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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Monday 20th September - Just Another Manic Monday

And I do wish it were Sunday, as the Bangles song would have gone. In fact, actual Susanna Hoffs from the band actually posted online her performing a solo acoustic version of the song, which was utterly gorgeous and therefore tune of the day. It does amaze me how many 1980s icons are still performing well, and even though it is more of a country / Americana twang from Susanna these days, it really shows she can still perform superbly and vocally. You don't lose the talent, you just gain more respect as you get older and (sometimes!) wiser - just note Rick Astley in recent times.

I was mainly putting together a number of stats and spreadsheets together, and it was a case of being able to work on one at a time - so first of all get the latest list from HR, cross-correlate some info from departments, locations etc and put that together for a project team which was part of what they were after. I also of course wanted to check in with our service team over some machines which hadn't checked in for a while, so was able to spend plenty of time putting that together. In fact that was pretty much all of the morning taken up which says something I guess.

I was then in the afternoon look at formulating a plan of action and the plan currently was to look at removing a couple of applications as soon as possible, with a way to be able to do that sooner instead of later. And I have some good ideas to plan that, and also at the same time be able to look at updating a few things across the board on all machines. In a good way, I know that the Visual C++ libraries will be updated if they weren't already with the new MECM client, so that has to be some positive knowing we'll have a minimum level.

After work it was time to settle in for the evening and to be able to watch Only Connect, which was surprising only for the reason of Victoria Coren-Mitchell having flame red hair. Was it a wig, or was it coloured that way when recording the programme? Not sure, but she looked good with it that's for sure (and it's not red now, as she tweeted a picture from the Chelsea Flower Show with the rather fab Floella Benjamin) and it was definitely a case of working through some difficult questions, although I got the motorway one after Tom Robinson Band's classic 2-4-6-8 Motorway.

The Fever Pitch series on the early years of the Premier League was on BBC2 later on, and I have to say that I've been enjoying this. This episode was mainly on the 1995-96 season, together with the likes of David Beckham, Gary Neville, Keith Gillespie (who went from Manchester United to Newcastle) and Les Ferdinand, all key protagonists in the title race as Manchester United came from several points behind to overhaul Newcastle - with the infamous quote from Alan Hansen at the start of the season saying that you couldn't win anything with kids, which only served to spur them on in a way.

Sunday 19th September - Strictly Sunday

After all the wedding shenanigans of yesterday, we did kick back at The Love In My Heart's place after getting a taxi back and having a good sleep, and so caught up with BBC iPlayer and most importantly the launch of the new series of Strictly Come Dancing! Of course we're both fans of the show, it's good family entertainment and some of the dances are ace (and after all, who wasn't rooting for Bill Bailey last year, right?) - plus of course it's something we both can watch together and enjoy from different perspectives, The Love for the technical side, me for the music and musicality (and yes, admittedly, possibly Claudia Winkleman and her fringe too, but that's an added bonus.)

The Love and I always try and work out which professional dancer is going to be partnered with which celebrity. We both had a feeling that with it being the first same sex male couple, former Bake Off winner and now regular on Steph's Packed Lunch, John Whaite, would get paired with Johannes Radebe. And so it proved as well. We both thought that Dan Walker might have got Luba Mushtuk this time, but instead it was Nadia Bychkova, which again does make good sense. I also got it right that Adam Peaty would get paired with Katya Jones - The Love was thinking possibly Karen Hauer, which I could have also seen to work.

It was nice to see Nancy Xu finally get a celebrity to partner with, rather than just be part of the ensemble of group of professionals, paired with Rhys Stevenson of CBBC. I do think The Love will be rooting for Katie McGlynn, formerly Sinead from Corrie, as she is teamed up with Gorka Marquez. Makes some sense as Katie's a proper Northerner and Gorka is of course partnered in real life with Gemma Atkinson and living in the North too. I was also pleased to see Rose Ayling-Ellis from Eastenders, a deaf actress, not only paired with Giovanni Pernice, but the interpreter was on hand to help, and a bit of sign language from both Giovanni and Claudia too which they'd both learned. Barriers being slowly broken down which is also good.

Later on we headed off to Cheadle and to the Ashlea for some well earned Sunday lunch. The main area was booked but there was space in the cosy bar downstairs, which we quite like as a nice cosy retreat anyway, so all good. I did the order at the bar and got us both a Sunday roast - I ordered the pork loin which was gorgeous, and The Love had the roast turkey with a huge pig in blanket sausage also, so that worked out well. And of course there so happened to be a really lovely pint of the Robinsons Cascade ale waiting for me, so no complaints there either.

It was sad to head off to the train station later, and so had a fond farewell hug and kiss from The Love before I got the train to Doncaster, followed then by heading over to Platform 1 for the train down to Kings Cross. The train was busy and it was pretty good to be able to chill out and listen to the likes of She Makes War, and the ace Delete is tune of the day - still as impressive now as it was back then. It was a diversionary route on the train from St Pancras to East Croydon, but at least it meant one train home and the night had long fallen anyway. I was just pleased to have had a relatively stress free journey home.

Saturday 18th September - Sister's Special Day

It was a rather nice sunny morning, and I was very glad actually, for one main reason. My youngest sister was getting married today, and that meant that both sisters would be wed - leaving us brothers to lead happy fulfilling lives but all in good long term relationships. Funny how that works, but there you go. I had my suit already at The Love In My Heart's place, and she had very kindly ironed my shirt and also the tie which of her relations had kindly lent to me - it was a nice blue flower one which looked classy and also matched the blue of The Love's rather gorgeous dress, which I have to say she looked beautiful in.

As the wedding wasn't til later in the day we pottered around in the morning, had some good breakfast and kept an eye what was going on in the world, and later on then got ourselves showered and changed. I had though booked a taxi to pick us up, as The Love's place isn't far from the Etihad Stadium and on a match day it can be difficult to actually get any taxis if you rang up - so reserving was key and we used a firm close to The Love. They turned up on time and actually going the other way proved to be pretty good in terms of avoiding traffic - so much so that we got to the venue earlier than expected. Now, the venue happens to be next door to one of our favourite pubs, so you can guess where we were headed for a bit!

We were also able to people watch from our position by the window too and gradually saw family arrive - both my brothers, my sister, and my aunts and uncles too. So it looked like a good turnout family wise, and although apparently we'd been told to be there for 3pm as we needed to be in the room upstairs before the bride arrived, in fact we were all chatting outside happily in the nice weather for a fair while until the staff at the venue called us all in for 3.45pm - had we known this we could have actually set off later, but hey ho.

We all were upstairs into the smaller room which had been laid out with nice chairs and a floral display too - it did look pretty nice, although it was very warm indeed in there (and possibly why we were asked to wait outside so as not to be too hot!) - and we all got a position and were able to see. The groom was all nervous, which I expected, but I have to say my sister's wedding dress was very nice and very classy - not overstated at all, a nice silky number with no over the top bling or anything, beautifully understated. The Love and I both liked that, and the jade green for the bridesmaids also looked lovely too. The vows were all said, the rings exchanged, and there it was - my sister was now married.

The venue also hosted the reception and we were given the choice of beer or a glass of fizz to celebrate after the ceremony. The main room had aircon, so was blissfully nice and airy, and had been done up a fair bit too. Maybe that was why the bar prices for beer and wine were so expensive, nothing on cask (sort of expected that) and a Spanish lager that looked pricey and was as well as the Sharp's Atlantic Ale, Guinness et al. Oh, and bottles of Brewdog Punk IPA if I really wanted. Still, the staff were all friendly and it was all good, and it was nice to catch up with some of my relatives whom I haven't seen pre-pandemic. A couple of them were a little worried as it was the first time in a larger crowd, but we were sensible - even though there'd normally be handshakes and hugs, I knew when to back off.

Later on a DJ turned up to play some tunes, after we'd had some buffet food which wasn't too bad - some sandwiches, sausage rolls and these pretty good chicken kebabs as well. Lots of modern day music which wasn't everyone's thing, but it's what my sister and friends like so fair enough. The 80s tunes did have people up though including The Love, who was happily dancing and chatting with my two aunts, exchanging notes with one on younger relations which was nice to see. There were some decent tunes too including Gold by Spandau Ballet (make that tune of the day) which was all good.

Friday 17th September - Doncaster Dilemmas

So it was off to the office today as I was leaving work and heading straight for Kings Cross afterwards to head on a train via Leeds to Manchester, in order to be up North in good time for tomorrow. In fact, I did have a pretty productive day and the office was also quieter, which has to be a bit of a win of course. It meant that I could check over the September updates for Windows 10 20H2 (only one!) and therefore look at working on creating a revised WIM image which included that update, so when service desk teams do build new machines, they've got all the updates included, which does work so much better for them overall.

Interestingly, the recent MECM client upgrades have been going well but it's also proved very valuable to prove why it's always best having the Visual C++libraries installed, either in your WIM image (which is where I tend to add them for consistency, so any installs that need them during build are good to go) or during a build task sequence. As it turns out, the 2107 client will install both x86 and x64 versions of the Visual C++ 2015-2019 binaries (14.28.29914) if not already present, and you can see that in ccmsetup.log when checking the client install logs. However, for anything built since I added those versions into the WIM (and will be looking at adding any updated one in the next revision) it doesn't need them and just gets the client upgrade itself. Neato.

The other reason for me always including those is that inevitably so many software applications use the same libraries. In fact from Windows 10 2004 onwards, there's even an AppX Windows app service that handles those libraries, so key thing is not to remove that (if stripping out any AppX stuff) because it'll then cause failures when attempting to sysprep. What I tend to do is use this script in Powershell when creating the WIM image to remove all the gubbins you don't need, but keep the ones you absolutely have to so you don't break the OS. I also added WordPad to be kept as a feature on Demand in the list with a small revision, but you get the idea. Note the VC libraries from 2004 as I mentioned.

Anyway, that all done, it was off to Kings Cross and got there in good time for the 1803 train to Leeds. It was busy but I got my reserved seat (despite it being 5 cars instead of 10) and looked to be reasonably on time as I approached Doncaster. However.. the train manager announced that we'd be here for some time as an ambulance had been called to see to a passenger who had taken ill on the train. Now, I had heard some noise from the carriage in front, so wasn't sure if it was someone in there, but as time ticked on, it was clear it wasn't going to be a quick resolution. Thankfully we could get off the train at Doncaster and those going to Leeds were going to get the next train up.

However, I realised that I could actually get the 2042 train from Doncaster to Manchester as I would do - but just needed to get a ticket. I managed to get an advance ticket as it was over half an hour before set off time, and the money for that would be in effect offset by the Delay Repay I'd get for the train being late. Cunning plan - and it worked. It did mean I could listen to the likes of David Bowie on the train - somehow Where Are We Now seemed appropriate and to be tune of the day of course, so that was prophetic. It was just nice to be able to arrive safe and sound and have lots of snuggle time with The Love In My Heart and Brian the cat later on.

 

Thursday 16th September - Farewell, Sir Clive

I headed out after work tonight and into central London to join a few of my work colleagues for a few drinks, which was a nice way to celebrate the birthday of one of our team who had their birthday yesterday. It was all good to have a nice drink of some Timothy Taylor Landlord and indeed the Beavertown Neck Oil as well later on as we chatted about all sorts, especially football and music - I had a good conversation about all sorts of bands with one of my colleagues and it sort of felt more normal to be out and about too which has to be really nice, it has to be said.

On the way home I found out the very sad news that one of the true pioneers of 1980s computing, especially in the UK, Sir Clive Sinclair had passed away. Now, I know I may be more of a Commodore 64 fan because that's what I had, but let's put that 8-bit rivalry aside. Such rivalry wouldn't even exist had Sir Clive not decided to bring computing to the masses with not just machines you could afford, but in earlier cases in kit form so you could save money and have the pleasure of building it yourself and having the satisfaction of it all working. This was the case for both the ZX80 and ZX81, which really laid the foundations well.

Of course, things moved on and the ZX Spectrum was by the far the big seller, initially in a 16K version and a 48K version, but the latter was the one that stuck because of the extra memory being able to do much more coding, have better programs and be a good foundation for games. Ironically, Sir Clive wasn't a big fan of a machine being used for games, but this did lead to significant sales (around 5 million for the Spectrum in all, not a tiny amount) and the majority of those sales being UK based. In fact it even outsold the Commodore 64 in the UK which was pretty impressive. And there were a considerable amount of programmers who cut their teeth on the Spectrum: anyone of a certain age will know Manic Miner, Jet Set Willy, Horace Goes Skiing, Knight Lore, The Hobbit, Jetpac and so on.

The key thing was the value for money and accessibility to computing that so many of us got back then. Without the access that was affordable, who knows what generation of pioneers might not have been inspired. It's pretty important to note too that as much as the Sinclair C5 electric solo vehicle may have been dubbed a failure, let's also think about how ahead of its time it was in terms of attempting to be more environmentally friendly to drive such a vehicle, which shouldn't be lost now considering the advance in technology. Someone had to think of the idea to get it out there to the masses.

With that in mind, tune of the day is Hey Hey 16K by MJ Hibbett and the Validators, a gorgeous homage to that 80s era of computing. It's safe to say without Sir Clive, would we have got such an exposure to computing or even had that fierce rivalry over whether the Spectrum or Commodore 64 was better (with occasional input from BBC Micro and Amstrad CPC owners to name but two) - and for the home computing boom to be taken seriously? Perhaps not. The world is a poorer place and many of us who were gamers in the 80s are all very saddened at tonight's news.

 

Wednesday 15th September - Liquid Football

It is my brother's birthday today, and so of course a happy birthday to him. In fact I had ordered him something for an Acorn Archimedes 3000 that he's been fixing as of late - a suitable cable to connect the video from there to a television or monitor, so all good. In fact I had confirmation that arrived in good time and so he'll be able to pick that up and make the most of it when he can. It's good to see that he seems to be enjoying that sort of restoration job as well as keeping up the graphic design day job too - for me it goes to show that everyone has their own different paths in life, but that doesn't mean to say that being different is a bad thing either.

In fact I was spending some time tonight making sure some file transfers to some of our online storage was working, so was keeping one eye on the laptop getting that done and the other one on the Champions League games, especially of course Manchester City's first group match against RB Leipzig. The latter team aren't that popular in Germany for a number of reasons, and so I think the rest of the Bundesliga might like us to win that one. Of course, as The Love In My Heart can usually hear the crowd on a match day from where she is, I'm sure she would be able to tell me if any goals went in just from that if she has her front window open. The Etihad is quite open to the elements so the sound does travel quite a way!

And what a goal fest tonight's game was - if you did go, you would have got your money's worth for definite. In fact, nine goals in all and a 6-3 win for Manchester City. You do have to feel sorry for the Leipzig striker Christopher Nkunku though - he got all three of their goals and it's not often you score a hat-trick and end up being on the losing side, but he did so tonight. City had scored early through the unlikely source of Nathan Aké and a comical own goal had followed that, with Riyad Mahrez proving reliable from the penalty spot before half time to be 3-1 up.

In fact, there were some good firsts for City tonight too - a first Champions League goal for Jack Grealish, which sort of justified what he said about wanting to play in the competition, and indeed a pretty thunderous strike from Joao Cancelo as well which was proper liquid football, as a certain Alan Partridge might have said (the piece of music in The Day Today for the World Cup 94 skit is tune of the day) . And Gabriel Jesús also scored too, so a very productive night for City and it shows that the team does mean business this season. Paris St Germain, Lionel Messi and all, are in the group, so getting off to a good start proves to be useful - and with PSG's draw at Bruges, that's also going to be helpful. All positive feelings tonight for sure.

And in another positive, I've been told that if I wanted to adapt the workplace a bit more in order to be more remote at times of where I work, looks like that is doable and that there may be good options for doing so. I for one do think as well it says a lot that I've been genuinely valued enough to have that option, but also shows that they don't want to lose me if they can help it, again a real positive thing. I do think that when you're looked after properly, it's not always about the money, but about the wellbeing and how good you feel doing the job. And that's important.

Thursday 14th September - Busy Busy!

It was a busy day for me today but I'm glad when it's that sort of day and I can feel more productive overall. I think on the whole it was definitely the case that being in the office and being able to have access to the resources I need does help. Admittedly, there is a fair bit that I can do working from home of course, and there's effectively also some way of being able to look at running some machines virtually for a test bed too, but it's sometimes just nicer when you have people to interact with on the whole - for me at least that does have to be a positive.

This morning I made sure that our Windows 10 build task sequence was updated and this meant an updated installer for Office 365 Apps for Enterprise (as it's called now) and also adding the new version of Firefox as well. It really did work nicely and meant that we knew that we'd be able to have that working well for everyone. In fact, I also road tested a new version of Chrome to add to the Windows 10 build at the end of the week, and my colleague gave me the new version of one of our communications packages to be able to get ready for deployment, including some road testing.

In fact this was the perfect opportunity to create some documentation for packaging at the same time, so it made sense to do so. The package concerned has a few MSI installers chained within, and use some daft versioning number of their own which is completely different from what the MSI has (completely daft) but also in order to make sure the application detection works, you have to use the Wix Toolkit and the Dark utility to extract the executable and get the MSI product code. I did a bit on that the then using the silent install parameter and so on, so all good there.

I must admit I've also been thinking about how flexible work could be, especially as my manager moved to the Wirral with his fiancée over the last few months, knowing that things could be done all remotely if need be and that there'd only be occasional visits into the office as well. I think too that companies who do look after their staff are realising it's not where you work, it's if you can get the job done and done well. Maybe that could include some more work from Manchester for example, so an avenue worth exploring. I have been in Croydon almost six years now and don't regret moving for a career perspective, as it reallty has worked wonders for me.

At home later I had a good long conversation with The Love In My Heart who had sent me a picture of Brian the cat being all snuggly on top of the chair. Awww. He really does rest well during the day and then becomes all soft for his Mummy later on. I also spent some time tonight checking over some old Commodore 64 games and seeing what music can be extracted from them. One of them happened to be The Faces of Haarne, an old Software Projects game which had some Bach interpreted nicely by George Neophytou. He also ended up doing a version of Bach's Invention Number 1 for the in-game music for the C64 conversion of Jet Set Willy. I like the original classical piece so that's tune of the day for me.

Monday 13th September - Lies, Lies and Statistics

I don't know about you, but every time these days I see a minister in this current Government, I know full well that there will be a lie coming from their mouth. Today it was the Work and Pensions Secretary, Thérèse Coffey, clearly not budging on the removal of the £20 uplift to Universal Credit, instead insisting that people could work the two hours to fill the shortfall gap. Technically, for so many reasons, that's wrong. First of all, extra hours earned means that there's a Universal Credit claim back of 63p in every £1 over a certain threshold, meaning that £10 per hour is much less. Second, what if the worker is a single parent and has to then arrange childcare? That's certainly not going to be a free cost, even if part of the hours parents can get for free, as there's costs taking child or children to/from nursery.

Third, there's tax and National Insurance to be deducted from that hourly rate, and fourth, if worker was on the Adult 23+ minimum wage, that's actually only £8.91 per hour, so two hours even before any deductions is still way shorter. In effect, the answer seems to be to "get a better job" - as if there's magically lots of well paid jobs around for people in impoverished areas of the country. Not just that, but when there's the likes of the Trussell Trust, Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Save the Children UK and many others warning of the dire impact that the reduction may have, and we're going to effectively get so many more children going hungry than we do now. Remember too this was said minister that sent an out of touch reply to Marcus Rashford when he was attempting to get free school meals extended, what a total nonce she is.

It angers me somewhat that it just seems to be that people will just go on television to spout lies and think that they can fob people off by saying all sorts aferwards. Kudos therefore to both Susanna Reid on Good Morning Britain and Niall Paterson on Sky who were basically presenting the facts as they were and grilling accordingly. For me, it's important that there's always a level of accountability and that truth should be spoken, not waffle. The Shadow Work and Pensions Minister had done his homework and clearly asked the right question later in Parliament, and showed what the actual true rate to make that shortfall up was - around 10 hours. Which shows that the system doesn't work either.

Anyway, enough ranting. Statistics for me were the name of the game today after a colleague in my team wanted to know how many installs of a particular collaborative piece of software - and the users etc. Thankfully I've got a nice query I can run in MECM to give me most of that and similar in JAMF Pro for the Mac side as well, so there are options available to make sure that everything works right. It did for me at any rate and once I got the figures together, a pivot table assembled later and that was all perfect. I must admit this is where Excel absoutely trounces Google Sheets for this kind of thing - yes, Google can do them, but just not as well.

Another set of stats I was also able to produce was along the same lines. In effect, a couple of our project folks needed a breakdown of locations, particular departments and brands and a departmental breakdown of the corporate area, and as I get a report mailed to me via HR (for inventory software reasons etc) then it was fairly easy to be able to process that correctly and get the tables produced to get the numbers needed (numbers only I should add!) - and that worked well. I think realistically that when you're able to put things together well and quickly it's a skill that I am more than happy to pass on to others. As for tune of the day then it has to be Liar by Rollins Band, it kicks backside let me tell you!

Sunday 12th September – Raducanu and Remembering

Late last night The Love In My Heart stayed up after our visit to Leeds and had Channel 4 on as we were seeing what would happen to Emma Raducanu against Leylah Fernandez in the US Open Final. Of course, Emma had got to the fourth round of Wimbledon before bowing out so we knew she had potential, but to come back from Wimbledon and storm it to the final was something special. Fernandez had beaten the likes of Angelique Kerber on the way to the final so definitely a good player also, and it was engrossing stuff to watch.

The Love and I certainly were seeing a player go for it, and when such a legend as Martina Navratilova in commentary is impressed with Emma Raducanu, then you know you are on a winner somewhere aren’t you? In fact a slide meant that Emma had a cut to her knee, and had a medical timeout to sort out. Leylah Fernandez was a bit too upset for me, as Martina said, it’s the rules (and especially having blood on court is bad for so many reasons) but that galvanised Emma somehow and she managed to get the job done – US Open Champion, not dropped a set throughout, just wow. Sports Personality of the Year could be won, but if not, the Young Sports Personality award is a definite slam dunk for me.

We did have some family things for The Love to do today. Not going to say too much about that as it’s personal stuff, but suffice to say this did mean a trip to Blackpool and avoiding a half marathon going on down the promenade, as well as The Love getting her footing slightly wrong in some sand on the beach. It also did involve a visit over to Chorley later as well for a pause and remembrance moment which certainly was a good thing to do – and of course for us all a chance to reflect also. So that’s all I can really say, but it was nice that The Love and her family were happy for me to come along.

We did also have lunch later at a nice pub, and this also meant the youngest family member coming along – so obviously The Love was happy, as was I. In fact she was all being cute and lovely and was more than happy to give me a happy face as I talked to her. This did mean that we were able to hand over two books I’d got from a bookshop in Greenwich a couple of weeks ago, one of which involved the very popular Sophie la Girafe toy in a hide and seek book, and it was rather nice to see her enjoy that so much too, so definitely a nice positive thing.

The Love and I then headed to Wine and Wallop in West Didsbury for a drink later on and the First Chop Pod vanilla stout was on, so that was an easy decision for me to have. We relaxed there, headed back to The Love’s place and fed Brian the cat, so he was really pleased, and then off to Manchester Piccadily to get the 1819 train to Doncaster followed by the 1958 train from Doncaster to Kings Cross. I had the iPod on playing some rather nice tunes so tune of the day is the ace Seventeen by Penfriend – it really did hit home nicely as the train sped through the darkness on the way home.

Saturday 11th September – Leeds for Less Than A Fiver

It was a relatively early start for The Love In My Heart and myself today as we were heading out to Leeds for the day. In fact I had taken advantage of an offer by Northern which meant that advance tickets were on sale for just £1 each. I therefore managed to get the trains booked from Manchester Victoria to Leeds and back for the two of us for a mere £4, couldn’t complain about that really. In fact I know plenty have taken advantage of those sale offers – including my Mum as well. Well why not when they’re so cheap?

It was on the tram to Victoria with The Love, and we noted in central Manchester that the masses were heading off to Parklife at Heaton Park. Helpfully at Victoria staff from Metrolink were on hand to hand out masks (condition of carriage on Metrolink to wear one) and to generally be pretty helpful, which was good to see. I nipped into Costa and got ourselves a coffee and headed to Platform 6 for our 1037 train. Interestingly, it was a 158 super sprinter two car with another single car 150 bolted on. The former had been revamped nicely inside so we got on that.

The train journey was all good – heading via Hebden Bridge and Sowerby Bridge, down to Mirfield and Dewsbury and stopping at Morley after the long tunnel before arriving at Leeds on time. All was fine and the staff at the ticket gates were on hand when our Northern app ticket didn’t like to scan into the card readers – they were really friendly and nice and they did the same later in the day too. Always good when you’ve got friendly people around as that just makes the day a whole lot nicer – and believe me that does.

We walked up towards the Art Gallery and noted outside all the aerial photography of places around the country. It was fascinating stuff so we spent some time seeing those and spotting places we’d been to such as Bamburgh Castle, Notttingham Castle as well as parts of the Cornish coast. We did head into the Tiled Hall Café here for some very nice lunch. I had the brie and bacon panini and The Love a nice turkey and cranberry sandwich, all nicely made and using some good breads too. It’s nice too because the tiling inside really does make it feel a spacious place but with history, and definitely well worth a visit if in Leeds (the art gallery itself is also very nice.)

We did spend some time heading around a fair number of shops after that, including some places there isn’t a branch of in Manchester, so for example Joy, Anthropologie, and a number of independent shops too. We also headed to the Corn Exchange and its beautiful round architecture inside, and I found a good record shop in there too which had all sorts including a Sooty album complete with Sooty, Sweep and Soo heading around the world in a plane. Exotica indeed, but it did feel very warm inside the Corn Exchange.

It was time for a drink so we headed to Brewdog just round the corner and sat outside with a nice pint of Elvis Juice for me and a Lost Lager for The Love. Another good thing about taking the train – we can both have a drink happily. We also then walked around some more shops close to the Corn Exchange, had a wander through the Kirkgate Market and its arches and architecture, and then headed towards the River Aire noticing the popularity of the rainbow colours here (the railway bridge too) before then heading back into the centre, and stopping off in a few more shops.

We knew we had time for some food before we left so it was back up to The Headrow and to George’s, a place we had been before and enjoyed. We even had a little beach hut styled booth table which was lovely, as was the ale I had, and the staff were really friendly too. I had a fish basket which had cod, prawns, squid and haddock all nicely cooked with some sauces, and The Love had the fish and chips which looked really good too. It was nice to be able to relax and have something good to eat to keep us going for the rest of the day, and it was nice that such good tunes were playing in there too, which added to the nice vibe overall.

It was then a final stop for a drink at the Head of Steam, and we got an outside seat. In fact I had the Magic Rock’s rather nice session beer Hat-Trick, and on cask too, so definitely winning there. We then got back to the train station for the 1940 train back to Manchester Victoria, this time going via Bradford and Halifax and it was a quieter train in the main, and a newer train too which was nice. It was all good and we noted a few at Victoria had left Parklife early and were heading home, and we got back all fine and fed Brian the cat before settling in for some The Hit List action, with tune of the day being Going Underground by The Jam where I deferred to The Love for the answer (she is a Paul Weller fan after all) and she of course got that straight off!

Friday 10th September – A Proper Question of Sport

After a Summer hiatus, the Friday afternoon quiz was back for our and associated teams, and so I decided that I’d kick things off and indeed base it on the proper version of A Question of Sport, none of the rubbish 2021 reboot that I had the misfortune to watch the other night. In fact, even dug out the old version of the proper theme tune to play at the start so definitely tune of the day for me that one. I must admit that once I’d got some nice graphics together and was able to then work out the three rounds of questions, it was all flowing nicely for later having given things a dry run.

I have to admit too that it was different having Brian the cat for company today – he was all snuggled up by the living room window for most of the day and even had a sleep including some cat snoring during the afternoon. Even with the window partially open he didn’t sneak out whatsoever and was being all cutesy and nice. Aww bless him. In fact when it came to the tuna time for his tea, he walked up to the cupboard and looked at me with his big eyes ready to be fed. And he scoffed all the tuna and Dreamies too, what a good cat he is!

Anyway, I also did a fair piece of work to amalgamate a list of what software licences we had for certain applications, checked them against a user list of what should have what, and then worked out what machines we needed to remove the software from. It was a task I could get on with relatively unscathed and not disturbed so that was a definite plus for me – and later in the day I was able to formulate a plan ahead for next week. I must admit that it did feel different being here at The Love’s place and that felt quite positive actually.

So it was then time for the quiz. I do think it went pretty well overall especially as it was a case of being able to try and cater for a wide variety of people within the team. The rounds all had a sensible logic to them and I even had a sprint finish round at the end for ten answers inside sixty seconds (which did at least make things a little quicker late on.) Overall two people tied for the win and they did really well, so definitely a good thing and that did make me feel positive on the whole.

Of course being here with The Love meant we were going to have take out tonight and so it was our favourite Chinese takeaway later on. It just felt good to do some of the things that we’ve been used to and do them together, and on the whole it was also nice that we could chill out and even let Brian the cat have a play outside too. It’s a shame in a way that not all the Thursday night trains were as cheap or else I could have done this more often and spent the Friday in Manchester working from home, but still it has to be a positive end to the week as well!

Thursday 9th September – It’s Not So Grim Up North

It was off to the office today and indeed with my small weekend case in tow as well as the work bag, as it was off to Manchester this evening to be reunited with The Love In My Heart and to work from home at The Love’s place tomorrow, which made sense to be able do to that. I have to admit that it was a positive to know that was coming, and managed to get on an earlier train this morning to Victoria followed by the bus towards Piccadilly Circus and the short walk then to the office itself. I must admit, it was different being on a different desk today but at the same time a welcome change of view.

A fair chunk of today was spent by a final test of our extra applications based OS deployment task sequence for our Chinese offices, with the extra software that they requested and were after. It worked pretty well and this meant a version of Office 365 with the Chinese language as well as English (both selectable in the Languages pane) and also the likes of Feishu, WeChat, the Asian Language font pack for Adobe Reader DC and also DingTalk which they use for some calls also. On the whole, well worth doing and I am sure that there’ll be good use of it.

I also did some final testing of some software removals and am going to look at planning a change to get this done with some testers tomorrow, and then once they’re happy roll this out en masse. It’ll save us time but also the likes of licencing too, so a definite plus to get that kickstarted. The other thing it will do of course it that we’ll be able to then control some software updates based on the versions that should be out there (removing those that aren’t of course) and taking it from there.

After work it was off to get the tube up to Euston (primarily because the traffic is a lot busier now I didn’t fancy being stuck on a bus to be honest) and in good time for the 1820 train up to Manchester, one of the few times I’ll be travelling with Avanti West Coast now because of the expensive fares they are now inflicting on passengers. I considered myself very lucky to get the fare for £30.80, but possibly because I booked this before restrictions were lifted and projected numbers were less to travel? In any case, it was good to be able to get on and get my seat.

I must admit that I did notice an odd quirk when scanning in the QR code and using the new onboard hub. Most of it worked fine on Firefox on my Android phone, but the at seat ordering would just not go past the payment screen whatsoever. Doing the same in Chrome worked. Definitely some additional testing needed from Avanti there, but at least my order was sorted and arrived so that’s something (and LNER’s at seat service works on all browsers so again that beats Avanti hands down it has to be said.) I was pleased though that it was a relatively stress-free journey apart from the significant number of people not wearing face coverings. Their choice I know, but just keep away from me please.

The Love In My Heart came to collect me and all was good there, and we arrived back with Brian the cat wanting a fuss and a cuddle. We did watch most of the National Television Awards and I was pleased Line of Duty won a fair bit (the Carly Paradis theme of which is tune of the day) – there were also some good wins for the likes of David Tennant as his role in the drama Des, and the excellent Mollie Gallagher who plays Nina in Coronation Street getting the serial drama performance – and with that storyline hitting home, it was well deserved. And yes, Ant and Dec won again. No surprise there to be honest!

Wednesday 8th September – Warmth

Well it did happen to be very warm today and potentially not the ideal time to be working from home to be brutally honest, especially as I knew that the humidity was going to be pretty high as well as the heat. That’s the only bad thing with having a well insulated flat – it acts like certain tube lines do and keeps the heat in, and takes some time for the temperature inside to cool off enough to feel relatively fresh. Nonetheless though, I was noting down the experience of yesterday’s MECM upgrade as that might be beneficial for others to know the quirks.

As it was today, no dramas thankfully so that had to be a positive thing, but certainly for me it did feel like I was able to crack on with a few plans as well. I ideally want to be looking at removing certain applications not in use, and in one case I already had a suitable method for uninstallation that worked very well indeed – just needed an updated executable that does actually perform the uninstallation itself, and it’s pretty much good to go for some additional testing. It’s always a positive when we’re able to effectively show that we can deploy things the right way and with less hassle too.

The other nice thing today was that I was able to head out at lunch time, have a little walk over to Savers and be able to get some deodorant and shampoo and nip into Iceland for a few freezer bits. I must admit being close enough to a town centre but not too close means I can get to places easily should I need to, and gives me a little break from being inside the flat as well, so that has to be a positive. It’s also because of location and the convenience why I’ve not gone through the faff of moving every year – it’s almost six years in the same place and it’s a place I’ve really felt at home at, it has to be said.

The Love In My Heart was having a couple of days off work and looking after one of the smaller family relations, who was being utterly adorable and cute as ever. I wasn’t sure Brian the cat was too impressed though and had his sulky face on a little bit, but I know that come tomorrow night he will rule the roost once again. In fact when The Love was on the phone to me earlier the little one wanted plenty of attention and wasn’t afraid to cry a bit to try and get it either. Still, it was good to see that The Love was being so nice and kind as she always is.

I did watch the World Cup Qualifier between Poland and England, and was a slow burner of a game in truth. I was pleased when Harry Kane’s long range effort went in and that did look good but the longer the game went on, England went a little too defensive and paid the price in the first minute of added on time with a goal for the Polish team, who deserved that in my view. Still on course to qualify for the World Cup as group winners, but made it a little bit harder now, and with ITV still insisting on using The Verve’s Bittersweet Symphony too every time (make that one tune of the day) at least they realised that keeping on Emma Hayes as pundit was a very good idea, she has been quality.

Tuesday 7th September - Upgrading Quirks

It was a planned change today as I planned to perform the upgrade to Microsoft Endpoint Configuration Manager (MECM or MEMCM depending on your preference) to version 2107. I had already done the pre-requisites needed which included Microsoft .NET Framework 4.8 and the Visual C++ libraries (and be sure to reboot after installing the framework too, as people often forget to do this.) I already knew of course that there would be a warning about the SQL version because after July 2022, SQL Server 2012 is out of support and so there's plans afoot to upgrade to SQL Server 2017 on the main MECM server to be future proof nicely.

With the pre-requisite checks done and the warning above mentioned, note that if you have SQL Server 2012 you'll have to click the ignore pre-requisite warnings button (if you forget to tick the box when commencing the wizard) as otherwise the upgrade won't happen. In addition, it did seem to take some time to upgrade all the components and the site component installation at the end does take time (remember to check sitecomp.log and not to think it's complete until all the components are fully installed.) The distribution points all upgraded and on the face of it, seemed to go pretty smoothly.

That was until I attempted to perform a Windows 10 OS deployment with our standard build task sequence, which errored out with error code 87D00267. In fact this takes you down a red herring route of the location and policy but it isn't that. No. It's something mentioned in the MECM 2107 documentation that if you have an application, and that application has an OS requirement (for example 64-bit versions of Windows 10) then those requirements get updated over an initial 24 hour period to include Windows 11. If they don't, or you want to resolve quicker, then it's a case of checking those and seeing if you either need the requirements anymore, or whether you may just need to apply the deployment type to update the application.

Anyway, with that done, it was time to test out the Windows 10 deployment again, and it worked. First go. Now that's a bit more like it! So if you're wondering which bit of the documentation I was referring to, it's this bit in the release notes. Make sure you check any applications in an OS deployment task sequence and for any that have OS requirements, you can either wait for the Windows 11 requirement to populate, or amend them so that the application refreshes. It's important to note that the time period is most likely so that it can over time add Windows 11 as a OS requirement in, so if you are an insider testing, you can do some real world testing (as this version also works with the Windows 11 ADK as long as you've installed that first.)

That was pretty much most of the day taken up, but it did allow enough time for our service team to build a few machines and they all worked, which shows that whatever I did was right, but also is something to bear in mind when applying a new MECM update: test yourself first and only be happy everyone else can use it when you've road tested a Windows 10 task sequence, installed some applications via Software Centre as available, ensured content can download to a machine, and added in some updates etc as well as tested out the new client deployment. It'll save you tons of time, let's be honest! In the meantime, tune of the day is the excellent Walking on Sunshine by Katrina and the Waves, as it's very warm today.

Monday 6th September - A Night On The Box

It was an evening of a little bit of catching up on telly I'd missed over the weekend before of course Only Connect tonight, which is my essential watch. I had of course been out with work colleagues on Friday evening so I missed the BBC1 reboot of Question of Sport (why the hell did they drop the A at the start?). And to be honest, I didn't miss much at all. Everything that seemed to be criticised about the show was in my view fully justified. It's trying too hard to be like A League of Their Own on Sky, and the different rounds, especially the geography one, didn't work.

What made it worse was that you could see the potential for both Sam Quek and Ugo Monye to be very good team captains, but the new format and the fact it's also not the calm authority with warmth and humour that is Sue Barker hosting it really does detract. Nothing per se against Paddy McGuiness, but I don't think this sort of show is the one for him to be honest. It just didn't flow well and a number of the rounds were missing - notably the sprint finish which both Matt Dawson and Phil Tufnell as previous team captains made their own. I won't be watching this show anymore. A real shame as I used to like it, but it's an absolute shambles of a reboot.

Much better is The Hit List, a nice straightfoward formula of getting the title and artist from the song being played, and really well presented by Rochelle and Marvin Humes - who bounce off each other so well (and yes I know they are married, but you've still got to pull it off.) At the moment it's a charity set of episodes but some of the contestants knew their stuff - especially Shazia Mirza on one team and Shane Richie on another (then again The Love In My Heart and I did seem him present Don't Forget The Lyrics ages ago and was in the audience for an episode, so he does have some pedigree.) It's honest wholesome shout the answer at the telly fun, and all the better for it. I loved Shane's rant about what song dislodged Meat Loaf's classic I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That) so that lengthy anthem has to be tune of the day for me.

So onwards with Only Connect then, and surprisingly The Love was watching it too and smashed the opening round big time, getting the Judy connection after the first answer with a potential 5 pointer, then also getting the connection for the That's song titles after two as well, another 3 points. In her words, modern culture maybe was missing from some of the contestants, but of course the dry wit of Victoria Coren Mitchell was there, along with her trademark dress (I wonder how many different ones wardrobe have bought or made for her during all the series so far?)

I then watched the first episode of Fever Pitch on BBC2 later which was all about the formative years of the Premier League. It was notable they had some people from Sky on talking about the way that the bidding for television effectively saved them as a broadcaster, and indeed how also the execs realised that the cheerleaders etc before the game was just not going to work here in England like it may have done in the US. It was also good to hear from Alan Shearer about not signing for Man U (what a legend) but also from Gary Pallister and Peter Schmiechel about the pressure they felt as Man U players not winning the top division for so long, and what it meant.

And of course, no mention of those early years would be complete without the mercurial French talent that is Eric Cantona. In a way, fate delivered him to Old Trafford due to an injury with Dion Dublin (whom United signed after being turned down by Alan Shearer) but the then chairman Martin Edwards was pretty canny to get him for the price he did. Notably too was the fact that Eric himself would speak so well of the team and indeed Sir Alex Ferguson, whom you thought the documentary makers would have wanted to interview. Still, good stuff and well narrated by Mark Benton ("Brand new customers only!) and more to come in the next few weeks.

Sunday 5th September - Sunny September Walk

There always seems to be a sunny week in September, and this year is no exception. It certainly felt a bit warmer than yesterday, and based on the fact that it'd be nice to get walking and get some exercise and fresh air, I decided to start my next walking challenge after completing the Capital Ring, Jubilee Greenway and the London Loop. So it was the Thames Path, and I thought the north bank might be a bit more interesting to do purely because there's parts of the south bank I've done as part of the Loop and the Greenway.

So it was off to East Croydon, where the usual Southern Railway lack of train crew on a Sunday meant that a number of trains weren't running, as per usual, and when one did turn up it was pretty busy. Thankfully I was only going to Clapham Junction and from there it was across to Platform 11 to get the South Western Railway service to Hampton Court, and that was all good. It was a straightforward leave the station and across the bridge over the River Thames to start the walk.

The first few miles to Kingston effectively means you curve around to the left, following Hampton Court Palace and then Home Park on the left with the marinas at Thames Ditton on the other side of the river. It felt rather nice and quiet and I knew when I was heading towards Kingston that it was going to get busier - and it certainly was the nearer I got to Kingston Bridge. It was however a really nice view from Kingston Bridge as I headed across and to the other side of the river for a small while and to head towards Teddington.

Before then, it was a leisurely stroll along the river bank and Canbury Gardens, with its nice bandstand, café and further along even a really nice pub by the river which had little terrace seating with those seats facing the river and that certainly was nice to be relaxing on a warm Sunday afternoon for definite. It then followed alongside a road before the road turned off, and it was soon approaching Teddington lock and weir, with the impressive weir itself and plenty of warnings not to enter the water here either. I soon arrived at Teddington Lock and the two footbridges over, the second one being much like the bridge in the centre of Chester.

It was mainly then along the main road before arriving at Radnor Gardens and the end of the Section 1a, and that was a pretty nice place to end by the river. And also close to the Alexander Pope pub in Strawberry Hill, which meant some rather nice lunch and a pint for me in there. The Love In My Heart and I had been in there when we'd been to Strawberry Hill House, so I knew it'd be decent, and so it proved. A really nice fish and chips meal and the Young's Original pint was just the thing to really enjoy sat outside on a sunny Sunday afternoon, and felt very relaxed indeed - so Lazy Sunday Afternoon by The Small Faces is tune of the day for that reason.

Saturday 4th September - Crazy Queues Of Golf

It was nice to be up and about this morning and tune in to some excellent Paralympic performances by the British team - they've really excelled themselves once again and it's been a very enjoyable watch the last couple of weeks. In particular, so much has been said about how just even getting there felt like an achievement in itself, just to be able to compete also. I have to admit it was good to see the likes of Hannah Cockroft smashing it once again in the T34 800 metres (and with Kare Adnegan a good second also) and also the likes of Aled Davies in appalling rain smash the shot put and get a gold there too.

What's been really good for me is that the Channel 4 coverage has been really positive - with Steph McGovern and Arthur Williams taking you through the overnight highlights, Clare Balding then having a later shift with live events and seamlessly heading where needed. In the athletics stadium Lee McKenzie is her usual calm and professional self (the F1 is missing her right now let me tell you) with Baroness Tanni-Grey Thompson, Stef Reid and Lauren Steadman really providing some excellent analysis too. In fact Lauren's been smashing it fashion wise too with some really classy outfits - catalogues, if you're reading this, be positive, sign her up as a model and show that everyone can wear!

So more medals for the GB team - all good, and it has been such positive news all round to see so much endeavour and doing well. I actually also noted too today that it was the first Women's Super League live football game on proper telly with Everton v Manchester City on BBC One, with the game even being at Goodison Park - with the Everton tannoy blasting out the club anthems pre-match. I did enjoy watching that and the City women smashed it especially first half, and won 4-0 in the end with a sublime free kick from captain Steph Houghton in the seond half added to goals from Janine Beckie, Bunny Shaw and Vicky Losada - not bad considering we weren't at full strength!

I later headed out to the crazy golf course not far from Elmers End - it was the Dragon Quest Adventure Golf as part of the American Golf complex. It was 18 holes for £8.50 and that was all good, but... the queues. Man, the queues. It clearly was down to the fact you could turn up at any time and not need to book a slot, and this meant that large groups would take ages on a hole and mean that inevitably, there'd be queues of three to four groups waiting to play a hole at one time. I got very close to a hole in one on the eighth hole, and a number of the holes were good to play and well maintained too, but the long waits really did disrupt the flow somewhat.

Later on it was time to chat with some friends online - and it was good to see everyone and even have a couple of drinks along the way. I have to admit it was nice just to switch off for a few hours and relax, and what made it also nice was the fact that we were able to sort of agree that meeting up for real this year wasn't going to happen: realistically it's going to be a calculated risk and we have to be concerned for that. We did also discuss acapella versions of Commodore 64 songs, which I reminded everyone of the German group Maybebop who did a guest appearance at Mekka Symposium in 1998, and did several versions of themes including Wizardry, so make that one tune of the day.

Friday 3rd September - Out on the Town

It was a working from home sort of day today and it was good that we'd had some positive feedback from our colleagues in the USA - Windows 10 builds had completed without errors from the new distribution point, and I think what I'll probably do for this one is also now set the PXE TFTP block size to 16 to maximise the speed of the boot image download process. In theory we know 8 works and was much quicker, although I'd probably see if 16 works fine, and if not, we have a revert back to 8 on the cards, so that's something. We also know that the actual task sequence itself does complete in around 2 hours, slower than being internal, but it does work (as four machines testify.)

That was also pleasing and in addition I was able to look at some reporting with the inventory systems we have and bring that into focus a little bit too - so spent some time analysing the data and thinking of a suitable way forward which for me at least does make some sense. I think realistically that it's got to be a good thing if we can sort of plot the way ahead a little bit, and make sure that actually we're able to diagnose things from a sensible perspective too.

Later on I headed into central London to meet up with my manager and one of the team along with one of our service team colleagues for a few drinks. We'd sort of planned this a while ago when we knew that the manager was being down here, and had some time to kill before heading on the train later. It was good that they had got an outside table at the Glassblower near work and it did mean some rather nice Beavertown Neck Oil beer was being had too - and again it was good to catch up and natter.

In fact, you could tell we'd done well to get an outside table as a lot of people were stood around with drink in hand and definitely was pretty busy on the whole - although I should add that everyone was distancing sensibly which was the right thing to do as well. In fact it was also nice to be able to enjoy the beer relatively calmly and feel like the sun was attempting to come out (although it was also cloudy too it has to be said.) We also then moved one to one of our former haunts when we were located at another office, the Ship Inn on Wardour Street, and it always had a good vibe in there.

And so it proved, the staff were pleased to see us (they recognised my manager) and we had a table inside, and all very safe (with tables being cleaned as soon as someone had left too I should add.) It was a good music selection in there as it always is, and so it was good to hear the likes of Angels and Airwaves, Blink 182 and even something a bit more metal as well. It was all good and the Hophead ale was on top form too, and we made sure my manager had enough time to get to Euston safely, but certainly the nice ale and conversation plus the atmos in there is always great. More Blink 182 meant The Rock Show entered my head and did not leave, so tune of the day all round.

Thursday 2nd September - Out With The Team

It was a pretty good day all roudn today. In fact, it started well as I had noted that although the tests we did with one of our USA sites showed that our planned remote distribution point did indeed PXE boot devices, it was painfully slow. This may be well down to the way that communication is allowed, as the speed for normal downloads appeared to be okay, but what we also discovered was that there's a MTU sort of limit as well which might prevent things en masse. However, I did have a trick up the proverbial sleeve still to play, and that was to tweak the TFTP block size when downloading the boot image.

Normally, this isn't set so it assumes a block size of 1. That's all well and good but does take a while to download that, so can be even on internal networks some 7-8 minutes if left untouched. However, tweak that to 8 and it's a night and day improvement, it really is - it reduces down so well and still works reliably. You can with the right devices being used push that to 16 if you really want to. Anyway, set the value to 8 and we got our folks in the USA to PXE boot - it still took some time, but actually seemed to work okay and they set some Windows 10 builds off later on, so should be all good and complete later - we'll probably find out tomorrow.

A number of the team were in today including my manager, so that was a considerable bonus. A few months back he and his fiancée moved back up north to Birkenhead, to be closer to both their families, and an understandable move given the current situation - after all if you can do all of your job remotely and without any hassle, then it makes sense to make the work from home work for you. He did admit though that it was nice being in the office and seeing everyone, and all of us were masked when not at desk (as per current office guidance) so showing a good example also.

A number of us then headed off after work and to a quiet pub with plenty of outside space - effectively the street it's on is a cul-de-sac so it's easy to be relatively safe on there - the Burlington Arms. Thankfully they did so some decent Battersea Pale ale for me which is all fine, and it was nice to chatter and catch up with real people face to face - especially some of those who had started this year whom I'd hardly seen as well. That really did feel a positive thing and it was good to talk about all sorts, notably the cricket and what one of our cloud team thought about The Hundred overall as a concept, and if it'd affect the mentality of the test matches which is a completely different kettle of proverbial fish.

It was also nice I think that it was a good group of us, all chatting, all having a beer and kicking back, and it was a really positive feeling overall. I didn't stay out too late as I knew potentially there may be more drinks tomorrow, but it did feel like a massive boost of confidence to be able to go back to some of the things we'd used to do and how much it was a case that we'd bond more as a team because of that. It does sort of give you perspective on how the small things give you a boost of confidence, in fact Blink 182's All The Small Things is indeed tune of the day for that reason.

Wednesday 1st September - Working and Winning

It was a work from home day today, and actually made the most of the time over lunch to go and get a few things - so I was able to get some dishwasher tablets as I was running out of those, and also some floor wipes for the same reasons for running out. I have to admit that it was nice to take a leisurely stroll into the shop concerned, but also that they were all set with still offering you sanitiser as you entered and also making sure that the store was spotlessly clean. As daft as it sounds, those keeping that up appeared to be a little busier, probably because customers feel safer inside. And why not?

In fact, I had also a little bit of a mission at hand today in order to try and assist one of our staff in Ireland with an issue. We got to the bottom of the fact that once the user had connected to the VPN and things were relatively stable, we wanted to make sure they applied the Windows 10 updates needed. I guided them through a quick powershell command to restart the Configmgr client services (Restart-Service ccmexec as admin does this well) and then lo and behold, all the bits they wanted to do came up and were all ready to go, and another machine upgraded nicely to add to the total. Winning.

I also liaised with one of the staff over in China, who mentioned to me that there's a fair bit of software for two of the brands they look after which pretty much is going on most or all machines. I suggested tweaks to the build task sequence and we create a separate one for them, a copy of the main core one but with a couple of extra steps to include the version of Office with additional Chinese language (which is selectable as needed) and also four other pieces which they needed, and on top of that the Asian language font packs for Adobe Reader DC which you have to add on as an optional extra on top of the main install.

I think it's pretty much going to be as I wanted it, so I'm going to road test the whole thing tomorrow and then give them that as an option to make available as needed for the future, which should help them a fair bit - and if it means they've got all the software they need out of the box, then that has to be a definite plus in the meantime. We also know that because of various things being blocked en masse, there's other pieces of software which are needed instead so that there's a sensible compromise and work around. In fact some companies even offer two versions: an international one and a China only one.

Later on I mulled over a few things and also spent some time listening to some classic late 1970s and early 1980s tunes after feeling the need to be inspired somewhat. This included the Ministry of Sound Electronic 80s compliation which has some classics on there (some of which I have on other albums by the actual bands too) - so the Fast version of Being Boiled by The Human League is one which I like (and therefore tune of the day) - although note that actually this track was released 1978 so actually shouldn't be on a 80s compilation - it was re-recorded in 1980 for the Holiday EP, fact fans!