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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Friday 19th August - Bubble Bobble Bonus

It was good to be working from home today and actually the weather did seem a little cooler in the morning, so getting some fresh air in plus having the fan on low just to get some air circulating did seem to work wonders. I was up reasonably early and so did do the majority of dusting, cleaning and vacuuming I needed to do before I was ready for work, and that made a lot of sense to do so. In fact once all of that was done it was good to get a shower and get ready, then have the work laptop out and start work.

I had a good discussion with the manager of our networks team and underlining some possible plans for one region, and what would work. In essence we were able to thrash out a sensivle idea based on the current spoke and hub approach used, in that one main site is their hub and the remaining are spokes served by that, meaning that we can effectively make use of what links they have. He did tell me that by all accounts that it's basically trying to make the most efficient use when you don't have the most powerful external Internet connection out there, so definitely something of note.

The teams I work with did also see something which we needed to take some more swift action on than normal, and were able to not just formulate a plan as to how we'd do so technically, but also make sure we got some suitable comms out and had it worded correctly. The good thing is that we were able to at least push out some commands to machines and to drop hints to make sure that they did what was needed in due course, so all positive there I think.

I did head off after work over to Tooting and to Crazy Thumbs - which is a very nice games shop stocking all sorts. They even had a tape deck for the Commodore 16 and Plus/4 series, complete with adapter so you can use that deck on a Commodore 64 also. I also did notice some Amstrad CPC games on disk (and a pretty good Amstrad games selection too) as well as a CPC 464, and also a very nice looking Atari 7800. Lots of temptation in there that I needed to avoid spending too much on, but definitely well worth a visit if you get chance. Nothing I wanted particularly, but nice to see a good selection.

I spent the evening after Jaz Rignall's Twitter post reminding me of the game playing the Commodore 64 conversion of the Bubble Bobble arcade machine, released by Firebird and programmed by the folks at Software Creations for them. It truly is a great conversion, all the features are there, the letters to spell EXTEND, the level skips, and all the niceties, like the little bottle you pick up that turns the rest of the level into a bonus round (collect a number of the same objects for a nice 100,000 bonus points.) NQ64 in Manchester has the arcade original and that ace in game theme tune by Tadashi Kimijima was lovingly done on the '64 by Peter Clarke to a tee, so tune of the day there.

Thursday 18th August - Avoiding The Strikes

There were of course strikes on trains today, but that now doesn't affect my current route into work anyway. For me at least it means that I can still get the same bus without too many issues, although I did suspect that it might be a little busier than normal, which it was. I wasn't surprised by that really but it did at least mean I could get to the office, have a coffee, and then be able to get into the jobs I had planned for today and there were a few of those that I wanted to get done.

First of all, it was getting some new versions of applications packaged, including some of the core applications we use on Windows, which meant me packaging new versions of 7-Zip, Adobe Reader DC and also Google Chrome, and once all of those were tested I put them into a test Windows 10 build task sequence to check they were all good in there, which they were, so that was pleasing to see. I also did spend some time getting together the likes of both Tableau Desktop (which is licenced) and Tableau Reader (for those who just need to read those projects only) and all appeared well there too when I road tested them out.

After some additional application testing, it was then getting some asset management done (lots of that due to some returned and/or faulty kit) and once that was processed, I did a further road test of some additional applications I'd packaged, and checked they all worked, and responded to see some requests for some of the staff being onboarded from elsewhere and what was needed - on the whole that was good as some of the applications had already been done, but needed to look at some others and so can work on that early next week to be getting done.

It was very good timing later as I left the office and headed down to Aldwych and managed to get the slightly earlier X68 towards home, changing at West Norwood for the 468 (and thus being in Hopper Fare mode as well, always a bonus that.) It was nice to be back home and to have a rather nice steak pie for tea - it was the finest selection at Lidl where it has Old Peculier Ale in the pie - and tastes proper nice because of it, good job all round that and really did feel like I had a positive day.

The Love In My Heart was looking after The Cute Little One for a few days, and she had been with her to Dunham Massey and managed to get plenty of cute pictures of her walking around, admiring the ducks and all that. In fact The Love discovered that The Cute Little One likes victoria sponge cake (well who doesn't?) and also seemed to want to try and play with the ducks if possible. Brian the cat was being a little stand-offish later but all was good - and it was just nice to have a long chat tonight. In the meantime tune of the day is the rather majestic Last Thing by Orbital, a really nice constructed piece of electronica that just got me in the relaxed mood on the way home earlier.

Wednesday 17th August - Chuck Out That Chintz!

It was a fairly busy day working from home today, and with plenty going on. I did have to raise a call with the folks who do the maintenance on the apartments I am in, as I opened one of the kitchen cupboard doors (the ones at floor level where I store the plates and bowls) and the top hinge on the carcass side literally came out of its housing - it looked like the screws had nothing to grip on to and so fell out, not good. Thankfully the lovely Nina at the support end got the email, gave me a friendly call, and did mention a couple of the maintenance folks were in the area today, and as I was working from home, winner. They came out (in fact one of them did the last repair at mine, so a friendly face) and got it all sorted efficiently.

I must admit that's the one thing I've been appreciative of since renting the same apartment for the last six and a half years or so: any maintenance needed or any call outs are always dealt with professionally, and sorted properly. It makes me have piece of mind but also for them they are probably also appreciative that I raise these things, don't let them get worse and means that they can keep things looking nice. It's a no brainer when I come to renew to be honest because I feel safe, comfortable and happy in the surroundings I am in - so why change all of that?

After work it was time to head off to the local IKEA for a good mooch round but also to get the Pallra mini chest of drawers, which are perfect for cassette storage and as such computer games of the 80s on tape fit perfectly of course. I already got one a while back and a second one would mean I could use one for the Commodore 16 and Plus/4 games, the other for the Commodore 64 ones, and they fit nicely in the Billy bookcases or the Kallax shelving units if you have them, so well worth the money - and they're not fold together - pre built and sturdy too!

As I got to IKEA I thought "Sod it, I'm treating myself for tea" and so joined the queue for the self-service restaurant. I went for the meatballs with the iconic gravy, and mash and peas to go with that, and the slice of blueberry cheesecake too for afters. And even after all these years those of you like me with a family card still get free tea and coffee Monday to Friday, well worth having just for that to be honest, so got that and had a very nice little sit down meal before deciding what items I would like, the large yellow bag in hand.

I did stop at the duvet covers and bedding primarily because when I changed the bedding this moring to my paisley set (which is from IKEA) the one I took off which is grey and white swirls looked a bit long in the tooth, and thought it'd be good time to get a nice fresh replacement. In the end, I saw the Spikvlammo blue and white checkered set, and that was decent value at £15 too. Only minus point now is that in the old days you used to get 4 pillow cases for the double bed set, you get 2 now. The Love In My Heart made a good point to maybe get some plain ones for underneath and then the patterned ones on top - which would work. Or I keep the grey and white swirl ones as the pillowcases are fine, it's the duvet cover itself which is on its last legs.

So with that and the Pallra mini chest bought, it was off to the till, and once through, it transpired that I touched in on the return tram some 58 minutes after the initial touch in on the way there, so hopper fare kicked in nicely. Happy times! I got home, and did the organisation needed with the Pallra chests, and now it's all as I'd like it. In fact because of that re-arrangement I had a little wooden box for 26 cassettes I got in Flying Tiger ages ago, so repurposed that for some more Commodore 64 games. Happy times indeed, and just all looks a lot neater. Tune of the day is the iconic IKEA advert music which told people to chuck out your chintz, it's was a staple of the late 80s for those to sing along to!

Tuesday 16th August - Upgrade Away

It was off to the office today and all the lovely aircon that it offers. It was also a good opportunity to be in and to sort out a few things quicker than I would be able to do when I would be at home, so that definitely was a positive too. So it was off on the X68 bus to work and that dropped me off near the office, and as I got in relatively early all was quiet on the front initially before the masses came in during the next hour or so. I did have a sizeable change to carry out today with a colleague, so it was definitely time to get busy as well. I was hoping that things would work well.

So the change was to upgrade the version of Windows Server OS on the main MECM site server and upgrade it from Windows Server 2012 R2 to Windows Server 2016. The main reason is that as reliable as 2012 R2 is, it does become out of support next year, and indeed it'd be a good stepping stone to effectively look at Server 2019 in future if we wanted to. We had read through some of the upgrade guides and most of them seemed well but they also did reflect lower versions of MECM rather than the current 2203 version we're currently running at present. And with that, a few things to watch out for which I'll explain here.

First of all, once you've upgraded the server to Windows Server 2016, if you applied updates during install you may find it only applied the April 2018 update which at least does allow remote login (otherwise you'll get CredSSP errors when attempting to remote in unless you change a reg key) - and so definitely get the servicing stack and cumulative updates - and the ones from July 2022 were done - this meant that the majority of the services were up and running and the server itself appeared to be fine.

The second (and most important) thing is that Server 2016 doesn't have .NET Framework 4.8 installed by default. Now if you're running later MECM versions, you will know it's recommended to have 4.8 on all servers, and so installing that and restarting meant I could happily talk to all the distribution points and they reported green ticks on the site server statuses. It's something people forget to do, so if doing the same, that's a necessary and important step. You'll also find once that's installed that the OS works a lot better too, so there's a double win to be had.

I also then installed a recent version of SQL Server Management Studio (18.12) as version 18.10 had reported some errors on launch and wouldn't let us authenticate to any SQL databases from it (or even get to that screen) so an install sorted that, and once done, I then checked all the IIS components were running, the MECM services were running, and once I knew we had the correct rights to the SUSDB database (if you're running the software update point there for example) then the post-installation tasks for WSUS works perfectly. You may also need to check for some random files called Program in the root of C - any of those there prevents the WSUS services from starting for some odd reason with error code 193.

All in al, it went very well and did some final testing to check that I could send content to a distribution point, clients were reporting in correctly and that both a full operating system build worked along with any applications via Software Centre. One last thing to check in the morning is to make sure that the site backups worked overnight, but looking all good so far, and with that it was off on the bus home, thinking happy thoughts and happy songs such as the ace band The Icicles and La-ti-Dah, being tune of the day by some degree.

Monday 15th August - Baby, I'm Your Fan

It was good to get home last night but it did feel a little bit warm in the flat, and so was happy to at least have the window open to get some air in and at least try to get a little bit of sleep. I did manage to a degree, and once I was up and showered this morning ready for work, I had noted that the Dyson AM-07 fan I had ordered had been delivered to next door - thankfully I get on fine with the neighbour who presented me with a big box, and one I thought may have been heavier, but it was all good.

I unpacked and assembled easily enough, slide the main body on to the base, and then the loop on to the main body and once done, all should be well. I powered it on, and got used to the remote control and soon had the fan oscillating around blowing some cooler air around me whilst I worked. It did feel pretty nice although realistically of course it's not going to do the same job as an aircon unit, but to keep me cooler, absolutely, that appeared to be working nicely overall so can't complain. Might try it on a sleep timer tonight and see how I do with sleeping that way.

In terms of work, plenty to do today that is for sure. I was able to at least get a number of things done and one of them was working on a document to make sure that one of the China team was able to add machines to a collection to be sure that they could do a task tomorrow. I was also able to see that some machines needed to update to the right version of Windows too, and so liaised with some of the staff there in order so that it could be sorted: it's getting there to as it should be which is a positive.

It did feel a little more humid this afternoon so I must admit having the fan around did help me feel less meithered and sweaty, and I am in the office tomorrow so at least that's going to be good with the aircon on (and I've got a few tasks that I need to be doing tomorrow anyway so all good there) - so already I am feeling some of the benefits without a lot of the hassle. Can't complain there really, and managed to also get plenty done tonight too, so epic win there.

As for tune of the day I had been listening a lot today to the likes of New Order, especially as I felt in the mood for all the nice 12" mixes on the likes of the Substance 1987 compilation and then some. Of course for that compilation, some of those weren't the original 12" versions, some had edits, some were re-done (see Temptation and Confusion) and others were left thankfully alone, and one that was had to be True Faith, as the lead off single for that. It's still great as is the video too!

Sunday 14th August - Smithfield Social Sunday

The Love In My Heart and I were heading out later today so we decided to leave the showering and getting ready til later in the morning, and so had some breakfast and pottered around watching some George Clarke on More4. In fact I had got up earlier and put Channel 4 on as it was the final round of the Formula E season from Seoul, with only Stoffel Vandoorne and Mitch Evans now able to win the title. The odds were massively stocked in Vandoorne's favour though and he didn't take any risks and ended up finishing second after Jake Dennis incurred a penalty, sealing the crown for him.

Once it was time we both had a refreshing shower and got ourselves ready to face the nice afternoon ahead, in still more heat. I did hope that where we were going had some aircon, as that'd help, and The Love and I took the tram into central Manchester - and me with case packed because I knew that I'd be heading home on the train later in the day. It was good to be able to have a walk around the city centre and as we had arrived there early, a drink in Fierce Beer was on the cards and I had their Infinity Pool table beer, which was really light and lovely actually.

We headed next door to Smithfield Social and our friends had arrived, so all was well. It was lovely to catch up and in fact we had delayed ordering the food a little bit because of so much chattering we were doing. I have to say though that the staff were lovely and friendly, and that really did make a difference too. I ordered the Sunday roast pork as did one of our friends, The Love had the lamb and our other friend went for the vegan wellington, which he said was one of the best things he had in absolutely ages, showing that actually if you make the effort to make something tasty, anyone vegan will come back (one of The Love's friends is also vegan and it's a place the two of them go because the lunch selection is so good.)

So that all went down well as expected of course, and then it was the dessert - which was also rather gorgeous! It was a very nice little sundae with meringue, cream and also lemon sorbet and little lemon pieces. Absolutely divine, as was their own Social Pils ale to go with it, so can't argue with that either - all quality stuff to be had and definitely well worth it. We did of course have a few drinks in there too with the lovely aircon and some nice tunes, so definitely felt well worth it.

We relocated to Fierce Beer for some more drinks and had a table outside in the shade (hurrah) and that was nice. I did have the Moose Mousse stout which was lovely, but also tried the 0.5% low alcohol version that they did as a co-op with another brewery, and called it Very Small Moose, and that was stunningly nice. I didn't want to head off for the train but the time had gone by far too quickly, so it was off for the train and it was packed going to Crewe before being more chilled out heading off to Euston, and had some Yellow Magic Orchestra on, so Behind the Mask is tune of the day.

Saturday 13th August - Boiling Bournemouth

My friend and I were meeting up this afternoon as Manchester City would be taking on Bournemouth in the first game at the Etihad Stadium this season. Optimism was good after the 2-0 away win at West Ham United last week and with the heat set to be very hot indeed, it really was going to be a case of seeing how we could keep the cool and yet cheer on City to another win (so we hoped). I had a nice breakfast with The Love In My Heart before she would be heading off to see her sister for the afternoon and I would be taking on a number of cold drinks to try and keep cool before heading out!

I headed out later and it felt really warm, in fact almost as warm as the last heatwave, primarily because of the fact that the humidity seemed to be a lot closer this time around and that doesn't always help to be perfectly honest. I got to the bus stop and waited for my friend, and I could tell that he was trying to at least get some cool airflow around with a looser fitting top and some shorts on (although the flip side of that meant sun cream for the legs as well which needed to be applied so that's something.) We got to the ground, and where we sit isn't in the shade, so not ideal.

The game was going to have scheduled water breaks during each half due to the heat, so that did show how warm it was out there. City though were not taking any prisoners and were knocking the ball around well with Erling Haaland close to a couple of crosses. That said, he did a lovely one two with new City captain Ilkay Gundogan and the German scored a lovely finish to open the scoring - nice to see Haaland getting an assist, and be even nicer for a home debut goal of course.

City really were pressing home the advantage well and with some drawing away defenders from the likes of Haaland and Phil Foden, Kevin de Bruyne decided to take matters into his own hands with a run and shot from distance that rifled into the bottom corner for 2-0, and later in the half de Bruyne combined well with Phil Foden on the left and the Stockport Iniesta did the rest and planted the ball home (the Bournemouth goalkeeper should have saved it though) for 3-0 at half time. We did go into the concourse which was a little cooler and try and stay out of the heat, as it was pretty intense.

The second half was a case of going through the motions and City at least pressed for another goal, and made a number of changes too - notably to massive cheers from the City fans when Bernardo Silva came on. No one wants him to go anywhere and the fans showed and sang the chant (to the tune of Abba's Voulez-Vous, so make that tune of the day for me) as he played. City did add another goal later on via an own goal from a deflected cross for 4-0, but my friend and I saw that on the concourse as the heat was getting to my friend - and the stewards very kindly got an ice cold water for him to help out.

The sun had at least gone behind a cloud enough for my friend and I to head to the bus stop and get him safely home later and thankfully it was at least just more muggy and humid than outright sun, and the arms did catch it a bit it has to be said. The good thing was though that City's win would send us top and coupled with Brentford hammering Man United 4-0 later on it meant that United were bottom - pretty much a perfect day for all us City fans, never felt more like singing the Blues, City win and United lose (heavily!)

Friday 12th August - Building My Way Up North

It was a busy day in work today and I spent some time working on a potential way going forward with a potential new print server. Authentication had seemed to work fine in Windows but not in Mac, and so with the test Mac being available for me to road test on, it was a case of seeing what my colleagues had instructed really did work well. And actually, what they said had made sense, but what if I was to make the print queue name the same upper case first name of the domain for its SMB connection and authenticate normally? Well, that did seem to work nicely actually.

So I had some progress there and I also remembered (after rebuilding my work laptop with the standard build last Friday to try and iron out some issues) that I needed to recreate my Hyper-V virtual machine which I use to create the WIM images with as it boots to MDT in order to do so. Anyway, I got that one all nicely sorted and booted up, and as a bonus I added the July updates as well as the most recent version of Visual C++ libraries (primarily because a lot of applications including the MECM client use it anyway, so I tend to add them in and save some time later.)

All seemed well when I gave that a good test later on and the WIM was happily created, so that meant over next week I could distribute that as needed and then road test the OS deployment with that, so all happy there. It was then time to head over to Euston to get the train up to Manchester, with again the cheaper route being deployed. I made it in good time for the London Northwestern train to Crewe and it was pretty busy, and the front four coaches were the ones without the tables (not even the flip down ones in airline seats) so good job I only had the Sainsburys meal deal with me really.

I listened to some tunes on the train (so make the classic 80s tune Rio by Duran Duran tune of the day) and arrived at Crewe - and in fact a late running Transport for Wales train might have been possible to board if it wasn't so rammed, so waited for the next one (which was the one I was going to get anyway). That was busy but at least there was some sort of aircon on board too and so sped over to Manchester on time and then took the tram over to The Love In My Heart's place - she was on a later shift at work so I made sure Brian the cat was all fed, watered and happy, and he certainly was that which was a bonus at least!

Later on The Love arrived back and we had some tea together which was nice - always nice to do that on a Friday evening and indeed spend some time together chattering and watching some telly. In fact we did see that the European Championships were on with some good events on, and also that the indulgence of the soaps for The Love had to be done - it's what she'd so if I was on a later train anyway. And of course always good to see 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown, still funny although of course Sean Lock is sadly missed there it has to be said.

Thursday 11th August - Budgeting For A New Fan

So I had decided after working today from home and somehow not managing to get the respite from the humidity and heat that I might have got from staying indoors, I thought it best to get some sort of cooling solution to be able to at least have some cooling feeling working from home. I did think about whether a portable aircon unit complete with pipe to chuck out of one of the windows might work well or not, but then I realised that it'd be pretty cumbersome to do that and also not ideal if I wanted to be able to get something easier to carry.

After some thought, and checking in with both The Love In My Heart and also a friend of mine who already had one (and really does use it well for the heat) it was a case of looking around for the best price for said item and finding that in fact that said manufacturer had their own eBay outlet store. Not just that either of course, but it would also mean it would be a nice 20% off on top of the reduction already, so it'd be £239. Not cheap I know, but when you consider that said item is a Dyson AM-07, then definitely thought to get something. Now, bear in mind, yes it's not an air con unit, and it's mainly to cool parts of the room you're in in order to be more comfortable, then I see it more as an investment over the longer term to help me keep regulated.

So I ordered it - and yes I know, still not cheap even at the reduced price. But unless the whole block of apartments gets aircon installed (and even then I can't drill holes in the walls etc as per contract) this should at least help out a bit and get some essential cooler air flowing around me, we shall see how it performs when it arrives. I was though thinking that no one can really look at sealing windows off with air conditioning pipes otherwise (as just opening the window for the pipe lets the hot air in, and that sort of defeats the object doesn't it really?)

Anyway, I did spend some time tonight recording some audio along with someone as a sort of sequel to a series that I recently participated in. It was definitely good fun to do and I have to say that it was nice to be able to have the headset on, with no distractions, and effectively even in the intense heat crack on and be able to do what was needed to be done. I also had done some research beforehand, so it was definitely a positive to be able to put some of that knowledge into what I was recording too. The final results will be available soon I hope, and it was lovely to get done.

I then settled in for the rest of the evening and I have to say it did feel rather sticky and humid overall, so definitely for me one evening that I was drinking lots of water and also listening to some tunes before putting them on the iPod for the train journey up to Manchester tomorrow. As for tune of the day somehow I spent some time last night listening to Swing Out Sister's debut album, and so the instrumental theme from title track, It's Better To Travel, is that. It's rather nice and it wouldn't have looked out of place in a 1980s drama series on BBC somehow. Lovely work.

Wednesday 10th August - I Can't Get No Sleep

Another visit to the office today (and gradually I've been doing three days a week, more so when it's been so warm at home and the aircon of course is a good incentive to go) and that did mean a nice pretty quiet X68 express bus too, so that is always appreciated. It's actually more noticable just how much quieter the roads are in general when the school holidays are on - I reckon there's at least 15 minutes or so quicker time at present, although the dreaded voice that says "The driver has been told to wait at this bus stop for a short time to help even out the service" makes no sense when it's an express bus and it's waiting at the last bus stop in West Norwood before the 5 miles or so non-stop to Waterloo. Meh.

Anyway, the office was all good, and quite a few people I knew in the office today, and one of them who is based in our central communications team and whom I helped out with the new corporate fonts a while ago was around, and she is always good to talk to. We had a good natter about holidays and was mentioning how nice mine was, and that Sandringham for me and The Love In My Heart was a disappointment, especially for the price compared to say Castle Howard or Chatsworth. My colleague had been to Chatsworth and agreed: it always feels like you get your money's worth in there when you visit, and it's hard to disagree with that.

I was also able to help a couple of colleagues work out some issues today: one of them appeared to be that when you attempted to attach a file when using Google Mail (and either in Firefox or Chrome incidentally) the explorer window crashed. What I worked out was that when it looked at the downloads folder, it was attempting to preview the first thing it saw (which was most likely an executable) and bombed out. Easy solution: move all the files in that folder elsewhere, and then see what happened - and it worked. Sometimes the easier method is just to sort of start again and that worked well here.

I did also do the training session this morning as planned to be done, and that worked out well overall, and then from there I also liaised with my colleague over in China about the current state of play with one of the sites in Singapore that we had resolved some issues with, and how that would work out if we were able to reinstate some of the things we needed to roll back to have compatibility with their old equipment. We'll hopefully get an answer so we can push out some updates to those machines, here's hoping as well that it would be the case!

The journey home was fairly warm and I had managed to keep some of the heat out of the flat but not all, so once it got darker the windows were opened and tried to let in some cool air to help me sleep overnight - that's the thing at present, it's not necessarily the heat during the day (more so if in a nice cool office of course) but the stillness of the night air that doesn't help. I might have some ideas to remedy that but Faithless' classic Isomnia seems appropriate to be tune of the day.

Tuesday 9th August - I Feel It In The Aircon Today

So having watched the remainder of the Commonwealth Games closing ceremony last night, I have to say I was very perturbed by what one artist was doing, utilising the excellent guitar riffs from Judas Priest's Breaking the Law and putting all sorts round it. Nice idea, but poorly executed. More to the point, as the mighty Priest are from the Midlands, why didn't the organisers invite the band on, get Rob Halford coming on stage on a motorbike (as he often does) and then get the crowd going with yelling out "Breaking the WHAT?" before going full on into said rendition of classic Breaking The Law. Surely that would have been proper, and as it is, that has to be tune of the day as I had that in my head all the way to the office.

There was't just that, it was also the fact that the "surprise" guests at the end were whom I suspected: basically most of Black Sabbath (well, Tony Iommi and Ozzy Osbourne at least) on stage and rocking out the intro to Iron Man before then belting into Paranoid. The Love In My Heart did hear Ozzy hadn't been fully well as of late, but he certainly rocked it out and at the end yelled out "Birmingham forever!" in only a way that the Prince of Darkness could possibly do so. It would have been good to get full Iron Man, and me doing the Beavis and Butt-head impersonation of said riff. But there you go.

It was off to the office today and the lovely aircon greeted me as I checked in to the desk. It was good and positive too as I had managed to re-arrange a training session for one of the staff in China until tomorrow, and from there it was a good productive day too. I had a positive one to one meeting with my line manager, formulated a plan of action for the server upgrades to happen next week, and also was checking out a number of machines where I wanted to give them a gentle push to get the new VPN client as well - which appeared to be doing well in terms of numbers, so can't argue there really.

I headed out to the Co-Op to get some lunch and once consumed, it was on with the afternoon and more lovely aircon whilst I also had some other plans in action. We had a positive team meeting and I had also helped out a colleague resolve an issue with a software installation. What it seems that had happened was that when the installation had originally downloaded, it had in some way corrupted the file (possibly a network outage) and so when installed it failed to detect the MSI had installed correctly. So removing all the MECM client cache, and then refreshing the policy meant on next install it downloaded the installer cleanly, did the install and it all worked as intended. Hurrah for that!

It was a little bit warm on the bus heading home, and so switched over at Crown Point to get the 468 which was cooler and also meant I could be dropped off nearer to home too, so a win all round really. I had a lovely chat with The Love In My Heart after some tea, and then settled in for the evening with some telly and ended up playing the DOS version of the classic 90s game Pinball Fantasies in DOSBox. And I surprised myself immensely by beating my own best score on the Stones n Bones table. Naturally this game is better played on an Amiga (and I need to dig out my Amiga A600 for this!) but the PC version was the one I had for my first PC back in 1997.

Monday 8th August - Next, The Closing Ceremony

Another week, and another hot week by the look of it too. I have to say that I was glad that I was able to book some space in the office this week, primarily because of the fact that I knew that it was going to get above 30 degrees centigrade, and thought it better to be somewhere with aircon. Today though it was a case of me working from home, primarily because I needed to pick up a couple of shopping orders via click and collect later, but also because I still felt a little tired from what had been a busy but good weekend.

I spent most of this morning recreating a driver package for one of the Intel NUC models that we have for some of the meeting rooms - it's nice and small and perfectly formed. For some reason though it looked like one of the driver packages wasn't playing ball, so it was easier to get all the drivers from the Intel site and recreate it. That worked perfectly and I was able to effectively send that over to the MECM server, create the driver package and distribute that accordingly. I can road test that tomorrow on the particular model to make sure it's all good, but I suspect it'll be fine.

I also had some time in the afternoon spent with some of the team members and giving them a quick tutorial on the inventory system and what they can do in terms of reporting and being able to locate the inventory on the devices we have, as well as applications that may have little or no use. I think I've got some of the training down to a degree now and will need to follow that up with some documentation for reference which might be useful for everyone to refer to if they forget what to do, so will look at getting that sorted.

It was a nice painless trip out to Next during the lunch break and headed over to collect three packages in all, one order had been split into two packages for whatever reason. Thankfully once I provided one reference number the staff could see I had all three, so got them all for me in one go nice and easy, so that was good. In fact it was some jeans for me and a couple of shirts too, so that was a positive. It was pretty warm outside so at least it was good to be back home where it was at least a little less intense in the shade.

I watched the closing ceremony from the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham later. The weather had relented and was sunny for it, and lots of bands from the area came on and did their thing, including Dexy's Midnight Runners, UB40, and even Musical Youth (obviously not youths any more, but you know what I mean!) - and the city and surrounding areas had put on a spectactular Games, well done them. As for tune of the day - Led Zeppelin's Kashmir played during one segment and it's still pretty epic for me. Probably too much to ask to get Robert Plant there on stage of course, but still!

Sunday 7th August - Shopping Sunday

It was an early rise this morning, as The Cute Little One was stretching herself out all over the bed before The Love In My Heart moved her back into a more standard position. As I woke up her little smile greeted me which was nice, and a little tummy tickle made her giggle. Awww. Her Mum came to collect her later and I could tell she was just a happy little girl, because she had spent some time with us and was happily dancing around to songs from The Greatest Showman that I had located on Youtube for her - and the little dance to This Is Me was rather lovely all round, aww bless.

The Love In My Heart and I then made ourselves some breakfast, and we had already got ourselves changed this morning and ready early, and The Love changed into a Summer dress later (just in case The Cute Little One had spilled anything), and we decided that some shopping would be in order, primarily as we had a couple of birthday presents to get as well as some cards, and with that in mind, it was off to John Lewis and Partners in Cheadle, as the store is big and the aircon is also on in there - which is always appreciated.

All in all, that did prove to be very useful. The Love did get a nice present and card for a forthcoming birthday, and I also got a nice card as well as one of my relations has moved into a new place this weekend, so wanted to send over a little card just to feel a little bit more welcoming for them as they move in. All was well on the card section so no complaints there, and the gift sections did have some offers on, but it did seem like a bit of a stock clearout in places, but got something very nice in the regular priced section.

We decided that as the weather was nice that we would head out to the Ashlea in Cheadle for a nice Sunday lunch together, and there was an outside table for us to sit at, so all was well there. In fact, whoever had sat at the table before us had opened up a tab and the bar and looked like they'd snuck off without paying, so The Love had to mention to the staff that we weren't them - and one of the staff confirmed, and we were paying there and then for the food anyway so all was good in the end!

There were some 80s tunes playing in the background including Don't You Want Me by The Human League (make that tune of the day) and I had a nice pint of the Unicorn beer, and a very nice chicken and ham hock pie for lunch, together with some mash, vegetables and gravy, all spot on. The Love had the pork belly as the Sunday roast of choice complete with all the trimmings, and that did look completely fab, so that was definitely enjoyed by us both, and a little drink at the Gateway later including a very nice Brightside 0161 Blonde ale too, which I'll have to look out for again.

I did feel sad later as I headed to Manchester Piccadilly, but was cheered up by seeing all the Man United fans visibly upset after their 2-1 loss at home to Brighton and Hove Albion. I was on the 1730 train to Crewe, and that was packed with their fans (ie: not from Manchester) and I swapped over for the 1816 train to Euston, and that was pretty busy once it picked up passengers at Lichfield and Tamworth. It in fact was a relatively smooth journey home and that showed that with a cheaper fare, anything was possible.

Saturday 6th August - Cuteness Abound

The Love In My Heart and I woke up this morning and we knew that we would be up early, as The Cute Little One was being dropped off by her parents whilst they headed to a wedding, and that meant extended nice time for both myself and The Love with her, so that would be good. We had a nice breakfast and a coffee, and then was able to get the place ready for The Cute Little One's parents coming round, and we had a good chatter with both of them before they then headed off and was able to get on with their day.

We decided that it would be nice to head out to Lyme Park and have a walk around, and also we knew there was the Crow Wood play area which would have some swings, which The Cute Little One does love a lot, so we packed up the car, and with us all together, off we went. It was nice to be heading down the A6 and it wasn't too hot, so it was at least some nice weather but not stifling, and of course because Lyme Park is quite hilly, it's definitely not overly hot anyway. Good job The Love and I have a joint National Trust membership because parking would cost a fair bit otherwise, and got ourselves a space.

With The Cute Little One in her pram, we headed past the Timber Yard and over the bridge by the pond to Crow Wood. The play area was nice and we spotted that the swings were free, so of course we had a very happy little one being pushed by us both on the swings and having a really nice time of it. We did note the tree house which was a level ramp up to the top, being built into the hills there, and we walked up and the two view points meant you could see one another, so of course we had a fast walk in between the two by The Cute Little one as we waved, so that was nice.

After an extended bit of playtime we stopped off at the Timber Yard café for lunch, and there were nice little children's lunch boxes with a sausage roll, a packet of Pom Bears, a still water, an apple and a litle sweet treat too, so made sense to get The Cute Little One that and I got myself a pasty and The Love a sandwich with a drink each. What was lovely was that The Cute Little One spotted me walking back from the café towards the outside seating with the tray and waved at me as she knew what was coming. Awww. And let's just say she enjoyed her lunch, as did we all.

We also on the way back to The Love's place pop in to see my Mum, as we thought it'd be a nice surprise to have The Cute Little One there. And it was lovely. In fact, Mum made the likeness between The Love and The Cute Little One, which I guess there is a little bit, which is nice. In fact it was just good to catch up and chat and also see my sister and her husband too, and that was a bonus. The Cute Little One was on her best behaviour and being adorable, so that was also good, and after that we had a nice drink in Wine and Wallop, with The Cute Little One using her cup of water to say "cheers" to me with my drink too - which was so sweet.

We headed back later and it was on with In The Night Garden and Hey Duggee as well as Something Special with Mr Tumble too, and the version on that show of Head, Shoulders Knees and Toes is tune of the day - as The Cute Little One was doing some of the actions along the way which was nice of her. It was an extended wait for her to rest and sleep, primarily as she had been out with us all day and was happy, but also because she was still wanting to play. Once she had settled we had our own tea and relaxed in front of the telly for a bit together before feeling tired and having had a rather lovely day.

Friday 5th August - Super Off Peak Sprinting

It was off to the office this morning and that meant some nice lovely aircon in the office for during the day. In fact, I was also testing out the additions to the Windows 10 build task sequence and what better way to do so than to actually carry out the road test on my own laptop, and therefore ensure that the testing was actually working well? I needed to give it a refresh anyway after some three and a bit years of testing all sorts, so a clean slate would make more sense to be able to do so now. The good thing was that it worked perfectly well and that also meant I knew I could quantify all the testing.

In fact it was pretty quiet in the office so I was able to carry out some more checks and additional testing to see how that would all work out ready for some tasks next week. It was all good and that meant that I was able to perform some driver package checks on a new set I was asked to do (all seemed well there) and of course with that in mind, get some prep for next week. In fact the time was going by very quickly and so I had to remind myself that I needed to head off and get a train up North!

So, with an earlier Friday finish being part of something everyone at work is doing at present, it did mean I could get an earlier train to Manchester but also that did mean I could take advantage of a cheaper ticket too, the super off peak return travelling with London Northwestern and Transport for Wales only, so doing the stopper from Euston to Crewe first, then Crewe to Manchester. And the price of the super off peak return? £36.30. Yes, really. Absolute bargain when you think you're often paying more than that on Avanti West Coast one way!

All was well as I got the train out of Euston and in fact all was on time as the train stopped at Milton Keynes, Rugby, Nuneaton and throughout the Trent Valley and got into Crewe with no issues, and I had the trusty iPod on playing the likes of Dolce Vita by Ryan Paris (80s classic and so tune of the day) and once at Crewe, I noted that Stockport station was closed due to some points issues, but ticket acceptance between Crewe and Manchester was across all operators, meaning I could use my ticket on the next Avanti service into Manchester (more so as the TfW service had been cancelled) and arrived nicely at Manchester Piccadilly.

Once The Love In My Heart had collected me and we'd fed Brian the cat some tea, we headed out later to the local Chinese to be able to get some nice tea - I had the crispy chicken in schezuan sauce whilst The Love had the chicken and mushrooms, both with fried rice and some prawn crackers as well as some spring rolls. That went down nicely and we settled in to watch the likes of The Last Leg, with Brian having an extended playtime outside in the much cooler air - he was happy!

Thursday 4th August - Selling Off

It was another busy day of working - this time from home and so at least that meant I was able to sort out all the washing of clothes and so on for heading up to Manchester this weekend and spending some quality time with The Love In My Heart (and possibly also some other people too.) I think too that when it's still been quite muggy the last thing you want to do is to venture out too much when that humidity kicks in. Thankfully I had plenty to do in the day job and also decided that today would be a sensible day to be able to sell off some duplicate games that I have for the Commodore 64, primarily due to picking up some bundles of games.

I had photographed all of them on one of the tables in the flat with a white background, primarily to ensure that it looked the part. It also meant I could get them all in one picture, and annotate the picture description accordingly when I posted on to Twitter early in the day, making use of suitable hash tags and so on. In fact, I had already put aside two from one bundle as I had already arranged a sale privately with someone for two of the games, so they didn't need photographing here. And of course, they had all been tested too which is always a good thing as well as we know it'll work then.

In fact, I had a good few responses to my post, with one friendly face I know wanting to purchase one of the games - and so that was done. Someone else wanted to purchase CJ's Elephant Antics and CJ in the USA to show their children how games came back in the day (as well as play them!) which was a nice thought. And I had someone else who very kindly would take five of the games off my hands too. The good thing was that I priced them sensibly and fairly for those people: I'm not interested in charging fortunes, because that's not what I do - if it gives someone else some happiness and they get a good deal, everyone wins.

So at lunch time, as I'd received all payments from those concerned, it was a case of packaging up all the sets of games together and placing them in the post. The good thing was that I of course keep any padded envelopes I get with any packages delivered to me, and I can effectively re-use those, meaning that I don't waste environmental resources and can also print the address labels off and put them on, so all good. The post box thankfully isn't that far away and so that was a nice easy thing to do.

It made the day flow by nicely and in the evening I settled in to watch some Commonwealth Games athletics from the Alexander Stadium in Birmingham. It definitely looked like a good atmosphere and reminded me of being there in Manchester twenty years ago, and having The Stone Roses' classic This Is The One as the theme tune for the coverage too (make that tune of the day). It definitely is always a positive reminder and seeing some of the excellent achievements as well as the para sport integration really shows how much things have progressed.

Wednesday 3rd August - Hello Yoto

It was still quite overcast but really muggy today, so although I was working from home and it did at least feel somwewhat fresher during the morning to some degree, once the humidity kicked in later it wasn't the nicest place in the world to be, that's for sure. I think for me it was more a case of being able to try and keep reasonably cool and I had at least managed a decent night's sleep last night, primarily because I was quite tired and wanted to try and get some rest before a busy day ahead.

And a busy day it proved to be actually. I did some of the weekly reporting I needed to do but also worked out a couple of issues for some of the Service Desk team - and was able to implement those well in order for them to get a couple of laptop print issue resolved. Thankfully one of them had spotted that in fact one of the network adapters had the incorrect DNS settings and so wasn't set to automatic - so wouldn't be assigned the right DNS addresses in order to authenticate, so fixing that was pretty essential anyway.

In the afternoon I did spend some time in a meeting with a few colleagues including our Cyber Security team and agreed some useful ways forward in terms of some of the configurations that we need to look at. On the whole, we're pretty much there in what we want to do (which is good) but it's more about discussing a way forward and to tweak and improve any existing processes we have. For me at least, that does mean that we're able to collaborate and work better together too, so only ever taking postives from that to be honest.

I did have a really nice long chat with The Love In My Heart too - and she was telling me about this audio book device for children and families where the story cards are purchased and the content for that is downloaded to the device. For those that are interested, it's called the Yoto - and there's a small travel version as well as a nice one to put on bedside tables and spaces so that you can effectively have nice bedtime stories with some graphics fed into the front of the device too. It also has story cards for the likes of the Gruaffalo, Peter Rabbit, Paddington Bear (no Miffy though, boo) so all seems really well put together.

It did make me think as well that it would make a perfect present in the future for The Cute Little One, particularly as you can actually read your own stories and then save them to a "create your own" story card to feed into the device, meaning you could at least have the child hearing the parent doing the voices too which may be preferable (and it means I could read Miffy to her which would be fab!) - and so I probably need to look at how it's done, get the headset mic out, and get recording. So many possibilities and therefore tune of the day is the theme to Chorlton and the Wheelies, I'd love to read those and get them on a Yoto. Bye bye, little old lady!!

Tuesday 2nd August - Athletic Achievements

It was back off to the office today, and of course with the weather being somewhat of a muggy nature today, having that lovely air conditioning and a nice desk to work on always works wonders for me. I did have a coffee and was able to get into the swing of things before I headed off to one of the meeting rooms, which I had booked in advance. I was doing a training session on our inventory system for our colleagues over in China, and that went down really well - they were all engaged and I deliberately did an error in the criteria, and I knew one of the team would spot it (and she did!)

It was also a good case of being able to then have a positive one to one meeting with my line manager, work out a plan of action for the next week or so, and from that be able to get several tasks done. One of them was to determine a way of seeing what versions of one piece of software was installed on a machine, and thankfully in the inventory system there's a report that actually gives you the granularity of the installed files and versions, as well as being able to specify a location where installed.

Now, that happens to be in one place for Windows and one for Mac, but I simply created one report for each (but with the same column names) and then from there was able to put them both together in one sheet, and narrow things down nicely. As it transpired we only seem to have a small number of machines currently running any unsupported versions, so that has to be a positive. In fact, some of those may even be on old outdated machines so we can effectively cross check to see if in use. Happy times, I think!

Anyway, I had to stay behind a little late as I was discussing some plans of action with a couple of colleagues in the US, so once that was done it was onwards and on the X68 bus home. Cue the usual people panicking at Waterloo because they've realised they've got on the wrong bus (and clearly didn't read the front of the signage that clearly says that the first stop is West Norwood) - and it's handy for me because it means I can get home quicker - it's non-stop via Brixton and Tulse Hill to West Norwood and even then it goes pretty quick to get towards Croydon and home.

After a good chat with The Love In My Heart, I settled in to watch the first night of action at the Commonwealth Games athletics in the Alexander Stadium in Birmingham. I have to say it was really good to see some of the parasport events be included with the main programme, something pioneered by Manchester 2002 (and I was there to see that) - and this also meant that Hannah Cockroft would storm to gold in the T33/T34 100 metre race, she's a bit good and led home an English clean sweep of the medals too - really good stuff. Tune of the day has to be something Duran Duran (as that's where they are from) so the rather good Save A Prayer for me is the one to listen to.

Monday 1st August - Games Without Frontiers

It was into the office today and to be honest with the humidity potentially making it warmer than it might be, I was going to be appreciating the office's lovely air conditioning and conditions for me working in - makes me feel a lot better and am able to work smarter because of it. I actually had a couple of decent changes to plough through today which meant that it was going to be a busy day, and as I headed on the X68 bus into the office, the nice fresh morning air certainly was doing its thing of getting me all sorted and ready.

Once in, the first change was active, which was to start deploying the new version of the VPN client we use to both Windows and Mac machines after some extensive testing (and indeed deploying to a pilot group on both Windows and Mac first) - and also making sure any new builds on both got the new versions at the same time. This worked out very well indeed, and there were many successful deployments by the end of the day which was also a good thing.

I also was able to sort out the user access changes to one of our systems, as the vendor had implemented a way to use Active Directory logins and access based on group membership too - so make the user a member of a group, and off you go. In fact, I could already see that a number of users had been able to log in this morning and therefore the correct account had been created with the right level of access, so felt pretty pleased with the end result.

I headed home later on and I had a nice package that arrived - a bundle of Commodore 64 games, some of which I already owned, but several that I didn't, and amongst them three Codemasters games I didn't have, so was hoping they'd all load (which they did first go, hurrah!) and some more games to play, so did that after tea and in between a nice chatter to The Love In My Heart. Up first was Bignose's American Adventure, a platform game by the same folks who had programmed Tarzan Goes Ape. A bit lazy therefore for Codemasters to use the same Steve Barrett music from that game here, and similarly large sprites and jumping mechanic. Hmmm..

It was then on to Steg the Slug, a quite late release and also a quite nice original concept too. You had to be the slug to try and guide the young ones to safety, involving the use of bubbles and avoiding traps and pipes along the way. There's ten levels in all, and it's a nice enough puzzler game with some nice Ashley Hogg music to this day. I can still remember the cheat mode too - enter the level password as POSH MOTOR (including the space) and you can then use the F1 key to skip levels should you wish to do so!

It was then to the one I'd been looking forward to replaying the most, Kamikaze. Programmed by the legendary Ash and Dave from the demo scene (especially Compunet) this rather neat little game involves you flying planes, picking up ammo and also battling other planes. But.. the kamikaze part is to smash into a castle gate in order to free those trapped inside, so you need to be ready and have some wits about you. Superb music in this one by Johannes Bjerregaard too, so that has to be tune of the day for me - give this one a go, it's immense fun and one of the better games Codemasters published.