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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Sunday 28th February - A Tale of Two Crystal Palaces

After a nice long sleep last night, the best sleep I've had in a while, it was nice to be able to wake up and just potter around the flat, have some crumpets and some coffee for breakfast, and also tidy up my hair a little bit with the clippers just to neaten some odd bits here and there just to get it right. It was also nice just to be able to relax on the sofa, catch up on some telly with iPlayer, and then settle in to watch the live game of football on BBC One as Crystal Palace hosted Fulham, with Fulham needing the three points to close the gap at the bottom of the table.

Well, I have to say that's two hours of my life that I would want back, thanks very much. To say that the game was pretty dull was the master of an understatement and that was putting it mildly - even the pundits on the BBC weren't exactly being complimentary. Both sides didn't play fully to their potential and to be fair to Fulham, at least they upped the ante somewhat in the second half and did have a go with a couple of shots on goal, but if you'd ask them if they would have taken a point beforehand, they probably would to be fair.

So I then decided it was time for a walk and it was a nice dry day, so headed on the Overground to Penge West and from there the short distance to walk to the Eastern entrance of Crystal Palace Park. I decided to do a full circular lap around the whole park, as the main road in the middle had a number of market stalls on selling food, which was all very nice but very busy. I headed to the left of the lake and followed this around, and then saw the dinasour section in the distance with plenty of the statues by the water getting lots of childrens' attention as they walked past with their parents.

From there it was uphill and around the Crystal Palace athletics stadium, home in fact to the first two UK competitions of The Superstars no less, and further up past the entrance to Crystal Palace station, and following the road and paths uphill until I got to the former Crystal Palace itself, with the staircases showing the large sphinx statues still intact, and standing pretty impressive it has to be said. It was good to walk around the top of there, and then take the far end circular path on the other side.

In fact, by doing the outer circular paths, it worked out to be around a two mile walk all told, which was pretty good - and of course a half mile walk from the flat to and from West Croydon station on top in between that too, so didn't do too badly really. I kept thinking though of Walk The Dinasour by Was Not Was I walked around the lake and the statues, so make that one tune of the day - it certainly did really add to the feeling of being relaxed and chilled out, yet staying safe and exercising too.

Saturday 27th February - Delightful Dulwich

I decided to head out for a walk today and wanted to keep things reasonably local. I'd made a conscious decision not to take on any additional sections of the London Loop (which would involve further travel out of my home area) until it's more acceptable to do so - and hopefully it's something that I can complete during this year with five sections to go. I thought about going somewhere different but not too far from me, and after some checking of maps and working out a route, it was going to be heading off to Dulwich to walk around the park and to get some well earned fresh air.

The plan initially was to take the train from East Croydon to North Dulwich, which stops at the stations along the way. However the train was delayed so much that when it was close to arriving, it changed to be a direct train to London Bridge only. Meh. However, I took that and then simply swapped platforms at London Bridge to get one back out to North Dulwich - the Beckenham Junction train - and it meant a first ever stop at South Bermondsey next to Millwall's ground along the way. I soon arrived at North Dulwich and headed out of the station and turned left to heard towards Dulwich Village.

In fact, the street itself is also called Dulwich Village as well as the village centre really having a more of a conservation area feel - lots of nice little shops (The Love In My Heart would approve for definite) including a French patisserie, a proper old school toy shop and some nice independent food shops and bakeries. In fact, Gail's Bakery was that popular for take out coffee and cake that the queue went around 150 metres down the road with lots of people queuing - it must be good or people maybe didn't spot the other coffee shops in the village along the way.

In any case, just by the entrance to Dulwich Park on College Road, I noted that the Dulwich Picture Gallery was open for takeouts, and in fact they were serving coffee. The queue was massively less busy, the staff were lovely and the latte I had was rather good. I had that whilst then entering Dulwich Park and first of all doing the large circular walk in a clockwise rotation following the West and East Lawns, circulating round the American Garden and taking the southern main wide road (it's more than wide enough for two cars too) to head back to the entrance I came in. Lots of people were around walking dogs, having coffee and ice cream, and the vibe was pretty nice it has to be said.

I then at the main College Road entrance followed the central path along towards the small lake with all the hire boats moored up in the centre with the Canadian Geese all out to play. I followed the path to the main café which had a sizeable queue but did look very nice (and has inside seating once it's allowed to re-open) and also the nice paths through the park meant I could adore the trees and the overall vibe, then end up going through the American Garden and onwards to the far exit by the delightfully named Fireman's Alley. As I didn't fancy the train delays, I could do buses - either get the 197 all the way home, or the 176 to Penge and then 75 from there. The latter worked best, and of course Hopper Fare kicked in. Nice.

It was a lovely walk overall and one I'm definitely going to have to do with The Love In My Heart next time she is able to come and see me here. I also listened in to the remainder of the Manchester City game against West Ham United, and I'll take a 2-1 win considering West Ham are doing pretty well lately, and that's 20 wins on the bounce for City too which is incredible. It was nice all round today and I must admit it'd be nice to have The Love with me, but I know we're also able to make the most of the time we have when we are together, so we can wait til then. In the meantime, tune of the day is the wonderful title track from Little Sparrow's Wishing Tree album - I had it in my head as I walked around the park today and had a little sing to myself. Because I can.

Friday 26th February - Positive Possibilities

And so another week is at an end, and it's actually pay day too because the normal pay day actually falls on a Sunday - so I thought it'd be good later in the day to give myself a little treat and have a takeout from McDonalds for tea and have a Friday night takeout. I was tempted to get a Chinese meal delivered but if you're dining for one, the problem is this - you don't meed the minimum order threshold a lot of places have for delivery, so if you're dining for two, all good, but one can sometimes be a bit of a no-no, a shame that but I can look forward to that when I'm next at The Love In My Heart's place for definite.

I also had some good planning thoughts today and had a meaningful discussion about the possible targets for development, learning and progression by the end of the year, and set some realistic goals to achieve. I did think I managed to get some good targets hit during last year although it'll remain to be seen how that translates further down the line. The important thing is that as a team generally we're pretty much smashing things out of the park as needed, and that's always a positive to take to be perfectly honest.

There was also the weekly quiz at the end of the week, organised this time by one of our project team - and that went pretty well. There were four small rounds of five questions, one of which happened to be children's TV characters which includes the likes of Bagpuss and Danger Mouse. The final round also was quite good in the "what am I?" round, and that worked well too with the three clues. I was quite pleased that I had also won the quiz with the 16 points out of 20, so did pretty nicely overall.

It was good too to have the food delivery from Sainsburys and indeed to be able to have a familiar friendly faced driver who's done my delivery before - he knows the block well and to be fair was the only delivery driver I've seen to the block so far who's actually worn a face covering, so massive kudos to him. He was explaining to me that the large one near me is expanding the online delivery space so that they can employ more people to get more vans, meaning more slots, and it was the first time I'd tried the flexi slot - 6-10pm in this case. It was all very good and professional as per usual.

It was also nice to see Gogglebox back on the telly, and the families did have to see that Bank Balance thing with Gordon Ramsay in it - I quite like that and it is entertaining, but at the same time the contestants in the first episode were a little on the thick side, which was perfect fodder for the audience of course. I also enjoyed the fact that the usual news was dealt with in a real dry tone, and It's a Sin's final episode was really covered well with some empathy too. Tune of the day is the theme tune, In A Perfect World by Kodaline, still perhaps the most fitting for this programme too.

Thursday 25th February - Slam Tilt Surprises

I had a pretty good day in work today, mainly assembling some data and doing some comparisons between the old and the new records in one system to ensure what changes had been made, and how that tied up with what I would expect to be reported as well. Admittedly though, it has to be rather good that I was able to work out a suitable method to be able to do some cross referencing, and do that with minimum of fuss and sort out some good formulas along the way. Definitely for me a positive to take.

Another positive to take was also the fact that all the work I had done yesterday meant that I was able to concentrate on some MacOS patch policies in JAMF Pro and see how those would work. It was of course good to scope one test policy out just to the test Mac here, and make sure it all worked. In fact, what it showed was that the Install Automatically policy was not an option at all - no warnings, no sign out messages, just straight reboot and to apply the update that way. The make available in self service with deadline is a much better option, so that at least is explorable.

I decided after work that I would spend some time tonight playing one of my favourite pinball games, namely Slam Tilt on the PC. I had a while ago discovered a good way to get it working fully in Windows 10, and although this means no CD audio in parts, it does at least mean all four games are playable, and that the tables do really nicely show well on the screen. I do prefer the zoomed out view though as it means you get to see the whole table and makes the game much more fun when attempting to hit the upper targets on some tables.

What I didn't expect after all these years of playing to actually get my second highest score of all time on the second table - The Pirate. I do like the music in this table as well, especially the main theme by Christian Björklund (make that tune of the day) which really does get you in the right mood for the high seas. The missions are all really well themed, especially the likes of walk the plank and the fact for the multiball you shoot a cannon at a ship on the upper screen - really nice fun actually. It was good to really get a massive multiplier and that bumped me over the billion point mark.

I also went then to the fourth table and in terms of score, definitely the hardest one to play called Night of the Demon. The massively wide middle area means that the ball has plenty of opportunity to head down and drain, and the four upper ramps are good targets for most of the sub-games, and the weird magnetics caused by the centre red magnet during the witch craft mission especially is really nice and adds something different. The other brilliant feature on this is the likes of the werewolf where you bash the flippers Track and Field style to escape too. I still adore this game years on.

Wednesday 24th February - Back In The Office

I must admit that I had my most productive day in months today, primarily because I was back in the office and being able to get on with plenty of things that aren't really going to cut it when at home, especially when testing out some kit and making sure that any deployments work as we want. Because of a new policy at work, if you do want to go in, you have to have a lateral flow test done the night before, which is supervised by a qualified GP, so attended a video call last night where I did the test. That came back negative which was a relief all round but also showed that me being careful was always the right approach.

So it was good to head on the train to London Victoria and then on the 38 bus towards the office, and had activated the Pret coffee thing so I could pop in there near the office during the day to get my takeouts (no coffee machines in the office for obvious safety reasons) - and when I entered the office, a few things had changed. The video team's section was more sectioned off with a wall and window so they could produce things and not have interruptions, and almost all the desks were these new fancy ones which you could put the level up and down and even get it to be a position to stand at the desk instead of sit. Nice!

However, I was informed by my manager that the network cabling hadn't been plugged in for all of those as yet, so I managed to locate one of the circular desks still around which had all the cables needed. Winning. In fact that allowed me to get all the kit set up I needed, and cracked on with creating a Windows Image (WIM) of both Windows 10 1909 and Windows 10 20H2, both baked in with all the necessary updates, added .NET Framework 3.5, and indeed also removed all the rubbish stuff like Xbox no one in a professional environment actually needs. Double win.

The next win was to take those images, upload them in MECM and distribute, followed by a dry run of a task sequence for both versions to ensure all was well. In fact I also used my two virtual machines as well as two physical which I wanted to do anyway to satisfy some compliance criteria - after all if they work on really old kit, then new stuff should also fly. Everything worked first go, so was mega pleased about that, and also packaged up the new version for Firefox for inclusion at the same time. All was very nice indeed and definitely made me feel a lot better.

I headed out at lunchtime and had noted that the Costa Coffee nearest the office had closed down, thankfully the Caffé Nero opposite was still doing well. I also after lunch headed back to Pret for a coffee, because currently the one near work shuts at 2pm - I tend not to need much coffee in the afternoon but would always have McDonalds as a backup not far away or indeed Whole Foods if the weather was lousy and I didn't need to go far. It did seem very much empty though and felt more so when I left after staying back to do a few uploads using JAMF Admin on the Mac, but there you go.

It was all good too heading home as I headed into Waitrose and they had the rather gorgeous katsu curry sauce that I had been after, so was able to make my chicken katsu later for tea, which just added to the overall awesomeness of the day. It did feel rather positive and a nice chat with The Love In My Heart just added to that. I think too being able to see people in the office and be productive really helped with the mental health side too, so definitely well worth getting the tests done for all of that. I felt on a roll, and happier for it, so the rather excellent Happy by Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins is tune of the day.

Tuesday 23rd February - Subwoofer Shopping

I had decided a few weeks back that I was going to get a replacement subwoofer for my hi-fi and surround rig, after my trusty Mission MS8-AS, that I've had for years, not only blew a fuse in the plug, but also looks like it may have damaged the insides as well, as certainly there was a noticable whining noise when any bass sounds were coming from it. Considering I purchased that sub at least around 2004-05 time, if not further, then it did have a rather good innings, and matched the Mission M73 fronts and Mission M7C centre rather nicely, it has to be said.

I also liked the fact that the MS8-AS wasn't square either, more rectangular, and a little thinner to fit into the space I had nicely back at the old house and indeed here in the flat. So the Q Acoustics 3070S subwoofer was my main contender for that reason, but also because it had enough power to satisfy my Onkyo AV amp and that it had very good reviews all round. Now, the Richer Sounds near me did have an open box one, so I emailed them to check the condition. Unfortunately, the grille was missing although cosmetically it looked okay, and could have saved a good few quid, but thought it was sensible getting new (I've bought their open box bargains before and never had issues, by the way.)

After a couple of emails I had a nice phone call from the Croydon branch and they explained that they weren't getting many in the next delivery but would come from the warehouse direct to me instead of in store. I was cool with that and they got all the details sorted and took payment efficiently and without fuss, and emailed me the receipt as well. The bloke there was impressed I knew all about the Supercare warranty (always worth taking folks, Richer Sounds actually care about their customers properly and their warranty is spot on) and he said that he didn't have to go through the spiel which was all good.

So one sub is on order, and it'll be good to have it arrive and then to listen to some DVD-Audio discs and indeed watch some Blu-Ray films with the full surround and gorgeous bass kicking in. Granted, I can listen in 5.0 now, but it just doesn't sound quite the same for me, even though I am sure my Mission M73s can handle bass well (they do in stereo for CDs and vinyl of course) so it'll be something to look forward to when it arrives and will be able to spend some time listening to some rather good stuff and getting the full benefit. I had enough left this month for it, so why not treat myself?

I had a really nice chat with The Love In My Heart later which cheered me up no end, and she was so positive and bubbly too which kept me going. I think although yes, we are missing each other, the daily natters we do have really do help us both, and for me too it's always nice to hear what Brian the cat has been up to - being fussy I think was his game as The Love had got him a new bowl for his dry food and Brian was having none of it whatsoever (why am I not surprised?). In the meantime tune of the day is the classic theme from Family Fortunes, circa the Les Dennis era, as I found the episode my friend and I watched back in 1996ish when I infamously predicted something during the big money final round, and it happened!

Monday 22nd February - A Day Of Two Halves

It was a pretty busy day at work today, and definitely a day of two halves. The first half was spent road testing more of the cloud management gateway based build and working on a method to ensure that if we needed to get certain things applied correctly, then we could do. In fact, this led me down a rabbit hole of how Microsoft's rather odd way of handling local experience language packs has been royally bad since Windows 10 version 2004, and how integrating and adding the CAB files with the correct language pack step that's used in MDT (and can be used in MECM) still seems to be the best way, no matter which way you look at it.

I'd even gone down the point of being able to look at taking the individual files and apply them to the operating system later on, complete with some additional commands for enforcement, but even that left me feeling a tad cold and not convinced it was the best way, only because of the steps involved and also the fact that you'd really need to throw things on in a certain order to get it right and to enforce. I may yet revisit it though as I discovered later that actually the order in which certain things are applied do matter and that the article I noted appeared to have one of them the wrong way round for some reason.

Anyway, I also received an email later on from one of our software suppliers stating that there was an issue discovered in their piece of software. The good news is that there is a relatively straightforward fix available which means just overwriting a configuration file and then restarting the service that it uses, and job done. Although you could deploy that from their server also, I noted that the configuration we had was already customised so didn't want to need to break any of that - so the method I thought of would actually work best anyway and be less destructive, that's the plan.

It was also the announcement from the Prime Minister today as to how England will come out the current lockdown scenario, and the timetable it will appear to take. What did boost The Love In My Heart and myself is that any self-catering holiday accommodation can reopen from 12th April (or a later date if this date is pushed backwards) - and that gives us plenty of leeway to still be able to go to the place we've booked for the Summer and that is good. We also knew though that our re-arranged trip to Brussels would definitely be off - so need to see if Eurostar will actually issue a refund, as we'd be breaking the law attempting to travel.

I also spent some time tonight working on a couple of future articles around the old computer stuff, and was nice to be able to also compile a list for one of my former colleagues in one project to be able to have an old page of theirs updated. It's always good to use the time constructively and I did that whilst waiting for a couple of updates to run on my test machine to ensure all was good with it (and it was, which is a positive) and thus end the day full circle with things working well as they should do. Nice, I know, and in the meantime tune of the day is the always impressive theme to Only Connect. I actually did better on the connecting wall than both teams this week. I win!

Sunday 21st February - Plus/4 Power

As it was going to be a relatively relaxed Sunday for me, I decided that it would be sensible to get out the Commodore Plus/4 that I have (and was the first home computer I owned prior to a Commodore 64) and check out all the bundle of games that I had delivered on Friday afternoon, after successfully winning an auction on eBay to get a good bundle for not that much money. Of course, inevitably, there'd be some repeats in there due to the fact that a number of them were games I had, but the ones I didn't have were much more of interest and indeed, re-acquainting myself with the ones I had first time around.

I noted in this bundle that there were nine games published by Firebird in their 199 Silver Range - in fact there's only fourteen Firebird games in all (13 in that range and one in its successor, Silverbird) so was good to see how some of them were individual releases on that format (Goldrush, Into The Deep aka Space Mission and also Runner and Shark) but also how some of them were converted from other 8-bit formats. The platform game Spiky Harold appears to be as difficult as other versions (hence 19 lives) but there's a few less screens and 41 objects to collect, meaning it doesn't suffer an infamous bug like it does on the Commodore 64 (C64).

It was then on to other conversions, the likes of Booty were as bad as the C64 version in truth, but two good surprises lay ahead. Harvey Headbanger was just as playable as it was on the Amstrad CPC (where it started) and the C64, and even had the little jingles when you won a point and the game too, with the colour palette well used. Best of all though was Zolyx, a game which looks and plays like Qix, but certainly for me has plenty of frenetic action and that one more go factor. I spent a fair chunk of time on this one attempting to get a decent score and it proved just as good as the Zzap! Sizzler rated C64 version.

In fact, all the 30 plus game in this bundle loaded first time off cassette which was a nice thing. Other highlights included a rare half-decent Tynesoft game called Battle Star, a horizontal shooter. It would be nice to be told that the bas relief squares were objects to avoid though, so didn't realise this as first and kept dying for apparently no reason. There was also the rather nice version of Auf Wiedershen Monty from Gremlin Graphics as well - again, cut down slightly but plays well and does at least have a version of the Rob Hubbard and Ben Daglish tune playing too during the game.

I did save the best until last though and that was Anco's Winter Events. Granted it is multiload, but six events with impressive graphics, and an opening ceremony with the music that nods to the Dallas TV theme (make that tune of the day) along the way. In fact, it proved just as playable as it was originally, so that meant plenty of good fun for me as I went through the likes of the biathlon, slalom, speed skating and ski jump, and actually set some decent times on the bobsled and downhill as well. It's still an absolute classic for that format and well worth checking out if you're able to.

I also realised it was probably a sensible time to test out any duplicate copies I have and make sure they all work (which they did) and then place them for sale on eBay as well. I don't expect to get a lot for them to be fair, but if it means that it fills the gap in someone else's collection, then that's fine by me. I also watched the Manchester City game at Arsenal later and whilst that wasn't very entertaining, would I take a 1-0 win and be ten points clear at the top of the table still? Absolutely I would, all day long.

Saturday 20th February - Walking in Wandsworth

I had a plan of sorts today in that I would take a nice long walk around Wandsworth Common, and then when done head over to the lovely folks at Belleville Brewing Company near Wandsworth Common train station and stock up on some lovely beer for the next few weeks or so. It was also a good excuse for me to get some exercise and fresh air of course, but also stick to being local where possible too. I think for me I've certainly noticed over the last few months that any park or common is always reasonably busy as people walk and get exercise and at least that's meaning most of us are attempting to keep healthy, both physically and mentally.

I did check the train times - and, ah. Okay. So it looked like engineering work on parts of the line from East Croydon to Clapham Junction, meaning no trains to London Victoria and none stopping at Wandsworth Common. However, I did note that the train via Streatham to London Bridge was running, so I hatched a plan. I could get the train to Streatham, then walk the short distance to the centre, and get a bus from there (the 319 in fact) to Wandsworth Common - that'd work. So with that in mind, I headed off to East Croydon station and timed the walk well so I didn't have too long to wait for the train.

Once I got to Streatham, I turned left out of the station, up the hill at the green and then on to the 319 bus via Tooting Bec, and soon I was there at Streatham Common. In effect I followed the path that was part of the Capital Ring, section 5, and walked along close to the railway line, and then two ponds, before following the path past the cricket pitches and on to the main road facing the prison. I walked along the main road and then back along a path which takes you to another entrance to double back on myself into the common, and headed to the Skylark café.

In fact, the staff in the Skylark were all lovely and they were doing some hot food as well as coffee and tea, and was proving popular for takeouts, so I had the cheese and ham toastie. You walked one way through the café to the terrace, and the serving hatch was there which you went to (mask on of course) when number was called. It worked superbly, and sitting on a bench facing the bowling green having the rather nice cheese and ham toastie was a rather nice relaxing time all round, and with the fresh air, just the thing to do to be honest.

It was then a walk over the railway bridge and alongside the rest of the common and over the road and to the Belleville Brewing Company to get some of their lovely beer. The staff had a hatch at where the taproom entrance normally is, and there was a queue of people too (which I see as a good sign.) I made my selections and it was great to get a nice 1 litre growler bottle of the Pret a Porter, along with two cans each of the limited edition Nutshella, along with the Commonside and Picnic main ales that they have which are lovely - so that was all good.

I headed back to the bus stop and got the 319 back to Streatham but this time instead waited at another bus stop and took the 50 bus back home, as I wasn't sure on the train times back but also the fact that the Hopper fare would definitely count for me, so £1.50 all the way back homewards. It was nice to have them at home and will enjoy those later on, and settled in to watch Final Score which included a dramatic comeback for my friend's team Doncaster Rovers, and with my beloved Manchester City playing tomorrow, then I could relax and see what was happening elsewhere - and in the meantime tune of the day is the excellent former Final Score music, Theme from Sparta FC by The Fall.

Friday 19th February - Powershelling Back To The 80s

It was a productive day at work today, as I had decided that I was going to try something a little different in terms of the cloud management gateway build of Windows 10, in that I was going to refresh the task sequence entirely, use the apply drivers step and only allow the categories for the version of Windows we were deploying (and thus eliminate hassle) and then from there also look at a way where I could re-add back in some of the missing non-provisioned applications to Windows 10 20H2. In case you didn't know, the new release makes the likes of Notepad, Wordpad, Powershell ISE and MS Paint a feature on demand install rather than be out of the box, so something to note.

First off, I gave it a go with the Lenovo laptop I was testing with the settings produced as I know that the particular model should work. Surprisingly, all the drivers seemed to download without an issue, and it was then a case of having all the installations work as intended. I was wondering actually if it's the fact that it treats the driver package as one large download of many files, and if for some reason one signature fails to match or doesn't download correctly, it then goes for a retry and starts again, which is obviously not what we want. And it seemed to match what most others are doing at the moment - not necessarily always ideal, but if like me you categorise everything correctly when importing and adding to categories, it's a lot easier (understatement)

So then it was a case of working out when to add whatever missing features that we'd like to add back in. I think for the case of continuity for a user who may have their machine rebuilt, we can't be certain that they might want (or not) those features, but it was a simple case of Powershell coming to the rescue with some straightforward commands, which we could easily run in one script to add everything back - as they're capabilities. In effect, it's a case of the command Get-WindowsCapability -Online to list the names on a 20H2 machine, and then note the name, and for each one do Enable-WindowsCapability -Online -Name <namehere> - but be sure to include the name that has the tildes in, so you'd have these names.

Microsoft.Windows.MSPaint~~~~0.0.1.0
Microsoft.Windows.Notepad~~~~0.0.1.0
Microsoft.Windows.PowerShell.ISE~~~~0.0.1.0
Microsoft.Windows.WordPad~~~~0.0.1.0

The other key advantage is if you're running it in Powershell and in MECM when running the task sequence, it will run as the system user, meaning it's available for all. Makes me wonder why Microsoft didn't do an MDT update so that they could be added in there when doing a build and capture (similar to those who still need .NET 3.5 for compatibility purposes would do for example). Anyway, with that done, script ran and build complete, I fired it up and sure enough, all four features present and correct without any issue either, which has to be a considerable bonus win.

So the day ended productive and ended well too as it was my turn to host the quiz for the team this week, and in fact we had a few colleagues from other teams join in, so reputation must be getting somewhere, and there were 12 contestants in the end. Suffice to say that it was good to see who did well, especially in the second round, and it was a good total overall from most people - I didn't expect anyone to get them all right, but the highest score was an excellent effort. There were so many 80s tunes I could have put in and listened to some in the evening including the excellent Temptation by Heaven 17 - make that tune of the day for me.

Thursday 18th February - The Heat Is Not On

I woke up this morning having had a little bit of a restless night due to the fact I woke up a bit bunged up on occasion, despite the fact I was attempting where I could to sort out the congestion. In fact I had put some vapour rub on myself the last two nights which was at least helping the chest, and the somewhat not so pleasant taste in the mouth had at least gone. I suspect that in the next day or two I'll be over the worst of this head cold, it's just not been pretty to put up with it when being back and being able to try and get on with plenty of work. C'est la vie and all that.

I did notice though late last night that the radiators didn't appear to come on even though the thermostat clicked to say put them on. They were just rather cool to the touch and weren't getting hot at all, and this is when renting my place and having a good level of support when needed is a real bonus. I rang up the repairs line at lunch time and the staff were lovely - taking a message for the person who deals with my block, and as promised, they called me back. We checked through a few things and then they said they'd let me know later what the state of play was.

I didn't have to wait too long, and a call back confirmed a plumber would be over to mine late afternoon, which was fair enough really. He arrived and after checking the cupboard where the boiler and washing machine was had worked out what was going on. Thankfully the radiators were all getting water and weren't full of air or needed bleeding or anything like that - however, the heat exchanger for the central heating appeared to be full of gunk and sludge over time. This effectively meant water coming in was not hot water coming out. There's a separate exchanger for the hot water, and that is working (which is a bonus so at least I can shower and be clean etc.)

Of course, it might take a decision on whether it's more cost effective to drain and clean the existing exchanger or replace it with new, but was thankful that it was nothing that I had done and it appeared to just be down to age - I've been here over five years now and generally everything's been very sound (my oven blew and they changed that for the same model without issues) so it's always good to have that backup. It definitely makes the rent costs seem at least worth it when I consider how much a heat exchanger is (clue: they are not cheap) and also how much someone would charge to replace it (clue: also not cheap)

It was nice having a good chat with The Love In My Heart earlier too, she seems to have all sorts of busy things going on at work so we really do make sure we make the time for chattering with each other, and that really helps enormously. Brian the cat by all accounts was being ever so cute and wanting cuddles too, which was nice. And after that, time to relax with some rather nice versions of Slayer's epic Raining Blood, obviously including the Body Count version, but also the double header with Postmortem before it as performed by Havok is rather ace, so tune of the day for that version too.

Wednesday 17th February - On A Roll

There are days which end up being more positive than others because of all the testing you've done prove to be worthwhile. Today was one of them, especially as I had been able to effectively look at some diagnosis for the Windows 10 build over the Cloud Management Gateway. In fact, it was interesting because I had been able to get a machine done and fully built with all the core applications on, then once done I was then able to effectively get signed in to the VPN, join the work domain and from there be able to effectively ensure that all was well once it did. Nice.

So I had a thought yesterday about something one of our Cyber Security team asked - was there any way we could potentially lock a laptop if in the event it was stolen? And actually, even without using Intune (obviously preferred due to wipe options etc) there is - and it was something I did at a previous place as they used DirectAccess. So, the machine is connected to the cloud management gateway, and the moment it is and gets policy, a task sequence runs which adds a massively long and complex startup PIN to the Bitlocker key protectors (on top of the TPM) and then reboots the machine. And without the pin? Nothing you can do, not if you wanted to get to any data anyway.

In fact I wasn't even logged on to the machine, it had just been powered on and had connected to my wired network on the router. I even did a similar test over wireless and that appeared to work pretty well also, so that was nice. I think that ultimately it's as effective as it can be under the circumstances, with the obvious caveat that if the machine as is never goes online (most likely if someone decides to trash the hard drive so doesn't have any management software on) then there's only so much you can actually do. But still, thinking positively as ever at the moment.

I spent some time later on in the day and mainly after work doing some checks and preparation for the end of week quiz for the team - we've all been taking turns to do one and I have a definite theme sorted in mine now. I must admit it was good in the name of research to be able to work out what would work best, and indeed how I'd manage to get the questions in a format that's doable and will leave some guessing a potentially correct answer even if they're not fully sure. Sometimes a good educated guess does work wonders and so that is something to take into consideration.

So I did still feel bunged up to a degree but at least a trip out to Savers at lunch time had proven worthwhile as they had the Sudafed sinus tablets for a good price as well as plenty of Kleenex Balsam tissues for a mere one pound, which was a winner. I did also treat myself to a few other bits and bobs, but was good later to relax, chatter with The Love In My Heart and then have a relaxed later part of the evening watching a rather good documentary on Youtube on an old accessory for the Nintendo NES, which did remind of an episode of the Angry Video Game Nerd (said title theme by Kyle Justin is tune of the day).

Tuesday 16th February - Bunged Up

I didn't feel 100 percent today, in fact I slept reasonably well but had the bedroom window open to get some air in and hopefully for me to feel a little warmer. I have to admit though that I've not been having many colds this Winter at all, not sure if that was primarily down to the flu jab that I had, but it's all in the head and in the sinuses at present. I just want it to shift at some point but realistically I know that it'll be a case of just getting through the week and doing what I can to dose myself up during the day.

I had a number of meetings to attend as well, which were all fine and that included my one to one, where my manager had asked me a question he had been asked by someone higher, and we both thought that was a bit odd to be honest. However, I know we've all been looking out for each other a lot during the current situation, so we were able to work out a few plans of action and also need to formulate some ideas for the next few months and what that might actually look like, as well as agreeing that in certain cases we'd seen over the last week or so that too many cooks is still a thing that happens.

I headed out at lunchtime primarily as I wanted to get some decongestant tablets or even some ibuprofen would do, but also felt the need to dose myself with some extra vitamin C where possible and even indulged into the old classic Lucozade (although admittedly I do wish that they had the old bottles with the orange sellophane like it was back in the day - it always felt more special when you had it and weren't necessary feeling at your best, and picked you up when you had it of course. I also planned that I might try and sweat it out with a curry for tea tonight, so see how that goes I think.

It's definitely been a little different being back home this time around, and I think primarily because I had spent so long with The Love In My Heart as of late, it's just that adjustment to working during the week and then being able to get through not having Brian the cat for company as well. That said, because I have been so busy, it really had meant the day has sped by and that's meant more quality time for me in the evenings to be able to relax a bit but also get an early night in an attempt to get more sleep. I'll see what happens.

In the meantime I've been racking my brains for a music quiz too as it's my turn to do the honours on Friday. I have a theme of sorts so just need to work out which way round I want to set the questions, and how many points toward. I did toy with the idea of having theme tunes from tv shows again, but it depends on what those taking part may or may not have watched. Of course this did give me a perfect excuse to blast out the theme tune to Sledge Hammer! by the one and only Danny Elfman - so that's tune of the day - trust me, I know what I'm doing!

Monday 15th February - Delivering Day

So it was good to be able to get back into the swing of things at work and be at home, admittedly with a faster Internet connection, to be able to do so. I think as well that for me there's plenty I wanted to be getting on with at the same time but wanted to be sure that I had all the necessary kit here for testing. However, I can't head into the office at the moment (even though it is open and indeed bookable) due to an event going on, so after speaking to one of the building managers and my line manager, we would arrange to have some test kit sent over to me via courier.

In fact this meant I could check a few things that were ongoing today and also package up some new fonts that needed to be installed. I've got the method for those done to a tee now and it was just a case of working out a suitable plan of action to get those done. In fact it meant I could road test it all myself and make sure all was good, and invited a colleague in my team to be testing as well which made perfect sense. That done, I had plenty to get the proverbial teeth into and so looked into other potential ways of getting some security ideas on paper as well.

Talking of which, my manager and I had been invited into some meetings with our Cyber Security team and with a number of suppliers who had some products of interest and of note, and wanted to know what was doable. One of the key things we wanted to ask was if they had support for MacOS (as we're both a Mac and Win house, folks) and a few other essential questions, to try and fend these off at the pass now before making any decisions so to speak. Suffice to say one of the presentations wasn't ideal, but I guess having to do everything virtually does mean more pressure.

I still did feel pressure in the sinuses and head too, hopefully just a head cold but have been taking decongestants to try and battle through the day. I had the courier arrive at 4pm with one of the test laptops so I could set that up and attempt to do some testing here in order to see what was reasonable and what we could do. In fact it went okay in that I could use my USB boot media key to boot and see our cloud management gateway, and then from there see what would happen when we were to pull down some content. Alas, not fully working as I'd want, but more work on that tomorrow I think.

It was nice later to chat for a while to The Love In My Heart: I do miss her of course and no surprise that Brian the cat has gone back to snuggling on the bed at night, but it was a case of that it was nice she sent me a pic of him as they were heading off to bed - he already was ready to crash out, aww bless. I must admit too that the earlier call meant more time for Only Connect for me and one question I got straight off (think write the theme tune, sing the theme tune) but also excelled at missing vowels. I love the theme tune for this, so it's tune of the day for me.

Sunday 14th February - Home and Hearty

It had been almost two months since I had headed up to Manchester to be with The Love In My Heart for the Christmas period and beyond, and because I had suspect that there was a lockdown imminent, I was able to take the work laptop and plenty of clothes to get me through the time. Of course the added bonus is spending every day with The Love, mainly during the working evenings and at weekends, and having the delightful company of Brian the cat during the working day, which is of course nice to be able to do. But at some point I also knew that I needed to be home, as plenty to do near the office and to be available for future events etc if needed.

I had booked first class, primarily as I thought it'd be quieter, but also because I had some heavy luggage with my case and the laptop, and The Love very kindly treated us both to a drive through McDonalds breakfast so I was able to enjoy a nice sausage and egg McMuffin and coffee together. It was just nice to have had some cuddles and because I had packed the case yesterday, no need to be panicking around this morning. Needless to say though, I did feel rather sad and it was a case of giving Brian some tummy tickles and to say to him to make sure Mummy gets lots of cuddles.

The Love kindly dropped me off at Manchester Piccadilly, and it was a sad, emotional farewell for now, but we knew that I could get what I needed to get done and be back in a few weeks to be together again, as the support bubble rules still apply of course, but it was fairly quiet in the station and on the 1035 departure to London Euston. I'd picked an early train to avoid it being busy and to get home at a reasonable time. As I did have the laptop with me this did allow for me to be able to type up some work on there as well and the time passed pretty well by doing that.

Once at Euston, with the security staff all round the station far outnumbering the people coming and going, with police cars at the side of the station, I walked over to St Pancras in good time to get the train to East Croydon, so no tube and it was pretty quiet all round too. I got off the train, headed homewards and all was thankfully well - I did note though that the wall-mounted timer for the heating to come on and off wasn't on - and realised the batteries had ran out. As I was getting a food delivery from Sainsburys later I headed over to Savers to get some batteries (12 double A Duracell ones for four pounds - bargain) and then into Iceland to get a small bottle of milk and a few other bits.

It was good to unpack, settle back in, get some fresh air into the flat and be all cosy and comfortable and with a hearty bit of food planned for later before Sainsburys arrives too. I also was able to look at working out a plan of action for work next week and also see how I could make a start on the Claudia Winkleman book that The Love had got me for Christmas - I was sort of resisting to read it until I got back. In the meantime though, tune of the day is the rather powerful LAX by Kristin Hersh, which was in my head on the iPod as I travelled down on the train earlier today.

Saturday 13th February – Be My Same Valentine

The Love In My Heart and I had a relatively calm and chilled out day today, and we had a long lie in with Brian the cat lying next to his Mummy and having cuddles all the time, which was good, before he was then able to go back to the hammock which he so loves now and was having a good sleep all told. The Love later made us some breakfast and it was really nice to have some scrambled egg, bacon and sausages along with some toast. It was also good to keep an eye on the cricket during the morning and find that England were not only up against it playing India in Chennai, but there was an actual crowd there, albeit not a big one, but still people there to cheer on their team. That did feel somewhat weird it has to be said, especially seeing empty stadiums as a norm now.

Whilst The Love was getting herself ready later, and having already watched the women’s downhill skiing on the red button, the coverage then switched over to Sweden and to the World Ski Cross Championship. The snowboard cross had resulted in a British winner in the women’s event, and out of the qualifiers there was a British man in the ski cross – and he had qualified in 26th place out of the 32 in terms of time, so wasn’t expecting too much. However, he won a very tight opening heat by sticking his arm out on the line (first body part to cross the line folks) and then finished second in the quarter finals to get to the semi, meaning a top 8 finish at least. A second place in the semi meant he was in the final, which was a superb effort. Unfortunately he could only finish fourth in the big final, but still it was an impressive effort to get that far and when he had qualified for the final I had punched the air in delight, so good to see someone doing well in a sport we normally aren’t known for being good at.

I did head over to the local Asda later primarily to get a few things for The Love In My Heart and myself, mainly some sparkling water and some wine and also because we were running low, some Sheba cat food for Brian the cat. Asda was busy and everyone appeared to be in the seasonal aisle looking for some Valentine’s cards in a somewhat last minute rush – not that there happened to be any left of course. I got what I needed and headed to the tills and back to The Love’s place, and had a good game of Scrabble in the mid-afternoon. I was impressed with The Love’s use of a blank meaning she use the blank as an O, making OB, OX and XI and a total of 42 points (OX and OB straddled triple word) which was the best move of the game thus far. Always very handy to know the two letter words for these situations it has to be said.

Later on The Love said to me to watch the football on Sky Go as we would be having our meal and some nice chill out time together later on, and she wanted me to watch it – as in her words: “If you could go, you’d be there at the stadium now” so it was on to watch Manchester City take on Tottenham at the Etihad. It was a tight first half although I was pretty pleased that we had been awarded a penalty, which was taken by Rodri and only just evaded the palm of Hugo Lloris for the opening goal – it was not a very good pen at all. In the second half we played better and some work between Phil Foden and Raheem Sterling let in Ilkay Gundogan, and he did the rest shooting home for 2-0 (you’d have to say Lloris should have had it though) and after a gorgeous long ball from Ederson, Gundogan controlled it well, had the Tottenham defender fall down and slotted past Lloris for 3-0. A very well deserved win to put us further up the table.

After that The Love and I had had our dine in for two experience from Marks and Spencer. We had the duck croquettes with hoisin sauce to start, followed by the massive chicken kiev with garlic (half each) along with some dauphinoise potatoes and carrots, and followed by some churros with a nice sauce. The prosecco was very nice as well and The Love enjoyed her little box of chocolates. We had also exchanged our Valentine’s Cards and amazingly, we had both picked the very same card to each other, which when you consider she had got hers in Teso and I had ordered mine online the same time I had ordered a card for my sister’s birthday, what were the chances of us getting the same?

Says a lot about us I suppose, but was a really nice moment to share together. We also watched The Voice final auditions later on and knew that any opera singer was going to get the pick of will.i.am (and that is what happened) and also some nice renditions of songs too. Tune of the day though happens to be Albatross by Fleetwood Mac, a long favourite of mine and used in the Marks and Spencer adverts. This of course wasn’t any Fleetwood Mac, it was Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac at that.

Friday 12th February – Research and Quizzing

I spent a fair amount of time during the day doing some research into some security companies which are having meetings with us next week potentially after some business. We know realistically that we want to be asking the right questions for these people, and I had already made enquiries with one of our teams to ensure that we would be able to put those questions to them before we actually meet with them – so they can do their homework, prepare and give us suitable answers to those questions as well. I think it’ll also be a sign of how prepared some of them will be, and how much support we will be able to receive from them depending on the quality and consistency of their answers.

One question that all IT people should be asking right now of any software company is if their product is compatible not just with Mac OS Big Sur, but with the new M1 chips on Mcs too. This is particularly notable in that we’ve already seen some software companies request holding off upgrades until they can produce a compatible product accordingly, which of course isn’t exactly ideal if you want to be sure from an OS perspective. I think also as well it does show the deficiencies of Apple’s mindset at times in that it really needs to have a serious think about whether it wants to include particular software vendors on its journey, or further restrict their use and eventually mean that they just leave and not bother to support anymore. It’s an interesting quandry.

Our Friday afternoon team meeting usually does result now in a quiz of some sort to end the week on a suitable high, and this week my colleague came up with a suitable quiz based around the fact it was Valentine’s Day this weekend. Of course for someone like me, if you love someone, you love them all the time, but it was a particularly good quiz my colleague did. So the first round for example was all about scenes from film and television programmes where there was some romance, and you had to be able to determine what that was. It was a good combination of questions including the likes of The Office Christmas Special, Pulp Fiction, Lady and the Tramp and so on, and did at least get the thinking caps on nicely. Which then led us on to round two, where I imagined I’d do better than the first one.

The second round then had fifteen songs all loosely based on love and romance and you had to guess the artist. Of course the likes of All You Need Is Love by The Beatles got an airing, as indeed did some alternative options such as I Wanna Be Adored by The Stone Roses (obviously tune of the day for me that one) as well as Only You by Yazoo, My Girl by The Temptations and even the likes of Creep by Radiohead, based on its subject matter. It was a pretty good effort all told and I did manage to finish a respectable mid table in that one, as the first round had let me down somewhat as opposed to the second round where I had smashed it with the music questions.

Later on The Love In My Heart and I had Chinese takeaway for tea, and we had to use a different one than normal due to Chinese New Year. That said, it was still lovely, and the crispy shredded chicken I had was rather fab with the peking sauce, as was the char sui pork with schezuan sauce that The Love had – along with plenty of egg fried rice (in truth we could have got away with one portion) and some prawn crackers and spring rolls. That then meant we were all good to watch the latest episode of It’s A Sin on Channel 4 tonight, and we decided afterwards we would watch the final episode straight after on All4, so we could watch them together. Needless to say it was a pretty heartbreaking end, but if you’re waiting to watch it on Channel 4 I won’t say anything further than that. What I will say though is that it has been an essential watch and if you haven’t seen any of it yet, you absolutely must do.

Thursday 11th February - The Cat Who Has The Cream

There's one cat who of course is more than happy to be relaxed and content all day - and one who has been keeping me company throughout, it's Brian the cat. He has had a tendency to lie down a lot on the hammock he's had since Christmas and look out of the window - even more so as he now has an even better view looking out towards the front and seeing the world go by as he rests into a nice peaceful slumber along the way. Because he can, basically, and he loves the space that he has to be able to do whatever he feels like and look adorably cute whilst he is doing so as well.

In fact, at lunch time, once I had started to make my lunch, Brian looked at me with his ever so cute eyes, and wanted some treats along the way. I had already put out some dry food for him, and he's back on the Purina One Salmon at the moment. I also had a Tiger salmon stick for him which you can give him bit by bit and he scoffs it happily, sitting on his hind and looking up with his eyes of please feed me. I fed him the salmon stick and he was more than happy, and then scoffed some more dry food before heading towards the front room window and looking at the outside view from there as well.

Admittedly, one thing I will miss over the next few weeks is not having Brian around, once I am back from The Love In My Heart's place. I do need to be heading homewards for a number of work related reasons, and keeping any journeys to an absolute minimum - bearing in mind I've been with my support bubble for two months now. Obviously cats don't count as part of the bubble per se, but having him around during the day certainly has done wonders for me it has to be said, not least as I can just adore his cuteness, be able to give him a love and a cuddle and at the right time sort his tea out and feed him his tuna and prawn Sheba as well.

I took the turn to cook tonight and had brought back all the ingredients from a short shopping trip last night, so had the pasta, chorizo, grated mozzarella and sauce all good to go, and it was time for my speciality chorizo pasta bake. The pasta bake sauce also had some bacon bits in there too which certainly added to the flavour, and is a bit of a go to dish for me when I'm at home as it lasts me two evening meals (keeping the other half in the fridge for another night) and we both enjoyed that - and The Love had got the Marks and Spencer dine in for two for the weekend too which was rather lovely of her to do.

I did start to watch the Barnsley v Chelsea FA Cup game but turned it over at half time because it was so dull and boring. In fact, it was much better watching the series finale of The Bay (make the theme tune tune of the day) and that certainly tied up everything rather nicely and really set it off for a somewhat surprising but sensible ending to the series, and really showed some intelligent writing and some powerful drama, all set of course in Morecambe. I certainly did note that it was somewhat more gritty in parts than other dramas too, and you can see why it's proved so popular over the last few weeks it's been on the telly.

Wednesday 10th February - Swansea Stroll

It was a busy day for me at work today and it was good to be able to get some additional ideas into production. I had been looking at some new font distributions based on some potential ones to be used in future - and had already road tested a packaged MSI installer for Windows, along with a configuration profile for JAMF Pro for the Mac OS users. This also proved to be working very well indeed, and is a good foundation going forward knowing that we can get everything deployed well and in an efficient way. I also checked into a couple of machines not reporting in and was able to resolve what was happening there, and that was good. Taking all the positives I can today.

After the day at work, I had the laptop set up and ready to connect to the live stream of tonight's game in the fifth round of the FA Cup between Swansea City and Manchester City at the Liberty Stadium. We had played each other back in 2019, and Swansea had gone 2-0 up with twenty minutes to go before City fought back to win 3-2, so knew that it was going to be a difficult game on paper - and Swansea were also doing well in the Championship this season, hence the very strong side that we had put out tonight and was a case of trying to get the job done in the 90 minutes and get through to the sixth round, and with the teams already through, it'd be tough whoever we may face.

Swansea though had a game plan and were sticking to that game plan - they were attempting to press forward themselves where they could, although City were keeping possession well and making Swansea work for the ball. You could tell they were well organised and when the opening goal did come, it was a bit of a fluke really. Kyle Walker put in a cross from the right hand side, but the cross evaded both Ferran Torres and Gabriel Jesus, and the Swansea keeper, and went all the way in to the Swansea net for the opening goal and that meant a 1-0 lead at half time which was a pleasing lead to have. Swansea did have their chances at 1-0 down with a header just over the bar.

The start of the second half had a few minutes that changed the course of the game and did make me feel a little more at ease to say the least. There was a ball played forward from Rodri to Raheem Sterling, and the Swansea defence had left Sterling all alone, so it was an easy case of slotting past the keeper for 2-0. A few minutes later after attempting to play the ball out of their own box, City re-took possession and a cross was headed down by Bernardo Silva, with Gabriel Jesus turning and blasting the ball home from close range. 3-0 was pretty much game over, although Swansea did score late on and it was a justified reward for their efforts throughout the game. Fair play to them.

Later on The Love In My Heart and I had some nice tea together, and after that we settled in for the evening, and was able to watch the next episode of the Celebrity version of tbe best home cook programme. It was down to five now and they had to do a pretty tricky ultimate cake first of all - Ed Balls and the chocolate adorned pirate ship was a superb piece of work and really deserved the praise it got. The chickpea second rustle up was a lot harder but still showed a lot of effort all round, so really liked what they all did. In the end Shobna Gulati lost the eliminator but she had done well up to that point, so it was all wholesome good entertainment. Tune of the day in the meantime is the rather nice theme to Superstars - a few posts today reminded me of that show.

Tuesday 9th February - Success

I must admit that I did feel pretty pleased with myself today. After some final checks and tweaks I had sent out an email to fully test the Cloud Management Gateway only task sequence. This allowed my manager to give it a full go with a Windows 10 device, and it was able to boot to the USB key he had made, and ran through applying the Windows 10 image, adding any drivers needed, installing the ConfigMgr client, and then installing all the applications needed, and showing the final screen with a completion message. So although there are no domain join steps which can be done at present, the fact we were able to go through from start to finish and indeed have the client report in - winning.

The main key to this I'd cracked a week or two back and was to do with the boot media. If like some of us you're using token-based authentication and have a cert on the CMG for the server auth, then the client needs to know about it in the boot media, so the root and intermediate certs had to be added in the site properties first (you don't need to enable PKI mind you) and then when you update the CMG config and update the boot media for the task sequence, it has the certificate chain working and therefore was able to authenticate and connect. In fact it was working well and so it's good to be able to road test throughout and the thorough testing has come home to roost rather nicely.

Brian the cat meanwhile was keeping me company during the day with his adorable cuteness by the window, and later tonight I was watching the live FA Cup game on BBC One as Manchester United took on West Ham. The game was that dull I actually turned over to the BBC Red Button and instead watched some quality world class indoor athletics from a track not far from Calais. Amongst some achievements were the second fastest 3,000 metres ever run indoors, only missing on the world record by 0.08 seconds, and some quality triple jumping, eventually, once a few fouls had been got out of the way. It was good to see and enjoy to be honest and made me miss watching it live even more.

The Love In My Heart had also made some rather nice burgers and some wedges to go with that, so was nice to relax and enjoy tea together too. Whilst I had the football and athletics on, she was watching the next instalment of The Bay, which she's really got into as a drama series. I quite like the minimalist theme too, so definitely for me tune of the day as it is quite dark and spooky throughout. There's something about the location as well being where it is that seems to emnate a sense of broody mysterious foreboding too, and filmed ever so well. I must admit it might be one I have to go back and watch myself from the start in the near future.

I also was starting to do some research for an article I plan to write in the future, which sums up the influence of the classic computer magazine Zzap! 64 on not just gamers, but the music in those games and how much that music proved to be an inspiration for many over the years. I have to admit that there's so many excellent game soundtracks but it does surprise sometimes just how many of them received high ratings because they were so good, I reckon there's at least 10-15 games where the sound got 98 per cent or above which is pretty mental. And so far, two with 99 per cent as well along the way which does prove to be a case of the classic musicians being the best regarded too.

Monday 8th February - Positive

It was another good start to the week this week for me, as I was able to look further into how we would be able to look at a Windows deployment task sequence via our Cloud Management Gateway. In fact last week's testing had shown that the boot media did at least boot up to connect to there, and indeed be able to see a list of task sequences to run. From there, we could then run the one we wanted, but at present getting there was good. I spent some time today working on what potentially was doable - anything with Active Directory is out of the question, although there is potential in the long term for maybe seeing if we could script a VPN join followed by an AD join. We shall see.

I did feel positive as well as I was able to further check over some more machines and be able to work out what was going on with them, and also pull in some data for staff ID importing into the inventory system, so definitely a lot of getting things tiday but also working on a possible option to help automate some parts of that. I must admit though it's good to know I've got a working process and this at least allows for a way forward for when we look at some handover in future. I was also able today to process some deployments in conjunction with our folks over in China, so was good to collaborate and get things done. Again, more positives.

The Love In My Heart is on her late shift this week but we were able to relax together later on and enjoy Only Connect, where I was rather proud that I got the sequence of double Grand National winners after only two answers thus getting three points (the last in the sequence of course being Tiger Roll) and that was all good. I did also nail a fair few connections on the wall and in the missing vowels round too, so felt pretty pleased with myself that I had been able to at least score well. It's still too hard for most but I always appreciate the wit and wisdom of Victoria Coren Mitchell it has to be said - the dryness of that wit really does work wonders.

The next round of Britain's Best Celebrity Home Cook was on BBC One too later on, and I have to say that I do quite prefer Claudia Winkleman in a jumper - just naturally casual and lovely. After no eliminations last week it was the Sunday Roast challenge first off, where they all did pretty well but some decided not to serve roast potatoes, which I agreed with Claudia was an instant no-no (it is just wrong in my book.) The rustle up round was a lot trickier though as the base ingredient was a banana and a way that they had to try and make a dessert with the ingredients was a challenge. The tarte tatin effort from Rachel Johnson was way above everyone else's though it has to be said.

With the rest of the contestants struggling here, it was only right that all the six others had to do the challenge to make a rather nice little lemon curd cheesecake with a meringue on top. Some were much nicer than others, and some were a mess, and for me it was a slam dunk decision for both Ed Byrne and Karim Zeroual to leave - they had done well, admittedly to get so far. I do like the theme tune to this too - it's all just rather homely and sometimes we need that warmth and homeliness to distract from the world, so it's definitely tune of the day for me at least. One day down, more to go, but already feeling positive and productive this week.

Sunday 7th February - Take It, Take It, Take It

I had had a good night's sleep but was up at a reasonable time, and on with Channel 4 to watch the Test Match cricket between India and England. England added some overnight runs to their score, and then it was the turn of the bowling attack. Jofra Archer did well to get rid of the opening batsmen, but then it was a really key couple of overs from Dom Bess, where he really bowled accurately and was able to get rid of both Kohli and Rahane cheaply. India did fight back with Pant slogging Jack Leach all round the ground, before Bess came back and removed both Pant and then Pujara, and with the final score being 257 for 6, you'd have to say England did play ever so well.

It was nice to be chilled out in the afternoon and I have to say that Brian the cat was just so adorable - he was curled up all on the hammock and was able to be restful, and have the occasional look out of the window and a miaow for his Mummy to tummy tickle him as well, and of course The Love In My Heart duly obliged. He was so happy and relaxed and I know I am going to be missing Brian a lot when I do head back home for work reasons - and he definitely was being all soft and so cute today. That certainly does keep us both going, even more so when he gets on the bed and wants extra cuddles from Mummy during the night.

Later on we headed out to Ancoats and to pick up our Sunday Roast take out from Elnecot. They had advertised it online and at their restaurant, and you put the order in by text or WhatsApp with a collection time, and they sort it out for you. We had got a late afternoon slot sorted, and when I got there the staff were all lovely, and explained the food would be out when ready and all good to go. It was all packed so well and I could smell how nice and hot and fresh it all was. When we got back, and had it, wow, it was gorgeous. The roast chicken I had was stunning as were all the vegetables, Yorkshire pud and gravy, along with The Love's crispy pork belly being exactly that. Stunning.

I was able then to watch the Liverpool v Manchester City game from Anfield, and although not a title decider, a win here and City's first since 2003 would be a real sign that we're in a good place. The first half was close, and edgy, and City had a penalty but was skied over the bar from Ilkay Gundogan, most unlike him it has to be said. 0-0 at half time was about right, but I sensed that if City could get one, they might get more than one, and so was looking forward to what would happen. I didn't have long to wait for Phil Foden's shot to be parried straight into the path of Gundogan who finished with aplomb and made the score 1-0. We were ahead in this one.

Naturally, Liverpool were not taking it lying down and a pull back from Ruben Dias meant that Mo Salah dived to the ground, won a penalty and scored it himself for the equaliser. City were pressing high and eventually the ball was given away by the Liverpool goalkeeper Allison, and Foden found Gundogan for 2-1. Then another Allison blunder meant he gave the ball straight for Bernardo Silva, who lobbed Allison for Raheem Sterling to score with a diving header for 3-1, before Foden capped off a superb performance and slammed one home into the top corner. 4-1 at Anfield? Wow, does not get any better than that, and City's anthem The Boys in the Blue is tune of the day. Take it Jamie Carragher, take it Graeme Souness, take it take it take it.

Saturday 6th February - Walking In The Rain

It was a little bit wet during the morning, and both myself and The Love In My Heart got up for different reasons. I was heading up to watch the test match cricket between England and India, where Joe Root excelled and continued on from yesterday to make a mammoth innings of 218 and become the third highest England run scorer of all time. It was also good that England accumulated runs during the day and ended up getting to 555 for 8 at the end of the day. It's been good to be able to watch this on proper telly with Channel 4 showing the coverage and having Sir Alistair Cook with Rishi Persad in the studio - and an added bonus for us all to see it live.

The Love was heading out later during the day, and so I decided whilst she was out doing some essential shopping, I thought that a walk would be sensible and to keep it local and start from The Love's place, ending back there later in the day. I headed down to the local park, and walked through here and followed the path through the hidden valley and then up to the main path, down towards the far end of the cemetery adjoining the park, and then turning right and heading towards the nice river valley that is Clayton Vale. It was good to be able to follow the path and then head by the River Medlock, with the rain deciding to come down a considerable amount.

I then followed the path through the vale down to the far end, and noted that the path opposite was still open but repair work had been carried out. You could tell that the original path had had some erosion and so it was being reinforced above the Medlock below. You could at least follow this and to the road beyond, which is what I did, and realised where that was - the end of Greenside Lane, where in the old days the 168 bus would come down and stop at the bus turning to serve the locals to get them to Droylsden and to the shops. None of that now though, so followed Greenside Lane as it wound its way left and right and towards the centre of Droylsden.

All in all, a walk of around three and a half miles considering the park and vale paths I had taken, and after doing a bit of shopping in Quality Save, I took the tram back home. The Love was soon to return from shopping and so was able to make us both a lovely tea - gammon with a honey and mustard glaze, along with some potatoes and vegetables. It was very nice indeed and it was good to sit down and be able to enjoy a meal together, and we would be enjoying one tomorrow, as I had done an online order for a place in the Northern Quarter, so we did have that to look forward to as well. We settled in and watched some Four in a Bed on the telly.

Later on I chatted with some friends of mine online, and my friend from Doncaster was pretty pleased - his team had beaten Oxford United 3-2, and was only kept off second place by Hull City based on the results between the two teams during the season - they had same points, goal difference and goals scored. We also had a nice chatter about some music as well and it was good to be able to enjoy some classic game anthems along the way - and I mentioned one of the tunes from the game Agent X II, which led us all to sing along to the Shake 'n' Vac advert music (make that one tune of the day.) After all, when your carpet smells fresh, your room does too..

Friday 5th February - The End Of The Week

For whatever reason, this week did feel like a long week and certainly was glad to be able to get plenty done today and to plough through the week as best I could overall. I have to say that today did at least feel like I was dotting the i and crossing the t big time, not least as we had had some discussion yesterday about a potential plan of action to go forward and also to remove what wasn't needed in some cases too. After having to do an emergency change this morning, I set myself up for the afternoon and was able to get done what I really set out to do today which was a positive, and that ended the week on a suitable high for me.

So, with all the current situation developing at pace and of course us realising as a workplace that we aren't going to need as many offices in the future (primarily because we will shift to a more hybrid model overall) - then it was a sensible move to look at removing one of the MECM distribution points that will no longer be needed going forward. It was a good task to get all of that done properly and have all the suitable roles removed, and for me at least it was good to see that fall into place nicely, and ensure anyone in that building would be referred elsewhere for content, then when the building does close, decommissioning is easy.

I think one thing I've definitely noted over time is that once we get to a point of having some simplification, there should be less maintenance for one thing but also in the long term if we do decide to expand as well, we will have some more room to be able to do that too. I always see things more fluidly, we adapt and learn accordingly from that and one thing I've always been able to do is to be practical about things generally. I also reckon as well that by being adaptable you're more likely to fit into a fast changing environment long term, so the calm considered approach I tend to take more often really does help matters along well.

Brian the cat was being particularly lovely today it has to be said, and not only did he give me the cutest look when it was time for his tea, but then allowed me to give him a fuss and a love when he wanted his Dreamies. I really do appreciate that and I know that he's been so patient and calm and quiet, which helps me too. I think having company for us both has been really helpful and I know that when I do go home I will miss him immensely and I'll have to insist on The Love In My Heart sending me regular cat updates and pictures, maybe even a video call with him waving if he so wants to do - that would all be lovely as well.

I must admit one good thing I do like to watch when winding down after work is the House of Games presented by Richard Osman (the theme tune of which is tune of the day for me.) I must admit that it's been an added bonus this week to have the always funny and always lovely Josie Lawrence on this week too - but up against it with Mark Watson being rally intelligent as he has been all week. I like the fact that there's a more friendly and informal setting when it's on too - and maybe it needs extending one day to just be everyday people instead of famous faces. Always a good way to have the final double points show to start the weekend though.

Thursday 4th February - The Drowning

It was another day of working from home and being at The Love In My Heart's place to do so, with Brian the cat being more than ample company. He does tend to rest a lot on the hammock now and pop in for occasional fussing, some treats and of course when it is his time, his tea as well. I must admit though that he does at least seem to be looking out of the window a bit for what's happening outside the flat, and if another cat goes past, he is not having any of it, which is good - not least when the black and white girl cat comes past and tries to come up to the window - a look from Brian is all that it takes for him to reaffirm the territory.

I did have to venture out to Asda during lunchtime in order to get a few things for next week, and also to stock up on some essentials for The Love In My Heart as well. Thankfully it was pretty quiet all round and I was able to get all I needed but did have to get a second carrier bag though which was another bag for life there. I did though note that several things have gone up in price considerably as well so was a little bit smarter on the shopping for some items. The good thing was all my lunches were the same price so sorted what I needed for next week and then was able to head home and leave everyone else to it.

Also after work I did some additional research on an article I'm writing at the moment, and it was good to be able to track down some suitable music selector programs that had been made for the Commodore Amiga in order to see how much the Commodore 64 was an inspiration, especially musically. And it proved to be true, not least for the likes of Allister Brimble, who became a game musician in his own right, but also offered really good versions of lots of old tunes, including Ocean Loader 2 by Martin Galway (make that tune of the day) and it was a good idea to see how things developed over time for those making the music too.

The Love and I had some really nice gammon steaks with some wedges and a flat mushroom for tea, and she indulged in the soaps before we sat down to watch the first quarter final of Pooch Perfect on BBC One. It was good to see the four groomers have to adapt their styles on different breeds, identify some different cross breeds and then later on have to do a Chinese style on four dogs - one of which was a toy poodle and looked adorable after transformation. We both agreed that the right two contestants got through to the next round and it's just good clean fun with plenty of awww factor thrown in (and this is from someone who is not a dog lover too.)

After that it was time to watch the final episode of The Drowning on Channel 5, which has been keeping The Love In My Heart entertained the last few nights. I have to say that Jill Halfpenny was brilliant, as was Jonas Armstrong who certainly looked dodgy and had something to hide, but all would be revealed during the final episode. One key scene happened and The Love looked at me and we both went - she knows doesn't she - and that developed from there. Also the character that is the son was played by the son of Placebo front man Brian Molko as well, so interesting to see that as well it has to be said. It was good drama and nice of Channel 5 to have quality this time around.

Wednesday 3rd February - Steph The Sixty-Four Fan

It was nice to get plenty of work done today, and indeed I was able to pull together a list of machines that hadn't, for whatever reason, reported back into any of our management systems, with a view that we would need to know where that kit is and what is happening with it. The good news is that over time some of these will report in, but if we are able to get a few reminders out there to people then of course that would be sensible to do. I think on the whole we have managed things pretty well but it is always good to be better and to pursue things as much as we can when we're able to - and it's good that colleagues have my back too.

I was alerted to something that was on during lunch time by some of my fellow Commodore 64 fans - in that the Nostalgia Nerd person (on Youtube) was making a guest appearance on the Channel 4 programme Steph's Packed Lunch, with Steph McGovern hosting and the likes of Chris Kamara as regular guests. Of course when it was noted that there were going to be some Spectrums and Commodore 64s on there, that definitely was something that I'd need to watch. Indeed some of the pre-show setup looked like there were some games being played by Chris as well (albeit not very well) and I have to say it was good to get some exposure.

At the start of the show I checked what the time would be for the feature - and it would be 1.40pm in the afternoon, so right in the middle of the lunch break, awesome. In fact some of the other articles on during the show were good fun, including the wincing on Steph's face as regular cook and former Bake Off winner John Whaite was all about the onion soup - and the bromance with him and Russell T Davies as the latter talked about It's a Sin didn't go unnoticed either, but it really did feel a more casual chilled out sort of show (for those of you who haven't watched it before of course.) And then..

On came Nostalgia Nerd, and indeed he talked about the history of some of the machines, and at that point Steph mentioned that she was all about the Commodore 64, which of course had her go up massively in my estimation to say the least (something she also mentioned quite a bit on Twitter later as well, for reference.) It was good to be able to have some knowledge on what to look for if the old machines were okay, and then firing up the C64 with the rather good game Super Bread Box and having them play that was pretty good fun (the soundtrack of which by Mikkel Hastrup is tune of the day.) I must admit it was nice to see the machines on the telly and it was mentioned about coding too.

It was all good fun, and later on I settled in to watch the next episode of Britain's Best Celebrity Home Cook, with of course Claudia Winkleman (those of you who know me know I adore Claudia.) It was first of all to make the ultimate burger and chips, and notable that some went fish and some even went vegan for that. The frozen peas were for the rustle up, and some were good, but Ed Balls' attempt to make a pho was a balls up, and so three went into the eliminator, and all survived as their cooking was that good. I must admit I do like the show a fair bit, it's innocent fun and actually Angela Hartnett comes across really well as a judge and a nice person to boot.

Tuesday 2nd February - Gaga for Galaforce

I noted whilst I was on my lunch break from work today that Geoff Marshall (he of All The Stations amongst other things) had put up a new video on his Youtube channel, which was explaining how to be able to draw the tube map using nothing more than a humble BBC B Micro that most of the children my age would have had at school. Of course it was nice to know that it was a fond memory of using the Beeb, although his poorly one didn't work and so was using an emulator to type out the listing for it. One of his friends who does have a working Beeb though was able to road test it and sure enough, there was the tube map.

However, something was interesting for me to note at least - and that was that the music in the background sounded very familiar. I know most of the 8-bit music scores even if they weren't all on the Commodore 64, and I remember the great Stairway to Hell site (archived but still there) which did have some of the Beeb's soundtracks there. Sure enough, there it was - Galaforce by none other than the legendary C64 composer Martin Galway (so of course that simply has to be tune of the day purely on that basis), still a really good tune for that micro and one I enjoy today, as I did do earlier.

It made me realise that actually not everyone necessarily knows the history of those who would make the Commodore 64's SID chip sing with unadulterated joy. Tim Follin for example worked some witchcraft with the Spectrum's speaker buzzer to have some 1-bit almost sample like sound playing, most notably for the title tune for the Mastertronic game Agent X - still a classic to this day on that format. In addition, Galway had composed the Spectrum soundtrack to Cobra on there, which would later be used for the drum sample laden C64 title theme for the Arkanoid arcade conversion, rightly regarded as a classic.

When you dig deeper, you get to know more too. I already knew that the other C64 legend that is Rob Hubbard also plied his trade on other 8-bit formats, with the soundtrack to the Atari 8-bit computer version of Jet Set Willy being exclusive to that format only - and the only decent thing about that game. The fact it was converted by Tynesoft should tell you all you need to know about that game - it truly is awful to say the least and it did get someone in to fix all the code a couple of years back but sensibly keep the brilliant Hubbard tune in there - they were not daft I have to say.

Of course, if you were more of a composer than a programmer, but had the tools to transcribe the music into multiple formats, it was pretty easy to be able to get the same tune across a number of systems and have that consistency. So you'd often hear the same tune played with the SID chip on the C64, POKEY on the Atari 8-bits, AY on the Spectrum 128s and Amstrad, all that sort of thing. It always makes me smile though hearing something truly original on each format, an exclusive, such as Martin Galway's Crazee Rider score for the BBC Master 128 version of the game only. Well worth checking out too, that one.

Monday 1st February - Starting All Over

It was the first day of a new month, and indeed a new working week too. In fact, it worked out well this week because The Love In My Heart is on a later shift at work which means that I finish work in good time before The Love arrives back from her work. In a way it means we have the space in order to be able to get things done during the day, and that does at least mean that I've been keeping Brian the cat company and he generally is a happy cat - either resting on his hammock and chilling out, or being all cute and wanting plenty of Dreamies in between the tuna for tea.

I had plenty to be getting on with today anyway, and this morning was mainly spent checking over some deployments over in terms of the January updates, ensuring all was well there and also being able to put some stats together for one of our other teams. In a good way too it's also been able to demonstrate that all the changes put in place over the last year or so have proven to be worth it - especially for me that I've been really valued and respected as well. I like that - and know that respect has to be earned both ways too, so all good on that score. And I looked at planning something else.

So it looks like there may be a new font which we may need to deploy en masse in the next few weeks. I've got a few ways of getting this all sorted from a desktop environment on Windows, and I would be able to package it with a MSI tool that I have, so it could be suitably deployed with a nice straightforward Windows installer. As it transpires also, there will also be some additional work on the back of that to come, so I was able to do some good research and be able to get stuff sorted. I like having a definite aim to be achieved and a way forward too, so I did feel a corner turned.

I ventured out to the local Asda at lunch time, as we needed a few supplies. It was peacefully quiet, and on top of that, security were getting everyone to wear a face covering and be compliant. I felt relatively safe and managed to get some additional cat food for Brian the cat as we were running short of tuna and prawn Sheba (which is his favourite) so all good there. Needless to say come tea time, he was purring happily and very contented indeed, more so when he saw The Love arrive home from work and be all ready for cuddles and a love. And why not.

The Love made some nice pizza for tea, taking the Pizza Express American base with pepperoni and adding some fresh mushrooms to the mix before it went into the oven - and definitely felt better because of it. I watched Only Connect later on (the theme tune of which is tune of the day) and I particularly excelled at the missing vowels round for film titles where cat had been replaced by dog, so for example Dog On A Hot Tin Roof, if you get the idea. It proved to be trickier for some of the contestants though and that was good fun to watch to see them pause and work it all out in their heads.