward to get to them. I actually broke my own record, yaay, and scored 44 points, which was also enough to claim the platinum medal. Happy bunny I was indeed.

The Love In My Heart came over and I made us something different for tea: namely some chicken with a ginger, lime and chilli marinade. I quite liked them but The Love wasn't so keen, but she did at least appreciate I got them along with the potatoes and the peas I had in an effort to eat a little bit healthier and so do my utmost to get the weight off me. I think too that it was good that she could see that I wanted to try and change things a bit and get on with it.

Later on we settled in to watch the final episode of the series Happy Valley on BBC1, where parts of Calderdale (notably Hebden Bridge) are used for locations. For me, seeing the canal that runs through the town and having key scenes on the boat near there, as well as a café in the town centre that The Love and I have had a coffee and cake in (and with my Mum too) was something to see. I must admit too that I think Sarah Lancashire has been brilliant in this, and really has shown a performance that I'd be giving her a BAFTA for right now. And indeed the little actor who played the grandson Ryan was ace too.

I did like the fact that it really was quite gritty in parts but also had a sense of family and realism in there as well, and Siobhan Finneran was also excellent in this too. For me though the fact that it used Jake Bugg's "Trouble Town" as the theme tune showed an understanding of the mood that it wanted to set, and so that's tune of the day - easy decision that. I know that there's talk of a second series but would that necessarily dilute the quality of these six episodes? Sometimes series know how to end and the way it finished tonight was rather bloody good.

Monday 2nd June - Rain And Jam

Today's journey into work took a lot longer than normal, primarily because it seemed one of the main routes into the city centre had been at some point cut down from three lanes into one. Of course this meant that the bus lane, which was meant to get buses moving quicker into the city, was effectively a standing line of about half a mile's worth of them. The drivers thankfully were pretty sensible and allowed me and several others to get off way before the stop and walk the remaining distance into work, which to be honest was a heck of a lot quicker. I wonder which sensible person decided that three into one was a good idea?

Anyway, I had at least managed to sort a few things out today, and that made me feel a bit more positive. I'd worked out just why for some reason one printer wasn't allowing to print in colour for certain members of staff, and got a solution sorted for that, which was pretty pleasing. I also had to make sure I ordered a laptop for one member of staff and then liaise with them to make sure we knew what we needed to order was right and we had all the necessary authorisation necessary in order to do so.

I also had to battle through the rain as I was doing some jobs in the afternoon, including installing this rather small and neat little desktop scanner, which does sheet feed of documents at a really nice and speedy rate, and does OCR recognition and all sorts. I must admit I was impressed and glad I specced it up for the department concerned, so hopefully they'll get a good use out of it. I think too it shows that with some research and theory behind it everything will work correctly as intended.

The rain was hammering it down as I headed home, and it was good to dry off and then settle in for some wholesome radio - not least as Mary Anne Hobbs was taking over the 6 Music 7-9pm slot to cover for Marc Riley this week. And oh yes, a play list that did not disappoint - not least the rather superb "Waiting Room" by Fugazi, that you've probably heard in an indie night at some point in your life (I did between 1988 and 1991 art least!) and maybe never realised how bloody good it was or even what it was. Trust me, you'll know it when you hear it - tune of the day has to be done.

I spent some time with Only Connect later on via BBC Four - and that was a rather difficult round and a half. I was surprised how close it was in all three rounds between the teams, and it was only during Missing Vowels that the Welsh Learners did the business against the Record Collectors. I did get my usual spate of clues, spotting the Scottish companies in the wall round, but it seemed a lot harder than normal. Mind you, seeing an early series shows how much it's all moved on and how much better Victoria Coren Mitchell has got as well, which is a positive.

Sunday 1st June - Reclaim The Game

Waking up this morning and putting the news on showed that there's more goings on at FIFA, with leaked documents showing that it's highly likely that one of the previous FIFA executives was effectively taking money in order to try and secure the World Cup 2022 bid for Qatar. Reading into the articles a bit more fully, it does seem pretty damning to me in that there's a definite sense of corruption within the top level of football, and how much of this may have been known or disclosed prior to the bidding decison taking place, we can only know.

Of course, FIFA under Sepp Blatter has always been seen as an organisation that doesn't quite understand its position in the game and what they should be doing as a world governing body instead of what they actually do, and Blatter's tenure has been full of howlers, such as stating women that play football should wear tighter skimpier outfits in order to attract fans to the game. However, one of his most controversial howlers was interrupting a minute's silence for Nelson Mandela during the 2014 World Cup seeding draw (Mandela had died the day before) and that was seen to be crass, and rightfully so.

If you haven't already heard, Pop Will Eat Itself are bringing out a song for the 2014 World Cup, but it's not the official England song. It's called "Reclaim The Game (Funk FIFA)" and definitely sets out to show in its lyrics just what is wrong in Brazil - the fact that protests against the tournament have been dealt with by harsh means, the people of Brazil are paying the price for staging the tournament just for FIFA's gain instead of benefitting the country, and in the extended version, it mentions the Blatter incident at the Mandela silence. Having one of the band (Mary Byker) who lives in Brazil and has been seeing what has been going on first hand has allowed the band to see what's really been going on, so tune of the day it is. It's out soon, get it bought!

I think too that for me I'd rather be focussing on the tournament, but obviously if there's stuff like that going on, you've got to sit up and take notice. For me, when you see the things that our own FA are doing over here with the whole debate about having League 3 introduced so we can have B teams competing in the lower leagues is ridiculous, and from my view we shouldn't be having that. The current pyramid system allows for teams to progress and move up the leagues, and Fleetwood Town's rise to League One is proof that it does work and allows players to develop properly.

Anyway, enough of that for now. I had spent some time this morning sorting out an IKEA purchase that The Love In My Heart had purchased for work - her and a couple of colleagues had attempted to put it together but had failed. I am used to the IKEA pictorial style manuals though and soon realised that one of the parts that had been put together was wrong, so I disassembled it and started from scratch. This worked out pretty well and with my logical head on, I managed to get it all assembled, and it looks pretty good now it's done. Yaay for my IKEA building skills!