Dear Diary... March 2017

Friday 31st March - ITIL, Final Day

I decided to take a different way in to the course this morning, getting the train to London Bridge instead of Blackfriars and then heading across from there on the RV1 bus towards the Tower of London, thus dropping me off close enough to the training venue. It worked pretty well as it had done yesterday, so definitely one to be doing on the way back later I reckoned. I had at least done the mock exam last night and after marking it myself actually had done reasonably well and so hoped that was going to be the catalyst for the rest of the day.

But first, more stuff to learn, including the remainder of service design, followed by chunks of service strategy. In fact the foundation stage level means you don't have to know them all but certainly need to be aware of the bigger picture, especially as a lot of that from a business point of view helps drive what IT provision is actually needed. Then of course there's continual service improvement, which aligns itself all around the remainder of the service cycle with a constant space for managing to get things done better.

It was a nervous group of us doing the mock examination just before lunch which I did think was a tad harder than the first one, but surprised myself by managing to get a decent enough mark. A few of us outside were debating about the questions and how we had to carefully read the whole thing to be absolutely sure. The trainer had also told us that actually it was a difficult thing to achieve to shut it out and ignore the real world and instead concentrate on what was ITIL's world of perfection, which made sense when you read the manuals again.

After some additional final slides and the continual service improvement completion, we batted around some ideas, headed off for a coffee or a cold drink, and at 3pm sat the examination. I must admit I did feel nervous doing it as I don't really perform so well in an exam situation (results aren't always the best unfortunately) and had to really concentrate pretty hard, and block out anything else. The good thing was though that a number of people had finished early and I was one of the last to, as I wanted to double and triple check everything to be sure that I was actually correct.

It's too early to say if I passed or not but should find out next week. I'm really hoping I do as that's another nice thing to add to the CV, and for me it'll be good to see I still have got it. I'd just like to say thanks to the whole group for being such a lovely bunch, and being a really nice mix of people which helped a lot when doing the course I reckon. I headed home and decided to rest and relax for a bit before making some tea, and then spend some time cleaning up.

It was then kick back time totally and so put on the fourth disc of the Jethro Tull Aqualung box set that I got last Christmas. This disc, one of the DVDs, happens to have the 1974 quadrophonic stereo mix on there, and it was a notable difference in some sense than the original, with its mix for four speakers positioned in a sort of surround way as they attempted to back then with analogue vinyl. Of this, "My God" sounded rather excellent, and so because of its stance against religion, is my tune of the day.

Thursday 30th March - ITIL, Day Two

So it was off again via Blackfriars to Tower Hill and off to QA for the second day of three of the ITIL Foundation course. It focussed today on the remainder of the Service Operation including all the necessary things you need to think about, not just incidents but problems as well and how you make those resolvable and a known error in future so it's easier for you to remember what happened last time and what was the resolution to fix it (after all, lesson learned means less time sorting it next time out, right?) In fact a lot of that was stuff I used to do as an incident co-ordinator in one of my previous jobs, so plenty of that made sense.

One thing the trainer did remind us of is that the ITIL Framework as described in their documentation is their idea of the perfect IT service where everything is as per that guidance, but the real world isn't so. However, for the purposes of the exam, get that out of your head and remember that it's their perfect vision to use, so that was good to know. In fact later in the day we got our heads around service transition and what happens there, and various facets of service design too.

We were handed a mock examination which we could either do there or take home or do at home. I decided with the weather being nice to do so at home and so headed off on the RV1 bus from Tower Bridge over to London Bridge station, then on the train from there to East Croydon which seemed a pretty good way to get home quickly - must do the same tomorrow once I've sat the examination. As for the mock, I did it when at home and thought I had done okay. The pass mark is 26 out of 40, I got 32, and that's without covering the whole syllabus. So, I'm hoping that is a confidence booster for tomorrow at least.

I also spent some time sorting out plenty of cleaning in the flat tonight, so I didn't have to do so much tomorrow, and in fact it meant that I was also able to relax and watch Top of the Pops on BBC Four later, with the likes of Shalamar and Paul Young on with one of his classic songs of the era. However for me the best song on the show tonight was the rather ace "War Baby" from Tom Robinson, still one I adored from then and so tune of the day without question.

I also then listened again to the fourth disc download of Matt Gray's Reformation, and on subsequent listens other tracks have grown on me somewhat, such as the nifty version of Rob Hubbard's "Mega Apocalypse" (in itself a 12" remix of the Crazy Comets music if you like) but souped up and sounding rather dance-orientated along the way. In fact there's lots of quality stuff throughout the four discs worth (and that's not even including the Last Ninja 2 soundtrack, which in itself as one album is simply bloody awesome), so after some consideration, my favourites from each of the albums are:

Last Ninja 2 - The Sewers (in-game) - epic 10 minute rendition
Reformation CD1 - Tusker (The Village) - just has some great hooks and a driving melody that draws you in
Reformation CD2 - Pro BMX Simulator (main themes) - all three, hooked gorgeously together
Reformation CD3 - KGB Superspy (title theme) - a really good reworking all round
Reformation CD4 - Knucklebusters (in-game) - what else? It's all 17 minutes of Hubbard superbly done

Wednesday 29th March - ITIL, Day One

So the first day of three of the ITIL Foundation course that I had been booked to go on, and to be honest it was something I'd been wanting to do for ages. In fact I almost did it at one of my previous places of work, but as I'd announced I was leaving there it didn't seem right for me to use up their money to train me up for something that they weren't going to see the benefits of, so I gave the chance to someone else. And as training budgets were very tight in the last job, only now have I been able to put it down as something I can achieve.

So it was a different way in this morning, off to QA at their headquarters in central London, close to the Tower of London and Tower Bridge, and indeed a short walk from Tower Hill tube station, so all good there. In fact I got there pretty early so it meant I could have a coffee and admire the view before going in, and it looked a decent array of people all round who were there from many different institutions, so felt positive about it all. Our trainer explained what would happen and that we had external people who were watching it online and being able to contribute too, so that was pretty good to note.

The first day really was mainly about setting the scene and the building blocks for the rest of the week, so explaining the terminology used and how that all fitted in. In fact, most of it is good common sense, but implementing that at times does seem the more challenging thing to do. In fact it was a lively debate about one statement that only your service desk should close any calls, and how everyone deals with that supposed premise differently. I for one think that it's a fine balance between usability and accountability (a fairly RACI subject actually)

Oh, in case you wondered, RACI is one of many acronyms that I'm going to have to remember for the examination on Friday. It stands for Resonsible, Accountable, Consulted and Informed. In the true style of Highlander, there can be only one Accountable, so for example if it was a project, then that's the project manager. In fact another good one to note is CASC for the four deliverables of warranty for "fit for use" that breaks down into capacity, availability, security and continuity. Simples.

In fact I had a go at one mock exam on Youtube tonight and felt pretty comfortable that I had got 9 out of 10 questions right on three different ones, which would be enough to pass, so watching all the extra course material that I did last night helped me quite a bit to make sense of it all. I think sometimes it's easier to be able to refer to how you learned during the day, and I made plenty of highlighter pen notes to what might be crucial stuff to remember later on.

When I got home later I'd had notification that the CD4 downloads of Matt Gray's "Reformation" epic project to remake not just his own Commodore 64 tracks but also those by others, were available. I was looking forward to this one as this is where he remakes other tracks, and the track listing sounded rather promising, not least track four, the epic seventeen minutes that is Rob Hubbard's "Knucklebusters" and one that I was looking forward to hearing. I can safely say it was epic, plenty of really Industrial pounding drums, all the pace changes a la the original, and some really gorgeous instruments giving the same flow as the main lead did way back when. It was such a relief as I love the original lots too, so tune of the day for being a bloody outstanding effort all round.

In fact the other tracks were pretty notable too, the intro to the loading theme of Rambo: First Blood Part II kept the iconic Morse Code notes at the start that Martin Galway had pub in, another Rob Hubbard epic W.A.R was given some powerful treatment and clocking in at ten minutes dead, Arcade Classics was good but perhaps needed more of the guitar being up front and sounding more metal (but that's because I loved the fact the original was full on guitar) and the title theme to Green Beret was given some suitable nice bounciness too. Like the sound of all that? Get it ordered, if not least for the Last Ninja 2 remakes alone (you'll need to be Level 3 and above for this, but so worth it..)

Tuesday 28th March - Figuring It All Out

So, another day at work, and this time formulating a couple of plans for when I am in back in next week. We discovered a while ago that one of the applications that some staff use isn't compatible at all with Windows 10, but the vendor themselves didn't exactly confirm it properly to the business (which was before I started there) - and when we tested it, it didn't play whatsoever. So one of my colleagues has been road testing a version which supposedly works, and it would be a big job to migrate version and upgrade the databases etc, but also there's some good planning needed.

One plan I had was that we could remove the old version now from anywhere that has it installed on Windows 10 machines, meaning that when the new one was ready to deploy, we could do so pretty easily knowing it was a clean build to do so. In fact, when I looked into it further, the uninstalls would simply be a reversal of the install, so any additional shortcuts or configuration files removed, followed by a msiexec with the /X and the product code. Testing this on a test box showed all was well and everything was indeed gone, and it also meant that an annoying Outlook add-on also went too.

I then realised that one of our database people probably had a newer version on his Windows 10 box for testing, so we didn't want to cull that. What I therefore did was to get a SCCM query done which shows the software installed and which version, and this would form the basis of a collection where we could deploy the uninstallations to. Of course, the good thing is that we definitely know that the software was installed on those, and as they pull an inventory of software later on, they'll not be a member of the collection but we'll still have the deployment stats for it. Neat.

I felt good and headed home with three days of course to head to for the rest of the week, and so spent a fair bit of time tonight looking at some of the online learning material. It was good to have some interactive things to watch that would help give me a better understanding of what it'll all be about, and I'm sure it'll make much more sense when I do it all from tomorrow onwards. In fact I checked the times of trains and tube etc, and it seems a simple head across from Blackfriars on the District Line (or from Victoria on the same line as backup, albeit more stops) - so all should be good there.

I spent some time also watching some of the classic moments of the Australian V8 Supercars race that is the Bathurst 1000. Plenty of them were iconic moments and some I've actually seen on the highlights DVDs of some of the races I have (I actually bought them from an Australian DVD store and had them sent over) - and it makes me think one day it'd be pretty awesome to head over there and see the action for real, or even be driven around the lap at race speed. Tune of the day is the epic "Fire on the Mountain" by Rob Thomas, that seems to suit the Mount Panorama mountain circuit ever so well..

Monday 27th March - Lines of Duty

I spent the late part of last night watching the first in the new series of Line of Duty, a programme both myself and The Love In My Heart have really enjoyed when the previous series were on BBC2. The popularity meant it was going to BBC1, complete with Thandie Newton also being one of the starring roles as Roz Huntley. I for one though was really pleased to see the AC12 regulars Arnott, Fleming and the chief Hastings, who is not to be messed with and a steely eye for everything - with especially Vicky McClure as Fleming being as ace as ever.

I won't spoil it too much for those of you who haven't watched it as yet, but the opening episode has set the tone nicely for the rest of the series. There's a definite twist or two coming I reckon, especially as you're not quite sure if the forensic inspector is actually all there, or if there's anyone at a higher level than Roz possibly getting up to no good. One thing I can say though: it's definitely going to be a great series once again, and Sunday nights at last have something decent to watch - and tune of the day is the theme tune.

My normal duty back at work resumed today, and I spent some time working on packaging the new version of Skype, 7.34 it's at now. It had been mentioned that for some reason some of the recent MSI installations didn't always remove the old one, and so for SCCM 2007 I've set the program slightly differently - in that the thing that runs first is an uninstall based on the MSI product code (same one for previous versions, so nice catch all) and then once done, install the new one. I deliberately on my test Win7 machine put on two old versions (7.06 and 7.11) and then allowed SCCM 2007 to do its bit. Worked fine both times, which is good.

For SCCM 2012 (we're at the 1610 release) it's handled by an application and so handled differently, effectively when setting the supersedence, the old version needs to remove any previous one, so the detection is that version or lower, so the uninstall runs as part of the supersedence for the new one. It works pretty well, or you could add a second deployment type for the MSI uninstall and make the main install dependent on that first too. Either way, should be a lot cleaner now and so have proposed the changes through as I need to do.

In fact, it's worth noting that the update to version 1702 of SCCM was released today. I'll see how other early adopters have gone on first, as one recent patch caused client installation issues (which I spotted before it went live, so this is where a small deploy to pre-prod works wonders) - so be good to see if that's now all good and indeed if the new features are also worth it, including a possibility of using Android for Work for some mobile devices. Either way, it's definitely been quite productive today.

Sunday 26th March - Wimbledon Windmill Wombling Free

Underground, overground, wombling free sang Mike Batt for the Wombles theme tune during the 1970s. Who would have thought that both would be methods of TfL transport in the present day, or that recycling as championed by the TV series would actually now be a thing? I hummed the theme tune today so that's tune of the day and happy memories of listening to the great Bernard Cribbins narrate the animated series during my childhood formative years.

But today I was heading to Wimbledon for another reason, and not even for the tennis. Oh no. It was the 200th anniversary since Wimbledon Windmill, located on the middle of Wimbledon Common, was built, and as such the windmill museum is free to enter when it's open at weekends. I thought it'd be nice to head there and take a look, especially as you do pass it if taking on section six of the Capital Ring (Wimbledon Park to Richmond, which I'm going to re-do sometime in sunnier weather) and so headed off on the tram from Croydon to Wimbledon, followed by the number 93 bus through Wimbledon Village.

I got off at the Parkside Hospital stop and followed the signs, and sure enough the windmill was there and looking rather lovely it has to be said. Having the sails back in operation after some damage in 2015 has made a huge difference, it looks the part once again, and it's an unusal smock mill design that sits on top of the building underneath, unlike Shirley Windmill in Croydon which is a single tower. The sails also slope at a slight diagonal angle too.

Once inside I headed around the museum which was pretty informative. It showed you the different windmill types with examples of where they are, and plenty about how the cogs and grinding wheels went together to make what you needed (in Wimbledon's case, it was corn) and some interactive things for children to do. If you feel really brave you can venture up inside the six sided smock mill itself up the steep ladder (and there's two more ladders for staff only) but note that the window is choc full of ladybirds, so be careful if peeking out from there.

The café around the corner facing the common was packed full to say the least, and so it was a nice bus back to Wimbledon itself, where lots of bars had people sat outside in the afternoon sunshine. I headed back home and watched the F1 highlights from Australia, complete with a well taken win from Sebastian Vettel, as the Ferrari was more gentle on the tyres than Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes. Lewis did enough to be second with his new team mate Valtteri Bottas third. It was still not the most exciting race ever and even Lewis has complained about the lack of overtaking, something I know Ross Brawn as one of the new owners of F1 will be having a big say in I guess.

I also saw the England v Lithuania game and I have to say it was a case of a professional performance to get the job done instead of being spectacular. The nice touch was Jermain Defoe leading the team out with Bradley Lowery by his side, and good of Joe Hart as captain to step aside too. Of course it was even nicer that Defoe on comeback scored and took his goal well, which Bradley up in the stands applauded. We're all behind his fight in the football family, so somehow that all just seemed to be a good thing. Jamie Vardy scored later and it could have been more, but we'll take the three points and a four point lead in the group thank you very much.

Saturday 25th March - Completion

Today was the start of a weekend on my own, without The Love In My Heart, and the first weekend in almost two months not together. However she had some plans for this weekend and one of mine was also to head out for some nice walking, especially as the weather was set fair to be pretty nice all round. I also wanted to use the time well and to take on the fifteenth and final section of the Capital Ring walk, meaning that I'll have completed all seventy eight miles or so of it.

So it was off from East Croydon this morning via London Bridge and then Canning Town, avoiding the masses on the DLR for a conference at the ExCeL and getting off at Royal Albert, following the short link to Beckton District Park and the start. In fact the park had some nice tree lined paths which really set the green parts of the walk off well, and once to New Beckton Park with plenty of football going on with groups of youngsters all enjoying their exercise (a good thing) it was on to the road to University of East London (UEL) via the Cyprus DLR station.

Once through the campus it was facing the Royal Albert Docks and opposite that London City Airport, which saw a few planes coming in as I walked along. Once at the Sir Steve Redgrave Bridge it was under Gallions Reach station and East to the River Thames, following the riverside path as it snaked along, first over Gallions Point Marina and the lock gate there, then to the massive King George V Lock and the little tiny pedestrian lock gate to walk over - with a gap in the middle this is not for the faint hearted, let me tell you.

Once over that and towards Gallions Point Estate, a nice new development of housing, it was alongside the River Thames via the Royal Victoria Gardens, following some nice trees before the more brutalist path taking you past the former pedestrian boarding point for the Woolwich Ferry, then heading across to the Woolwich Foot Tunnel. In order to fully complete the ring you do need to cross the river, and so took the lift down to the foot tunnel, and then headed across.

I have to say that despite the clear signage throughout stating "no cycling" I was most perturbed to see many cyclists completely ignore this and cycle the whole way through the tunnel, so much so that when I got to the lift one of them got in and still on his bike, and also rode out. I can't have been the only one to wish for someone in plain clothes and an official to pull the bike rider up and go "you clearly can't read, can you?" or something similar, that would have been entertaining.

Anyway, I made my way up the lift and out of the foot tunnel, looked out over the Thames, and there it was - I had completed the Capital Ring. I must admit it's been an ambition fulfilled since I did section 6 (Wimbledon Park to Richmond) over a year ago, and I've pretty much done every section since section 8 in order, having gone back and done some earlier ones when I had the chance to. It's certainly got me exploring a lot more of the capital and seeing new places to go (in fact last Summer The Love and I went to Streatham Common and followed the path to Norwood Grove as well the nice gardens along the way, as an example)

I headed to Woolwich Arsenal train station after that and took the train to Lewisham followed by the DLR to Cutty Sark Station, and had a nice walk around Greenwich Market and also two of the record shops there, having a good mooch at what they had available. It was pretty good stock overall but wasn't tempted completely, but only because some of the stuff I would have bought I already had. It was a relaxed vibe in there, and was even so in Canary Wharf shopping centre when I stopped off there later on, then took the Jubilee Line back to London Bridge and the train home.

I sorted out all the pictures and realised I'd taken a fair number on the Capital Ring, over 400 or so, but that should hopefully detail the journey nicely overall. I also listened to some rather lovely music when I got back, including the excellent "Closing Montage" by Gavin Osborn which somehow seemed fitting after my walk, so tune of the day that one is. I must admit it did feel like the end credits were rolling on my sentimental journey once I arrived in Woolwich...

Friday 24th March - Red Nosed

It was surprisingly nice outside today, so much so that I realised that even though it was a tad nippy in the morning, wearing a bigger coat wasn't such a good idea. Still, I did feel positive about the work I was doing today and managed to get a lot done - I sorted out the remote distribution point, ensuring all content had been removed first of all before then once that was done and seeing no content present, then removed the distribution point role nicely. It's been sort of intruguing to clear out the old SCCM 2007 stuff as I go along, and meant that it would be a tad nicer all going forward.

I also worked on some of the newer core application updates, including a new version of FileZilla to distribute out as well as keep an eye on how the updated Flash Player was doing too. The good thing is that we're more on top of all of this now, and so will keep at it and ensure nice stability all round. The other good thing is that I've pretty much got all the changes nicely nailed and my colleagues have noted how much better the completion rate appears to be - so feel pretty chuffed on that score.

I headed home and the train was slightly delayed, and managed to get home with just a few minutes, not bad compared to the 20 minute delay this morning which meant a third Delay Repay claim going in - dear me, it just gets worse to be honest. Still I got home and managed to make sure that the new debit card was all activated and working - indeed, I needed some food supplies for the next week or two, and so did an online shop at Sainsburys with enough to get, and managed to make the total around 30p over the £40 minimum order total, helped in part by needing some new Mach 3 razor blades.

Comic Relief is on tonight, and so I've been enjoying it so far. I must admit I did giggle a lot at the Carpool Karaoke sketch with James Corden and Take That, something I know The Love In My Heart would have loved to bits. I loved the Red Nose Day Actually little feature, and I've sat on that very same bench that Liam Neeson was sat on overlooking the River Thames. I must admit too it made me smile seeing Rowan Atkinson do the over-elboarate shop assistant taking ages to pack the red nose, hoho. Oooh, and Martine McCutcheon, looking rather lovely it has to be said.

I do think in parts some of the sketches though had been hit and miss, the Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer one with Susanna Reid did not work whatsoever, and it's almost as if in parts it went a little bit too odd. I suppose it's hard to think of new stuff, but sometimes the simpler stuff works best, so for example having Graham Norton do an extended chat show (which is normally pretty ace anyway) is just the sensible thing to do. I of course am pleased to see so much being raised though. Tune of the day in the meantime is the rather ace "Friday I'm In Love" by The Cure, as it reminds me of how lucky I am to be in love!

Thursday 23rd March - Back To Normality

It's always a sign of the British stiff upper lip and a determination to carry on that everyone poured out any emotion with regards to the events in Westminster yestersay, rolled the sleeves up and got back to work. Ironically this also meant that the trains had reverted to type, ie: unreliable and bobbins. Regular readers will know the frustration I've had with the whole of Govia Thameslink Railway, whether it be Southern or Thameslink. Today was the turn of Thameslink to be utterly rubbish.

I got to East Croydon earlier, thinking I'd get the 0639 train and get to work earlier with some stuff I wanted to check over during the morning. In fact that train turned up at 0701, so I might as well have timed my walk for my normal 0658 train anyway. It chugged along and effectively was around twenty minutes late at Farringdon, so of course that wasn't good. Of course it meant I was still on time for work, but only because I've allowed a fair amount of time to compensate for the trains being bobbins.

On the way home was argubaly even worse. Signalling problems at Herne Hill meant that the journeys via there including mine would be delayed. One of my normal trains home, the 1629, had been cancelled, and so had to wait for the 1651 to Brighton, which of course was pretty busy. I'm lucky I get a seat before the masses at Blackfriars, and do wonder how much more bad it'll be once it goes back via London Bridge again.. has to be something worth noting for the new timetable in 2018.

Anyway, with that cancellation it meant that both the journey in and the journey from work were both eligible for Delay Repay, so got the claim form filled in when I got home from work. It's not really good enough - surely there should be contingency plans in place but instead everything just seems to melt down spectacularly and as a result take hours to recover. It's a stark warning that their proposed 2018 timetable will put heavier load on going through Farringdon, City Thameslink and Blackfriars, meaning that the knock on effects could be a lot lot worse..

On the plus side, all the plans I had for the regional site my two colleagues were at were working well, and as part of that it'd mean removing the old SCCM 2007 distribution point role. In fact a fair bit of software deployments had gone very nicely in SCCM 2012 and so it was nice to see that even from a central site it was working - and I felt positive. In fact I've had plenty of nice and positive comments which is a good thing to note, and really makes me proud of what I do. I suppose I didn't expect to be doing the job I do now, but it's all worked out nicely in the end.

I spent some time listening to some Kraftwerk tonight, and so enjoyed again their 1981 album Computer World. I still do want the German version, especially as the title track doesn't translate from its original German like it should - just repeating the phrase with Interpol, Deutsche Bank, FBI and Scotland Yard. However, the rather ace "Home Computer" does at least work well, and so that's tune of the day - in fact my own Commodore 64 is getting some serious play over the weekend I reckon!

Wednesday 22nd March - Uncomfortably Numb

I was going to write a fair bit about how my theory about the SCCM upgrade was correct with the fact that Microsoft had released a KB patch for SCCM today to address the particular issue which I'd avoided by being careful and sensible yesterday, and that in fact everything was going well with two of my colleagues at another site putting machines out, and seeing how well that was going in terms of everything being out there and good to go (it worked very well actually, could see what I needed...)

However, I had made my way towards the Cochrane Theatre in Holborn to attend tonight's recording of The Nightly Show, hosted by Dermot O'Leary this week and was going to feature Rupert Everett. The Love In My Heart is a fan of Dermot (primarily due to his hosting of The X Factor and his little dances) so was a little envious of me going along. Even with what I'd heard earlier that had been going on in other parts of London, Holborn wasn't affected and so had got to the theatre and joined the queue to get in, with you being admitted around 5.30pm and the recording being from 6-7pm, with the show then broadcast at 10pm.

I noted the staff from the audience company SRO Audiences being out earlier than usual and one of them made an announcement that in order to ensure everyone was safe that tonight's recording had been cancelled and that you could put your name down for priority for another recording, which was fair enough really. They were all professional and calm and offered suggestions for those who wanted to avoid Westminster on their way home. I already had my B plan - instead of heading towards Victoria, I instead took the 521 bus to London Bridge and then the train to East Croydon from there.

I must admit though that when I got home and watched the BBC News, it was pretty horrible really. I could only imagine the panic of someone driving across Westminster Bridge and veering to hit people, similar to the lorry attack on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice. But then for car to crash towards the Palace of Westminster and attempt to create some carnage - not good. It's massively horrible that people have died, but the police officers responded swiftly and got the suspect as quick as they could which was a positive thing - they were well drilled and did their duty.

I think it brings home that no matter how much you're all prepared, when a terrorist attack hits it can be pretty unnerving. I know though most of us are made of sterner stuff and it'll be as much as possible back to normal tomorrow, in a show of not necessarily defiance but a sign that we all want to do our everyday lives and get on with those and not feel the need to be fearful or with any danger either. In view of this, no tune of the day today but instead a pause and reflection.

Tuesday 21st March - Paid In Full

It was a late night last night - although I'd rather it not have been. I was in the process of paying the remaining balance of the holiday to Cornwall, and for some reason I attempted the payment and it said that the card was declined. How odd, I definitely knew I had enough in the bank account. I then went to try and renew the Two Together Railcard for myself and The Love In My Heart, but no, that didn't play ball either. I got hold of the bank (thank heavens for a 24 hour phone line) and they said that the card was stopped (along with a number of others) due to possible fraud.

As such, I wasn't able to use the debit card. However, they said that a new card would be issued as soon as possible, and that in the meantime if I needed cash I could visit a branch with sufficient proof of identity and talk face to face with the staff in branch, so that was something. Naturally of course it felt reassuring that the bank had potentially acted quickly (and in fact the staff had told me that they had a number of people to call but I'd beaten them to it by calling first) so there is that.

Tonight therefore I rang the bank back, as I had an option to make a transfer direct to the holiday company to pay the holiday off instead. The staff were lovely, and I explained if they were doing the transaction at my request, they'd know it was genuine as I'd passed all the checks first. They agreed and said it was better to be safe than sorry. In fact it all went through smoothly, and so that's all that nicely done. I let The Love In My Heart know later when I called her, so that was all good.

At work I'd also carried out in the morning the SCCM patch KB4010155, but with a slight exception. One of the things that SCCM allows you do is to test the new client to a pre-production collection prior to a go live across the board. It had transpired that the client version bundled with patch caused various issues, and in some cases even failed to deploy correctly. With that in mind, I made sure that only the pre-production (2 machines, my test ones) would get that with all existing machines staying on the current stable client, which worked nicely.

I also spent some time testing a potential theory around one model of desktop PC that wouldn't wake on LAN properly, and worked out why this was. It is in fact due to the network driver not having a feature that it should do. Different versions of the network card allow for this in their chipset and driver, so all good, but this particular one doesn't set a registry key for S5WakeonLAN (which shows in the driver properties as Shutdown Wake on LAN) enabled. Effectively when the PC is shut down the driver then ensures that the network light on the network card stays on, so effectively it's ready to accept waking up. I did some testing which seems positive, so may be looking at the further tomorrow.

Tune of the day in the meantime is the rather good "Stringy Acid" by Orbital from their album "Wonky". When you're working on doing some research during the evening, it's nice to be able to have something uptempo and yet chilled to listen to, and this certainly fills all the boxes nicely. In fact the whole album is pretty under-rated in my view, with the album closer "Where Is It Going?" another example of sweeping electronica and gradually building up through the whole track, luscious actually that one.

Monday 20th March - Southern Salvation

It was a nice surprise earlier to check the bank statement and see that my refund from Southern Railway for their poor service last year, that I claimed back, had been credited back to my bank account. It was of course under the scheme that they'd done to ensure that passengers got one months' worth of travel back as lieu of compensation. I knew I had been eligible and had presented all the evidence for them to be able to put a suitable claim in, but even when I had an email stating I had been awarded the compensation, I wasn't expecting it to go into the account, but it is there nonetheless.

In fact I'm already going to be putting the money to good use - this is going to pay off most of the remainder of the holiday balance for the week in Cornwall that The Love In My Heart and I have booked in the Summer. We're going back to Carbis Bay as we loved it there last time, and this time around we've got a nice little place with our own side patio and sun trap, plus a shared balcony and short walk down to the train station and indeed the beach, so if we fancied a trip into St Ives at night, more than doable. Of course, there is the lovely incentive of having Cornish ale too, as you do.

It's been a mainly positive day today, assisting a fair number of queries and also being able to get on with some deployment stuff, so sorted out Skype going out en masse, and seeing that both Google Chrome and Adobe Acrobat Reader DC are all smooth and good too, so feel pretty pleased with how that's all going. In fact it transpired that Microsoft Silverlight had an update a few days ago, so we're also going to get that bundled and ready to go out (change already proposed) along with another update to Adobe Flash Player. Always keeps me busy, that.

I headed homeward and another nice surprise had arrived too - the National Trust new membership cards for me and The Love In My Heart, but my, the pink fuchsia looking membership cards are really pink! Certainly you won't lose those easily methinks, and I do wish that there were more properties closer to where I live now, so more exploring could well be done. I might even head to one this weekend actually - fancied a look around Osterley Park and House, and it's in Zone 4, so my travel card would cover me too...

I had a nice chat with The Love In My Heart later, and so we booked a train for her to come down and see me in late April over the first Bank Holiday weekend, and that'll be nice. Even better is that she should get some points on her Nectar card due to an offer that was present, and so it'll be good to have that all sorted. In fact it'll be especially lovely as the weather will be nicer and so we can head out in the Spring sunshine, fingers crossed. And seeing as Sara Cox is doing her 80s thing for Comic Relief, "Pink Sunshine" by Fuzzbox is no less than tune of the day - a song I still love!

Sunday 19th March - You'll Never Rain Alone

It was chucking it down with rain. All day. And not the best day to be out watching football, but that's exactly what me and my friend would be doing later, as we were off to the Etihad to see Manchester City take on Liverpool. After our disastrous result in Monaco, a win was badly needed to keep us in the top four places in the league, and with Liverpool also chasing the same slots, it was intriguing to see how we'd fare up against a side just as inconsistent as we tend to be too.

We managed to avoid some of the rain as we headed into the stadium and a brew was much needed to keep us nice and warm. It was good to catch up and be able to have a natter, and he mentioned that the derby game could be on a Thursday night, which to be honest wouldn't be ideal, not least as depending on when it'd be, I might not be able to make it from work. Boo. Still, it was going to be a good game and we took our seats in the new improved viewing area we have - no one's heads in the way anymore. That is what I call a result.

The first half was understandably edgy but with some good stuff being played from both sides. Shame then that we had the ref Michael Oliver who clearly was not up to the job - and for both sides to be fair. He didn't give the right decisions a lot of the time and was struggling with the flow of the game all round. City had some chances, Liverpool also looked decent going forward and we were thankful for some good saves from Willy Caballero to keep the score at 0-0 with the often heard remark of "Claudio Bravo wouldn't have saved that" and they were right too.

However, the incompetence of Michael Oliver came through early in the second half as he made a booboo with the penalty decision. Gael Clichy clearly got the ball from Roberto Firmino, who went down in a huff because he'd been tackled, yet Oliver thought it was a foul and gave a penalty. The City players were incensed and a few bookings came about before ex-City player James Milner scored from the spot. He didn't celebrate, and yet City fans had been giving him stick all game (not from me and my friend I should add) - which wasn't deserved. Some people have short memories..

Thankfully that goal spurred City on a bit and once the changes were made, a cross from Kevin de Bruyne down the right hand side found Sergio Agüero and he slotted it home at the near post for the equaliser. Sergio could have scored after a neat one two with Leroy Sané and right near the end a cross found Sergio again but he volleyed over from close range, whilst at the other end we were thankful for Adam Lallana for fluffing a golden chance to say the least.

So 1-1 it was, and not the best result for either side, but a good performance from City considering and one that at least gave some hope. I headed back to The Love's place later and she was making a stunning Sunday roast, so that went down nicely before I had to head off to the station, give her some kisses goodbye and on the 2021 train to London Euston, arriving 2257. I made the tube well and literally sprinted across Victoria to get the train to East Croydon, where the bus home was also welcome and made it home for 2340, so a long day but a good one really. Tune of the day is the epic "How Soon Is Now" by The Smiths, which I had on the iPod heading back down on the train.

Saturday 18th March - Master of Malm

It was a nice relaxing morning with some lovely breakfast thanks to The Love In My Heart and some rather nice fussing over the two cats Jô and Brian, before we headed out for most of the day. We were going to see The Love's father first and he wanted me to do a couple of small tasks on the PC, mainly to get the crown green bowling fixtures printed off in a format that was readable and didn't look a mess, so some useful manipulation in tables later and it did look a lot better all round, so felt pretty pleased with how that all came out. West Brom were also beating Arsenal too, so well worth noting that was.

We then headed off to see my Mum for a coffee and a chat, as we wanted to be sure we'd dropped off her Mother's Day card for next weekend (I am not in Manchester that weekend, so definitely worth handing over in person and getting that all sorted out. In fact Mum had also given me some money for getting her the train tickets for her to come and see me in early June, she's coming down with The Love, but coming back on her own and staying with me an extra couple of days. It'll be nice really, so that will all be good.

We also went for a drink in Wine and Wallop in West Didsbury, well worth a visit if you're around the area. They do a nice selection of wines, but best of all they look after their real ales and give you a proper tankard with the ales in, and local ones at that. I do wish perhaps they'd be a little less than £4 a pint, but I suppose I'm used to paying that sort of rip off price sometimes (I'd rather not!) - and the ale I had was well looked after at least. We both like the vibe in there, very laid back and chilled, just the sort of Saturday afternoon we both now adore.

It was then off to IKEA in Ashton under Lyne, as it's the nearest one to The Love, as she had been after a chest of drawers to help complete her bedroom overhaul. The new carpet is lovely, the painting and the new wallpaper looks really good, and we'd spotted the chest of drawers there online. When we walked around, we noted it in the white stained oak colour rather than the oak one, and she actually preferred that. When we got to the warehouse, the Malm chest was there, so one load on to the trolley later (it was bloody heavy as well) and we were all good to go, swiping my IKEA Family Card for extra insurance etc.

We got back to The Love's place and unpacked all the parts, carrying them in bit by bit (we were thankful it had stopped raining!) and then with all the bits in the bedroom, I set about getting it sorted, following the instructions and getting the base up and running in around ten minutes or so, then putting together the top, followed by all the drawers and assembling all those. I must admit I did feel rather sweaty when I finished (hard work you know) but it looked rather good, and felt proud of myself having put it all together. The Love was really appreciative and to be fair was making me a cracking linguine bolognaise, with home made stunningly nice sauce. Thank you darling!

We snuggled up later and even had a game of Scrabble before then settling in for some 1980s pop courtesy of Top of the Pops on BBC Four. The second show was shorter than normal, primarily due to the FA Cup replay of 1983 on the same evening (note: the Man U cup final single had even charted, meh.) It was good to see the likes of Big Country's classic "In A Big Country" (make that tune of the day) - and add in some Hot Chocolate, the Police classic "Every Breath You Take" and the number one, New Edition with "Candy Girl" - and that was pretty rememberable too - with no less than Bobby Brown on main vocal (he would later be kicked off the band due to behavioural issues, hmm.. a precursor to his later life too..)

Friday 17th March - It's Wet Up North

It was a fairly mixed bag of weather as I headed off to work with my weekend case in tow, but at least it was a little bit on the drier side. None of that up North though as the forecast looked like it was going to be a fairly wet and unsettled weekend all round. I of course was heading back home late on the Sunday primarily because of the Manchester City v Liverpool game with its 4.30pm kick off (no thanks to Sky for that) but also to spend some quality time with The Love In My Heart.

The day went by well and I managed to get quite a bit done all round, so was pretty pleased to be able to set fair for the weekend, and indeed the testing I'd done today will mean that next week's planning should go pretty smoothly all round, which is always a plus. It was worth me staying back a little bit to get the wheels in motion for the Monday and then head off to Farringdon and take the short trip to Euston Square, and from there head across to the Crown and Anchor for a well earned pint of the Half Mast ale.

It was then to Euston, and it was a small wait before then being ready for the 1820 departure to Manchester Piccadilly. It tends to be my usual train on a Friday night, and usually a little quieter. It would have been tonight but for some posh family who clearly need to learn some parenting skills. They allowed their daughter to swing on the luggage rack, often almost upside down, without once thinking that a passenger might need to place their luggage in the rack, or that perhaps people wanted a quiet journey without the child having a strop and crying as she walked down the carriage up and down..

I was pleased to be off the train and face the incessant rain and see The Love, and we headed off to the local Chinese takeaway close to her place, as we decided to get some take out or tea. She had the roast pork in OK sauce, and I had the chicken in Kung Po sauce, together with some fried rice and prawn crackers. It was rather gorgeous all round and was just the thing as we snuggled up with the two cats Jô and Brian and settled in for some Gogglebox. Of course the meal I had is no good if you have a nut allergy: the sauce had cashew nuts in it. Fine for me, but not for others.

After Gogglebox it was on with The Last Leg (make "Harder Than You Think" by Public Enemy as tune of the day) and that was quite entertaining all round, not least due to the fact that they were on their usual top form and having a good hard look at the news in general. I must admit I did find Kevin Bridges pretty funny, especially as he and Alex Brooker looked like they could have been identical security men attempting to stop people getting into the studio! It was a long day and felt tired so we all snuggled up, cats included and ready for a nice weekend to come.

Thursday 16th March - Flushed With Success

I spent some time tonight watching the semi final of The Great Pottery Throw Down, which actually has been good fun all round. I must admit though there's been plenty of little gags throughout and I do like Sara Cox as host too, she really seems to be the right side of nice to everyone and is unashamedly proper Northern, a good thing in my book of course. I like the judges too, but there was an extra judge tonight for the throw down challenge, and what fun it was.

In fact it was Johnny Vegas, who was a former pupil of the judge Kate when he did his ceramics degree way back when, and he does have a passion for pottery, and proved it by showing he could make a teapot, with handle and spout that poured properly, in under a minute. Impressive stuff - and then the contestants had to do five in five. It was a pretty good effort though, and you could tell Johnny was impressed. Mind you, I think the main challenge of making a toilet was a bit tough, and the testing of them was a case of seeing what would happen and if they held.

What we didn't expect was Freya's loo to flush all the water straight out and on to Kate's dress (she got out of the way pretty quick) and that it wasn't too good. On the other hand, Ryan deservedly won as his was superb, even incorporating a turtle head and shell into its design and making it look rather pretty (and it flushed and drained properly too.) It was no surprise Freya left but she had made some good designs throughout and should be rather pleased to have got to the semis.

I also watched Top of the Pops on BBC Four tonight, which was all about May 1983 and the songs in the charts. Dare I say it's a lot better than now? That's simply because it was. We had Blancmange with "Blind Vision" (got to be tune of the day - seen them live and they can still do it) and also Wham's "Bad Boys" along with Fun Boy Three's version of "Our Lips Are Sealed" (for those of you who didn't know, Jane Weidlin of the Go Go's co-wrote it with Terry Hall, and her girl band (which also had Belinda Carlisle) had it released first) - plus of course Spandau Ballet at number one. This much is true..

Compare all that goodness to now and the charts are really just a load of tosh. Ed Sheeran. Ed Sheeran. More Ed Sheeran. And... yes, you've guessed it, Ed Sheeran. When even he thinks there's something wrong, then there clearly is. I'd certainly look at reviewing that and re-defining what should actually count as a single release - maybe there needs to be a physical format as well as digital for it to properly count? I'd love to be the one to redesign the charts so that everyone gets a fair go...

Wednesday 15th March - Monaco Misery

Tonight was a night to forget if like me you're a Manchester City fan. We were in Monaco for the Champions League second leg, having managed to pull things back in the first leg at the Etihad and won 5-3 in a classic encounter. However, that win would only be one to remember if the job was finished off on the second leg, and I sensed that with the way that they attack, it would be a really crucial time, especially during the first half, to keep things tight.

So conceding after eight minutes? Not in the plan. Being two down within half an hour and therefore being behind on aggregate due to away goals? Also not in the plan either. In fact the first half was pure rabbit in the headlights a lot of the time, with no organisation or assisting Fernandinho to help the midfield be that bit stronger and get more tackles in. It's all well being attack minded with a view to scoring goals at the other end, but surely as 0-0 or even a 1-0 defeat would have still seen us through, maybe tightening up the midfield might have been an option?

The second half started and we did look a lot better, still making chances but looking more sturdy defensively, but was still worried about the counter attacking flair that Monaco would have. Then, after a number of chances, a shot from Raheem Sterling was parried out only to Leroy Sané and he blasted it into the top corner for being 2-1 down on the night and crucially 6-5 up on aggregate. That made me happy, but knew that another goal was still needed to absoutely kill the game off.

That didn't happen. Instead Monaco had a free kick, the ball was floated in and Bakayoko scored with a header that was way too easy for him to be able to get to, with no real challenge whatsoever. City pressed but didn't think anything would happen, and it didn't. I was rather disappointed but also frustrated that we couldn't see the game out properly and concentrate on getting the job done instead of going attack attack and attack (that's ironically what we lacked) which led to the downfall really.

I suspect as well that not playing Yaya Touré and the insurance he would have brought as a strong midfielder would have been a negative too - he certainly knows when to put a tackle in and would have at least meant moves broken down more easily allowing the attackers more time. But alas no, another bad move from Pep Guardiola I'm afraid. See, it's very easy to win stuff with a side already winning lots and having players like Lionel Messi to cover for any shortcomings, but when that goes away, it's a bit less tasteful. Question is are City any better off than we were under Manuel Pellegrini (we did get to the semis last year remember) or Roberto Mancini, who would have had the defence sorted for this one? Tune of the day is "Disappointed" by Morrissey, kind of sums up the feeling really..

Tuesday 14th March - A Lot In A Little

It was another busy day at work where I managed to get a lot done in a shortish space of time, and felt pretty pleased with myself. For one, I'd worked out the right setting to turn off in the Dell BIOS settings during the task sequence for ensuring no S5 deep sleep and after testing that had worked out right, and added that in the right place to be sure all was working well. On top of that, after my testing had proven that we needed to install the HP Hotkey drivers before Kaspersky Anti-Virus due to some clashing, a move around the order later and all appeared to be rather well.

It was also a case of working on a few deployments and checking that those for the main core application updates were being fetched out, and actually had to sort a laptop out which clearly had a two year old version of Skype on that refused to budge, but at least now it was all singing and dancing again once I weaved the magic with it, so felt pleased there. I also had a couple of the first line people around and so was taking them on a very quick and high level overview of all things SCCM, so was good to be able to at least give them some idea of what was going on there.

I also last night had managed to book my trains up to Manchester for Good Friday, but as there's no advance tickets on sale for the normal Euston - Manchester Piccadilly route due to engineering works, I looked at alternatives, and so I managed to sort out London St Pancras to Sheffield, then Sheffield to Manchester, which would be around the same time (no works planned) and at around the same cost. In fact some trains from home go to St Pancras too, so a fairly easy change involving no tube and having to cart the case down the stairs at Victoria. Epic win.

In case you wondered how I managed to keep the cost down, not only were two tickets involved, but remembering that Megabus sell train tickets for East Midlands Trains and South West Trains, as all three are owned by Stagecoach. So why book on EMT's site if you can get exactly the same train for less with the Megabus site. In fact this proved to be a good move as East Midlands Trains confirmed that it would be weekend first class service on Good Friday, so no brekkie (that was also an option to treat myself) so all good there.

And of course I'd be back in Sheffield over the weekend anyway, as the World Championship snooker is on and I have a ticket for the first thing on Sunday morning session. It might end up being my only visit this year but it would be good to go for the 40th anniversary (and 41st tournament) held at the home of snooker. With that in mind tune of the day is the proper snooker theme "Drag Racer" which if the BBC have any sense whatsoever they'll bring back the proper version...

Monday 13th March - Southern Fail, Yet Again

You know what they say with the phrase give with one hand take with the other? Well today was just the case with Southern Rail and the whole Govia Thameslink Railway franchise. Granted, there was a strike of conductors on Southern Rail today, which shouldn't affect my Thameslink part of the GTR journey into work (and it thankfully didn't) and in fact at lunch I noted I had an email from Southern, where they agreed that I was due the one month compensation under their scheme for poor performance in 2016, and so that meant one monthly Zone 1-5 travelcard cost (£212 at that) going to be refunded to me within the next 28 days. Yaay.

Not so good though was the awful journey home tonight which proved, without any industrial action, just why those payouts have had to take place. My 1629 train to Three Bridges via East Croydon had been delayed due to a train failure - bear in mind these are the supposedly new and much better Class 700 trains as well and that in itself is bad. Once the train did arrive, because everyone had packed themselves on to the one to Brighton that arrived 2 minutes earlier, I virtually had the whole carriage to myself, which was a massive rarity at that time of day.

However, due to the delays, the platform signs advised that the train wasn't going to Three Bridges, terminating at Gatwick, and also missing out Redhill (which would have annoyed plenty of people who use that service and go there) - but the on train automated announcements and the information screens showed all was normal. A tweet to Thameslink had a reply that the driver should update these - but how can he do so if he's driving or he's not given the information by control? Hmm... having a guard on board would solve these issues wouldn't they?

Anyway, as the train approached Norwood Junction, it was a go slow, and the driver informed us that the signalling equipment had failed at East Croydon, so we'd be subject to more delays. Oh joy of joys. It ended up crawling from signal to signal and eventually arriving at East Croydon a mere fifty one minutes late from its scheduled arrival, meaning I got home just after 6pm. Absolutely appalling. Naturally I've claimed the delay repay for the 30-59 minute delay, but the way that the information wasn't passed to the driver initially about the lack of calling stops, not good.

And to make matters even more laughable, seeing as every single train from East Croydon was delayed or cancelled (the large board outside the station has around 18 trains displayed) you would think that staff would be proactive and inform passengers of Delay Repay - none of that either. Again, not good enough. All in all that demonstrates that in fact the compensation was rightfully due to me - and that none of the bad service I've suffered last year has improved either. Tune of the day therefore is "Waiting for a Train" by Flash and Pan, a 1980s forgotten classic but somehow apt..

Sunday 12th March - Platform 5

So it was going to be a nice walk out today, and the sun had shone early morning which caused both Jô and Brian to give The Love In My Heart a look of all being cute as cats can be cute and saying "Mummy, Mummy, can we go out to play?" and sure enough they were happily roaming around the decking and all being playful in the morning sunshine. It did look like dark clouds were on the horizon though and after a very nice breakfast, we noted that it wasn't looking so good, but thought we'd go out anyway and see what happened.

As we headed through the back of Longsight and towards Levenshulme, avoiding the major road works on Stockport Road that are on at the moment, we noted the rain coming down more, and so we aborted the initial plan and instead headed off to John Lewis in Cheadle for a mooch round. The good thing was that despite the traffic delays was that The Love got a parking space straight off, and so was all good to go there and we headed in quickly before being drenched.

It was nice to have a look around and The Love spotted the Converse sneakers she was after for holiday in that branch too, so at least she knows if she wants to get them at any point, she would be able to get them locally, which is a good thing. I also spotted some nice clothes but no sale was on, so didn't feel that tempted to overspend. It was good though that The Love thought the same and I think sometimes being a little bit careful is a good thing.

We then thought about having lunch and although one of our favourites The Ashlea was close by in Cheadle, we instead headed to Cheadle Hulme and headed for P5, which is short for Platform 5, and is a clever inspired title. There are four platforms at Cheadle Hulme station very close by, and so why not call the building a mysterious fifth platform? We'd been in years ago when it was a very different pub, but have to say were most pleased by the open aspect plan and the decor, and got ourselves a table by the window near the back.

We looked at the food menu and ordered the food at the bar - the staff to be fair did tell me it was a 45 minute wait, and we had time, so were good with that. I had the Chorlton Pale Ale which was delicious too, and to be fair, 45 minutes almost on the dot later, the food was served as promised. And I have to say it was well worth the wait - the steak and ale pie I had was a proper pie, with lots of gravy, some nice veg and lovely hand cut chips as well. The Love's Sunday Roast pork looked awesome (she said it was good too) and I'd have happily have had that myself. Glancing at the menu online later showed they had sticky toffee pudding for dessert - noted! I'll have to come back here sometime we think.

The Love and I then headed back through Stockport and on to Manchester for me to get my train, and I did feel really sad as I gave her a kiss goodbye at Piccadilly. The time was relaxed and lovely and had gone on far too quickly, and she had spoiled me last night with sticky toffee pudding for dessert after tea. It's the little things like that which make me love her even more so, and the journey home was full of songs of thought such as the lovely "Sweet Hours" by Beth Rowley, which as we both adore is tune of the day.

Saturday 11th March - Beating Boro

After a nice snuggle and wake up and some nice breakfast too, I headed out from The Love In My Heart's place off to see my friend who I normally go and see Manchester City with. We would have been seeing the home game against Stoke City, but due to us being in the FA Cup, that game was brought forward to last Wednesday and so we were going off to The Fir Tree pub in North Reddish, near where my friend lives, and watching the FA Cup game away at Middlesbrough there instead on the big screen (and it was on BT Sport) - plus the 1215 kick off meant it a little bit of an early wake up call otherwise, and tickets had already sold out.

I got us some drinks and it was nice to have a good catch up and natter generally whilst being in prime position in front of the screen to see the action unfold. None of us expected what happened early on though - a ball from Yaya Touré went to Pablo Zabaleta on the right, and his cross deflected via Raheem Sterling and David Silva finished from close range, with just two minutes gone - the quickest goal City have scored all season. That obviously was rather good and we possibly should have had more by half time had it not been for the heroics of Brad Guzan in the Boro goal.

The second half went the same way as the first, with some more chances missed from the likes of David Silva and Leroy Sané, before a sweeping move down the left found Leroy Sané and his cross was perfect to the near post for Sergio Agüero to find the bottom corner - almost a replica of a move from the right earlier with Sterling crossing and Agüero hitting the post. 2-0 killed the game off and City saw the game through easily to book a semi final place at Wembley, so that's going to be at least something. I'd still rather have the semis played elsewhere, but we'll see how it pans out.

Later on Arsenal beat Lincoln City 5-0, and so it could be that if the other ties went with the form book, Manchester City could be the only Northern team left, and the other three from London, and the common sense thing would be to have the semi featuring City on the Saturday. But then again this is the FA, so who knows. My friend reckons we'd be able to get a ticket for the semi, and I am in Manchester that weekend, so see how it all pans out in terms of that.

I met up with The Love later and went around Levenshulme Market for a while before then heading off to Mum's and dropping off my brother's birthday card and present, and having a coffee and a natter with Mum too. In fact we worked out a suitable time for her to come down and see me, and part of that would be while there are cheap trains on offer, so we had to sort that out and get the trains for a tenner, absolute bargain of course and definitely well worth it. I'll have an air bed at mine by then so she can stay over, which should be easier all round and saves hotels too.

We went for a drink to the Elizabethan after that (and the rather nice new seasonal ale Aura is rather good, enjoyed that) and a good chatter was had by us both before then heading back to The Love's place. We settled in to watch the likes of Pointless Celebrities and were flicking later on between the snooker and the Who Dares Wins show, which saw some epic fails, especially on the boxing question where the defending champion got a little too cocky and had to have his error pointed out by the host Nick Knowles. Oops was a master of the understatement to be honest with you.

We had also seen the news article that nine out of the top ten from the singles chart were songs from the new Ed Sheeran album "Divide". It makes me wonder whether the chart's inclusion of streaming and downloads works if people are just streaming individual tracks all the time and then making the charts. I think even Ed himself thought it a bit weird, and for me it should go back to physical sales, which would encourage more vinyl singles as well. So to counteract that, a proper tune and one heard on ITV4's snooker coverage (surprisingly so too) is tune of the day - no less than "How Soon Is Now" by The Smiths, and a proper single that was too.

Friday 10th March - Desktop Divulging

One good positive following the change I made yesterday was that I could also report on desktops that have RAM as well, with a view to seeing what the state of play was with those machines and what was needed to ensure all of those had enough RAM to run correctly. It was quite a good exercise as I knew that the desktop PCs should wake up and be present without any issues, and on top of that they should do hardware collection, so I knew from yesterday that was working.

It proved to be a very useful exercise, in that the RAM information really did provide plenty, even with the older SCCM 2007 once I'd added the feature in. It meant that we we were able to see the manufacturer and model of RAM fitted, clock speed and so on. It did allow me therefore to spot the occasional anomaly such as the fact that two different clock speeds were fitted in one machine, and that some had two different manufacturers in (although they still did work, so mainly for information only)

The laptops are, as they are online, collating the RAM information and by the end of the day I had around 70 or so which were bringing back some of the information required. In fact I think that because the hardware collection schedule is set a certain way on the older SCCM (way before my time there) it normally will do so next time the laptop sees the network and so should send some info through. There are of course some ways to be able to effectively push this quicker, but I'll see how it goes first and think of some ideas.

It was a nice little Tube trip to Euston Square and then to the Crown and Anchor for a nice pint of ale before then heading off on the 1820 departure from London Euston to Manchester. Of course it was nice that it was light outside till pretty much the train left, and had the window seat with some tunes on as I headed back up North, with Joy Division's "Love Will Tear Us Apart" coming on as the train approached Macclesfield, somewhat apt I would say and so tune of the day it most certainly is.

The Love In My Heart was there to collect me, and we headed back to hers and the two cats Jô and Brian were surprisingly receptive to me, which was nice. In fact we snuggled up and watched Gogglebox together, which is always good, and we had to laugh at various reactions to programmes, including the final of Mastermind where several of the families watching were getting answers right, which made them mighty proud of themselves. The Love and I got a lot of those right too I should add!

Thursday 9th March - Extending

I had a change planned for today, which was to effectively extend the hardware inventory on our old SCCM 2007 server at work which serves the majority of the Windows 7 clients that are currently on half the building, and most laptops. As we're planning the next phase of the Windows 10 upgrade, we needed to know what RAM is present inside the machines, so if we can get any upgrades, we can effectively do so and purchase the correct hardware accordingly.

SCCM 2012 thankfully collects all the WMI hardware data from the Win32_PhysicalMemory class automatically, so it means you have that information on tap which can be reported on in terms of what RAM sticks are in there, so speed, make and model, serial number etc are all visible and it was really easy to get that info out. However, in SCCM 2007 you don't have this to hand, and so have to extend the definition file SMS_DEF.mof in order to be able to do so. Once I'd worked out a suitable method, it was a case of then being able to work to the planned change and do so this morning.

All seemed okay to a degree, however what I did notice was that not all the class was being collected. A quick check of the information and it transpires some of the fields in each class either aren't present, or they are part of both that and the corresponding Win32_PhysicalMemoryArray class. Once I'd debugged that, everything appeared to work nicely and in fact I then ran a report on a couple of desktops where I'd manually forced a hardware cycle, and all showed up as I wanted to.

The hardware inventory scan is set daily, so with that in mind it'll be a case of as the laptops are on and connected to the network, it'll be a case of collecting the scan accordingly and collating the data into a report. The query result can be exported as a tab separated text file which you can bring into Excel, which is nifty as the RAM Form Factor is reported back as a number, but a lookup table means you can actually get the values you do want, which is pretty good all round. Can't complain really.

Isn't it good when stuff works? Absolutely it is. It reminds me of the classic MJ Hibbett single "It Only Works Because You're Here" well, because it does. And it's a rather joyous tune about love in the IT community and all, so tune of the day without question. And in case you wondered, I have been able to sing along to all the words and even do the background "la la la" in the interlude part along with Gavin Osborn at a gig a few months back. Rather nice all round...

Wednesday 8th March - Bore Draw

It was an evening of sport for me tonight, with the Players Championship snooker on ITV4 featuring the first of the quarter finals, and a tasty line up too with Judd Trump taking on Ronnie O'Sullivan in mighty scrap, and Manchester City also at home to Stoke City later on in the evening. Unfortunately midweek games for me aren't doable, which is a shame, and so I resigned myself to telly and having the City game on the trusty Hudl2 with the Sky Go account all set and good to go, so multiscreen watching later in the evening was to be mine.

I must admit I do love it when snooker is on proper telly, makes for a much more entertaining watch, and to be fair to ITV4 having the likes of Alan McManus, Neal Foulds and Stephen Hendry as pundits and commentators is a great move - they all know their stuff. Even more so when Clive Everton does his thing in the commentary box - still a legend of snooker and still to this day can't understand why the BBC decided not to use him anymore. His less is more style is really spot on, and I enjoy that as it allows people to enjoy the action some more.

It proved to be a much better match of snooker than the football, as Stoke City frustrated Manchester City a lot and put in a defensive masterclass at the Etihad, battling for everything and really showing a lot of team spirit too. City didn't have Raheem Sterling on for some reason, and the lack of him together with Leroy Sané (Sané was playing, but didn't have his opposite wingman) made the play go too narrow which Stoke were going to defend all day. David Silva came on and changed the game with two close shots on goal, but it was a case of two massive points dropped unfortunately.

The snooker though was pretty good - some excellent break building but surprisingly also some really tactical frames, which Judd Trump had the better of. I think his safety play has improved and tonight was proof of that, and Ronnie being pressured into some risky shots which he missed, allowing Judd Trump to do the business and win the frame. It was those closer frames which decided it with Judd winning 5-3 and heading to the semi finals, whereas Ronnie had another exit before the final stages of a tournament. No doubt he'll head to the Crucible and be in his own element though..

It also does make the race for the top 16 a little clearer over the last few days. With Mark King out, it'll be a case of most below the 16 needing to head to at least the semi finals of the China Open to possibly uproot one of the top 16 currently. Anthony Hamilton though could win the Players Championship and then he would be in the top 16, which would really be a superb effort considering all his ranking points are from this season alone. I'm half hoping the Sheriff does it actually, and so Clannad's old theme from Robin Hood on ITV is tune of the day in tribute to the Nottingham born player.

Tuesday 7th March - Snooker and Tickets

Another busy day at work, interrupted by a lunch break where I managed to pay the cheque in I received yesterday, plus get a birthday card and a birthday present - all easily within the hour allocated time too. In fact it was remarkably quiet at the bank but having an automatic paying in machine was good as I was then able to get everything sorted out quickly and easily too. In fact, I was also able to take a nice walk in the early afternoon dry weather too.

Of course this week ITV4 has the Players Championship snooker tournament from Llandudno, and so with a number of players qualifying on the one year money list that are outside the top 16 (based on two year rolling rankings) there's plenty to play for, but I suspect a lot of players just outside the 16 who aren't here were relieved that Mark Selby got over the line 5-4 against Ryan Day (currently provisionally 16) earlier in the day. With Ryan also not being in the China Open, there's potential for a number of players to still make it and therefore get automatic qualification for the Crucible, which of course is pretty massive.

Tonight was Judd Trump against Mark King, and a contrast of styles defintely present, with King more of a tactical battler and Judd being able to pot quickly but in recent years has added a good safety game to back up the potting. In fact, Judd raced through the first three frames in not that much time, and it was only a potential kick which stopped the fourth from being won, with King showing some battling qualities to get a decent break going too.

I still haven't been able to get any tickets for the big one at the Crucible, but what I did decide to do was see what gig tickets may be on for me to go to, and so I decided to treat myself on Friday 28th April and see The Darling Buds at the iconic Water Rats in Kings Cross. I can get the bus straight from work to there, and having seen the band twice (once way back in 1990 and a few years back in Hebden Bridge) I thought it'd be good to go and see the band again - and indeed get out the t-shirt I ordered last year!

In fact the band have a new EP out next month, "Evergreen" with four tracks on 10" of lovely vinyl (or even a cassette if you want to go really old school style) and one of the tracks from that, "Complicated" is available for streaming at the moment, and sounds rather lovely actually, so tune of the day. Andrea Lewis is still in rather fine form vocally and some good guitars throughout too, so will be nice to hear that live as well as of course some of the old stuff, and so that'll be good!

Monday 6th March - Cheque in the Post

I received a cheque in the post when I got home from work today. It's unusual to still be getting a cheque, I admit, and even more so when said cheque was massive in terms of size, but I'll be paying that into the bank tomorrow as there's a branch of my bank close to work - notably as it wasn't for a small amount either. So, I hear you ask, who has decided to send me good fortune and money, and why? Well for that you have to go back a few weeks ago.

I had booked the Megabus for going back to London from Manchester as for whatever reasons the trains hadn't worked out so cheap, so I thought to myself, £9 for Megabus, albeit a longer journey to London Victoria? Sorted. Or so I thought. Readers would have noted that the journey was something to forget about, and it was. The bus didn't turn up on time and it was literally at the time of departure we were told of a breakdown and expect an hour's delay. That hour almost up, then another hour. And no information apart from that, nothing on their Twitter page or anything. So in the end I decided that I couldn't risk getting home at stupid o'clock (if at all) and so went to Piccadilly Station and got a train ticket there and then (not cheap either of course.)

The day after I wrote a letter of complaint to Megabus, informing them of their appallingly bad service, and asking several searching questions such as why they didn't keep their passengers informed, why their Twitter feed didn't give anyone any ideas, and how come the staff at Shudehill bus station were also in the dark? I worded it fairly but assertively, and requested for both my Megabus fare back (which they credited directly back to my bank account) and the money back for the train fare paid, which they did do as a goodwill gesture, but explained that it needed to be raised as a cheque first.

I knew it would take a little time, but even so it did arrive quicker than I expected and so was a welcome surprise when I arrived home from work. It was also well worth noting that it had come from Stagecoach's Stockport depot, which effectively wasn't that far from my old place, so I could have even had it delivered locally if I was still living in Manchester. Nonetheless though it was good to get that, and so will be ensuring I remember to pay it in. I also in fact got another surprise in the post too, the latest edition of Freeze64 fanzine that I'd ordered, and a quality read too, especially the interview with Jon Hare of Sensible Software.

Talking of that, one of the games he made was the fabulous Wizball on the Commodore 64. It's so playable and takes time to get going, but when it does, amazingly worth it. Especially with the Catalyte, the rather beautiful way the levels go from monochrome to colour, and that soundtrack - Martin Galway's finest hour on the 8-bit, be it from the atmospheric title track to the two different bonus levels, but perhaps cutest of all, the guitar riff for the game over bit, done entirely on the SID chip, and so tune of the day without a doubt.

Sunday 5th March - Surprises and Sayonaras

The Love In My Heart and I slept very well overnight too, which was good, and we both eventually headed up, got ourselves ready and headed off to breakfast, which was massively more busy than it was yesterday. Whether the later time you could have it meant more of a lie in for people I don't know, but really nice to see that it was popular. We had the breakfast and double checked that the late check out was still on (and it was) and then headed to the room to pack most of the stuff, but it meant we could head out for a walk and grab some lunch before then checking out later.

We decided to look around the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, which was surprisingly ace actually. One part of the museum was the whole history of Birmingham, and really nicely done, especially the modern day city with everyday people donating their artefacts and what makes it special to them - so for example a bus driver who drives the 11A outer circle anticlockwise bus, and had a bus stop from part of the route, a super fan of the band Duran Duran with some of her collection, all that sort of thing. It had gorgeous architecture in the museuma and also the Staffordshire Hoard room was good too.

Lots of iconic arches and architecture in the rooms with the paintings from the pre-Raphaelite era all the way to the 20th century were present, even one by Cornish artist Laura Knight of Sennen Cove, where we recognised it straight away and made us both think of Cornwall - a lot. We then visited the shop and went through there to the gorgeous corridors of the textile rooms, which reminded me of the V&A Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green. But the best was yet to come - the rather gorgeous Edwardian Tearoom. Wow, the place had gorgeous couches and a real sense of gorgeous architecture too. We've already decided next time we're here, we're booking a table and having afternoon tea in this location!

After that we walked back towards Broad Street and towards the canal and stopped off at the Malt House pub close to the National Indoor Arena for a Sunday lunch. The Love had the Sunday Roast chicken and I had the chicken and mushroom pie. I think we were glad we ordered sooner rather than later as the pub got quite busy later on and there were reported long waits for food, but we had sorted that and got a view of the canal and bridges, where countless people had their selfie sticks out and trying to get a picture on the bridge. Quite why I have no idea!

We got back to the hotel and got our stuff, and checked out, and the staff were lovely throughout, and we walked back downhill to New Street station - we had some time so headed to Pret a Manger and had a coffee together and kept an eye on the departures board. Before we knew it, we were heading off to the platforms, she was on Platform 6B and me on Platform 1, and all was good. We had a massive hug and kisses together before we both got our trains, and it was such a lovely weekend that we'd both had, and "So Sublime" by Beth Rowley has to be tune of the day, we both love that and it's how the weekend felt for us both. We need to do this again and soon!

Saturday 4th March - Bostin' Birmingham

The Love In My Heart and I had had a really nice night's sleep, and woke up with the possibility of some sunlight coming across the horizon and over the centre of Birmingham, and we got ourselves up and ready and headed down to the ground floor of the Ibis Styles hotel where breakfast was part of the price we'd paid for the booking. Okay so granted it was more continental, so croissants and pastries as well as toast, coffee, fruit juices and yoghurt, but they did at least have proper Kelloggs cereals as well, so that was a plus. I do think The Love might have preferred an option for a full English, but still, not too bad really.

Once we'd got ourselves all sorted, it was off out and around the centre of Birmingham for the day, and we navigated around all the works around Paradise Circus and on to Broad Street, and the Library of Birmingham. It wasn't open till 11am so we walked down Broad Street, past some of the Walk of Stars (including Roy Wood, Tony Iommi and Jeff Lynne) and then down by the canal side, and walked up to the National Indoor Arena and had a coffee in the Costa there before heading back over the other side of the canal past the Malt House pub, and then walking through the walkway with the ICC and Symphony Hall on each side, and it was at least less windy that way.

The library had opened, so we decided to start from the top and took the lift to the ninth floor for the Skyline view and the Shakespeare room, which was gorgeous and full of historic books from the iconic bard. In fact we had the skyline to ourselves for a while, then headed down to the seventh floor for the Secret Garden and enjoyed the views from there, and indeed from the third floor terrace, where we also walked around the photographic exhibition that detailed Shackleton's visits to Antarctica and how the life on board was sometimes all good, sometimes horribly frostbitten. Having a dark room on board and preserving these images must have been some work, excellent stuff all round that - well worth a visit if you get chance.

We also explored the children's library and we were both rather happy to see that there was a reading session for the little ones with some of the staff and volunteers reading Eric Carle's classic The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and indeed a rather nice selection all round of books for children, including large print and braille versions of some popular books so that everyone gets a chance to read - was rather happy to see that too. It was also good that plenty of families were visiting the library in general, warmed the old heart inside that.

We then headed towards Gas Street Basin and walked down the canal towards the Mailbox complex, and had a good wander through there, stopping off in a couple of shops to have a look around, before then heading underneath the ring road, and along towards the back end of New Street station and Grand Central, and spent some time around John Lewis, where The Love almost treated herself to some new trainers only for the fact that the signage was misleading - it claimed to be 25% off what she was after, when in fact it wasn't, so no purchase made there.

Once we headed around Grand Central for a while and admired all the food places and indeed all the nice shops (including a branch of the ace Tiger store, where she got some work supplies for at the same time) we then headed out of the complex and crossed over the new tram terminus. We were going to go to Bacchus, the underground bar close to the Burlington Hotel, but part of it had been sectioned off for a party so no tables, so we walked up the hill from New Street and to The Old Joint Stock pub where we had lunch. I had the lamb hotpot, which was rather lovely, and The Love had the fish and chips. With the weather having a small shower it was a good time to be inside and I had the Olivers Island ale too, rather good.

We then headed over to House of Fraser and had a mooch around there - in fact The Love had managed to get herself something nice too. It was this nice little bauble which had two pairs of Biba socks inside, and they had been reduced from £12 to £6. She does like Biba stuff, so it was hers! We then walked down Corporation Street, past the new little bar Tilt which had lots of pinball machines (wow, awesome!) and down to New Street, then headed into the Bullring for a good mooch around the shops there too.

In fact it was getting to around 5pm already, so once we'd shopped till we almost dropped, we walked up New Street back to the top, skirted around the Museum and Art Gallery, then from there went back to the hotel and had a nice cosy rest, even having time to watch a bit of Pointless Celebrities and Let's Sing and Dance for Comic Relief with Mel and Sue on top form. The less said about Helen Lederer and her colleague from Ab Fab and their singing of an Abba classic though, the better I think.

We'd got changed to hit the town for the evening and headed back along to Broad Street and to the canal for some evening dining. Of course everywhere was a buzz as it tends to be on a Saturday, but we thought that we'd try Carluccio's for a change and have a meal there. As it turned out it was a good choice - it's one of the few places that does a set menu on a Saturday night as well as the normal menu, and after some checking, we both liked the look of the set menu (2 courses for £13.99, not bad at all) and picked from that. We had the chicken liver paté to start which came with some gorgeous bread, toasted and crispy and spot on, and for the main The Love had her favourite chicken Milanese with some herb potatoes, and I had the duck cacciarelle with some garlic bread on the side - both were gorgeous, filling and so much so that as much as the tiramisu looked to die for, I couldn't possibly consider it. We have made a mental note to go back and me have the 2 courses as main and dessert though!

We then headed back to The Shakespeare, a nice Nicholsons pub which of course for me means decent real ale - I had the Hop Air Balloon guest ale this time, and we found a nice little cosy spot by the window which was set back, and we had a nice natter there and saw the world go by. There's actually two Shakespeare pubs, both Nicholsons, in the centre of Birmingham, so well worth noting that one actually has "inn" at the end (the one we were in on Summer Row, no less) so that may help differentiate a little. It was nice in there and we could very easily head back for food there whenever we wanted (it's also very close to the hotel, so well worth noting anyway)

It was back to the hotel and The Love had some wine and she had brought me a bottle of Black Sheep ale too, so we had a nice drink and watched back to back episodes of Top of the Pops from 1983 on BBC Four. Classic songs around on both editions, but we both adored Spandau Ballet's "True" so that is tune of the day - and in fact the two shows had the likes of "Words" by F. R. David, "Let's Dance" by David Bowie, "Church of the Poison Mind" by Culture Club, "(Keep Feeling) Fascination" by The Human League, "We Are Detective" by The Thompson Twins, and "Young Free and Single" by Sunfire, massively under-rated in my view. It was such a nice day all round!

Friday 3rd March - Birmingham Bound

After a positive day in work, it was time to head off to London Euston, as is often my choice on a Friday, and yes, I was heading to see The Love In My Heart. But not in Manchester this time, oh no. In fact I was heading up to Birmingham, and The Love was heading down to Birmingham from Manchester. I had managed to sort out trains so we both got to New Street in close time proximity (and even more so going home with trains seven minutes apart) and so I headed off to Euston, and instead of going by Virgin, I was on the 1713 London Midland train - more stops and slower, but also cheaper, £17 for first class (and standard class was more expensive, therefore no brainer!)

I of course knew there was no catering on London Midland, so went to Sainsburys in Euston and got a meal deal sorted, and had that on the train. First Class was effectively a section of one carriage cordoned off by doors and had the same seats as standard class, but felt a more private space. The train is 12 carriages up to Northampton then splits and becomes 4 to Birmingham, so I knew I had to be right at the front, but cue massive number of people changing around at Northampton (they have 10 minutes, so plenty of time.) The rain though was hammering it down as the train left Northampton but got into New Street without too much delay.

In the meantime The Love In My Heart was on First Class but with CrossCountry (who do the Manchester to Birmingham service) and had a bigger seat, a nice view from the window and free coffee and snacks (she did decide to buy some wine too, which unlike Virgin you don't get for free on first class) but it was nonetheless a nice enough journey all told. She arrived in New Street and I spotted her at the barrier for Platform 3b, she would have come in 3a, but wanted to use the lifts rather than the broken escalator, fair enough that. I gave her a hug and we headed out of New Street, but not before admiring the space in Grand Central that looks rather fab now.

We then headed down New Street to Newhall Street and followed that uphill and across the ring road, then down to Lionel Street to check into the Ibis Styles hotel (formerly the Holiday Inn Express I think) and we'd booked there so we could get some of the LeClub Accorhotels priveleges we now have - welcome drink at the bar, and indeed the option of late check out at 2pm, which we decided to do as that gave us some more time on the Sunday as well. The room was actually really nice, massive bed, telly with all Freeview channels, air con and heating as needed, massive fluffy towels, and a bathroom with shower. No complaints from either of us really.

The Love had brought some prosecco from Marks and Spencer and some glasses, so once we'd been down to the bar and had a catch up chat and the welcome drink together (which was a nice thing to do anyway) it was sharing the prosecco and just relaxing in front of some telly including Gogglebox, and it just felt really nice to snuggle up and feel relaxed, and cosy and warm with the heating on too. I definitely felt very happy and it was a lovely start to the weekend away together - in fact tune of the day was something I was listening to on the train on the way up, "So Sublime" by Beth Rowley, which is a song we both love. We both felt nice and contented together and planned to have a chilled out Saturday in the centre, so we'll see how that all works out.

Thursday 2nd March - Progressive

So it was another day in work, and yet the train was amazingly quiet today. I knew it was World Book Day and that parents might be encouraging their children to dress up as their favourite book character and all that, but surely not that many parents on a commuter route into central London? Well, no. As it turned out, the reason was that the train normally starts from Brighton, but this morning had started much further up the line at Three Bridges due to signalling issues. Ah, so it had only started there and stopped at Gatwick Airport, hence at East Croydon it was rather lovely all round, I had tons of space and lots of seats, woohoo!

In fact it was a productive day all round today. I sorted out some laptop reimaging and wanted to do some further tests with App-V streaming over DirectAccess, using another available wireless network to test and see how viable it would be. As it turned out, not that viable, unless you instead chose for laptops to download all the content and use a couple of Group Policy settings to make that happen. In fact, it was a pretty good test to prove that the settings I'd recommended worked, and they did. So that was a positive.

I also worked on some reporting from SCCM in order to look at some of the regional sites and see what the state of play was with those. In fact one little well known fact is that one of the inventory items that is collected by SCCM and reported back is when the operating system was last booted and at what time, which is actually pretty handy for seeing if kit is actually used. From that I could see that those machines which are waking on LAN were showing the 7am wake up and being on. I guess from there I could then cross-correspond that with when a user last logged in as well.

One other rather good thing, and something we'll need to look at for laptop use, is the RAM and what gets returned back from the hardware inventory. So not only can you see how much RAM is used, but also what manufacturer made the RAM, the model type (which you can then look up), the RAM speed (so for the newer HPs we can see it's DDR4-2133) and so on. I'll get the rest together tomorrow and be able to pull that off, but it does look rather promising and that should help considerably in terms of being able to source the right stuff.

I am looking forward to a weekend with The Love In My Heart, but this time neither in Croydon or Manchester, but half way between. I think for various reasons we both need a little bit of a recharge and a break away, and the opportunity arose for one to happen which suited us both,and that'll be all good I think. I know too that for me it's something to enjoy and as much as I adore the two cats Jô and Brian, there are times when you want to spend some time alone together (sorry kitties!)

In view of being all progressive, I thought some progressive rock might be the order of the day, and so put on Frank Zappa's excellent "Hot Rats" album. The opening track "Peaches en Regalia" is a classic, and no mistake, and is full of brilliant instrumental touches as it works through the perfect three and half minute pop single length - one of my favourite instrumentals ever in fact, so tune of the day all round. And the rest of the album is ace too, not least with Captain Beefheart on vocals for the second track "Willie The Pimp", floozies in the lobby loving the way he sells...

Wednesday 1st March - Up For The Cup

It's midweek games where I really miss being able to head to the Etihad Stadium with my friend and be able to watch the mighty Manchester City do their thing. In fact, more so last week due to the epic Manchester City win over Monaco (5-3) and this week with the FA Cup fifth round replay against Huddersfield Town, after the teams had drawn 0-0 at the John Smith's Stadium a week and a half ago. Huddersfield are third in the Championship, so no slouches at all, and they have a good manager David Warner who used to be Jurgen Klopp's assistant at Borussia Dortmund, so certainly some good pedigree there too.

I was hoping City would win and memories came flooding back to one game I was at in 1987 when City won 10-1 against Huddersfield, with Paul Stewart, Tony Adcock and David White all getting hat tricks, with Neil McNab scoring the other. And in fact a former City player Andy May got Huddersfield's consolation goal (they were 9-0 down at the time) and I can remember almost half an hour gone at 0-0 thinking "well this is average" and then smiling at being 4-0 up at half time. One of the finest memories of being a City fan, and one Huddersfield Town's most famous fan Patrick Stewart (Picard from Star Trek TNG of course) will know, but his pre-match intro for Match of the Day on BBC1 was pretty excellent actually, even using his "make it so" line. Ace.

So BBC1 hosted the game on telly so I could see it, and even though we hit the post early on I was most dismayed to see that a shot from Harry Bunn went through the legs of City keeper Claudio Bravo and it was 1-0 to the Terriers. It was a shot he should have saved, and it's all very well that Pep Guardiola insists that Bravo is a better passer out of the defence and all that, but if he can't keep a clean sheet, we may not win. My friend at the game was just as disparaging about him, and rightly so in my view I have to say. In fact some of the City fans did saracastically applaud when Bravo made a save later, which to be fair was a tad harsh.

It took some time for City to pull it back, but when we did, it was rather good all round. First of all after a cross came in which should have been a penalty for handball, the ball went to Raheem Sterling and he put in a perfect low cross from the right for Leroy Sané to bury it home from close range and that was the equaliser, excellent work from them both too it has to be said. Later on a cross came in from Pablo Zabaleta and Nicolas Otamendi was fouled in the area (can Danny Murphy on commentary actually recognise the difference between Otamendi and Sergio Agüero? Maybe not..) - and from the penalty Sergio made no mistake, 2-1.

A few minutes later and the ball was played forward down the right, and an attempted 1-2 broke down but the ball found Agüero, he shot and the keeper palmed it out. He got to the byline and despite having players around him, he found Zabaleta and the man did the business in front of goal for 3-1. The announcer yelled out, "The third goal for City, scored by your captain, he is The Man, Pablo Zabaleta!" Ace. And he IS the man, harder than Jaap Stam and all that. A player who would bleed blue if cut open, we love him, so it was really good to see him score one.

Huddersfield attempted to come back into it a little during the second half but City had taken their foot off the pedal a little, but still it was flowing moves occasionally, and one of them with a sublime cross from Raheem Sterling saw Sergio Agüero score a second. In fact that goal meant he became City's top FA Cup goal-scorer in the post-war era, overtaking the likes of legends like Franny Lee and Mike Summerbee in the process, high eseteem indeed. There was even time late on for Kelechi Iheanacho to come off the bench and combine with fellow sub Jesús Navas to score a late goal and make it 5-1. A bit hard on Huddersfield Town who had shown why they're highly rated in the Championship, but I'll take that sort of win any day of the week to be perfectly honest.

And so with the fans leaving the ground and the likes of Gary Lineker, City former player and proper Blue Trevor Sinclair as well as Alan Shearer discussing the game, it was nice to see that at the end they blasted out some Oasis in recognition of City's win. Don't get me wrong, I'm not an Oasis fan at all, but they are City fans after all, so made some sort of sense to have a track playing to close out, so "Acquiesce" is tune of the day - originally a B-side too and a fans' favourite.