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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Wednesday 17th April - Going Out

It was a tense nervous evening all round on two fronts. Naturally I was watching the World Snooker Championship qualifiers on Youtube again, and the afternoon had seen some epic comebacks, most notably Anthony McGill from 7-2 down winning seven on the trot and eventually coming through 10-8 against Robert Milkins to turn it around and get through. Most of the other games from the morning and afternoon had been settled by mid afternoon with relative calm - a couple of 10-8 matches maybe but they were played pretty quickly all round.

It was then homwards for me and the evening session was seeing some players through comfortably: Graeme Dott winning 10-2, Joe Perry winning 10-3 and Ali Carter 10-4. Ali joked he wanted Ronnie O'Sullivan in the first round draw, a rematch of their second round game from last year which had all the barging going on and a bit of tense needle. It did make me wonder whether it was a case of just being up for another battle or to wind Ronnie up, but even so, all in relatively good humour.

I had the TV with Youtube on and the computer with the Manchester City v Tottenham Champions League game. And what a game that proved to be. Raheem Sterling opened the scoring for City with a well crafted strike, so 1-1 on aggregate, only then for the City defence to switch off not only once but twice, both times letting in Son-Heung Min for two well taken goals. All of a sudden 3-1 down on aggregate and we would need to score three to get through - two would mean away goals rule still applying and Tottenham winning.

What I didn't expect was that Bernardo Silva would go up the other end and score almost straight away for 2-2 on the night, and then Raheem Sterling to get on the end of a perfect Kevin de Bruyne cross and make it 3-2 on the night and 3-3 on aggregate. That stayed that way in a breathless rest of the first half and up to half time that was that. I have to say that it was going to be anyone's game from this point in time, and the second half was going to be tense. With a capital T.

And so it proved too. City surged forward, Hugo Lloris producing a couple of excellent saves all round, and then City made the breakthrough. The ball was played through by de Bruyne and Sergio Agüero scored a majestic finish. So 4-2 on the night, 4-3 on aggregate, but still not safe. We needed another. It didn't come, and Tottenham got a corner and the ball was bundled in by Hugo Llorente. 4-3 to City, 4-4 on aggregate, Tottenham through on away goals as it stood.

Then, absolute drama in the final moments. City regained the ball and was played through via the head of Agüer to Raheem Sterling whose shot went over the line. Everyone initially thought it was in, but the referee went to VAR and it was chalked off for offside. In the end, ultimately, it was just off, and sadly for us that also meant that we were out on away goals. We didn't do enough in the first leg and defensively we were shocking to let two goals in that quickly - we need to learn something in that side. Tune of the day is the rather true "Disappointed" by Morrissey. Gutted, but we need to move on and keep going, still plenty to play for.

Tuesday 16th April - Rebuild

It was more to do with testing today in order to get a number of things sorted in terms of creating a brand new properly sorted Windows 7 WIM image for one of the events things we needed to do. In fact, it was a case of that I noted the existing WIM wasn't really made in a standard way, so did some research, found a solid way of it being sorted, and set to work on a nice and nifty task sequence in MDT which would do the job, create a nice clean WIM and be able to be used extensively as needed for a vanilla base image accordingly.

So first off, set things up. I needed some of the update rollups that were a sort of unofficial SP2, and then the recent monthly cumulative on top of that to keep it tidy, but the March one due to the April having issues all over the place. It was then a case of including some of the pre-requisites for both IE11 and the update rollups to be included in the Apply Patches section, and then the cumulatives added mainly as applications (primarily because the servicing stacks need to go on first.)

I also needed to reacquaint myself with the IE11 IEAK kit due to the fact that of course Win7 doesn't have IE11 and therefore you need to get it added in. It was good to work through that and get that done, as well as then being able to put together .NET Framework up to 4.7.2 and use some of the steps from the Windows 10 WIM creation to clean things up nicely. It was pretty good all round and that meant once I put things together, I could then get a run going and see what happened.

I had to make some minor tweaks after the first run in order to get the restarts right, so each of the rollups and each of the .NET Frameworks needed a restart and then of course it was another run to see what happened. And the WIM created cleanly, and indeed because I put some good cleanup steps in, it also meant that in fact it reduced the size nicely overall to around 4GB or so, even with all updates in. Neato. And I could set that off tonight to see what would happen with the rest of the task sequence we needed.

I set that off, headed off home and spent most of the evening watching the snooker on Youtube, with the first day of the final round of qualifying for the World Snooker Championship. Even during this first session some of the frames were tense and nervous affairs, and the pressure to be able to qualify for the Crucible is pretty intense to say the least. It meant I needed to play the likes of Drag Racer by the Doug Wood Band (the proper snooker theme and therefore tune of the day) to set the mood.

Monday 15th April - Resolutions

So I managed to get to the bottom of something pretty useful for one of our forthcoming things we needed to do. There's a need, because of a particular application and the scenario it's used in, to be able to deploy Windows 7 (not 10) to a HP All In One PC. Now the model concerned does have Windows 7 x64 drivers, primarily because there's a version of that used in medical care where they need a more stable operating system or one that works with more legacy stuff that the equipment might use, despite the fact it has a procesor which Microsoft don't allow updates for (major own goal there.)

Anyway, I noted that the machine had a Samsung NvME solid state drive, which I know can sometimes not always be supported in earlier OSes. My boot image for PXE saw it all fine, but applying the OS and the driver package from HP didn't have that NvME driver, hence the boot error 0x7E appearing as I'd expect. Now, Samsung do have the drivers downloadable, but do they make them as .inf files to apply during an operating system setup? No. You normally have to install on an existing OS, which is daft if you can't run the OS in the first place, right?

I however found a way (I do not give up easily). In effect the Samsung installer executable was WIX packaged, so you get the WIX tools and run the Dark tool to then get an extraction out. That effectively has a number of MSI packages within, each containing the driver for each SSD model. I had checked and knew it was one of the 960 series, so located the MSI, which you couldn't extract via msiexec /a to get the installer files out. Instead, I had to use another nice tool, LessMSI, where I could then extract the contents, which had all the driver files needed. Woohoo!

So, it was then a case of getting that driver added into the driver package for said hardware, and next time I tried to do a build, it allowed all the drivers and actually worked the way that we wanted it, which was good. At least I can get an OS on there now, but in all cases the existing WIMs are either too old (and aren't service packed) or they don't have what is needed, so made the call to effectively create a proper one, fully service packed, and similar in nature to the Windows 10 one - and we can then use that as a base accordingly going forward.

I had to divert on the way home due to protestors effectively blocking a possible route homeward, so instead went from Tottenham Court Road to Embankment and then from there to Victoria. It was a bit longer but at least I was able to get on in both instances, and then arrive safe and sound at Victoria for the train home. I got home and then put on some music including some classic Prodigy, so therefore make the excellent "Their Law" that they did with Pop Will Eat Itself tune of the day.

Sunday 14th April - (I Am Hartley) Hare Hill

The Love In My Heart and I had a well earned lie in, although for The Love having been up with Brian the cat he decided to have a play out and ping himself off over the fence, doing his usual stand off in the bushes and hissing and snarling to stop his Mummy getting him out. I can always tell as The Love gets her big coat out for the morning if he happens to be playing out and it's a bit on the cold side. Still, with him all settled down it was time for the two of us to have a nice breakfast together with some chilled out telly on in the background.

We then headed out early afternoon via East Didsbury and Wilmslow to Alderley Edge, where we took the left turn up the hill, past the car park for the edge itself and onwards to Over Alderley and the signs for Hare Hill. It's a nice little place and you can do a circular walk all round the gardens and beyond to the far pond as well. It was busy with families out on a mission to spot all the information about the animals which live in the gardens and the surrounding farmland, and then a prize is theirs at the end.

For me the walled garden here is always lovely, and nice to see it so well kept. The ponds at one end are being dredged at the moment so the paths across the bridges there are out of action, but there's a walkway right around the outside of them all including the bird watching hut, and then you can follow the path round to the hill itself and see the pond where you can imagine the hares hanging out at night. Lots of wooden hare statues were also present too which was good to see. It made me think back to being a kid and watching Pipkins, with of course Nigel Plaskitt doing the voice of the ever present Hartley Hare. It was one of the things I liked when I was little, and of course the hare was pretty much the main character in there.

Later on we headed via Aldereley Edge and Mobberley into Knutsford and had a good mooch around the shopsd before then heading to the Angel pub for a well earned Sunday lunch. The Love had the gammon and that had a shed load of vegetables with it and looked fab, and I had the chicken and ham pie, which was a proper pie, lots of mash and nice thick gravy and some peas too, totally spot on and filled the gap nicely for the rest of the day. All was good and Manchester City had won at Crystal Palace too, so The Dave Clark Five's anthem "Glad All Over" is tune of the day.

Later on it was a sad farewell as I gave The Love and Brian the cat hugs before going, and at the station I did feel very sad. It was a very busy train indeed and the only upshot was I got into Euston ten minutes early, giving me time to head to London Bridge to get the train home (as no services from Victoria tonight) and that worked out nicely, allowing me time to watch Line of Duty before bed. I have to say it's all looking alarming at the moment for some of the characters but I also suspect plenty of twists and turns before the series is out...

Saturday 13th April - Manchester Burgers

The Love In My Heart and I got up relatively early and both had some nice croissants and coffee for breakfast, and Brian the cat is loving his new little blanket (he prefers the tweed side to the soft side, that's what he does!) and then wanted a bit of a tummy tickle and cuddle too from Mummy, as is his wont. I did give him some anti-hairball treats later which he does like a bit, and that was him nicely sorted. The Love put on her new green top from Oliver Bonas and her new necklace I got her for her birthday and looked gorgeous.

You know when they say there's no such thing as a free lunch? Well, let me revoke that one straight away. One of The Love's relations is working at the new branch of Honest Burgers in Manchester, which opens officially on Monday night, and today they're having a friends and family afternoon where they do a full service with full tables, a sort of "dry run" to ensure all is good before the opening. The Love had managed to get a table for herself, me, her sister and niece (whom I get on well with anyway!) and that meant, along with some sides and a drink, a nice afternoon and free lunch.

Before that The Love and I arrived in the city centre earlier, had a coffee in Mackie Mayor at Atkinsons Coffee Roasters and had a mooch around the shops including a look in HMV as well as also seeing some possible Easter presents in Hotel Chocolat too. It was good also to go in Waterstones and see the many travel books I could have bought, and also some nice shops for gift ideas too. I definitely felt the benefit of having a nice walk together, and soon it was around 12.30pm, and we were getting a nice table for four upstairs in Honest Burgers.

I started off with a nice pint of one of the local ales brewed by Runway Brewery, who incidentally will have a tap room opened at weekends on the second floor - and we had a look, going to be ace in there! We also had some sides of onion rings and chicken wings (pretty spicy and messy all round, but delicious) and we all ordered our burgers - The Love and sister went for the classic beef burger, the niece went for the Mother Clucker chicken burger, and I went for the Manchester burger - a nice beef burger with little mini potatoes, black pudding, and a gorgeous gravy type sauce. It was absolutely gorgeous!

It was a good chilled out vibe in there and definitely the food was spot on, as was the service, and having a tap room upstairs might mean I just pop in there for a drink over the weekend too at some point. The Love and I later went to see both her father and then my mother, followed by a quick soujourn into John Lewis, and then back to The Love's place where Brian the cat wanted a fuss and a love as well as his tea before then settling in to watch the likes of Ninja Warrior UK and Britain's Got Talent to have a chilled out evening.

Friday 12th April - Not Just Beer, M and S Beer

It was a busy day of testing for me today, and it was good to be able to get on with a fair bit of that. In fact, it was a case of being able to effectively work out just why an available update for Office 365 I was road testing via SCCM didn't show up - and once I got that sorted, it showed as an available update with a suitable deadline, I chose for it to install in the background and carried on working. Office prompted you to ensure you closed applications prior to the update, it did its background work and then restarted the applications afterwards, which was pretty good all round. It is a bit less intrusive for those users, so definitely working well.

I headed out at lunchtime to M&S as we were having a little post-work celebration of some drinks to celebrate the first week settling in to the new office (the place does this for any new building or moving in so not just us). As it's normally some sort of lager I said to my manager I'd put a round in proverbially and get some ales, and so headed into M&S. I noted the Wimbledon Ale was still £1 or 4 for 3, so did that along with some of their other ones. The till rang it through at £2 each but I checked with the assistant, showed him the price ticket, price was honoured. Needless to say it got changed quickly..

It was good therefore to be up on the fifth floor, all chilled out and relaxed, and being able to have a good natter with a few people, including to some about the forthcoming World Snooker Championship. Especially, of course, as the qualifiers are on at the moment and it's always a tense affair to try and make it to the hallowed tables of the Crucible Theatre. I did have to attend to an emergency issue around 6.30pm but got that all sorted out, and sure enough had plenty of time to head to Euston and get the 7.40pm train up to Manchester Piccadilly.

The train was pretty busy, primarily because of people who cannot work out the simple facts of seat reservations. It says reserved from Euston on it, so to the idiots who sit there and think "they don't work really.." oh how I laugh when they have to move all their bags and cases elsewhere instead of heading to the unreserved coach C instead (or U if it's an 11 car also) and just get in there ASAP. In fact one mother and daughter did that after my advice and was pleased to stop looking. Maybe to be fair the train manager should announce that more often.

It was on with the iPod and on with the new albums I'd purchased recently as part of that, so the rather trippy but ace "Bad Guy" by Billie Eilish is tune of the day. I quite like the album as a whole and is selling well in the charts too, so I guess I'm down with the kids a bit, but if a good bit of pop electronica is good, why not? I made it in good time to have hugs from The Love In My Heart and have Brian the cat stare out of the window into the night as we watched the likes of Gogglebox together to finish the day off.

Thursday 11th April - Forever Delayed

I woke up this morning to the news that after some lengthy negotiations and a summit, there emerged news in the early hours that once again there would be a delay to the first part of Brexit, this time the UK having until 31st October 2019 to get their house (of Parliament) in order and get things sorted out so that there's either a deal in place which works well for everyone, or the better option, just call the whole thing off, wake up and state like it was when you wrote a story as a child that it was all a dream. We've all seen that happen, right?

Also yesterday was the first day of the World Snooker Championship qualifiers to make it to the Crucible, and I have to admit that there were some one-sided whitewashes in a couple of 10-0 wins, but intriguingly one match between Peter Lines and very late replacement Michael Judge wasn't going to be finishing any time soon - in fact they easily outdid the time of the Brexit delay announcement and had managed to finally result in a 10-9 win for Judge at around 3am this morning. That's marathon stuff and shows some endurance that.

Anyway, after a hard day's work sorting out some potential issues, I headed off via Marks and Spencer and then to Oxford Circus station. Only two of the four main entrances were open and I soon found out why when I got down the escalators and to the platforms, in that there was a broken down train at Stockwell and that all tubes weren't moving on that line. I waited a few minutes just in case but nothing was doing, so I decided instead that it would be better going on a diversionary route.

With tube knowledge in hand, it was across to the Southbound Bakerloo platforms (woo, I got a seat!) and it was then to Embankment, heading upstairs there and to the District line to head three stops to Victoria that way. Granted it took a fair bit longer but at least I was moving and that meant I was at least there in good time to get the train homeward bound. Delayed, I grant you, but at least moving and that was better than the usual furnace that is the Victoria Line at that time of day.

It was nice to relax in the evening, speak with The Love In My Heart and then get everything sorted for the weekend. This included transferring some new albums to the iPod, including the one I purchased earlier this week by Billie Eilish, the album titled When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? - and the proper opening track (after the 14 second !!!!!) is Bad Guy, the most recent single and tune of the day. Such a mature album from someone not so mature, and the bassline in this one is particularly killer.

Wednesday 10th April - And It's Go Go Go Go!

It was a good and productive busy day for me today, as I was able to check over and see that in fact the changes I'd proposed and made to the current Windows 7 task sequence worked as intended for those that needed it, and all the software that they needed on there, plus the current drivers that were missing, were all in place and all good to go. Certainly for me it's been a case of discovering what's out there and what also needs to be done, so good to have that all sorted.

I'd also finalised a document detailing how to package Adobe Reader DC properly using the Adobe Customization Wizard, and indeed to add all the options if needed to stop the updater ARM service from even installing and launching, plus the key thing when packaging - use the setup.exe provided which calls the .inf file, and the MST transform, and ensures a nice clean healthy package at all times. Amazing how many just add the MSI without realising the magic that the wizard does..

I had a very enjoyable evening later on after tea, listening to the podcast recorded by Tom Clarkson for the official Formula 1 website and Youtube channel. They did the latest "Beyond The Grid" podcast and no less than the legend himself Murray Walker was being interviewed. It was absolutely fascinating stuff all round, not least because so many of Murray's memories were those we all shared watching the F1 back in the day, with him and James Hunt being a formidable pairing, and even better later as it was Murray and Martin Brundle, which was superb stuff.

I think too that for me Murray, at age 95 don't forget, was able to recall so many moments, vividly recalling details of the 1976 season that saw James Hunt win the title, and the rather memorable 1982 season where eleven different drivers won a race, Keke Rosberg took the championship and the unfortunate death of Gilles Villeneuve were just parts of an intriguing season, and naturally the classic Monaco race from that year got a deserved mention, as did parts of his former career in advertising (PAL dog food and Trill budgie food for example) which was great to hear.

It also shows that Murray is still the master of all F1 commentary, and to hear his evocative voice over so many classic races when I was growing up became part of the reason I loved F1 back then. It was must watch television to see the cars going round with supreme driver skill and each and every lap Murray bringing about his unique style of commentary and going like 100mph every single time. It'll be a very very sad day when he passes away, and to be around for all 1,000 F1 races when this Sunday's race takes place is testament to the great man. Needless also to say, the proper F1 tune, The Chain by Fleetwood Mac, is tune of the day.

Tuesday 9th April - White Hart Pain

It was a busy and productive day at work today, and I was able to look at the Windows 7 build task sequence, still being used for some older laptops that are being used by some of the temporary staff for one of the large scale events that are taking place later in the year. One of the service team had spotted that there were some issues with some of the drivers missing for the older models, and so I set to task to see what the state of play was. Of course, there was a case that you could get all the drivers from the manufacturers' website, so I checked that out.

And naturally comparing those with the driver packages, I spotted a fair few missing. That included at least two of the ones that had been reported back by the colleague, so I was able to determine what was going on: there was a lack of categorisation but also a lack of the actual correct driver being present and correct in the driver package, so that wasn't too good either. I managed to get the revised and corrected package uploaded, I got the colleague to run through a test build, and all appeared to be much much better. Happy days.

Later on it was off home and to try to get a channel showing the Tottenham v Manchester City Champions League quarter final first leg game. I had tried to get a ticket for the new stadium but not a cat in hell's chance of getting one of those, so was able instead to locate somewhere to watch, and so was watching the game with a sense of nervousness and excitement all at the same time. I have to admit though I suspected that bearing in mind our starting line up, I wasn't so sure how it would turn out.

City did get a penalty which to be honest wasn't a penalty, no matter what interpretation of VAR was used. Sergio Agüero wasn't as lucky as he was in the League Cup final penalty shoot out and the penalty was saved by Hugo Lloris. It was a turning point of sorts, and the team didn't seem to perform as well as they could do either. It was a frustrating watch but at 0-0 I suspected that we would have taken that if we were able to hold on to that scoreline.

Unfortunately that wasn't to be the case as Tottenham pressed forward later on and Son Heung-Min scored from a narrow angle to make it the only goal of the game, and they would take a 1-0 lead into the second leg at the Etihad next week. Of course for me it was a case of being able to see what we could do then, but it was also a case that we needed to be better this weekend at Crystal Palace too. In the meantime, tune of the day is the rather good "Fade Away" by Susanne Sundfør, which kind of sums up how City were performing at the game tonight..

Monday 8th April - New Office

So today was the first day we had in our new office. I'd had an idea where it was as I'd walked up to it from the previous office a little while back to get used to the surroundings. I did like the fact that it meant we'd be right in the heart of central London, but that does have a minus side in terms of the commute in and out, especially as the nearest train station is a fair bit away - in fact it was easier to get off the train at City Thameslink and get the number 8 bus along to its terminus near Tottenham Court Road station.

The new office is all nice, and plenty of niceties this morning too - a welcome breakfast of some bacon and sausage mini ciabattas, some nice yoghurt, and plenty of other bits such as pastries, porridge and some coffee, and that was a nice way to start the morning to be honest. It was good to settle in and to get on with a few things, including testing out the PXE boot functionality at the new site, which didn't quite play ball for some reason. I was on it quickly though and realised that actually the boot image files didn't fully populate in the DP properly, and redistributing those sorted it, and all was well with that. This meant I could test away.

In fact I was also able to fully test out an image build, and a colleague from another site confirmed that all appeared to be not only a lot better but in fact most of their wishlist had been resolved, including the default language being English UK. This helped twofold by having the English UK ISO of Windows 10 Pro, but also the fact that the settings in the MDT image creation did the business to set it all up to be working as intended, so was pretty pleased with how that all turned out actually. Here's to more of the same!

I had caught up on Race Across The World this morning too and although I was gutted Darron and Alex didn't win, what they gained in experience and being together was probably more invaluable. I suspected that the two retired teachers Tony and Elaine would have won, as they despite a back problem had worked out their cheapest route and got the last two direct tickets to Singapore by coach - and even though it had an issue, it still was enough. The three hour coach delays at one place that Darron and Alex was behind was the only difference in time overall, so definitely close after all that time.

I then saw Line of Duty, and there's a whole conspiracy theory you could do on the whole of the episode, never mind the series. Is there in fact an alterior motive to attempting to get Steve onside with John? And is there a lead up the garden path to make us think that H is Hastings, misleading all and sundry under him to keep his activtity under wraps, and it ends up being someone else? That's the thing with Jed Mercurio, who knows what will happen exactly? The theme tune by Carly Paradis is epic and for me that is tune of the day without question.

Sunday 7th April - Mancunians In Marple

The Love In My Heart and I got up, fussed over Brian the cat, but after he had decided to jump over the fence at the front and attempt to run off, having The Love chase him everywhere, he wasn't playing out first thing - we waited a bit and then let him have a play. He certainly was keeping an eye on all the birds, chattering away to his little self as the birds tweeted (as he tends to do.) What made it interesting for me was that he always seems to sit in the same spot and just listen out - must be a cat thing!

We were heading out for lunch later with two of our friends, but they had to cancel due to illness. It was a shame, but I thought that seeing as we'd booked and that we were getting ourselves ready to look nice, why wouldn't we head out anyway? So that's exactly what we did. We got the tram to Manchester Piccadilly and then from there I got the tickets sorted (Two Together Railcard came in handy for that) and it was then off to Platform 2 to get the departure to Marple, via Reddish North, Brinnington, Bredbury and Romiley.

As the train came into Marple we noted the signage at the station with a very much old school railway like feel, which was nice, and we soon headed down Brabyns Brow and to The Midland at Marple Bridge. We love it there and the staff were lovely as ever, and we had a nice table with a good view and it was quiet where we were sat so we could chat, have nice drinks (the ale I had, the Town Crier, was spot on!) and order some food. I'm so glad we still went, because I'm very pleased to say that the food was completely brilliant, and we definitely need to back soon.

The Love had the paté for starters, which looked really nice and with some nice bread too, and for me, the salt and pepper schezuan squid with aioli. It was absolutely gorgeous and to be honest I could have had that with some chips for the main course. As it was The Love had the Sunday Roast pork, with a massive Yorkshire pudding and lots of nice veg, roasties and gravy, and I had the pie - ooh yes, a proper pie, a chicken leek and ham hock crumb on top pie, with mash and gravy, and that was gorgeous. Adorably nice, and the afternoon sped by really nicely.

We went back up the hill to Marple station later and for us both it was nice to not wait long for the train. In fact one of my former IT colleagues in a previous job spotted me and he was with his wife on his way to a gig at Victoria Warehouse - it was nice still to be recognised and indeed good to see him too. That was all good and the train headed back to Manchester before the tram back to The Love's place, and we chilled out for bit before I got the tram back and then the train homewards, with the rather nice "Moonage Daydream" by David Bowie blasting out of the iPod as the sun set over Manchester - tune of the day for that reason. A lovely day all told really, and more of that is always appreciated.

Saturday 6th April - A Star Tiger Is Born

It was good to be up with The Love In My Heart, and Brian the cat was playing out and then decided to run inside pretty quickly as a bit of wind caught his eye. He can be really sensitive in that way and it's just the nature of how he can be sometimes. Give him some Dreamies and some tuna and prawn Sheba though and it's a completely different territory, and he was all cute and cuddly as we had breakfast. I went over to the local bookmakers later and put our bets on the Grand National later on, and as I'd backed Tiger Roll last year (primarily because of Brian's tigger face!) I thought, even as favourite, he could do it, so did the same.

We went later on to see The Love's father, and he all seemed well. We'd been over to Asda beforehand to get him some shopping and everything we managed to get he was pleased with - and we also cleaned up the kitchen and spoke to The Love's sister and niece and who they had backed, as well as having a good catch up. It was nice actually and it was a good start to the afternoon before then we headed over to Station Hop in Levenshulme for a well earned drink - was nice in there too.

It was then off to see my Mum for a bit and have a bit of a catch up. What I didn't expect was that she had got me a little something as a thank you for me sorting out the trains for her and her friend's holiday in a few months' time, and so had got me two of the Hobgoblin Gold and two Goliath ales - decent enough and much appreciated. I wasn't meithered but I think it was a case of because I'd been able to save them a shed load on the walk on fare, they were all good on that score which was sensible.

It was back to The Love's place later and we both watched The Grand National together. I must admit that 37 getting round the first circuit was many more than expected, and gradually Tiger Roll came into it, and with two left that and LiveLoveLaugh (I had backed that too) were doing well. The class of the Tiger came to tea though, and he romped home better than last year, and with more weight. Granted, I only got 9/2 for the price, but that was enough to collect the winnings and get a bottle of prosecco for The Love later to have after tea.

I did watch the Manchester City v Brighton FA Cup semi final, and to be honest, after Gabriel Jesús took the lead after four minutes, it was a bit boring after that to be honest. City couldn't score a second, and Brighton didn't have their shooting boots on - although Anthony Knockaert was doing his best to create for them, got their crowd going and for me was man of the match, attempting what he could to try and get them level. We scraped through and to be honest we'll need to play much better on Tuesday against Tottenham in the Champions League.

Later on we settled in with the prosecco and watched the 2018 film version of A Star Is Born (the fourth version of said film) with Bradley Cooper directing and starring in it (write the theme tune, sing the theme tune etc) and Lady Gaga. Actually, I have to say I much preferred her stripped back and looking normal in the first half of the film, a real sense of actually "this is who I am". The song "Shallow" which they both sing really does capture their free spirit, and tune of the day for me - I liked it better than I thought I would, and I think The Love thought the same to be perfectly honest.

Friday 5th April - Coming Up For Air

I spent the day at the office in Air Street, close to Piccadilly Circus, today, primarily as I was able to utilise the live network connection and not be behind a VPN for some extensive testing I wanted to do, to make sure that the new proposed Windows 10 task sequence was going to do all I wanted it to do, and then some. In fact it meant I could spend time with a couple of the people from HR who are generally lovely, and just get on with things and be nice to everyone around.

In fact, I'd made good progress to be honest - I was able to get almost all of it working first go, apart from a couple of minor niggles to do with the TPM and Bitlocker. The way it had been done before wasn't quite right, so what I did instead was to effectively make sure that there was a TPM present before utilising a step to reset the TPM (and thus clear ownership) which then meant the pre-provision step worked as intended, and that Bitlocker would do its thing correctly, every single time. And that worked flawlessly once I got that sorted - past experience here counts for a lot it has to be said.

I also was able to evaluate if all the drivers, including the hotkey drivers, had installed correctly, and they had, which means way less hassle. I also worked out that Mozilla's provided MSI for Firefox is just effectively a wrapper for their setup executable (bad!) but I noted that rather than use the MSI product code for the application detection method, there was instead a registry key which could also be checked and validated, so did some amendments to the detection rule, and badabaing, sorted. Always good when that happens.

I went home, picked up my case for the weekend and had some chicken and mushroom stir fry in black bean sauce, and headed on the train via London Bridge and to Euston, primarily as there were no trains to Victoria for a while. I got to Euston fine, although the packed concourse indicated that there were delays (and there were too, boo!) and so I waited to see what would happen with my 8.40pm train and if I was going to be affected. As it turned out it was around 5 minutes late leaving and kept at that all the way back to Manchester, which wasn't too bad I guess.

I relaxed on the train and listened to She Makes War on the way up (make Dear Heart tune of the day) and that was all good as the train sped through the night, and I had a bottle of water to keep me nicely hydrated. It was then on the tram and off to The Love In My Heart's place, where she and Brian the cat (already settled on the bed and snuggled up!) were ready and waiting for me. It was nice to see them both and for me it was good to be up for the weekend and to look forward to a lovely one together.

Thursday 4th April - Day By Day

Day by day, things at work are taking shape nicely and it's been good to be able to put some input into some of the processes and get them much more streamlined as to how we'd want them to be. In fact I had raised a change which I was implementing today which would start a cleanup process of content and applications no longer needed with a view to removing them permanently. There were a number of good reasons for this: primarily so that we were able to sort things out neater, and also to document the whole process nicely.

One thing to hand that I've really wanted to hammer home (and our other new starter in our team is the same mindset as me) is that we really want to be able to ensure documentation is done at all times. For me it's important that I ensure everything is done for people to follow and an example set so that it's all neat, tidy and well structured in terms of the systems that I look after. After all, anything from my perspective that makes life a lot easier but also means that I know it's well documented is the job done I think.

Interestingly too, I've been able to get a few things sorted for the next week when we'll be heading to a new office and I want to be sure that the infrastructure there is right. I want to for example have my hands on some suitable test kit so that I'm able to road test a lot of stuff without having to visit other offices and use the network there (as good as that can be to be honest). I also really know that from that perspective it's nice to be more foolproof in the approach I take too, and that has to work nicely.

Later on I headed home and it was nice to see that I was able to get home at a good time, and make some tea. In fact I remembered I had some chicken and mushrooms to use, and had all the ingredients there for a chicken korma, so set to work on sorting that out - it was all good in the end as that meant some nice naan bread to go with it, and plenty of sauce as well for that bread. I think for me it was definitely good to get cooking again and actually to use up the stuff whilst still fresh also.

In the meantime I've been also working on a few things at home, but one thing that kept me going today was revisiting the first CD of the set of four that makes up the Matt Gray Reformation box set, which are effectively his Commodore 64 tunes redone with modern stuff by himself. It's always good to see the direction they'd take with such instrumentation, but for me the village theme from the game Tusker was given such a good rework, lots of punch in that and sounds awesome, so tune of the day for me.

Wednesday 3rd April - Lovely Birthday

It was The Love In My Heart's birthday today, so was really nice to wake up in Manchester with The Love and with Brian the cat having lots of cuddles as well. He so wanted to be there for his Mummy, and he was. It was good to wake up and The Love opened up plenty of cards - some from relations, some from work colleagues and one from my Mum with a gift in as well - which is much appreciated. It was then a case of opening the presents I'd got for her, one she knew about (the Joules lunch box that we got when in Masham which has a cat face on the front of it and is so cute) and one she didn't, which was a Joules gift set of bath stuff which also included a nice scarf as well. That was rather nice to do actually.

We got ourselves up and ready as we were heading out around Manchester for the day, and the first stop after we had got the tram to St Peter's Square was to head off to Dishoom, which is an Indian themed restaurant in the city centre. I've been to the one in Kings Cross in London and the breakfasts are pretty good - and we met some of her relations there too. It was actually very chilled out, had a nice coffee and a sausage naan, which was gorgeous, especially with the sauce inside and the way that the sausages were also nice and herby. The Love had the bacon version which was also stunning. She got some nice presents too - some posh candle holders from Next and a gift card for Gusto so we can use that for eating out sometime, very nice.

We later then headed off over to Central Library to see the exhibition Bobbins on the ground floor which was all about Chris Sievey and of course his alter ego Frank Sidebottom. It was great seeing the actual Frank head that was used, and also very rare old video tapes of the Freshies era, and some of the singles from that time, and lots of original stuff such as the Little Frank cardboard cutouts including Little Mark E Smith, and even Little Denise along the way too. For any fan, the memorabilia alone which is going to be hosted by the archives in the library and preserved is well worth a visit alone, but there's more.

Oh yes, if you want to watch Chris' creative work all day, you can, there's two "eye pods" with a picture of the Frank eye where you can actually see lots of video of both The Freshies, Chris on his own and Frank too. It was great to see the original video for The Freshies' classic single "I'm In Love With The Girl On The Manchester Virgin Megastore Checkout Desk" - which later got changed to avoid trouble with Virgin, and tune of the day - and plenty of Frank stuff along the way such as Radio Timperley, the Magical Timperley Tour, live shows, all day. You can even get a capuccino with sprinkles of chocolate done as Frank's head (ask for it!) - and that was utterly fantastic. You know it was, it really was.

It was also to the Manchester Art Gallery then to see the Martin Parr photography exhibition, as he had returned to Manchester last year over the space of a few months to take some new shots along the way. It was good to see the old stuff too from the 1970s including a terraced street where the inside front rooms had been taken with the families inside, and the cubes where nine couples were taken separately, and individually, and you had to match the couples together. It was quite intriguing that one of the couples he had tracked down years later and got them to pose together on their front drive too. Really enjoyed that a lot actually.

We had a drink in The Bank and then it was off to do some shopping, and The Love had some gift cards so managed to not spend hardly anything yet treat herself to some stuff. She did get herself a lovely top in Oasis, a nice dark blue but with a nice pattern too and it fitted really nicely - and it was notable that the store was having celebrity endorsement with the likes of Kara Tointon, Katie Piper and Nadiya Begum too - a different mix of people advertising for them. We also went into Oliver Bonas and as her sister and father had given her money for her birthday she saw this lovely teal top - and it was hers. She tried it on and looked gorgeous, so how could you resist really?

It was then over to Mackie Mayor in the Northern Quarter for some well earned late lunch / early tea, and a nice drink in there too. We both ordered our food from many of the lovely stalls and had it brought to the table nicely and it was all fresh and gorgeous. I had the haddock and chips with minted peas, which was stunningly nice and spot on, and The Love's pork belly with seasoned new potatoes (very well done as she likes it) and some garlic was just the thing - really nice. I'd have happily had that myself too. It was a little busy on the tram back but we managed okay.

We had a nice relaxed little time with Brian the cat, who wanted his tea and his Dreamies, and he was all being nice and snuggly with his Mummy, before I set off to head for Manchester Piccadilly and get the train back home. Sod's law was that I'd booked the trains before the Man City fixture got rearranged, but I wouldn't have been able to get back the next morning anyway without paying £180 upwards on the train, so no good really - missing the midweek games are one thing I always have to bear in mind when I moved down. It was nice to head home and I did have Radio 5 Live on the phone, so I could hear City doing the business 2-0 against Cardiff City.

Most importantly though was that The Love had had a lovely birthday and the two of us had had a lovely day, just being us, being relaxed and doing things as a couple together. I must admit that when we're not together it does feel rather sad sometimes but being together on days like this makes the whole thing massively worthwhile and I know that for me it's about having those special times. I love her, I love Brian the cat and having both in my life is just rather special.

Tuesday 2nd April - Up North And A Final

It was another good and productive day at work, with me putting forward some change proposals together for implementation later this week, after a good think and discussion with colleagues about some of the security groups that they add machines to post-build. It turns out that one group which is added effectively doesn't need to be, primarily because of the fact that the group that a piece of software is deployed to isn't needed, and hasn't been for some time. It was good to get confirmation on that which will prove to be useful going forward.

As one of the presents that was supposed to arrive for The Love In My Heart didn't arrive in time, I hatched a plan to head out in my lunch break and get another present - and indeed it would be something nice anyway. The good thing was that I was able to locate a really nice card shop at the same time and so get an additional birthday card (from the cat!) as well as one I had already got earlier. I thought that it would be somewhat nice if Brian the cat was able to wish her well on her birthday too - obviously no chance of a paw print or anything like that, but saw something adorably lovely.

It was a little bit of a rush of sorts home from work, but the few minutes I gained in the faster than normal walk meant I was able to get a train a little earlier at 1744, and this then meant a nice trip back to the flat, get my stuff together and drop off my work things, and then later on head out on the train and then the tube to Euston station, arriving in plenty of time for the 2000 departure to Manchester Piccadilly. I had taken the iPod charger with me so I could listen to some tunes and charge at the same time.

It wasn't quite dark when I left so was nice to be able to see some daylight before darkness fell, and the train was nice and quiet. I had the headphones on and was listening to the likes of Beth Rowley's ace "So Sublime" - make that one tune of the day - and that certainly sped me onwards as I wanted to get into Manchester Piccadilly on time (and it did) and even better was that as I came down the escalator to the car park in Piccadilly, I could see The Love In My Heart arriving. Hurrah for timing!

We headed back home, fussed over Brian the cat (who was being so delightfully cute as ever) and settled in to watch the final of The Great British Sewing Bee on iPlayer. We were both glad as we watched it that all three were striving for great things, and although The Love isn't a fan of Leah and her panicking, we did both love the waistcoat Juliet made - if Patrick Grant says he'd wear it, that's an endorsement. Leah did win the transformation challenge, but the final outfit for the dress was definitely different - Riccardo's environmentally friendly jellyfish dress was a different one, but Juliet's was stunningly classy. In the end, she deserved to win and we both wanted her to do so, so was nice to see that the judges agreed with us massively. We'll both have to keep our eyes open over Summer when they film it!

Monday 1st April - We're All Fools

My, it was another day or arguments, decisions or lack of decisions in Parliament wasn't it? It definitely for me is getting to the point where everyone is sick to the back teeth of this vote, that vote, whether it'll be indicative or not, what can be the way forward, and it's a case of nothing working. In fact that only goes to prove why so many people are completely disillusioned with politics as a whole - it doesn't work the way it should, and the whole system also doesn't really give way to some inevitable co-operation needed, and who will actually blink first.

It was perhaps then somewhat of a surprise when the MP Nick Boles, who had tried to put forward a sensible motion of Common Market 2.0 as some analysts called it, keeping the customs union but being more like Norway, had decided after his motion was defeated that he would quit. He wasn't pulling any punches either in the fact that he had seen members of his own party refuse to try and compromise and that frustrated him way too much in order to get some movement.

I definitely felt a sense that nothing was going to move and move fast, and that the 12th April new deadline clearly isn't going to be met whatsoever for any new form of negotiation. It makes me wonder why there wasn't debate about what would be acceptable first way before going to the EU, saying "here's what we agree on for the divorce bill" and thrashing it out, then getting that ratified having already gone through all the requirements in the House first. It's somewhat backwards to me, but then maybe common sense is sort of going out of the window at the moment.

Thankfully common sense at work is the way forward - and so I was able to set up a new SCCM distribution point for the new site which is also going to be the new office from next week. All the other bits had been sorted out, but seeing as I was going to be setting this up as a new thing, I thought it was also the perfect opportunity to document the whole procedure so we had some documentation to hand - excellent idea, I thought, and so it proved too.

I finished the day by watching the 300th episode (wow!) of Only Connect, and it was the last quarter final which meant that the questions were pretty difficult all round. The Love In My Heart would have got one of them spot on though in an earlier round, and it made me think of her when I saw that. The missing vowels round is normally my strong point and so it proved tonight with me getting loads right. The theme tune in the meantime is definitely tune of the day - makes me immediately pay attention to the rather lovely Victoria Coren-Mitchell who does a superb job of hosting the show with her wit.