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 28th May - Retro Return

So last night I spent some time extracting old game themes from Commodore 64 games again, and notably I also fixed an issue with the game theme from the movie tie-in version of Give My Regards To Broad Street. The end theme was actually missing and so needed some careful extraction, and indeed I found that the main in-game theme was also a little bit wrong, so fixed that at the same time. It was good to be able to sort that so pretty pleased with myself overall.

I also today had some nice deliveries of things I had ordered on eBay. Not all of them had arrived, but three of them did, which totalled eighteen cassette games for the Commodore 64, some of which were ones I used to quite like playing. Most of them were in one box which had been sent from a seller in Manchester, and well packaged too. The re-release version of Impossible Mission was one of the highlights, along with Action Biker, Pro Skateboard Simulator (note: the level complete music is actually a cover of the middle part of New Europeans by Ultravox) and plenty of other Mastertronic and Codemasters games of the time.

I also did have another box with a black Cruiser joystick. I used to have the green and yellow version in the day, and was always a solid microswitched stick which does the job and is reliable. The good thing is that when I used to use that on the Commodore 64, it was bang on, and now of course the Atari 2600 and Commodore Plus/4 (the latter with the suitable joystick adapter) I have can use it too. Stylish and pretty good, so will be having to play some of those games later on I think.

Whilst working from home today I did also listen to various albums all dating from 1994. Two of my top ten albums of all time are actually from that year, so those obviously got a well deserved listen again, and there were plenty of other great releases from the time, including Stacked Up from Senser, The Holy Bible from Manic Street Preachers and so on. In fact, Of Walking Abortion from that Manics album is tune of the day - primarily for the final lyric of "Who's responsible? You f***ing are" which sums up how most of us feel about our failing Government and Prime Minister at this moment in time.

Other albums I listened to included Frank Black's Teenager of the Year, under-rated in my view, with 22 tracks of solid goodness including Whatever Happened To Pong? as a blistering opener, Howyoudoin? by Renegade Soundwave, with the band's title being the opener and a nod to Serge Gainsbourg's Bonnie and Clyde, plus also the ace Positive ID on there, and also had to have Pop Will Eat Itself's Dos Dedos Mis Amigos following on from The Prodigy's Music for the Jilted Generation, primarily because of the Their Law link and the blisteringly ace track that it is. In fact, there were plenty more I could have also listened to today in that year, so might have to do a second run at some point.

Wednesday 27th May - Recycling

I actually did do a fair bit of bottle and cardbord recycling at lunch time today. I have an orange bag which every occupant of the apartment block has, and you effectively put all your plastics, bottles, paper and cardboard all inside it. There are specific recycling bins in the bin store on the ground floor that you put all of that in, so was good to get that all emptied and sorted. I must admit having such a sensible scheme for the block does encourage me to do that more often, and I'm also usually sensible as to what food I buy so there's pretty much zero food waste.

It was a busy day all told working today with three meetings pretty much back to back, so this is where having a solid reliable connection and indeed a solid meeting platform does work dividends. I think the main thing is that it needs to be fully functional so it enhances the experience which is good - and it's meant that we can discuss and agree things well. One key thing I was looking into was the number of machines that haven't been online for some time. Now it could well be due to working from home due to current restrictions, or users left their device in an office and can't get to it, all sorts, so am treading pretty carefully really.

I had a lovely chat with The Love In My Heart tonight, and I am missing her considerably, but know that we're doing what we can to keep each other going. Brian the cat was more than happy with his new scratching board, and indeed he now has a new box to sit in. Not quite sure if he's necessarily going to be there yet, but when I see him and am able to play ball with him no doubt he will be like "Come on, play ball!" and be ready to pounce with his little paw. I miss that too.

It was on with The Great British Sewing Bee later on, and so nice to see them doing the recycling theme again as this was great last year. Patrick Grant is a big fan of this because he sees it that we have more than enough clothes to last us a lifetime, and so the challenges were all different but with an emphasis on the recycled materials. I liked the second challenge where the old laundry bags with the check print had to be reinvented into something different, and that really got some of the imagination going.

The made to measure challenge was to take any knitted garments the contestants had spare and recycle it into a Winter dress, which would be warm and cosy. Various takes were done on this, but three stood out for me: Matt's long flowing number looked multicoloured and swish and stylish, he has an eye for the flair. Nicole's use of the stripes and the birds in the contrast really did have Patrick gushing compliments, and it was pretty excellent. I also liked Liz's mix of purple and grey (even her daughter's old school jumper with button was present) and a very demure goth look. Liked the old school song by Alma Cogan: Never Do A Tango With An Eskimo, which is tune of the day.

Tuesday 26th May - Packaging Puzzle

All that practice from Oblido on the trusty Commodore Plus/4 last night meant I was in a good brain state of mind to solve some puzzles today, and solve one I did. I had been asked to look at a piece of software which effectively could read some EML and MSG type message attachments, but needed Java to run. All well and good until you realise that in fact if you want the Oracle Java Runtime these days, you do now have to pay for the privelege, and it's not the cheapest of options either to do so.

So instead of course there's the OpenJDK, the freely available one with some of the source contributed from Oracle too. However, what is nice is that there's the handy AdoptOpenJDK site which does all the compilation work for you for Windows, and puts not just he whole JDK but just the runtime environment JRE only on there, and as an MSI, which of course you want for deployment, right? Indeed. So a snag of the X64 version, package that up easy enough, and that would work well.

The software itself for the message viewer had an executable installer, but if you run that it insiste on looking for JRE7 only and nothing else, which is a bit poor. However, the good news is that they do a zipped archive version, potentially for portable use, but I could extract that to a suitable folder and use my little MSI packaging tool I have to do the job, including a shortcut in the start menu to the JAR file itself which would be picked up by the OpenJDK as JAR files would be associated with it. Nice, eh? Well, that appeared to work too, and when packaging that I could simply add a dependency, and off you went. Nice.

I then put it all together and gave it an initial road test - all appeared well and it was all as designed, which was a bonus. Of course there's only so much you can do with it, but if it helps people out, then I can definitely see that as being a positive thing overall. I also spent some time today as well listening to various albums released in the 1980s to keep me going positively - the likes of The Human League, Heaven 17, Ultravox and New Order during the morning, going more diverse with The Smiths, The Art of Noise, Violent Femmes, REM and Deacon Blue during the afternoon too.

In fact, the debut from Deacon Blue, Raintown, reminded me just how brilliant that album was and how it got my attention when I was a bit younger and listened to it. For me, there's something more edgy about that, not least Born in a Storm seguing into the the title track, but also the likes of Chocolate Girl and Loaded, and of course, Dignity, which is still majestic even now, so tune of the day it most certainly is. It was so good to play some of those CDs again and if that's proving to be a positive, I'll take it!

Monday 25th May - A Non-Walk In The Park

After having some breakfast, I thought it might be good to get some exercise and head out for a walk - that was the theory anyway. I've been attempting where possible to at least try to be somewhere reasonably local if I can so I can ensure it's not too far to go, and not that far to come back. However, with the weather being pretty good I was also thinking that it might well be that there could well be plenty of people around, so would I actually be able to find anywhere reasonably quiet to go and take a peaceful stroll? It is, admittedly, times like this I wish I lived more in the countryside.

I headed on the 154 bus to Morden and that was a relatively calm journey - it did of course take some time as I didn't realise it would actually go all the way through Carshalton Beeches and then on to Sutton itself before then heading up through Rose Hill and down to Morden. In hindsight maybe the 157 bus might have been quicker, but it was another route to have explored on the way. Once at Morden it was then a short walk over to the entrance to Morden Hall Park.

And to be honest, I felt physically sick. It was one thing having people around going for a walk, but not just that: the masses were out on all the paths, and not giving a single jot about any forms of social distancing whatsoever. I managed to avoid people and then find a less well used path which took me around the River Wandle and then over some other lesser used paths. There were still lots of people around and it didn't make me feel very happy at all. So much so, that after around a path of around three quarters of a mile, enough was enough and so headed to the far end of the park and took the tram back homewards. Thankfully I had a face covering ready for public transport.

Still though, the other option I did consider, which where the gardens at the far end of Streatham Common, would have been okay but the common itself was absolute carnage - no distancing there either, just plenty of people out sunbathing. Clearly, all the stay at home guidance has been thrown out of the window and people are just thinking "Well if Dominic Cummings can go where he want, why can't we?" and this is exactly the point of the good work being damaged and a potential second wave happening. We're not out of the woods yet and I think people need to stop being Covidiots and have a long hard look at themselves.

I spent the evening playing some classic games on the Commodore Plus/4 and surprised myself by doing pretty well at Treasure Island once more, getting around 40% of the game completed. The title tune is still one I can hum to this day and to hear it again was rather nice, so tune of the day all round for me there, and was good fun to go back and dodge the pirates, use their cutlasses to get past them and then search for the treasure. It was good to play that and indeed Oblido, a difficult but fun puzzle game with plenty of blocks to push around but those little enemies - they get you. Every single time.

Sunday 24th May - Crazy Golf And Westerham

I had a nice lie in this morning, followed by some lovely crumpets and a coffee from the cafitiere for breakfast. I must admit it did feel nice to just get up and relax as needed, and also felt good that I knew I could head out for a walk and a trip out later. I looked online and spotted that one of the local crazy golf courses, Enchanted Village Adventure Golf, was back open, with social distancing and health measures all in place. Their view was that fresh air and exercise (they have pitch and putt too) was helpful for health and it also meant that they could see how it would work.

I had the face covering at the ready (I have two, so it was the beach huts one today) as I needed to get the 119 bus to the golf place. It was also reasonably close enough for one bus trip and would be a few miles away from where I was, which was also good, so also adhering to staying as local as possible. The bus arrived and sat upstairs - it was quiet, but at least it meant I could distance and be safe at the same time. As I got off the bus a car was passing playing The Stone Roses' She Bangs The Drums, and I said "tune!" which the driver smiled at, so definitely tune of the day. I soon headed there and I have to say that it was really well organised on first glance, with clear direction signage and staff on hand.

In fact, it was brilliant. All the staff were clear in their directions, and you followed the one way system to pay for your golf, then waited at a safe distance before you picked up the club and ball from the hut, and you then waited for the players ahead of you to be two holes ahead. The staff were brilliant full stop, really kind and respectful, and kudos to them all for that. And the course was in excellent condition and played fairly too - in fact so much so that out of the twelve quality holes on the course, I made three holes in one, and that was rather good. You also had a place to drop the clubs in a disinfectant bath afterwards, and all was well there. I can highly recommend it and well worth the £5 per play.

I then had a couple of options on, depending on buses - I'd either take the 246 to Westerham and walk parts of the valley walk there, or get the 353 to Forestdale and then head through Selsdon Woods. I got to the bus stop and the 246 came within two minutes, and bearing in mind that's one an hour, all good timing. So it was heading through Keston, past Biggin Hill Airport and then down the hills, over the M25 motorway and into Westerham itself, getting off at the village green stop and seeing the green with the statue of Winston Churchill in the middle of the green.

I headed down the hill past Quebec House and by the side of the large car park fo the town, hidden by trees, and then followed the path towards an open field space, which led you to the Westerham Valley trail. It was nice because of the open space, trees and fields which really did open out well. In fact the trail led to a road crossing, and on the other side of the road happened to be.. the Westerham Brewery! Naturally it wasn't open for click and collect etc today, but still, good to know where it was, and the deli shop in the same little park was open, so nipped in there and got a honeycomb ice cream, which was gorgeous, must go back at some point in the future and get that again.

I then followed a path around the other sides of the fields which took me back towards the park and then the car park before heading back up the hill into the town centre, and had a good look at the Churchill statue, which was really impressive. Some of the local shops were open including a nice looking Italian delicatessen, playing some traditional music also. It was a really nice more of a village than a town feel as well which was good, and I'll definitely have to come back again soon, that is for sure, and the journey back was flawless too. Happy day considering the current circumstances.

Saturday 23rd May - Ripping It Up And Starting Again

I decided that a lie in would be just right for me today, and I wasn't the only one thinking that - The Love In My Heart had also done the same thing. I felt the need to just rest up after the brain was tested during the week, and it was nice not to think about getting up. When I did, it was pyjamas on, change the bedding over and put the set in the wash, and then have some crumpets and a posh coffee from the little cafitiere for breakfast. Because I can, and I will.

As the weather was abysmal with lots of wind and rain left right and centre, I thought I'd revisit some old computer games to see if I could extract the music out of them cleanly. I used to do a lot of this in the days of old and was always a good coding challenge, and indeed these days trying to find an old game without the music extracted isn't always easy. It's why I've got Gamebase 64 for the Commodore 64 titles so I can refer to there as to what doesn't have a file to play with the music on, and what needs to be done.

It was pretty rewarding on the whole, not least when you're able to spot the parts of code that make up the music routine, and get that playing cleanly and well on any good SID chip emulator and have all the right code parts together, so it sounds right. Even if, in some cases, the games aren't blessed with the best music ever and take a sledgehammer to ruin some Scott Joplin classics. It was though for me nice to get back into the swing of things and be able to pull out some old crumbly songs, even some coded in the BASIC programming language along the way.

I did stop for tea later in the day and decided that a chicken katsu was in order. I did think about Wagamama delivery, but noted in Lidl last night they had a nice Sharwoods katsu sauce pack, and I had rice and breaded chicken to use with that, so thought "why not?" and so made that myself. It was pretty easy all round and I have to say it did taste pretty good. The other thing was it was a meal under £3 and the most expensive ingredient, the breaded chicken at £1.49, was a pack of four so I used two, so have the other two ready for when I need. The rice was 46p and the sauce 99p. I might just have to go back for one of each of those and then have it again in the week, but was gorgeous!

As the wind howled and the rain fell, and I had a good chat with The Love In My Heart showing Brian the cat hogging the sofa (because he can!) I had extracted around 20 game themes in all, some over the last day or two as well as today, but felt positive with the result. So I celebrated with a beer and blasting out some good tunes including Goldie Lookin Chain's reinvention of a Green Day classic, called Covidiot, with lots of references to idiots during the current crisis and what they do instead - well worth checking out of you can and tune of the day for me.

Friday 22nd May - Middle of Lidl

It was a productive day today for a number of reasons: first of all I was able to verify that in fact the new MECM client had potentially resolved an issue we were seeing during builds previously (and not straight away either) where when we installed our antivirus product, any such further application deployments in a task sequence had halted. This appeared not to be the case now when I noted one of my colleagues in an office that is accessible be able to build perfectly fine and everything went through as designed.

I did have two meetings with the vendors and our contractors for the inventory software we're using. The first in the morning was good, but the afternoon was even better. We wanted to add a custom field to the users' table and to bring in the employee ID number as an import. In fact I had already used a bit of powershell to pull in the Active Directory SAM account name and the ID, so was able to utilise that as part of an import spreadsheet, and with the guidance of our colleague at the supplier end, we not only added the custom field but also managed to bring in the data too - which worked nicely.

Later on after the meeting call I noted something: I was able to view the SaaS connector pages fine, and to prove that was no fluke, I then looked at importing the data from one of the connectors again. It worked, and in the log file, no daft primary key error. I was wondering if in fact when we added the custom field and imported data, it touched the user records and potentially helped sort out a sticky database issue - not sure 100 percent but if this thing is working, I am not complaining!

After a lovely chat with The Love In My Heart, I decided to head to the local Lidl for some food shopping. It is normally quieter between 8pm and 10pm and especially as it's in a town centre, it's walking distance from the flat but not much else there is open. As I suspected, straight in no problem, and managed to get two bags full of shopping for under £20, which is a pretty epic win in my book. And I managed to get lots of good ingredients for some meal ideas for during the week, so definitely well worth a walk out there.

I settled in later for Gogglebox and The Last Leg (the theme tune of which is tune of the day) and I settled in to have a rather fab beer - the gorgeous Wally Winker's Death by Chocolate from the Westerham Brewery. It was gorgeous, just the right side of stoutiness, but not too heavy, and definitely a chocolate aroma as well. It is also gluten free and vegan for those who need that sort of thing, so definitely a plus. It was part of a batch of beers I got when visiting a local café yesterday who had reopened for takeouts only, and that included a pretty excellent beer selection all round, so definitely pretty good on that score.

Thursday 21st May - Retro Dreaming

So tonight after a relatively busy day at work, and having a nice chatter with The Love In My Heart after tea, it was time to get out one of the old computers I own - namely the Commodore Plus/4, and start to play some more games on it. I had of course regained one a fair few years ago and it had been in the loft in my old house and eventually took it with me back down to my place, well before the house was sold, thankfully. It all still worked and I even had a spare power supply in the bargain, particularly handy as they're known to be a little fragile to say the least.

I had played a fair bit the other night but I had since ordered some extra games for it, one of which arrived today - a Mastertronic game I didn't own when I first had the Plus/4 between 1985 and 1987. This was Megabolts, which would be 64 screens worth of destroying the megabolts and avoiding the other baddies on each screen, with an alert telling you where they were in the map. It actually played pretty well, you had to of course shoot them from behind or push blocks on to them to kill them - shooting face on at the front didn't work, so strategy was built around tracing them and going in for the kill. It was decent.

I had also got another joystick too - a classic Quickshot 1, and because I have the C16 joystick adapter so I can use Atari style joysticks, that worked pretty well - it was a little stiff occasionally moving right, but appeared to work fine, as of course does my classic Atari CX-40 stick (the one everyone got with an Atari 2600) so all was good there. I also fired up the version of Kikstart too as it's massively different from the C64 one, more of a time trial with jumps, but that was fab, and the title tune is still based on Mr Walkie Talkie's Be My Boogie Woogie Baby (so therefore tune of the day) and off you go.

My brother had also contacted me earlier in the week as he and his girlfriend had found a box in the loft which had some old games in - and this included four games for the C16 and Plus/4 which I didn't have - all Mastertronic ones at that! He kindly offered me first dibs on those and so should be getting them soon. Actually, I noted there were 41 Mastertronic and associated label releases, of which I had a fair number alreay. I think I might plan one day to get all of them as a complete run for that system - especially as there's so many exclusives on that format - the likes of Fingers Malone, Mr. Puniverse, Xadium, Powerball and plenty more. Definitely well worth a look.

I think too it reminded me of the halcyon years I'd had, playing the ten games that came with the machine a fair bit (notably Treasure Island and Icicle Works of course) and also some of the classics that I can remember buying from a shop in the Arndale Centre, taking home and playing a lot, especially the likes of Formula 1 Simulator and Big Mac, the former being the biggest seller of all Mastertronic games on one format, apparently. I definitely need to source more, a nice Anco run of games like Tom Thumb would be decent too. Here's hoping for a retro future!

Wednesday 20th May - Packaging and Pyjamarama

I was asked this afternoon to look at packaging a piece of security software that we had previously trialled out, and looked like we were going to effectively go one step further with this one. In essence, one of the things we had noted during the initial trial was that the location seemed to be picking itself as Germany most of the time. Now I do still speak and read German pretty well, so was able to translate enough, but everyone of course may not be in the same boat to be honest.

Thankfully one of the switches for install details the particular server and instance which is going to be used, and it's a different one, so I effectively had to make sure that the install instructions were on that one, and then I could perform an initial test. That seemed to work well, and I had worked out a good uninstall method too, and that worked nicely. I can progress this on to the next stage but in effect it's good that we can road test this first and make sure it does what it says on the tin beforehand. I did have some progressive rock on during the day, so the excellent Peaches En Regalia by Frank Zappa is tune of the day.

I also spent some time this afternoon working on the inventory software on a conference call on Teams, as that is what our vendor uses. And, unsurprisingly, everything worked properly and first go, as I sort of expected. None of those security holes in Zoom, none of those annoying pauses with other messaging software. It really does make me wonder why more companies don't actually adopt it, but I guess that completely depends on what other solutions are being used too. Nonetheless, a thumbs up from me.

Later on after having a lovely chat with The Love In My Heart, it was on with The Great British Sewing Bee on BBC1, and it was lingerie and sleepwear week. The first challenge of a boned basque was a real dilemma and looked very hard to do to be honest - would they be basque-ing in glory or would it be a fashion faux bras? Actually for Peter it was the latter, as one piece was completely missing so it had a front but no back, unless he was going for a new invention. In the transformation challenge, Nicole's dungarees and top from the pyjamas and nightdress was inventive, and deserved to win that one.

The final challenge involved lace and a nice top and shorts type sleepwear set, and made to measure for the female models. It was to prove tricky with the lace and delicate materials, but in effect the ones who mastered it well were Liz with her black goth type outfit, but that looked good, and Therese, who rescued entirely a poor day one with a superb set - it was her garment of the week although I'd have liked Liz to win. I was gutted Ali went but she knew she'd had a bad weekend and it was the hole in the front of her outfit that was her downfall. A shame really, but it happens that way sometimes.

Tuesday 19th May - Upgrading

Today was my scheduled planned change for upgrading Microsoft Endpoint Configuration Manager (MECM or ConfigMgr, whichever you prefer.) The update had become available early last week and because of some new features and functionality, and after a chat with my line manager, had effectively planned it all out to be good to go for today. I had forewarned all I needed to and my colleague who looks after the SQL side had confirmed we had all the backups and snapshots required, so effectively I was all good to go.

I did note that the pre-requisite check had flagged a little lack of disk space, so got that resolved and the pre-requisite check passed fine. It was then onwards with the update itself, and generally speaking it was all super smooth. The important thing is that there'll be a point when the log file cmupdate.log, a few minutes after starting, waits 600 seconds to poll for inbox changes (ie:10 minutes). This is the perfect chance to get a coffee and wait, because I've seen some people abort at this point, which is very bad and should not be done at all. The key is in that log file. Wait that time, and all will carry on perfectly without any issues.

The site components then all upgraded perfectly fine, and it was pretty much mainly done in a morning with some additional checks later on just to dot the i's and cross the t's. One thing I must say is that the process these days is very smooth, and works as advertised without hiccups at all. The fact it goes to a first wave for a few weeks means by the time the end users get it, issues have been ironed out and means you get an even more stable release, which is pretty impressive all round. I like it when things work properly, and goes to show just what a solid product it all is.

I spent some time yesterday and some today getting some Powershell scripting to not only get the Chrome extensions for any user on a machine, but for all users that in effect would be ones that have a valid profile - and indeed parsing that with a CSV of a fair number of machines online for some for each loop goodness. What I ended up with was a massive CSV with all the extension IDs and names, plus the machine and user it was installed on. That worked out nicely, and the final bit of cleanup I needed to do was to look up any IDs not detected with a corresponding entry at the Chrome Web Store, and see what I could find instead. It was very interesting!

Today whilst working from home I played the four CD compilation of The Cure B sides and rarities, Join The Dots. There are plenty of bands who made their singles worth buying with all the different B side tracks, and The Cure were one of those. From the early era of the 7" and 12" flipsides to extra tracks on CD singles, you always got your money's worth when you bought them. For me, I adored their mid 80s output especially so the likes of Babble, Out of Time and the superb Fear of Ghosts (make that tune of the day) were just majestic, the latter could have easily been on Disintegration had there been more space on the double album and CD!

Monday 18th May - Love Will Tear Us Apart, Again

I felt a massive dose of sadness today. Not because of work, because that was all going well, and indeed durin the day I felt the need to have some electronic Industrial tunes playing from the likes of Bigod 20, Cabaret Voltaire, Front 242 and many more. I was thinking back to a moment in time that happened forty years ago today and although at the time I was only eight, I do remember it having a profound affect for those in Manchester and indeed those who were fans of music, no matter where they came from. It was the sad news that Ian Curtis of Joy Division had passed away.

Over the many years I've loved music, there has been one song that has been synonymous with me and music, and that is Love Will Tear Us Apart. It is my favourite song of all time (make it tune of the day) and in the weeks after Ian's death, when the single was released, it was an outpouring of emotion all round. The music video was shot in one of the rehearsal rooms the band used, and the enchanted hand closing the door just added somewhat to the mystique at the time of the fact that Ian had left us and no longer felt like he had a place anymore.

When you do delve into the lyrics, as I did years later wanting to understand the song a lot more, I realised that it was more autobiographical than I'd ever realised. His marraige had broken down and was clearly not in the best frame of mind - the line of changing our ways and taking different roads in the first verse indicated a split of direction of travel, and how in the second verse the bedroom is so cold and you turn away on your side, but ther was still the appeal of each other that had been kept through their lives. But in the final, something so good just can't function no more, and it's that how the perception would be, of an underlying sense of desperation inside. It's rare you have an emotion laid bare on record like that.

I think that, along with the guitars at the end and the real sense of musicians understanding their singer's feelings in their playing, it really does stand out massively. If I had been say ten years older and was at a phase of fully being a Joy Division fan back then, it would have hit me very hard. I look back now and think just how much changed musically but how much that, as much as you may like or loathe him, the late great Anthony H Wilson knew what he was talking about, and wanted to be sure that the band had every chance of success. There'll always be a part of me that respects the remainder of the band that they renamed and formed New Order as a clean break, giving space for the Joy Division side to be its own.

So with a massive hint of sadness, I play the 12" single on Factory, and think what might have been had Ian Curtis still been around. His influence on the Manchester scene would have been greater than it is now, and he would have most likely become a published poet and even perhaps a visionary. One thing is for sure is that we'll never know, and I never had the opportunity to really respect the legend, in person, that he is, and that saddens me. The lasting legacy of his and Joy Division's music should never leave anyone, and should be discovered by those who want to appreciate music from one of its most iconic figures.

Sunday 17th May - Far In Farthing Downs

I spent some time this morning having some crumpets for breakfast (and to be fair, Tesco's own ones were pretty good and crispy out of the toaster, and half the price of the main brand ones, winning) - and a nice fresh coffee from the little cafitiere. Having the remaining coffee for that in a container in the fridge does mean a nice fresh coffee smell in the fridge which is actually quite nice. I settled in to watch another full Formula 1 race put up by the official F1 Youtube channel - namely the 2012 European Grand Prix from Valencia.

I remember this race being very good at the time and so it proved, with all sorts of overtaking moves happening at the end of some straights and even going into the final turn before the start and finish straight. Sebastian Vettel was winning well, then a safety car to remove debris bunched everyone up, and meant a free pit stop for some, and then Vettel's car failed, and Fernando Alonso, who had battled through, took a famous win in the Ferrari. Aggressive late tyre strategies, and Pastor Maldonado taking off Lewis Hamilton rather unfairly, meant that Michael Schumacher finished third and had his last ever Formula 1 podium, so historic there too.

I had decided to take a walk today whilst the weather was going to be good, and that I could locate somewhere a bit safer. Although I couldn't drive to a location I could take one bus each way, and so was ready to cover the face if I needed to. In the end the buses were empty and I was the only one sat upstairs on the way out, which was nice and relaxing. In essence then, it was from near Coulsdon South station, up the hill along Farthing Downs, and then through Devilsden Wood to Happy Valley and back to Coulsdon Common.

It is actually the final part of Section 5 of the London Loop, but in the reverse direction to how I'd walked it, so knew the way, although the waymarkers are always to hand When I got to the top of the hill on Farthing Downs, I could see The Shard, some fifteen miles away, and it was a nice view. It was then down the path before the cottages near the visitors' centre and down Devilsden Wood, coming through a clearing and crossing over to climb the hill up to Happy Valley on the other side, taking in the lovely view from there too before walking past the busy car park (a lot of people clearly drove here) before passing The Fox pub.

It was then onwards to the bus stop to take the bus back homewards, and on the way back home I noted the busy queue at one of the larger Tesco stores that I passed. It only reinforced my view that going late evening (for example my local Lidl as that was empty) was a move I should carry on with, and saves endless time queueing too. I have accepted that out of sync times are the new normal, and luckily I have the local Sainsburys for daily things and again, if I go late in the day, that seems to be fine too. Needs must, as it were.

Last night and today I've also been playing some more vinyl records as well as having a spate of CDs with vocals not sung in English. I went back again today to play Kate Bush's Never For Ever, again, and whilst it does have the fab Babooshka on there, my favourite track is the album closer, Dreaming, which just sounds haunting and beautiful, and there's a duet with Roy Harper on there well, whom Kate describes in the album notes as holding on to the poet in his music. Couldn't have put it better myself Kate, so tune of the day right there.

Saturday 16th May - Up For Review

It was an earlyish start for me today, as I needed to venture out and get some essentials from a couple of shops - and wanted to be sure I wasn't spending most of the time queuing, so was out and good to go before 9.30am. This proved very worthwhile as I headed into Savers, got the large hair shampoo I use, and also some shower gel, bin bags and a few other items - and as I left I noticed that a decent sized queue had already formed. Same sort of thing with Iceland, got some nice burgers and pizzas, also some mozzarella cheese for the pasta bake I'll make during the week and so on, and it did look a lot busier when I left.

With all that done, I could spend a fair amount of time today having a good look at the Blaze Atari Handheld consle I'd got recently - and play it a fair bit I did, and that was the basis of the review I'll put up. In essence the main functionality appears fine, but there's some things which would have been so much better if executed properly. This to be fair though is a common fault with a number of pieces of hardware attempting to cash in on the retro fascination - they're done with money first and not necessarily thinking about the overall experience, which when done properly can be pretty special.

I must admit that such experiences make me more aligned to playing the original hardware for a fair bit, and later in the day the Atari 2600 came out and was ready to go. It still felt a very enjoyable experience actually, primarily because of the fact that even though you may not have the best graphics and sound ever, it's all about the playability and that pure one more go factor to see how much further you could get. It also reminds me of just how much I loved owning the 2600 Jr version and playing that in my late childhood too.

After having some rather ace Aberdeen Angus burgers for tea, it was time to get online and to chat online with three of my friends - even though we can't be together (and would have been a few weeks back) we did do a nice Saturday night extended chat with voice and video, and so got together tonight for the same. It did mean we could all kick back with a beer, so the Cronx Entire porter as well as the By The Horns Lambeth Walk porter also were drunk as part of that, and chat about all sorts, how we were all coping, and the various bits of news, media and football, notably as the Bundesliga was back today.

We ended up having a good conversation about some of the old games (and indeed some of the new ones) and reminisced over some of the classic games that we all played too. It was certainly a really enjoyable night and the four and a half hours or so didn't feel like that whatsoever. I even took advantage of the streaming feature and played back Dance of the Yao People (make that tune of the day) as covered in the classic Commodore 64 game Way of the Exploding Fist too - and it just really did feel like time had sped by but with a smile on all our faces, which was perfect to keep us all mentally healthy and well. When we do get together, it is going to be an absolute blast!

Friday 15th May - Haircut One Hundred

So at lunch time it was off to the local large Sainsburys, which has an Argos inside, to collect a click and collect order I made yesterday. It seemed that stock of hair clippers and grooming products were back in, and so ordered a Braun all in one groomer, which had various attachments for beards and also hair. I thought realistically I'd be able to do a relatively tidy haircut, not quite to the barbers' standard of course, but shift nearly three months of hair back to a controllable level. The queue at Sainsburys thankfully wasn't too long so got in, walked up to to the Argos counter, and the staff were all lovely and soon had the item in my hand and out of there.

I headed back on the bus back home, as the bus drops me off very close to home and because you cannot enter at the front and tap in with Oyster or contactless, travel is essentially free on the buses. This of course also should have been factored into a Government bailout of TfL as well - because that's a considerable number of £1.50 fares effectively lost, and multiply that by several loads. In any case, as I'd also got a couple of things from Sainsburys as well, it was shopping and that's allowed, so headed home via the Freshfields Market off licence for some rather nice beers, including the Gipsy Hill Maibock and the By The Horns' Lambeth Walk Porter too.

As I put the lunch in the microwave, I set off in the bathroom, over the sink and in the mirror, with the charged up groomer tool. I set the second longer attachment on to 13mm, around a number 4 or 5, and just did that all over. It felt a bit odd at first as clumps of hair came off, but over time this became relatively neater, and I could see clumps of hair coming off. Around 15-20 minutes later, I was all done, and I have to say it looked a lot better and shorter, and much more manageable too. Not perfect, as I'd need a proper barber for that, but it was good enough and later in our team meeting my manager did ask if I had located an open barbers's shop, so took that as a positive compliment all round. I'll most likely get The Love In My Heart to do some further tidy up when I next see her, but still am pretty pleased.

I also in the afternoon had a support call with one of the software vendors and worked out the issue why the inventory databases didn't work - it transpired you needed to apply two updates at once, and one had been applied but not the other, so we did that, then did an inventory sync, and all appeared to be well. In effect it then allowed us to do a daily update job and that pulled in the inventory data correctly, which was at least a positive. There's still an issue with the generic SaaS connector, but it looks like a primary key database related issue which needs further escalation, and at least I was able to provide some quality info for that.

I ventured out to Tesco later to get some meals for next week's lunches and also to be able to get a few other bits - and was also gauging the queue. It wasn't too bad and was able to get all I needed, and some washing capsules as well which was an added bonus because they were cheap. It meant I could kick back later, have a good chatter with The Love In My Heart, and then watch Gogglebox and The Last Leg. The latter, with all three of the hosts in their homes, is certainly very different, but the theme tune by Public Enemy still kicks backside so it's definitely tune of the day for me.

Thursday 14th May - Film Soundtrack Backing

Whilst working from home, I thought it'd be a good idea to play various film soundtrack CDs that I own, and have a good listen whilst working. Of course from my perspective it did mean that I could listen to some good music at the same time, and crack on with some investigations into uninstalling Office 365 with minimum fuss and not much difficulty, which was good - a XML file with the uninstall instructions would be enough to call the setup executable used in the Office deployment tool and get the job done that way.

First up was the Control soundtrack, with plenty of Joy Division (obviously) but also Buzzcocks, John Cooper Clarke, David Bowie and Kraftwerk as well. It was also a neat touch to have the actors who were the band in the film have their version of Transmission playing as it showed just how good they were musically (with Craig Parkinson as Tony Wilson - later of course to be The Caddy in Line of Duty.) Enter the Dragon was next with some classic Lalo Schifrin too - and for me having the excellent Big Battle playing loudly before at the end of side 1, I'd have to do Bruce Lee and proclaim "You have offended my family, and you have offended the Shaolin Temple". Simply because.

Judgement Night was up next - the film is absolutely terrible, but the soundtrack with the mix of metal and rap together on each track was just so great in any rock and indie night during the 1990s - everywhere played it full blast let me tell you. The Biohazard and Onyx track is just so brilliant and needs to be played very loud, so admittedly played it twice, tune of the day without doubt. Over lunch I changed tack and put on the Randy Newman score to Toy Story, and of course if you can't like You've Got A Friend In Me, and not have a smile on your face at the same time, well there isn't really any hope for you is there?

After lunch and a quick trip to Sainsburys to get some Bertolli as I needed it for the tea tonight, it was back to the soundtracks and changing mood with Lost Highway - a very cult David Lynch film and Trent Reznor arranged a great mix of NIN (obviously), Rammstein, Marilyn Manson, David Bowie and Angelo Badalamenti amongst others. It really did set that uncomfortable scene well - with next up after that being Danny Elfman doing what only Danny Elfman can do - film scores for Tim Burton films and the Goth classic that is The Nightmare Before Christmas. It doesn't have to be Christmas of course to tell you how good that all is, the What's This? track being one you will have heard over time even if you don't know all of the film.

It was then to the Requiem For A Dream score with Clint Mansell and the Kronos Quartet. It is uncomfortable listening but so is the book and the film too - classic cult great movie that. Clint of course in only his second film score provided an excellent backdrop, and on top of that a marvellous classic track Lux Aeterna, the one that got ripped off by everyone including Sky Sports News, meh. Clint wins, any day. I definitely need to watch the film again at some point so the DVD might just have to be put on at some point in time - need to upgrade to Blu-Ray for this one eventually.

The final two are from two of my favourite films - first of all The Crow, mid 90s dark gothic masterpiece that it is, and still a wonderfully dark mood. We're talking The Cure, Nine Inch Nails, Rage Against The Machine, Rollins Band and more, and there's an added darkness to it considering of course because of Brandon Lee's death when making it. I can't listen to After The Flesh by My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult without proclaiming in whispered form a la Lee: "You're all going to die." Finally, Pretty in Pink, with the likes of the Psychedlic Furs' title theme, OMD, The Smiths and New Order, with a version of Shellshock that isn't the same as on Substance - despite what you might think!

Wednesday 13th May - We Have The Power To Rebuild

After I'd ordered the replacement SSD for the PC and with it due to be delivered today along with the little adapter to ensure it goes in a 3.5 inch drive bay, it was definitely a good opportunity last night to head out to the local Lidl to do some food shopping. And to be perfectly honest, the later in the day, the better, as it appeared to be nice and empty, so I could head around at leisure, get all the things I needed and some good ingredients for doing curry, stir fry and pasta bake later in the week, and then from there head home with minimum of fuss. Which has to be a good thing.

I spent some time this morning liaising with one of our Networks team, and they were able to confirm that the port I needed for our inventory software to use our SMTP relay to send emails was blocked, and becuase I'd provided all the information, it was an easy enough scenario to fix. Sure enough I road tested this and from there I was able to schedule a mail to send a report, and it sent - perfectly. The project manager in charge of this was really pleased too - as I'd included him in the test, and all was working well. And so the rest of the day was spent sorting out some queries and also catching any PCs as they came online to ensure they got all the deployments needed.

At lunch time I had a delivery from Amazon, which was exactly what I had been waiting for. Thankfully I'd been able to back up the stuff I needed yesterday and my secondary large drive is perfectly intact with the main data on (and that is backed up). So a nice Western Digital SSD fitted on to the caddy and then slotted in the drive bay, and a perfect amount of space (just about enough) for the SATA power cables to do their thing as well as the data ones. As I normally do, I disconnected all other drives apart from the new one, and used my 8GB Kingston trusty pen drive with the Windows installation bootable media on that. Quick and smooth.

In fact the whole thing was relatively quick and smooth - I always have a backup of most of the custom software I have, and stuff such as Firefox and Thunderbird are always online to hand. I should note that I'm going to, where possible, avoid having Google Chrome on the new machine. It's taking up too much processing power and memory at the moment, and I'm having to use it at work for work purposes, but it can stay there and stay off my main machine. Firefox of course is still excellent and really does work a treat - and was able to bring in the bookmarks fine and my address book back into Thunderbird too - so all good.

In fact, the whole PC obviously feels a lot quieter now with less power being needed (positive) and it was quiet anyway, so definitely a plus point. I also used this opportunity to my advantage to keep things minimal and clean, and restored the picture of Brian the cat as the lock screen. Because I can. In fact he has been playing ball with The Love In My Heart, which is nice to hear, and he seems to have got back to his routine. I do miss them both, so Lisa Loeb's Stay (I Missed You) is therefore tune of the day - and if you've not heard that then maybe you should.

Tuesday 12th May - Building Blocks

So I turned on the home PC this morning just to check it was all okay and to get a few things in sync. However, I couldn't help but hear a little noise of how the hard drive appeared to be attempting to access a similar sector of the disk, but looked like it was stalling. I thought best to shut down, which took a while, and then get to the point of a diagnostic from the BIOS. It was as I thought: the hard drive was on its way out. Not good. Therefore it was time to get a new SSD drive ordered, and may as well use some of the money I got for my birthday to do so, so one drive and one little drive caddy (as the drive is 2.5 inch but the enclosure is 3.5) and should arrive later this week to sort out.

I had managed to get all the work laptop set up and good to go anyway, and the faster Internet connection really does help for some of the tasks I'm doing at the moment, so really does seem a good and sizeable improvement there. I know too that I've been able to at least refill the kettle with fresh water, and the filter is doing the job, so a decent brew isn't far away, thankfully. I must admit that what I did notice last night was the former car park opposite the block of flats I live in is now giving way to construction of a new block, which I knew. What I didn't see was they're already on the third floor in a matter of weeks, so constant drilling and banging is in the background. Good job I have double glazed windows.

Of course it does mean I get the CD collection at home to choose from when playing some background music for the day, and so decided to go into the world of my multichannel discs. One of them I simply had to play, the classic album that is Tubular Bells by Mike Oldfield (make the end part of Part 1 where Vivian Stanshall introduces the instruments tune of the day as its a bona fide classic.) I have the Super Audio CD version which is hybrid, so you can play the disc on a normal CD player. My Blu-Ray player is SACD capable (cheers Sony) and my Denon DVD player does DVD-Audio, so all well. One day I'll have to look at a universal model that will do both and then sell the other two.

I did of course also evaluate the fact that the new 2002 release of MECM is now available for us, and so have already raised a suitable change to happen for next week in order to get that done. One thing we will be able to do is to use some of the new functionality in order to get it talking to an eventual Cloud Gateway and possible Cloud DP due to some new functionality introduced, so that at least has to be something there. It's going to be good if I can pull it all off because we then have more options for compliance and indeed more options for distribution and checking inventory, so will see how that all pans out once the upgrade has been performed too.

I will venture out later for some food essentials but I did stock the freezer with some items before I had headed up North, and so the good thing is that it's not desperate, I've got stuff in should I need it which is a bonus. I think too that it'll be baby steps, gauging the number of people and also seeing what rules would apply in distancing terms. I will if need be use a scarf as a face covering if the need really does apply, so do have that as an idea and thought, but even so, it does make me wonder just how it'd all work when it goes full on when more shops and businesses open. We shall see. I am just pleased to be back in the groove and do feel relatively safe and secure.

Monday 11th May - Time To Go Home

With last night's announcement, it may have well been that I might have had to be back at work today, but in any case I had the day off work, so spent that time fruitfully well, having some me time with Brian the cat, wanting to play ball with him, and generally keeping him company. I wasn't going to look at work email but only logged in once to check if any company decision had been made on the possibility of offices reopening. They hadn't, but at the same time it was a case that over the next three to four weeks things might start to change. In any case, I had decided that at least back home might be a sensible thing - I had been at The Love In My Heart's place seven weeks already.

My other concerns were on the flat itself - I knew I'd locked it all securely, and the concierge would of course have warned me of anything going on, but at the same time I wanted to be sure that for example nothing was left in the fridge to go off, and so on. I had already had a train booked and knew distancing was in place, and planned to then stay down South for a number of weeks until there's any work based movements which allow more freedoms of travel. It was a hard decision to make, but knew it needed to be done in case I got called into go into work and therefore needed to be close to that opportunity - I can do the majority of the job from home but sadly there's some physical things I may need to be in the office for.

The Love had worked her early shift at work today and so had got home around 3pm, having stopped off via Asda for some food. She made the two of us a really posh burger with some chips and a big flat mushroom which was really nice of her, and we fussed over Brian the cat as we saw the statement in the House of Commons. Dear me, what a shambles, and dissected superbly by Keir Starmer, we thought. The Prime Minister added to the confusion people had and only a later document gave some clarity as to what were some of the rules. It's really annoying and to be honest it shows what a shambles the whole situation has been - if I could move to New Zealand and be governed by someone proper like Jacinda Ardern, I'd be in.

So later on it was with a real sense of sadness and emotion that The Love dropped me off at Manchester Piccadilly, we embraced for a hug and a kiss (remember, we've been in the same household so allowed) and I felt sad as I walked down the platform to the train. I had booked first class for a comfier seat and because there'd be less people - and there were. I was the only passenger on the whole carriage, which made me feel safer and distanced enough, and played the excellent Low Happening by Howling Bells to keep me company on the way (make that one tune of the day in any case). The train did divert via Northampton on to Milton Keynes, but did arrive in Euston three minutes early.

That actually allowed me to walk to St Pancras and get an earlier train to East Croydon too, which was appreciated. I walked back to the flat, and all was mostly well. There were only a few things in the fridge but emptied the whole lot and binned them, and had got some fresh milk from Sainsburys, so that was good for a coffee tomorrow. All was well otherwise, I managed to bleach the loo and clean that a bit and open the windows for some fresh air and all, but all in all, it was a relief to see everything okay. Be interesting to see what food shopping will be like tomorrow, so will venture out for food as allowed to and see what the state of play is then. But glad to be back and safe even though I am missing The Love and Brian the cat loads.

Sunday 10th May - Birthday In Isolation

So today is my birthday, and of course a more unusual birthday in terms of the fact that it was a birthday more under lockdown than anything else. Thankfully, family and friends had found a way of getting their packages or cards to me via the post or via a safely distanced drop off, so that did mean plenty of cards and presents to open, which was rather nice. A fair number of relations from both families had got me money, which was sensible considering, and Mum got me an All 4 One gift card, which of course I could use online at some retailers, so that made perfect sense too. And I got beer - a fair bit too. Some of The Love In My Heart's relations had got me some ales with their cards, which was nice.

One of my friends had kindly posted his present, and I ended up with Midnight Express, Colette and Lost In Translation on Blu-Ray, so plenty to be watched when I have the time to do so to be honest. My brother also came up with a great little present - a portable little hand-held console that played mainly Atari 2600 and a few Atari 7800 games, so that was pretty good all round. He had even put batteries in so I could actually play it - and gave that a go. Naturally the likes of Yars' Revenge went on there first as you can well imagine, but also nice to the try the 7800 versions of some games including Desert Falcon. It was also good that the packaging was minimal, and a SD card to add more games. Will be checking that out.

It was then time to open The Love's presents, and I had with her encouragement opened one earlier in the weekend - which was a selection of ales but it also included the limited Frank Sidebottom beers including Bobbins Bitter and Timperley Rhubarb ale. Absolutely fantastic, you know it is, it really is. She also got me a nice silver cafitiere with some nice fresh ground coffee to have a coffee at home, a nice short sleeved shirt, plus Le Mans 66 on Blu-Ray and the 1997 F1 Season Review on DVD. All excellent presents and I was really happy with The Love's selection, she did ever so well there and I'm so proud of what she got. That was nice to share those moments, and once we had a nice breakfast together we got ready to head out.

As the weather was colder but still dry, we headed to one of the local parks so we could loop around some of the paths that lead you to a local river, so you could then walk along the river bank, head back through the other side of the park and loop round. It wasn't the longest walk, probably a mile and a half or so, but at the same time it was just good to be out there together. It also meant that we noted one of the main roads having major resurfacing work - a good time to do it in my view whilst not much traffic around. Once back at The Love's place, we had an enjoyable game of Scrabble where The Love scored numerous excellent moves and seven triple word scores, she was brilliant.

We settled in for the late afternoon and as The Love made the tea, I watched on 5Select the first series of Britain's Lost Railways, with Rob Bell. It proved to be excellent and I loved the tracing of the old line from Plymouth to Okehampton and on to Exeter, and how reopening it would be a really good thing to do - not least if we have another flood like at Dawlish a few years ago. It was also good that plenty of local stories and history were featured and I really liked that. The Love made a superb meal - a proper chicken bacon and leek Gastropub pie, with some crushed herb potatoes, vegetables and gravy. It was gorgeous and so well worth it, and we celebrated with a glass of prosecco too.

The only downer on my birthday, ignoring the Prime Minister's unclear speech, was that we couldn't have had a meal together, but The Love's cooking instead was wonderful and made me feel special - I am so lucky to have her to be honest. Later on we watched another episode from Series Four of Line of Duty, followed by the fourth instalment of Sunderland Til I Die, focussing on their deadline day scramble to sign Will Grigg from Wigan Athletic, and cue to the chant to Gala's Freed From Desire and singing Will Grigg's On Fire instead (make that tune of the day as it's a tune) - and that was a lovely end to a really lovely day, considering all the current restrictions. I am so lucky to be with The Love In My Heart.

Saturday 9th May - Too Many Outside

It was a fairly relaxed day today with The Love In My Heart and I having a nice breakfast, and Brian the cat being relaxed and all chilled out - even if the older tabby cat decided to make an appearance and go past earlier on. We did plan to take our exercise later in the day and in fact couple this with a walk through the park so at least we'd get the fresh air in the warm weather but adhere to all the current guidance. The Love also had headed out to avoid a massive queue at Asda, and had got some nice food from Marks and Spencer food instead, more so for tomorrow, so that would be nice to be able to have anyway. I relaxed with Brian being all cute and wanting to play ball.

Once we had sorted out all the shopping, we decided to take a walk through the local park. Although it was good for us both to take a walk and to be able to get the fresh air despite the warm weather, I also felt rather annoyed all round. Far too many people making it an excuse to have a picnic, and indeed sunbathing in groups more than two people as well - totally ignoring the guidelines completely, and all those media headlines about lockdown being relaxed clearly are to blame for that. We should have stayed on message rather than leak things to the media, and this is the result. It made me feel a litle anxious to escape back to The Love's place to be perfectly honest.

It was at least nice that The Love does have a little outside space and some decking, and we made use of that as did Brian the cat. He wanted play time later on when it got darker, as he tends to like it when it is cooler anyway, so I took my turn to sit by the patio doors as Brian had his little wander. Of course it was good that he was able to keep an eye on the birds and looked out for them in the trees too. He was at least out there for some time which meant The Love could watch a royal documentary on dresses worn by the Royal Family, including the likes of Princess Diana, the Duchess of Cambridge and so on. All the usual suspects were of course on that one.

We also had a really nice pasta bolognaise for tea, with some penne pasta and some gorgeous beefy bolognaise, and I had a nice dark ale to have with that too which was part of a present which The Love allowed me to open early (and more on that tomorrow) which was a perfect compliment. I also took the time to head out to Asda when it was less busy and do the remaining shopping that The Love needed, which was so much more relaxed and no queues, so an epic win there of course. I must admit it was also good to see most of the shelves back to normal - even the likes of hand wash and loo roll seemed much more stable with people not being idiots and panic buying.

We also did watch Pointless Celebrities and that was quite entertaining, with family relations forming teams. I liked the round with unusual song titles and most of the contestants were spot on with the low answers too. I must admit I knew almost all of them, and out of those I still have a good fondness for Di do do do, di da da da by The Police (so that is tune of the day as it was when the band were still good) - and I was pleased Kate Robbins and her niece Molly, who does cake baking programmes on Channel 4, won - they were very clever and also witty too. Gutted that they didn't get the jackpot with the Corrie question mind you.

Friday 8th May - A Walk on VE Day

Today of course was the re-arranged Bank Holiday to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day, when victory in Europe was declared at the tail end of World War II. Part of me of course would have not liked there to have been wars or conflicts, but understanding the history of it all does give you some respect for those who fought for the freedoms we all now have, and indeed the sacrifices made by all at that time. It's a direct contrast in some way to the almost entitled feel people have now, and for me I will always treasure the fact we're in a democratic place, even if sometimes that democracy doesn't give you everything back in return (see this Governement's woeful handling of the current situation)

With that in mind, I decided to take a nice morning walk and wanted to go further along the Ashton Canal than before. The plan was to head all the way to Ashton-under-Lyne, and then it would be the tram back, observing all correct measures of course. The walk is around five miles or so, so would be quite scenic and hopefully quieter by going earlier in the day. With Brian the cat all good, I set off and headed for the canal and started walking along, following the Man City training ground and then onwards up several locks before reaching the Strawberry Duck pub, and the little bridge that goes over the canal by there and one of the locks, and onwards towards the bridge at Edge Lane.

It was then onwards towards the Fairfield Junction and locks, and this actually is the final lock going upwards before you get to Ashton-under-Lyne as it turns out. It was flatter onwards as the canal turned towards Audenshaw, went under the Ashton Old Road, then further on passed by some lovely houses with gardens backing on to the canal, and then on to near Guide Bridge station, and following the railway all the way to the Portland Basin, where the canal officially ends at a junction, turn right for the Peak Forest Canal and on to Marple via the locks, or straight on to the Huddersfield Narrow Canal (via the Asda car park). As it was around 11am as I got to the junction, I paused for the two minute VE Day silence.

It was then on to the main road and followed this through the town centre and on to the terminus of the tram, where I boarded a very empty double tram and took this back to The Love's place. It had been a good walk and actually would be nice to walk back the other way too at some point, but glad I got some good exercise. I noted on the way back that the local Asda car park and queue was totally rammed, so really not going to head there any time soon to be honest. Instead I headed home, fussed over Brian the cat, and then settled in to the Formula 1 Youtube channel to watch an absolute classic race - the 1982 Monaco Grand Prix of all things.

This is still my favourite F1 race of all time - it may have started with a Renault initial domination, but of course Rene Arnoux spins off, Riccado Patrese chases down Alain Prost, the rain comes, and then all hell breaks loose, with Prost going off, Patrese going backwards down the Loews Hairpin but managed to bump start going downhill, Didier Pironi running out of fuel on the last lap, as did Andrea de Cesaris, leaving Patrese to eventually win. Murray Walker and James Hunt were on top form and of course back then The Chain by Fleetwood Mac would have played, so definitely tune of the day for me no question, a classic bit of music if ever there was one.

Thursday 7th May - The End Of The Working Week

Well, the final day for me at least. It was a good and positive day today for me as I spent some time packaging up the new versions of both Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome to add to our Windows 10 build task sequence. Of course it meant that I could test them out and ensure that they could deploy fine before adding them into the build and getting them working fine, and raised a planned change accordingly to that effect. It was also good to road test out some other options that I was looking at for the future, including the likes of integrating some more applications such as our inventory client. I think too it was also good to have a one to one chat with my line manager as well.

It was starting to get warm and you can always tell because Brian the cat doesn't always eat his tea when he normally does. I gave him his tuna and prawn Encore as a special treat at his normal time, but he only had a bit before insisting on some Dreamies instead. Admittedly, he does tend to go more for dry food in this sort of weather, but as the sun went in later and The Love In My Heart headed homewards, he was at least able to then go back and scoff some more. He quite likes that as a special treat because there are proper whole prawns in there, which is special for him. I think he really does love to be fussed over but also be fed well - he is spoilt after all.

The Love had been in work and having a little bit of a VE Day party a day in advance, as many of her colleagues are all off tomorrow. She is in tomorrow, the first time I can ever remember he working a bank holiday, but there are reasons for this and she is also being paid well for it, so considering the current situation, a bit of a no brainer for her to go really. As a result though she did bring back some scones and some Rodda's clotted cream, so after tea we had one with of course jam first and the clotted cream on top. It was gorgeous and just a nice little treat before we of course joined the clap for carers at 8pm, which the whole block seemed to join in as a community measure, so nice all round.

Then we decided as there was nothing on telly that we would head back to watch Line of Duty on iPlayer. We finished series three the other night and so on to series four, amazing to think really that they got Thandie Newton on as Roz Huntley, and also her husband is played by Lee Ingleby (who you may have seen on the likes of Innocent and The A Word). The first episode certainly set it all up for some drama ahead, with Jason Watkins playing the forensic inspector Ifield so well, and so spookily too later on. I can remember us watching this first time round and it really was a sense of what was happening, and it's still a rather special series to say the least. Well worth rewatching.

The Love needed an early night due to tomorrow, and so left me to watch the next episode of Series two of Sunderland Til I Die, which followed the club during the 2018-19 series. The massive push towards the Boxing Day game against Bradford and an attempt to get the highest attendance in the third tier in the modern era (which ended up being just over forty six thousand) was really pushed by one of the top brass, giving the marketing team a hard time to say the least, sometimes a bit unfairly in my view. But still, an impressive effort and a win too, so all worked out well in the end. I do like the theme tune to this series, so definitely for me tune of the day no question.

Wednesday 6th May - Ooh, I Could Crush A Grape!

It was a productive day for me today as I got to the bottom of an issue where a few machines, when performing the Windows 10 1909 upgrade, were failing at around 17 per cent. This is normally when there's compatibility checks performed during the process, and this is often due to one particular driver as it turned out. The xml file gives you the name of the OEM inf files to check, and the consistent one seemed to be related to the Intel Software Guard. Updating that driver, and then getting an upgrade done, appeared to work flawlessly without any issues, so I am going to reach out to a Windows 10 user on an older machine and see what happens there, but seems positive.

I've also been using Excel for one of the many reasons that it's infinitely better than Google Sheets - the Power Query functionality and how you can connect to Active Directory. This is really handy say for example if you have the primary usernames in MECM, but you want their full name and email address from AD. Import the AD table and adapt the query to the fields you want (mail, samAccountName etc) and then once done, vlookup can be done to bring in the data corresponding to your username. Easy to do, and as vlookup is not really good enough in Google Sheets, definitely the way to go with this one. There are times when you really do need the tools for the job in hand.

After having some lovely steak cooked by The Love In My Heart for tea, we settled in with the next instalment of The Great British Sewing Bee. I must admit of course that the Children's Week can be a bit twee sometimes, but the challenges were anything but. The first one of making a smocked dress had some of the contestants doing smocking which they had never done, and of course as The Love pointed out, Princess Charlotte is often wearing said dresses these days, so definitely is on trend. Some came out very well, I liked Ali's bold red design but Matt's was also very good and a deserved winner for me on that one - the right levels of accuracy and clean design.

The transformation challenge was certainly different - transform a coloured sleeping bag into a fancy dress outfit where the food must be recognisable from the outfit. I had to giggle as Esme struggled to spot a pizza that Ali had made, but for me the attention to detail on Therese's purple sleeping bag, transforming it into a bunch of grapes, was excellent. It reminded me of Stu Francis in Crackerjack, with the catchphase he had (Ooh, I could crush a grape.) The official Sewing Bee Twitter account saw my tweet and responded with the question - but coud you jump off a doll's house, meaning they got what I meant straight away. That was pretty fab actually and definitely cheered me up.

That garment was deserved garment of the week, although I have to say that Therese's dungarees in the made to measure were also excellent, but my favourite of those belonged to Liz, who went all stars with her child (who totally looked cool and even donned some DMs for her) - and it looked cool. In fact I was surprised she didn't have a pair of Converse to match to be honest, but there you go. Still Fiona not finishing was her downfall, and she left the show - it could have been last week to be fair, so it did go as we would think. The theme tune to said show is tune of the day but I still would have liked it to have an extra cha-cha-cha bit at the end, as it would just work.

Tuesday 5th May - We're The Worst In Europe

So the figures were announced today in the Government's press briefing at 5pm. And what it showed was the stark and dark statistic: in terms of number of deaths from COVID-19, the UK is now the worst country in Europe for this total, and second in the world only behind the USA. This for me really did hit home just how poorly the Government has handled the whole thing - from not getting into lockdown early enough, not doing nowhere near enough testing, not providing enough protective equipment, and of course forgetting about care homes with a real lack of focus and only including them as an afterthought. It really does make my blood boil and I do feel rather angry.

So here's the thing. Effectively, all the media is now attempting to distract this figure with the fact that different countries report the figures differently, and that we aren't going to be able to do a full comparison. No, not having a piece of that. These are just classic deflection tactics when the main figure is there, in black and white, and the total is several thousand deaths too many due to the inaction taken. Imagine if we'd have had more regular testing early, got lockdown in earlier, and actually didn't have political advisers in the SAGE committee, who only went public with most of the names after other scientists formed an Independent Sage Group.

At times like this, it's rather telling when you look over the other side of the world and look at the superlative work carried out by the New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern. If you ever wanted a lesson in leadership, then she is the example to follow. Lockdown came in early, despite a small initial number of cases. Travel restrictions not to allow passengers into the country were also early. As was testing, and contact tracing. All of that backed up by assured polite and sensible communications which kept the public informed and onside. The result of which is now clear - no new cases in the last two days, coming out of lockdown partially, and a positive result overall.

So it's all very well attempting to spin up any form of thing like we're more densely populated, or whatever, but the numbers are there, simple as. In fact when the cast of Gogglebox more accurately reflect the mood of the nation better than any media has (cue Izzi saying it was a total s***show for example) it does make you wonder what sort of job some of them are doing. As much as I dislike Piers Morgan, even he has been scathing of the current inaction and at least attempting to get some answers. Answers we all need. The fact is this - we are the worst in Europe now. Let that sink in and if that doesn't make you feel mad, nothing will to be perfectly honest.

I did at least manage to resolve a couple of good issues today at work and definitely the likes of the Pet Shop Boys classic It's A Sin (make that one tune of the day helped me get through the day well. I was able to test another piece of software and look at recommending that instead for a possible solution - however there is a cost involved so we may have to approach that sensibly and carefully. I also know realistically I am quite lucky in that I am able to at least get on with things and work well to best of my ability, with Brian the cat keeping me company and often wanting to play ball whenever he can, which is nice.

Monday 4th May - Not A Bank Holiday

So, today normally would have been the May Day Bank Holiday and would have been off work, but that got moved to this Friday in advance of the 75th anniversary of VE Day and therefore making it a long weekend commencing Thursday night instead. Not that of course anything potentially can go ahead on that side now, but it does go to show that all the plans were there originally, and there will be something in terms of the fact that there will be a performance in the Royal Albert Hall, albeit with no actual people there to watch it. I'm sure every eventuality is being covered but it does show the times that we are in currently, so we shall see what happens.

It would have also been the final of the World Snooker Championship today but of course that didn't happen either, with a hope that it may be able to be played at the end of July and beginning of August. Naturally if that happens I will be glued to the telly and potentially depending on what we're currently experiencing, I may be able to head to Sheffield for some of that. It would be different of course, but at the same time if it did go ahead it'd be good to watch when it does happen. I did miss the fact I'd be watching it and having the wonderful Hazel Irvine introduce the show and bring on Rob Walker to get the boys on the baize and so on.

So instead it was off to work from home, and off to work for The Love In My Heart as well. It was nice to be able to get some input into some future plans, but also to be able to further road test an application which effectively we wanted to use. One of our Service Team had reported that it couldn't run unless you weren't an admin, and I did some further investigation into that. As it transpires, there were a number of reasons why, not least because the application had a security certificate which had expired, but also was only SHA-1, so Windows 10 would correctly reject that, and rightfully so. I promised I'd do some further checks later on.

I continued to plough through and then remembered the Application Compatibility Toolkit as part of the Windows 10 ADK. In effect you can ensure compatibility is correct by activating various options, saving that into a database which you then import into a target machine and test. Unfortunately even classic options such as run as invoker and others failed to work the way they normally would do, which showed that the application wasn't really fit for what it was designed to do. A real shame but it shows that we at least exercised some due dilligence on that one, and was able to present back. Still frustrates me that I couldn't get things working right, but that's the problem when you're a perfectionist at times.

Later on, The Love had made some lovely gammon with a barbecue glaze alongside some vegetables, and I kept quiet during Coronation Street as it was a dramatic storyline she didn't want to miss. What I did enjoy later was the small Isolation Diaries drama with Sheridan Smith filming at her own place, having her fiancee film her doing the part too. Pretty good too. In terms of tunes, I had Absolute 80s on and it didn't disappoint with Bruce Springsteen blasting out Born In The USA, so definitely tune of the day for me there. Can't be the only one to think that The Boss would make for a much better president of that country at the moment.

Sunday 3rd May - Circles of Canals

The Love In My Heart had a well earned lie in - as she had been up since around 7am with Brian the cat as he wanted to play out. Brian of course has no semblance of time in terms of what day it is, and so wants to play out no matter what. The Love does get used to that, but it does mean that it's often better she can head back to sleep. In any case I could settle in the front room and watch Match of Their Day from last night, which had three classic matches selected by Martin Keown. This included Arsenal's 4-0 win over Everton in May 1998, where Tony Adams scored a cracker at the end and it meant that they had clinched the title.

The Love got up later and we had a really nice brunch together - some bacon, sausages and egg along with toast, hash browns and so on. It was just good to be able to relax and have some food, and that set me up nicely for a walk later in the day. I must admit I do treasure my exercise and being able to have a walk outside as the only possible way of heading out, keeping fit and obeying all the current restrictions. I had an idea of a different walk as well so thought about my route, and left The Love and Brian the cat to relax with Phil and Kirstie in old school Location Location Location too. And with the weather being decent, that was a good thing.

So I headed along the road towards Philips Park Cemetery, and followed the main road through there towards the Roman Catholic section at the far end, then turned right, crossed the river, and back up through Bank Bridge Meadow. I then headed up towards Clayton Vale taking the top path nearest to Clayton before heading down the hill at the middle part, crossing the bridge over the River Medlock, and back across the other river path and then towards the hill that takes you out and towards Culceth Lane, under the railway. The road is quite steep here though and once up the hill, it was along the lane and towards the centre of Newton Heath.

After that, I headed through the centre, and spotted the queues at Iceland and Asda, and off then to the Rochdale Canal, following the tow path back towards the city centre. You start at lock 69, and head down nine locks towards lock 78 at Hulme Hall Lane, heading with houses on one side and some industrial areas on the other side. Plenty of ducks were around as well, and it was nice to see families around that were feeding the ducks and ducklings that were along the canal too. If I had of course wanted to head down further I'd have ended up in Castlefield, but I wanted to be safe and then head back towards The Love's place, but the walk was good.

Later on The Love and I had a really good game of Scrabble. I have to say The Love excelled herself with a cracking move - making PICKLE from the centre left, with the K on double letter, so that totalled 57 in all. She also later on played FAX, OX and JO (blank used as O) with double letter on the X both ways for 46, so that was also excellent too. The Love indulged herself later with Bridget Jones' Baby on DVD, and of course that makes her giggle all the way throughout, not least the opening scene of bouncing around to House of Pain's classic Jump Around (make that tune of the day) which reminds me of many an indie night in the 1990s.

Saturday 2nd May - Walking and Chatting

It was a nice lie in for The Love In My Heart and Brian the cat, and it was a case of them resting and relaxing whilst I headed on to the Formula 1 Youtube channel, and watched the 1999 European Grand Prix from the Nurburgring, which was a dramatic race to say the least. They were because of the changeable weather conditions, which caught out many a driver, including the then leader David Coulthard, when he spun off having decided to risk not changing tyres. One driver who did get it right was Johnny Herbert, who changed tyres to wets at the right time, got through the field and changed back to dries, and managed to stay in front for a superb win.

After The Love In My Heart had headed out to run a few errands and a bit of shopping, I decided to do my daily exercise and head for a walk. I'm lucky in that close to The Love's place, there are a few different green spaces that I can head to. So I went through Philips Park, and then off towards Clayton Vale, taking the upper path close to the railway, and then following that to the top of Berry Brow and the railway level crossing. I followed the road down Berry Brow and back up the other side towards Edge Lane, and then walked along Edge Lane back towards the tram stop, and followed Edge Lane to the Ashton Canal.

It was then along the towpath of the Ashton Canal, past the old Strawberry Duck pub, and following the locks downhill towards the back of the Manchester City training complex, and past the entrance to the Velodrome before then heading off the canal and back towards The Love's place. This had given the time for The Love to do anything domestic needed and also give Brian the cat plenty of fussing without me being there, which was good for him. He had spotted tabby cat as well walking past to his eagle eyes were spotting that. We settled in for the afternoon with a game of Scrabble where The Love played some excellent moves and did really well - again.

Later on after having a stuffed crust pizza for my tea, it was then on to setting up the laptop ready for an evening chat with three of my friends - we would of course had a weekend togegther last weekend, but due to the current situation that of course didn't happen. We had arranged an online chat similar to last weekend, but also we managed to have web cameras all working so we could have video as well as voice. One of us had a small camera issue but we got that resolved nicely, so we could relax and chatter, and with beer of course. It was just good to see everyone albeit virtually and with some gorgeous Zombie Cake ale, all was good.

Hard to believe that four hours or so went by so quickly really, but it was a really good chat all round. Plenty of chat about retro gaming and of course the good old Commodore 64, and that was excellent. We even incorporated some mentions of games where the tunes had been covered, which included Ancestors by Synergy (make that one tune of the day due to its rather excellent synths.) Later on we also got chatting about different beers, old school times that we met over weekends and some classic pictures, and some wonderful times had. It was also great just to talk football and how that might resume or not, and where did that time go, I wondered. Just the boost we all needed.

Friday 1st May - May Day

It's the first day of a new month, and so it was a case of cracking on with the day's job in hand, which was mainly to look at some of the inventory software and see if scheduled reports could go out. From what I could see the answer appeared to be no, primarily because of the fact that the port for the sending appeared to be blocked, so I've raised that accordingly so see what can be done. The good and positive thing is that at least I know from the log files exactly what it is, so we can see how that operates once that issue is fixed. It could also mean we can send reports out as needed and on an automatic schedule too.

I was also able to resolve an issue as to why a couple of clients weren't taking the in-place upgrade to Windows 10 version 1909. I suspected what had happened was that the Software Distribution folder in the Windows folder was corrupted, and thankfully I've got a little bit of useful scripting to fix that. I fixed it, and at the scheduled time, it started to do what it should do. Happy days. It's been a good case of being able to test everything properly and work out a positive way of moving forward on a number of similar issues. Compared to where we were a month ago, it all looks pretty good all round.

I had also come up with a useful bit of Powershell yesterday so that if we needed to remove old versions of Google Drive file stream, we could do so. The uninstall command is in the same registry key, every time, with the value data for the uninstall string just being different depending on version. The key then is to read that value, pipe it into a string in Powershell and use that to start a command and add the arguments at the end, and badabing, it works. Flawlessly. It might not be the most complex script ever, but it does work and work well, so that proved to be quite good to move forward with and progress onwards.

I did my chorizo pasta bake tonight for myself and The Love In My Heart, which she appreciated. In fact I got the pasta bake sauce which had pepperoni pieces in as well, so it was a nice mix overall and tasted spot on. It worked out well and meant that The Love didn't need to do anything, and we could then head to the local Asda and get the shopping all sorted - and it was straight in, no queues, and pretty much all of what we needed in stock as well. The good thing is that I was able to treat myself to some Brewdog Zombie Cake, a gorgeous chocolate porter ale, so will be indulging a little over the weekend for that too.

Later on The Love and I settled in to watch Googlebox on Channel 4, and that was pretty good despite the fact that it was a case of staying in and watching telly. I was quite intrigued that they had the finale of Race Across the World, but they also had the drama of Killing Eve with Eve and Vilanelle meeting on a London bus of all places. I must admit though I did like the fact that they had mentioned This Morning, which even after all these years still has a similar theme from when it was in Liverpool, so that's tune of the day - but could do without Eamonn bloody Holmes though, it has to be said.