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:


Friday 17th January - Ignite The Tour Day Two

It was back at West Croydon for another Overground and DLR combo and back to Prince Regent and the ExCeL for day two of Microsoft Ignite - The Tour. Today was about covering various different items of interest and also seeing what else was happening out there at the same time. Thankfully as most people had registered for both days, there were no queues at all anywhere but a fair few people getting here early and taking advantage of the very nice little pastries for breakfast along with coffee, and set the tone nicely for the day to come, with a lot to cover.

The first session was a seminar about how to banish "Imposter Syndrome", excellently hosted by Dona Sarkar (yes, it's spelt Dona like that before you ask, I checked) - she mentioned that everyone who works in IT at some point would have felt that they weren't always qualified to do the job that they do, and that doubts creep in. There were ten useful pieces of advice how to work around that and also prove that actually, you're good at what you do and it's no shame if you're working in a team and calling in your colleagues to help you along too. It really made me think about how I've felt in those situations and was most pleased to see it wasn't just me - a weight lifted off the shoulders it has to be said.

The rest of the morning was spent looking at operations and incidents and how the response is absoutely key in making sure that an incident is dealt with efficiently. The whole stream referred to what's called the Dickson Hierarchy of Reliability, interestingly enough, with a focus on avoiding unplanned where possible, but also look into using some logic based applications in order to see if there is a repeatable pattern, or what has been done before, and the key thing - keep everyone informed who needs to be. Nothing worse than reporting an incident and not having any feedback, right?

The lunch queue was less this time around so managed to get something and it was back to the incidents section,this time dealing with leaning from failure and what needs to be done, with the point of never assuming that a system will never fail, but also that a good post-incident review is absolutely key to learning, and to collect conversations around that. The other thing is to have an independent person to chair the review meeting so that there's no bias around what was found, resolved and importantly of all - do not blame anyone. I would agree with the latter especially, we're all human and the key is not to go after people, unless you're a bad employer.

I also did bump into one of my former colleagues at one of the jobs in London - was nice to see him, and then it was into another session and this time to look at the developer features which are native to newer versions of Windows 10. So for example, the Windows Linux subsystem so you can effectively write and execute code as if you were in an Ubuntu Linux session. This was pretty cool, and the fact you have a command line where you can switch between that, Powershell and the command prompt was also good - I'll have to dabble with the Linux side a bit more it has to be said.

The final talk of the day was all about bringing the human side into IT, and featured two speakers who passed on their experiences of how bringing in a more human interaction worked, and how in fact that actually gets the best out of people. I found this fascinating, as I am always human focussed when dealing with IT, because ultimately we're all people who use systems or data to some degree, and having a like minded conversation was showing me I was on the right path after all. I was so pleased, and it ended the two days rather well with me feeling pretty positive overall.

I headed back on the DLR and tube to West Croydon and nipped into Marks and Spencer on the way home - as the fab Grapefruit IPA craft can had been reduced to £1 each, and I got the last two. I might even have one later when watching the Masters snooker from Alexandra Palace. I did however on the way home have the original of the Ruts' classic "Babylon's Burning" and indeed played it loudly when I got home (I have it on a compilation but really need to get the 7" single sometime) and so that's tune of the day.

Thursday 16th January - Ignite The Tour Day One

It was an earlier than usual start for me, as I wasn't off to work, but instead off to an event - namely Microsoft Ignite The Tour at the ExCeL in East London. I've been there before for other Microsoft events such as the cloud conference a few years back, but definitely thought it worth going to this one especially after there had been other announcements made during the initial main Ignite event in Orlando. For me it's a bit less painful (although it takes a litle more time) to get there - simply Overground from West Croydon to Shadwell and then head on the DLR from there to Prince Regent - the main events are in the Eastern end of ExCeL, so this is nearer.

The train was all fine, albeit busy, and managed to get the golden seat on the DLR - for those in the know, this is the front seat where you can pretend that you're driving the train if you want. In fact I even did a little video capture between Blackwall and East India, just to show the view you would get from the front. It was very nice to see the journey like that, and once at ExCeL I got the registration and the name badge all sorted. I was glad I turned up earlier and managed to get a coffee and some breakfast though, as the queues later were pretty busy and half way down the main thoroughfare in the centre of the venue!

My day today was all about the deployment track - five sessions, back to back with breaks in between, giving you an overview of what is happening in terms of new features, and the way that the Microsoft Endpoint Manager suite is going to be a changer. They've aligned more closely ConfigMgr (SCCM, to renamed MEMCM for short) and InTune, as well as desktop analytics and a host of features around it all. The main goal is not only to get to co-management as a good option but also to embrace the power of having both available to effectively do management and have some cloud based option there (granted, it also needs Azure AD, so bear that in mind folks!)

It was interesting to note also the push towards Windows Autopilot again. For Macs for example, the devices are registered with Apple, you tell them your management solution (for example JAMF Pro) and the enrolment happens when the box is opened. In effect, Microsoft want you to work with suppliers and OEMs to that effectively the devices are pre-registered and then allowed to be brought in with the autopilot so that the settings and all you want are done that way - but of course you need a clean machine from the OEM, and indeed a sensible way you'd get the core applications deployed as part of that.

Another takeaway was the Microsoft AppAssure - effectively if you have an application that won't run on Windows 10 for whatever reason, they'll get someone to fix it for you. For free. Now, I kind of think this should have happened a couple of years back and been promoted more so that it would mean less pain for transition for those going from Windows 7 (which, if you really have to, can run a virtual desktop in Azure to isolate the risk - or for something non-virtual, get those extended support agreements in place, but only as a last resort if you really do have to.) This I should add also includes macros for the likes of Word.

One other interesting take away for me was the use of Insider Preview was encouraged - maybe for some IT staff and / or developers so that they can test new stuff beforehand and make sure things work properly - you'd almost want a dedicated set of users for that. Interestingly, they also mentioned that Windows 10 1909 supports TLS 1.3 as one of the out of the box core features. That was pretty quiet till I spotted it on the slide. It was also interesting that there was a push towards delivery optimisation and using the existing boundary groups within SCCM (soon MECM) so do that.

After a long queue for lunch where delegates were told to only have two sandwiches and some salad (no wonder all the other eateries were so busy down the main part of ExCeL!) it was in to the afternoon, where it focussed more on the security and also a focus on doing the cloud attachment from SCCM to InTune in order for co-management to at least not necessarily start, but start to be able to use some of the management admin console features first and develop as you go. And yes, clients need to be hybrid Azure AD joined for this to happen, so important. The tenant attach looked straightforward to do, but real world practice, as ever, will vary.

What made the afternoon nice was that I bumped into two members of staff from one of my old jobs in Manchester, and indeed another one later on. They had come down for the two days as well and as two of them were now in a central team focussing on the central estate, they mentioned to me that they had planned to stay current with their SCCM/MECM estate as not having some of the features wasn't a good thing, especially for Windows deployments. It was good to see them and I'm sure that they'll be reporting back to the masses there that they saw me!

After the final session on a zero trust security strategy, I headed first off to Wimbledon Park to get my hair cut by the fab staff at James Barbers, and then back towards central London and to the King and Queen in Fitzrovia for tonight's Totally Acoustic gig, hosted as ever by Mark (MJ) Hibbett, and having two rather good bands on. In fact Mark was asking a few of us to record a bit of a vocal for a forthcoming single for the Validators, so ended up flexing the vocal chords for that one, along with Ruth Miller, the lead of the band PO! who were playing tonight, and a few others too, so that was good.

So after Mark played a couple of songs, including a brand new one about the night after being drunk and doing okay considering, it was on with Panic Pocket. They had lots of really nice songs and the combo of Sophie on synth, Natalie on guitars with them both doing vocals was spot on. In fact the little keyboard was on battery (thus keeping in the "not plugged in, not miked or nowt" theme of Totally Acoustic of course) and the songs were lovely. I really liked "Don't Get Me Started" which told of a chance meeting in a Morrisons car park, and "Mr Big", a song all about Sex and the City, and how you may end up being like one of the characters, all good and thoroughly enjoyable!

It was then on with PO! - and the set list was a different idea - twelve pictorial clues to the song titles, and you picked a letter from A to J in random order and the band would play it. Nice idea, and worked pretty well too. It was a very good mix from all of the back catalogue, including the likes of "Appleseed Alley", "Confidence" and also the lovely two parter that is "Bus Shelter.." and "... In The Rain" - which told of the fact that if you lived in the countryside hanging out in the bus shelter (usually a brick or stone one) was the closest you'd come to any form of disco and that was what you did. The band also did an excellent fast paced acoustic version of The Ruts' classic "Babylon's Burning which was ace, and the song about the horse, "Albert Stole My Heart" was also brilliant, so tune of the day there for me.

It went all too quickly, and twelve in all quality songs from Ruth and the rest of the band. It was so nice to see so much gusto in their playing (and bear in mind they've been going since 1987, so longevity is also to be respected hugely) and really enjoying themselves too. I for one was appreciative of the little PO! badge, and got the sky blue one, and braved the rain later to head down to Warren Street tube to go back via Victoria station and off home for the night.

Wednesday 15th January - Ballache and Ballrun

It was another productive day of sorts today, as I wanted to get to the bottom of why a few of the Macs out there, despite being managed properly, didn't seem to have the right antivirus software on there. It transpired after investigation that although they should have invoked a policy and indeed been able to run once as needed, the policy trigger could never kick in, and so set that to check in but to do it only once, and badabing, that seemed to do the job nicely, with the number left to go left down to a much more reasonable level overall, so pleased with that.

In fact I also managed to look at a script that would tell me, for any machine, if a restart was pending in any way. This would include checking the registry for any pending file renaming operations, checking the SCCM WMI classes to see if anything there flagged as a reboot needed, and similarly for Windows updates and the like. I tried a few scenarios, all good. In fact I was able to check some registry remotely and found that there were a fair number which did need a reboot. Interestingly, one or two of those were ones I needed to do to ensure one piece of software could be removed (it needed to boot back up in order to do so!)

I was able to present my findings for that, and indeed get all the January cumulative updates sorted. In fact there was one for Windows 10 which was much needed to go, and thankfully that was one that was there, so will be tested and be good to go. In fact it was interesting seeing how many people out there were complaining (not in a work sense, but online) about the whole set of warnings that Windows 7 support had now expired and it was time to upgrade. I guess people have had long enough but I can see also why they liked the old OS too.

The journey home however was a go slow to say the least. It was okay to London Bridge but between there and New Cross Gate, it was pretty bad, and it was just stuck at various signals despite trains going past on the supposedly slower line. Madness. Anyway, it eventually got to East Croydon some twenty five minutes late, so Delay Repay time later on, which is not what I want to really be doing, but there you go. I think on the whole that for me it shows that some things never change.

I did watch the snooker tonight and saw Stuart Bingham win well 6-2 against Mark Williams - notable too that Mark has gone for the Queen classic "Don't Stop Me Now" as his walk on tune, so make that tune of the day. It was also notable that the game was 2-2 going into the mid-session interval but that changed things and the Ballrun was in a mood to be potting and did ever so well, getting over the line in a good final frame. He hardly ever gets past the first round of the Masters so a welcome win for him here I reckon.

Tuesday 14th January - Meeting Maker

It was a case of a number of meetings during the day which was a break from performing suitable due dilligence on a number of things. In fact it meant that I was able to express some of my concerns with the forthcoming migration to one set of applications we're looking at doing - the initial testing I did with a colleague wasn't convincing to be honest, and definitely a sign of more work needed to be done, and I have some ideas as to how things can be done to get stuff sorted.

We did have a team meeting in the late afternoon which worked out nicely for the five of us to thrash out suitable ideas - it's better later in the day as our colleague over in Salt Lake City can join us as well. It was good to be able to chatter and actually in a closed room and be able to discuss all sorts without interruptions. I think sometimes less is more when you are working on solutions and need the team to be all at one with what's going on. And with the weather not being so good outside, sensible to be in a reasonably cosy office.

Not that the way home was that nice, primarily to the wind and rain that greeted me as I got to East Croydon station. I knew that the surfaces would be slippery but outside the wind was howling a fair bit, and so it proved as I headed down the street to the flat - in fact the wind was coming at me almost horizontally which did mean that I had to stay low and head down, and that wasn't pretty at all. I can still hear plenty of wind howling right now which is not very nice at all.

I watched the evening session of the Masters snooker on the BBC Red button, and I have to say that John Higgins looked in decent form - maybe not at his absolute best, but more than enough to beat Barry Hawkins 6-1, the only frame that Barry won was with a century break which did please the crowd as well. It was the first match out of the six first round matches that the higher ranked player had won, which says about how many shock results there had been - and I saw one of them myself of course.

I did also put the Wii on for a while tonight and having cleaned up the little Wii Remote Plus add-ons, went to play Wii Sports Resort for the first time in a while. It was still good to do the frisbee golf and the frisbee dog games and can still do well on those, as well as the pretty ace basketball three point game as well - again, simple stuff maybe but done well and with a sensible control system reacting well - I quite like the title theme of that game so it's tune of the day for me.

Monday 13th January - Out of Bounds

I spent some time this evening not only having an enjoyable session of gaming on the trusty Wii, but also re-downloading, whilst I still could, all the WiiWare games I'd purchased over the years back on to the SD card, which made sense when I thought about it - I'd have them then no matter what and be able to play them even if the option to download existing purchases then gets removed in the future. Having thought about it, they may well have been on the other SD card I have somewhere - because Rock Band 2 and 3 couldn't use a SD Card greater than 4GB, whereas Guitar Hero Warriors of Rock could use a 16GB card for a shed load of tunes.

Anyway, I remembered well the games I had purchased and it was a case of heading to the shop channel and downloading the recognised purchases. This included the likes of TV Show King (and its sequel) complete with its funky title tune whereby me and friends would always sing "do the pornstar dance.." because of the way that the Mii contestants danced to the funky tune as if it was a 1970s low budget adult film. Still has plenty of appeal playing the game though it has to be said.

Then I went on to Fun Fun Minigolf, a nice little Japanese crazy golf (or mini golf) game and you used the Wii remote to simulate hitting the ball with the putter, and using the dpad to direct where the shot would be directed. In essence, the easy levels of course are relatively okay, but the advanced Europe course is pretty tough in places, although fair. The unfair part is that unlike a normal course where you hit the ball to wherever and you take the next shot from there, you have to keep it "in bounds" or else have someone go "out of bounds" (female voice if playing as a male character, and vice versa) - and that was recognisable.

In fact when I spoke to The Love In My Heart about that later on, she remembered that classic bit of speech and we were able to reminisce when we'd play the game at my old place. It still proved to be good fun, and I'd cleaned the Wii remotes up and charged my rechargable batteries, so proved all was still good and happy even now. I must admit that it's often overlooked how much the simplicity of using the controller meant that people who had never played games before started to pick them up - the classic tales of older people having tournaments on the bowling game on Wii Sports being a case in point, the theme tune of which is tune of the day - still an iconic classic.

In fact, one thing I did do was to clean up the controllers. The rubber guards are all well and good, but the problem over time is that they stick to the controller, leaving a residue on and a right mess. I decided to discard that and used some glass cleaner on a kitchen roll to sort that out - they came out ever so clean and really did look like new once I was done, so well worth the effort of doing so in my view. I need to dig out the guitar now I reckon and start playing the likes of Rock Band 3 and Guitar Hero Warriors of Rock in earnest I reckon.

Sunday 12th January - Masters Of Snooker And Football

It was a nice lie in to have this morning, before getting up and having some breakfast, and being all ready to head out to North London for the afternoon. I had got a ticket to the Dafabet Masters snooker at Alexandra Palace, and for the first time, I'd be going to the opening session on the Sunday afternoon. I hadn't always been able to go because of Manchester City home games, but it was the case that we were at Aston Villa later, so it all worked out well.

I headed on the train from East Croydon to Finsbury Park, meaning a much easier change over as I could swap to the next platform at there for the train to Alexandra Palace. This route has the new Class 717 trains now, so similar to Thameslink one but with 6 carriages, an exit at the very front (for when it's in the underground tunnels) and a bit more space near the doors too. It was all good and soon arrived and took the walk out of Alexandra Palace station up the hill and through the park to the palace itself, heading to the far end where the entrance to the Masters Snooker is.

There's been a few changes since my last Masters visit, and not just in the arena either. There's now three queues to get in, the all day tickets, session only tickets and VIP, each with a different wristband so you show on entry to the arena - makes sense to be honest because it filters the queues nicely. It didn't take that long, and the foyer has the usual mix of snooker based games. Notably, with the new WST branding, it's all different too - they had 6ft tables set up with crazy snooker with crazy golf like shots, and also a shuffleboard game where you lag the cue in the scoring zone andf not hit it too hard. That was definitely popular and can see all day ticket holders having fun with that in betwen sessions.

Inside the arena, there's the two VIP areas. I didn't like the look of the Century Club - granted you get the bar and so on, but you're also behind a glass screen with various dividing partitions, meaning if that was busy you may not necessarily get a good view either. It was also above all the seats so was quite elevated, not necessarily the best viewing angle. I much preferred the comfortable sofas (VIP Booths) where you had waiter service for drinks in between frames, and you were in a prime position at the bottom end of the table (think of the Crucible seats near where the players come out, only more comfortable and a little bit higher up.) I think if I was going down the VIP route, I'd prefer those to be honest.

Also what was interesting was the far end bar and café near the toilets also had two large glass windows which looked out on to the practice area, so you could see the players practicing before the match. I could see both Ding and Joe in preparation, and also Brendan Moore did the coin toss in there at the same time, so good to see that happening in real time and to feel a little bit closer to the action. The larger capacity of the arena did mean long waits at any bar or food stall, and indeed I was glad that I decided to go to the toilet as quickly as I could later on during the mid session interval - the queues were really busy and it may be something that WST need to look at along with the venue to see what more can be done. I can imagine some possibly missing a frame due to that.

Before the start of play, Rob Walker did his usual introductions and also had spotted the Eurosport studio with Jimmy White and Ronnie O'Sullivan in. He gave them both a nice intro and the fans cheered - and Jimmy turned round and gave everyone a wave. Ronnie just sat there and didn't turn round, which I thought was a bit off really - but each to their own. The new table graphics with each player having a graphic (such as a Dragon for Ding, a Gentleman for Joe) were a nice touch, although the red and orange lighting around the table might be a little bit too much overkill for some. Overall though, I did like the way it was transformed and did seem an improvement on previous years.

The match started pretty well, and it was a good total clearance by Ding in the second frame to level the match - definitely well worth seeing the first century of the tournament. It was nip and tuck all the way and Joe was making some decent breaks to keep the score level and honest. At 2-2 at the mid way it could have gone either way to be honest, and it was a crucial couple of mistakes from Ding, especially when he was 40-0 up in the eighth frame and made a bit of an error to allow Joe to clean up and win the frame well. Also in the seventh, Joe made some superb shots on the way to the clearance and a couple of flukes late on (black to top left being one) but the crowd took it well and he had a good laugh with them too. Good on him.

The final frame was a pretty nip and tuck affair early, but as Joe Perry edged further ahead, it was clear that he just needed to keep his head to win the match, and a really good controlled frame and some excellent positional shots won the day. I did feel sorry for Ding as the mid-session interval may have been at the wrong time, but credit to Joe for taking his chances from 3-3 and going on to win the match well. Quality entertainment for the afternoon, and that continued later with Manchester City's demolition job against Aston Villa.

Not only was it a proper demolition, with City eventually running out 6-1 winners, but it had two significant records broken for Sergio Agüero in one game - he not only surpassed Thierry Henry as the highest ever scoring Premier League overseas player, but his hat trick meant he now has 12 Premier League had tricks, one more than Alan Shearer. Whenever you beat any of Shearer's records, considering how good he is, it's always a special moment. So I'm singing tonight to the tune of the Inspiral Carpets classic "This Is How It Feels" (make that tune of the day) this: "This is how it feels to be City, this is how it feels to be small. You sign Phil Jones, we sign Kun Agüero, Kun Agüero...."

Saturday 11th January - Looping In The Mud

I had decided today to undertake section three of the London Loop walk, which the guide claimed was nine miles between Petts Wood and West Wickham Common, but actually proved to be ten miles in all. It was set reasonably okay weather wise, but wanted to start earlier so I had more time in the afternoon if needed to do any shopping later. I got on the new walking shoes which fitted well and seemed pretty sturdy overall, and then had myself ready to set off, taking the tram to Beckenham Junction and then the train to Petts Wood, and followed the link walk to Jubilee Country Park to start it all off.

It was soon clear from the opening walk through the park that the theme was to be muddy paths, and this was where the new walking shoes would be tested. They remained grippy throughout, and sturdy, and after a respite of some road walking, hittng Crofton Wood showed more of the same - some really muddy parts and in fact you could tell there was a second path off the main one becuase of it being so bad in places. It was good to get to the other side of there and follow through a footpath via houses and towards Darrick Woods. This was a nice place to walk through.

On the other side of Darrick Woods the path gave way to a gorgeous open space and a view from the top of the hill at Tubbenden Meadow, and heading down and crossing the road followed towards the village of Farnborough in Kent. It was very nice, and looked picture postcard type, and I then followed to St Giles the Abbott Church, and along the woodland at the side and down the hill to High Elms Country Park. I stopped off here at the very nice Green Roof Café and had a well earned coffee and got a bottle of water to take with me as well. It was a good point to rest with drizzle coming down.

After following through the park and also towards the golf course, crossing over at the right time, it was down hill and out of High Elms, then along a road and a right turn at Bogey Lane, an ancient greenway. In truth this should have been called Boggy Lane - perhaps the muddiest path I've ever encountered on any of the walks I've done around London. It was good to get off here, following a road downhill and then a path towards Jack Frost Pet and Country Store, with its large model of a cow on the outside.

It was then uphill and towards a hugely important site - the Wilberforce Oak. It was an old oak tree that William Wilberforce sat at with William Pitt and decided to put forward the motion in Parliament to ensure that the slave trade was abolished - an important piece of history and for me nice to see the oak tree, the original stone bench and everything preserved and maintained. It was then downhill from here and towards the Westerham Road, and then onwards to Keston Common.

In fact, the Keston Common had all three of the Keston Ponds - very muddy around here also by the pond, but it was nice to see some open space well used and white geese around too. It was onwards through the other side of the common and then walking towards the village of Keston itself - it had a nice little village green with water fountain, and some nice pubs too. I could clearly see this being busier in Summer and well worth the trip out there too methinks. It made me also think of a more happy song, namely "Snowbird" by The Icicles (make that tune of the day) - with its line "Oh, bring me Summer, I need Summer" in the chorus and could imagine being here in the Summer.

It was following through Hayes Common and paths by the road and then onwards to West Wickham Common, which soon became a more open space and gradually started to head downhill as the path and the road in the distance appeared to be descending towards the Coney Hall area, and soon I arrived at the sign for the common, which was the end of the walk and some ten miles or so. The next section is apparently ten miles as well, so be interesting to see how that pans out, and is actually in parts closer to me too, so good to get that done soon.

Once I was all sorted I took the 314 bus to the centre of Bromley and had a good mooch in the shops. I did want to try and get an over door hanger for the bedroom to hang the coats on, as the Command hook had come off and it was the main plastic part that had broken, so probably the coats were too heavy. My doors are pretty thick though (4.5cm having measured) and plenty of the over door hangers are only for 4cm doors. Boo. I checked both Wilko and Robert Dyas, no joy. I thought it might be worth a general mooch in Flying Tiger.

Now I didn't expect there to be an over door hanger in there, as I had seen one that you screwed into the wall, but they had one, and it looked wide enough. I came up with the clever idea and got a ruler from the stationery section, and measured it. It was around 4.9 or 5cm, so wide enough, so for £5 I purchased it, and then headed homewards with it. In fact it was perfect, what I did to make it fit more snug was to use part of the felt pads you use to stop furniture scratching floors, and cut them into stripe and fit them to the over door hanger. That way it didn't scratch the door but still fitted. Either way - winning!

Friday 10th January - Wake Up Call

I didn't sleep so well overnight for some reason, so did feel a little sluggish initially when I woke up. However, once I had a shower and got myself ready, all was good to face the day, and I was able to get to work without any issues. I had noted from yesterday that there was a request to see what we could do about a printing issue, and so spent some time investigating and also replicating what had happened on a machine here with a standard user account, which didn't show the same issue. I suspected that authentication of the user account might have been an issue and fed back accordingly.

I also had a nice walk at lunchtime down to Reckless Records in Soho, and had a good mooch at the vinyl and CDs in there. It did look at if a fair amount of stock had been traded in over Christmas, so was good to check what might be there and available for me to get, but I also wanted a number of 12" dance singles still on my to collect list, nothing doing there. That said, though, it was good to be able to see that the stock was still so well looked after so if you did get anything from there you'd feel satisfied.

I had a notification for a click and collect order to be collected, so took the opportunity to head into Flying Tiger close to work as I wanted to pick up something for The Love In My Heart from the £1 racks that they had - and got what she was after for there, so all good. I then walked over to TK Maxx and up to the click and collect point, and was able to collect the order I'd made from the other day - so it was a large packet which contained my new Trespass coat and the Regatta walking boots, so definitely well worth getting online as the latter was also in a proper box too.

I then knew that the traffic and the tube station at Oxford Circus would be bedlam, so decided to take advantage of an offer at Brewdog, where if you buy one low or no alochol beer, subsequent top ups are free afterwards, and as many as you like. I was glad that they had he Wake Up Call, which is a coffee stout. I loved the look of how dark it was, and for me that was good, but also it meant that it was one to be savoured and not rushed. Boo to Bredwdog for being card only though, what's wrong with hard cash? I was able to find a seat and savour the ale - and it was very nice too.

I then went back to the bar, and the refill was sorted, so all good, and the second pint was just as nice as the first, all good and delicious. I also noted that they had a gallery of dogs who had a birthday party there (yes really!) and even bowls of water for the dogs in one section too. The time sped by and soon it was time to head on the tube to Victoria, then the train home. I tried on the new coat - it was fab, and a much darker green than online. My order from Everything5Pounds arrived too, so that was good, and meant I could kick back and relax with a bit of telly and some tunes, so tune of the day is the impressive "WWIII" by KMFDM, a full on powerhouse assault of ultra heavy beat and guitars, once the banjo based country intro has left us..

Thursday 9th January - Wombling (Almost) Free

I spent a fair amount of time today being able to troubleshoot a few of the PCs that hadn't removed one of the pieces of software, and in a few cases this was because the PC had not been restarted since the software had been originally installed a fair while back. I decided to utilise the folks on the ground and have them check in with certain staff members, so they could effectively do what was needed. I also looked into a nice bit of Powershell scripting which would check all the possible occurrences when a restart is pending, and then report back - so I could potentially run that script when needed to check and save some time.

It's been a while since I had a play around in Powershell, but seeing an online commandlet do the job was all well, I just needed to tweak it so I could run it locally on a machine and use the SCCM run script option to also run that script returning back frome each machine, didn't need it to generate as a function but instead just run on demand. I got it right, and did a test on my own machine where I deliberately added some reg keys that were checked and made sure that the return was spot on, which it was. Now I just need to make sure the user has restarted so it's all clean, and I can then remove correctly. That should work well.

After work I wanted to head to Wimbledon, as I knew that the Debenhams store there would be closing down in the next week or two, and I had managed to get a bargain on a pair of jeans last time I was in there. My hunch was that there may be further reductions and that I might be able to get more things for less, so was the idea anyway. I therefore took the tube to Waterloo and changed on to a train to Wimbledon, and at least I got a seat at Waterloo as it was rammed when it hit Clapham Junction. Still, I might be back here over the next few days to try out some Brewdog beers...

So into Debenhams then, and you could tell that the stock was being emptied out by just how much of the store appeared a lot more bare than last time. That said though, still plenty of items on sale in the men's section, and having checked a few things, I spotted that there were some jeans, in my style and in my size, so a quick check of prices, and all appeared well. In fact I got a Red Herring really dark blue pair for £8.80 (60% off) and a Jasper Conran slim fit pair in a dark blue and a lighter weight denim for £13.50 (70% off), so not bad only paying around £22 for both pairs methinks!

There were plenty of bargain hunters around so definitely a case of being able to wait in a queue of sorts to get it all sorted, and that was all done. I must admit it was good to stock up now and not have to pay more later on when I might need more pairs, and it also meant more for less is a winner. I had the theme tune from the Wombles in my head as I went home though, because I had been wombling free in Wimbledon, so that's tune of the day - after all I did make good use of the things that I find...

Wednesday 8th January - TK Maxxing Out

I had a rather good plan of action at lunch time today, as I wanted to be able to order some items from TK Maxx that I had seen online, and indeed had checked in two branches of TK Maxx in store close to work, but weren't able to get. My view was that I had £40 worth of the All 4 One gift cards, so ideally they're better used in store as you can use them for part payment towards what you want, and pay the rest as you like. However, last night, having seen a couple of things I wanted, I attempted to use the gift cards, and you can only use them if the shopping is less than the amount on the card. Hmm..

So a cunning plan was needed, and so checked just before I went out to lunch that both things I wanted were still available, so I added them to the basket (as they are held for two hours) and then headed off down Oxford Street to the local TK Maxx there. The plan was that I would instead purchase a TK Maxx gift card for the amount of the All 4 One cards, and then later on use that gift card as part payment (which TK Maxx allow up to 5 of their gift cards at once to do, and then any remainder by credit or debit card, sensible that.)

That did work out well, so the store sorted me out with the gift card, and I headed back to the office after having some lunch, then checked the basket out, added the gift card, sorted, and then paid the remainder by debit card. Absolutely winning. Both items were duly ordered and that meant that I had got what I wanted, namely a new green padded winter jacket by Trespass, the same one which is reduced on their website for £39 (and was £90) and was in TK Maxx for a mere £26, and also some walking shoes by Regatta in blue with green laces that were reduced from £80 on their website to £25 in TK Maxx. And as the order was just over £50, free click and collect also kicked in. Winning!

It was a sensible use of the gift cards too and meant I actually got something I wanted. I did check over my Adidas trainers after my last walk,albeit in muddyish conditions, but the soles underneath had started to come undone from the rest of the shoe, and although you could glue them on, I'd had them for around ten years or so, so was about time to get rid and get a new sturdy pair for my walks. I also thought realistically that it'd mean that I would then possibly even be able to use them on coastal path walks when in Cornwall over the Summer, so sensible to get them now - and they're waterproof too.

So all good there, and I had an evening of ironing awaiting me later - I had washed a lot of shirts and t-shirts, and it's easier due to the hard water area to iron them all when damp, and then hang them on the airer. Of course because I'd needed to wash a fair number including some I'd worn over Christmas, that also meant lots of time to iron, so spent the time wisely and put on the Fontaines DC excellent album Dogrel, and blasted that out - and "Boys in the Better Land" was tune of the day for that reason.

Tuesday 7th January - Derby Day Delight

It was a pretty good day for me as I had worked out that not only was there some Windows machines that wasn't removing a piece of software, but it was also the same for some Mac machines too. I was looking at the number of machines that had recently checked in and that hadn't removed the software, and cross checked the policy deployment logs. I could actually see that the logs showed that in some cases the uninstall command failed because it was using the current password, which worked correctly for everything else, but not just for the few that I had spotted.

Once I established which ones that they were, I created a static group in JAMF Pro, and ensured that those machines were all members of it. Once done, and I had the existing policy duplicated but with the command modified to use the old password, it was then a case of ensuring that the deployment went to that group and saw the results coming in over time, and working pretty well all round too. I think for me that it was good to be able to troubleshoot but also be able to make sure that we get the remainder all sorted. It's taking shape nicely, it has to be said.

I headed into TK Maxx at lunch time to check out some Winter jackets, although to be fair the weather has been looking mild all week. I did try a couple on which were decent, and would be good to see if they were available online as well, but I did get some good ideas for what I could get. I did also consider some walking boots as well for doing the likes of some of the London Loop and other walks that I plan to do, so things to consider there. Either way it's nice to have those options.

Later on I tuned in to the radio (as I couldn't get a live stream) to be able to at least hear the Manchester derby at Old Trafford as the first leg of two of the Carabao Cup semi final. City haven't lost since October 2016 and won the last two seasons on the bounce, and United did of course win at the Etihad last month in the league. I was surprised to see no dedicated strikers up front, but those fears were quelled nicely when the ball broke to Bernardo Silva on the right hand side and he slotted home an unstoppable strike into the top corner with his left foot for the opener. Nice one!

Better was to come before half time too as the ball was played through to Riyad Mahrez on the counter attack, and he was able to round David de Gea in the United goal and coolly pass it into the empty net for the second, and a Kevin de Bruyne shot was saved by de Gea but rebounded back off Andreas Periera for a third goal for City, and all before half time too. It was good to note that we had started well, but of course being a two legged game, a long way from over.

That proved to be the case later on when United changed things second half and put Matic on, and their midfield seemed to be a lot better. This did allow Marcus Rashford to attack well and place the ball past Claudio Bravo to make the scoreline 3-1, and a tad more interesting for the red half at least. But I'll take 3-1 any day of the week and that's a good win for us, with the second leg to come in a few weeks time. Well played us, and Supra's Blue Moon (make that tune of the day) is playing loud and proud here.

Monday 6th January - Back To Work

Like a lot of people, it was the first day back at work for me today, and certainly felt like everyone else was going back at the same time. The train was pretty busy but I did get a train earlier than normal, so managed to get a seat without any problems. I was also able to comfortably head on the tube towards the office as well, so it's amazing what leaving just a few minutes earlier can do in terms of being busy. It was great to see everyone and catch up with what had happened over the Christmas period.

I was straight into sorting out an issue with some of the users in Hong Kong, who despite me and a colleague setting up all the networked printer stuff with no issues before Christmas, had one or two users who didn't receive the correct printer policy via JAMF Pro. A check of the configuration of the network segments and building allocation had the answer, effectively one IP range was missing from one segment which assigned that building. A configuration fix later, and all was very nicely well and working as we would want to do.

I also spent some time troubleshooting why two or three machines wouldn't carry out the necessary task to remove one of the pieces of software that we're now getting rid of. Everything else was fine, so nothing necessarily with the methodology. However, I do remember that there was an older tamper protection password set, and wondered if the newer one hadn't applied for some reason, so ran the uninstall command to pass the old password. And... it worked! Not many to do this way thankfully but at least it means that's more to be able to get rid of.

I arrived home later on, made myself some tea and thne settled in for the evening to see the fourth round draw for the FA Cup. I was pleased to see that we had got Fulham at home which wasn't a bad one to get, and a bit easier than some teams too. I was then tuned in for the Arsenal v Leeds United game which definitely was a game of two halves - Leeds dominant in the first half but could not convert their chances, and Arsenal much better second half and a scrambled scuffed shot from Reiss Nelson was to prove the decisive winner in what was still a pretty tight game to be honest. It was also perhaps noticeable that attention was paid to how well Leeds played - they're not top of the Championship for nothing, and gave a good account of themselves. Realistically better finishing would have done the job for them, but they at least know what they will expect if they manage to carry on and get promoted.

In the meantime, I also gave some thought about the year ahead, the many challenges to be faced and how that's going to fit in with all of the necessary things we need to do, and when to do them. It's going to be an interesting time ahead for sure and for me a good challenge is one to relish, face head on, and get on with. I've also got the Microsoft Ignite thing soon at Excel, so will be good to see how that pans out (and that's Excel the exhibition centre, not the spreadsheet!) and with that, tune of the day is Firestarter by the Prodigy, because that certainly got me in the work mode today.

Sunday 5th January - Heading Home

It had been a lovely two weeks with The Love In My Heart and Brian the cat of course, but this morning was the dreaded return home. I had been so lucky to spend an extended break with my love, and for me definitely it was a case of not looking forward to getting up early, but needs must. I got myself changed and ready, and Brian had one final feed of Dreamies from me, which he appreciated. The Love very kindly dropped me off at Piccadilly station with everything all sorted, and didn't want to get out of her car to be honest, it was just too sad really. However, at least the journey home would be a bit nicer.

That was because I had the common sense to book first class beforehand, and so the first class lounge opened at Manchester Piccadily with me in there. It was nice to just sit by the window in nice comfy seating, something The Love had told me about was a lot nicer in the last few months. Indeed it was rather good, and was able to have a coffee and a biscuit before heading to the platform. There had been over-running engineering works which the lovely woman in the first class lounge had told me about, and this meant the 0958 train had left late, in fact only just before the delayed departure for my 1018 train.

My train was going via Wilmslow (via the Styal branch too, hence no stop at Stockport) and then Crewe and Watford Junction before Euston. The earlier train was going to Crewe but then across to Stoke on Trent, so that'd take ages. The staff on board Avanti West Coast were all good, and soon had the little breakfast weekend pack of the ham and cheese croissant, yoghurt and a cereal bar, complete with coffee as well. That was appreciated and after Crewe, the train sped up and caught up the near 11 minute delay from Wilmslow and arrived at Euston on time. Compare that to the 0958 departure, which did catch up and arrive on time but would arrive later anyway (1306!)

I knew that there were no trains from London Victoria to East Croydon, so instead walked along Euston Road and past the British Library and the side of St Pancras International, using the rear doors to get to the Thameslink platforms, and had a small wait before the 1326 to Brighton, which would stop at East Croydon. The good news about getting on at St Pancras is that you're on before London Bridge, so you get a seat, and luggage space, and also lifts to the platforms, so step free, very handy with a big case let me tell you. It was soon arriving and I got a seat, and sped back towards East Croydon.

I arrived back home, all was safe and sound when I got back, and unloaded the case, with the washing going in to start of all the cleaning side. As The Love had washed some of my clothes whilst I was there, one side of the case was all the clean stuff, so in fact much less to get sorted which was good. I settled in with a Costa gingerbread latte from the Tassimo, thanks to The Love's sister, and put on the Doolittle 25 three CD edition by Pixies, with the remastered classic Wave of Multilation tune of the day.

Saturday 4th January – We're Disliking VAR Instead

It was a good morning snuggled up with The Love In My Heart and Brian the cat, who wanted some treats ad some playtime. He soon had that later on and wanted to have a stroll around the front outside, and we both had a nice breakfast and took it relatively easy. James Martin was on in the background and was making some nice stuff – and it was interesting that that had one of the vegan chefs from a bakery in Brixton making a rather nice and bright multicoloured cake with all sorts of care taken to ensure that the whole thing is vegan – and actually looked pretty nice to be fair.

Myself and The Love later headed off to see The Love's father at his place. He was able to have a bit of a chat with us and we sorted out taking some of the Christmas cards down along with sorting out a few things around the place. It was good to see that he had the cricket and the racing on and was enjoying the action too – and the time went by pretty quickly before we headed back off homeward and to be in before the FA Cup game later as Manchester City were taking on Port Vale at the Etihad Stadium, certainly interesting to see how that would go.

My friend arrived later on and we headed over to the stadium. It didn't seem as busy as normal and so we were able to get a brew and have a sit down and chatter, keeping one eye on the scores for the other third round games including an incredible comeback by Tranmere Rovers who pulled it back from 3-0 down to draw 3-3 at Watford – an excellent result. The other good results of the day were Fulham beating Aston Villa, and Sheffield Wednesday getting a deserved win at Brighton and Hove Albion. The Cup was very much still alive and still producing shocks there.

City's game was one where we felt mostly in control and after some good build up play, a shot came in from Oleksandr Zinchenko and it deflected off the Port Vale defender for the opening goal. Port Vale were not done though and after some good play down the right hand side, the ball was crossed in for Tom Pope to score an equaliser. There were a few fans below us who went mental, clearly in the wrong end! City though were having none of that, and the impressive Phil Foden was being involved in everything good that we did, and he timed his run to perfection for the through ball, and crossed over for Sergio Aguero to slot home. There was a VAR check for a possible offside, but Foden had ran perfect, and so after an agonising wait, the decision stood and it was 2-1 to City at half time.

More of the same from City in the second half. The Port Vale keeper saved superbly from Bernardo Silva's header (and did well) but couldn't do much after a goalmouth scramble that resulted in John Stones' strike deflecting off Taylor Harwood-Bellis and in. The linesman had flagged for offside because of said deflection but there was another long wait for a VAR review, and it gave the goal and 3-1 to City. It did mean that Harwood-Bellis couldn't really celebrate though. Later on, Angelino went down the left and put in a perfect low cross for Foden to slot home and cap off a superb man of the match performance and 4-1 it finished. Got through, job done, next round here we come, all good. Tune of the day is the excellent rendition of Blue Moon by Supra, sadly missing these days when the team comes out..

Friday 3rd January – Little Women

It was a nice chilled out morning, as Brian the cat was wanting the attention of me and The Love In My Heart especially. He not only did he want some Dreamies but also was looking out of the window and wanting to play out as well. He was all good after that and we had some breakfast, and got ourselves ready to head out for the afternoon. We knew that we wanted to be in the city centre later and to see the film Little Women at the cinema, with possibly some food later on as well, so walked up to the tram station and was able to get an all day ticket no problem, despite there now being only one ticket machine.

We got the tram and headed off at Piccadilly Gardens, and walked over to Debenhams. The Love wanted to check a couple of things in the womenswear section, and did manage to get something that she was after. The queue for the till was a bit on the long side and that was a wait to get that sorted, but was all good. I did go over to TK Maxx as well and wanted to check a jacket that I had seen online to see what it was like, but not in stock in store. I also did venture into a couple of other shops into the Arndale, but nothing doing, and a bit frustrating that the jackets at Gap have the zip the wrong way round in terms of fastening, which I know would be frustrating.

We decided to have a drink and a coffee in the Printworks, and then headed over to the Vue cinema to see Little Women. The cinema wasn't too busy and the screen itself was pretty empty until a fair number of people were arriving around ten minutes into the film as well. It was nice just to cosy up and we had a good afternoon seeing the film. Overall it was very good, and although more of a different way of storytelling the book in that it went backwards and forwards in the actual timeline, recollecting moments from the book, all the key scenes were actually correct and present, which was good. There were also some very good acting performances, notably from Saiorse Ronan and Laura Dern.

Afterwards we headed to the pub and decided to have some food for tea. I had noted earlier a mixed grill deal was on, but that had all gone, so instead went for the gammon and eggs with chips, which was pretty nice all round, and with a pint of Brewdog Punk IPA to boot for me as well. It was nice for us both to have a drink and some chatter and feel quite relaxed afterwards, which also allowed the commuter traffic to calm down a fair bit so that when we did get the tram back later on it was nice and quiet and not mega busy – we suspected it might not be because it's still school holidays, but all good nonetheless.

Once we got back home, Brian the cat needed lots of fussing and attention with his tuna and prawn cat food plus Dreamies, and we settled in for a quiet evening of telly. It was a nice way to end a relaxed day and I just feel sad to be going home on the Sunday, the two weeks here feel like they have flown by and I do feel stronger that maybe one day I need to think about a journey permanently back up and so that we can be closer more often. In the meantime, tune of the day is the rather nice score to the film by Alexandre Desplat, really did set the scene well.

Thursday 2nd January – Out and About

It was good to be off for the remainder of the week, and The Love In My Heart was off too, so we could spend some more time together and indeed be able to take things relatively relaxed and to get a few things done during the day. In fact, we had some sort of plan anyway as there was a couple of family related things we wanted to do. It was though good to just have some breakfast and a coffee and not have to think about work, and I'm sure when Monday comes that might prove to be a shock to the system in terms of how much I'll need to get back into routine.

First off, The Love needed to head briefly into her workplace to say a fond farewell to a member of staff who was leaving on this day to start a new post. As it worked out, there was a record shop that I wanted to go in not far away, Wilderness, so The Love dropped me off there on the way and I was able to have a mooch round as well as have a really nice capuccino and also look at the vinyl and CDs in there. Nothing necessarily took my fancy, but the vibe was pretty relaxed and some Bjork on in the background, so definitely a more calm and relaxed feel anyway.

Later on after heading back to The Love's place and seeing Brian the cat for a bit, giving him lots of fuss and attention, we headed over to The Love's father's house and several of the family were there, so was nice to see everyone anyway. It was pretty relaxed and her father was still getting to terms with the Amazon fire stick he'd got for Christmas, because of the round main control circle (rather than direction and OK buttons) – so guided him through a bit so he could watch some of the programmes on there. It was also a case of seeing how everyone else was, and in some cases working out a way that The Love's sister and her could both gain extra Costa points (sorted that too.)

After a drop off of one family member later on, we headed over to see my Mum. Her friend was there too whom she had been to Cornwall with last Summer, and so the four of us had a good chat, joined later on by my brother and his girlfriend, so was nice to see her again too. It was also a time to pick up a present or two dropped off with Mum too, which we opened later, and it was also good that Mum was looking at options for places to potentially move to, and as I suggested, having a viewing of some might be a start just to see where the land lies and how you'd feel walking into a place – normally people make a decision pretty quickly once they're happy.

It was back to The Love's place later, and she made a gorgeous lasagne for tea, which was really good and filled us both up nicely, and after some of the soaps, we ended up watching Big Fat Quiz of the Decade on Channel 4. It was intriguing to see the team line ups and for me Claudia Winkleman was on which is always good. I was surprised I got a considerable number of answers and The Love did pretty well as well to be fair, and we both were good on certain rounds especially. It was also notable that the best selling album of the decade was Adele's “21” and that the closing, not the opening, ceremony of the 2012 Olympics was the most watched thing on the telly. Talking of that for a second, “Heroes” by David Bowie was used extensively there, and has to be therefore tune of the day.

Wednesday 1st January – New Year, Same Old City

The second part of the Hootenanny past midnight is always good stuff. Rick Astley of course did his all time classic single, and even managed to get in the bit he does now with it at the start of the final verse “We've known each other... since 1987!” - he stopped short of the way he does it with Foo Fighters (adding “you b******s) but still good fun. Stormzy played another couple of good tracks, and Melanie had a nice version of her original “Brand New Key”, also made famous by a reworking into “Combine Harvester” by The Wurzels (ooh arr ooh arr etc). So pretty good all round. We did of course briefly switch over for the fireworks on BBC1, and indeed there were fireworks around Manchester we could hear too.

The Love In My Heart and I had a well earned lie in, having called it a night around 1.30am after Hootenanny had finished. It was just nice to relax and Brian the cat was purring at the end of the bed wanting Mummy to wake up, as he always does. I must admit it was nice that he's allowing me to fuss over him more and give him a love, he does accept me these days and doesn't run off and hide when I come in either but wants a bit of a stroke, bless. I did get up and see that the weather seemed okay and should be good for the football later, and it was at least dry and not chucking it down, bonus!

After a relaxing afternoon in which The Love indulged herself with The Sound of Music, and was happily knowing all the parts to whch the songs would commence, my friend arrived and so it was off to the Etihad to see Manchester City take on Everton. City needed a win to keep up the pace for second after Leicester City were smacking Newcastle United 3-0, and a nice win at the start of the year would be helpful for starting off a winning run. It was a cold but dry afternoon, and we did have a good mooch in the City shop and there was plenty of sale stuff on, but nothing my friend wanted (or me). The queue for the tills was pretty busy also and that would have been a fairly lengthy wait.

We got into the ground, got our customary brew, and were all settled and ready for the game to commence. It was a pretty good loud rendition of 808 State's “In Yer Face” as the teams were announced (make it tune of the day) and we were surprised Ederson wasn't back but was ill, so Claudio Bravo remained in net – that had us both worried. We had a change of players along the way with squad changes, but were both pleased to see Phil Foden getting a start. In fact, he turned in a neat move involving Riyad Mahrez and Joao Cancelo, but VAR pulled the goal back for offside when the ball went to Mahrez. Although it did look offside, no replays in the stadium isn't helping matters and the “imaginary lines” rubbish either, with City fans of course chanting the now customary “stuff VAR” chant.

It was more frustration later as a ball was played forward, linesman had flagged offside but the resulting challenge on Mahrez was checked for a possible penalty anyway, and took ages. Not good. Both sets of fans were getting fed up now and understandably so, with more chants of “It's not football anymore” too. It got to half time and still 0-0 but I did think that we were able to push on. And thankfully, we didn't have to wait too long early in the second half, as a pass from Ilkay Gundogan found Gabriel Jesús, and he slotted home into the top corner for 1-0. Notably, we didn't celebrate the goal until the game had kicked off just to make sure VAR wasn't ruling it out.

A few minutes later and a through ball from Mahrez found Jesús, and he shot low and under Jordan Pickford in the Everton goal for 2-0. Relief all around, and again, no celebration until kick off. This is what VAR is reducing football too. Not on. Claudio Bravo did decide to dribble in his own area past Richarlison, but then his poor clearance ended up with Everton and a cross from Theo Walcott found Richarlison to score. That resulted in a nervy last few minutes but we did enough to hold on and we had won 2-1, which was at least two wins out of three over the Christmas period – so good all round.

Later on we settled in and watched the final of World's Strongest Man. We were both surprised it was only five events and in fact those were to take place in one day, but that seemed to allow some more coverage of the events. It was an impressive start from Tom Stoltman, taking the loading race, and then Mateusz Kieliszkowski won the overhead press medley, lifting the dual dumb bells as if they weren't there. The third event of the squat lift was where Martins Licis excelled, beating Brian Shaw to 9 reps, and Kieliszkowski could only respond with 7, narrowing the gap at the top.

The deadlift hold was to prove a massive deciding event. The Brits did okay in this, and Hafthor Bjornsson won this with the longest hold. Crucially, Licis was second, and with Kieliszkowski way down the order, as was Shaw, it looked like the final was Licis' to lose. The traditional atlas stones climax was next, and it was interesting that the stones were heavier and looked harder to finish. All the best athletes did do it, and in the final showdown, Licis smashed it and won the event – and with that, the title. He thoroughly deserved it for consistency, good in all the events and winning two of them to win well. That's also meant four different winners in the last four years (Brian Shaw, Eddie Hall, Hafthor Bjornsson and Martins Licis) so bring on next year! A good way to complete the new year festivities, as ever.