Dear Diary... February 2022

Monday 28th February - Give Us A Lift!

It was working from home day today although to be honest I was quite glad. The lifts to the apartment blocks had broken down - again. They had done so some time on Friday afternoon after The Love In My Heart had arrived here, and so we had to take the stairs back to the flat when we arrived back after our meal out. They seemed to be okay Saturday and part of Sunday, but when I got back home last night they were again out of order and so it was up the multiple flights of stairs again. They still were not working at lunch time when I headed out to post a card and present off via the local postbox.

What this did mean though was that I knew I'd be better and safer indoors anyway, and so spent a fair bit of time culling together some stats ready for importing into one of our systems, so that was a good thing to get done and sorted with the month end being today (and with me being off Friday, I felt like it was catching up of course.) I also did manage to work on a few plans for the next week or two, so we'll see how all of that works and go from there. We shall see.

Anyway, I also had a relaxing lunch after I posted the gift off, and had lunch watching some old classic Formula 1 races from 1983. BBC2 highlights no less, with Fleetwood Mac's The Chain theme tune (make that tune of the day) along with Murray Walker and James Hunt on commentary, with all sorts of reliability issues still affecting the turbo powered cars at the front of the grid back then. Take the Belgian Grand Prix for example - the first time Spa was used since 1970 and on the shortened layout we know today, albeit of course the fact that the start was before La Source, the finish half way down the hill to Eau Rouge (that would change eventually due to the chequered flag going out too early..)

But what it did show was that if your car was pushing limits, it'd fail. Andrea de Cesaris was leading well in the Alfa-Romeo but the car developed a fault after the pit stop (and stops back then were relatively new to take on fuel and tyres at the same time) and ground to a halt. Nelson Piquet went backwards in the field but still ended up fourth, and the Brabham team complained to the stewards about Renault's rear setup as they claimed they were gaining an aerodynamic advantage (hence result was shown as provisional, although it stood in the end.)

In fact, de Cesaris would get two second places later in the season (Germany and South Africa) but that was the closest he ever got in his 208 starts to winning a race - he holds that record - and finished a creditable 8th in the World Championship. In fact, he would have to wait until the 1987 Belgian Grand Prix and 1989 Canadian Grand Prix for other podiums but racing in fifteen seasons of F1 must have shown something to multiple team bosses including the likes of Jordan, Ligier, Dallara and Brabham back in the day!

Sunday 27th February - Sunday Meetup

It was nice to have a lie in this morning with The Love In My Heart, and she was all cosy as I got up and had a coffee before getting the breakfast prepared. One thing I do like to do is to do a nice full breakfast when she is here with me (because she usually does so the other way round when at hers) so it was scrambled egg, sausage, bacon, mushrooms and also some plum tomatoes for The Love too, all with some toast and orange juice. It did the job very nicely and filled us up before the slightly later Sunday lunch this afternoon.

We did have time to pop into the centre of Croydon and visit one of The Love's favourite shops, Flying Tiger, primarily as there were some bits for Easter that she could have a look at and buy (primarily for work rerasons) - and indeed lots of nice stuff in there as always, and not that expensively priced either. She did pick up a few things and even ended up getting one of their recyclable bags to put it all in, which can double as a simple noughts and crosses board with the design on the side. Nice idea that.

I also ventured into a couple of other shops to get a present or two, and that worked out well, and soon were heading back to mine and I could watch the last half hour or so of the women's Manchester derby in the FA Cup. Manchester City came back from 1-0 down to beat United 4-1, so that definitely met with my approval, especially as plenty of the City fans were singing a Joy Division classic (make it tune of the day) and tearing United apart again. A repeat scoreline next Sunday in the men's Manchester derby, which I'll be at, will not be going amiss, let me tell you.

Later on we headed off on the train then the tube to Warren Street and over to the Crown and Anchor pub, where we were meeting up with The Love's niece and her partner. They were actually just ahead of us as we walked up to the pub too, so perfect timing really. It was all good and we got a nice table, and plenty of chatter followed as well as some lovely Stay Puft beer for me (because I can). I ended up having the steak and ale pie, which was a proper pie of course, and everyone enjoyed what they had - The Love had the half roast chicken and it was definitely as nice as usual.

It was hard to say goodbye to The Love later at Euston after having had such a good day and weekend all told, but we knew that it would soon be next weekend for me heading over. Later on in the evening I watched the final episode of Trigger Point, and suspected a twist in the tale somewhere, and it sure enough came - I did sort of expect it to a degree but it was still well delivered, and definitely added some suspense towards the end. But the fact it's back for a second series and has been commissioned must have shown it was doing pretty well, so can't argue with that!

Saturday 26th February - Afternoon Tea and Schmoozing

After a nice little breakfast this morning, The Love In My Heart and I got ourselves ready to head out for the day. We were finally being able to use a gift voucher from Red Letter Days that two of our friends had got us for a present, and this was an afternoon tea for two with prosecco at the Marco Pierre White New York Italian, sandwiched between Southwark and London Bridge stations. That was going to be good to enjoy and The Love had brought the voucher with her ready (as we mentioned it when booking a table.) In fact, we did have to book weeks in advance primarily because of the name of course.

We decided it'd be nice to head along the lovely shops of Marylebone High Street first of all in the early afternoon and do a little bit of shopping there. It's always nice to mooch in the Conran shop (although if they could bring back the café that'd be rather lovely, it was good in there) and we ventured down to the likes of Caroline Gardner, where I bought a couple of cards for forthcoming occasions. A lot of temptation in there for The Love too before we started to head down towards the other side of the street and stop off in the plant shop Joy for coffee - as it's always nice to relax with a drink in there amongst the greenery.

We of course had to go in Daunt Books and plenty of travel books did catch my eye such as the hidden gems of city books series that looked interesting if you wanted an alternative city break. We did head to the Prince Regent pub and have a lunchtime drink in there, and the staff were lovely, before then passing the massed queues at Madame Tussaud's and going back towards Baker Street station, this time to take the Jubilee Line to Southwark, where we could then walk over to the Marco Pierre White restaurant.

We got to the restaurant a little earlier but it was all good, and the staff at the front of house asked us to hand over the voucher (so good job we brought it!) and that was all fine. We had a nice table for two with The Love having a big comfy back leather seat too. The pots of tea came out and all the teapots and crockery all matched, which was modern and contemporary. We decided to have the glass of prosecco after the food as that'd be quite nice, then the long tray came out with the afternoon tea on, and it was a long slate tray and everything so well presented too.

In terms of sandwiches, we had tuna and sweetcorn, salmon with cream cheese, a bruschetta with fresh tomatoes and a ham, cheese and tomato brioche roll. All were very nice (I had the fish ones, The Love the others) and there was also a nice warm scone with jam and Rodda's clotted cream, so proper Cornish of course. And we had macarons and a nice coffee and walnut cake too, with the prosecco also really lovely to finish off with. It was lush and a really nice thoughtful present from our friends too, so that was good.

We headed across to a square not far from Southwark Street and over to The Refinery in Bankside, a nice looking pub and bar. The staff did tell us that there were lots of bookings for the rugby (obviously) but we did get a table for two by the window, and the vibe was that nice that we did stay for two drinks in all - so that meant I had the Meantime Anytime ale first and then the Beavertown Neck Oil after that, and the pinot grigio for The Love was good too. I did notice too a very nice wine named after The Love, not the cheapest but I'll have to see if I can source it!

After that it was a pleasant walk back towards Blackfriars and took the train back to East Croydon. We reflected on a lovely relaxing day with afternoon tea and drinks in nice pubs and bars being a highlight - and snuggled up to watch some telly including Celebrity Pointless as well, which was good to see Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall win - as he deserved to. I did have an eye on the Manchester City result and a hard fought 1-0 win at Everton, although Everton should have had a penalty and how it was not given I have no idea. Tune of the day is the rather nice Glad Times by Paul Weller, as it reflected the mood afternoon tea earlier and a song we both like on his recent acoustic live with orchestra album.

Friday 25th February - Friday Night Feast

It was nice to have a day off from work today, especially as The Love In My Heart was coming to visit me for the weekend. We had some nice things planned and it also meant that we'd be able to eat out at one of the nice restaurants near me, something we've not done for a long time and wanted to do. I changed the bedding, did some final tidying around the flat, emptied all the bins, and generally all was well so I could kick back for a bit and then relax with a bit of telly before setting off for East Croydon and then on to St Pancras via train, with a walk towards Euston as well.

The Love's train was on time, and she did tell me it was pretty busy and that a couple sat near her had bought their tickets not long before train left Stockport, and then wondered why they couldn't get two seats together. Well considering it's a maximum of two trains per hour at the moment (normally three) and with people moving around again, this isn't meant to be hard, or so you would think anyway. We stopped off by St Pancras to have a drink and some lunch and all was very well there before we then got the train back to East Croydon and battled the wind out of the station and the relative calm of the flat.

It was nice just to relax mid to later afternoon, have a really nice natter and then later on get ourselves ready to head out for the evening. The Love had brought one of her really nice new dresses, and that with some tights and boots looked absolutely lovely, and I had a nice shirt on as well to make the effort. In fact, it wasn't as cold as we thought it would be, so definitely good to take a smaller jacket with me to go out rather than the big green one to keep me warm (and it is big!) - and we walked down towards the Restaurant Quarter along the South End not far from me.

It was off to the Mediterranean restaurant Aqua for our evening meal, and the staff were all really lovely and friendly, with attentive service and plenty of smiles. We'd ordered a drink and all was good, and the starters and mains around us all looked delicious, so that was being positive. Our starters came and they were gorgeous: I had the Cypriot meatballs, all hand made and nice and meaty with a bit of a spicy kick in the sauce, but spot on. The Love tried a bit and she liked that, and her duck salad was well presented and not lacking in duck either, so that was a big positive already. Then the mains came out..

.. and oh yes, they were rather splendid. I had the smoked chicken tagliatelle with mushrooms and a lovely creamy sauce with some pesto, and it was well balanced and very filling. The Love had the souvlaki chicken which came with rice, roasted vegetables, feta cheese and a tzatziki dip as well. It all was very tasty and the chicken had a nice kick to it the way it was cooked, it came on a skewer and looked really well presented too. We thoroughly enjoyed the meal in there and it was a nice gentle background feel with the music level just right, and didn't mind tipping one bit: the staff more than deserved it. There's also an Aqua in Bromley, Blackheath and Petts Wood, so if you live anywhere near there, I'm sure they'll all be lovely.

We ended the evening heading across the road to the King of the South bar, which used to be the Apatura restaurant many years ago. I had a nice pint of the Goose Midway ale, and The Love's wine looked good. They had a live performer on playing some acoustic numbers with a bit of a Latin vibe to it, but did feel like it wasn't as busy as it could be. Plenty of people were ordering the food from there for delivery though as we noted plenty of motorbike riders coming in to collect orders, so possibly making more money from that. Tune of the day for me is Friday I'm In Love by The Cure, which should be obvious why really!

Thursday 24th February - Let's Go Away

I can't help it. I've had the iconic arcade theme music from Daytona USA by Takenobu Mitsuyoshi in my head all day - and it really does set the scene perfectly for the racing action ahead. Every arcade I frequented in the 1990s had at least a two player version, with one arcade in central London I seem to remember having the eight player one - all eight side by side in a mad set of link play. And of course, the iconic theme and in later editions, for the Daytona track itself, Let's Go Away is just rather good. Cue obvious shouts of Daytonaaaaaaaaaaaaa (with lots of a's on the end) and whether you state if you can't eat or eat, or being the crew chief in later iterations, it's just brilliant. Tune of the day all round.

I spent a fair bit of time getting some data together to help aid the background to a forthcoming order for a licence - effectively what they wanted to know out of the users of kit which was in one of our systems, who the users belonged to department wise, and then a breakdown of numbers now and therefore based on future projections. I was at least able to get the machine info out of the system, compare the user names with a full Active Directory pull (and therefore lookup the corresponding info for the account that I'd extracted with some nice Powershell work)

It took me pretty much the whole morning, but was juggling tasks at the same time, so for example was spending some time packaging the latest version of an application for my colleagues over in China, and also sorting out an issue with one of the print servers in Boston - effectively it didn't have the registry patch needed following an update, so Macs couldn't correctly send jobs to the print queue. That thankfully was easily sorted and that also meant I could crack on with the rest of the day well too.

Later on I headed off to have a walk over to Savers and get a few household bits - mainly dishwasher tablets (as I was close to running out) but they also have the dishwasher cleaner tablets as well from Fairy which are really good and well worth the money to use. I also managed to get a few other bits too was a definite sensible trip out to do - and saves me having to do any heading out tomorrow - and can relax a little before I have The Love In My Heart down with me this weekend, which will be rather lovely. I did have to go to Sainsbury's later on though because I needed some AAA batteries for the wireless keyboard, as the ones I had (lasted around a year and a half, cos I get Duracell) were finally giving up the ghost.

I did also clean up the flat and have everything all nicely sorted and ready for tomorrow - the only thing I've really got to do now is to change the bedding in the morning, and all shall be well. In fact, we've got a busy weekend planned and it'll be something for us both to look forward to - and we're meeting one of The Love's relatives for Sunday Roast too along the way so that'll be pretty good as well. I think too that it's sometimes nicer for me as there's less travelling to be done!

Wednesday 23rd February - A Later One At The Office

It was off to the office for me today, and it was primarily to get some changes done to the Windows 10 build task sequence in MECM and road test it whilst in there (which is always better to do on site to be perfectly honest) - first of all, it was to remove some old driver packages for hardware which we've no longer got - so no point having them supported anymore. In addition, the other nice thing is that the new WIM including the February updates would also be distributed too in there, meaning no updates out of the box either for anything new, so nice and easy to get up and go methinks.

In fact, I've been taking this opportunity to get a fair bit of work done in cleaning up the driver packages generally - only keeping the latest version needed for Windows 10 (as Lenovo haven't issued 21H2 ones for Windows 10, makes sense to just use the recent in most cases) and at the same time removing any others not needed. This also means that when a new distribution point is set up, there's less data to send to it as well, so bit of a double in really. It also means less bloat generally but also I can keep that to the same level of tidiness as everything else really.

I also had a bit of a puzzle in the afternoon and it was one which had me staying behind late to try and work out what was going on - and think I got to the bottom of it later in the day. So it seems that for one machine, a borked servicing stack update meant that it wasn't able to add any more updates after that, and getting a list of the packages from the Windows image showed that there were no updates at all added in there (and that's a bit odd to be perfectly honest) so definitely for me something amiss.

Anyway, a bit of further digigng showed that the dism cleanup commands claimed no error (but couldn't update) and the operating system itself appeared to be fine at least - so if anyone was working with it, it'd still be reasonably okay for that. However, a rebuild most likely will be on the cards for this - at least then it'd be clean and we know that it'd work. I have a feeling though that the servicing stack was as part of an update which was later withdrawn for quality reasons, so definite state of flux there methinks. Odd, but glad to get to the bottom of it in the end.

In fact, the later finish showed me how busy central London was now getting at night with people out and about as I walked a diversionary route to Charing Cross and onwards to the train station, changing at London Bridge and for the train home. Once home and had tea, and chatted with The Love In My Heart, I found a Youtube channel that has all the old BBC2 Grand Prix highlights from the 1980s. Cue Murray Walker and James Hunt commentary. And cue Fleetwood Mac's seminal The Chain as the intro theme - of course the proper F1 theme as it should be, and tune of the day for sure.

Tuesday 22nd February - Flash, Aaaahhhhhhhhhhhh!

At lunch time today, which I needed to take earlier in order to help out my colleague with an issue that he had seen for a member of staff on Excel, it was off into the town centre to be able to get a few bits and bobs. I actually wanted to get one of those Flash speed mops to see if that'd do a pretty good job of cleaning nicely the flooring I have in the flat's main front room as well as the bathroom tiles. I do use floor wipes regularly of course but thought this might actually be a good thing as I can sweep up without having to get on the hands and knees.

I knew that Savers near me had them, but they didn't have any in today when I checked. Darn, I thought. I wanted to get some shampoo anyway and I know Poundland next door had it, so in I went, and lo and behold, they had the speed mops as well for the same price Savers were charging! Easy win really, and once back at the flat I set it up and gave it a go around the kitchen area. It did trap a fair bit of dirt and I could tell it felt cleaner afterwards, so like the TV advert, I felt the need to blast out a bit of Flash by Queen (from the film of course) which is tune of the day - especially with actual Brian Blessed's infamous "Gordon's alive?" in there.

Also, I had a couple of nice old school 8-bit related deliveries today (and had one yesterday too). The one yesterday and one today totalled five games in all for the Commodore 64, all by Codemasters and namely some I used to own: Red Max, Mig-29 Soviet Fighter (the irony of that title), Slightly Magic, Treasure Island Dizzy (the second of that series) and KGB Superspy, supposedly designed by a defector as it says on the cover, although the spy looks a tad like David Darling of Codemasters on the front cover, it has to be said!

The other delivery was for a small device called the 1530USB, which effectively allows a Commodore 64 1530 cassette deck to the PC, allowing you to be able to back up your original cassette games into the TAP tape format, and also go the other way and record the TAP image file back to a real tape to play on real hardware. In essence, when playing from the 1530 tape deck, you set Audacity up to record as mono and then save as a mono WAV file, do some conversion with AudioTAP, then some final checks and balances with FinalTAP, and the job should be a good'un.

So it proved when I tried it out too. I first of all set off Night Racer from Mastertronic (complete with Invad-a-Load) through its paces, set the recording level right, and all was very good. It did a nice clean capture and was a very clean tape image ready for loading into WinVICE's x64 emulator - and worked first go. As did Red Max from Codemasters which I did later. I'm also going to see how it'll work well with using that to archive C16 and Plus/4 stuff too as there's an option in Audiotap to do that. Exciting times...

Monday 21st February - Not A Manic Monday

I had a day working from The Love In My Heart's plae planned, whereas The Love had a day off work - and with good reason. It was the first birthday of The Cute Little One, and so that meant that as a number of presents were here, The Love was going to take them all over to the parents of The Cute Little One, and spend some time with her on the birthday too. I thought at least then if she went on her own she'd have all the time needed without me having to get back to work and so on, and so made more sense as I helped her load up the car with all sorts of lovely gifts.

The Love did tell me later on that one present she had made for them had happy tears, which was rather touching. The Love had got together various pictures of The Cute Little One in her first year, and then put them together in a photo book and had three copies made - one for herself, one for the parents and another for the grandparents, which they also appreciated too, so that was really good. I have to say it looked really impressive the way it was put together and the thought gone into it really showed why The Love is so wonderful, kind and caring (and a key factor why I adore her so much.)

As for me, work was all good really. I had the latest batch of Windows 10 updates for this month to get out there, as well as getting some stats being put together for the service team also, so that had me in spreadsheets for a chunk of the afternoon. The Love actually had a good sleep with Brian the cat during the afternoon (I could hear Brian cat snoring and purring happily being next to his Mummy so that had to be a good thing of course.)

Later on The Love prepared some tea for us both - and it was rather gorgeous, a proper home made lasagne with plenty of nice meat in sauce, and the topping of the pasta sheets and bechamel melted in the mouth very nicely, and really did feel wholesome and hearty. In fact, she's saved the rest of it to have for tea during the week and it did taste lovely. The time though was going too quickly and before long it was off to Manchester Piccadilly station for me to take the train back to Euston, which was pretty busy because it was the first one to go direct via Macclesfield for hours because of a fallen tree.

On the way back, I decided to go a tad prog rock and listen to the whole of CMU's excellent Space Cabaret album which I have on CD (and of course put on the iPod). The album features the late Richard Joseph, who would later be a computer game musician of some note, on guitar and vocals, and you can tell it's a quality performance right from the off. I do like the lengthy side two opener Dream though (and thus tune of the day) as it's dramatic in its build up at the start and then has elements of funk and psychedelia later on.

Sunday 20th February - First Birthday Party

Today was all about The Cute Little One in The Love's family as it was her first birthday party today, with her actual birthday being tomorrow. Thankfully, having it at a house wasn't the best idea and so a venue in the city centre had been found instead which meant The Love In My Heart and I could take the tram into the city and be able to have a few drinks and enjoy the day nicely. In fact, we had some time this morning so once I got myself up and showered, I noted that BBC Two were repeating the women's Olympic curling final in full, so I tuned in to see what had happened.

And what did happen was that the women emulated the great Rhona Howie (née Martin) who led the team to win in 2002! All four of the team were on fire (with alternate Mili Smith providing the background support and practice for them too) - right from the first stone. You knew when the stones needed placing that Hailey Duff would put the first couple down as markers, Jen Dodds would take out any as needed or place, and Vicky Wright would just set things up well for skip Eve Muirhead to come in and score as needed. In fact, the seventh end where Britain got four meant an 8-2 lead, and after the ninth and going 10-3 up, it was all over, and a well deserved win for them too. The only British gold medal of the Games, in fact.

The Love and I were heading off and made it in good time to get the tram into the centre of the city, and a short walk up Oldham Street later and avoiding the heavier rain meant us heading into Lost Cat, with the upstairs being reserved just for us all. It all looked really nice and some of the family were there including the other grandparents, who were over from Portugal for a few weeks. It was nice seeing plenty of people most of whom had been at The Cute Little One's christening, and quite a few small children at that so a few toys to keep them occupied as well as some nice nibbles later on too.

It was all lovely, and so many presents to take back that The Love's sister dropped them off at The Love's place later (which The Love will then take tomorrow on the day) and we'd had some nice drinks and food along the way. The Cute Little One was adorable and she had plenty of giggles and happy moments to spend, and particularly she attempted to sleep a little by leaning on me (awww) which was nice of her - and she was crawling everywhere around and exploring too, so that was good. And with some cracking background tunes including Pulp's classic Common People so got to make that tune of the day.

After the time had pretty much sped by and we had everything sorted out to put into cars for tomorrow, The Love and I headed off to Fierce Beer for a well earned relaxing drink together - and it was nice to just chill out for a bit before then heading back to the tram and braving the wind and rain to get home. Indeed part of the path we take back from the tram stop had completely flooded by a road crossing, so we had to carefully take an alternative route to not get totally drenched! We made it all fine in the end though at least.

Saturday 19th February - Defence Kaned

It was up and early for me this morning as I attempted to head up to Manchester to see The Love In My Heart for the weekend, and indeed to also see Manchester City v Tottenham later on. I must admit that leaving earlier was going to be sensible, especially as everyone who was attempting to go up last night would be doing so today, and indeed that because of the Amir Khan versus Kel Brook fight at Manchester Arena, there would also be a number of people going to that too - so all converging to the same place. I got up, had some breakfast and headed off towards Euston.

The concourse was pretty packed and lots piled on to the 0803 train to Liverpool Lime Street, and using a bit of cunning I worked out that the train which would form the 0820 departure to Manchester would arrive on Platform 3, so got there, and once people got off, I got on and got a seat in Coach C - my old favourite of C26 at that which I used to reserve back in the day. Anyway, the train was that busy that it ended up having people stood in the aisles, which is not really safe. Good job I worked that out early really and I can only imagine later departures being just as bad to be honest.

The Love In My Heart came to collect me and I caught up on some of the Olympics as well as giving Brian the cat a fuss over and some cuddles. The men's curling final had been on this morning but the British team fell just short, losing to Sweden in an extra end, so was pretty close. They should be proud of at least getting silver and having some excellent wins along the way, especially the way they despatched the USA in the semi finals and guaranteed them a medal, that was good stuff.

I met my friend later and it was off to the Etihad, and to see Manchester City hopefully keep a good run of form going with a win against Tottenham. However, they've been a bit of a bogey side in the past and it always depends on which team turn up due to their inconsistency. I got us a brew and later on had the chicken balti pie as well, and we hopefully were going to see some goals in this one. But what we didn't expect was to be a goal down within four minutes, with sloppy defending letting in Dejan Kulusevski for the opener - and the offside trap had been sprung at that into the bargain.

City did at least pull a goal back after half time when a shot was parried away needlessly by Hugo Lloris, a bit of a howler, and Ilkay Gundogan slotted home from close range, and 1-1 it was at half time. I was concerned about the counter attack being crucial here, as was my friend, and sure enough Son and Kane teamed up with Harry Kane getting the finish into the top corner, and a peach of a finish from the through ball, for 2-1. Only an offside decision via VAR and a save from Ederson prevented us going 3-1 down, and to be fair, our defence didn't look that good against the sort of counter attack play they were doing.

With a couple of minutes left the ball came in from the left and we did think it had hit a Tottenham hand, and so did half the City players. Eventually it went to VAR and it was a penalty (why didn't the referee see that in the first place I wonder?) Riyad Mahrez stepped up to take it and buried it in the top corner for 2-2. To be honest, I'd have taken that, but as City lost possession, the ball went down the right side to Dejan Kulusevski and he fed Harry Kane. You can guess what happened next. Absolutely gutted, but also not surprised to be honest - the plan of counter attack executed perfectly.

Later on after a nice brew at The Love's place, and making sure my friend headed off home safely, The Love and I settled in for the evening with mainly a focus on some of the programmes featuring the Royal Family (because to be honest there wasn't much else on) and then as we knew we had a busy day tomorrow (plus I had been travelling early today as well) but nonetheless tune of the day had been in my head most of the day - and it was the excellent There's A Reason Why (I Never Returned Your Calls) by Blossoms - and they're City fans too. That kept me going nicely on the train too.

Friday 18th February - Curling Shelter from the Storm

I was supposed to be going in the office today, and indeed heading on a train up to Manchester tonight. It was pretty clear from yesterday afternoon onwards that with Storm Eunice coming, that this wasn't going to happen. Acceptance of tickets for later over the weekend had been approved already, with Avanti West Coast placing a massive red "do not travel" notice on their web site, understandable that. Indeed, as the forecast changed overnight last night, work also issued a stay at home notice despite the office building being open, so that made the mind up anyway that staying at home was going to be the much more sensible option.

And so it proved, as the day went on. I've never heard wind like it outside the flat, and I've seen a few strong gusts in the time I've been here. It really did feel like it was blowing very hard indeed, with lots of howling noises and very much a case of it being bad - no rain as such which was something, but definitely not time to be outside. I had coffee, I had milk, and I had stuff in for lunch, so didn't need to vacate at all, and worked well from home and worked on updating a number of pieces of documentation which will prove handy for people to read and digest when they need to.

I also had the Winter Olympics on in the background, and this allowed me to see the semi final of the curling between Great Britain and Sweden, in the women's event. It was a pretty intense match, full of drama and indeed full of comebacks. Britain went 4-0 down early on but pulled it back to 4-3, and it was level at 5-5 at half way through at the end of the fifth end. It swung this way and that and with Britain 8-7 down in the ninth, a superb stone from Eve Muirhead the skip meant we got four, so was 11-8 going into the final end, but with Sweden with the hammer - they managed to get three and so it went to an extra end, with the score 11-11 but crucially with Britain having the hammer.

The British quartet upped their game once more for the final end, with Hailey Duff as lead taking out the stones to leave the area clear, a path continued well by Jennifer Dodds as second. As the left side yellow stone was protected well, the Swedish team tried to get next to that, but two quality shots from third Vicky Wright meant that it all boiled down to the skips. Sweden played a good first one but Eve Muirhead sorted that out, and when the final Swedish stone went a little bit long and lying second, it was Britain's win - an epic 12-11 win overall and matching the men to get to the final. All these Olympics without a medal and we were now guaranteed two silvers at the very least, well done to the teams there!

I must admit that I do love curling - it's a fascinating sport to watch with all the tactics, the way the ice can act differently, and the real sense of clever shot placement being the order of the day. To think too, ironically, that if Sweden had lost to South Korea in the last group stage match to complete, the British would have been out before the semis. But that's how it rocks, and it was so good to see how much it meant to the team today - pure sporting drama and passion and how. Tune of the day is Big Country's classic In A Big Country, which just seems the right sort of tune to get you roused for said sport. And they're Scottish, which helps.

Thursday 17th February - Haircut and Halcyon Gaming Days

It was good to be able to spend some time tonight going back in time to the halcyon days of 8 bit gaming and indeed the trusty Commodore 64 was out for a gaming session. Well, with it being the depths of Winter with a storm coming and after having had a busy and productive day at work, why wouldn't I want to be treating myself to some old classic games after all? In fact, I had a good reason to test out as shall be revealed later on, but first of all I had made an appointment with the trusty folks at James Barbers to head off and get my hair cut, so it was off to there after work first.

In fact, because of the engineering work going on with the trams near me, it was a different route I had to take - effectively train to Clapham Junction, change there (thankfully platform next to the one I get off) for the train to Wimbledon and tube to Wimbledon Park. It wasn't as bad as that might sound - changes are pretty quick and got there well in advance of what I thought, so that was good. I also had a good natter with the staff in the barbers whilst they weaved their magic to get all my hair looking spot on again, and it was the reverse journey back but all relatively calm and safe.

Once back and I'd made some tea, and had a lovely natter with The Love In My Heart, it was out with the Commodore 64. In fact, I had a delivery today of a 1530 cassette deck, as my old one was looking worse for wear and not loading stuff - thankfully my 1531 deck for the Plus/4 does have an adapter to use with the '64, so that was good, but also wanted a good deck as I'm getting an adapter to archive tapes to PC (and vice versa, can record tapes to blank tape too) so having something good for that was a sensible move anyway, and it's in excellent condition too, still in its original box!

With that all sorted, I did try to load a couple of tapes and they seemed to work fine, but thought it best to get my aligntment tape utility and check out how it looked. When that loaded, it wasn't too far from the optimum anyway so got that absolutely spot on, and all good for some more gaming. I loaded up the arcade conversion of Gaplus, released by Mastertronic for a mere £1.99, and it really is a storming conversion. It's got so much playability, and really does use the sensible tricks like sprite multiplexing and smooth movement well to make it a challenging and fun game. The title tune by Jeroen Tel is pretty good too, so that's tune of the day from me for sure.

I also fired up Chiller by Mastertronic, an early cheap game of theirs that is still hard as nails to complete, and I do have the original release that got withdrawn because of the music potentially sounding like a certain hit record of the time (you can guess, probably) - there are screens of platform fun to try and collect all the objects, and they're of course placed at the most awkward locations to find, which you probably guessed would be the case anyway. Still, there's perserverance to reap your own rewards here should you be able to last long enough..

Then for a final blast of the night, it was time to indulge in Bombo, which was the game which cloned Bomb Jack but did a much better version than the actual arcade conversion did. It had catchy Ben Daglish tracks, plenty of playability and also really did seem to be quite fair in how you would be able to progress as well. I did get to around level 8 and got a decent score, although nowhere near the top of the high score table - that seems almost impossible to be perfectly honest. Still, a good night of old school gaming and just the thing to do when you feel the need.

Wednesday 16th February - In The Office

I had plenty to do when in the office today, so was quite good to get up a little earlier, and because some of the trains were running a little delayed, I let one go massively full towards London Bridge and the next one I got a seat on my own, no hassle whatsoever. In fact that allowed me to do the switcheroo there for Charing Cross and get on a relatively quieter train too, so that had to be a bonus, and walked up towards the office from there. It's always a lot quieter around 8am than you think to be honest: primarily because tourists aren't out but also there's less offices than shops around and so the numbers going my way are less.

I did note that round the corrner from where our current office is, there's a new office development being built which looks pretty modern and purpose built. Whether it'd be big enough for us I'm not sure, but nonetheless if someone has already made plans to move in there, it looks pretty nice. I got to the office and my desk and one of my nice friendly colleagues was sat on the other end of the long table, so was nice to have a catch up chatter at a safe social distance before I got down to getting plenty done during the day - including first of all a road test of the Windows 10 task sequence revisions, and that went down well.

During the day I had a good chat with our service desk manager, and we were both getting to the bottom of a mystery why two laptops were reporting in to both MECM and our inventory systems with the same serial number. The fact both were in use and with different asset numbers said to me something was awry, and thanks to the hardware history you get with MECM's Resource Explorer for an asset, I worked out why. So when hardware inventory was originally collected, one of the two laptops had a different (and correct) serial number, so all good, but then it seemed that on one collection the old serial was dropped and replaced with new - but this was the serial of another device. What we think happened was that the BIOS was flashed for whatever reason, but seemed to inherit another serial number. Quite why, no idea, but it is thankfully fixable.

With that mystery out of the way, I also set to work on sorting out some queries for a number of people, so all good there, but also planning to revise some documentation. I do this periodically to be sure that it's all up to date and in fact, to keep things relatively fresh, I thought that doing the main Windows 10 build task sequence in more detail was a good one to revise, mainly to ensure it was accurate and updated, but also that I could add some more screen shots and it was helpful following on from some training yesterday that I gave to a colleague. More of the same is always of use I think.

I braved the wind (and yes it was windy!) on the way home, and after a lovely chat with The Love In My Heart, where Brian the cat was of course in his usual snuggly position, I then settled back with a bit of punk and new wave including the likes of Blondie, Buzzcocks and Ramones. I still to this day adore What Do I Get? by Buzzcocks, and Pete Shelley's voice back then was never in finer form (and I've 100% completed it on expert vocals on Guitar Hero Warriors of Rock too - get me) so got to be tune of the day I think.

Tuesday 15th February - Training Time

I had had a productive and discussive sort of one to one meeting with my line manager today, primarily around some of the new working initiatives and how there's supposed time for reflection and to see how you were able to be able to get time for that. I've got some concerns about that and I'm still not convinced: primarily because of the course we're doing at present as part of that remit, but also because if we're going to be allocated this time to do x and y, and then the main core work isn't being able to be carried out, does it necessarily work as well as it should? I'm always a little wary that the reaction might then be sort of "well if you're doing less in the same amount of time with all this other time allocated, we can pay you less."

Anyway, one thing I put across was that as one of my colleagues over in the US had asked me to give them an initial overview of the MECM admin console and where to find stuff, and also what might prove useful as an initial training session, I argued that development time isn't just necessarily about me picking up some online learning and running with it (and I do prefer in-person training where there's less distractions) but also if training others and developing my skills as a trainer, I'd argue that should also count, right? And thankfully there was a positive outcome from that.

In fact, I ended up also road testing a couple of things in the afternoon and then spending time with my colleague as I promised. It worked out pretty well and was able to demonstrate it as if I was the same level of user as the colleague too, so limited read only but of course that's all you need for the most part to see what's going on. We were also able to work on a potential query for a cloud gateway based build that needed a reboot and I suspected that the boot image media may need an update - in fact, I did one of my own to check and that all worked well so that has to be a positive.

I had BBC Radio 5 Live on later after speaking to The Love In My Heart as Manchester City were away to Sporting Lisbon in the first leg of the Champions League. I thought City might do well because of the 4-0 away win at the weekend at Norwich City, but the way we played tonight was impressive. The second goal of the night from Bernardo Silva was superb, on the half volley and absolutely buried into the top corner. That was most definitely liquid football, as Alan Partridge just might have said.

I think it goes to show how lucky I am at the moment that City are just playing so well. I can think back to 25 years ago and being in the Championship with no hope of getting out of that division, but kept the faith with the club back then, so all the good things happening now are just rewards for me for sticking with it. Supra's version of Blue Moon will be blasting out over the speakers here tonight and with justifiable reason and tune of the day, it's the perfect tonic for the perfect City performance - 5-0 and cruising!

Monday 14th February - Purrfect

It was of course a certain day today, and as I mentioned, The Love In My Heart and I don't go overboard on this particular day. In fact, we get each other a nice card, and that is more than enough - because I love her all the time, not just on one day. With that in mind The Love actually had two cards for me and got Brian the cat to hold one in his paw and let me take it. It was a card from the cat, which was a nice touch and she had written inside "I love it when you play ball with me" (as Brian does love playing ball and likes the fact I'll bounce it to him to paw away) so that was quite nice.

We had both gone with cat themed cards to a degree, but whilst mine was black and white apart from a few red hearts (and the cats snuggled) The Love's card was superb - she had managed to find someone online who did laser cut cards and the picture was of two cats below a heart, with a nice background of hearts and flowers, laser cut into the shape - and with the white card backing it looked wonderful. I suspect it wasn't cheap, but the thought put into it was lovely and I really appreciated the effort that had been made. Not to mention of course the heart shaped scones she had made over the weekend (and I had one after lunch at work with jam and cream, gorgeous!)

We both were working (me from The Love's place, and her in her workplace) but she was on an early shift so at least later in the afternoon we did get some quality time together and I was able to fuss more over Brian and give him some Dreamies. I did have two meetings late afternoon but they both went pretty well, and it was a productive day of sorts where I'd been able to get plenty done in a smaller amount of time, so was mightily pleased that I was able to do so - I definitely felt a positive vibe on that.

The Love had got in some nice Gino di Campo food for tea - which meant we could both have something we liked along with some garlic bread too. I had the chicken and mushroom risotto which was full of chicken so that was good, and The Love had the lasagne which looked good but maybe wasn't as good as mine. It was just good though that we had some time to catch up on our days and generally have a few hugs too - and of course not forgetting Brian the cat having his tea and purring contently whilst sat next to his Mummy and wanting tummy tickles whilst she was on the laptop!

The time had gone too quickly, but it was just nice that we were together, and The Love dropped me off at Manchester Piccadilly station to get the train home. At least I'll be back this weekend and for The Cute Little One's birthday party at that, and I had plenty of nice tunes on the train as it sped back towards London and ultimately home, including Blancmange's excellent opener from their Semi-Detached album, The Fall, so that has to be tune of the day - especially as it name checks a famous Manchester band in its chorus. Uh.

Sunday 13th February - Midland Marple Magnificence

The Cute Little One woke up pretty much dead on 6.30am this morning, but to be fair that was a solid unbroken eleven hours plus of sleep without any crying or anything - so she's really good. As she woke up and The Love In My Heart gave her a cuddle, she also had a big happy smile on her face as I said good morning and waved to her, which was nice. In fact The Cute Little One was full of happy giggles and once we were all up, Brian the cat had decided the bedroom was now safe to go back in (he had slept on the sofa and the pouffle all night) and immediately claimed his place on the bed, as he does.

We had some breakfast together, bacon on toast for the adults and some toast for The Cute Little One, who also had a banana and a kiwi fruit, and loved them both, really enjoying her food. More Hey Duggee would ensue this morning as well as the Sooty puppet making an appearance, which The Cute Little One even gave a kiss to which was adorable. In fact, she was more than happy to crawl around chasing Brian the cat, who was not amused and went to hide, or guard his space on the pouffle with a look of go away attached to his paws and face. She does want to be his friend, which is nice, but Brian takes time to get used to new people.

Later on The Cute Little One's parents arrived to collect her, and they had had a lovely time together last night and so made the most of their quality time. We got all The Cute Little One's stuff sorted and loaded, and she gave us a wave goodbye as she left for home. It was nice to spend some more time with her and I know The Love treasures that time massively. We had both managed to get ourselves showered and part ready in a babysitting relay this morning, and so once everything had settled down we got ourselves fully ready to head out for a nice posh Sunday roast lunch later.

The Love and I don't really go anything for Valentine's Day apart from give each other a card: we love each other all year round so it's no different for us to be honest. That said, we do love a Sunday roast and normally head out for one if we've been out for a walk anyway, just this time we thought it'd be nice to head off to the Midland in Marple Bridge, a place we love, and for the first time in ages (perhaps ever, because we've often just had the normal menu), have their Sunday roast menu and give that a go. The Black Sheep best bitter was on cask for me so all was very well with the world there, let me tell you.

We both had a lovely starter: I had the spicy carrot soup which really did have a nice kick to it as well as some pumpkin seeds, and was very wholesome and hearty. The Love had the duck parfait which was always to her liking especially as it looked really thick and nice. But the roasts, wow, they were awesome. The Love had the pork belly which looked melt in the mouth, and I had the half roast chicken which was beautifully moist and tender. They both came with roast potatoes, carrots, parsnips, peas, kale, a massive Yorkshire pudding and lots of gravy. It was the best roast we'd had in a long time and definitely well worth it for us both. Utterly lovely.

We headed back to The Love's place later and we ended up having a relaxing evening, sharing a bottle of prosecco that we had got yesterday and also relaxed with some nice evening telly including me seeing a bit of the Winter Olympics with some extended highlights of the 4x10km cross country skiing relay, and the giant slalom in absolute blizzard conditions. I did sort of miss the proper Ski Sunday theme, Pop Looks Back by Sam Fonteyn (make that tune of the day) and later on we both watched Trigger Point, with plenty of drama in that, and Celebrity Hunted on Channel 4 +1, where Lisa Maffia was taking a massive risk by playing a gig in Bristol that she was scheduled on for.

Saturday 12th February - Babysitting Bonus

The Love In My Heart and I had a well deserved lie in after we'd both had a busy week at work - it tends to be more mentally draining for both of us to be honest, so getting some time to have a nice sleep is always appreciated. We did get up and have a nice breakfast and the Winter Olympics was of course on, so that was us both sorted. The Love quite likes the figure skating and with the first round of the ice dance competition on, we both were amazed by the French pair who were really good. The British pair were also decent, and for their first effort were in 10th and did well - and let's be honest, you only get the likes of Torvill and Dean once in a generation don't you?

The Love was also babysitting this afternoon and overnight as the youngest relation in The Love's family, The Cute Little One, was being dropped off by her parents as they had a night out to head out to which they'd had planned for some time and confirmed at the back end of this week that they'd like The Love to do the babysitting. The nice thing is that I get on well with The Cute Little One, and she always has a big smile and plenty of giggles whenever we spend time playing or I have the Sooty puppet that the Love has and entertain her, so I didn't mind one bit doing my bit.

The Love's relations dropped off The Cute Little One around 4ish, and she had been to a first birthday party during the day and so looked adorable in her little dress. The relation did tell me that they found a really good website called Dolly Wears for these sort of outfits, and The Love and I checked that out later - I can see why, it's definitely perhaps a little bit on the twee side but it is definitely cute central also. And it's very much in fitting with what The Cute Little One's Mummy wears, so makes plenty of sense really.

So lots of playtime ensued throughout the late afternoon and early evening, with some nice books to read with nice pages to touch with different textures (for example, the That's Not My Penguin book which she appears to love the touch of the textures) and also quite a bit of Hey Duggee too (the theme tune is annoyingly catchy so has to be tune of the day really) - and not least of course I recognised the voice of Alexander Armstrong as the narrator and the individual characters with their own traits. In fact, in a nice positive move, the crocodile character Happy's parent is an elephant, as Happy is an adopted child - which helps break down the stigma nicely and presents it in a nice way for children. Teach them early that different is perfectly fine, the right way.

With plenty of different badges earned by the squirrels across the episodes, we fed The Cute Little One her tea which was some spaghetti bolognaise, which she scoffed and really liked - and not least these little snacks that she has too which melt in the mouth but have tasty ingredients in for her too. Lots more play and reading ensued before she started to get a little tired and we could tell because she was having a little tired cry, then gently settled down and snuggled up to sleep next to The Love. We put her in the cot around 7pm, and with the baby monitor on, we kept an eye (and popped into the bedroom next door to check periodically also) but all was well.

Manchester City had beaten Norwich City at the 5.30pm kick off, so was definitely watching Match of the Day to see the goals from that before bed, but before that we also watched some stuff on Channel 5, mainly the Sally Lindsay sleepover where in this episode she stayed with Jacqueline Gold, got treated to the posh executive chairman's lounge at West Ham United (woo) and also had plenty of insight into the woman's business empire and persona. Always fascinating to see how the other half lives, but also fascinating purely because of Sally's Northern humour merging well with the Southerners too.

Friday 11th February - Uber Statistics and Crashes

It made perfect sense for me today to be able to get plenty of analysis done where I needed to pore over some spreadsheets and statistics. This time it was to plan out removal of a piece of software where it wasn't needed and so based on the fact we have a licenced user list, and can match that with the machine in use by the user, and the software installed accordingly, it'll then give me a list of machines which I can get a planned change performed to look at doing the removal - especially as said removal has been tested and found to be working without any issues too.

It made more sense too when I delved a bit further as a number of machines potentially to be included were ones which were handed back by leavers, so it would make sense to wipe clean and rebuild those (for example) or to see if those needed to be written off if they're not being used - say for example faulty hardware, that sort of thing. It proved to be a worthwhile and useful analysis exercise in any case because it shows that in essence we can get this sort of thing done in future for other bits of software that we may wish to clean up and/or remove accordingly. We have the technology after all.

After work it was time to head over to East Croydon station and get the train to St Pancras, then the walk from there onwards to Euston in order to get the train up to Manchester to see The Love In My Heart for the weekend. As it transpired, one train arrived late into East Croydon and I was able to get on that one and be in central London a few minutes earlier - allowing me to stop off in St Pancas, grab a nice bite to eat for some tea, then head over to Euston and armed with the platform information, I literally pretty much walked straight to the platform and on the train. Epic win.

The Love was going to pick me up from the station as normal - but had to call me to walk part of the way as the road she normally drives down was closed. When I walked past the incident in question, it looked like an Uber driver had attempted to turn left out of a road running close by and didn't see the 147 bus coming through from under the bridge and hit it at the passenger entrance door. Glass shards were everywhere and the taxi definitely came off worse for wear, that was for definite - so glad to avoid that and be safe in The Love's car and head back to her place where Brian the cat was purring happily for cuddles.

We settled in and The Love had very kindly got me some beer too - the Black Sheep White Chocolate and Raspberry milkshake IPA at that, which was surprisingly nice, but you wouldn't want to have too many of those, that's for definite. We also watched The Last Leg (the theme tune of which by Public Enemy is tune of the day) and I noted the new set and stuff as well as having a good giggle with Rosie Jones being on and being brilliant as she normally is, not taking any nonsense there. All was well and Brian the cat had already got his place on the bed ready for sleep, bless!

Thursday 10th February - Switcheroo

So I decided last night to switch the days of being in the office, so booked a desk for today with the theory that if I got all I needed to get done today, I wouldn't need to be in on Friday and could head from home to Euston to get up to see The Love In My Heart this weekend, so that has to be something. I headed off on the train via Charing Cross (so doing another switcheroo at London Bridge) and settled into the day's task in hand, the main one being to finalise the new MECM distribution point and to do some build tests, which then would mean I'd be able to decommission the old one in terms of software ready for removal tomorrow.

All the applications etc had gone to the new DP without any issues, so it was then a case of enabling PXE boot with the PXE responder service (much more lightweight and doesn't need Windows Deployment Services either, so perfect for a Windows Core server (or you can even use a Windows 10 box if you wanted!) and that did mean that once our network folks had switched the IP helper over to be the new server IP, I tried PXE boot and that all worked. First go. I then did the usual registry tweak of increasing the speed of the boot image download, and sure enough, 20 seconds or so later, boot image downloaded and ready to go. Happy times.

In fact, all the tests worked so well that after some lunch (and a bargain in Boots at that as well) that with all build testing working, I could go about decommissioning the old distribution point - so with it already out of the boundary groups, I then was able to remove all the content, remove the site server role and site server, and then just to be sure did another build and that all showed content from the new point. And a Windows 10 fully functional build with all the core applications, all the right drivers and a Windows 10 WIM, all working in 29 minutes, so under half an hour, which is pretty good going all round!

I did feel pretty pleased that all seemed to work well, and also had the time this morning to be in a meeting with some licencing discussions, and was able to put forward some technical knowledge, which one of the folks at our software vendors (who also knew their stuff) was pleased they were dealing with someone similar at their end. I also as well was able to really look at some licencing stuff to do with Office and where we may need to remove it from a number of machines too - so that's an initial first step.

Later on when I got home I had two episodes of the latest Michael Portillo railway journey to catch up on (the theme tune of which is tune of the day) and both were around Northumberland where The Love In My Heart and I were on holiday last year. So lots of mentions of the likes of Amble including a restaurant we ate in, Alnmouth with its beach, Alnwick, Seahouses and Bamburgh Castle, so definitely one that I recognised places in and we can look back fondly on too.

Wednesday 9th February - Goalazzzzzzzzzzzzzzo!

It was time today, after doing the course that we're all on first thing this morning and bringing me right up to 10am, was to start setting things up for the new MECM distribution point after I'd placed in the comms room rack at the top yesterday and was able to get cracking on. In effect, I've ran through the wizard to add the new site system server and DP role, but at this point don't enable PXE but enable a pull DP and pick the other older server in the room to pick the content up from. Then once that was all done, it was a case of associating it to one of the DP groups and from there letting things commence.

In fact, I knew that would take some time because despite the network traffic being pretty good between the fact it's the same subnet and vLAN, the number of packages that can be handled at once via pull is maximised at 50 to ensure it isn't overflooding everything. Because it's Server 2016 Core, I also made sure LEDBAT was enabled which means that the traffic shouldn't ever overload from that point either. I spent most of the day monitoring things and being able to check things out too.

As I was having my lunch initially I had a call from a recruiter - they had a job which they thought may be of interest to me. I explained that although there are some skills I do have, there are others which effectively wouldn't be of use and I knew where my points were whch weren't so good - which most likely would be needed by the position. And in addition, where possible, I do prefer to stay cross platform to keep the hand in. The recruiter effectively was saying I needed to specialise more but also when I said that I didn't want to waste anyone's time and pursue things further because the position wasn't right, said recruiter was basically being rude and then hung up. I know who the company are, so that's one I won't be dealing with in future.

This early evening was the semi final of the World Club Championship as Chelsea faced Al-Hilal over in Abu Dhabi, with the final being this weekend. It was also why Chelsea played Brighton a week or two ago as an extra midweek game as this would have been their game midweek. In fact, the contest was pretty one sided in the first half with Chelsea having a raft of chances and a lot of them not being put away especially by Romelu Lukaku, but eventually after some poor defending and a clearance attempt, he shot home from close range and it was 1-0 at half time.

I noted it was on E4 and hosted by James Richardson, he of Football Italia fame back in the 1990s on Channel 4 (make the theme tune of that tune of the day) - where he'd be sat in Milan having a capuccino and reading a copy of Gazetta della Sport with all the latest news. It was iconic then and James these days also hosts World's Strongest Man for Channel 5 (and does it well) so good to see Channel 4 use him for this, going full circle. In the end, it was a comfortable win for Chelsea, and would have been much easier had Lukaku not fluffed so many chances.

Tuesday 8th February - Distribution Day

I was heading off to the office today, and as per usual, Southern Fail did their best to make things as bad as possible travelling in. So there was a train in and ready to head to London Bridge, so I could change and then go to Charing Cross and to the office. All good. Except the train was waiting for a driver at East Croydon, and as per usual with Southern, their lack of drivers excuses bit hard and so the train ended up being diverted non stop to Victoria, but only after diverting everyone to Platform 5 over for the shuttle train from East Croydon meaning the other train ran empty. You just could not make it up.

Anyway, got to the office safely enough in the end, and my main goal today was to set up the little mini PC we have to be situated in our comms and server room to be our new MECM distribution point, with a view of replacing the old one which takes up lots of space in the server rack and needs to be replaced to allow some other kit to go in there. The smaller footprint and the fact we can run Server core with a PXE responder just makes much more sense in terms of being usable and also quite small too, so we'd be able to get the right things done.

First off was to hook up the machine to a monitor near me as I had already got a bootable USB key ready with Windows Server 2016 ISO transferred to it via Rufus, so all good. I got the server built up and that was all relatively painless, and it activated fine via our KMS server too, so again, all good. It was then a case of being able to get the latest servicing stack and cumulative update on there, because then I could ensure we could remote on to the machine if needed. In addition, I added .NET Framework 4.8 because that's a safe requirement for MECM servers these days and made more sense to have it on and all working.

Once all that side was done, I liaised with the Networks team who pointed me to where in the network switch racks that the port was live, and hooked it up to there - and once the static IP was provided I entered that and made sure I could remote in, so all the main prep work was done and I could then tomorrow be sure to be able to set it up as a valid distribution point and send over some content (most likely pulling from the other DP in the room, makes much more sense) and then of course meant the day was a pretty productive one all round and that was a positive to be honest.

I headed home and decided to treat myself a little bit too, so I stopped off at Wendy's on the way back and decided on what to have - it was the Baconator combo, with their signature Baconater burger with shed loads of beef and bacon complete with cheese and a great bun, which also didn't collapse the moment I bit into it too, and that with some fries and a choice of drink from their posh machine (the raspberry Coke Zero was a massively wonderful find to enjoy) so definitely the booster I needed really - that and a lovely chat with The Love In My Heart who always knows how to pick me up too. Tune of the day for me today is the rather fab Gun by Chvrches, which is for me one of the higlights of their album The Bones of What You Believe, and served with plenty of synths and gusto.

Monday 7th February – Hurry Hard!

It was nice to be able to have relaxed and spent the time having a good sleep – with Brian the cat gently tapping The Love In My Heart to wake her up. I got up and had a shower and was ready for working from home, whilst The Love looked very smart as she does when she goes to work and was off there a bit earlier than planned for a busy day ahead. Brian in fact had a bit of a sleep and missed both the black and white and the ginger cats who both walked past without a hint of the fast trot that Brian normally does when he sees them.

I had a few things to construct today and managed to output some information from one of our management systems into a spreadsheet, which then needed some verification from me as to what we could make available in terms of Mac upgrades. A lot of the newer OSes need at least 35GB disk space free before you upgrade, and so obviously one of the checks based on last hardware inventory is to see if that threshold is met, or if indeed the machine has any newer version of the OS already installed (as no point doing so again of course!)

I did pause for lunch this afternoon and had some nice chicken and mushroom risotto whilst watching the semi finals of the mixed doubles curling from Beijing, with Great Britain facing Norway for a place in the final and guaranteed medal. In the group stage, Norway had beaten the British pair, so it was going to be a tense semi final. And so it proved, with it being pretty tight throughout and Norway using their powerplay end well to go 5-4 up with two ends to go.

Britain pulled it back and got one with a powerplay end of their own so it was 5-5 going into the final end but this meant Norway had the hammer, ie: the final stone, going into the final end. As much as the British pair were thinking tactics, a couple of shots just the wrong side of the curl meant that Norway just needed to put their final stone in the middle to win, and they did for a hard fought 6-5 victory. The British pair can still get bronze if they beat Sweden, whilst Norway face Italy for the gold medal. All the shouts though of “line’s good!” and “hurry! Hurry hard!” etc throughout reminded me of Rhona Howie and her 2002 winning curling team – and nice to hear Rhona on commentary with Steve Cram.

It was nice though to have Brian the cat being all relaxed and content sat on the pouffle and having a play with the ball during the afternoon. He definitely loves to have the tuna cat food and that for me is good that he loves routine and all that. The day went far too quickly for me and I have to say that it was nice to relax and listen to some music in the background at the same time too – so the rather lovely tune of the day for me today is Penfriend’s rather excellent Out of the Blue, which is a great example of sometimes where less is more, and certainly in this piece.

Sunday 6th February – Out For Breakfast, Out For Lunch

I got up and watched some of the Winter Olympics on BBC One. I was keeping an eye on the long track speed skating as it was the closing stages of the men’s 5000 metre race, where two athletes go round the track at the same time to try and get a fast time, with the overall fastest being the winner. Sweden snatched it at the last with a superlative performance from their athlete and although behind schedule with two laps left clearly had saved a bit in the tank to smash the final lap and do the business.

Whilst The Love In My Heart was having a well earned lie in with Brian the cat, I had got myself showered and changed and was heading off to the tram stop to head to Manchester city centre. I was meeting up with my manager from work as he had spent Saturday evening seeing friends in the city and had some time on Sunday morning before the train home – so made some sense to meet up for a coffee and a natter. In fact, we were going to meet at Fig and Sparrow but having got there early, I noted it was already full, so waited outside and hatched an alternate plan.

What we did end up doing was going to 33 Oldham Street not far away, where the staff were really friendly and nice, and the menu was very good – the breakfast sandwich thing was cracking, any two fillings of choice on brown or white bread, and they were massive bloomer type bread slices at that. I had sausage and bacon and my manager had bacon and egg, and both looked gorgeous. That and an Americano or tea for £4.75 each? Spot on. It was really nice to catch up and chatter for a fair while too, so definitely was nice to spend some time out and we both appreciated it.

I arrived back to The Love’s place later on after visiting Asda and getting some shopping for The Love, and she had booked us lunch for later on, so that was nice. It was going to be braving the wind and rain again but this time The Love was taking us both to the Axe and Cleaver near Dunham Massey for a Sunday roast. And why not? In fact, the time was pretty good all round so we were able to try and time it to not get rained on before arriving there and having a nice table on an elevated balcony within the restaurant, which was lovely.

The staff were fab as usual in there and I had the Dunham Massey Big Tree bitter, which of course is sourced literally down the road (and I mean literally – in fact the manager told us that he gets told off if it’s not on tap) and after perusing the specials, I went for a Sunday road but with venison medallions as the meat part, which were very nice and flavoursome indeed. The Love hard the pork loin and that looked good too, and a crispy Yorkshire pudding and all the trimmings meant a very nice lunch out together, so that was good.

In fact on the way back we stopped off at the Track Brewing taproom and it was good to go in there and get a nice pint of cask ale to enjoy, with The Love having one of the lagers and finding it perfectly drinkable. In fact some quality tunes were being played in the background including Back in Black by AC/DC (so make that tune of the day) and definitely had a nice relaxed vibe in there as we both enjoyed our drinks, and could relax at home later watching the next episode of Trigger Point, where both our hunches proved to be correct!

Saturday 5th February – The Magic of the Cup

It was nice to be setting off for Manchester this morning, although getting the train from Euston at 0726 did mean me getting up pretty early, then getting the train from East Croydon to Victoria before the tube to Euston, so was pretty glad to get a coffee on the train once I’d left Euston, and was able to relax in relative comfort as the train sped via Crewe and up to Manchester. The Love In My Heart was having a deserved lie in after having had a really long week at work herself, so I was able to head down to the platform, get the ticket and go straight on the tram to The Love’s place.

Of course, it was lovely to see her and indeed to see Brian the cat, who was at least happy for a fuss and cuddles which was definitely a bonus. The wind and rain was pretty bad and this did not bode well for later as it was the FA Cup fourth round, with Manchester City taking on Fulham at the Etihad. With an early game at 12.30 being on BBC One, I could watch the first half of Kidderminster Harriers v West Ham and see the National League North side take the lead – and after I’d met my friend and headed to the ground, the TV screens had the BBC1 coverage on, so we did see the 91st minute West Ham equaliser. Boo.

For our game though we both had noted that Fulham were top of the Championship and scoring goals for fun, so knew it’d be a tougher game even if we were at home. We had a brew and had a good catch up sat in the concourse before braving the wind and rain and being in our seats ready to see the game unfold. I do remember we did play Fulham in the FA Cup a few seasons back and won 4-0, but this is a much different side now and we had to take this match seriously.

If we were in any doubt about that, those doubts went four minutes in as Fulham broke down the right and a perfect low cross to the edge of the six yard box was met superbly by Fabio Carvalho and finished well for 1-0 to Fulham. You can see why Liverpool wanted to sign this player in the transfer window – he had plenty about him in terms of pace and skill, and there’s definitely a case for him playing at a higher level. I was a little concerned but the only good thing was that their goal was early on, so plenty of time for us to pull a goal back.

What I didn’t expect was such a quick response from City. After some neat play on the left, the ball came back across from the right and Phil Foden sensibly avoided the ball so as not to be offside. Eventually the ball came back in from the right and Ilkay Gundogan slotted it home nicely for 1-1 and the equaliser, just 90 seconds after conceding. A few minutes later a very nice corner was floated in and John Stones met it perfectly with his head into the top corner and 2-1 to City with twelve minutes gone. The game thankfully calmed down by then and the score stayed the same to half time.

In the second half City came out and looked to press home the advantage. Jack Grealish went forward into the box and was fouled – and a penalty awarded. The referee didn’t even need a VAR referral, thankfully, and so Riyad Mahrez stepped up and buried it into the top corner for 3-1. A few minutes later and Mahrez would again be involved, this time his shot taking a deflection off one of the Fulham defenders and into the net for 4-1. Admittedly it did look like an own goal for me, but we’ll take that all day and a good win to get us into the next round thankfully.

Later on The Love In My Heart and I had some tea and settled in for the evening with the last of the series of Ant and Dec’s Limitless Win. One team got to the £1m mark but then fluffed a question and lost the £10k they’d banked, whilst another one did reasonably well, got a question right and then thought at the next one to bank it and get a decent amount of money. I did like the concept and wonder if there’ll be another series or not to be made bearing in mind how much potentially someone could win – especially if they were a serial quizzer and knew all the answers. We also did see a couple of documentaries and flicked over to BBC Two showing some Fleetwood Mac too, around the time of The Dance in 1997, and a rather good live performance of Gold Dust Woman, so that for me has to be tune of the day no question.

Friday 4th February - Shelving Sorting

It was another day of working at home for me today, and quite a good and productive day all told. I was in a couple of meetings this morning and one was a discussion on licencing MECM in terms of how many we needed and also what other options we may have, due to the way Microsoft licencing for enterprise and mobility includes the configuration manager portions (so MECM included). Primarily this was also because when they changed the names from SCCM to MECM and made it not part of System Centre as such, they also included the same number of licences for Intune (and vice versa if you were Intune only.)

I also was able to do some investigations and checking on a couple of software installations, and test out some new packages, so new version of Chrome done and the latest semi annual version of Office also done (for those that need it) and tested that out. The update to bring people to that latest version is pretty big though, around 4GB, so those on a slower connection at home may end up taking ages when we plan to roll that out. I've got some potential ideas for that though, so we shall see.

I had a nice little walk out at lunch time and managed to get a few things whilst out and about - but what was nice was that it did feel a little quieter shopping generally - maybe because if people are back in offices and not using the lunch to head around the town centre, possibly? At any rate, I managed to get what I needed, in and out pretty quickly, and that all worked very well indeed. I also had a delivery in the late afternoon which meant I had a nice little piece of DIY to get up to later..

So, I have this nice little baby bookcase from Argos which has two shelves inside, making three shelves in all for storing Blu-ray discs. Now, I was able to order a spare shelf and the supports for that via their spares department, and this arrived via the courier. So in effect, I was able to reposition the existing shelves to just have enough toom for those discs, and then put the new shelf and support in, so gaining an extra shelf. It wasn't big enough to put Blu-ray discs in, but it was a great size to put in my double cassette case Commodore 64 games and have some room for some single case games too - which works nicely and looks the part.

Later on I noted thanks to The Love In My Heart that Claudia Winkleman was on The One Show, so watched that. Maybe her all black outfit with jeans and a smart jacket she should wear more on Strictly, she looked really smart and her and Tom Davis was having a really good giggle about all sorts. And before you ask, yes, I do have a ticket for her Behind the Fringe tour, and will be heading off to Guildford in April to see that happen, and should be lovely. In the meantime, tune of the day is by one of Claudia's faves, Duran Duran, and namely Hungry Like the Wolf, as it was one I used to rock out to and sing on the Wii as well!

Thursday 3rd February - A Mixed Bag

It was back to being at home for work for me, and it was pretty good to head out this morning to Sainsburys and get some fresh air as well as some essentials for the next few days, including some crumpets for breakfast (because why not) and also making sure I had some lunches in for next week. I also noted too it did seem quieter near me at that time of morning: whether people are heading back to offices and less working at home I don't know, but it definitely feels like that at any road. Of course, it also did mean that it was pretty much nip in, get the shopping I needed, and go home again.

I spent a fair bit of time this morning checking on the MECM new client compliance: all appearing to be well so far, and indeed making sure that now the initial 3 day period of rollout was done, that anything else was going to get the new version deployed. So far so good it seemed to be honest, and it did also mean that any machine not as yet being upgraded (apart from those in China because of the New Year, obviously) I could keep an eye on and see what was or wasn't happening so to speak.

Over lunch I did watch one of the videos from the Chinnyvision sister channel, Chinnyvision 2, as he had acquired a copy of the Rainbird game Carrier Command on Amstrad CPC 6128 disk - which is really hard to find. The box looked in immaculate condition too and the game itself comes with an audio tape by Dave Lowe which is a game soundtrack no less - it does remind me synth wise of early Human League or Heaven 17 and for that reason alone simply has to be tune of the day to be perfectly honest. It really does seem to have something about it!

I spent some time as well in the afternoon having a good chat with one of my senior managers about some concerns I'd raised earlier in the week. I'm pleased that things were constructive, and that actually it did make me feel a little better about what I had raised, so that was good. I think when you're able to effectively speak out but do so fairly and constructively, you'll get your rewards in due course by being listened to, respected, and having great understanding for that. So in a way, it was good to see what might have been perceived as slightly negative being turned into a positive.

So all in all, a mixed bag of a day really, but there are sometimes days like these when it's good to pause a little moment, take stock of where you are and then move on. I definitely feel for me it is one of those days. I had one of my colleagues ask about the new picture I put up in the flat last weekend (a present from my brother and had the Command picture strips at the ready) so that was a positive, and in a way as the week winds slowly towards a conclusion I am starting to feel more positive (and knowing of course it won't be long to see The Love In My Heart and Brian the cat!)

Wednesday 2nd February - You Can't Beat The Law of a Reduced Lunch

So today it was off to the office - that in itself is all fine, but in effect the rubbish timetables (if you can even call it a timetable at present) that have been presented by Southern Fail at the moment really does mean that you potentially are going to be on a packed "shuttle" train from East Croydon to London Victoria full of passengers, not all of them being considerate enough to wear a face covering, and indeed without proper ventilation. I'm glad to be honest I've gone back to one day a week in the office for my own health and safety reasoning, and this shambles of a "service" from Southern proves my point entirely.

In the office at least it was good to see some friendly faces via our service desk teams and their manager, all of whom I get on well with and that certainly made things feel a lot better as I worked through the day - doing the course we've been doing first thing in the morning (although what became of part of that later meant that I had to take some decisive actions - so more on that later I guess) and then be able to look at working on some potential new application packaging updates and also monitoring how the new MECM client deployment was going - pretty well by all accounts to be fair.

I ventured out at lunch time and Boots seemed to have overstocked their meal deals which effectively meant a lot of the stuff on offer was reduced to clear for 50p each - so got some sushi and a sandwich for a mere pound, and with a nice vitamin boosted sparkling water on offer for £1, so a two pound lunch. Now, for me, I'd rather avoid food waste and knew I was going to have said food when I got back to the office anyway, so why not? I alerted the service desk manager and he was on it later at lunch himself (and thanked me for the heads up.) If it means less wastage, that's better for everyone, right?

After a lengthy but lovely chat with The Love In My Heart, and that was really nice (I do miss her so much) we both separately settled in to watch the third episode of The Teacher on Channel 5. We've both been watching it (The Love with Brian the cat snuggled with her on the sofa, awww) and it's been a real sense of things coming together as the main character Jenna (superbly played by Sheridan Smith) starts to piece together that there's some form of plot thickening. Notably at the end of the episode when a new character, who used to play Owen in Coronation Street no less, turns up. There's going to be some final answers sought in the final episode as to the why, but it's certainly been a different take on what can be a difficult situation.

I had also watched the African Cup of Nations semi final as Senegal did the business and beat Burkina Faso 3-1 to reach the final, with Sadio Mané of Liverpool scoring in that game. Of course that means more time away from Anfield for the final on Sunday, so in theory it could be the FA Cup game missed, but if they win it and celebrate, might be missing the game midweek too. Same goes for them if Mo Salah gets Egypt to the final (their semi is tomorrow against the hosts Cameroon) so will definitely be a good game to watch - and on the relaunched BBC Three too (also in HD folks). In the meantime, tune of the day is the Pop Will Eat Itself version of Their Law, which they originally co-wrote with The Prodigy back in 1994. The live version I love was from a gig I was at in 2005 when the Poppies did their reformation tour, and wow was it ace!

Tuesday 1st February - Absolutely Brilliant, Part 2

I had two deliveries in the post today, which was nice and a welcome surprise as I didn't expect either parcel to arrive so quickly - as both of which were orders at the back end of last week. First of all was a good delivery, well boxed and secured, from Tapeline - with some replacement cassette cases, both of the single variety (with and without some middle pins) and also the double ones that some of the games from the mid-80s came in - and those were hard to locate so good to find a reliable online company that I know others have used to get some success with those. Lovely.

The second meant I was going to have a fun evening of games on the Commodore 64, especially as there were a total of ten games within the box - all from the same seller on eBay and for a combined total of a mere £9.85 plus postage, so good bargain hunting on my part there. It was very well boxed and packaged up, so all good and I had bought from this seller before, so knew it would all be safe and sound when it arrived too. A fair number of the games were Codemasters ones, so more absolutely brilliant (to coin their phrase) action to come - well in some cases anyway.

So seven of their games in all, starting with Arcade Flight Simulator. Effectively, it's a shoot em up but with the plane able to fly at different heights to shoot other craft, or swoop low to get fuel and so on. It's not the easiest game but did play pretty well overall - and this wasn't one I had originally back in the day so nice to give that a good blast. I'll be coming back to get further I think. Dizzy Panic had potential to be a good puzzler sort of like Klax in play, but the problem is that there's too much random dropping of tiles and there's not enough opportunities to score a triple to push the plungers back enough. The reviews at the time from Commodore Format were pretty scathing.

On to the next couple, there was Grand Prix Simulator 2 - a sort of clone of Super Sprint but slightly different from the first game in that three can play at the same time (two joystick and one keys) and battle against other opponents on laps of the track. A damage meter is a good idea but the controls are just a little too sensitive at times and you end up having to battle for control, a fault of the first one. Lazer Force is up next, it's a four stage shoot em up programmed by Gavin Raeburn with the most ludicrous blurb on the cover (as was the case back then) and plays nicely enough, even if the difficulty is sort of arcade-ish level at parts.

Moto-X was one I used to have back in the day and this was effectively motocross trials in two different forms, wheeling and jumping over obstacles in the first section, and then doing a vertically scrolling time trial in the second part with jumps as well. Not easy but does have decent Matt Gray music on the title screen (so that's tune of the day) - and so then on to Pro Boxing Simulator - a controversial title as it was basically the old Superior Software game By Fair Means Or Foul but just retitled, with no indication of it being a re-release, which meant some people were upset when they had the same game twice, and so later copied had to state it was a reissue - none of that "new release" stuff all over the place.

Final Codemasters game of this bunch was Rallycross Simulator, a pretty nice game all round by Gavin Raeburn, but.. and this is the big but, if only the controls were customisable. Pressing the direction to steer the car might be a good idea, but an option to have fire to accelerate and left/right to turn the way the car is facing would also have worked nicely, so you could choose the controls and do whatever worked better for you. And for the rest, I got the original Imagine clam shell case version of the Hyper Sports arcade conversion, complete with Ocean Loader 1 loading music giving way to a rendition of Chariots of Fire during loading. Ah, happy memories there for sure.

The final two were games I originally owned back in the late 1980s: Dynamix by Mastertronic was written by Ash and Dave who did many Compunet demos, and in this case you have to plunge down different weighted balls to attempt to balance with the weight of the computer's scales. It's simple but good fun and actually if you can remember to follow the sequence the computer does, you can get through the first few levels well - nice lengthy Jeroen Tel music too. And Bombo from Rino, which was a better Bomb Jack game than the arcade conversion and has three lovely tunes from the sadly missed Ben Daglish on there, one for each stage with the emphasis on collecting bombs in order for higher scores. So all in all, a good evening's worth of play.