Dear Diary...

This is my diary. How things are. Or something. Please note that the diary is archived month by month, so feel free to click the links for the archives:

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Thursday 14th November - Navigation To Seven

It was a different diversionary route I had to take homewards from work today as I was off to the great folks at James Barbers in Wimbledon Park to get the hair cut and all nice and sorted for the forthcoming weekend and next few weeks at least. Normally I've worked out from the office that the quickest route is normally Tottenham Court Road to Notting Hill Gate on the Central Line, then change there for the District Line all the way to Wimbledon Park that comes from Edgware Road - usually less busy too.

However, I could tell something wasn't quite right when I pulled into Notting Hill Gate - for some reason there were train based issues and so weren't running as normal. It sounded like they might run fine from High Street Kensington (they do have platforms 3 and 4 for turnbacks, especially those via Kensington Olympia) so I thought I could always go there and if not Earls Court, although that did mean navigating around the main road there during the rush hour - managed that and was soon on a number 28 bus heading to High Street Kensington station.

I did get to the platform there and it looked like some tube trains were running, the first was a circle line packed train, the second, some ten minutes after I got to the platform, was the District Line one I wanted. All was good albeit busy, although at Earls Court I could see the other District Line train from Victoria - and it was uber rammed, and ours raced ahead too, so definite win. I had been coughing quite a bit during the day so was good to at least get speeding ahead and maybe also some fresh air before I headed in to get the hair cut.

All was good at the hairdressers, the staff were great as ever and lots of football chat ensued, including debate on what would be the ideal defensive all time Premier League partnership. Obviously the classic Arsenal back four got a mention, and the likes of other defenders such as John Terry, Rio Ferdinand, Vincent Kompany etc were mentioned too. I think for me back in the day the whole Arsenal back four let you know they were there, and as a unit were not to be messed with - and I think that's missing in a lot of modern day defensive partnerships across teams.

I did get back in time for the England v Montenegro game, and what a demolition job it was too. Harry Kane helped himself to a first half hat trick and England were cruising big time before half time, with five goals to the good, and eased off a lot during the second half - it did though still allow Tammy Abraham to score his first ever England goal and the seventh on the night for a cracking 7-0 win in England's 1000th international game. And with a bit of The Verve's classic "Bittersweet Symphony" too of course (make that one tune of the day).

Wednesday 13th November - Finding Out

It was a case of finding out a fair bit today, primarily as I was investigating something on the Mac side of things with one of my colleagues. For some reason one of the policies for software deployment wasn't kicking in for some reason, so felt it was a sensible idea to revisit that, give it a re-write and test it out on the test Mac I had to hand for this purpose. Admittedly, it was a good opportunity to review the situation and see what else we would be able to do to recitfy.

As it turned out, one of the main reasons for policy not playing ball was that the scope was only to those which had an existing previous version of the software, so anyone without that wouldn't have even got a policy in the first place to install. That said though even with an individual test machine added, it seemed that it'd only work if the user accepted the prompt to effectively perform an installation now rather than put any form of deferment on, which would never do. Instead I looked at what was on offer internally in Jamf Pro and the option to have a timed period before restart of say 3 hours made sense - especially as the user could restart as needed before that time.

I gave that a good going over with a revised policy targeted to the Mac I was using, and that appeared to work nicely. I was also able to uninstall, restart the machine and effectively flush out the policy log in order to make it do a re-run, and that worked too. I think for me that it was a good effort to be able to run through a scenario, test it out and then see how good that would look for deployment later this week and as a catch all to ensure that the machines that needed the software got it.

I must admit that the cold has been now bugging me somewhat, and I felt pretty bunged up all day even with taking some hot honey and lemon during the day to try and ward things off. Inevitably it'll get all chesty as my colds normally do, but at least if it does that I know it's on the second phase and gradually on way out of me. I won't be 100% this weekend for seeing The Love In My Heart, but would not miss seeing her or Brian the cat for the world, even if Brian is a very clingy cat where his Mummy is concerned.

I spent some time tonight seeing a couple of things online including one effective cross-London transport race, where you'd see if taking the High Speed line from St Pancras to Stratford would be quicker than tube or train, and by how much. One route not taken which I'd have considered would have been Hammersmith and City line to Mile End and change there for Stratford, as the platforms are next to each other. I might even have to clock that time myself to see if I'd have won. In the meantime tune of the day is the rather good "Train To Inverness" by Vonda Shepard, continuing the travel an train theme..

Tuesday 12th November - Streaming Nose

I don't know what was worse, the fact that I was bunged up with the cold all day or that when I did attempt to decongest somewhat that it was constantly streaming not just out of my nose but my left eye as well, most unattractive I know but there you go. I suspect that I'm now in the midsts of a head cold especially, and have managed to get plenty of options to decongest and generally try and get myself on the right track. It probably didn't help that the air conditioning was not behaving at work so felt rather over warm and that wasn't helpful.

I managed to get through the day and investigate an issue for one of my colleagues, where one printer policy appeared to be applying incorrectly to the odd Mac now and then. From what I could see, all the scope and restrictions in play were correct, as they should be, but I also wondered whether for some reason the network connectivity when offline or via DNS was randomly picking another site IP range instead of the one they should have, I'll need to do some more tests tomorrow but that seems the only explanation thus far into what's been going on really.

I also spent some time later today sorting out a few bits of data in order to check out the hardware inventories and ensure all was good, and also complete a test build for a forthcoming thing that's on, and so one of the colleagues in another office was testing that for us too. I think too with Windows 10 1909 on the horizon that's going to keep me busy as I get to sorting that out and making sure that we can build a new image with the OS on (that's a definite) but also be able to ensure that we can look at updating kit too - going to be a very busy few months ahead!

That said though I like being busy and I think when you are and when the day goes quickly, it's always a case of being able to give yourself that time to test thoroughly and then look at seeing how it would work in a real world scenario. One of our pieces of security software fell over when upgrading to 1903 previously, which meant we didn't go with it for a lot of reasons (and also because generally the xx09 releases get a longer period of Microsoft support in case you wondered) so it'll be good to see it all playing ball now.

I did have a lovely chat with The Love In My Heart earlier which cheered me up no end. I'd mentioned the Cat in a Flat website about cat sitting and we noted that there were some near her which was good to see - one of which had recently had a five star review. I think for me too it's a sign that there's money to be made but having that peace of mind for your pet if you're away is something a lot of people want - with good reason. Of course Brian the cat is a fussy so and so anyway, but the jingle from the Cat in a Flat website is tune of the day, it is all cutesy, just as Brian is!

Monday 11th November - Bunged Up

It was the onset of a cold that I had tried to ward off most of last weekend, but it seemed that everyone else in work appeared to have as well. I felt headachey and bunged up, even with some ibuprofen to help clear the headache I still wasn't 100%. However I knew I'd feel better in work because I could concentrate on the jobs in hand and at the same time be able to work with my colleagues on a number of things I'm working on, so made sense to make the effort to come in. I did of course have to take some tissues, and have some warm liquids and warm food to keep me going (and porridge for breakfast too.)

It was a good day all told really: I had a good productive morning sorting out some odd printing issue with a colleague from another site, and gave them some step by step guidance as to what to do to resolve it, which worked well (my old managed printer experience did me well). I was also able to look at some future deployments and how to get those planned, and work with one of our Mac admins and was able to see how the likes of some of the software are deployed and how we can improve that, so on the whole, positive.

Naturally also football conversation was about yesterday's game and how to be fair Manchester City were defeated by Liverpool. As a City fan I had no complaints - I knew it was going to be hard especially with no Ederson in net, and as I expected Claudio Bravo wasn't quite up to task. It was also really hard primarily because we knew that Liverpool would be eight points clear of Leicester City and Chelsea, and now nine clear of my team Man City too. Still though it showed that how much the game really was important, both sides going for it and ultimately, hard as it is to say it, the better side did win.

It was a busy train home but it also seemed that everyone was as bunged up as I was as well - with sneezing and coughing a plenty as the train left London Bridge and headed towards East Croydon. I was just glad to be able to get home out of the cold and into the nice warm cosy flat. The good news was that all the paperwork was sorted for another year in the flat (the fourth renewal in fact, so it'll be five years in here this time next year) and that meant also that due to the changes in deposits, that I was owed part of the deposit back, so good news all round really.

I spent some time also listening online to the new KMFDM album Paradise, with the album opener "K-M-F" tune of the day - it has some hip hop vibes in the verses with Sascha belting out the chorus and some rocking guitars throughout. It also samples some world leaders of the previous and current times complete with their propaganda, emphasising the kill part of K throughout. It sets the tone, sets the scene and shows just how brilliant and relevant the band still are.

Sunday 10th November - Rememberance

It's always a moving and thoughtful ceremony on Rememberance Sunday, as the Cenotaph in Westminster is centre stage for all of the services that take place there, complete with many politicans, overseas ambassadors and the like laying their wreaths in memoriam, and being able to take a moment and pause and reflect during the two minutes' silence at 11am. The Love In My Heart and I always make a point of reflecting and observing that silence - my grandfather was in World War II and was one of the lucky ones to come back unscathed, and those who have lost loved ones in wars since really get my empathy on a day like today.

It was perhaps more noticeable too that many of the veterans make a journey to the centre of London to be part of the march past, and that some of the stories were shared with the presenter Sophie Raworth doing an excellent job in speaking with many of them and allowing them their time and space to talk without being patronising (Fiona Bruce take note especially.) I must admit that it was also good to hear of the charity set up by one mother whose husband passed away, and what she needed to do for her children and that inspired her to found Scotty's Little Soldiers, and have a yellow and black scarf each as they marched past.

Later in the day we decided it'd be nice to head to Knutsford, and so The Love drove down Princess Parkway, on to the M56 and then followed the A556 and A5034 into Knutsford itself, parking at the favourite car park close to the centre (and free on a Sunday, which confused people who were attempting to use the ticket machine and wondering why it wasn't functional!). We decided to head round the corner to Laura Ashley, and in fact we got a present for Christmas each in there - The Love saw this lovely handbag, and so made sense to get it there and then as it was one she really liked.

That was all good, and we had a nice walk and mooch in some of the other shops - not all of them open on a Sunday, but the ones that did had people around them. In fact in Waterstones The Love saw some books that had been ordered for work, and she was able to look at them properly and see how much they'd saved but also how nice they were, so that was good to see. We later had lunch in The Angel pub, where the Sunday Roasts were not only lovely (chicken for The Love, gammon for me) but also in a really good offer of two for £15. Not complaining about that one bit!

The Love later drove back towards Manchester City centre and it was surprisingly quieter than we thought, especially as Man Utd were at home against Brighton and the game had finished - maybe people weren't driving to the ground as much these days? In any case I was soon back at Piccadilly to say a fond farewell and have a cuddle before boarding more cheap trains, the 1708 to Crewe, then the 1816 to Euston, with the likes of She Makes War's "Devastate Me" (make that one tune of the day) keeping me going before I got to Euston, and then the tube and train home to be back at a reasonable hour.

Saturday 9th November - Going Cheap

This morning saw me leaving a little earlier than I normally would on a Saturday morning, as I was heading to London Euston and onwards to a train to Manchester to see The Love In My Heart and Brian the cat. I had managed to get a cheaper way of doing the trains, which, when not in a rush, will help keep the costs down. I was able to therefore head onwards on two trains today: first of all the 0746 London Northwestern train to Stafford, and have a connection at Stafford for the 1004 Crosscountry train to Manchester Piccadilly.

I got to Euston all fine and went to the Costa Coffee between platforms 8 to 11 to get a coffee and bacon roll (no catering on London Northwestern). However, I got that and then the platform changed to platform 7, so had to head up the ramp and back along and down, but all good - and got myself a seat with a table so I could have my coffee and bacon roll, and then admire the scenery with the iPod on blasting out Slayer's classic "Angel of Death" (make that tune of the day) before heading off at Stafford, waiting in a nice cosy waiting room, and getting on the 1004 train which was packed!

I got to Manchester Piccadilly on time and The Love In My Heart was waiting for me at the station - all was well and Brian was being all cute and wanting a fuss and a love. He also appreciated my little present from Milan - some Catisfactions, which is the European name for Dreamies, so it seems. He happily munched some, and later on we headed to see The Love's father who was pleased to see us both as he was watching a DVD of some classic FA Cup finals of the past, especially the early years up to the late 1920s.

I headed off to the hospital to see a friend of mine in there, and once having had a good chat and catch up, it was then a walk along Oxford Road. I fancied a coffee and cake and reminded myself that Kro still had its offer on, and it did, so £3.95 for a nice coffee and a lemon drizzle cake, happy days all round. It was nice to sit upstairs and watch the world go by for a while, and then headed back along Oxford Road, past the Brewdog where the Blackwells bookshop used to be, and past my old haunts of the likes of Babylon before getting to the city centre to take the tram back to The Love's place.

I was able to chill out with The Love and watch Strictly Come Dancing, with a Chinese takeaway from our favourite place close by, which meant of course crispy shredded chilli beef in sweet and sour sauce, ooh yes. In fact Strictly was pretty good although we both agreed that AJ and Saffron's waltz was brilliant, and well deserving of the high scores it got. As for me, it was also noticeable that Kerim had an off night and was gutted for Amy more than himself, and that Mike Bushell was trying, but ultimately just not at the same level with everyone else.

Friday 8th November - Reviewing The Situation

I took a look at a few things at work today that didn't quite match up, and wanted to investigate further. The first thing I did was spot an email from a colleague with regards to machines where the user had left, and they were still the last logged on user that had been reported. I managed to get together a list and send that out to our service teams so they can investigate on that - and for me it definitely looks like that they were ones where we could do with knowing what was happening with the kit in question. It's one thing I've been hot on since day one.

I also caught up with the Microsoft Ignite announcements about the forthcoming changes to management, so it'll effectively mean that SCCM will no longer be a System Centre based product, and instead have the features of that and the features of Intune merged to become Microsoft Endpoint Configuration Manager (MECM) instead - most likely in the early part of 2020. The SCCM 1910 update will be the last one under that guise before the technical previews have MECM all over it and most likely will probably tie in nicely with a March 2020 release of most likely 2002.

This will in effect bring new challenges in that co-management will be a thing, there'll be a move away towards thinner provisioning in the longer term, along with more take up of the likes of autopilot and other styles of management, and indeed a move more towards being cloud based. That said though, I know that an Azure based cloud system is costly and it's something we need to consider anyway, especially as there'll effectively be free InTune licences based on the cost of the number of licences we currently have for SCCM, so definitely worthy of note methinks.

In any case I spent the afternoon working on producing a report for one of my colleagues detailing a lot of devices, their main primary user and using an Excel data pull from Active Directory, was also able to get the information needed to match the department, the section of the company, the employee ID information and so be able to get that all together nicely. It did take a bit of doing but did prove worth it because it meant that I could then use that as a data source and pull in what was needed to get the data consistent. Happy days - more so as I had some nice background music on whilst assembling the data including Morrissey's "First of the Gang To Die", so that's tune of the day.

I also watched tonight the FA Cup first round match with Dulwich Hamlet hosting Carlisle United. Dulwich gave it a good go but Carlisle were definitely up for the cup and they really showed some good play, and their third goal was an absolute screamer that no goalkeeper was going to stop to be honest. I liked the pretty good crowd getting behind the Dulwich folks though and a wet and windy night in South East London was a good advertisement for the football - definitely.

Thursday 7th November - Milan and Home

It was nice to have a refreshing and powerful shower in the hotel room this morning. I got changed and headed down to the breakfast room, which is in floor -1. The room was very nice and clean all round, and plenty of options to have in the buffet breakfast - bread you could slice yourself for toast, croissants and pastries, yoghurt, juice, all sorts. The staff were lovely and prepared whatever coffee you wanted, so had a pot of coffee and some milk and that definitely got me up and going, so all well there too. I then had a nice relaxing time in the room watching a bit of telly including BBC World News, and checked out around 10.45am, and paid the €5 room local tax at that time.

I took the metro line 1 again and the ticket was indeed still valid as it was not yet 24 hours, so went back to Cordusio, had a nice mooch around the buildings there, and took the number 19 old tram along towards the Palace of Justice, an impressively large building. I also had a good walk towards one of the squares which had the La Porta del Vino little building as well as the Monument of the Five Days of Milan as well. From there I took the number 9 tram towards the Porta Venezia, two large gatehouses that serve as the entrance to one of the large parks. It was however chucking it down, so spotted a café and had a capuccino and a little tiramisu to go with it. Well, why the hell not?

I decided that the traffic was too bad for the tram to be an option, so instead I hopped on the number 1 metro line from there towards Duomo, and changed for the number 3 metro line (the yellow one, and all the seats were yellow too!) which took me to Milano Centrale train station. When people have descibed this as a landmark all in its own right, they were not kidding. Gorgeous architecture inside on a grand scale, a proper sense of grandiose being there, and a really well organised level with the ticket machines and some shops below, with the upper level having the platforms.

I'd bought my ticket for the Malpensa Express trains, and whilst plenty dithered with their cases at the main platform rows, I noted that platforms 1 and 2, which were further along the walkway for platform 3, were the ones to get. I soon got to Platform 2 no problem and the train was there in the station, so got on, got a nice window seat, and was all ready to head back. The train does a loop around a viaduct to eventually get to Milan Garabaldi station and then from there follow the track to the North west and on to the line towards Bovista station and on to Saronno and Busto Arsizio on the way back to Malpensa. All was fine and arrived there on time.

I have to say though that Malpensa Terminal 2 isn't the nicest place - it's only used by Easyjet and no one else. The building seemed a bit tired, you got through security fine, and then it was through corridors of some shops and cafés by the gates, but not a lot there. Nothing there whatsoever (the one café was closed) airside of the passport control gates for gates E22 to E29, the effective non-Schengen area, so not too good. I did however ensure I was in the queue early and made sure I got my cabin bag in the lockers overhead (they impose a maximum of 70 cabin bags, so others are then place in the hold free of charge) and settled in to my seat.

The flight back was all good, and I had various tunes on the iPod to keep me going including the rather lovely Useless by Blancmange (make that tune of the day - it's infectiously good pop and way ahead of its time from their 2015 album Semi Detached) - and the flight was smooth, no hitches at all and once I saw the English channel I knew we wouldn't be that far off landing, and the plane landed and got into Gatwick around twenty minutes early - at the same far end gate I'd taken off from. Escalators and corridors followed to passport control, got through there fine, and then it was on to the exit, and to take the shuttle back to to the South Terminal.

I knew I needed to use my contactless card to be the same fare as Oyster on the way home due to the way Gatwick Airport along with GTR have the readers programmed. There's an assumption you'll be making your way to London, so the reader only allows Oyster cards with a minimum balance of the pay as you go fare to London Victoria - which at peak times is around £18. This is of course despite the fact if you live anywhere locally, especially say Redhill, Salfords etc, that it'd be a lot less (in fact even going to East Croydon is £5.40 peak) - so a bit daft really. Contactless card done, headed back to East Croydon and home. All good, and had a lovely chat with The Love In My Heart later too.

Wednesday 6th November - Mancunian In Milan

So today was an early rise, but for a good reason. I was attending the Atalanta v Manchester City Champions League game, which because of ground improvements, wasn't being held at Atalanta's ground, but instead at the San Siro in Milan, an iconic football stadium if ever there was one. Of course I wanted to go to this one, and when the tickets went on sale, I was able to get one, and snag myself a cheap flight via Easyjet from Gatwick to Milan, and through work a deal on a Best Western hotel (we have Tastecard Plus, which means Hotelogical discounts also) so all was good and set to go.

I headed to East Croydon to get the train to Gatwick - now if you touch in before 0630, it's still offpeak on Oyster, so it meant a £3.20 pay as you go fare which is pretty good. Paper ticket is always £5.40 no matter what time of the early morning, so obvious win there. I even got a coffee and bacon roll in Costa to have on the train to save the expense of breakfast at Gatwick instead. I'd never flown from there before, so once at the station it was a case of following the signs for the North Terminal, getting the little shuttle over there, and then all in good time to head through security (absolute breeze!) and then onwards to the large departure area.

Plenty of nice shops here, including Oliver Bonas, Harrods, and also even a Wetherspoons inside there which was rammed with people having breakfast in there - was glad that I had pre-empted that rush to be honest. I also headed up to Pret and got a bottle of sparkling water to have on the flight too - and that made sense. The gate was called pretty early, and with good reason - the gate used (106) is up a long corridor, big escalator to elevated walkway, to the end of that, and back down again to almost like a little island of gates way out. I got to the gate, did all the boarding stuff and was ready near the entrance after speedy boarders to ensure I got on early and made sure that the cabin bag was all good to go.

The flight was all good, and even though the leg room is maybe an issue for taller people, it was fine for me. I had the iPod on to chill out with tunes during the flight, and the flight actually landed at Milan Malpensa airport earlier than expected, which was a bonus. Once off the flight a bus took you literally 100 metres (we could have walked!) to a passport control entrance for non-Schengen entrants (that's us then) and once through there it was almost straight out of departures, and in pretty quick time. Some were queueing for transfer tickets for coaches or trains to Milan, oh no, not me.

I walked along the covered walkway to Malpensa Airport terminal 2 railway station, and used the ticket machine there to get a ticket for the Malpensa Express, which takes you to the centre of Milan for €13. Bear in mind that Malpensa airport is actually 30 miles or so away from the city, and you can see why it makes sense. I got the departure for Milan Cadorna (some go there, others go Milan Garabaldi and Milan Central) and that was pretty efficient, comfy seats, lots of luggage space, friendly staff including conductors, and despite a delay just north of Milan, all was well there, and arrived at Cadorna efficiently.

From there, it was on to the Metro line 1. Now, having checked beforehand, ATM (who operate Metro, trams and buses in Milan) offer a day ticket for €7 and like in Brussels, it's actually 24 hours from first use. This would work well as it'd mean transport to the station tomorrow sorted too, and once purchased, I went through to the platform and on a new metro train, which had curved red seats (the line is red on the map) and station announcements in both Italian and English, with which side the doors would open as well. Nice. I was soon at Turro station and a short walk from the Best Western hotel there. I checked in, all was well, and the single room was nice - powerful shower, all very clean, nice single bed, telly, safe, all you needed.

In fact I decided to freshen up and have a shower, but not before heading along the road to Carrefour, where I got a sandwich for lunch, a couple of cans of Peroni beer (one to have post-match) and also some toothpaste and a sponge. The hotel room did have some Fragonard shower gel and shampoo, so may as well use those up anyway, and once all freshened and changed, it was time to head to the centre of Milan, and have a good mooch around before having some tea and then onwards to the match at the San Siro itself.

I took the Metro line 1 back to Duomo, and there was the impressive square with the cathedral (the Duomo) - and a shed load of pigeons flying everywhere around that square - you had to duck when they swooped down. I noted the impressive Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, with its massive arch, but decided to explore that later. I also spotted the trams, some newer, but the older single car trams were just wonderful to see, reminded me of the 28 tram in Lisbon, and they had a charm all of their own. I simply had to ride one of those later on I think! I walked towards Cordusio and then along the Via Dante, with an on street exhibition of Italian railway photography too which was pretty good.

I was heading for the Castello Sforzesco, a huge castle with fortress, and for good reason. It was mightily impressive for its size, had a large fountain in front, massive courtyards and well preserved with its medieval feel too - so definitely worth a walk around all of the courtyards. I even attempted a large panorama with the camera on the phone which worked well in the most part - the size and scale was mightily impressive. I walked through the grounds and to the other side, which was the Sempione Park, and this had the little mermaid bridge half way along, which seemed iconic.

At the far end of the Sempione Park was an impressive arch - the Arco della Pace. In fact this arch reminded me of the Arcade du Cinquantenaire in Brussels, and the arch was apparently built at the request of Napoleon. It certainly had a similar chariot with horses feature on top too, and not quite a full triple (one large flanked by two smaller arches) it was pretty good. I crossed over from the arch and noted the tram stop, and saw the beautiful gorgeous single carriage number 1 tram. I had spotted it earlier by the Cairoli metro stop I passed, so it literally had to be done.

The tram did take a diversion due to some roadworks etc, but the tram was beautiful inside - all wooden fittings, lovely polished floor and seats, and the view out of the back with all of its windows was stunning. As the tram had stopped behind another one and lots got off, I got a shot of the back with no people (reminds me of the woman I met in the Palace in Naples, who exclaimed "No people!" - when taking a shot) and then it headed back on its diversion past the likes of Flying Tiger and the newly opened Uniqlo, and on to Cordusio, where I walked back to the square with the Duomo and explored the posh shops in the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II along with looking up at the central domed roof. Wow, that was something special as the sun set.

It was time for food, and remembered a few restaurants with outside seating along the Via Dante. I went in one and two tables close to me both had Man City fans, so felt good about that. I noted that the food prices were fine, but the beer? Try €6 for a 200ml piccolo size, or €12 for 400ml. In fact some had gone full hell for leather and had a 2 litre massive glass for €35. The ham and mushroom pizza I had was much better value for its €15 and big and tasty, crisp too. I got chatting to one set of blokes about City in general and that was a good way to settle the nerves a bit.

I then decided to take the number 16 tram which terminated at the San Siro. It was night and the streets weren't all mega lit, so you couldn't necessarily see so much, but as I looked out of the window I could see the stadium in the distance, so all good there. The tram terminates outside the stadium, and I then followed the road past the M5 metro terminus station, and along to a road at the far end, where you walked along, past the car and coach park and then to a smaller car park which was a walkway towards Gate 10 for the City fans' entrance. Security and police were everywhere as well as one of the City liaison people whom I've seen on the coaches when going to Wembley. It was then towards the spiral ramp, and the fans had been warned it'd be a walk. They weren't wrong. 17 spirals round and a pretty long way up too - not for the faint of heart or for those who have a fear of heights either.

Even higher up was my seat - the top of the spiral ramp was the bottom part of the top tier where the City fans were, behind one goal, and the steep rake of stairs led you towards the block I was in, and it was a mighty impressive view of the ground from up there, but still pretty mental. The big circular columns at each corner also housed a little bar with coffee and hot food, and I did get a coffee for €1, so good there, but noted that on a normal match day proper red Peroni was the order of the day. Some of that now would have been nice, but this is UEFA and Champions League rules and all that.

The kick off time came and Manchester City were on the front foot straight away with early possession. A neat move involving Bernardo Silva and Gabriel Jesús kicked in before the ball went to Raheem Sterling and he coolly slotted it home for 1-0 with six minutes gone. I had seen a City goal at the San Siro. Massively happy about that, and the City fans were in good voice, also singing the song about former player Mario Balotelli (make that tune of the day) to show support for him and the horrid racist behaviour he had received recently. City pressed but couldn't get a second goal, and then VAR stepped in and became farcical as ever.

So, Raheem Sterling was fouled, the referee gave a penalty. Hurrah we thought. Except VAR then overturned it and said it was a free kick on the edge of the box. Sterling took the free kick, and it hit the wall. City players appealed for handball, it went to VAR, the ref to be fair ran to the screen, checked it, and instantly gave the penalty - one maybe we should have originally had. Up stepped Gabriel Jesús and he put it wide with a very poor penalty. It gave Atalanta the boost they needed, and early in the second half a good move by them resulted in a very good header home and the equaliser for 1-1.

Worse was to come. Claudio Bravo had come on in net for Ederson at half time, due to Ederson having a knock, but I feared he was going to make a mistake to cost us the game. That came with a few minutes left as he raced to intercept the Atalanta striker, who made a meal of the challenge and was brought down. In real time it felt like it should have been a red card, the ref gave it, but then went to VAR. The screen said Red Card check for around five minutes, and having watched it later the Atlanta striker made the most of any challenge - possibly even deliberately running into Bravo's feet. That said, you've got to be smarter as a keeper, and Bravo wasn't.

The confusion eventually meant we made a final change and Kyle Walker came on to become goalkeeper, with Riyad Mahrez being sacrificed. A free kick was taken, Walker saved at second attempt. In fact a couple of crosses from Atalanta he caught well, and made sure he wound down the clock a little too. City were professional and played out the game to a 1-1 draw, maybe not the result we wanted, but considering what happened, I'd have taken that to be honest. The City fans were kept in for over half an hour, and during that time the players came back out to warm up. The City fans spotted Walker, chanted "England's Number 1!" to him and he saw the fans and applauded. Well done that man.

Eventually, I was allowed to head out of the ground, so back down all those spirals, walking back to the other road, all the way around to the metro, avoided all the ticket queues, got down, and got on the first metro, then changed at Lotto for line 1, and just about made that one to head back to Turro and to the hotel. Considering the game started at 2100 local time, to get back and be settled in the hotel room watching the football highlights with a can of Peroni at around 0030 was pretty decent going. A long day but a good and memorable one for so many reasons.

Tuesday 5th November - Bonfire Bonanza

It was another well worth investigating issue at work today as one of the staff I've been working with over some issues with one piece of software mentioned to me that when some users have the software installed manually, it comes up with an error. The member of staff was pretty knowledgeable and reckoned it was down to a missing registry key at either user or system level, so it was narrowing down which was missing (if any) and how to rectify that situation.

In fact I was able to demonstrate that in some cases, when installing the software manually, instead of say letting SCCM do it as the SYSTEM user (which of course has full rights to write system keys) - it appeared that the required registry key required in system is missing. Of course I was able to also see that key populated correctly on a SCCM performed installation, and once again demonstate the power of using something like that to get things done properly.

I also in the afternoon turned the attention to upgrading existing installs. Any new install works out of the box fine, but if upgrading, and as mentioned by a colleague, you have to remove the old version first before installing the new one. It actually wasn't just that - normally there should also be a restart as well ideally - and the reason was pretty clear once I investigated - there's a process belonging to the piece of software that doesn't stop automatically if being uninstalled (I know, poor!) and so ideally what you'd want to do is ensure that is stopped.

A bit of script writing into a command line ensued, and so now it effectively stops the particular process if running, and then uninstalls any previous versions (I sourced the MSI product codes, by far the easiest way) and then installs the new one. As part of an additional compliance check I also now added not just the new MSI product code for detection but also to ensure that the registry key exists for the machine as mentioned earlier - as a belt and braces compliance job. Under further testing this works properly and so should be advertised in Software Centre, install performed, job done.

I headed home later and The Love In My Heart told me that Brian the cat wasn't scared of all the fireworks going off for the night that it is - however because a few of them are a distance away, he was just sat at the window noticing what was going on, ears pricked. There are times when you just love the cuteness of Brian, and this is one of them. And to be relaxed later, I played "Cool For Cats" by Squeeze, a classic of its day and still a pop moment of brilliance, so tune of the day there.

Monday 4th November - Magnetic Fields

I had an interesting dilemma at work that I spent some time this morning with one of the folks in our office in Bournemouth. He'd noticed that in the last few times he'd built certain laptops, when you got to the password screen it was a case of the screen flickering madly, and occasionally the power light going off as well. I was puzzled by this, especially that I had used the same kit and built the same way, and with no problems whatsoever either - and believe me I do test these things to death in order to be sure that things work.

I did a troubleshooting session, so first of all we removed the graphics driver, and then let it go back to the default Microsoft one - no joy, and so upgraded the same driver. That didn't work either. Because the screen was going off, and the power light with it, we thought that it was possibly power related, so upgrading the power management drivers also was going to be an interesting test. No. Still nothing. He did mention that it didn't happen every time but also mentioned that when pressing certain keys when entering the password it did seem more of an issue.

I was wondering if the lighting in the room he was in and the dynamic back lighting of the laptop was possibly causing some light adjustments, so we turned off the backlight and tried again. Still nothing, but he did mention that when he moved over the keyboard without pressing anything, he was still getting a flicker. This actually was very useful as I knew that the backlight was now out of the equation. So, was it something reacting to the person's hand or what they had on, I thought.

I checked and he had a bracelet on, and this carried a magnet. This was very useful indeed, as I thought "well hang on, what if there's something in the laptop that has a magnet in it too?" - and a quick check of the laptop in question showed that by the mouse pad there was a magnetic sensor, so if you close the lid of the laptop it'll detect the lid closed and then send it to sleep. So, if moving something magnetic over the keyboard, the lid sensor was assuming that the lid was closed hence power light going sleep - and when you move your hand to type, the flicking was due to rapidly attempting to wake up and sleep.

I further checked on the manufacturer's website and this did appear to the case with newer models - rather than have a latch to indicate the lid closed, it was a magnetic sensor, so having something magnetic in the bracelet made sense. He took it off and did a dozen reboots, logging in each time, and it all worked. Problem solved! So.. if you have a certain type of laptop, it's worth checking that. It reminded me of the old days of hi-fi when you had to make sure your front and centre speakers were magnetically shielded so as not to interefere with your old CRT television - true that. Needless to say that the iconic Magnetic Fields (part 4) by Jean-Michel Jarre is tune of the day...

Sunday 3rd November - Recycling and Revisiting

It was definitely a day to be out and about for myself and The Love In My Heart today. First port of call was some nice breakfast, a sausage muffin expertly crafted by The Love, and Brian the cat was having lots of attention and fussing as well, as he should do. I do think that he does have a real sense of awareness of where his Mummy is, and how much that he wants to be by her side - all the time. He even gets into the bathroom if she's washing her face in the sink, so loyal that he is!

The Love mentioned that she still had an old TV which used to be used as a monitor as well for an old PC that I'd built for her ages ago, and we located that along with a Freeview box too. I had a brainwave that in fact she could set that up in the bedroom and so watch telly in bed if she and Brian the cat fancied an early night. There was an aerial socket in the bedroom near where the cupboard was too, so once I'd got it all together and retuned the little Freeview box, all worked nicely and it meant that it was an option to watch telly there should she need to do so.

We headed off to see her father and all was well with the world there - he had wanted a new DVD player as the other one wasn't working anymore, so The Love had got one yesterday, and it was nice and straightforward to set up. Everything worked fine and it was good to see that the remote was relatively simple to operate and use as well. The other good thing was that it was relatively small in size so didn't take up too much room in the cabinet in the front room either - so definitely well worth it.

It was also to my Mum's as well as it was her birthday today. It was nice to see her, and one of her friends and husband was also round too, so good to chat to them at the same time. My brother also came over as well, so it was quite a busy front room overall especially as Mum was actually getting the stuff in to refloor the kitchen floor too - but nice to have some coffee and cake and chatter anyway and it was good that she'd had so many cards and presents all round.

Later it was over to the Ashlea for a late lunch for us both, and we noted that the Sunday roast was on, and the place was pretty busy but we got a table fine. I had the Sunday roast turkey, The Love had the gammon. Both were good although we both felt a little bit more meat would have been nice, but the vegetables were plentiful and a nice Yorkshire pudding too. I also had a voucher for a third off the food as well which made it less expensive but a nice way to have some food together and chill out.

We then later on went to see Brian the cat for a little while before I headed home, and he was being all cute and playful with the ball. I do miss him - lots actually, and I felt sad leaving later. The Love dropped me off at Piccadilly and I felt sad, but thankfully the train was on time, even getting into Euston early for once (woohoo) with the likes of Roy Harper's epic "Me And My Woman" keeping me going on the way down (make that one tune of the day) and I'd be homeward bound later, all set for bed.

Saturday 2nd November - Leaving It Late

It was nice to have a bit of a restful sleep, although Brian the cat had seen to it that The Love In My Heart got up earlier and so was sat at the front of the flat whilst Brian had a play on the outside decking, taking in the fresh air - and the fog too. It was a little misty first thing although this did clear somewhat before I got up, but was indicative of the fact that the weather was getting colder over time. Brian of course was wanting plenty of attention and loves this bouncy ball which he is happy to chase around and play football with it, showing off his rather good skills it has to be said.

We had a nice breakfast and I settled in for a while before I was heading over to the Etihad to watch the football, and she headed off to see her folks. It felt different today because I was in a different place than normal - the second tier of the Family Stand, and had got my seat right behind the goal in the centre of the goalmouth as I looked down. It was good to have a different view but I think on balance I prefer where I normally am. Anyway, the game was soon to kick off, I had my chicken balti pie, and so all was well with the world.

Well, it was, until Southampton scored. In fact, the issue here was that they were playing uber-defensive, and actually being pretty good at it too, and in one break had forced a mistake from Ederson which had been pounced on by James Ward-Prowse, and it was that way till half time, despite City throwing everything bar the kitchen sink at the Southampton defence. In fact, at half time it was changed with David Silva coming off for Gabriel Jesús - I found that puzzling and it was only later on, much later, that it was announced that Silva had picked up a knock before half time and couldn't continue, which made more sense.

City pressed and pressed, but often four of their defenders were around Sergio Agüero, so he was unable to do anything. Well, that was until the 70th minute, when the ball was played down the right, and Kyle Walker just about kept the ball in and crossed low and hard right to the six yard box where Agüero does what he does best and struck it low under the keeper's legs, and it was 1-1. The noise was raised to a crescendo as City pressed, knowing that Liverpool were still losing at Aston Villa and it was a case of taking advantage, hopefully. City went onwards, and the ball came in from the left from Angelino. The keeper missed it, and of all people, Kyle Walker struck home for what was to be the winner. Epic stuff.

As I got back to The Love's place, it turned out Liverpool had pulled off their own comeback to win 2-1, so it was all as you were before the start of play. Fair play and all that. The Love and I had some nice spaghetti bolognaise for tea later on before settling in to watch Strictly Come Dancing. I had to giggle as Chris Ramsey with Karen Hauer did street commercial to the old Ant and Dec (or PJ and Duncan as they were known back then) classic, "Let's Get Ready To Rhumble" - make that tune of the day. To be fair he did pretty well with it and looked decent, so fair dos to him. Definitely for me though the dance with Kerim and Amy was the best of the night - they utterly smashed it!

Friday 1st November - Train In Pain Again

Friday night is slowly becoming fright night for the trains at the moment. What's concerning for me is that with only a few weeks left for Virgin Trains to be carrying on the work of the current West Coast franchise until December 7th, that their customer service has also gone downhill. If you try some of the help and contact links on their web pages for example, it doesn't load (and still doesn't, despite me informing their web team of this weeks ago.) They moved to a ServiceNow instance for some of this, but forgot to sort out their web links. Anyway, I did fill out a form for Delay Repay earlier based on last Friday's shenanigans and having to go home and go the day after.

So, would tonight be any better? The answer to that is a little, but still awful. The overhead wiring had been damaged in the Kensal Green area and as that is not too far from Euston, it meant that certain lines were closed, causing London Northwestern to cancel a lot of their trains (although they also had staff shortages which did not help their cause one bit) and also certain trains on Virgin would be delayed, or at worst, cancelled. I checked in the morning and there were already cancellations during the day. Oh joy.

In fact I got a text later from Virgin to tell me that my 1857 train was cancelled - again! Second week on the trot. I asked their Twitter staff if I could board the 1840, and they replied positively. So it was again the walk up from work to Euston, and the station was that busy that the front entrances were gated off so you couldn't go in - and that led me to think that there were even more issues. Thankfully, not this time, and the station did re-open and so I could be ready to board the train - when it eventually did arrive.

Eventually I spotted that Platform 2 was the 1840 train - and so when I got there, there were a lot of people already on the train! I suspect they'd been waiting around near the platform and effectively got themselves on as soon as they could. I had no reservation valid now but did find a seat on Coach C which was at least some small mercy - and had a coffee too half way along to keep the spirits up. It was just nice to kick back with the iPod and some tunes, so the ace Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins album was keeping me nice and sane - especially "You Are What You Love", so that's tune of the day.

The Love In My Heart was waiting for me when I got to Piccadilly, hurrah for that, and we soon headed back to her place and snuggled up on the sofa with Brian the cat on the pouffle being all cute and lovely, and watched Gogglebox on Channel 4 Plus 1. Interestingly it was noticeable that they were seeing a few things we'd seen last week and so we were able to spot what moment they were going to go for it. It was entertaining as ever and I was just glad to be actually in Manchester albeit with a slight delay this time around!