Dear Diary...

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Thursday 20th February - Training Final Day

It has felt like a long week doing the training course to be honest - not necessarily for any reason, but more because of the consistent assessments during the week and then one final batch of two tests today - in fact the first practical test has to be done in order for the final scenario to make any sense - if you tried to do them in the reverse order, it wouldn't work really. That was all to come but first of all was a day where I'd be able to first of all re-look at application packages and making sure they worked.

Interestingly, it touched on pre and post-install scripts, which is fine as long as they were going to be in a common user or system level area where it'd be able to be used as part of a PKG package. It also was nice to be able to get some preference defaults written and concocted as a plist file, which of course you then needed to convert to XML1 format before bringing in to JAMF Pro (thankfully you do get an error message telling you pretty much you need to do that anyway.)

After lunch we went through some scenarios in the afternoon and checked the test questions for a similar type exam to see what would possibly be expected and what line of questioning that would be. Once all the room was then set up and after a break for a cuppa, it was then time to take the test. It wasn't as hard as I thought for the final practical and then final scenario - the trick was to read the questions carefully, work out what objects you needed to create if they weren't already there, and then get that all sorted.

I left around 4.30pm and as fortune would have it, it was then straight on a train at City Thameslink back to East Croydon, and I was home before 5.15pm which is a pretty nice way to end the course all round. I waited in later for the food shopping from Sainsburys for the weekend and had a good chatter with The Love In My Heart as well. She is off tomorrow before getting the train down to mine which means of course that Brian the cat gets lots of playtime - in fact he was wanting to play ball quite a bit when I was on the phone to her earlier!

It will be good to be back in work for tomorrow and to get some plans formulated for the next few weeks, especially some software deployments that will be going on too. I think also that realistically that I'll need to see how the land lies, and then best of all it'll be a nice walk to Euston to see my love. I do miss her a lot (and I should add I do miss Brian the cat too of course, he is so lovely) and so the 1980s classic Missing You by John Waite is tune of the day - you'll know it when you hear it.

Wednesday 19th February - Training Day 3

Into the third day of training, and I had decided after yesterday to leave a little earlier to be on the safe side. The train arrived on time into East Croydon and also arrived on time near the training venue, so was pretty early. This did give me a chance though to walk up to the Paternoster Square near St Paul's Cathedral and have a good walk in the morning to clear the brain and to get ready to face another day - which hopefully was going to be easier to work on and master than yesterday.

And all in all, yes it was. In fact it was a lot easier because some of the things covered were stuff that I had been doing - and in some case recently as well, especially with defaults and plist files. That was good to be able to re-cover that along with restrictions and preferences being applied in a more managed way overall, so I did feel more positive. As it was during the afternoon too with a focus on the likes of FileVault encryption and the policies around that, and also a little bit on some of the PPPC type privacy preferences too.

The end of day scenario and one which did seem initially wordy but was broken down into two tasks didn't seem too bad overall, I double and triple checked that what I did was correct and it did seem to be pretty fine. As expected, I knew that the settings wouldn't run because of the restriction applied which basically ruled out almost all the devices anyway (but in effect had to be demonstrated to show that you could see that you have checked your work). I think it was good and felt happier overall, more so that in fact the day finished earlier than expected too.

I made advantage of this and got down to Blackfriars station, where the first tube was the one I wanted - off to Wimbledon Park! It was onwards to James Barbers and to chat football and get the hair cut as well, which I felt much better afterwards once it was done - nice and short and more manageable rather than a messy mop it had been the last few days. Here's hoping that the weather suddenly doesn't turn ice cold and I end up feeling it more, but good nonetheless to get that sorted instead of waiting on tomorrow.

One other positive was the Manchester City game against West Ham United. In the end City won easily 2-0 with goals from Rodri and Kevin de Bruyne, but it was so nice seeing Pablo Zabaleta come on for them and it would be his final ever game at the Etihad. City fans of course respect the man still massively, and many chants of course were forthcoming including the classic "Pablo Zabaleta, he is the f***ing man, he is an Argentinian, he's harder than Jaap Stam" of course (make that tune of the day folks.) - good to see us win anyway even if I couldn't be at the re-arranged game!

Tuesday 18th February - Training Day 2

It was the second day of training, and one which I was worried about even before the course started as a lot of it was to do with scripting. I freely admit I can do decent things in Powershell, but other scripting languages always seem like a bit more of a fine art than I'd be capable of to be honest. It was also interacting with an API as well which I'd never done before, so definitely being thrown into the deep end to say the least was the master of an understatement.

What didn't really help was the typically poor service offered by both Southern and Thameslink, and the lack of communication this morning. There was a trespasser on the line near West Croydon which meant third rail power had to go off, leaving trains stationary or in queues not moving. As such I was stuck on a platform at East Croydon a good twenty minutes this morning, which wasn't good, and when the train did eventually get going, it was a case of going slow and queueing. End result - 31 minutes late into City Thameslink and only just about made the start time of the course on time because of it. I'm going to have to leave earlier tomorrow just in case, as I can't make do with the added stress really.

So it was mainly about scripting ways of interacting with the API and with a bit of scripting and using the curl command to do it. On the whole it appeared to be doing what it wanted, but some of the questions in the afternoon around scripting was making me feel like I was struggling to understand the concept somewhat for other parts - and it really did make me feel like (and this is no way down to the trainer) that more time needed to be given with better examples to understand the concept a bit more.

It was the first scenario exam question last thing today and when I looked and read the question, I did freeze for a minute and felt like I was having a mini panic, which wasn't good. I think I pulled most of it back together and at least got most of the concept correct in terms of being able to create some of the extension attributes and a policy that would at least do part of what was needed, but I think I would have had some marks dropped. And the difficult thing is you can't drop many overall - you need 28 out of the 35 available to pass.

I'm just hoping the next two days at least are more about the administration and set up side, as I'm doing some of that now to a degree, but I think though that I may have reached a point where I might have to be sensible and say that I've got to a limit of what I could get to here. Nothing wrong with knowing limitations, but it's sometimes difficult to get that across. I'll just have to put that whole day down to experience and soldier on over the next two, with the inspiring music of Dream Theater to get me through, notably the epic "Octavarium" title track which is tune of the day.

Monday 17th February - Training Day 1

It was four days of training for me this week, namely the Jamf 300 course at a place not too far from St Paul's Cathedral, and in fact the same venue I had done the 200 course (and passed) a few months back. It also meant that I was able to get up a little later and leave the flat a bit later too, as it would be off to a different station and a short walk from there to the training venue. In fact, even with the trains being delayed and meaning that it was standing room only all the way to London Bridge, at least it meant that I could get there on time with no problem whatsoever.

So it was all good as everyone had arrived on time, meaning we could start on time too. This course is the next level and is much more about the set up and administration from the back end, instead of just using an already configured and working product. In a good way it did mean that some of the back end setup modifications I've had to do work fine in reality and it's been good practice for some of the opening things covered here to a degree, such as network segments and LDAP.

I must admit though I did feel a little underwhelmed in the afternoon as it mentioned the likes of launch daemons and launch agents. It's not down to the trainer, who has been excellent, but I do think the source material didn't exactly cover it enough to make some of us understand just what you'd want to use it for and why, and as to what relevance it possibly would have - especially as you'd also want to cover that off normally with a configuration item or policy to do similar instead (even if you are running a script for example). That did leave me feeling a little bereft and wondering about if this might be too difficult for me, especially with more scripting tomorrow, but I shall persevere.

One thing I did note later when I was heading home was that the trains were still screwed, and in fact I managed to get a seat on the first train when I got on at City Thameslink. I was thankful I did as the train approached London Bridge - the platform looked really unsafe with so many people packed on to it and it was a mad scramble to get on too. I think because it was the first one for a fair while that didn't help either, but with some trains cancelled due to a shortage of train crew, the likes of Thameslink really don't help their reputation much it has to be said.

Later on I had a nice chat with The Love In My Heart which was always lovely, and spent some time sorting out the ironing and washing as well as ordering the food shopping for this weekend when The Love comes to visit. I also noted from her that Brian the cat had decided to jump into the washing basket and sit on the clothes and hide from his Mummy. He did look cute, but what is he like? In the meantime also tune of the day is the rather excellent "A Pilgrim's Warning" by Seth Lakeman from the new album A Pilgrim's Tale - a real sense of an overboding sense of fear before the voyage.

Sunday 16th February - TNQ PDQ

It was nice to have a good lie in this time, and Brian the cat had realised that neither myself or The Love In My Heart were moving so quickly out of bed, so he got on the end of the bed and snuggled up instead. Awww. In fact later on when we did get up and get ourselves ready, he was wanting to not only play ball but also play in the hallway as he likes to snuggle on the doormats to leave his scent there - this is the sort of thing he does! Needless to say though he soon made the corner of the bed his own and was there watching his Mummy as she got ready to head out.

The weather had at least eased off a bit with no rain, and good job too because the trams from The Love's place weren't running until 2pm due to engineering works. That said, you still had to get a ticket from the station before boarding the tram replacement buses, and two of the tram staff had spotted us and said "you know it's closed don't you?" (meaning the stop) and The Love replied she was getting her ticket, and they smiled - I think they like to see people paying their way and not fare dodging. We soon were on said bus to Piccadilly Gardens so all was well there.

We had arrived earlier than expected so it was off to 57 Thomas Street for some lovely Marble beers - I had the Manchester bitter which was every bit as lovely as it always is and The Love tried the American Pilsner, which actually was pretty decent too. It was fairly quiet in there so it was good to relax for a while before then heading off to TNQ on High Street, where we'd booked to meet up with two friends to have Sunday lunch and some drinks - the food was always good in there so thought it was a nice option.

And indeed it proved to be. With conversations and drinks flowing nicely, we all went for the two course menu. Three of us went for the same starter and main - the eggs benedict to start, with some crispy bacon as well which just added to it nicely, and the fish and chips for the main, with the beer lightly battered in Camden Hells beer - well you're not getting complaints from me. The Love had the beetroot starter and then the pork belly main, both of which looked gorgeous, as was my sticky toffee pudding afterwards too which really did hit the spot well. I had some nice Northern Monk ale, and for the four of us, including drinks and service charge, worked out around £30 each, which isn't too bad at all for such good food!

We then headed back to 57 Thomas Street where there was good conversation and good beer, accompanied by various bits of Johnny Cash's American Recordings albums including "I'm Leaving Now" (make that tune of the day) and that was good. I had to have the macchiato porter that Marble do which is called Uppe Hela Natten, and suitably black and gorgeous (one of our friends had it too and he approved.) The time went by far too quickly and was all lovely throughout, and good to see friends before they've got an extended break in Japan and Australia planned.

Later on we braved the wind and no rain to head back to The Love's place where it was several hugs and a bit of a fuss over Brian the cat before I headed back on the tram to Piccadilly station, and all in good time for the 1935 train to Euston - which ran on time, and no hitches, thankfully. I did know London Victoria had no trains running homewards so it was off on the Northern Line to London Bridge, and then on to the train that way. I got home around 11pm, so all good consdiering and ready for a busy week ahead.

Saturday 15th February - Who's Afraid Of The Big Bad Wolf?

It was nice to have a sort of lie in this morning. I say sort of because it was windy outside and the wind and rain was pretty loud, but also Brian the cat was doing his thing of being sat by the bed looking at The Love In My Heart with his all cute "time to play" face. Of course that's also similar if he wants some Dreamies or indeed just a general fussing over, but when he gets a fuss off Mummy there's a rather nice purr of contentment all round, which is rather lovely it has to be said.

I headed through some of that wind and rain into the city centre whilst The Love got herself up and ready. I did nip in HMV as I still had some gift card balance left, but no new releases took my fancy unfortunately. I did as well head into Vinyl Exchange for old times' sake so was good to go in there and have a peruse at what was available, and all pretty nice stuff - albeit CDs and vinyl I had. I got back to The Love's place, we had a nice breakfast and then it was time to do the rounds.

It was off then first to see The Love's father. He seemed okay but had had a new inflatable cushion to help support him when sat down, so it was set to automatically inflate as needed and worked nicely. In fact he wanted me to sort out the bets for him, so I got that lot all written out and off through to the bookmakers in a rather windy and rainy mid afternoon. He did at least have a brew and a chat to us all and I was also chatting to The Love's sister about her forthcoming few days down South, so that was all good.

It was then on to see Mum, and she was in pretty good spirits too which was nice. She was of course buoyed by some recent family related news, which we had a chat about, and also it was nice to hear her mention my brother and how he was doing too - and I think she genuinely felt positive. It was also good that we had a cuppa and catch up, and it was also good that her winter fuel payment had come through, meaning the house wasn't freezing for once, hurrah for that!

We both fancied a drink and so it was on to the Elizabethan in Heaton Moor, and I noted the guest ale on - Big Bad Wolf, a ruby red and fruity ale. It was absolutely lush to be honest, plenty of nice red forest fruits taste in that and a big bold flavour and a nice hoppiness too. It certainly will have to be had again at some point - a shame it's just a seasonal as I could drink that at any time as a good session beer to be honest. It was then off back through more wind and rain back to The Love's place for the evening.

The Love made a gorgeous tea - chicken wrapped with ham and mushrooms and a bit of garlic, all done en croute with some puff pastry, and using things which may have gone to waste, so sensible that. Add to that some nice vegetables and dauphinoise potatoes and it was a win all round to be honest, and very nice to have as we were watching The Greatest Dancer, and then later on the final blind auditions of The Voice, where interestingly for me at least someone decided to go all operatic and get through (different at least) and there was a real sense of attitude in a group of three doing the Joni Mitchell classic "Big Yellow Taxi" (make the original tune of the day) - where Will.i.am pretty much turned straight off!

Friday 14th February - Oh There Is No Love Between Us, Avanti..

The date of course was Valentine's Day, and as ever, The Love In My Heart and I don't overdo this day at all. Not because we don't love each other (because we do) but because of the fact that actually if you love each other, then you show that every day anyway and don't necessarily need an over the top gesture to show just how much you care. We did have our cards to open at home, and I got a very lovely card with bees on with the phrase "Bee Mine" on - and it was a classy card too. The Love admitted later that when she was in a card shop in Greenwich the other week whilst I was mooching at vinyl in Music and Video Exchange, she got it then. I know which shop, so a proper nice card all round.

That made me feel positive going into work for the last time in a week or so as I'm on a training course next week, so spent a fair amount of time checking through some inventory entries in MECM and comapring the primary users of what the users now have compared to an older device that they may have had - primarily to aid with the fact that we may need to check where the old devices are, or if they have been written off already, so it may aid where possible to get an idea of the whereabouts. Hopefully there'll be time for someone on the ground to check, but I know it's a bit mental at the moment all round for a number of reasons.

I also road tested the whole update process by having a number of machines in our acceptance testing group for the monthly updates - and they passed fine without issues as expected. In fact it was good that I was able to get those done today so I know the device is all patched, and it was seamless really. It also allows me to roadcheck anything afterwards against any expected behaviours and make sure that all is well, but also at the same time updated a test device my colleague is using for a future project, so he was able to remote in and make sure it was all happy too.

It was then later after having some food on the way, heading off to Euston to get the 1940 train to Manchester Piccadilly. It was later than normal but it was just the way that a cheaper fare worked out when I booked it, so all good. The station was busy but the train was at least on time at Euston, although the incoming arrival meant not long to get on and get boarded, so it was a bit of a rush - thankfully I got my seat so all good there. It was all going pretty well until the train left Lichfield Trent Valley.

And then it went to pieces really. The train ended up being stuck outside Crewe for a fair while due to congestion, which shouldn't have been any different than any other Friday night. As a consequence it was on a bit of a go slow out of there towards Wilmslow, and it appeared to be stuck behind a local train coming into both Gatley and then East Didsbury. Time was ticking on and it ended that the train was around 37 minutes late, meaning of course Delay Repay was kicking into operation. Meh.

I got the tram and arrived a little windswept but at least in one piece, and hugs all round from The Love In My Heart as well as a bit of a fuss and a love from Brian the cat, who as ever wanted to play ball (so I indulged him obviously). What was nice was that The Last Leg was on Channel 4 plus 1 so did get to see some of that, but I couldn't help but think also that I really wanted to play a certain Pop Will Eat Itself classic in the direction of Avanti, and the immortal line of "Oh, there is no love between us anymore.." so that track is tune of the day - purely because. I should add of course that I love The Love and Brian the cat massively!!

Thursday 13th February - Bargain Hunting

It was good to head off homewards after work and avoid some of the wind and rain that had been attempting to come down during the day. I knew that I needed some bits for the flat but also some bits of food also so it was a case of making a visit to a couple of places. Thursday traditionally tends to be the later evening opening in most of the shops near me, so as long as I was getting out on time after work I could head off to East Croydon station and then walk down to the shops as needed.

The first stop was Savers on Church Street, which those of us up North have had for ages and used, but not so many down South so it seemed. Naturally when it opened it was a case of people going in and thinking "ooh! cheap!" and me thinking "about time we got one." In fact I did well in there tonight - I managed to get the Persil colour capsules I get as a pack of 30 for £5, which is cheap, as well as some toothpaste, deodorant and some nice shower gel for The Love In My Heart when she comes to mine too (I did check with her of course). It was then Iceland nearby and just a few things really - some offers on pizza and also some burger buns and chicken burgers that were on offer.

I must admit too that I did feel quite flush after my bargain the other day with the Guitar Hero drum kit that I finally did reacquaint myself with. It's been good to give that a good bash and make sure it all works well (which it does) and that the actual drumming is doing that it should when I hit the pedals and the toms and so on. I managed to get close to one of my scores on one song when I did use the drums quite a bit, so a definite bonus, although I suspect that I'll need some more practice on some tracks. In the meantime, the rather good "Listen To Your Heart" by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers is tune of the day (and no, not just because it happens to be near a certain time of year before you ask.)

One other task tonight was to get all the new albums I'd got recently digitally encoded in MP3 format and then placed on to the trusty iPod for the travels ahead. It did mean that in effect I'll be able to have a good listen on the train of course, and as I've now got all the album art side sorted it does work pretty well (beforehand it used to work in CopyTrans Manager, but the lookup doesn't play ball in Windows 10 - a common issue, so I use mp3tag to do the job now). It's actually all good when listening too as it means that I can blast out as needed.

Part of that time was checking out the new Green Day album "Father Of All Motherf***ers" which is a real short sharp shock all round - a lot of the tracks are very short and really do have that immediate power pop punk feel about them - with them all sounding in fine voice and production too. I must admit that I love "I Was A Teenage Teenager" which is the longest track on there, as it has a slower feel but still hasn't lost all of that pop sensibility either. It reminds me in some way of their early pre-Warner Bros output (the Kerplunk album for example, well worth tracking down!) so all good.

Wednesday 12th February - Seth in Southwark

It was another night out for me tonight (I know, such a dirty stop out aren't I?) and with good reason. It was off to Southwark Cathedral, near London Bridge station, to see Seth Lakeman live. Interesingly, the last time I saw Seth perform was also in a cathedral - in Lichfield - and I stayed at a lovely little B&B close to the town centre ad cathedral then. No need for that this time as obviously being near trains home is very handy, but with Seth having his new album A Pilgrim's Tale out, which I got this weekend, it would make good sense to hear most of that live in addition to some classics, well here was hoping anyway.

As I know all the places near London Bridge can be packed out and sometimes expensive, I do what I normally do sometimes and head over to Elephant and Castle - the pubs are a bit less busy and the food is often cheaper too, which proved to be the case as I expected. It meant I could have a nice pizza and sit down with a drink too and not feel like I'd spent silly amounts. And it did mean a direct bus (several in fact) back to near London Bridge station afterwards, so that was all good. Even though the doors were at 7, there were queues to get into the cathedral itself!

Once through the queues, I managed to show my ticket and ID and basically as I had a standard price seat, some of the back rows were taken and it was off to the transepts at the side. This meant I had a side on view of the central stage but as I'd got an aisle seat, I actually had a pretty decent view and no heads in the way - winning of course. It also gave a different view too of how it'd all work and as the lights dimmed and the cathedral remained very cold (understatement, I left my coat on to give you an idea!) it was on with the show.

The first part of the show was all of the A Pilgrim's Tale album, from start to finish. The idea was that you'd have the narration from Paul McGann introducing each track, with Seth and band playing it. This included Ben Nicholls on double bass who had been a long stalwart with him and he was still as fab as ever. It was a really nice balance of storytelling and song throughout, so definitely for me the likes of The Great Iron Screw and Saints and Strangers accompanied the tale perfectly, as well as the closing instrumental of Mayflower Waltz. It was a great introduction to the album for anyone who hadn't heard it before, so definitely well worth a purchase (as I already had done)

After a short interval the second half, and when you have a good back catalogue, it's easy to pick an excellent selection of songs for you to enjoy. And there were, from the likes of Lady of the Sea to The Bold Knight and also the excellent (and under-rated in my view) The White Hare, it was definitely songs to enjoy again. This also later included The Colliers and The Setting of the Sun before then having a mean and moody pulsing bass line which gave way to the solo violin of Seth that could only be the epic Kitty Jay, delivered here with even more gusto, passion and power, and definitely tune of the day for me - perhaps the best I've ever seen him to it to be honest.

It was a good end to the main set and the encore was a nice surprise in that we had 1643 followed by a nice closer of Last Rider, with a nice slowing down towards the end to really give it a sense of being a real climax to the whole show. It was excellent, and really did show off how good Seth and band were tonight. Could have done without some people deciding to talk near me during the set (grrr) but thankfully that wasn't detracting from the show. A very short walk out of the cathdral exit across Borough Market to London Bridge and I was on a train home - and the gig finished just before 10 - why can't all gigs do that?

Tuesday 11th February - All At The Awards

Tonight was a rather different night for me, as I had been invited by one of my colleagues to an awards night, primarily to celebrate raising money for the Prince's Trust, whom the company I work for supports a fair bit. In fact they were sponsoring tonight's awards as well as our place having had a team compete in what's called the Million Makers - effectively you have all sorts of entrprenurial ideas to raise cash, and then carry them out during the duration of the year. I actually went to one of the clay pigeon shooting ones a few months back which had given me some insight into how it all works.

So one of our human resources people who promotes the corporate and social responsibility side (and being a former Coronation Street actress no less!) had spoken to me via one of our colleagues at our yearly conference a few weeks back and wanted me to be part of a team for the 2020 effort, but also to give me a flavour of how it all works at the end of the year, had asked me to come along. In essence it was quite a different night to be had, and I walked from our office and down the roads towards Berkeley Square and then towards the Mayfair Hotel which has a small theatre within which was being used.

The entrance took you down to the cloakroom and then to a main area where drinks and canapes were served, and I spent some time chatting with Sophie, who was a corporate relationships manager for the Prince's Trust. She explained a fair bit which was really helpful and also did let slip who was going to be presenting tonight - no less than Curtis and AJ Pritchard, from Love Island / The Greatest Dancer and of course Strictly Come Dancing (as well as AJ winning on Celebrity Hunted a while back also.) And yes, The Love In My Heart would have wanted to be there too I reckon.

So after some drinks it was time to be in the theatre and spotted a couple of colleagues I knew, so that was good. In fact there were various different awards for teams based on original ideas, leadership, mentoring and so on, and they also had a guest there who went through one of the schemes that the Prince's Trust has, and it turned his life around. It was a good and honest reminder of why you do the fundraising really - because those who manage to do that are the ones who put back into society, and if you're helping them get there, everyone wins. Hands down.

One of the final award was to the team who raised the most money over the year. We thought to be honest that the team that we had had done pretty well and so it proved by being second, but the top team had raised a massive amount and indeed was way over £60k ahead, and that's impressive stuff. In fact the overall total for the South East teams that took part in Millionaire Makers was over £1.5 million, which is a huge amount which will do a lot of good too. It was a nice way afterwards to chat and feel more relaxed, and definitely for me it was a good insight into what goes on. Tune of the day has to be the wonderful "Porcelain" by Moby, which suits the relaxed vibe of tonight perfectly methinks.

Monday 10th February - Let There Be Drums

I had a productive day of sorts at work, battling through some wind in the morning to get to East Croydon station before then heading off on the tube to the office. Today was mainly about monitoring the new client deployments and making sure that was going well (which it was) but also keeping an eye on the new configuration profile for Chrome for Mac downloading and applying properly, which it did do also. I was quite pleased really as this did mean some cross platform working and also the fact that the configuration works the same both ways which is what we also want.

I also helped out a colleague during the day who was stuck with a scenario where a user wasn't able to re-add the printers that are the managed ones, and kept coming up with an error. Having seen this before, it was a case of stopping the spooler, editing the registry and removing all the client side print provider settings, then commencing the spooler again so you can then remove the drivers (as no printers are associated) and then adding the printer back, which re-downloads and installs the drivers as needed. It works well, and my colleague was most pleased.

After arriving home later, I sorted out some trains for my Mum as she was heading out with some friends in a few weeks time, and also I had sorted out trains for my friends to come to me too for a weekend together, which will be pretty ace all round it has to be said. I think for me it's pretty good that I can sort these things out well and that for example getting the cheapest fares possible for everyone to come to me helps a fair bit - it's normally me going the other way to somewhere!

I headed out after tea later on as I had won an auction on eBay over the weekend for a replacement set of drums for the Wii! Yes, I wanted to get back to drumming on Guitar Hero and Rock Band and saw someone local selling the Guitar Hero World Tour version which I used to have. It was not far away from me and so headed over there, got it all into the large bag I brought with me and was soon heading back home to give it a test out and make sure it all works, which it did.

Naturally I thought I'd try songs I at least know what to do with, so the likes of David Bowie's classic "Let's Dance" for one along with the rather good Soundgarden exclusive track "Black Rain" (make that tune of the day) and it meant I could get drumming well. I'm still not hitting it all quite right yet, but I'll probably adjust over time to make that all work well. I will also admit to being a bit hardcore when picking some of the faster tracks as I can do them to a degree as I know them too!

Sunday 9th February - Riding Through The Storm

The weather overnight had turned out pretty bad all round - it was a case of wind and rain constantly howling against the windows - and it had woken The Love In My Heart up through the night too. Brian the cat was looking outside and thinking to himself "Playtime!" but the wind and rain was just too much really. It was a case of going back to bed for more of a sleep where possible, but I was keep an eye out for what was happening at the Etihad. Although Manchester City were due to play West Ham later, I may not have been able to go because of the trains not running properly, so wanted to see what would happen.

At the time also I didn't know if the train ticket for today was going to be accepted for early tomorrow, especially as they had replied to a tweet and said it was from 1200. Not good as I'd want to get back to work before then of course. In any case the wind and rain was pretty bad outside and I just couldn't see it happening. Indeed at around 1130 there was a message from Manchester City, relayed to all the news channels, to say that the game had been called off. The right decision.

This proved to be even more correct later on when The Love dropped me off at Manchester Piccadilly station. On the way we saw several trees had been uprooted, some of which were on the main road going into the city centre and others on the side roads, and also the fact that various bits of scaffolding that were near flats being built were in a much worse condition and looking dangerous. The area near the stadium is traditionally windy anyway - remember all the faults with that B of the Bang structure where the poles kept falling out with a risk of impaling people?

So it was a lengthy journey back between Manchester Piccadilly and London Euston. I knew it was going to be anyway due to the amended timetable and the fact it was one train an hour in each direction. I also knew that it was a 50mph speed restriction in place across the network which would inevitably mean more time taken. It was the case all the way, so it took time to get to Stockport, Macclesfield and Stoke on Trent and then an additional stop at Rugby, where train crew was swapped over, ideally so that they wouldn't overrun their hours and be able to service most of the route.

Good job I had the iPod on and somehow the epic nature of Dream Theater's "Octavarium" (all 24 minutes of it) seemed right for this epic train journey, so make that one tune of the day - and eventually the train got to Euston which was a relief. I of course still had to make my way down to South London and homewards of course, but at least I'd got the big journey out of the way. Later on I saw first hand the damage at the front at East Croydon (the glass at the front had blown off) so was not surprised only the side entrance was open, but at least that made sense to keep it open that way. Stay safe folks!

Saturday 8th February - City Central

It was an earlyish rise for me this morning, and it was off to East Croydon station to get the train and then the tube to Euston, arriving there all in good time for the 0820 train to Manchester Piccadilly. It would of course mean a quieter train overall which was good, and on top of that also mean that we'd be able to spend some quality time on the Saturday together before the football on the Sunday. The train journey was fine, and on time, and I had a nice coffee before getting on the train, and had some tunes on the iPod playing to keep me company including the ace "True Faith" by New Order, tune of the day obviously.

The Love came to collect me from Piccadilly and we diverted via her local post office - she wanted to get one of those All in One Gift Cards but didn't want to venture to a big post office. Her local one had them so I did the honours and queued, and got that all sorted, and then back to her place where Brian the cat was of course wanting a cuddle and indeed he wanted to play ball. So he sits in the box, I bounce the ball to him and he is all playful with his paw either pawing it away or even trapping it footballer style, he is so cute when he does that.

Later on we headed over to see The Love's father for a while and he seemed fine, and wanted me to do the honours and put some bets on for him, so got that sorted whilst The Love sorted out the kitchen. It was nice to see her sister and niece as well and we spent a bit of time there before then heading back to The Love's place where Brian wanted more playing ball and was being so cute in doing so, and he even let me pick him up for a cuddle. He's so cute when he wants to be!

We headed into the city centre on the tram to do a bit of shopping. I had a HMV gift card or two and wanted to use them to get some new albums that were out, so we ventured into there. It took me a little time to select what I wanted, but managed to get the new albums from both Blossoms and Seth Lakeman, so that was nice, and had around £6 left on the gift card. I would have had the F1 2019 season review on Blu-ray if I was able to, but they didn't have it, and so thought I'd order that elsewhere instead.

We had a good look in Oliver Bonas as well and the green jacket from there The Love has is now back in stock, but at least she already had it at sale price, which was good. We also ventured into the Virgin Money new shop on Market Street which had a tea and coffee area similar to the old lounge that they used to have - and we stopped for a coffee in there which was good. It was then on to a few more shops before retiring to The Bank pub for a well earned pint together and then getting the tram back later.

We had a relaxed evening in, nipping out for a rather good Chinese takeaway for tea (I had the crispy shredded chilli beef in sweet and sour sauce, fab!) and then we settled in for the evening, watching The Greatest Dancer and I correctly predicted that the urban group would go home, and then a bit of The Voice UK later on, where it was pretty clear that some of the contestants were wanted more than others, but some decent efforts nonetheless. We could hear the wind outside and snuggled up with Brian the cat later and was a bit worried that the wind was going to be really bad.

Friday 7th February - Belleville of the Ball

It was a productive sort of day at work today - not everyone was in but this meant I could concentrate well and get a few things noted down and done. I spent some time documenting the main new MECM features that we could take advantage of - and raised a change whereby we'd be able to take advantage of one of those following testing yesterday as well as be able to add some new driver packages too. It made sense to have a test task sequence in conjunction with the live one so we can replicate the behaviour exactly.

In fact I also had put through the change to effectively add the new managed profile for Google Chrome for Mac too which meant that it'll block the extension we don't want users to have, thus making it all cross platform and nice throughout. I think for me it's important as much as possible to try and keep things consistent between the two and also be able to show that we can support both equally as well. I think it's good to have an overview like that and I'll soon be doing the Jamf 300 course in support of that too.

After work I decided to take a detour homewards, and so headed on the tube to Victoria, picked up a couple of things from the station and got some cash out, and got the local stopping train via Clapham Junction on to Wandsworth Common. Exiting the station, I walked along the small industrial estate that runs alongside the station platform and to the taproom at the Belleville Brewing Company. It was all cosy inside because it was pretty cold outside, and heading upstairs to the servery, the only difficult decision was what beer to have - all sensibly priced and with lovely staff.

First of all I had the Patisserie Stout which was pretty much what it said on the tin - it was a nice dark stout tha tasted close to something like batternburg cake (about the closest analogy I could think of). It was deliciously dark, pretty strong but a really warming and homely beer too, definitely one that I could enjoy on a cold Winter's evening that's for sure. I also went later on for the Wicked Good Ale, which was spiced nicely with pumpkin which you could taste in the beer, and that was delicious too.

The beers are priced from £3 for a 2/3 pint glass upwards, most are between £3-£4 for that size apart from the specials which can be dearer if they're stronger espeicially. But they're all lovely, taste really well and you can of course if you wish buy some canned versions to take home with you (which is what I may have to do in future.) But it's definitely really nice, and the train journey home was relaxing and leaving West Croydon and hearing the dulcet strains of Beverley Craven's ace "Promise Me" (make that tune of the day) certainly got me in a relaxed mood for the weekend too. I will be back at Belleville for sure!

Thursday 6th February - It's Not A Bug, It's A Feature

In the old days of computer programming, what people thought may have been a bug are actually a feature instead, and it always amuses me now when newer systems bring in new features, and think back to those old days of 8-bit computing and gaming. In fact, it was pretty rare for a number of games not to come out without said feature or bug, particularly if that meant that the game was affected in many ways. In fact infamously on one game, Chuckie Egg 2, the Commodore 64 version was bugged that you had to make an infinite amount of eggs, making it impossible to complete - or was that just a cop out so as not to put a proper game ending in, instead?

Of course it's all moved on since then and these days new features are actually based on feedback for improvements, so I had a look at a couple of them in Microsoft Endpoint Configuration Manager (MECM) today. Yes, those of you who use ConfigMgr (or SCCM as some of you refer to it) had better get used to the name change, to re-align itself with the whole Microsoft Endpoint Manager offering, and indeed the fact that it's more about those endpoints and how you're best off managing them to the best of your ability. In fact, it's because of the success of ConfigMgr that the alignment happened!

Anyway, for a while it's been well known that to help speed up your Windows build task sequences, you could set the power plan to high performance and let it do its business there. However, you had to put a command line in after each reboot for best effect. Based on that feedback, there's now a tick box in the task sequence properties where you can turn on the high performance power plan automatically - it means that there's an automatic switch to high power each time, and resets back to the normal on completion. Neat, I know. The reason it's an optional tick box is that for some other task sequences you have (such as a series of app installs for example) you may not want to drain a laptop users' battery so quick, so you can tick it on for your OS Deployments and keep it off for others.

Using two of the oldest pieces of kit we have at work, I ran a test to build the Windows 10 task sequence we have at the moment without the box ticked (as it was previously) and noted the times. Then I ticked the box to enable the high performance power plan and went for it again. I noted the times down and yes, there was a decent increase - 3 minutes on one machine and 6 on another. Bearing in mind that would be a reduction from 53 to 47 minutes overall, and that's a pretty decent effort all round. In fact it's so much better now it's a simple tick box and you can clean up commands not needed because of it.

Another nice thing is that you can have one step per language which tweaks the relevant OSD variables to pipe into the old unattend.xml for the system properties to set the locale, keyboard and so on. Because we have machines in the US and machines in the UK, they have different keyboard layouts and also different language bases. I made a positive change so both were supported, and now this makes it easier - I can actually disable a step I did to manually set all the variables and instead use the revised Use Windows Settings to do that, with one step each based on the language set. It worked really well too.

I felt flush because of that and later on I managed to head over to Hobbycraft not far from home on the way home to pick up something for The Love In My Heart that she was after - which means less time spent for her and also a nice walk out for me at the same time from the tram stop to there, so a definite plus I think. Now for the final two episodes of Series 1 of This Life on BBC Four, and the theme tune of said series is tune of the day- it was iconic then, still is now.

Wednesday 5th February - Check Up

I had an appointment at my local GP surgery first thing this morning, around 8.30am. I had had a phone call on Monday from them asking me if I was able to come in, as they'd noted that even with my previous GP in Manchester, I'd not had a blood pressure test check for the last five years and they wanted to make sure all was okay, which is fair enough. Thankfully where the GP surgery isn't very far from the flat whatsoever, so left in good time and the lovely staff on reception were all good, and was having a little sit down wait until the nurse saw me.

It was a relatively pain free appointment, I had to take the jumper off (good job I had a t-shirt on underneath that) in order for them to take the blood pressure accurately. I was very pleased with the result, as was the nurse, stating that all was perfectly normal and I was in the good range all round, so a positive. I definitely think a few years ago that wouldn't have been the case and for me it was good to see that a job where I feel valued has other benefits, such as health.

Whilst I was there I was able to have a check of the height and weight as well, as it'd save me going in again. The height I knew was about right for me, around 1.75m or just under 5 foot 9 inches in old money, and the weight was what I expected - not perfect by any means, and realistically I know that I'd like to lose a little weight over time, but not massively too much over which is also relatively okay. I know too that for me it's a case of that I don't do as much running around as I used to do in other jobs over the years, so I might have to work out a different plan!

I did work from home today and it was quite nice just to be able to write up a fair amount of documentation with regards to a road test of packaging Microsoft Edge that I was doing yesterday, and also then being able to see how it would work with pushing out additional updates afterwards. All seemed pretty well to be honest, and also spent some time checking out the Barco Clickshare application installer that a colleague asked me to look at so I could be sure that it might be an option to install.

All seemed fine, and although a silent install would normally work, the installer was set in such a way that if you passed a silent install switch, you had to add ACCEPT_EULA=YES into procedings. Once that was done, it all worked correctly, and we'll just need to test it with an actual device to see if it finds it fine and indeed, according to the most recent firmware, allows not just a screen share option but one where you can split across two screens Powerpoint style. We shall see. In the meantime as I was playing some KMFDM earlier, the full length version of "Paradise" is tune of the day.

Tuesday 4th February - This Upgrading Life

So last night it was time to settle in and watch the first three episodes of the first series of the acclaimed 1990s TV drama This Life, which I was a big fan of back in the day. If you've never seen it before, imagine five young professionals who met at University ending up sharing a house, all working in the legal profession added with sprinkles of Britpop, sex, drugs and rock and roll and you're only around two thirds of the way there. To say it was a defining series of its time was an understatement, and definitely for me one that was essential viewing even when it was shown relatively late in the evening (due to the swearing, sex and drugs in the main.)

Watching it now and for the first time in ages, there's plenty of things to notice that may have escaped me back in 1996 - so when the five housemates go to work at the solicitors', they all get out at the north eastern exit of Chancery Lane tube station walking along High Holborn, and one of the offices that they used was based in the same street. The former house was on a road in Southwark which since doesn't exist and has been turned into flats, with cutaway shots showing a street in Clerkenwell instead (which to be honest is walkable from Chancery Lane if you know your London...)

The early seeds of the series were sown early of course: Anna being rambunctious and rather sweary telling Miles where to go frequently - and Miles' often bad choice of women such as Deliliah coming to the fore. One of the three episodes showed too an early seed planted with the solicitor boss O'Donnell taking Milly out to lunch, and Warren's relation Kira showing up too. Definitely for me the likes of Massive Attack and Oasis in the soundtrack, Egg talking about football a lot and Alan Hansen in some bizarre dream and so on, and it all came flooding back as to why it was all so good. "Protection" by Massive Attack is tune of the day for that reason - and yes I'll be watching the next three tonight.

It was a productive day today as I was also performing the upgrade to SCCM 1910, which will in effect become MECM (Microsoft Endpoint Configuration Manager). It was a fairly seamless process, helped by the fact that I had good working backups of both the servers and the database thanks to my colleagues and that everyone did as I asked in terms of not using the console or the server. It really did go smoothly all told, and sure enough the admin console did show that it was the new name on install.

Of course, nothing has dramatically changed per se - new features have been added and included, so for example the option to make an application of the new look Microsoft Edge with the Chromium engine Chrome is based on, so I gave that a go and that worked pretty nicely. Just why the install is a Powershell script that calls the version to install an MSI I have no idea, but I suspect that it picks the correct branch from the MSI (being the stable branch instead of say dev) with that line, and the script is digitally signed, so for those of you who only allow signed scripts, it's good to go.

It was also noticeable that the admin console itself seemed to open a lot quicker than before, maybe due to some database optiminsations, but also that distribution seemed more sensible - in terms of the fact that it recognises the content library better - well it seemed to from some content I sent as a test. It was also a good thing that the task sequences flowed fine, and I'll have to possibly check out the debugging feature that's a new pre-release feature, that might prove to be handy when testing!

Monday 3rd February - Avoiding The Unexploded

It was a different office to be in today, working with one of my colleagues on getting some of the laptops ready for a forthcoming event. The good news was that this meant a shorter journey by train and tube, getting off at Temple and walking to Aldwych and along to the office in Kingsway. Much less time spent which is a bonus, especially when going home later on. The good thing is that it also meant that I could leave a little later and still be well in on time and in good time.

So in effect we'd got the new laptop and we needed to utilise a previous event's Clonezilla image on the new one. After a couple of quick checks as to what system settings needed to be set correctly, we did that and then set the clone to work, which worked really well. A positive was that it was a good base to start with, and because I'd kept the adding of drivers to a bare minimum (no extra rubbish applications and so on) this meant I could take the drivers for the device from a driver package and then add on the necessary, it meant we were able to get things started well.

At the same time I'd also re-engineered some of the task sequence which we used to create a base build to add on the extra for the registration desks, and this meant some changes and improvements, but also to fully test it we needed the printers checking that were going to be in use. Both of them worked and both allowed the relevant printer settings to be set correctly via their respective control panels, so definitely for us that was a big plus and meant that hopefully the out of the box experience should all be good - I definitely felt positive about that.

In fact we were getting the ten laptops ready for the one use that they had, and it was good to chat generally about old children's TV. One of the staff asked us about Ivor The Engine, and that led us to chatting about other series of the time - my colleague mentioned Henry's Cat, and that was it - I had the theme tune in my head (and so make it tune of the day) - and the likes of Jamie and the Magic Torch, Bagpuss and many others were also mentioned at the same time, definitely a good day to start winding down the day nicely.

I spoke with The Love In My Heart later and it was quite fun to hear her having to play ball with Brian the cat - he now likes the ball being rolled up towards the flap in the box he sits in, and if it rolls up that flap he's on it and catches it in his paws. I did actually mention to her that the office I'm normally in may have been close to being evacuated today due to an unexploded World War II bomb being found on a building site in parts of Soho, and the police and emergency services got everyone within a radius distance to leave their offices and shops and lock up. I saw the cordon area - and was very close to being our office!

Sunday 2nd February - Sunday Slowdown

It was really nice having a good sleep again and I do admit I do sleep better whenever The Love In My Heart is nearby. I think it's that nice safety blanket and also feeling warmer and cosier of course, but there's also a sense of feeling safe (more on that later) and having a real sense of togetherness. I got up and started to get breakfast all started and as is tradition, it's a full English, so bacon, sausage, scrambled egg, mushrooms and also some plum tomatoes for The Love as well as some toast. Certainly did the job.

We got ourselves showered and ready and spent a fair bit of time watching the final Mary Berry country house thing on BBC2, where she went around the grounds of Goodwood, meeting Lord March and family, and showing lots of interest in the history as well as having a hand with some rather nice food all round. I must admit I'd love to go and watch the festival of speed one year as it looks really good, and it was also nice to note how the March family were proactive in the fact they grow a lot organically too.

We then headed off later to East Croydon station and due to engineering work lots of trains were running between here and London Victoria only as the line was shut further South. This actually meant getting on a much quieter train which was plentiful in terms of room and for some reason they were using Gatwick Express stock, so fairly new too. The Love did notice some police helicopters up above as we headed between Streatham Common and Balham stations, and it was only later on that we found out why - there had been a terror releated incident in Streatham where there were stabbings and the assailant had been shot down by police. Pretty scary if you were there, I imagine.

It also shows why I wanted to get somewhere when I moved where I felt relatively safe. I like the fact the apartment block I'm in has a number of access doors just to get to the lift that you can only access if you're a resident, and indeed the locks on the doors are all proper ones too for the apartment itself, and with concierge on the day and security at night. I think because in Manchester I'd ensured a good level of security for my house too, I did feel that same level of safe and so wanted to replicate it. Glad I did.

Once The Love and I got to Warren Street it was over to the Crown and Anchor for Sunday lunch. I had the fish and chips which was lovely, and The Love had the cheeseburger. Admittedly it was less busy because their television had failed and so wasn't showing the six nations rugby, but that meant for a nice quiet relaxed atmosphere which we both appreciated. I even tried the Camden Hells in Hibernation beer, and that went down very nicely actually.

It was a fond and hugging farewell at Euston later as The Love headed home on the train (and Brian the cat was all good when she got back) and I got back on the red train again (the Gatwick Express one) to East Croydon and then home, only to see Manchester City losing 2-0 at Tottenham, having Oleksandr Zinchenko sent off, and not converting all the chances we had. It's a classic case of not finishing the job off, and typical City really. Somehow it's utterly disappointing so said track by Electronic "Disapppointed" is tune of the day.

Saturday 1st February - Glorious Greenwich

Admittedly, The Love In My Heart and I had a very good sleep, and all the better without Brian the cat disturbing us. We do both miss him a lot when The Love stays at mine, but at the same time, it's nice to get an uninterrupted sleep as well, so we both see that as a treat. It was a quick breakfast and some coffee and then setting off for the direction of East Croydon station, taking a train to London Bridge before crossing from platform 5 to 4 (literally next door) and heading out on the train to Greenwich for the day.

It of course is always a nice little walk from Greenwich station to the main centre and where the Cutty Sark and so on is, but at the Ibis we turned right and headed off to the Fan Museum. It was a fascinating place and one that certainly was a different place to be - it told the story of the humble fan but also showed all the intricate and ornate designs made over centuries, including some made for special occasions, royalty and for historical figures too. The upstairs exhibition really did show how well maintained their archive is - some of the fans on display were over 300 years old, which is pretty amazing come to think of it.

Although a potential early afternoon tea was tempting in their orangery, we decided instead to head over to Waterstones as their upstairs café is pretty nice - and they do some lovely cake. In fact The Love went all Cornish and had a proper scone with Rodda's clotted cream and jam. I did the lemon drizzle cake which was very lemony, although in truth I would have been tempted to go all Cornish too (jam first, of course!) - but good to then see the outside getting busier with people, and we headed off to have a good mooch around the market.

Some things in the market don't change - the really nice arts and crafts stalls, the sensible decision to place most of the food eateries in one of the courtyards allowing for sensible space and flow, and of course the really good variety on offer. And The Love's favourite stall, the fab Forever Florence which sells lovely scaves, was there too (and yes, she did get herself a new one when she was there!) - always good quality and at a very reasonable price indeed. It goes to show just how getting things right works wonders.

We headed off to have some lunch, and then after that had a good walk past the Cutty Sark, and down to the River Thames where we passed the Royal Naval College and walked down the river Eastwards, effectively passing the likes of some nice pubs along the way and also seeing a posh cake making school as well, but we eventually got to the Cutty Sark pub. I'd passed it ages ago when doing the Jubilee Greenway walk, and it was good to go inside and have a well earned beer - in fact the Proper Job ale was on so that definitely was a plus and that had to be done!

We then followed the road back to the main road, and headed across and towards Maze Hill station as that was nearby. As fortune would have it, we only had to wait one minute for the train back to London Bridge, and back to East Croydon later, where we ended up going to Flying Tiger and The Love managed to get a few things for work along the way in there, which was all good. We got back to mine later and I started to make the evening meal, with some nice butternut squash soup to start followed by some Wiltshire ham gratin for the main, very nice indeed.

We settled in to watch The Greatest Dancer, admittedly we both knew that there'd be one set of dancers out early and based on audience reaction, we felt it'd be The Queens (and were right). Interestingly was the mix of styles and the fact that many modern tunes were used as a backdrop for the dances. In fact The Queens had used parts of The Darkness' songs for example, and by far the best act of the night, Brothers of Dance, smashed it and because they were doing something Peaky Blinders inspired, they had the classic Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds' "Red Right Hand" in there, so tune of the day of course.