Dear Diary...

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

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Thursday 13th May - Planning In The Middle

I had spent some time today working out and then raising a suitable change which will cover a planned event from next week - eventually this will result in the total removal of Adobe Flash Player from all our estate - as after some checks to ensure no one actually needs it for any reason (old software for example), it's a two part plan: first of all to remove the plugin installer from the machine using the Adobe uninstaller utility, which works really well and removes all those versions, and then applying the Windows 10 update which removes the in-built OS version for Internet Explorer.

In fact, once that update has run and Flash Player is removed, you can tell pretty easily to be honest - the control panel icon will be removed to indicate there's no way to configure, and one of the system folders has its contents cleaned where the add-on would have lived, and as such that increases security nicely. I've got our cyber security team online with the plans too and they're good to go with it (this is when having a good working relationship with other teams works dividends to be honest) and so that's firing nicely.

The other thing I did as a bit of a team effort was something our cyber security manager mentioned - for some of the older Dell laptops, it turns out there is a security invulnerability in one of the files it uses for the likes of Dell Command Update, their system update programs and other bloatware they tend to chuck on. A quick check showed that some machines, clearly not rebuilt since their acqusitions into our place, have a number of those pieces of software on. Dell at least have released a utility to remove the offending file so will be road testing that, and also looking at removing some of the other stuff with a few msiexec commands too.

I did pop out at lunchtime primarily to have a quick mooch in Lidl and to get some nice beers for the weekend. In fact their Middle of Lidl section was actually pretty good and had a number of nice new beers in as part of their craft beer festival - which started today, so timed that well even though I didn't realise! I got the NEIPA and also Forbidden Fruit from the Stewart Brewing Company (had their beers before, all good) and also the Gear Shifter from 71 Brewing, based in Dundee. £1.79 for a 440ml can so not that expensive either, and all look rather classy and nice it has to be said. They were supposed to also get in the Gipsy Hill Bandit for a mere £1.29 (bargain!) but didn't see any, and the Fourpure Last Train too. I might have to venture to another Lidl sometime..

In any case, it was good to have a walk out and spent most of the afternoon working out further plans but also sorting out a few bits around the flat and keeping things all neat and tidy as well. I was also able to have a lovely chat with The Love In My Heart later as Brian the cat spotted his dog friends Yoda and Chewie outside (aww) and then settled in to see Liverpool give Man United a good 4-2 beating at Old Trafford, which cheered me up no end. In fact, tune of the day is the ace Evapor-8 by Altern-8, especially as that's what has happened to United getting close to the title this season...

Wednesday 12th May - The World's My Oyster (Stout)

It was off to the office today and actually a really positive thing all round too. I definitely think for me that being in the office makes me more productive, primarily because I have all the tools I need close to hand to be able to do the job properly, can connect at proper speeds which is always good, and on top of all that, am also able to get all the necessary virtual machine wheels in motion. And that's particularly helpful when doing a build and capture thing to get the latest Windows 10 WIM image sorted with the updates from this month added after they were released on the Patch Tuesday as well - as I had to get those prepped ready for UAT testing too.

It was a smooth ride to create the WIM this time around, after adding a new virtual machine for this purpose last month, and all was pretty good. I also had to create a new driver package for a new model of the Lenovo ThinkPad T14s, as they now have a Gen 2 model of that - and our office in China seemed to have got some of the first batch of those. It's different to the Gen 1, and interestingly when my colleague sent me over the WMI query, that came up with Gen 2i at the end, possibly meaning Intel chipset (the laptop also has an AMD variant, so maybe using Gen2a for the AMD one?) One of the things I'd mentioned to one of Lenovo's UK sales folks the other week was the fact that you needed some way to differentiate properly for deployments, so maybe this was borne in mind?

After work I decided to head over to Charing Cross, primarily to see how far it would be to walk from the office, and with the premise that I could in future head there from Croydon via London Bridge to mean a train only journey to work, potentially cheaper than train and tube (or train and bus) and also meaning that I have options should I need them. In fact the walk wasn't that far, down Haymarket and round Trafalgar Square. I could potentially cut across Leicester Square and down by the St Martin's Church too so there's options, and it works out around 0.6 miles and 15 minutes ish.

Anyway, I had a brainwave - I knew I wasn't far from one of my favourite central London drinking haunts, and so had a wander up Maiden Lane to see if the Porterhouse had any outside spaces - they didn't at the time, but decided to have a walk up to Covent Garden, see the vibe there (which was very nice and chilled) and also noted that a number of streets had been closed to allow for outside eating space to take place. In fact, it was all pretty nice and the Ivy Grill near the Transport Museum was pretty thriving too with the way that they'd sorted the outside seating and umbrella covered space.

I did head back along Maiden Lane and spotted a free table at the front of the Porterhouse, which was mine, woohoo! In fact, the staff were really nice and friendly and presented me with a very good beer menu. Best of all, my favourite of their brews that they do, the Oyster Stout, was on tap! Well, rude not to, and so with their nice new branded glasses, it was all mine. It was very chilled out a nice way to end the working day with one of my favourite stouts and a space to watch the world go by to be honest, I did feel really happy and that has to be a positive thing really.

Later on myself at hme and The Love In My Heart at her place were both enjoying The Great British Sewing Bee (the theme tune is ace so tune of the day - I do wish they'd add a "cha cha cha!" ending though) - and with Children's week, lots of fab little outfits. I really liked Andrew's crab in the transformation challenge, that was well thought out as was his reversible jacket for the waterproof raincoat made to measure. However The Love said (and rightfully so, I agreed) that Farie's raincoat with the unicorn pattern and indeed the unicorn mane tail at the back deserved garment of the week - which little girl wouldn't love to be wearing that?

Tuesday 11th May - Back On Top

It was back to work today and at home for the day, although of course I am in the office tomorrow - as I do feel more productive in thee. Today was mainly about monitoring the new MECM client deployments and making sure all was good as it would be later today the 7 day deadline up for any new clients to be automatically updated and be given that timespan, before then going on a 1 day cycle as the majority had already been done. In fact, I switched over my criteria for the non-compliant clients so that anything less than the new current client version would then show up, and a quick test of that showed all was good and this will help track some down. Interestingly, one that was three versions out of date came online and updated today...

I also spent some time finalising a script I'd been testing with a colleague that would help to fix any profile related issues with Google Drive. I then realised that for the detection method (if being deployed as a MECM application) I could actually use part of the script, and set variables if either the registry key or the folder in the user's appdata folder was detected, and if either variable set, return null, or if none set (ie: there's nothing to remove) show as installed. This worked pretty well, and I even made a new icon for it in Software Centre so it showed a Google Drive icon but with a green first aid cross in the bottom right, to help distinguish it. Nice.

A couple of us were discussing some good dance tunes, and I pulled an absolute under-rated classic from the bag - the original version of Get on Up by Meitz. Now, there's actually a Commodore 64 connection here, as Meitz is Volker Meitz, who went by the handle of PRI and was a really good C64 musician, mainly for demos by the group Oxyron (see Coma Light 12 for example) and later on he became a dance artist in his native Germany. In 2003, the album Vertikal was released, and Get on Up was one of the singles from it - in fact the instrumental break from 2:30 on is very reminiscent of his C64 pieces. Tune of the day as it is a bona fide classic.

After work I was keeping an eye on the events at Old Trafford as Manchester United were taking on Leicester City, and a defeat for United would mean that Manchester City would be champions. In fact United had made numerous changes and even though it was 1-1 at half time I suspected that in the second half Leicester would go at them all guns blazing, and although not quite that they did at least get in front, forcing United to bring their big guns off the bench in an attempt to try and salvage something - even a draw would have meant it going at least to Thursday night's game against Liverpool. As it stood though, it was a matter of time..

And then it was all done, and with United's defeat, a third league title in four years for City, and two of them resulting from a defeat at Old Trafford, similar to 2018 when United lost at home to West Brom. I was just glad that it was all over to be honest, and it does mean theoretically that City can look at resting players prior to the Champions League final in a couple of weeks time. Either way, it did feel weird that it'll be won without any fans there until potentially the last game of the season, but it's been like that for almost all clubs apart from a few in December who were lucky enough to get some fans in.

Monday 10th May – Birthday Bonanza

It was so nice to be with The Love In My Heart and Brian the cat for my birthday today. I had got myself up and shaved and ready, and The Love brought in all the birthday presents and cards, and Brian of course was sniffing around the bags to be able to see if he could actually peek inside. In fact he popped his head up and moved towards me with a little cat kiss. Awwww, that made my day – just for this once he was going to be super cute towards me, and even let me give him some tummy tickles later, so that was all rather lovely. It meant too after I opened the presents that he dived into one of the gift bags for a little play – bless, he is just so adorable!

What was really nice was the effort people had put in to get me some nice presents – The Love’s relatives had got me some nice beer, a gift card for Amazon as well as a couple of films on Blu-Ray, all appreciated – and as well as that, a nice short sleeved Ben Sherman check shirt! Both my sisters had put some money in an envelope, my brothers got me some nice Jack Wills bath and shower stuff as well as a Joy Division photography book based on their visits to Strawberry Studios, and Mum got me (as I asked for) a gift card for HMV so I can treat myself to some new CDs as and when they come out too.

My friends had got me some great presents too – four films on Blu-Ray including the likes of The Goonies and Harry Brown, and three CDs including the new Cabaret Voltaire album as well as Blancmange and Travis, all really good of them. In fact when at home later I opened my presents from another good friend, and felt really spoilt with the new Pixar film Soul and its soundtrack CD too – along with Northern Soul, Life of Pi and Philadelphia on Blu-Ray. Way too spoilt to be honest, but it’s really humbling that everyone made such a nice effort this year.

And best of all, some rather wonderful gifts from The Love In My Heart too – although I’d argue the best gift of all is herself, as she always looks lovely and makes me happy. If I had that as the one present alone it’d always be more than enough. She got me a really nice black gingham Fred Perry shirt for the Summer, some Ted Baker Skinwear eau de toilette (I used to love this, and it’s been brought back as a limited edition) and a really nice dark green jacket from Uniqlo, which The Love herself says actually looked better than it did on the website, and I’d wear that to head out for lunch later – it felt really soft and comfortable on too which is always a good thing.

Later on we had booked lunch and so were off to Cheadle Hulme and to Gusto, where their outside terrace was pretty well covered from the elements – but with a mix of sunshine and showers, we were ready for anything. The staff were all lovely and all had a matching dark blue face covering to match their uniforms, and it really did feel safe and relaxing in the environment too with the tables distanced and we had patio heaters and a good covering of space too. We both decided to have a little treat so The Love had a nice glass of wine with a Meantime craft lager for me – I was tempted by the fact that there was proper red Peroni on in bottles, but you got a full pint of the Meantime and for less money – still, good to note of course.

For the starters, The Love had the tomato bruschetta, which looked lovely with all the fresh tomato and a crispy bruschetta at that too. I had the calamri squid with the lemon garlic mayonnaise, and that was stunning, it really did melt in the mouth. More melt in the mouth followed too as The Love had the chicken supreme for main and the chicken was so nice in the sauce, along with the potatoes, polenta and vegetables, and I went for the saffron risotto, which had the pulled three meats that they use in the lasagne, and was gorgeously lovely – best meal we’d both had in around a year or so to be honest. I had the tiramisu for dessert with us both having a coffee too, and just felt so relaxed, safe and happy, and The Love looked gorgeous in her Ted Baker jumper with a big bow on the right side, so beautiful (and thankfully no lunch spillage for either of us) so it was good to be out together and having a lovely time.

We even had time to head over to Homebird across the way, which is a really nice homeware and furniture shop, which The Love really likes – stating that some of her relatives would like this shop too. I can see why – it’s all so lovely stuff inside. And I had a surprise later too – one of my good friends had coded a little Commodore 64 demo to wish me happy birthday and got lots of other people in the Commodore 64 scene to send in some text for the scrolling message too, which was really good to watch later. There’s a link to the demo here, if you want to see it on the PC you’ll need the WinVICE emulator or something similar, but really massively appreciated and made me feel humbled too.

The time in the afternoon went by far too quickly and it wasn’t long before a little kiss goodbye for Brian the cat and several hugs and kisses for The Love as I arrived at Piccadilly station – and taking the route home via Doncaster. In fact due to the well known issues on some trains at the moment, my train from Doncaster had been cancelled, but I had made a reservation on the next train which was around 7 minutes later, arriving in London Kings Cross on schedule around 15 minutes behind what I would have done. I had Altered Images’ ace Happy Birthday in my head all day (so tune of the day) and it was really nice to have spent quality time all weekend but also some lovely time with The Love and Brian the cat too – far too nice a day!

Sunday 9th May – Out And About In The Rain

It was a very wet day for most of today to be honest, but having a good lie in and a nice breakfast certainly made the Sunday morning all very nice too, it has to be said. I really did like the fact that Brian the cat was just being all soft and cuddly with his Mummy, and wanted lots of fussing. In fact, we managed something later – we finally finished the jigsaw! It was an epic effort but as the last few pieces started to go in, it was only fair for The Love In My Heart to do all the work there and get those in, seeing as she had pretty much done most of Brian’s head in the jigsaw singlehandedly. It was all very nice to see it done.

With that mission accomplished, we decided that with the weather receding slightly, it’d be good to head out for a nice mid-afternoon drink but also to visit one of my friends too and see how they were doing – and with the rain relenting that would at least be something. In fact we did try to head to the same bar as yesterday but no joy there either – still busy. I think because it has the original glass terrace roof over the entrance which is quite a decent size, even if it is raining you do get some cover there and so of course no matter what the weather, you’re still good. We reverted back to where we went yesterday and the white wine was back, but also the Brightside ales were on, so a double win all round really.

After that, we decided to have a look at where one of The Love’s relations might be buying a house soonish after having an offer accepted, just so she could work out where it is, the amenities in the area and so on. In fact, there were plenty of local shops and a petrol station reasonably close by as well as a nice local park, and the majority of the houses did seem pretty well kept. The only downside might be that it’s facing a road with a fair amount of traffic, so a secure front gate would be a must for any little ones not to run into the road. Still it did all look good so I am sure that’ll be somewhere nice and it’s good to see the location as well.

We did then pop over to see my friend and his wife, who we’d not seen for a while, primarily due to shielding reasons and also to ensure that they kept safe. It was really good to see them and they had presents for my birthday for me (they are far too kind to be honest!) and it was good to see how they had been managing overall. I think importantly they have been able to get shopping deliveries and have been keeping busy – in fact knitting has been one thing keeping one of them busy and even had a nice knitted cardigan for The Love’s tiny relative, which was really sweet. The time sped by like it wasn’t there, but was really good and positive to see them both and definitely for me it’s one thing I’ve missed – having a good face to face in-person natter with a friend.

Later on we had some rather lovely chicken along with vegetables and a nice gravy for tea, and The Love settled in to the likes of Call the Midwife whilst I was watching the final of the World Seniors snooker, which saw David Lilley beat Jimmy White 5-3 and win the title for the first time – and he played really well. We both later on also watch Gods of Snooker on BBC2 – for The Love it was an era growing up in her house where both parents would always have the snooker on, so she grew up with the names of the time. The first episode mainly was on Alex Higgins, and a real sense of how the game was dragged up from the doldrums. Nice to see the likes of Steve Davis as well as fans like Gary Lineker and Richard Osman be interviewed, along with Smalltown Boy by Bronski Beat as a perfect backing – make that one tune of the day.

Saturday 8th May – In The Present Tense

After a nice lie-in for myself and The Love In My Heart (and especially Brian the cat, who was happily sprawled out without a care in the world) we got ourselves up, had some really good breakfast, and then got ourselves ready for the rest of the day. It was going to be a relaxed sort of day really, but The Love did have her sisters drop off some presents for me for my birthday on Monday, which was actually really nice of them. Some of them did involve some nice beers so was very good to have some extra supplies at The Love’s place of course, and indeed it was good to be able to relax and carry on with the jigsaw together.

We decided it’d be nice where possible to head out for a drink later on, and of course be sat outside if we could. First off though, it was over to see Mum. It was good to see her of course and she handed me some presents for my birthday from her, my brothers and sisters (all of which had got me a card and a gift which was very nice of them) and to have a nice coffee too. Of course, it was also good to note that my brother was back home too – so good to see him at least and be able to see how things were in his world (and by all accounts they were all good, so positive there.)

After that it was off to see if one of our favourite bars was open outside, which it was, but there was zero chance of getting a table to be honest, even though it looked like some of the seating had been extended around the corner too which was very good of them. We did have a backup plan of another pub, and so was able to go there and get an outside seat after having checked in. It was half decent weather but we did have an umbrella above the table so the light shower didn’t get in the way of us having a nice ale and a nice wine together, which is all good. In fact The Love had the white zinfandel rosé as the white wines weren’t in stock, but she likes that and so was a good change to make.

Later on we got back to the 1000 piece Brian the cat jigsaw. It was a case of us both working together and making good progress, with the left hand side background of the former bushes and hedges behind where I took the picture of Brian in the first place proving to be quite tricky – but once we started to get a few pieces in we were actually doing pretty well to be honest. It was good to be able to see it take shape, and by all accounts some fans had decided to congregate near the Etihad Stadium thinking Manchester City were going to win the title, but a 2-1 last minute defeat to Chelsea put paid to that. Had some fans not learnt from Bolton’s experience last week with a similar sort of defeat to Exeter City in their promotion push I wonder?

We did also have some very nice pulled pork burgers and all the trimmings for tea, with the meat tasting rather melty and nice, and settled further in the evening as I was keeping an eye on the World Seniors snooker and the two of us shouting out the proverbial answers at the telly when watching The Hit List – we do both love that and the initial five from five from five round (five songs, one per decade, and a top five hit) really does separate out a broad range of knowledge. I was particularly pleased to get Don’t Go by Yazoo (make that one tune of the day) as well as plenty of the other 70s and 80s stuff. Brian the cat? He was just having a lie down on the pouffle and watching the world go by. Because he can.

Friday 7th May – Testing Diversions

It was nice to be in the office today and also nice to be able to get on with plenty of things too – including some considerable testing. I wanted to see if I could add the correct task sequence variable to the upgrade task sequence, so that when you do the in-place upgrade (and having closed down all you need to as part of that) you can have the reboot delay set to 3600 seconds – ie 1 hour, so that you don’t have to worry about an almost instantaneous reboot. I knew that everything else worked but wanted to be sure that it was dotting the proverbial I so to speak.

Of course, it was handy that a new test machine had been sourced for me, and with the correct USB-C Ethernet adapter with PXE passthrough (primarily because the machine doesn’t have on-board Ethernet either) it was relatively straightforward to build that up and to ensure all was well with that machine – so all good there. In fact, once done, I let it then become a member for the upgrade task sequence collection, started it off and ensured all the programs it needed to close were closed (so far so good anyway) and from that, it then did what I wanted it to do (and gave me a one hour countdown for restart too.) Sweet, and nice to see that thorough testing reaps its own rewards.

Of course, it was a different path to take later when I was road testing some applications – as I wanted to be sure that they worked for both install and uninstall, so was good to be able to get a few more of them boxed off, including the community edition of Pycharm (the professional version is licenced but there may be a need to do that too as we have licences). Overall it’s good to try and get people onside to be able to realise that actually organising things correctly instead of a shadow IT doing things manually isn’t just much more efficient, but also managed correctly.

After work it wasn’t off to Euston this time, oh no. Because of the continuing situation with late ticket releases and Avanti, due to the Euston works most weekends, it was instead a trip via LNER to Doncaster and then across to Manchester via Transpennine Express. So a tube to Kings Cross later and all was well, and I was in good time for the 1833 train out there. However, the seat I was in did feel claustrophobic so I’ve reminded myself not to allocate that again if I can avoid it (Coach G, seat 01, but anything 01-04 is best avoided.) It was a nice easy switch in Doncaster, although the train from there took its time being stuck behind a freight train all the way to Sheffield.

I did get in Manchester a few minutes late but thankfully The Love In My Heart was there to collect me, and the two of us were all relaxed and chilled out together. Even Brian the cat seemed happy to see me which I didn’t think he would be. I noted the Brian jigsaw coming along very well and we settled in to watch the repeat of the Jonathan Ross show from last weekend, which meant a nice appearance from Paul Weller and band together with the new single Shades of Blue, which was pretty ace and definitely for us both, tune of the day.

Thursday 6th May - A Group Sort

Upon doing some checks today, I noted that in MECM, the distribution point groups showed that although all content seemed to be distributed fine, two of them in the main group showed that they were at an in progress state, despite all the distribution points showing that content was in fact there and all verified to be okay as well. It did make me wonder if something was up in terms of the way that the status was being returned for the content, or if in fact it was to do with the way that the database was reporting back content correctly. Either way, it did make me think about what was viable, so I started to have a think.

I then thought that possibly, as the group membership changes over time, whether in fact the number of members was being reported correctly for some content statuses, and thus miscalculating what was in progress: more so for example if you end up removing content before it's fully distributed (seen that happen before) or if the content's WMI query list on the distribution point fails to match for any reason, and as such means that said list is incorrect. However, with the points themselves having their weekly verification showing all was well, I could rule that out.

In the end, I thought that a query of the distribution points at database level was in order, and found a really useful SQL query online which I could run in SQL Server Management Studio to query the database directly. Having done that, I noted something: my group has 15 distribution points, but two of the pieces of content (both applications) said that it had distributed to 16, not 15, so clearly in my view a miscount. I remembered that I'd seen an issue in the past at a previous position where the best thing to do was to remove the content from the group (and hence the distribution points) and then redistribute. The moment the content was removed, I could see that the compliance was 100%.

So far, so good - and so then I redistributed the two pieces of content concerned, and this time they both were able to go out there, show a correct level of compliance after all done, and in fact running the SQL query again proved to be conclusive that all was well and sorted. Happy bunny. It's good when things work well and it's always a positive to be able to clean things up nicely. It also means tomorrow I can concentrate on a fair few other tasks that I want to test too.

I also headed out for a little walk to the shops later on, primarily to get a few bits for next week, and noted that the entrance area at the front of the apartment block is being resurfaced and with some new tiles too, which should look a lot nicer when done. The old concrete paved area was looking a bit tired, so good to see some maintenance being done and keeping things all nice and shipshape. I also was watching the world seniors snooker championship too (cue Drag Racer the proper snooker theme being tune of the day) and some good matches played on the first day.

Wednesday 5th May - Twelve Inches of Pleasure

I headed down to the post box of the flats and to collect an item from the post room that had been delivered yesterday whilst I was in the office - no less than an order from eBay with three 12" indie singles inside. The seller had stated that they'd ship up to three singles for the price of one, so actually made sense to get three ordered instead, all three of which I was after but one in particular was desirable for me - the 12" promo white label single of The Cygnet Ring's Banjos in Bengal, and another one for the collection of the band's stuff. I do have the regular 12" but to get the white label promo cheap too - that was a win.

I also had two other singles which I'd been after for a while, the first of which was Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine's Rubbish, and the original Big Cat release at that, nice. Of course there's also a very interesting cover of Rent by the Pet Shop Boys on the B-side, which I seem to remember appeared on one of those Indie Top 20 compilations back in the day. I quite like that anyway, so was good to be able to get that and give the speakers a good work out playing that with suitable aplomb.

The final was the 12" single of Flowered Up's track Phobia, with an extended version on one side and a remix on the other. I did like this track back in the day and definitely shows that they had a more edgy dance feel to some of their tracks, which would be explored of course later on when London dropped them and they went back to Heavenly to release the thirteen minute epic that is Weekender, on CD and 12" single only, with no edits whatsoever - you played the lot or not at all. For having the sheer bottle to call that out and insist on it being played as is the band deserve credit, and definitely having played the CD single again, tune of the day for me.

It was overall a good productive day working from home, but I must admit that the noise of the building work nearby does put me off a bit - it's usually the same time as when I am working, so that definitely for me has to be something that I'll factor in as a good reason for going into the office a bit more pretty soon to be honest (and not to mention the fact that it'll just be good to see people out and about anyway.) I did also note my manager completed the move back up North over the last few days, so that's also given me some extra food for thought too.

I also settled in later to watch the latest escapades of The Great British Sewing Bee, and recognised the bit near Canning Town where it is filmed. The Love In My Heart mentioned to me that the place where they have the coffee, an American looking diner, actually looks quite good, especially with a view over to the River Thames and the O2, so definitely will have to have a wander around there at some point soon to see what all the fuss is about. I was pretty glad that Farie did manage to do her garment of the week on time, and The Love has a soft spot for Raph, I think!

Tuesday 4th May - Office Space

I must admit, I'm much preferring the office over working at home at the moment for a number of reasons: not only do I have access to more kit and infrastructure and feel like I can actually get more work done in the office, but also at the moment there's a fair amount of building work going on during the day, which, when you have the windows open to let some fresh air in (as you'd want to do of course) it's rather headache inducing to hear constant banging and clattering all day. I might evaluate whether I actually make it more time in the office full stop, possibly going back to even 3 days in, 2 days at home, primarily to ensure that I get some respite that way.

Of course, the office also has nice air conditioning and with the likes of the Pret round the corner offering me coffee via the subscription (and even now with me paying the £20 after the free trial, it still proves worth it as it means I can also get a coffee at weekends when out and about etc) - it's not too bad. Granted it'd be nice to go back to the free posh coffee machines once more, but realistically I can't ever see that happening now, or possibly a soft drinks fridge would be good like we used to have in one office, and that was always helpful for some cool liquid when you needed. We shall see.

What did prove interesting today was something I was additionally testing: you can now do the Windows 10 upgrades using the in-place software update method, but as part of a MECM task sequence. This is actually really nice because if you have some troublesome applications which you need to close before you can do the updates, then this is the job for you. Actually with the application force closed first, and a suitable warning on screen, it felt user friendly enough which is good. I did however have something else in mind to test today and that did pass successfully too.

That was to use the software update based upgrade step to line up the different language flavours of Windows 10 we have out there (mainly English UK and English US, but also Chinese and Brazilian too) and with them all in one step, would it be clever enough to pick the one it needed - and it did! It also means you can have all the different language feature upgrades you need in one step, and it's intelligent enough to only use the one you actually want and then to get it done. The only thing I don't like thus far is the fact it uses a 30 second restart timer, be nice if you had longer to be honest but I may be able to set that yet.

Nonetheless, plenty done in less time - that's the sort of goal we all want isn't it? Even with a bit of staying back a bit, I definitely felt it was more than worthwhile to be able to get some tests done and it did also mean that the train was a little quieter on the way home too which has to be a definite plus. I feel uplifted just by being out and about to be honest, and I'll have to carefully consider how I balance the time, but positive progress is good. As for tune of the day, it simply has to be the theme from the Cheetahmen game on the NES - as myself and a few friends have released a Commodore 64 tribute to said game with music by me in the demo!

Monday 3rd May – Escaping The Wind And Rain (Sort Of)

The Love In My Heart and I both had a well deserved lie in, and with the weather looking a tad dicey to say the least, we weren’t particularly in a rush to go anywhere to be perfectly honest. I did give Brian the last of his Dreamies which did mean that we would need to head to Asda later on in order for him to have his supply kept up (because, as readers will of course know, he is the pampered prince!) and that at least would give a little bit of a break to the day of sorts. We had some nice sausage on toast for breakfast, and set about the jigsaw to see what we could do – and managed to get all the pieces in the top right corner, so pretty much all of one side is now done and some of the other where Brian’s face is too, so that was a positive.

We do however think there is a piece missing sadly – one that appears to be just below one of Brian’s eyes. From the pieces we have left we don’t seem to be able to spot it there, so was either wondering if a piece had been missing deliberately or whether it had been cleaned, swept or vacuumed up at some point. We did during the day get on with some further progress and managed to put some more pieces in, and that worked out pretty well as we had a coffee and escaped all the wind and rain outside that was pretty grim to be honest – no wonder a number of restaurants themselves had cancelled any outdoor bookings later on!

With that in mind, we did watch the third session of the World Snooker Championship final between Mark Selby and Shaun Murphy. The crowd definitely seemed to be more behind Shaun as he wanted to get the crowd pumped up, but also I think this was because of Selby’s tactics against Stuart Bingham in the semi final, which even the referee had pulled Mark up about. I know there’s different tactics and all, and I appreciate that potentially winning four world titles shows break building and tactical acumen, but I guess for some it left a sour taste of the mouth, hence a fair number getting behind Shaun. However, Mark being from Leicester does always have a bit of Kasabian to call upon as the walk on music, and in recent times has now gone to Club Foot, so that’s tune of the day without question.

It was a nice relaxed afternoon and The Love made some lovely tagliatelle bolognaise later on – she always adds some extra carrots in the mix which just gives it a little something extra and I quite like that. It was going by far too quickly today though and I soon was having to say my fond farewells to Brian the cat, who did miaow in a sad little way, aww, and then it was off in The Love’s car to Manchester Victoria station, where at least once inside the station was all dry, as it was hammering it down outside and we could both feel the wind blowing strongly as The Love had headed towards the city centre, so a bit meh all round.

As it turned out, the section to Leeds was on one of those Transpennine Express Nova trains, which was rather swish and nice all round, so that was very good indeed, and following that and an on time arrival at Leeds, it was on the 1916 departure to Kings Cross, and it was all comfortable and relatively relaxed as I had the iPod on playing some tunes and also keeping an eye via the BBC Sport app on the World Snooker Championship final. The Love was also giving me score updates too just in case, and she said that the atmosphere for the final session was electric, with Paul Collier the ref having to give warnings to some of the crowd for going a bit too mental. Selby won 18-15, but a good match by all accounts. I arrived home albeit blown with the wind and rain as I arrived at East Croydon station, hoping for better weather tomorrow to be honest!

Sunday 2nd May – Fierce Frolics

The Love In My Heart would have attempted a well deserved lie in this morning, but you can probably guess that Brian the cat had other ideas (oh yes he did) – he insisted on getting up early and wanting a play out as well as his usual tuna and Dreamies. Naturally once that was done The Love quite rightly headed back to bed, so let her nap for a bit and got on with the Brian the cat jigsaw with Brian himself all snuggled next to his Mummy on the bed – the words high maintenance spring to mind, as it’s all about him! He definitely did feel like he was the lord of the manor as per usual, and when The Love headed up, he just decided to nap on the bed!

We got ourselves changed and ready later as we were heading out for the first time in ages to meet a couple of friends. Knowing that due to outside drinking and dining only meaning less space all round, we had booked a place for lunch and also had then booked a place for drinks afterwards – knowing how busy parts of central Manchester were, unless you booked somewhere you didn’t have a chance of getting anywhere on spec necessarily, so thought it good sense. We met our friends at the lunch venue, Tarriff and Dale, and were a little disappointed that the tables weren’t as distanced as perhaps they should be, but at least we had cover as it had rained earlier.

To be fair though, the staff were good and it was relatively straightforward, there were QR codes to take you to the menus for food and drink, and they came to take the order as needed, so after ordering drinks, we then looked at the food. Sadly there wasn’t a Sunday roast option (if only!) but at least we were able to get something nice – The Love and one of our friends went with the cheese and bacon burger, I went for the nduja pizza, and our other friend went for this rather good broccoli dish and a side salad, which to be fair actually did look pretty good!

We had a further drink in Tarriff and Dale, and conversation flowed nicely between the four of us – it was a little on the nippy side due to it being a little windy and the location not getting much sunlight anyway due to the high buildings all around, but it was nice enough and the staff were good – I think they may need to revise the number of tables but I can appreciate they wanted to also make it viable for them to open as well – a bit of a conundrum either way. With the time approaching for our second booking, we made our way towards Fierce Beer on Thomas Street.

I have to say, Fierce had things much better organised, and kudos to them. The security bloke on duty was really friendly, and made sure we all checked in (either manually or via the NHS app) and kindly then asked a couple sat where we’d reserved the table that as the reservation had turned up, they’d need to move onwards. He then sanitised the table and seats for us too before we sat down, and handed us a menu for ordering the beer. In fact, as bookings came, he was being friendly to those already there to give them a nudge that a booking had turned up, so not upsetting anyone either. In fact later when we had 10 minutes left on our 2 hour timeslot, he let us know so we could be sure to drink up and leave in good time for the next booking – but did tell us if they didn’t turn up, we could stay if we wanted. Fair enough, that. And the staff who served the drinks were also friendly too – and had arranged the seating so people had their backs to each other on nearby tables. Win.

In fact, we did stay for the allotted 2 hours we had but thought it fair to ensure others had their slot later on. I did of course have their rather gorgeous Mouse Mousse chocolate stout, which is gorgeous and not too overpowering, and our friends had also got a pitcher of pilsner to share, which actually unlike most has a really nice taste to it – The Love was particularly impressed which was good to see. When we last met, we ended up in Fierce and it was just as good an experience today to be perfectly honest, so kudos all round. We had a lovely time overall and it was just nice seeing friends, plus they had given us our belated Christmas present (as we did them!) and that was also nice to do as well. I do think that gradually we’ll all be getting back to some sort of normality, but in the meantime was good to be out and about all together.

Later on we kept an eye on the World Snooker Championship final with the electric atmosphere from the Crucible, before watching the final part of Line of Duty on BBC One, cue Carly Paradis’ excellent theme tune as tune of the day. I suspect a lot of people were disappointed with the outcome of the finale, as The Love most definitely was, and initially it did feel a tad underwhelming it has to be said. Having said that though, when I thought about it later on, it actually did make sense how that ended primarily because of the realisation that no matter what, someone at the top will always sweep the work of anti-corruption under the carpet as it doesn’t correspond with the public perception. You’ll have to watch the finale and judge for yourself, but in a way I’m hoping the series and story arc is at a natural end and no further series are made.

Saturday 1st May – Seatfrog Saturday

Due to London Euston being closed the whole weekend for engineering works and the like, I knew that to head to see The Love In My Heart this weekend, I’d be having to go on a different route – so sensibly had booked the train from Kings Cross to Leeds, and from there to Manchester Victoria, with the plan being that it’d be a relatively cheap route (in fact, a total cost of £22.60 with £18.50 being to Leeds, £4.10 being to Victoria, nice.) So with that in mind I knew I hadn’t paid a lot, and noted via the Seatfrog app that there was a possibility of upgrading to first class on LNER, which might be nice to do.

So knowing those auctions close half an hour before the train departure (so that the reservations etc can be updated) I put in a cheeky bid of £10 to see if the upgrade was doable. I had my phone ping in Kings Cross when I arrived, and indeed I had, so that was rather nice – and with a reserved seat too of course (as all LNER services require one.) Sure enough, I got to my seat, and it was a single seat (first class is always 2 and 1) and a window view, albeit facing backwards but not too meithered. The staff checked the upgrade and the original ticket (you need both to be scannable, just a note!) and all was well. A bacon roll and some coffee for breakfast was rather appreciated too, and that went down a treat as I headed towards Leeds in a comfy seat and with my headphones playing Juanita Stein’s All The Way (make that one tune of the day)

Once at Leeds, I knew there was a Pret in the station, so as I had time before my second train, I used my membership to get a latte whilst there and meant I could have that on the train. Good job I did – I needed the coffee considering the ineptitude of Northern. They put a mere 2 carriage train on, and considering the train serves Bradford, Halifax and Hebden Bridge on the way to Manchester, a bit daft, and a conductor who seemed to take an age to open a door at any station, hence a seven minute delay arriving in Manchester. Joy. I at least had had a seat as I got on at Leeds, but still, meh. Thankfully the tram arrived in Victoria and so I was able to head off to The Love In My Heart’s place and gave Brian the cat a bit of a fuss, because he was hiding in the bedroom and looking out of the window for any other cats.

It was a relatively relaxed afternoon to be honest, and we continued with the jigsaw that The Love’s niece had got her – a mere 1,000 pieces and all of Brian the cat, so quite difficult really. The Love had managed plenty to be fair, and it was just a nice feeling to be able to get more done, and process the pieces gradually by some colours, so some of the all white sections were getting my attention to be able to fit the pieces in nicely. The Love later on made some rather nice tea – some chicken with vegetables and that really went down well with me – and she had got me some nice beers too including the Dark Arts one – so no complaints there.

In the evening I spent some time chatting with some friends online, and it was nice to speak to them all. In fact one of them had managed to get some Commodore 64 stuff prepared and ready to show, and it was nice to see that some work I had done for that had proven to be worthwhile. Beer and conversation did of course flow pretty well, so no arguments from me to be perfectly honest. The Love was keeping an eye on the snooker and it didn’t take long for Shaun Murphy to beat Kyren Wilson 17-12, meaning that Stuart Bingham and mark Selby came back on after they had got pulled off due to running out of time earlier – and Selby eventually won 17-15.