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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2003


Tuesday 18th September - Inductions and Introductions

So this morning it was off down to the first floor of the building I work in and down to the internal training suite that we have, and three rooms all merged into one in order to fit everything in. It was a case of being one of many who were undertaking the induction session for the company. In fact the whole induction used to be a full day but they have now got it down to three hours including a half hour or so to have some lunch along the way, so definitely good on that front that you were able to incorporate that as part of the session.

It was pretty informative all round really, with the person from HR being all lovely and getting people on tables to chat to each other and get to know about each other before introducing one of the senior managers to say more about the place and how we got to where we were today. That was good to understand the background a little and then to be able to get a more rounded view. That did continue after lunch where it was explained about how much we need to ensure that we keep data confidential and don't leak anything out anywhere, not just because of GDPR but because of the reputational damage it can cause.

So all in all a productive time and more found out about some of the staff benefits too, which is useful. It's notable that some of those you cannot actually take part in until your six month induction period is up, so I'll be noting which ones might be good and then seeing if they're worth doing at that time. For me at least also it's good to know that actually there's an incentive for you to ride a bicycle with the discounts on offer for that: even if that's only cycling to the train station or tube station to then get to work, that's still pretty good all round.

I headed homewards later and it was good to be home and get some bits sorted: cleared out all the recycling, did a shed load of washing and then checked out a deal that The Love In My Heart had mentioned to me: it did look good so that might even be something which I might even investigate myself over a period of time. I think the important thing was to double check it between us and see what was okay or not, and then take it from there, but good to know that we both value each other's opinions as well.

Tune of the day in the meantime is the rather excellent "Kunst" by KMFDM, which really does kick proverbial backside. In fact the whole track is a nice nod to their past as well as their present with song titles mentioned, and even a little gentle nod to the fact that some people misinterpret what the initials of KMFDM stand for, and they sum that up in the chorus. It's ace, and a perfect example of not taking yourselves too seriously either. They are, after all, a drug against war..

Monday 17th September - Warming Up

Well I wasn't expecting the weather to be so nice and warm today. I was pretty glad not to have worn a jacket or else I'd have been feeling the heat later on, especially when heading home from the office. I must admit though that the one good thing about the route that I do take to and from work is that both train and tube have air conditioning which is at least nice when you're making the journey onwards and not having to worry too much about overheating, a definite plus point for me that.

Anyway, I was getting on with a number of things today but was pleased to see that after the weekend validation of the distribution points in SCCM, all 19 of them now show with a green tick, so all the cleanup work I did last week paid off and now the content is consistent and tidy. Now I can focus attention on getting the Windows 10 ADK upgraded to version 1803 sooner rather than later, and then ensuring that where possible the SCCM infrastructure also gets an update accordingly.

I know there's a lot still to do, and the next few months are going to be pretty busy, so all good there. And in fact it's good that my thoughts are welcomed, and have looked into how we'd possibly get some BIOS settings consistent across the laptops we have so when we do the builds and get them upgraded that they all are consistently the same, which is what we'd really want to do where possible: just makes life easier where possible and so that we can ensure Bitlocker is pre-provisioned and then later provisioned correctly without any hassle either. All good I guess.

Anyway I got home later on and a nice surprise was waiting for me to download: the new Matt Gray Reformation 2 album - two CDs worth of remakes of classic Commodore 64 game tunes, and plenty of absolute classic originals in there given a nice bit of reworking treatment. If you haven't yet ordered it by the way, it's not too late, this link will help you along. I for one have been waiting to hear some of these, particularly as the first one was very enjoyable indeed.

So far, there's plenty to like: production wise it seems pretty spot on, and lots of really nice touches of when just to bring in a bit of the SID to keep that feeling alive nicely too. Of course having some nice versions of tunes from the original Last Ninja was perhaps to be expected: but what wasn't expected was a nice version of Rob Hubbard's version of the Commando theme, along with an extended introduction to set the scene before giving way to the drums and powerful start. Definitely worth a good few blasts that one, and tune of the day for me - a welcome re-version done with lots of love and attention. There, I said it.

Sunday 16th September - Pie and Ale

It was nice to have a relaxing breakfast with The Love In My Heart: we didn't have a large one because we knew we would be eating out in the afternoon and having pie: one of our friends had booked a table for four at Pie and Ale in the Northern Quarter and we wanted to be sure we had enough room for the pie, as you do. For me it was nice to fuss over Brian the cat and be all nice to him as The Love was getting showered and changed: and she looked gorgeous in her Ted Baker pink jumper with the bow, made me feel very humbled to be with such a gorgeous woman to be honest.

We both set off and the rain was showing no sign of relenting to be honest, with the drizzle coming down a lot. The Love had got a new umbella yesterday with the handle in the shape of a duck's head, which was nice, and she kept reasonably dry as we headed to the tram stop to get the tram into the city centre. We then walked from Piccadilly Gardens and onwards to the Port Street Beer House in the Northern Quarter, where the Five Points' Railway Porter was mine, and my that tasted rather nice as well it has to be said.

Our friend came, but only one of them - the other one was poorly and so wasn't able to come. Shame that but that wasn't going to stop the three of us having a good catch up and having a good time anyway, so we had a nice chatter in the Port Street Beer House and that was relatively quiet, quietest I've ever been in there to be honest. We then walked over to Lever Street and towards Pie and Ale, and we soon were shown to nice little table in a booth, well away from those watching any footy etc on the telly.

The staff were lovely and the woman who served us was very knowledgable about all the cask ales: massive thumbs up from me. I had the Mobberley Pale Ale which was nice, but they did have the Tiny Rebel Marshmallow Porter - which is very strong! We noted that they had the Sunday Roast pie, which was intriguing, so The Love and I went for the gammon and our friend the beef. In fact it was more of a deconstructed pie with a pastry lid hidden underneath the meat, vegetable, Yorkshire pud and gravy. Fine for most, and that was nice, and I suspected it was the case anyway - maybe I should have gone for the classic steak and ale?

Anyway, it was all lovely, nice atmosphere, lovely staff, and the New York cheesecake for dessert I had was gorgeous too - they did a deal where you got a dessert and coffee for £6, so had a latte with the cheesecake which even had a little heart in it, so was so cute. Later on we walked up to the Mackie Mayor in the Northern Quarter and had a drink in there - our friend loved it and I had some more nice porter type ale in there too, so that was me well and truly sorted. The afternoon had gone way too quickly and we'd all had a lovely time too.

Later on I said goodbye to The Love, gave her a massive hug and then headed on the 1735 train back to Euston. It was nice to have the headphones on and blast out She Makes War's "Devastate Me" single (so make that tune of the day) and watch as the sun started to set over Buckinghamshire as the train headed past Milton Keynes and down. I got home in good time to see the latest episode of Bodyguard, which was pretty intense from the word go: and looks like no let up whatsoever for the final episode either!

Saturday 15th September - Easy and Three

It was a leisurely walk to East Croydon station this morning to get the train to Victoria, then the tube to Euston and in plenty of time for the 0820 departure to Manchester Piccadilly for a weekend of football and food, and good company all round. The Love In My Heart had given me her spare key as she was heading out with one of her friends for the day whilst I was at the football later, so once I got into Manchester it was on the tram and to her place, where Brian the cat greeted me and let me give him a fuss and a love, followed by some Dreamies. He was quite content then just to have a rest on the pouffle whilst I had a relaxing morning.

In fact I got quite a bit sorted out: I booked my trains for the end of November, and also then managed to work out a way to do that cheaper, so will be trying that out then, and at the same time did some more CD ordering on Amazon with some new albums I was after: so the new Paul Weller and Blancmange albums will be coming my way when they come out. I thought I may as well use the voucher I had to get some CDs and keep up to date music wise, blasting them out on my rig during the evenings to have a good background setting whilst I work on things.

Later on I went with my friend to the Etihad Stadium and today Fulham were the visitors. It was also David Silva's 350th start for City and with Liverpool having already beaten Tottenham at lunchtime, it was imperative that City did the business and got a win themselves. What we both didn't expect was the first goal to be so quick on the clock: Fernandinho intercepted a ball and went forward with it and his perfect cross evaded the goalkeeper and found Leroy Sané to score. Back of the net!

In fact we were both pleased becaused Sané had been through a tough time with no World Cup selection and so on, so that was good. Even better was Bernardo Silva playing a ball in and although Sergio Agüero couldn't finish, the ball went to David Silva and he struck it into the roof of the net for 2-0. It was also his 50th Premier League goal for City too, joining some legendary names of those who have done that for the club. We were both really pleased about that.

City kept pressing and at the start of the second half Agüero made a superb run down the right and his cross found Raheem Sterling who couldn't miss, and it was 3-0. In fact then City took their foot off the accelerator, saving their energy for the Champions League game against Lyon of course. In fact it was notable that how much we just were going through the motions, made the game a bit boring near the end but 3-0 was the easiest 3-0 win I've ever seen, it could have been eight or nine if the shooting boots were really on. But we'll take it, and be third in the table at the end of the day. Tune of the day is Oasis' "Roll With It", simply because it blasts out at the end of the game when we've won (and won easily!)

Later on The Love arrived back after I had fed Brian some tea and some more Dreamies, and we had a quiet night in watching Strictly The Best with lots of classic moments from over the years, including the likes of Matt Dawson and Mark Ramprakash talking about their memories, along with Abby Clancy, Louise Redknapp et al too. For me it was noticeable just how much things had changed over the years, but the one constant of Tess (Daly) in a dress. Then The Love put on X Factor and the word I was looking for was cringe - hearing some of them pander to Robbie Williams especially was just embarassing to be perfectly honest. Still, each to their own and all that.

Friday 14th September - End Of Week Three

It's now been three weeks into the new job and I'm settling into the role nicely. I did get landed last thing yesterday with a task or two today, and that was effectively to get Windows 10 driver packages sorted and provisioned for three new pieces of purchased hardware: one of which may well be the new replacement laptop that we could be getting. So the good news: all drivers were available in one handy download for each model. All good. Not so good: one of them decided to be rather large, especially when uncompressed: we're talking 2GB worth of data, just for drivers. Joy.

Anyway, I also needed the WMI hardware strings out there so we could sufficiently match the hardware queries accordingly, so went to where they were and attempted to PXE boot some of them to go into WinPE and therefore get all the necessary queries run. Except - not doable by normal means. One of the laptops has a mini ethernet port with proprietary extension cable needed which then has the standard Ethernet plug on the end. That was so not well designed I suspect.

The other one is a tablet and I wouldn't have expected that to have Ethernet anyway. For the Microsoft Surface tablets, if you have the proper Surface Ethernet USB adapter this works with PXE (the firmware is designed to accept this). For the other tablet, it transpires that there's a USB-C to Ethernet adapter which that firmware of tablet recognises to be able to PXE boot from, so they must have realised that for corporate use and for re-imaging these things are needed. I got all the driver packages done, uploaded and they're good to go with, but I also managed to spend some time finalising all the distribution point content cleanups, and they're now all nice and shiny, with the content library all looking ship shape when I explore them. Hurrah!

I decided to do a different thing on the way home: and that was to ride a bicycle to Victoria from work. Right near the office is one of the docking stations for the London Santander Cycle Hire, and without the key that I used to have, you could still hire them with your debit card. I thought "yeah why not?" and so off I headed down Baker Street, went straight across at Oxford Street and used the quieter streets to get round to Berkeley Square, through there and then onwards towards Piccadilly, and via Green Park to The Mall and towards Victoria. It did actually seem a little hairy in places in terms of the traffic but I made it, and found the docking station close to Victoria Coach Station.

Later on when I got home I managed to locate the old cycle key, and apparently they do stll work with the docking stations (even though the branding has changed from Barclays to Santander now) - but then needed to log on to my account. I managed that and hey ho, I'll have to remember to take the key and then will be able to do a hire whenever I like. Interestingly though, you could of course pay for a whole year up front and then that £90 charge is around 25p per day if you do under half hour journeys at a time. Might have to look at that! In the meantime, "Bicycle Race" by Queen is tune of the day.

Thursday 13th September - Busy Bunny - You Know I Am, I Really Am

I arrived in the office and in good time to pop down to the first floor restaurant on site and claim the free breakfast as I got there before 0830 (a pretty nice perk all round that you get with the job, and the bacon and egg barm with coffee is a good way to get the morning started off) and when I got to my desk, my manager informed me that we'd been invited to a meeting which was pretty much going to be an all day meeting - and involving some external partners and tech.

I didn't have much time to prepare but we both had an idea what it'd be about and I guess on one hand that less than three weeks in that it was good that my input was going to be needed, and that says a lot. In fact it was a good meeting all told, a real fact finding mission of where we are and the truth is that we're a fair way from where we'd like to be in some bits. I think the difficulty is also is that there's probably a larger jump some people would like to do, and I get that, but at the same time, we need to walk before we run.

I did head off at lunchtime as the staff restaurant was doing chicken katsu curry, and that was nice, but later on in the afternoon I had a good chat with one of the Microsoft specialists there and he was pleased that I'd actually not only had experience of going through legacy BIOS to UEFI GPT disk conversion during a build process, but also knew the article in question and the task sequence variable. I must admit I was pretty pleased about that and it certainly was nice to know that I was on a similar wavelength.

Later on when I got home I also remembered that it was the first day of sale of tickets for the London BFI Film Festival. One particular film (and one I backed via Kickstarter a while ago to help fund) had tickets left for a Sunday afternoon screening when I'll be in London, so obviously I was going to be interested in that, and managed to get a ticket. So I'll be in Vue Leicester Square seeing the documentary "Being Frank" which of course is about the iconic Bard of Timperley that was the late great Chris Sievey as Frank Sidebottom. You know he was, he really was.

Getting a ticket for that made me feel all nostalgic for some classic Frank, and so I put on one of the compilation CD albums I have of plenty of his stuff, and it made me have a big smile on my face. Of course everyone knows the classic "Guess Who's Been On Match of the Day?" (answer: you have, in your big shorts) and the football anthem "The Robins Aren't Bobbins" but there's so many other great tracks he did back in the day: including the ace and fantastic "Hey You Street Artist", so that's tune of the day.

Wednesday 12th September - Wednesday in Westfield

After work I needed to head off to get a birthday present and birthday card for one of my relations. Despite the fact I do now work more in central London, the fact is that a number of the shops are pretty far away from where I'm based, and that means either a lengthy walk or getting stuck in traffic on buses, which really doesn't cut it either way for me to be honest. Knowing that there's shopping centres not far away open late hours is much better, so I thought about two options: both of which were Westfield shopping centres and both a direct tube away from where work is too.

So it was either Jubilee Line from Baker Street to Stratford, or Hammersmith and City or Circle Line from Baker Street to Wood Lane, and that'd be sorted. In fact when I worked it out getting back would mean Shepherds Bush to Clapham Junction and on to East Croydon, should be less time. From Stratford it's tube to Canada Water and Overground to West Croydon - but at least either way it's a choice. As such I thought about it and the way to Wood Lane would be better - and quicker - from work. And so it proved, despite for some reason having to wait at Edgware Road for a few minutes to supposedly "even out" the service..

So I arrived at Wood Lane, noted the queue of people going into a part of the old Television Centre still used for filming and noted all the new flats and developments in the complex there - and scarily expensive too having looked at them online later. I ventured into the new extension part of Westfield and noted the John Lewis and Partners signage - the logo had already been changed here. I made my way through the shops and spotted a number of really nice places all the way through, so certainly noteworthy.

I got what I needed and headed to Shepherds Bush station to get the Overground to Clapham Junction and take the train to East Croydon. If you do time it right you can actually get a direct train to East Croydon although it does stop at all the stations between Clapham Junction and East Croydon, okay if you're doing something like All The Stations or if you want to avoid the madness of Clapham and already be on a train. I got home fine though although both trains were pretty busy actually.

Anyway, I had a bit of a goth reminisce tonight playing the likes of Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Mission, The Sisters of Mercy et al. In fact, "Lucretia My Reflection" by The Sisters of Mercy is tune of the day - for me it was always my favourite of theirs, as the Industrial style of drum backing and a pretty epic development through the chorus really made it sound almost euphoric, compared to the verses with the bass line that just draws you in more to the lyrics. Interestingly, Mark Morriss (former lead singer of The Bluetones) did a version of this a few years back - pretty interesting too..

Tuesday 11th September - Diversions

So it was an interesting day and a half, not least because I had to make a number of diversions during the day to focus on other things in hand as well as the stuff I was getting on with. I think it's still a case of getting to know the people as well as getting to know the jobs in hand, and for me it's perhaps notable that at the moment that it's part of the knowing people that inevitably will be something to work with and work on. In fact I got introduced to our change manager today so I was able to walk him through a planned change that I wanted to make which would be a check and improvement, and he got what I was talking about too, so that's good. I think it helped that my change was detailed.

He did though admit that in his view the process is a more difficult one than perhaps it could be, and there may be ways in future that they're looking at simplifying the whole process. For me, in the last two jobs before this one, I've gone from two extremes: from having all changes only evaluated at a weekly change CAB meeting and not all of them being approved at CAB level, to one where one of four managers were the change board and they could approve it 24 hours from you raising it (and quicker if it was an emergency also) so that was something to take carefully into consideration too.

On the positive note the change was approved so I can start work on that tomorrow (and I'll also be documenting the process for future reference) - it's effectively running the Content Library Cleanup tool on all SCCM distribution points to ensure that the library is clear of clutter and that all the content is therefore nice and not orphaned. I suspect this may take some time to do some maintenance on, but for me it's going to be an interesting time ahead as I get to set some movement going on this.

I also interestingly noted that the journey home is pretty much down to a tee if I leave on time, the tube to Farringdon then the train to East Croydon from there. Normally this means I can get the 1724 or the 1729 train home which to be honest isn't that much later than the previous job, in terms of a 5pm finish and how it takes time to get where I need to be. In addition as often the Metropolitan Line tube is going against the flow of commuters, it's normally getting a seat as well. Epic win that.

I also spent some time tonight sorting out the clothes I needed to get washed, ironed, but also possibly looking at evaluating what I may not wear anymore and having a further clearout. Getting some new work trousers amongst other things has meant that I've had to think carefully about how I can get the space best organised to store everything I need correctly, so I'll have a think on that and plan further ahead. In the meantime I did have a good listen to Kraftwerk's "Computerwelt" album (the original German version) and the title track of said album is tune of the day - it's what I often have in my head when working too..

Monday 10th September - A Lot To Get On With

So plenty to crack on with at work, and it was good that I managed to work out a couple of things which was the cause of some of the distribution point issues. They still need the content library clean up performing on them, but when I did a test run on one of the DP's, it transpired that one package content (namely the hidden Configuration Manager Client Upgrade Piloting Package) hadn't gone correctly to all distribution points and was therefore erroring out badly. I needed to trace that the package ID was indeed this via the distribution manager logs, and once I'd checked that over, it was then the next step.

So, the thing is, you can't distribute this as you would do a normal package, as it doesn't show up at all in the package list, but it does exist. However, a bit of Powershell on the site server is your friend for this, it means you can check where the content should have gone and then ensure that it does go accordingly to the points you need. And it works too, which is nice. So for any of you who want to do this for any reason, you can use the below, replace the site code and the package ID accordingly:

$SiteCode = "XXX"
$PackageID = "XXX00003"
$distpoints = Get-WmiObject -Namespace "root\SMS\Site_$($SiteCode)" -Query "Select * From SMS_DistributionPoint WHERE PackageID='$PackageID'"
foreach ($dp in $distpoints)
{
$dp.RefreshNow = $true
$dp.Put()
}

That'll do it. The key thing is to ensure that your code and ID is right, and off it will go and send to all the DPs needed. In my case the Package IDs were 00003 and 0000F but the same rule of thumb applied. Sure enough once they were being distributed, I started to see content distribution status showing much nicer overall, which has to be a positive thing. I have put in a planned change for the content library cleanup, as the what if scenario on the SCCM DP server now works, and so can see what the benefits would be beforehand. It'd just mean that it's a maintenance task that can be done and checked periodically.

I do love the job and am growing into it each day, and had a lengthy chat with my manager over coffee this afternoon in terms of giving a steer as to what is happening over the next week or two. For what it's worth, there are some concerns that we both share (and indeed one of my Manchester colleagues also shares similar) but also the fact that we know we will do all we can in order to see what can be done. It's also good that for example the lunches in the staff restaurant this week all look good: so loaded balance on to be ready. It was chicken and chorizo paella today, a nice thing to have!

Later on I blasted out some KMFDM, namely the compilation "Rocks: Milestones Reloaded" which has a host of classic tracks from said band remade, often by the band themselves and given a new lease of life. Notable perhaps that the version of "A Drug Against War" on here is actually the one used in Rock Band Downloadable Content, and yes of course I have 100% nailed that on expert vocals, as you might expect, so tune of the day most definitely.

Sunday 9th September - Sporting Sunday

I got up this morning, had some toast and coffee for breakfast, and settled in to watch the Great North Run, which is always a good watch in September seeing athletes try to complete the half marathon distance, either for the glory of the win, or indeed for the money to be raised for charity in a lot of cases. It was always a must watch when I was younger and still is today. It was notable that athletes had been honoured the day before were all present to start the race: the likes of Rosa Mota for example.

In any case, the men's race was all about Sir Mo Farah and his quest to win five on the bounce: and the field whittled down to three, and once it got towards South Shields, off he went to claim a famous win. He didn't beat his personal best over the distance but was close, and indeed the time was inside one hour which is pretty amazing - only a handful of people have ever done that so it's a real exclusive club to be a member of to be perfectly honest. Well done to him!

After that I got myself changed and headed off on the tram first of all, as I was off to the Cherry Red Records Stadium (aka Kingsmeadow, home of AFC Wimbledon) to watch Manchester City Women's season opener away at Chelsea Women. It was a case of getting to WImbledon on the tram and then getting the train three stops to Norbiton, and from there a walk along some streets to the main road, then down to the stadium itself. Surprisingly a number of families all got off the train too and were walking along to the ground, and a positive to see so many of them making the trip out.

I got to the ticket office, got my ticket for £6 and for that I was sat in the main stand, the Paul Strank Stand. It had eight rows of seating and no pillars, so a good view wherever. I sat towards one side of the ground and noted the City fans in the South stand in one corner, close to where BT Sport were transmitting from, with Eilidh Barbour hosting along with Sue Smith and Laura Bassett. I got myself a pie too - a nice chicken and mushroom one for £3.50, so that was decent. All four sides had cover, and a classic standing terrace behind the goal too - proper old school football ground!

Anyway, the game kicked off and it really was a good game all told - no goals, but plenty of chances for both sides. Chelsea looked threatening whenever their Korean player Ji got on the ball, and later on when Fran Kirby came on she added some impetus to the side. For my City side, Jill Scott was a titan in midfield and really won everthing, Nikita Parris got forward a lot and had perhaps the best chance to score which was blocked, and also Georgia Stanway again impressed with her runs and set plays when she took the corners.

It definitely felt like the two title contenders slugging it out and both sides went for it, but some superb last minute tackles from the likes of Steph Houghton and Gemma Bonner for City and indeed Jess Carter and Millie Bright for Chelsea was the only reason that the scores stayed at 0-0. It was a warm day and a good game to watch overall, showing just how competitive the Women's Super League is now. Tune of the day in the meantime is the excellent "Nightmare" by Brianbug which City used to have in the introduction to the players coming out, all the build up today just wanted me to hear that to get both sides ready to go..

Saturday 8th September - Greenwich Meantime

I decided this morning, as this was a free weekend that neither The Love In My Heart or I were seeing each other, that I was going to do the next stage of the Jubilee Greenway walk. I had done the first three (and the last) sections, and the fourth and fifth were virtually the same as what I'd already done in the Capital Ring, so it was on to take section six, which would be from Woolwich Foot Tunnel to Greenwich via the River Thames in the main. I got myself up and changed, and it was then off on the train, first to London Bridge and then to Woolwich Arsenal after that.

I got to the Woolwich Foot Tunnel, and of course this marks the start and end of the Capital Ring, so I had been here before of course. It did mean that part of the first half mile or so was the same, and I noted that the riverside path was now open fully so I could walk across a new bridge, head past a cycling post for people who wanted to cycle the path (which doubles as the Q14 Quietway too) and then onwards past some old disused industrial buildings and onwards to the Thames Barrier.

It was the first time I'd seen that barrier up close, and it's really a feat of engineering - it looks spectactular and I can only imagine when there's the test weekend soon where they close it to make sure it all works that this will get a lot of people there. It was then more walking past some more Industrial areas and definitely these streets could have been in The Sweeney back in the day. The quarries then give way as I headed towards Greenwich Peninsula, where flats and houses dominate the landscape and indeed plenty of new developments coming up - and of course the dangleway..

Yes, the Emirates Air Line. It's one that you walk right underneath so you see the cable cars above you and seeing the height that they go to was pretty scary really. I was glad not to be on one but instead head towards Blackwall Point and round the O2, seeing people doing the Up At The O2 climb to the top. I then saw the sculptures as part of The Line art trail, including a road sign called Here which showed the number of miles around the earth, and of course virtually on the Meridian Line itself. Nice all round.

Once past the point and heading past a golf driving range, there's then a long diversion on roads and not next to the river because of developments of both industrial and indeed resedential space. This meant walking close to the entrance of the Blackwall Tunnel, but then of course the Meantime Brewing Company, which of course is the home of some very nice beer. I had to pop into the bar and have a half of their very nice Dark Horse, which was very dark and very lovely. In fact I might have to come back one day for a brewery tour!

It was then walking through residential streets and past some flats to get back on to the path itself, passing some lovely old pubs as well as two boating clubs, and then towards Greenwich itself, with of course the Royal Naval College marking the end of the section nicely. I had a nice mooch around Greenwich of course, spending time in the record shops and indeed the market, with all its usual great stalls, and then off towards Greenwich Park, which was as per usual busy with families.

I had completed the walk I wanted to do, but wanted to walk a bit more and headed up the hill road towards the Pavilion Café, had a well earned coffee there and then walked towards the far end of the park and the flower gardens. From there, I walked the path towards the back and noted the deer enclosure, and at very long range, there were some deer visible! It was nice to see and definitely one which was a highlight for me, when The Love and I go to Dunham Massey it's always a bonus to see them and this felt like a big bonus today.

Later on at the back of the park I got the 202 bus down to Blackheath station where the On Blackheath festival was in full swing and very audible all around, and then on the train back to London Bridge and to East Croydon. I actually stopped off at Freshfields Market on the way back and treated myself to some very nice beers, which I'd have one with my tea later. I got the Tiny Rebel's Stay Puft, Magic Rock Brewing's El Gingero and By The Horns' Bastard Brag. All looked nice and that was definitely a plus point.

I settled in for the evening after chatting with The Love In My Heart, and then put on some cracking music for the early evening including the excellent album from Bodega. It's very much an art rock statement but I like that sort of thing, having enjoyed all forms of that since the first Roxy Music album. There's the short sharp tracks such as "I Am Not A Cinephile" which clocks in at under a minute, and then the more serious subjects (sort of) such as "Boxes For The Move" (make that tune of the day) and all enjoyable fun.

Friday 7th September - Fish Friday

So it was a good end to the second week in the new job - and certainly lots to keep me on my toes nicely. In the morning I spent some time with one of my colleagues and he was a bit stuck with looking at what SQL settings needed to be set so that a group of users locally would be assigned as suitable SQL admins needed for a piece of software. I was able to use the command line set up and walk through a range of scenarios and crucially work out the correct syntax in order to utilise the computer name correctly, so that was good.

I also spent a bit of time in relation to that this afternoon being able to test out a query in SCCM, which worked nicely. In effect we wanted to see if there were machines out there which already had a SQL instance called SQLEXPRESS (as this is often the default instance name when the software is installed). It looked like not a huge amount had that, and I spotted some had other instance names which were related to other pieces of software. But I think it was good that I could get that information out there so quickly.

Friday is usually the fish day in the restaurant on site, and so today it was some nice lemon sole goujons with chips and mushy peas, which for a mere £3.30 or so cannot be sniffed at - and add some nice San Pellegrino blood orange to the mix - sorted. Always good when you've got the space to relax - and this morning I managed to get in just before 8.30am so the free bacon and egg barm for breakfast was also mine. Whilst the perks are there I may as well use them to be honest.

It was good to be on the tube and train home, and started to think about how much things have changed over the last few weeks. I didn't expect the new job to happen and when it did arrive, it certainly meant I had to get a little bit smarter in terms of work wear, although most of that I did have - mainly new trousers were needed and if I can get any further bargains like the mere £4 I paid in Next Outlet in the Lowry Outlet Mall the other week, all well and good.

I think for me that it's notable that a change really does sometimes bring out the best in you: a new approach, new people to get to know and most of all a real sense of understanding how a different business works. It made me think for some reasons of Depeche Mode's seminal "Everything Counts", especially the first verse, and that for me is tune of the day. I also know that in the long term I'll be able to really make a difference and that does get me feeling good.

Thursday 6th September - No Right To Ride

I'm feeling particularly angry this evening. Nothing to do with work, that's all going well and I've been able to get into some situations where I've been able to contribute well, so that's good. Nothing to do with either The Love In My Heart or Brian the cat either - they're all lovely, and Brian even gave me a little meow down the phone when I was chatting with The Love earlier on in the evening. And nothing to do with the fact that there's now a family who have moved in next door to my flat who seem to be wanting to nail stuff to the walls (despite it being against the contract terms).

No, my anger is aimed at Northern Rail and the way that they, yet again, see it fit to treat passengers with disdain and utter contempt. I had noted a few weeks ago of a lovely woman called Sara (she's called AgonyAutie on Twitter by the way) who had had all sorts of difficulties as Northern's staff were refusing to allow her to travel with her mobility scooter. Sara is still waiting for a powered wheelchair from the NHS, and indeed she also has Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS for short) which effectively means that any form of folding wheelchair to be carried and pushed is simply not an option.

Despite assurances from Northern after her previous episode that such issues wouldn't happen again, lo and behold that the staff at Blackpool North had decided to be particularly nasty to her, citing their regulations but also this was despite an allowance from one of their heads that she could make the journey. I felt disgusted watching the video and seeing how the staff treated her, and even worse when you saw that some of the people who claimed to work for Northern were more than keen to send online abuse and be rather horrible all round. This is 2018 - there is absolutely no need or warrant for any of this.

All of this highlights, as if any proof were needed, that the way we treat at least one in five people in this country who, as part of them being a person, are different because of a disability, is utterly shocking. I think about my friend and diehard City fan who I've known for over twenty plus years and seen his dystonia get worse - when I first got to know him, he could use crutches, nowadays it is a wheelchair. What I can tell you is that he's a brilliant person with a really good dry sense of humour, is very intelligent, and is one the nicest people I've ever met. I see him, as my mate, pure and simple. That sort of thing could have happened to him as he used to use a motorised scooter for some time too.

What I don't get and what really irritates me is the fact that it's not just Northern, but a number of train companies who see some passengers as an inconvenience. I have witnessed with my own eyes the non-caring attitude of GTR (Southern, Thameslink etc) and only this week Greater Anglia also hadn't covered themselves in glory either with another tale of woe at Liverpool Street. Things need to change, and David Bowie's "Changes" seems apt (so tune of the day) - we want equality for everyone, it's as simple as that really. And yet it seems really difficult for people to get that.

So, if you haven't already done so, you may want to put any recent Delay Repay claims to good use and back this campaign which will help fund legal cases, show that train companies (and their self-styled Fail Delivery Group) are in breach of the law and help get those changes happening. If it takes a test case for them to get off their backside, it's shameful on them, but it at least means we get a legal precedent to sue their backsides with in future. So back the campaign please, and do so now.

Wednesday 5th September - Planning Ahead

So I've been spending a fair bit of time today in discussions, meetings and the like, working on some plans ahead. However, what I've also noted is that there's also a real need to plan ahead in terms of getting some things right that aren't as right as I personally would like them to be. One of which, which I spotted, was that the SCCM distribution points all don't report that everything appears to be as green and clean as they should be. I've spotted two of the causes of errors, so am working to get that sorted, and although potentially minor, I want to be sure that it's all good.

I think too that there's definitely a lot to do in a short space of time and that's an interesting conundrum to be put under some form of time pressure as well. I noted that I had managed to get a fair few things done ahead of time which is good, but I know that there's a heck of a lot to do in a shortish space of time. I am being realistic: I know what I can achieve and when but I also am thinking that it's sensible not to rush too much either: more haste and less speed and all that. We shall most definitely see.

Anyhoo, I got home later and watched the third episode of Bodyguard, which was gripping stuff. I think most people would have seen the relationship develop into a dynamic arc as part of that, but also there definitely appears to be a sense of that there's people out to get the Home Secretary (excellently played by Keeley Hawes) and there's lots of subplots happening. I have a feeling that actually there might be something which triggers a whole cavalcade of events towards the final episode, similar to some of those epic interrogation scenes in Line of Duty.

What I did do tonight was also to get the online food shopping order in. I remembered that a while ago I got a goodwill voucher from Tesco for a late delivery, and added to a Clubcard voucher I also had meant a fair few quid off. It also did mean that I'd get all the more heavier stuff delivered on a Friday evening when I'm in, so much less hassle rather than me venture out to the large Tesco down the A23 in Purley, which at least I know where that is.

I also spent a bit of time blasting out some KMFDM and rocking out to some of their classic tracks remade for their "Rocks - Milestones Reloaded" compilation. Naturally there's "A Drug Against War" on there which incidentally was the version used for the downloadable content for Rock Band 2 and Rock Band 3 (I know, I played it!) and that was awesome, as I could get maximum vocals on that one. Has to be tune of the day of course due to even Sascha of KMFDM admitting it's the one he likes to play the most. Hell yeah!

Tuesday 4th September - Train of Pain

I really could have done without the nightmarish journey into work today, that very nearly got me in late to work, which to be honest would never do. I had set off all well and good, and with an eye on getting the 0746 train from East Croydon which gets me to Farringdon and then on to Baker Street via the tube in good time. However, when I got to the station I noted that there appeared to be some signalling issues and indeed that trains coming Southbound were very slow for some reason. Uh-oh, I thought, this is not good.

Yet the 0746 train appeared a couple of minutes behind schedule, so all well and good, and managed to get a seat as the train headed towards London Bridge. However, it got to around a mile outside the station and the train ground to a halt, and then stayed there for around twenty minutes or so without any notification. The driver was attempting to contact the signaller, but that signaller was very busy. I checked online and it turned out that apparently a train had broken down between Blackfriars and St Pancras, so that wasn't helping trains get anywhere, but also by the look of it, ahead of us at London Bridge was also on a go slow.

As the train pulled into London Bridge, still nothing, then a few minutes later the driver announced that the train was staying for a fair bit of time. So much so in fact that actually another train pulled in next door on Platform 6 and proceeded the way we were going, so something was very amiss with the train I was on. I like many others got off and considered other options, so down to the Jubilee Line it was, as the Northern Line gateline was closed off due to congestion as well. The Jubilee train was absolutely rammed but managed to get on, and eventually get to Baker Street.

One thing I've learned in my time here is that to always be ready with a diversionary route if things don't go according to plan. The bus to Victoria from work takes far too long or else I could have considered that as an option to then get the train, or it's a change of tube from Baker Street which seems a bit pointless all round. Either way, it's good to know that Jubilee from London Bridge (or Bakerloo from Waterloo if I came in via Clapham Junction) are other potential options along the way.

In the meantime I spent tonight watching the second episode of Bodyguard on iPlayer as I needed to catch up after missing the last two episodes due to me being on trains and all that. I have to say that I didn't expect the two main characters to start getting together, but it did seem like that was also part of the plot for some reason too. I do think there's plenty of subplots in a typically Jed Mercurio written way, so it'll be interesting to fathom out who is on the wrong side and who is the right. Exciting stuff, and that theme tune is suitably gripping, so tune of the day it most definitely is.

Monday 3rd September - In The Swing

So the start of the second week in the new job, and plenty of meetings took place today, in fact two of them during the course of the day. Being invited to these sort of meetings is quite useful as it means that I definitely am getting involved, which is good, but also getting to know people and know the business a bit more which is also a definite plus to be honest. For me, it's been a good positive thing and as I get to know people I can get to understand more of how things need to work and what I need to do in terms of getting things sorted.

I also ventured out at lunch time as when I had got the 156 bus on Saturday between Heaton Park and Plant Hill, the back of the bus ticket was a voucher I could use where you could get either a Big Mac, McChicken Sandwich or Fillet Of Fish and fries for a mere £1.99, and there was a McDonalds not far from work. The voucher scanned, I was able to put the order in, and all sorted, excellent stuff all round. There was upstairs seating too so I could sit and relax over lunch and gather some thoughts which was pretty useful all round to do - get a plan of action done.

On the positive side, I've spotted some useful info together and been able to at least get an idea of the size of some of the tasks ahead - and crucially spotted also what might not work so well going forward, so stuff to move from and stuff to avoid as well. I think that when you come into a new role, there's always a sense of understanding the tasks in hand in relation to the place you work for, but also bringing a different approach forward with plenty of common sense that gets result.

I headed on the train home and stopped off at Poundland as I needed some bits such as shampoo, deodorant and indeed some batteries, and all decent makes for less is always good. In fact The Love had made my favourite little frangpiane tarts over the weekend and had given me some to take home, so I had one after my tea with a coffee and that was rather nice to have actually. It made me miss her a fair bit though so was nice to talk to her on the phone later on too.

Time to chill out later with the Haçienda Classical album - some 80s and 90s dance classics as done with the Manchester Camerata and the likes of Mike Pickering putting together a nice mix of choons including the likes of "Voodoo Ray", "Pacific State", the Marshall Jefferson classic "Move Your Body" and perhaps best of all, a really nice rendition of "Good Life" by Inner City. Quite like the original too (in fact I have their album too) so that's tune of the day, resembling the life I have now..

Sunday 2nd September - Bee Complete!

It was nice to have some lovely breakfast with The Love In My Heart, and indeed Brian the cat was being his usual cute self and having a little hide in the little tent that he has. In fact so much so that he curled up in there, eyes closed, having a rest. It's alright for some, I thought, as he was all being happy and content despite getting The Love up a few times during the night either wanting a feed, wanting a love, or a bit of both. It's alright for some having such a spoilt time!

Later on we headed off into the city centre for the afternoon and as I didn't have to get the train until 1832 from Manchester Victoria, and with the weather all being lovely, we thought it'd be good to head out and get the bees from Bee in the City whilst they were still possible to do so. I had worked out on a spare copy of the map how many were left to get, and indeed that this mainly centred round Spinningfields and around the Arndale Centre, so once The Love had parked up at the top end of the Northern Quarter (and £2.50 parking all day, pretty good actually) it was off on our adventure.

We spotted the bee by the NCP Arndale car park (thankfully we didn't have to go up into the car park itself!) and through the Arndale to see the one by Top Shop. It was then to Market Street to get two there and to New Cathedral Street - they were popular too. We also went down to Kendals but annoyingly this one was behind the shop window with lights and so was hard to try and take the shot through glass - boo. But still undeterred we headed off towards Spinningfields and the Left Bank, getting the one by the bridge and in the Peoples History Museum before stopping off at The Dockyard for a well earned drink by the river.

We made our way through Spinningfields, seeing all the bees there including the great "I Wanna Bee Adored" Stone Roses inspired bee with Mani's signature, and even one that was a tribute to Davina McCall too, and one sponsored by my new workpalce also, before then heading towards the Great Northern complex where there was a market on which was busy, and after the two there it was on towards Albert Square to get those two, and then down and up King Street, with the final one close to Jamie's Italian along the top end of the street. And... that was it! I'd managed to get to all 101 bees in total, so the pictures will be up in the next few days. All the bees, all of them. Result!

We headed off to The Bank pub to have a nice Sunday lunch together, and the pie I had was stunning, as was The Love's roast. The Nicholsons Pale Ale was on fine form as per usual, and it was nice and chilled out, and we stopped off at the Mackie Mayor later on the way back to The Love's car and had a nice relaxing time in there too - and found the cooler place to be is close to the bar section, away from all the hot food stalls and all the heat in there. The day had gone too quickly for me and we had a hug and a kiss before I headed to Victoria to get the train.

And a longer journey home due to the engineeing works at Euston, so on a really quiet Transpennine Express train to Leeds via Huddersfield, and then on to the 1946 from there to London Kings Cross. It was relatively calm actually and blasted out a fair bit of the Shame album including the epic album closer "Angie" (make that one tune of the day) and it was then before I knew it a walk to St Pancras to get the train back to East Croydon. I arrived back just after 11pm, but was so pleased to have made it and it'll be the last diversionary route I need to take for some time at least.

Saturday 1st September - Buzzing With A Win

The Love In My Heart and I got up and had a nice breakfast together, with Brian the cat wanting lots of attention and dry cat food along the way. He does look particularly cute though when he is all snuggled and settled in and wants to do nothing more than hide in his play tunnel with a little ball by his side. His new favourite ball is one that The Love found a while back - it's all silvery and he seems intrigued by smelling it and then playing with it, his ball skills are pretty good to be fair!

Later on I headed off on the tram and The Love had a nice relaxing rest of the morning with Brian the cat. I was on the trail of more bees for Bee in the City, as The Love mentioned that the likes of Central Library may not be open on a Sunday, so better get them sooner rather than later. In fact, I got off at St Peter's Square, did the art gallery (lots of families around too), then all the ones in the square and Central Library, followed by the ones outside the Bridgwater Hall, Manchester Central and also inside the Royal Exchage Theatre and the Corn Exchange as I was on my way to Manchester Victoria.

Another tram journey ensued: this time to Heaton Park. It was the first time in ages I'd been on the Bury line and so noted Abraham Moss along with the lack of roof in Heaton Park station itself. I was soon walking towards the Stables Café and up the far end of the park to the Dower House, avoiding all the 10K and half marathon runners doing a long run. I then followed downhill all the way to the lake and found the lakeside café where the other bee was, before then going along to Victoria Avenue and getting the 156 bus to Plant Hill Park, getting the bee there and being picked up by The Love on the way home. Ace.

What was also ace was a return visit to the Elizabethan pub in the early afternoon. Not only was a gorgeous new seasonal ale on (bonus) but also we shared their legendary messy chips for lunch in the nice warm weather outside. The Love also went into a couple of shops in Heaton Moor and managed to see some lovely things, and it was just good to relax and walk together as we perused the shops, and she got a parking space which saved having to get one at The Elizabethan. Bonus!

Later on I met with my friend and we watched the Manchester City v Newcastle United game. I was hoping for a good win to keep up the pressure on the likes of Liverpool and Chelsea who had won their first four on the bounce. I was hoping for a good performance and hopes were raised when Raheem Sterling cut in and curled a beauty into the bottom corner, only for a defensive lapse later on where no one was marking the attacker at the back post (I was shouting "Back Post" furiously from the stands too) and it was all too easy for the equaliser for them, so 1-1 at half time.

What we didn't expect was, of all people, Kyle Walker to score (and gain me valuable Fantasy points in the process.) Sergio Agüero laid the ball back to him and he absolutely rifled it low and hard into the bottom corner - a great strike and one deserving to win any game. We needed a third really but of course it didn't come and some tense moments happened late on, but all was good and that's ten points from twelve for us, so not exactly doing too badly ourselves really.

Later on The Love and I had some lovely garlicky gammon with potatoes and veg for tea, and we sat so that she could see The X Factor on ITV1. Of course it was bobbins for me, especially with Robbie Williams and his wife being utterly cringe-worthy. The only saving grace was that the original singer from Livin Joy's 90s dance classic "Dreamer" was on (make that one tune of the day) and she delivered a spot on performance as you'd expect, and it reminded me of being in the likes of 42nd Street and Barkay at the weekends - fun times they were indeed!