Dear Diary... February 2023

Tuesday 28th February - I Wanna Be With You Everywhere

I did have a busy day at work yesterday and was able to produce some testing results for making bootable media and also making sure that said media could also deploy Windows well. In fact I spent some time tweaking some of the documentation to ensure that the post-build steps were covered, and that was good to get that written down and fully done so that it should be easy enough for everyone to follow. I did manage to get the task sequence media down to around 21GB in all, so that was pretty good, and did allow for a couple of different hardware drivers for models.

I also spent some time today sorting out a number of reports and stats, and it was good to be able to manage those and see how I'd be able to use the data present to help out others. In fact I did note that there were a number of machines that didn't have the latest inventory client, so was able to pull off some nice reporting which showed just those ones and with all the user info that we would need to, so that would be handy in a mail merge situation in order to be able to say that "your computer named X is behind with updates, please do Y to remediate" - and that is a positive I think.

After work and some tea, and a nice chatter with The Love In My Heart, it was on with ITV1 HD and to watch the FA Cup fifth round tie between Bristol City and Manchester City at Ashton Gate. It was the fifth away game for the Blues on the bounce and after a good win at Bournemouth on Saturday evening, hopes were good that we'd come away with a win here and get to the quarter finals once again, where potentially (if they won) we could end up facing Manchester United in what would be an epic - with the draw taking place at some point later this week to find out.

City got on with the task and soon enough a lovely move down the right saw Kevin de Bruyne find Riyad Mahrez, and his low shot was met pefectly by Phil Foden to shoot home from a narrow angle for 1-0. In fact Kalvin Phillips had hit the bar in the first minute with a good effort, so we definitely had our chances early on. Bristol City did work ever so hard and they had a couple of half chances and played as if their lives depended on it which was good to see that they tried to play properly. The City fans sung a new chant to Fleetwood Mac's Everywhere (make that tune of the day) as they had done on Saturday, and constantly too.

In the second half the game went off the boil and Bristol City did have a good spell as they pressed forward, with one header going just wide after some good work to get the ball on the right hand side. City went forward, de Bruyne found Nathan Aké, and his pass via Julian Alvarez was to Phil Foden, who shot home, albeit with a deflection, for 2-0. Jack Grealish had come off the bench, took on three players and then put through a lovely weighted pass to de Bruyne, who curled it superbly into the bottom corner. 3-0 is how it finished and safely through to the next round, well done City!

Sunday 26th February - Slower Sunday

It was nice for The Love In My Heart to have a lie in and be able to rest for a while, and we'd both had a good night's sleep after the long but lovely day yesterday. Whilst I let The Love get some more sleep, I put on All4 and watched the Formula E race from Cape Town that had happened. It was a pretty intense race due to the speed of the track and the way that incidents could happen easily, and the overtaking move from Antonio Felix da Costa to take over Jean-Eric Vérgne right at the end was superb - a well deserved victory moving up from lower down on the grid and to take a superb effort.

The Love and I then had a full breakfast - I thought it'd be really nice to treat us both, and so did the full works with sausages, bacon, mushrooms and scrambled egg, together with some plum tomatoes for The Love, and some toast and orange juice. It was really nice and I think because I did the mushrooms slightly differently, and allowed them to cook slower over time in the pan, meant that they tasted really good - must remember to do that next time and we both enjoyed that.

The Love got herself ready and I then had a shower and readied myself for us heading out later in the day. I did manage to check on the trains to make sure that all was well, and we also sorted out a few plans for the next few weeks. The Love remembered that she was heading out for afternoon tea in a few weeks' time, so coming to me wasn't an option, so I'd look at heading up instead if I could. In addition, it was also good that I was able to hand her a couple of things to take back and fit in the case, so saved me the job for next weekend too.

We headed off to East Croydon and took the train to Farringdon before then the tube to Euston Square, and we were soon at the Crown and Anchor, and back at our traditional Sunday lunch spot together. In fact we hadn't been there for some time but was nice to be back, and had a table reserved, sensibly, as the rugby union was on between France and Scotland, with one set of fans being sat at a table with a view of the television screen to watch the game - as you do, of course. In fact that game proved to be rather bruising with two red cards early on before France would take it at the end.

We settled in for the afternoon and The Love had the chicken schnitzel, which looked very nice and appetising indeed, and I had the steak and ale pie complete with some clotted cream mash, it was absolutely gorgeous and enjoyed that a lot. And as they had the same Steady Walker ale that I had yesterday at the Prince Regent, well of course I was going to have that as well wasn't I? It was just nice to relax and chatter and had a couple of Manchester United fans chatting to us as fellow Mancs before they headed off to Wembley to watch the league cup final (which they would win 2-0 against Newcastle.)

The weekend had gone by far too quickly and it was a real sense of sadness as I said my fond farewell to The Love as we got to Euston and made sure she got on the train home okay. I walked to St Pancras and headed home on the train, and thought about how nice it had been all weekend, and Crazy by The Icicles sprang to mind (make that tune of the day) as the main chorus sums up the happy feeling I have when we are together and how crazy I am about her too - crazy in love, as a certain Beyoncé might have also sang back in the day!

Saturday 25th February - To Market, To Market

The Love In My Heart and I had had a very good sleep and was able to wake up feeling refreshed and ready to face the day ahead. In fact The Love had mentioned she would like to go to the markets at Spitalfields, and as that wasn't far from Liverpool Street station I though that was easily doable, so we had a sausage toastie each for breakfast, and a coffee and orange juice, so all prepped to go for the day. In fact it was good that we had worked out a rough plan and so was able to make the most of the day ahead - including some lunch out later with The Love's niece.

It was off to East Croydon and because of the Elizabeth Line going to Liverpool Street now, and because Overground can also get there, it's actually good to know that the offpeak fare there is £3.80, same as just National Rail only (bear in mind you can get the tube from Farringdon to Liverpool Street too.) So it was Thameslink for us to Farringdon, and we took the escalators down to the Elizabeth Line and walked up the platform to get on, so nearer the exit at Liverpool Street at the other end. The Love did comment that the escalators were a tad steep!

We headed out of Liverpool Street station and across to Spitalfields Market, where there were also a number of bronze elephant statues sat around and plenty of people taking pictures of those too. We did head along indoors to the market halls, sensibly now covered by a glass roof and that meant no matter what the weather, you'd remain dry, which was good. We were impressed with a number of stalls, some selling super cute items for little ones, and a few others also specialising in artworks and posters. We did also spot as well that the central area was very much a food hall, which had people milling around nicely.

After a good look around we decided we'd head into Gail's bakery for a coffee (and got a seat inside, so that was all lovely) and then headed around some more stalls as well as a visit into Flying Tiger, which just happened to have a store inside also. In fact I did spot a couple of record stalls and was happily checking those over to see what I could get in terms of music, and The Love also did get some fudge from a very nice stall that sold just that, and got two different flavours, some for her and some for her niece to have later on.

We then crossed over Commercial Street and headed down Hanbury Street towards Brick Lane and the markets there. We did stop off in Upmarket, which was a mix of some clothing stalls and a food hall, which was pretty good, and then headed left to Brick Lane itself and down into the vintage market. I did like one record stall with plenty of LPs available for sale and we did note plenty of clothing and jewellery stores as we walked round. I know as did The Love that one of her friends would happily spend all day here! We did walk further down and turn right to the Backyard Market too, that had some good stalls and was also well worth a mooch around, so definitely could have spent all day here if we fancied it.

In fact, we did think about that if we went back one day in the Summer months, we could stop off at a food stall for breakfast, and later on then also stop at the outside stalls in Dray Walk close to the Old Truman Brewery for some lunch as some of the stalls there were also really nice. It was good to see, and we both really did have a good mooch around before heading back past the Spitalfields Market, and off to Liverpool Street where we didn't have to wait long for a Hammersmith and City line tube to Baker Street.

Once at Baker Street (minus the saxophone intro to said Gerry Rafferty classic obviously) we met up with The Love's niece and we headed off to Marylebone High Street, and to the Prince Regent pub. The Love and I had been there for drinks before but never food, but the menu always looked decent and it was also nice to be able to have a good selection of beer too. In fact conversation and beer flowed nicely and we had a really nice table with big comfortable seats. We were glad we'd booked though as being where it is, it does get pretty busy and so being able to relax was really nice.

It was lovely to hear how The Love's niece was doing, and she had asked me some advice on some trains too, so all was good and we tucked into lunch. The niece and I both had the fish and chips which was spot on - lovely batter, really nice soft fish and some good chips to go with it. The Love had the cheese and bacon burger and that looked really good too it has to be said - lots of flavour there. I even tried the Moor Brewery's old ale called Steady Walker - which was a gorgeous dark beer and really did hit the spot well - more so I imagine if you were having some venison or a steak pie!

The time sped by during the afternoon and after a few drinks we headed back towards Baker Street, having a mooch in the Conran shop on the way back which looked like it was closing down to us, with everything in store being reduced by some way. It was a shame if it is going to close, because it was always nice to look around there, more so when they had the nice café in there as that was somewhere that The Love and I used to go to a lot. We said our farewells at Baker Street as The Love's niece was heading to meet another of her relations near Piccadilly Circus, and we were homeward via London Bridge and Norwood Junction, in fact getting off at West Croydon, thus lower fare.

On the way back from there we did stop off at Art and Craft on Surrey Street which was nice and cosy with some good vibes and good tunes too which we both approved of. The Love had the Bristol Lager which did have a nice taste to it, and I went for a nice session ale which was from a brewery in Kingston, so that was good. In fact a couple of blokes on the table we were sat (they gave up the other end for us) noted our accents and started chatting football and all sorts with us, and they were nice and friendly. It really did cement the nice vibe in there and a good way to end the day out before heading homewards.

After some food for tea we settled in and watched the BBC documentary on the legendary Haçienda nightclub in Manchester, with the likes of Peter Hook and Stephen Morris from New Order interviewed, as well as Mike Pickering, a well known DJ there, and plenty of others who were either regulars or became part of the management team there. Noel Gallagher was also very insightful into the times that he had there, and of course there had to be Shaun Ryder doing his spiel too! It was very interesting to get into the mind of Peter Savile, Factory Records' sleeve designer, on the ways that Tony Wilson worked. Even The Hitman and Her went there - with Cocoon's classic Timerider theme tune being played, so tune of the day it is!

Friday 24th February - That Friday Feeling

It was a nice end to the week this week as not only would I be effectively doing a half day at work, but the afternoon off meant that I could prepare for the visit of The Love In My Heart who was coming down to see me for the weekend. It was good though this morning as I sorted out a fair bit of washing and cleaning before I started the working half day, and the Sainsburys food order that I had placed did arrive too, so that was also good to get that all sorted and put away before I would then crack on with some additional checks and testing for the task sequence bootable media - and worked out a way to get the ISO size reduced as well as being able to effectively look at not caching the content when being installed. I'll see how that works next week.

I did manage to get everywhere nice and tidy and it did feel like I was at least on top of everything and all sorted. The Love let me know she got on her train from Manchester Piccadilly okay as she was off this week, so was able to leisurely get to the train, and later on I headed off from mine and off to West Croydon station. I was going to be a little bit clever and change trains at Norwood Junction, then get a Thameslink train to Farringdon, followed then by the underground to Euston Square. The upshot is that because I touched in and touched out at TfL owned stations, it mean that the fare was less (£3.40 in fact) which is not too bad - and I had touched in at 3.56pm so also off peak fare that.

The Love's train arrived on time and she looked lovely in her coat and outfit, and we had planned to head along to the Somers Town Coffee House, half way between Euston and St Pancras, and have a drink there. The upstairs part was pretty busy but we headed downstairs to Cosy, their cocktail bar area, and that was not only rather chilled out but also really comfortable, with lovely soft seating. In fact, the choice of tunes was appreciated too, with the likes of Sadé being played a lot including Your Love Is King, bit of a tune that so tune of the day from me that one.

We did have a couple of drinks in all, and for the second one I headed up to the bar upstairs and got the drinks to bring down, which was nice, and that meant I could have some nice ale as well so that was all good (having had the Camden Pale Ale as the first one.) It was just nice to catch up and chat and relax a bit too and that certainly started things off nicely. And in a shape of things to come for the weekend and transport in general, we got to St Pancras International and actually got down in good time for the next train to East Croydon too, so made it with a couple of minutes to spare and that sped us homeward, so that was good.

Once we got back and settled in for the evening I made us some tea (some very nice Wiltshire Ham Gratin with some vegetables on the side, courtesy of Sainsburys) and The Love enjoyed a double header of Coronation Street before we then settled in for the new series of Gogglebox on Channel 4. That was pretty good, although there doesn't seem to be that many new families now - almost like it has settled with the familiar faces somewhat, but that does mean The Love gets to enjoy Jenny and Lee especially. It made me laugh when they were seeing Starstruck and had people doing Tom Jones, and needless to say that David and Shirley were more than qualified to be critical!

We also did watch a really good music documentary on BBC Four (and to be fair there are always good ones on that channel - moving it to be digital only in the future is a massive mistake in my eyes) - and the documentary detailed the last few years in the life of Freddie Mercury, as part of an evening of Queen related stuff that the channel had on. It was fascinating to hear the likes of Brian May and Roger Taylor telling it like it is, and the behind the scenes of the 1992 tribute concert at Wembley, with the likes of Lisa Stansfield, Joe Elliott from Def Leppard, Gary Cherone from Extreme, Paul Young and the promoter Harvey Goldsmith. Perhaps most insightful of all was having Freddie's sister, Kashmira Bulsara, really giving you a different perspective.

Wednesday 22nd February - A Week Of Work

It's been a busy week so far work wise, and to be honest it was good to be in the office and be able to do some quality work in less time as well as some testing too. In fact Monday was spent mainly creating a new version of the Windows 10 WIM complete with the February updates, with the idea being that at least it will mean anything newly built will include those udpates too. Those were also sent out to the initial test group prior to going live to ensure no issues, and there hasn't (as of today) been anything to report, so all good and positive go go there too.

Our folks over in China have also been evaluating a SD-WAN software and hardware based solution, so that certain parts of the web wotk better with an approved vendor to allow this to happen (for example China Telecom) - and as such a client was passed over to us for testing and evaluation. I did have concerns about that compared to the software vendor's own version, and with a valid reason - the client that was provided wasn't digitally signed for the executable, and some of the files within weren't classified as safe either by our Cyber Security folks - the vendor version had seemed to address all that and then some. Although it's worth noting that a properly digitally signed executable is at least a good start.

Back in Manchester, The Cute Little One celebrated her birthday yesterday, and it was nice for The Love In My Heart and her family to spend some quality time together. In fact I had got her a nice pair of little Cyberjammies pyjamas which her Mum loved to bits, and they had managed to get The Cute Little One a little piano so she was pretending she was the Johnny character from Sing and giving it a good little play. It's hard to believe time goes by so quickly when it comes to things like that, but nonetheless it was nice to be able to see the pictures and see how much full of joy and happiness she is. Awww.

I did spend some time today at home road testing a couple of things - one of which was to test out a JAMF policy on Mac to see if the latest Ventura installer for 13.2.1 could be downloaded and cached, then ready for install as needed. In fact, I tried the same command as the script would have run after that command failed on the Mac I was using with, but then I did realise the actual issue - in that the Mac in question is actually too old to be able to run anything after Monterey 12.6.3, so no Ventura for that. Indirectly that wasn't a bad thing because at least it meant that we could narrow things down to say "actually these can only be upgraded to this version because Apple" - and that might give us a business case otherwise.

I also was able to create a couple of reports and checks to make sure that our new version of our inventory client was actually reporting in the new M1 and M2 chip macs with the right processor type identified - and that seemed to be working nicely as it happened. That has to be a positive as far as I can see, because if we need to report on that in future, we've now got a way of doing so and it does mean we can keep track of some of the newer ones coming in. They did report in before but the processor type showed as unknown, so we weren't necessarily fully sure if they were actually the chips in question, but we do know now at least.

I have been spending some more time too winding down and playing the pinball game Slam Tilt on the PC. I remember someone patching the executable a little so it worked in Windows 10, and has been working flawlessly ever since - I have had the original CD-ROM release since my early PC owning days of a Cyrix Windows 95 box and it's still a great little game to play. I do like all four tables for various reasons but I do like some of the mission music on the Ace of Space table, especially the Death Planet mission, so that's got to be tune of the day.

Sunday 19th February - Car Booting

It was a nice evening last night chatting with some friends online, and having a couple of drinks at the same time. It was nice to be able to just chill out and as per usual the time sped by meaning that it was soon gone 11pm and time for people to settle in for the night. I did think about whether a trip to a car boot sale would be a good way of spending the Sunday morning, and with the weather looking reasonably good, I thought "well why not?" and so made sure I got up and had a shower, and soon had myself ready to head out.

The car boot I was looking at going to was the Princess Alice primary school in Stoke Newington, which is organised by London Car Boot (they also do one in Kilburn on a Saturday too, which seems to be a more common day for car boot sales in the capital for whatever reason.) I had worked out my route: train to London Bridge and then 149 bus to right near the place. I got to East Croydon and didn't have to wait that long for a Thameslink train to London Bridge, which having come from Brighton was full of people who had clearly had a long night out or overnighter in Brighton, and were worse for wear, shall we say!

At London Bridge I exited at the front of the station and the 149 bus came straight away and all was well as the bus passed Liverpool Street station, went up Shoreditch High Street to Hoxton and ended up at Dalston. However, what I had forgotten to note was that due an unsafe building in the centre of Stoke Newington, the bus was on a diversion Northbound, so turned left and then a right later to end up at Stoke Newington green, then along another road to the centre via the side of Clissold Park. I therefore then walked back down the main road for some time and arrived at the car boot that way.

Early birds getting there before 9am pay £5 to get in, but this reduces to £1 for the rest of the day, which isn't too bad at all really. Although it did look like it was just at the front of the school, with a space at the back for having breakfast rolls and coffee, you followed the way around to the back of the school, and the rear yard there also had plenty of stalls too. It was mainly of course clothes and old toys and so on, but a number of sellers did have some games for the likes of Playstation 2 and Wii, and some LPs as well from a few sellers. It was quite a mixed bag and in a way plenty of things you could get.

I spent around an hour or so there, mooching around the stalls, and although nothing did take my fancy, if you wanted a sealed Memorex E180 VHS cassette, or some Sony Hi80 handycam blank tapes, then you were in luck, along with one seller with all sorts of camera filters of various sizes too. Although at least Southbound the bus was fine, it was a nice day so took a walk to Dalston Junction station instead and then took the Overground back home to West Croydon - that was relatively busy too which shows how well used the service is. It was a nice time to head out and have a good mooch around. Tune of the day in the meantime is the theme to Minder, which I had in my head as I was walking down to the car boot earlier!

Saturday 18th February - On The Nature Trail Again

This weekend was one I'd be spending at home, with The Love In My Heart having The Cute Little One overnight and I thought it best that they have some quality time together (and yes, she was being as adorable as ever.) Plus as well it meant that I could indulge myself in some nice walking and get back on the London Nature Trails series of walks. I had done the South one and the Central one, so today was the North one, which was from Burnt Oak to Wembley. I did have the route planned out to get there as the Jubilee Line was out between Green Park and Stratford, so thought of a sensible alternative route which would use TfL services only and therefore be cheaper overall.

So having had some cereal for breakfast, it was off to West Croydon and to take the Overground to Whitechapel, where I could then change over for the purple train (aka Elizabeth Line) three stops to the West to Tottenham Court Road. I knew there's a lift which takes you down to the Northern Line platform (which is deeper down than purple train - I remember the engineering bits where the line passings were at very tight spaces!) and before too long there was an Edgware service too, so no faffing around at Camden Town and after that stop, I pretty much had a whole tube carriage to myself all the way to Burnt Oak.

I arrived and exited the station (not step free, so no good for anyone arriving with access needs) and crossed over to join Silkstream Park, and the first sight of the Silk Stream, which I'd be following for a fair bit of the walk. The park was nice and green, and plenty of wildlife in the stream with platforms to view, and crossing to Montrose Park passing The Hub was a nice view. On the other side there's all nice new flats on the approach to Colindale tube station, and certainly it felt a hive of activity. I crossed over the road and into Colindale Park, which had table tennis tables and a couple of benches that had literary quotes all around them, which was really lovely to see.

I crossed over and took the road on the other side through to Rushgrove Park, which I did feel seem a little bit unloved. On the other side, I passed a Romanian Orthodox church and then an old office building which now houses a Premier Inn, and turned left to follow the A5 towards Hendon, and turned right towards the West Hendon playing fields. It's here that the directions on the Go Jauntly App needed to be better, you actually needed to follow the car park to the left and then a path afterwards from there, but the directions seemed to be right and then left around the back. Not ideal then to cross a load of grass under trees to head back to the path.

I rejoined the path and this was more of a packed earth path and was a little muddy in place as you headed through woodland, following the Silk Stream at its estuary and reaching a small bridge - and a place I had been to before - as this was the end of the Welsh Harp Open Space which I followed on section 10 of the Capital Ring many years ago. This time around though I'd be walking in the reverse direction, so it was a pleasant walk along with the view of Brent Reservoir and the sailing boats to the left. That was a higlight for me - it was always good to see some scenic views and they were in bucket loads here.

Once I left the Welsh Harp Open Space, I followed the road back towards Neasden and headed through Quainton Street Open Space, passing an abandoned playground and then getting to Chalkhill BMX and Scooter Track - they had one of each, not seen a scooter one before. I then followed the road past Chalkhill Primary School and on to Chalkhill Park - it may be small, but had some lovely features including a section of vertical stones which were arranged to form a border to a path down to a small ampitheatre. It felt very nice and a sort of place a community could all hang out together.

Arriving at Bridge Road, Wembley Park tube station and Wembley itself was in view. I even stopped in a local shop and got a bottle of proper Lilt (none of this Fanta rebadged rubbish for me!) - which had the old advert theme tune in my head (make that tune of the day - totally tropical!) and I had that as I walked down Olympic Way (often misnamed Wembley Way) and headed to the stadium. The old concrete ramps up have long gone and replaced by stairways, which for me feel a little less friendly - at each side of the staircase there are walkways to lifts to get up to the stadium itself, so access is at least retained. And flats. Everywhere. And not cheap either when you see the prices.

I walked around the stadium and noted from above the likes of the OVO Arena and also the London Designer Outlet Village, which I went in many years ago and was okay, but definitely not full of any bargains that you would expect to be honest. It was a walk over the bridge where Wembley Stadium station was and the walk was completed - six miles and a pretty good walk at that. I've got the nine miler of East London to go at some point, maybe next month, and all was well. In fact I was able to get to Wembley Central and take a train to Euston, then tube to London Bridge and train home - had to go that way as nothing running my way from Victoria really. All in all though, well worth a good walk.

Thursday 16th February - Standalone Sorting Out

So most of this week I've been involved with some testing, to do primarily with one of the sections of the business we need to get onboarded and at the same time be able to manage to build some new laptops for them and without too much hassle. The thing is: the infrastructure they have (or lack of) is not ideal for that sort of thing, and also on top of that there's a number of different places in Asia that the equipment gets shipped to natively (so for example exporting it from say China is an absolute no no because of the rather expensive import costs that it would take in order to get them shipped too - honestly, the figures were eye watering.)

So with that in mind, one idea I had would be that effectively we'd be able to provide some standalone bootable media which you boot to, and has the whole MECM task sequence (minus a few modifications) to build the new machines that they would have. Then it'd just be a few steps afterwards to be on wireless, join the VPN, domain join the machine, and then run a couple of MECM things to ensure it is all finalised (and then ensure a user account is created which can log on locally with their credentials as well as on domain). In theory this is exactly for this sort of scenario: where you may not have the fastest Internet connectivity and the fact that you may need 100Mbits at least (preferably gigabit) to run a task sequence with some speed might not be there.

The starting point was to take our existing build task sequence and duplicate it - that way I could remove what wasn't needed and disable some other steps also. In fact, because I knew only two laptop models were to be used, all the other driver packages were removed, and that'll save time - in fact you can't use auto apply drivers anyway, just the apply driver package steps as per Microsoft documentation, so we already had that nailed. In addition, domain join steps or anything involving domain - disable those, and also disable to add our antivirus piece because the installer has to get files online during its install process (and the vendor doesn't offer a totally offline install either, it should be noted) - we'd do that one later on.

Once all that was done, you then created the task sequence media as standalone media. To be on the safe side, I set it to be an ISO image of whatever size it needed to be (as I suspected 8.5GB DVD media would be too small for this). I was proven to be correct, and after some tweaks, it turned out that the bootable ISO, with the OS, drivers, and all the applications required, was around 30GB in all. I used a bit of hidden functionality in Rufus (use Alt and F to detect large USB drives) and then ensured that the 500GB external USB hard drive my colleague had provided was made bootable from the ISO - and therefore you'd boot from that, click to run the task sequence and off you go.

On first run I noted a few things not quite right, so knew I could tweak them later on, but it did fail at one step also because I had forgotten it was a domain dependent step. So removed that, and when creating the media, ensured it prompted for the variable OSDComputerName variable at the start - this is what happens in live builds now and ensures users put the correct machine name in - and saves hassle later because it is already correctly named. In fact, the other thing I also knew I needed to do was to add a local account of some description - as without that, no one would be able to log on and then do what was needed to ensure that final steps were taken, so there you go.

I then today went back to this after a couple of failed attempts at home yesterday, and made the tweaks. The ISO image was still around 30GB or so, but once created, did a bootable drive with Rufus, and went again. It went through the whole thing, from start to finish, so that the OS and all the main applications were installed, local account added, and everything I wanted to add that was there worked. It was a really good positive to report back on in a meeting later on, and in theory, and to add some overhead, a 64GB USB3 drive should be enough to use as media, and as we've seen a Kingston one that'll do the job, we'll give that a go.

To give you an idea, the OS, all the driver packages, all the software and configuration completed from start to finish in 38 minutes, that's not too bad - and bear in mind if you have multiple USB bootable drives, you can do multiple machines too. In fact I tested another external hard drive and that appeared to have a slightly better transfer rate, taking 34 minutes to do the same job. So once I get some USB pen drives large enough, I'll do another test with them and whichever is not just quick but also reliable will get the job done, and that'll potentially work wonders where it is needed. Sometimes you needed to think outside the box and this week has been one of those where I've been able to prove myself.

In fact, it wasn't the only sorting out for standalone I did either. At home I've been wanting to get a few bits done around the flat and one thing I knew I definitely needed to do was to clear out the dust from under the bed and get the vacuum cleaner on it. Thankfully this wasn't too bad a task but it made sense to get it done and to ensure all the plastic storage boxes also had their lids vacuumed too, so meaning all was nice and tidy. It's something I like to keep on top of as any form of dust is bad really - always more sensible to be on top of things and keep the place good.

I've been able to listen to a fair bit of music this week whilst being able to sort out a number of tasks, and with that in mind I've been playing the Tim Burgess album Typical Music quite a bit. It's a lovely cross section of songs across eighty-odd minutes (hence it is on two discs) and really has a quite relaxed feel too. Of the tunes on disc two, as I was playing those tonight via my separates rig, View From Above is delightful and thus is tune of the day - there's such a mellow feel to it.

Wednesday 15th February - Top Of The League

Tonight was going to be a very interesting game to watch as it was Manchester City away at Arsenal. Of course with it being a top of the table clash and also being reasonable weather to get to London, I had no chance of getting a ticket for it - I did go a few years ago in the snow and see City win 3-0 and it was extremely icy getting back to Highbury and Islington for the Overground home that night. However, tonight was all clear and after a positive day at work (more on that tomorrow to break down the week) it was definitely a case of seeing what would happen in the game.

As fortune would have it, the game was being shown on Amazon Prime as it was one they had rights to but was delayed from October, and so as such it was an overspill from that. Amazon must have known something becuase they decided to give me a seven day trial for 99p which meant I could watch the game on my telly (as it has the Prime Video app and all) and that was a positive, so I could kick back with a coffee and enjoy the game from home, cheering on the blue boys to a hopeful victory that would see us take the top spot back in the Premier League, on goal difference.

The game started and it was apparent that Arsenal were going for it, with Eddie Nketiah spurning a chance with his head that he should have had on target, and some good defending from City when it mattered stopping the likes of Bukayo Saka getting forward. Then, the breakthrough. A clearance from Ederson was headed on by Erling Haaland, and under challenge from Jack Grealish, the Arsenal defender Takehiro Tomiyasu passed it back, but didn't see Kevin de Bruyne, who beat the keeper Aaron Ramsdale to the ball and lobbed it into the net from over thirty yards. A sublime finish and one that was unexpected, but I'll take it all day!

Arsenal did get themselves back into the game and it was through a penalty before half time. Eddie Nketiah got ahead of Ederson to the ball and shot towards goal, and even though it was cleared by Nathan Ake off the line, it was a foul from the City keeper, which Saka then finished well into the bottom left corner for the equaliser. City hit the bar through Rodri and an Ake deflection, and it was anyone's game at the break with the 1-1 scoreline being about right based on the performance thus far.

City though were not to be denied in the second half, and a swap of Manuel Akanji for Riyad Mahrez meant that Bernardo Silva could go right midfield, Akanji central defence with Rúben Dias, with Ake switching to left back. City looked a lot better after that and were hounding the Arsenal defence into some errors, one of which from former City man Oleksandr Zinchenko almost let Erling Haaland in. In fact Haaland was unlucky not to get a penalty when hauled back by Gabriel, but he was offside in the build up thanks to VAR checking that one over. Still, pressure was telling and it was a matter of time I thought.

So it proved. A lovely move down the right to rob Gabriel of the ball, and then Erling Haaland was found. He passed sensibly to Ilkay Gundogan who left it go left for Jack Grealish to shoot low and hard - a possible deflection from Tomiyasu wrong footing Ramsdale maybe, but I'll take that goal all day for 2-1 to City. The Blue Boys in that corner of the ground were in fine voice singing along to all sorts, including of course We've Got Guardiola to the classic Dave Clark Five number Glad All Over (make that one tune of the day) - it was impressive stuff and really good to see them in full voice.

And that wasn't all. Oh no. City broke down the right hand side and Gundogan found de Bruyne with a lovely pass. He cut it back to Erling Haaland, and well, you know what happens next. Goal number 26 of the Premier League season for him as he slotted it into the bottom corner, and ran to de Bruyne to thank him for the assist before they all went to the City fans in the corner to go mental! It was an excellent 3-1 win and so well deserving of the fact that they had battled on well and kept going, and showed Arsenal who are the champions at present - and the psychological blow of that (Arsenal's first home defeat of the season) might prove to be crucial. Get in there City!

Sunday 12th February – That Winning Feeling

It was a rather cold start to the morning as I noted that it felt quite fresh outside, so definitely a case of wrapping up warm for the football that would be happening later. I’d be off with my friend to see Manchester City versus Aston Villa at the Etihad Stadium, and with all that had been going on off the field during the week, it was hopefully going to be a welcome distraction to see the team on the pitch doing the business. I was also hoping that after Arsenal’s unexpected draw against Brentford yesterday due to some very dodgy VAR decisions that we’d be able to see us close the gap at the top.

I met up with my friend later and it was off to the stadium – and for some reason the queues seemed longer than usual which wasn’t ideal. However, we got in without any issues and well on time and had our places around a quarter of an hour before kick-off. I have to say that the atmosphere was being ramped up and the City fans were already being fairly loud before the kick-off, really getting behind the team and, as I suspected, having a massive boo of the Premier League anthem pre-match (similar to the way the Champions League anthem was given the same treatment.)

It was of course the weekend where there would be a taking of the knee in a continued stand against racism, especially as part of the No Room for Racism initiative, and that was applauded by all sides which was good to see – no one wants to see that, and if football continues to work at being a more inclusive place (although it does still have some way to go to be honest) then that can only be a good thing. The game kicked off and in the stands the City fans were definitely more vociferous than normal, really giving the executives at the Premier League their message loud and clear.

It didn’t take City too long to score either. From a corner taken by Riyad Mahrez early on the ball was met superbly by Rodri and headed into the bottom corner for 1-0, an excellent finish all round. City looked lively and any good through ball from Kevin de Bruyne looked dangerous, with Jack Grealish also being a menace to the Villa defence. In fact, a through ball was the source of the second goal as the Villa defender attempted to clear, but Erling Haaland beat Emilio Martinez in a race to the ball, and cool as you like spotted the gap that Ilkay Gundogan was running to at the back post, fed him, and it was 2-0. Superb assist that, and nice to see the players appreciate it.

City kept at it and you could tell that the fans were really positive and getting behind the team with a long singalong of the Bob Marley classic Three Little Birds (make that tune of the day) as well, with the emphasis on the chorus of Don’t worry about a thing, ‘cos every little thing’s gonna be alright, and sung for many minutes. Right-on half-time Jack Grealish was fouled in the box for what was a very very soft penalty, and after some discussion, Riyad Mahrez buried the penalty for 3-0 at half time, and that was a positive feeling all round.

It did get a bit dull in the second half, as Haaland had to come off to rest a knock and Julian Alvarez almost scored a couple of efforts, Gundogan had two shots straight at Martinez and there was a positive return for Phil Foden too. Villa did pull one back through a well taken finish from Ollie Watkins, but ultimately it proved to be a good win for City and just what we needed – three points behind Arsenal and with Wednesday’s game going to prove to be massively significant. So good when you come back home from a good win let me tell you.

Saturday 11th February – Feeling The Love

It was an early rise for me as I was heading off to Manchester for a lovely weekend with The Love In My Heart. I had the alarm all set for me to get up and to make sure I was able to get to Euston in good time. It was a straightforward journey to St Pancras and walk across, and from there, I stopped off at the Sainsburys in Euston. If you get a bacon or sausage barm and then a side, you can also use the Costa Express machine to get a coffee and have that in the meal deal for £3.50. That did mean I could have a nice breakfast and not pay through the odds for it. Result!

I did then head on the 0753 train from Euston to Manchester Piccadilly and it was fairly quiet, although the train was in reverse formation so it meant I didn’t have far to get to the seat, but of course a longer walk at Piccadilly. The sun came out and all was well there, so that was a positive for me as the bright sunshine greeted me heading into Manchester, and was soon on the tram to The Love’s place. She was all good, as was Brian the cat, who of course wanted some fussing over as you would expect. He was being really cute as per usual though so that definitely made me happy.

We went over to see my Mum in the early afternoon, and she was all good and had been able to spend some quality time with a friend in the week seeing a film, so was telling us about that. She did also want my advice about something on eBay and so managed to guide her through it, using a checkout as guest, and was able to do a purchase of something she was after. It was good that she had at least asked the right questions first and I introduced her into how to check feedback ratings and what people had written, so that may help her decide if a seller can be trusted or not. For me, I’ve got some trusted people I buy things from and that does make things easier.

After this, The Love and I headed off for a late afternoon walk and we hadn’t been to Marple for ages, and so thought it a nice idea to head to Marple Bridge and all the canal locks that are there along the Peak Forest Canal. We walked through Brabyns Park and followed the path uphill and over the railway before then joining the canal path and followed the locks down from 7 to 1 and to the aqueduct over the River Goyt, which is always rather scenic and lovely to be honest. We did even see a train heading over the viaduct and later under the canal as a tunnel takes the train underneath as the canal heads back up the locks.

It had been a nice leisurely walk and so we then headed into the Midland pub for a nice well-earned drink together. It was lovely and cosy inside as it always is and I had the Beavertown Neck Oil, always a solid choice if needed, and we sat by the window admiring the view and chatting away for ages. It was all lovely, and it was really nice that we were able to just relax a fair bit after us both having long weeks at work. I think too that you could tell it was going to be busy later by the fact that even tables in the bar area were reserved for the evening.

We headed back to The Love’s place and it was going to be a nice meal together as she had been to Marks and Spencer and did the dine in for two deal, so we had the Croquille St Jacques to start, which are always nice, and the main was a really crispy chicken Kiev with ham and cheese, some Hasselback potatoes, vegetables and a really nice mushroom sauce. We did get a bottle of prosecco in the deal too so we enjoyed that with tea, and I even had a really lovely little lemon cheesecake for afters too, with a nice little white chocolate heart on top. Well, time of year and all that.

After some programmes on the royal family on Channel 5 which The Love adores including of course the usual suspects like Lady Colin Campbell and others, we switched over to BBC Two to watch the Burt Bacharach concert from the Royal Festival Hall, shown a few years ago but on tonight as a tribute to Burt, who had passed away this week. It was nice seeing some artists do some really nice renditions of the songs he wrote, including a real surprise of Sophie Ellis-Bextor doing I’ll Never Fall In Love Again which has to be tune of the day – elegant and classy.

Friday 10th February - Arthur Noid

The end of a rather up and down week work wise at least, and one I was glad to have at least made some progress on. In fact, I had got some of the language pack integration sort of working during the Windows 11 upgrade. I say "sort of" because when I applied the necessary pack download and added a switch to point to that download during the upgrade process, the localisations did work to a degree, but for some odd and bizarre the reason the settings app all had the wrong labels everywhere and looked like it had borked to some degree. Not sure why this is, but I feel at least I've made some progress.

It's perhaps notable to add this doesn't happen for anything new when testing, where I'm using the new Powershell commands to basically add the language needed, set that as default and then as needed remove the default en-GB one. That tends to work well but obviously if you're doing an OS upgrade and attempting the same, during the reboot process it won't look online too much for anything and so all what you may need to do either has to be cached or done differently. Nonetheless either way I've made some good progress during the week and at least that's something.

I also spent some time during the evenings at home working on my Commodore 64 and finalising something I had been planning for some time - an entry for the Game Music Remix Competition, where you will take a game tune from any system format, and then re-work it on the Commodore machine and thus the SID sound chip would be able to play some goodness. I did think for some time that it'd be nice to take on a tune from the other system I still have and still play a fair bit, the Commodore Plus/4 (and it's baby sister C16 of course) and so as such looked there for some inspiration.

I decided to go with the title and in-game tunes from the game Arthur Noid, coded by the legendary Shaun Southern, as that game was exclusive to that system, and as you would have worked out by now, it's basically an Arkanoid / Breakout clone. The title tune though is some catchy earworm with the TED chip doing some decent drums too, so definitely for me tune of the day - and was nice therefore to do it some justice. However, I wanted to do it properly and so from that element, I wanted to keep it authentic. So I had a cunning plan to be able to do this.

First off was to record enough of the tunes using the VICE Plus/4 emulator, so I could natively record the sound from the PC using Audacity, save it was a WAV wave file, and then use that to convert it to a MIDI source. I could then read that source using Synthesia, and the free version allows a number of seconds of the tune to be played. This meant I could see the notes being played and make sure that the notes I put in my Commodore 64 music editor of choice were actually the same - wanted to keep the authenticity and all that. So all the lead notes are based on the original and that does mean that at least it'll be the same sound.

I did of course improve things with tweaking a background bass and some bouncy sections including drums and arpeggios, and from that got a structure going, so for example this meant: title theme, in game 1, in game 2, back to a bit of the title theme, in game 3 and then bonus screen before returning back to the title tune, making a really nice little medley. I was pleased as this developed and made it into my own tune but kept all the spirit of the original in tact which is what mattered.

I've now uploaded the entry concerned which you can download and play - there's a disk image for a Commodore 64 emulator (or you can transfer it to the real thing) as well as the SID file to play on SID emulators too. However if that sounds like too much hard work, there's a web playable version here too, so you can hear it like I intended. I was pretty pleased with how it turned out and hopefully it'll be a nice exercise for me to rediscover some classic game tunes!

Tuesday 7th February - Finding Things Out

It's been a busy couple of days work wise to be perfectly honest - and being able to keep an eye on things generally. After a successful upgrade of MECM to version 2211, it was time to release the client to production and ensure that machines then had the updated version of client too. It can take a little bit of time for that to distribute and install, as it's pretty much done with a spread over time to ensure that it isn't hammered on client or server side. It did feel though as if things were moving nicely and that has to be a positive to take from the last two days.

I did travel back home on Monday evening and it was relatively quiet on the train to Euston, and, for once, on time. I did note some Thameslink cancellations which meant going on the tube to Victoria then train to East Croydon was the better option overall to be on the safe side, and arrived back in good time. In fact I had had a delivery from the courier Evri (thankfully not chucked over the fence!) which was my new weekend wheelie cabin sized case that I'd ordered from House of Fraser. It was a nice grey and orange one with wheels on the bottom, and although a little bit smaller in terms of volume than the old IT Luggage one I had - now binned as its wheels were completely busted - it seems to be all good.

I also was having a think about potentially something nice to do for both mine and The Love In My Heart's birthday later in the year, and did note a few options of places to stay for mine and also some possible ideas to do around that time. I did suggest to The Love that she would think of something nice for her birthday too, primarily as it would be a good time to be out and about with the clocks going forward - and sensible to think ahead due to possible school holidays at that time too. I think for us both we do like to try and make the effort to be with each other on the respective birthdays, despite the distance, and that makes it more special too.

I did also have a cunning plan too with regards to one of our software pieces at work. I did note that since a server move something hasn't been quite right, and on reading the vendor documentation at length, I've had a lightbulb moment and worked out potentially a) what the cause might be and b) two possible modes of attack in order to resolve something - so there has to at least be something which is workable for later in the week. Well, that's the theory anyway which at least I can work with.

I did also play the two albums I got from Fopp over the weekend tonight, and I have to say it was a contrast (which even the shop assistant had noted). Tim Burgess' two CD set of Typical Music really does have a lovely feel to it, and does somehow have a really relaxed sense of longing to be somewhere throughout - the sort of thing I'll listen to on train in full as the scenery whizzes by. Obituary's Dying of Everything is a complete contrast - the band still fulfilling their death metal style but definitely some good groove metal sections in the leads too, exemplified by the title track itself which will be tune of the day.

Sunday 5th February – Sunday Social

I woke up after having a good long sleep, and The Love In My Heart and The Cute Little One were already awake – the latter having had a good night’s sleep and really felt full of energy today. I did get up myself later on and the three of us had breakfast together – which meant some toast and Weetabix for The Cute Little One, which she happily enjoyed along with some milk. It was really nice to see that she was full of the joys of the day, and later on we put on some singalong songs from Mr Tumble and others, and she was happily having a little sing to herself.

Once we were all ready and dressed, The Love took over The Cute Little One to Asda and to the Timpsons within to get a watch battery replaced, and again she was happily walking along there, with a spring in her step too, which was good to see. Once they had got back it wasn’t long before their parents came to collect her, and she was happy to see them – almost running out to the corridor in the flats to see Mummy and give her a cuddle, which was all lovely too. It had been nice having The Cute Little One over and there was a special moment this moment where she handed me a little packaged malt loaf and said “open it for me Warren please” which was nice of her to ask.

Later in the afternoon The Love and I decided that we’d head into the city centre and do a little bit of shopping as well as get some lunch too, as it’d be sensible to have a late lunch / early tea and so be able to enjoy some time out. We took the tram into town and then we had our own little plan: The Love would head into Primark and be able to have a look at the Easter items in there, primarily to get some work related ideas, and I would head into Fopp and have a look at the new release albums in there: I knew I wanted one of them which I did pick up (the new Obituary album no less) and I also got the most recent Tim Burgess solo album as well, which my HMV gift card I got at Christmas paid for, so winning there I think.

We then met back up and decided to head to the Abel Heywood in the Northern Quarter for some food and drink. It was pretty quiet and so we managed to get a nice booth seat together and to be able to chatter away happily. The Love went for the pork belly which was massive, along with a giant Yorkshire pudding and all the trimmings, and I went for the gammon steak with egg, pineapple and chips, which was really nice as the gammon was thick and was seasoned spot on. I even had a beer called Black Ale, which pretty much did exactly what it said on the tin to be honest.

After a nice lunch we headed over to Thomas Street and into Fierce Beer, which is always one of our go to places these days. The Love had the Cerveza Mexican lager which was really nice, and I had the Very Small Moose, the 0.5% imperial stout which I had last week and was still on draught too, and that was gorgeous. It was really nice and relaxed in there and that too seemed a lot quieter than it was last week, so maybe the train strikes plus the fact there’s other strikes next week as well may have put people off going out, who knows. We did manage to get back to the tram stop in perfect time for the tram home though.

Later on it was time to put the telly on and watch some evening telly together, including Countryfile with plenty of bits based in Cornwall and that was good to see a very different type of industry making a start there. There was of course Call the Midwife,which although can have some difficult storylines does make for really good drama, and it’s always a real sense of community which emnates through it all. Lastly, the final ever episode of Happy Valley, which was extended a little to finish everything off and was pretty dramatic (no spoilers here). The theme tune really suited it well (Trouble Town by Jake Bugg is tune of the day) and that for me made it feel more Northern too.

Saturday 4th February – The Cute Little One Walking

So the trains were all cancelled between London Euston and Manchester yesterday due to the most recent ASLEF strike action, and as such this meant that my ticket was valid for a different day up to Tuesday 7th February. I figured though that it would make more sense to try and get up to Manchester early this morning, as I knew that due to engineering works later trains would be busier and therefore less chance of travelling in some comfort, especially as I didn’t have a reserved seat either. I therefore was up at 0515 this morning, getting myself showered and ready and then off to East Croydon station to get the train to Victoria then the tube to Euston – in fact it was the first London Victoria train that left too.

Euston was pretty busy but at least I could take some quiet time in one of the waiting rooms and keep an eye on what platform that the 0726 train was due out of. In the end I did manage to get to the right platform and in good time to avoid the masses later, and as the train was in reverse formation it made more sense to walk up to Coach U for the unreserved, and got a seat all sorted. The train did divert somewhat on the way up to Manchester so after Wilmslow it went around the back of Manchester Airport and via East Didsbury and along to Piccadilly. I got the tram over to The Love In My Heart’s place and it was lovely to see her of course.

The Love was looking after The Cute Little One later as her parents were off to a friend’s birthday, and of course it was lovely that we’d both spend some time with her. The Cute Little One’s mum dropped her off with us and straight away her happy smiling face was a picture of joy and happiness. She was insistent on watching “pig” though (which is what she calls the film Sing due to the fact that the Rosita pig character is on the screen when you select it) and was more than happy having a little sing along to some of the songs from it. I think she’s loved this for some time and it’s always one of her go to favourites when she wants to relax.

The Love and I decided a nice afternoon walk was due, and so we took The Cute Little One out with us and off to Ancoats. We walked down to the marina at New Islington where the Canadian Geese and swans were out en masse, and we did bring some bread along. The geese were very pleased to crowd around the three of us and have their feed, and were scaring off any pigeons at the same time. The Cute Little One was occasionally trying the bread for herself instead of throwing it to the ducks and geese but was being adorable whilst looking at them swimming around the canalside.

We headed over to House of Esk where The Love and I had a coffee and The Cute Little One had her beaker of water at the ready – but also at the same time did share a nice Jammie Dodger blondie cake with me, and she loved it. We each had a little piece at a time and shared, and she was full of smiles and a cute face when we enjoyed each piece. We did then walk over to Café Cotton and we had a little drink there together which was nice, and she was fascinated by the skylight at the far end of the café which let you look up to the sky, and that was more than enough to have her engrossed and fascinated accordingly.

We headed back to The Love’s place, and we then made sure that The Cute Little One had some tea and also some milk, and she was happily being playful, wanting to put her dolls in the high chair and fasten them in. It was time for some more musical things on the telly too, so it was time for the likes of Mr Tumble and also the Robbie Williams song from the recent production of The Tiger Who Came To Tea on Channel 4 – as she has started to like that animation too. It definitely was good to see her all being chuckling and happy and that was really lovely.

The Love tucked up The Cute Little One into her cot and she soon fell fast asleep, probably tired from the walking around and dancing to the songs from Sing earlier – which included the nice version of I’m Still Standing performed by her favourite character Jonny (as played by Taron Egerton) so that is tune of the day for that reason. We settled in later on and watched some of the royal programmes on Channel 5 and had some tea ourselves before then watching the Limitless Win on ITV1 with Ant and Dec. One team did manage to lose their lives but get to around £1m on the ladder, but could not get an exact answer, so it was game over for them.

Thursday 2nd February - 1000th Gig

It was to be a special evening tonight as it would be a very special gig, a 1000th gig in fact. No, not my own 1000th gig (although that would be pretty ace if it happened to be, but I know it's been 260 or so since the start of 2007, and many before that which I didn't note down too.) It was in fact MJ Hibbett's 1000th gig, whether that be solo, with Steve Hewitt doing a theatre based show, or indeed with full on The Validators band too, so of course I was expecting the King and Queen in Fitzrovia to be busier than normal tonight. I had work to get through first and then a walk over from Aldwych in the early evening.

In fact, I stopped off at a pub for some well earned food beforehand, and said pub did also have Titanic Plum Porter ale, so that of course was an instant win from me to be able to enjoy that, which I did. In fact I did have an option to go to Icco Pizza in Fitzrovia as their pizzas aren't that expensive and it's informal when you're sat inside if you get a seat and devour one of their pizzas, immensely good. However, I did think that it'd be rammed tonight (as Thursday seems to be the new Friday for office workers now) and sure enough when I went past later on it was suitably, but good for them at least, busy.

I got to the King and Queen and Mark (MJ) was already at the bar with the lovely Charlotte, so all was well and was able to have a good natter before heading up stairs, where the rest of the Validators (Tim, Tom, Rob aka Frankie Machine and Emma) were all in good spirits, and was of course lovely to see them. There was already not that many seats left but managed to get one at the front side, so that was a positive, and had some of the Totally Acoustic regulars there too having a good friendly chat, so that was all good. And before you knew it, it was 7.30pm and time to crack on with the show.

First up, Mark was doing a few solo numbers and one of which was a song he'd recorded way back when pre-Validators, and the person he wrote it with was also there and sang along with him, A Minus, which was rather nice actually, all good fun. There was also Bad Back from the new album as well as the classic opener with singalong chorus of The Peterborough All-Saints' Wide Game Team (Group B), and as a nice surprise, The Perfect Love Song, so really showing off a nice cross section of the catalogue well.

Mark brought Steve Hewitt on for the next part, which was a rather good couple of medley run throughs of three of the Edinburgh Fringe shows - first off, Moon Horse which had actual Moon Horse prop making an appearance, as well as Steve donning the outfit of Dr Geoffrey Livingstone. It was then to Total Hero Team complete with the first appearance of Get Over It, along with My Secret Origin and Massive Banker (work it out, rhyming people!) Steve also had the Total Hero Team t-shirt on and underneath that was later the Dinasour Planet t-shirt and so when songs from the latter were played, a t-shirt change later and all was good, and the likes of Don't Darren Don't and My Grandad Is Nuts got an airing as well as the iconic Dinasour Planet theme too. It was all jolly and fun and really well put together as a condensed version of all the shows, well done them!

After a break it was time for a full Validators line up, and due to the very small size upstairs, Tim the drummer had brought a much smaller kit but still had all the bits needed to put some beats together, and everyone assumed the position before commencing off with Being Happy Doesn't Make You Stupid, which meant the singalong bit of "Hey there, emo boy, give us all a smile" which sounded rather lovely. Then, a four song segue which was a rather neat idea. Starting with Things Will Be Different When I'm in Charge, and then using the line from that ("this is not a library") to head into The Symbol of our Nation (which also has the same lyric too) - so worked out well there.

And as we're in the same key, then head off into the rather nice You Make Me Feel (Soft Rock) which of course has the punching the air part during the chorus (I am holding Steve wholly responsible here!) and with the key change at the end, this allowed another segue. I did think Do The Indie Kid would still work well after this (need to drop more hints clearly) but we did get an all time classic, Hey Hey 16K, where Mark played clever by singing the second verse first, then after the chorus, the first verse next. That was a proper derail the spotters attempt there but was such good fun anyway!

After all that, it was a blush moment for yours truly as Mark mentioned my appearance in the video for perhaps his favourite song, It Only Works Because You're Here (and tune of the day) - as it sounded mighty with everyone singing along to the chorus and really making it even more joyous, which was all very nice. I didn't expect that but it was lovely of them to do so (and Emma did remark later to me that it was all good fun on that say too - which it was!) Billy Jones Is Dead was up next, always good that one, and then My Boss Was In An Indie Band Once which really did sound sprightly, more so as I could tell Tim wanted to really give the drums a bit more oomph in that, but all was great fun.

Nice too to have People Are All Right (If They Are Given Half a Chance) which included more singalong bit for the song title near the end (and several of us Totally Acoustic regulars actually feature on said record, which is lovely) before then heading to The Lesson of the Smiths, another favourite and definitely one that was enjoyed a lot. It wouldn't be the same though without a bit of audience participation and with Easily Impressed, a chance to do that with us all asking "Oi! Hibbett!" followed by "You don't really mean that!" later on which was all good fun and left everyone with a smile on their face at the end which is what it's all about isn't it?

It had been a lovely evening and had a good chatter with Emma later on and how her family all were, and the cat of theirs being super cute and adorable (she did notice my phone backdrop of Brian the cat too) - so we had a good natter on cats and how I'd be seeing The Cute Little One this weekend and being all adorable too. So it was just a really nice way to end the evening with a fond farewell to everyone as I headed for the Purple Train at Tottenham Court Road before changing at Farringdon for the train home. I do love a good gig, I do!

Wednesday 1st February - Fighting The Bunged Up

I must admit that this week wasn't the ideal week to be bunged up in the nose and feel a little bit full of a cold, but I've been doing what I can to manage as best I can - decongesting during the day, making sure I have enough hot liquids, and also making sure that I also put some vapour rub on the chest before bed time so that I can at least attempt to have a good night's sleep. Admittedly I've got fairly tired by the end of the night anyway so that's helped me at least to doze off and then make sure I get a good few hours in before being able to have some rest, so there's a positive (well I think it is.)

So Monday saw me working from The Love In My Heart's place, which was fine, and meant that Brian the cat kept me company all day which was rather good - he was happy being on the pouffle or in the little box, and just being adorable at the same time. I did venture out to the local Asda to get a couple of bits at lunch time, primarily to ensure I got some fresh air and was able to have a bit of a walk and some exercise, so that had to be something. I did feel rather sad as the day wore on knowing I'd be heading home on the Monday evening, but I've sort of got used to that now as it's often easier and cheaper to book that than travel on a Sunday night, but we shall see over time.

I think too that when you know you have to travel back home and it feels like it'll be delayed you just want to shut your eyes and magically get there (well that is the theory anyway) and at least by having some tunes on via the trusty iPod it did seem to make things go quicker - absorb yourself in something else and all that and the looking outside at the landscape somehow seems less of an attraction. I'd only be that annoying child who would be going every few minutes "Are we there yet?" - and you know that we've all done that for a long journey one time or another haven't we?

So Tuesday and Wednesday were both office days for me - all fine as I'd booked a desk and wanted to make some inroads into the Windows 11 upgrade task sequence. So here's the kicker then - even though you can use the software update mechanism in Windows to go from Windows 10 to Windows 11 using the ESD download that gets available via your WSUS server and present in MECM, it doesn't pass back to the task sequence for any customisations at all, meaning that it's more suitable for servicing if you were just deploying the update itself without any tweaks needed. So back to the drawing board.

And that meant if I snagged to the latest Windows 11 22H2 ISO complete with January updates, it then meant that when the step started for upgrade, it would kick in as part of the client the setupcomplete.cmd command line file, meaning that it would ensure that the MECM client would be checked and repaired, and handed back to its task sequence to ensure any other work needed to be done post install. In fact this worked great with the upgrade package being effectively the mounted ISO with all the install on, and the setup did the business, handed back for me to allow to run a package to get rid of all the unnecessary bloatware, and it looked very good indeed.

One thing I did also look at today was a little policy in JAMF for the Macs as well. It transpires that if you're on Ventura and you've used a camera system in a WeWork office (as some people may do) that said camera in use installs its own driver, which then prevents Chrome from using the Mac's own inbuilt web camera. The solution is to effectively remove the offending driver file and then reboot, but thought it sensible to script the removal, with a check to see if the file is present, and output a message either way which we can pick up in JAMF showing if it's done anything. Small, but neat, bit like a finger of fudge to be fair (and said music from the advert is tune of the day too)

I also was able today to perform a bigger task too earlier in the day, and that was to upgrade MECM to version 2211, the latest release. In fact it was relatively straight forward this time around as it wasn't a massive amount of new features, just more stability and functionality along the way. I had already checked the pre-reqs and all was good, and had my colleagues take a snapshot image backup of the server before we started, you know, just in case and all. The upgrade went through super smoothly and all the necessary distribution points and content were all good, as were all checks afterwards. I have to say these days Microsoft do have this nailed down very nicely indeed.