Dear Diary...

This is my diary. How things are. Or something. Please note that the diary is archived month by month, so feel free to click the links for the archives:

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Wednesday 13th February - Setting Up

So it was a day of two halves for me at work today: the first half of the day was taken up by our fortnightly team meeting, and lots of us thrashed out some ideas as to what we would be able to do and how we'd be able do it, and also get some movement going forward on how things will look in Windows 10 as well. The good news is that we've pretty much been able to iron out a lot of things, and today I rolled out a way to fix the fact that Sharepoint users who also have Office 64-bit cannot see Datasheet view properly.

You see, in Office 32-bit, there's an add-in for Internet Explorer called Microsoft Office List, which effectively allows the list of files on a SharePoint site to switch between views, and it's part of the Microsoft Access Database Engine to do so. Unfortunately, even though the same components are in Office 64-bit, it doesn't install the add-in, because it's deemed to be 32-bit only. And you can't get away with installing Access Database Engine 2016 separately if you have Office 2016 64-bit installed, as the installer prevents you from doing so.

So, the clever and easier workaround is to effectively use the 2010 version of the Access Database Engine, extract the MSI install from the downloaded executable, and then deploy that as you would do normally via SCCM. This then gives you a working add-in which then allows the view for those users on SharePoint sites accordingly, and all works as you would expect it to out of the box. Nifty all round of course, and means that we can also ensure that gets included for those users who need it when they want Office 64-bit as well. I win!

And I also win at something else too - effectively the way that I managed to fix a nice Outlook related issue. This Microsoft article is a bit of an essential read, but it's this: if you don't have the correct Outlook shortcut in the root of the Start Menu / Programs folder, or if you use Group Policy to disable the common programs folder, then you're not going to get any new email notifications in the bottom right. The Office install was customised to not have any shortcuts (and they were then recreated later) but what I did was to take a working Outlook 2016 shortcut from both bitnesses of Office installs (as they're different) and use a policy preference to copy the file over, depending on bitness. And yes, it works!

I spent some time tonight sorting out for the weekend away with The Love In My Heart (a much needed break for the two of us) and also then worked on getting a few things sorted here, including making sure I had everything ready and good to go - including changing the bedding, putting that in the wash, cleaning, and on top of that listening to some cracking music too - including Paul Weller's True Meanings album. The track "Gravity" is short and sweet, and shows some beautiful acoustics too, so that's tune of the day for me.

Tuesday 12th February - Ale And Bees

So it was noted that when I decided later in the day to head to the large Tesco in Purley that the real ale bottle selection was a tad on the underwhelming side, the only positive being I was able to get some of the rather ace Big Drop Stout that's a mere 0.5% and rather tasty as well (see more on that in my low alcohol beer reviews) - and even some Old Speckled Hen in the same low alcohol variety. I think it's perhaps more now that people want to have that choice, and preferably 0% at all if they have to be the designated driver but still fancy a drop of the beer on occasion.

I headed off to Morrisons as I remembered that they have a store at Fiveways Corner, not far from Waddon station and within easy reach from me on one bus route too. In fact that was well worth it, because their selection was pretty good, and they even had the 0% St Peter's Without Gold to try too. I did however pick up the likes of the fab Cranbourne Poacher, St Peter's Plum Porter (absolutely stunning that) as well as some classics and as they were four for £6, not that expensive either. It'd be rude for me not to get some eh?

Tonight was also the first of the new series (at long long last) of The Great British Sewing Bee, a long favourite of The Love In My Heart especially, and I didn't mind it too either as it was one of those programmes where you admire people making stuff and thinking "that's pretty good for a mere four hours!" Admittedly there was also the Claudia factor for me in that in previous series it was the absolutely lovely Claudia Winkleman who hosted and was just the right side of comic and yet comforting to all of the contestants. I still think the theme should have that "cha cha cha!" bit at the end though, obviously the BBC didn't get that memo.. still tune of the day mind you.

So no Claudia this series (boo!) but instead Joe Lycett. I don't mind him as a comedian, but I did feel like he was a bit too over the top for something like Sewing Bee. They can leave all the slight campness to Patrick Grant to be honest (whom The Love adores, so she was more than happy to see him back) and it was almost as if Joe was trying too hard to make an impression on the show, and make it about him. It's not really, it's the contestants and what their makes were like in what they called Cotton week, and still in the same warehouse type building close to Maltby Street Market in Bermondsey too.

So the star maker was Judith with a rather contrasting but good jumpsuit, but at the other end there were unfinished items a plenty or ones which didn't work, and despite pushing the boat out for his design, Tom was the first to leave the sewing room. Brave but possibly a little too ambitious first week when you want to just be sure you focus on the quality, getting the later attention to detail in a bit. I have to say too that Esme looked more like the Edna character from The Incredibles too - fabulous, darling!

Monday 11th February - Taking It To The Maxx

After work it was off on the train and then the tram to Waddon Marsh tram stop, and to the local TK Maxx there. I had ordered a new jacket online and I had had an email to let me know it was ready for collection. I had actually seen it online and liked it, and The Love In My Heart gave it her approval too. The thing was when I looked initially it was £32 but then was reduced to £26. And as I had a £20 gift card, may as well use that and put the rest to in cash and all that. It worked well ordering it, and I collected it earlier. And, I like it! Nice contrast between the medium grey and the red colour of the zip, plus an inside pocket too. It also feels warm too.

I also later was going to check the online banking and all that but the little device I used for that failed to come on - maybe the battery had gone on it. A call to my bank later and that was all sorted and a replacement was being sent in the post to me. I did have to go through a considerable number of questions on the phone to get through (as you would expect) for security reasons, and no way would anyone be able to know all of them either, so that was pretty good all round really. Always good when these things work.

Anyway, I had a good listen to the Sporting Themes vinyl album I picked up in Manchester on Saturday. It plays really well and has been looked after superbly - and shows in the fact that the music played well on my system too. I'll plan to do a full review of it soon as it's such a contrast from this crapola CD - for a start, this LP has the proper themes - no rubbish. Which is good. And it has Brian Bennett's "Chase Side Shoot Up", you know, the proper golf theme, one which no less than Alan Hansen says is "phenomenal". And who I am to argue with him? Tune of the day all day long that.

I had a good chatter with The Love In My Heart, and noted from her chat that Brian the cat had decided to get up on the sofa. He only seems to do that when I'm not around, maybe he gets jealous and stays on the pouffle. Although when The Love set up his toy mice in a line, Brian's response was to have his cross ears out for the picture that The Love sent me. He can be a right moody so and so to be perfectly honest, so shows that it's not just me that he gets a bit icky with!

I also looked at sorting out a few trains too and so have The Love's trains all sorted for some visits to me at the end of March and the end of April too. It is nice when she comes to see me as that's less travelling for me and means she and I can have a good time here. Of course because that means she has to get someone to check in on Brian the cat, we tend to keep it to once a month to be pretty fair all round, but it shows that we're both committed to making all the things work for us long term.

Sunday 10th February - The Joy Of Six

It was a nice relaxing morning with The Love In My Heart and Brian the cat having well earned sleep and snuggle time on the bed (although Brian tends to purr loudly when he wants his Mummy to give him a tummy tickle, and he is adorably cute whilst doing so) and we also had some nice breakfast too to set us up for the day. It was going to be relatively chilled to be honest with me off to the football later and The Love planning something nice for tea (she always makes nice things, really appreciated from me let me tell you) and that was going to be something to look forward to later.

The World Grand Prix final snooker was on ITV4, so whilst The Love had a shower and got herself ready, with Brian sat patiently in the bathroom waiting for Mummy, I saw the opening four frames between Judd Trump and Ali Carter. They were both shared 2-2 and Ali did two good comebacks to win his frames, including a pretty audacious double on the green to do a clearance which included a free ball opener to snatch the frame away. It was going to be close I think and it showed just how competitive it all was at the top too.

It was off to the Etihad later to meet my friend and it was a big game for us as it was Chelsea at home - the second London club to be faced in a week or so. After us giving Arsenal a 3-1 beating I was more concerned about Chelsea, not least because we had lost to them at their place and they were still competing for a top four position themselves. My friend and I were going to be happy with 1-0 to be perfectly honest, although I suspect that with Liverpool winning yesterday, we needed a win to stay on track to put the title race to the wire.

What none of us expected was what actually happened. City surged forward early on and after some good work down the right, a cross came in from Bernardo Silva which was partly cut out and then Raheem Sterling hammered home for 1-0, inside four minutes. A few minutes later Bernardo set up Sergio Agüero who inexplicably missed when it was easier to score. However, what happened then was absolutely awesome. Oleksandr Zinchenko gained the ball back on the left, passed it to Agüero who shot a thunderbolt into the top corner from twenty five yards out, an absolute peach of a goal to say the least. Awesome it was.

City weren't done there either. Ross Barkley attempted a defensive header which only found Agüero, and, well, you know what will happen next there. And after some good work down the left, with Agüero's attempt at a shot blocked the ball came to Ilkay Gundogan who blasted it home low and hard. Twenty four minutes gone and City were 4-0 up. My friend asked me if it was a dream. No, it wasn't. It was City at their unstoppable ruthless best and it was mightily impressive to say the least.

City carried on in the second half although they didn't need to go full pelt really. Raheem Sterling was fouled in the box and Sergio Agüero scored from the spot, his second hat trick in a week and with that goal, plenty of records set or equalled. So the goal before meant he was City's all time league top scorer, and extended that to 160 league goals. He also equalled Alan Shearer for the most Premier League hat tricks (11, although Agüero has also done them for only one club too) and if that wasn't enough, he also joined Mo Salah as top scorer with 17 Premier League goals this season too.

And to finish the job off, David Silva came off the bench and fed Zinchenko down the left. His pass found Raheem Sterling who slotted home for 6-0. This was Chelsea's biggest ever Premier League defeat and their heaviest league defeat since losing 7-0 to Nottingham Forest in 1991, that's how impressive it was (and bear in mind Chelsea then were nowhere near as decent as they were now). The City tannoy played Madness' "One Step Beyond" at the end (make that tune of the day) with the City fans dancing, and it was absolutely joyous all round. My friend and I were just amazed and happy really!

Saturday 9th February – In Search Of Vinyl

The Love In My Heart was up reasonably early as she had arranged to spend the Saturday with one of her friends, and I was going to get up to doing some browsing for vinyl and CDs around the city whilst she was doing that. I always appreciate you have to have quality time with friends, and I know too she was looking forward to today. She got herself ready, looked lovely in her jeans and blue jumper, and Brian the cat was all fed and purring contently, and after she left, he had a nice sit down and genuinely felt relaxed but wasn’t going to let me give him a cuddle easily. I left him to it and got myself ready.

I was thinking about the all day bus ticket but didn’t have my Stagecoach smart card, but then realised that actually all I needed to go was Zones 1 and 2 on the Metrolink tram, so now with the new zoned fares, a day travelcard for that is £3.40, only 20p dearer than a return would have been prior to the zonal changes. That of course meant I could go to Chorlton (and even Salford Quays too) and effectively pay the one cost, and change plans en route. Now if only the trains could be convinced to join the zonal fares and that would represent real change for Manchester, and in my view, about time too.

It was first on the tram to St Peter’s Square before then off on the tram to Chorlton. I did note that Central Library had a photography exhibition on which I might visit later, a fact confirmed by The Love In My Heart as she and her friend went around it and her text said to me “you would love it” so mental note made to go there later. I got off at Chorlton tram stop and headed to Kingbee Records, and had a good mooch in there. In fact, it was tempting to get several 12” singles although the prices were fair (and therefore not cheap) and it was pretty busy overall in there. I still like the fact that it’s all neatly laid out, items are easy to find, and interestingly, a large rack of cassettes – I suspected the format is making a comeback, but didn’t realise just how much (by the way I still have a top notch Marantz double tape deck!)

It was then a nice walk along Wilbraham Road and then down the roads to Chorlton Green, past the Horse and Jockey pub and then along Beech Road. I did feel sad that the former record shop and café On The Corner wasn’t there anymore, but was nice to have a mooch around some of the shops with their nice gifts and items, definitely of the “little shops” that The Love admires so much. In fact I was half tempted to have a coffee in a number of places to be honest but decided that I would get one later, and walked back to Barlow Moor Road and via some charity shops and more vinyl browsing back to the tram stop to get off at St Peter’s Square this time.

I went into Central Library and up to the first floor to see the photography exhibition. And it was very good indeed, I have to say. Plenty of iconic images of Manchester bands, solo artists and venues from the 1970s onwards including outside shots of queues for the Electric Circus venue in Collyhurst, Anthony H Wilson outside The Factory in Hulme, and the likes of Buzzcocks, Joy Division, The Fall, The Stone Roses, James, Happy Mondays, New Order, Inspiral Carpets et al all being represented well. The costs to get some of the iconic signed reprints though were eyewatering – up to £2000 in some cases. Wowzers. I did also like the fact that they had a number of photos of new Manchester acts as a final display, showing the lasting legacy. Thoroughly well worth a visit but you only have till 22nd February to do so.

I went then to the Virgin Money lounge to relax with a coffee and the telly had on the Man U v Fulham game, which was being won at a canter. For Chinese New Year there were also some painting classes taking place too in a certain style, which was good to see. I had a coffee and relaxed, before then heading off to Fopp on Brown Street. Which was closed. I had a suspicion that it may have been a store to close as part of the HMV buy out and restructure from a Canadian firm, but I didn’t think it was going to be that quick. I was gutted, used to love that place especially when they did coffee for £1 and you could chill out downstairs after browsing and buying your music with some books to read too. It got people in and got them buying too.

I then went along the Northern Quarter and to some classic record shop haunts including the likes of Vinyl Revival and Vinyl Exchange, which had numerous nice rarirties on display. I had been chatting to my brother earlier about Black Sabbath original releases, so seeing the first two there for £80 and only in VG condition proved what I’d said to him about spiral Vertigo label being expensive to track down these days. Lastly I went into Afflecks Palace and to the third floor and to Vinyl Resting Place, and that was a proper shop. The Smiths was playing in the background, and had a very good mooch in there too. I ended up buying some vinyl too – on the BBC Records label, the album Sporting Themes, which has many original sports themes of the time. Crucially this includes Brian Bennett’s awesome “Chase Side Shoot Up”, ie the proper golf theme and tune of the day which is missing from the otherwise brilliant CD compilation The Great Sporting Experience. It also includes the BBC World Cup themes from 1974 and 1978, and the other omission from the CD, A Musical Joke, arranged from Mozart by Waldo de los Rios – the proper showjumping theme! Well happy with that.

Later on I met up with The Love and her friend and went first to 57 Thomas Street for a drink, where there was no Marble lager on but they did do IPA in a can which was decent enough (I had the Marble Bitter anyway). After that we headed across to the Abel Heywood and they had a really nice dark ale on so that was me sorted, and Birra Moretti for The Love and friend. It was nice to see her friend and have a good natter (we have lots of musical stuff in common) and it was a good way to spend some quality time. We all said goodbyes later at the tram stop and The Love and I headed home and fussed over Brian the cat for the rest of the evening whilst watching telly, especially a fascinating documentary on BBC about David Bowie’s early years – well worth a watch on iPlayer if you get chance.

Friday 8th February – The Exceptions To The Rule

I was assisting a number of staff with some installation issues today, mainly around a new release of one of the pieces of software where we found that during testing some things didn’t work as they should – most likely when there were extra add-ons installed that didn’t like interaction with the main piece of software. However, as I was road testing a number of installations, I also wanted to make sure that those installations were still allowed with AppLocker and the relevant restrictions enabled.

And it was a good job that I did. Normally you allow all files in the Windows folder, and add exceptions for those that you don’t want to be allowed (the likes of regedit, command prompt, Windows Reset etc.) I had disallowed Powershell as well and also had disallowed wscript too so that vbs scripts may not be allowed to run either. I then attempted to perform a couple of App-V related installations in App-V 5.1 which I knew should work. They failed. Miserably. So I took a look at AppEnforce.log – and sure enough the enforcement was attempting to launch Powershell, as the user, to run the commandlet to register the application and publish it. The error code came back to Group Policy restrictions which meant what was set in AppLocker had caused it. So I went back to policy, removed the exception, re-ran the App-V install. It worked.

In fact I also noted that there were a couple of application installers that could run in the user’s context, as a user, and was using some VBS code to do its work. Of course that too was blocked for the same reason until I changed the exceptions to remove wscript from the list. What this did prove however was that the policy was in fact working (because it had blocked the application in the first place) and that we had a justifiable reason currently for not including it in the exceptions list. Others can stay there and it does mean that when I complete documentation on this, we know it’s been properly tested and covered accordingly.

After work I decided to go and have something for tea before the train to Manchester later on. I thought about it and actually realised that heading out of central London enough would be sensible to get a cheaper meal, so went on the Bakerloo line from work to Elephant and Castle, and back to one of my former haunts The Rockingham Arms. They in fact did pizzas with a drink for a very reasonable price so it was a ham and mushroom pizza plus a pint of Brewdog Punk IPA, job very much done. In fact it showed me how much the place hasn’t changed in general – the shopping centre is still there and still ageing.

Later on it was on the 68 bus to Euston (I know this well from my time of working near Elephant) and in good time for the 2040 departure to Manchester Piccadilly. It was a relatively quiet journey apart from the fact the toilet in the coach I was in didn’t work and people were pressing the door button not seeing it was lit red and therefore out of order. I did however kick back with some music and listened in the main to the excellent Juanita Stein album, which I got a few weeks back. The opening track from that “All The Way” is simply majestic and shows a real sense of emotion too – so definitely tune of the day for me. It was nice to get back into Manchester relatively on time and before long I was snuggled up with The Love In My Heart and Brian the cat ready for sleep.

Thursday 7th February - XChange of Venue

It was off to a nice acoustic night and to a different venue in the centre of Croydon too - this time the Urban XChange Bar, which is on the ground floor as part of the Lansdowne Hotel complex, opposite the Jurys Inn and not that far from East Croydon station if you're taking the bridge to nowhere either. I had managed to get home from work in good time, have something to eat for tea and then head out for the relatively short walk through the town centre and then past the Travelodge and on the way to the venue.

In fact it seemed quite chilled out - some nice multicoloured decor on the walls, and the bar seemed to have keg type beer only but they did have some craft ale as part of that, and I plumped for the Over Easy ale, from Craft Academy. It was a good session type ale that was slightly hoppy but actually went down pretty nicely - granted though it is supported by Greene King, whose IPA is absolutely horrid. Seriously. If that's the only thing ever on offer on cask in a pub, it's time to leave and find another one. The staff seemed lovely and the bar also did a thing with some pizzas as well which all looked nice as they were served too. It'd be my 107th different gig venue overall too.

First up then was Dave Sears, minus the Folk Thing, but still being pretty wistful and playing some nice folk numbers very much in the style of Bert Jansch (no bad thing). He really did play some really nice songs overall, and the crowd were respectfully silent, which surprised even him which was good. I think too that for me it'd have been nice to know what some of the songs were called, but nonetheless I enjoyed the songs he did play and that set the evening up very nicely indeed.

It was then Matt Tiller next, whom I've seen before at one of the Totally Acoustic nights. His witty songs were really funny and he got someone from the audience to help him out with the English language parts to the song he sings in French, Henri Le Chauffeur De Camion Amoureux and that was pretty funny. He also went through the very funny Personal Space, and even a song about Donald Trump, how he had him in the boot of his car and held him hostage in his cellar. Yes, seriously. And a twenty second song called This Song Proves That Homophobia Is Wrong in the middle of the set too. And The Plymouth Hotel, a song about a hotel that his parents used to run when he was younger. Rather lovely all round.

Finally, it was a storming set from MJ Hibbett, and he was on proper good form tonight. Mixing a good mix of the old and the new, it was nice to hear the likes of Mental Judo for the first time in a fair while, and the new song he wrote a few days ago, You're a Tory Now, which sums up what happened to some friends you knew when younger Ace, and tune of the day for that reason. Naturally I still adore In The North Stand so was great to hear that one being played as well as My Boss Was In An Indie Band Once, and Being Happy Doesn't Make You Stupid (the crowd even joined in with the "Hey there emo boy, give us all a smile" lyric, good to see.)

The set ended with the rather majestic It Only Works Because You're Here, which still is one of my all time favourite songs of his, simply because it just works well and is perhaps the song about love in the IT community too. The time went too quickly and before we knew it, it was time to say our farewells with Mark heading back over the bridge to nowhere to East Croydon and me back homewards. Hurrah for inexpensive gigs in nice venues with good music all round!

 

Wednesday 6th February - Substance Over Style

Last night I spent a bit of time listening to the classic Substance 1987 compilation by New Order, especially as there's so many great tracks from the Mancunian legends on there. However, I must admit I've always had a bit of a love hate relationship with that album. Not because of the tracks, because they're great, but of Factory Records' attempts over the various formats to attempt to derail the trainspotters and collectors (and some of the fans) by not exactly doing things by the book.

Ideally, you'd have liked it to have been all of the band's singles to date (and almost all of them on 12" only to be fair) but because of things like editing and also having some reworked versions, you didn't get the originals in their entirety. So, for example, both Temptation and Confusion were replaced with a 1987 remixed version, and the likes of The Perfect Kiss, Shellshock and Subculture on CD1 as well as Hurt on CD2 were edited a fair bit - in the case of Subculture around three minutes chopped off in total including the third verse. And to make matters worse, because of limitations, several of the B-sides that were on the double cassette version were missing from the CD too, so no Dubvulture, Shellcock, True Dub etc.

One final thing too: both single A-sides, Procession and Murder, were both bunged onto the second CD and in the wrong chronological order too. And not forgetting, in line with the Everything's Gone Green single that Cries and Whispers is mislabelled Mesh on the CD - and the real Mesh is missing from the CD also - most likely due to time constraints of the CD. The more I thought about it, the more I'd love to see a proper issue done with the original tracks and unedited all the way through.

I worked out that it would be a 3CD set in all, but you'd have all the original versions, including version 1 of Ceremony (not the later re-record once Gillian joined), Procession being track 2, Murder coming after Thieves Like Us, and finally on CD the full 12" version of Shellshock. In fact, that'd be the last on disc 1, with the remaining singles being the start of CD2, then the B-sides, unedited and in order too. In fact, all the way up to Kiss of Death before CD3 begins, with plenty of the cassette extras added, ending with the epic True Dub as the tape would have done. There was also space left to add both the 1987 versions of Temptation and Confusion, the film version of Shellshock and the ace Shep Pettibone 12" remix of True Faith (on the 12" remix single or the CD-Video single, which I'm lucky enough to own - I'm going to make that mix tune of the day)

But yeah, it needs doing really. A timely issue it would be too and definitely one which would be able to demonstrate just how good the band were and having all the original unedited singles in one place would be massively appreciated. Part of the reason I got the Retro box set on CD was because it finally had the original 12" versions of Temptation and Confusion on CD at long last (and by the way, I do have the vinyl of those singles too.) And to make me even happier tonight, City won 2-0 at Everton and went back top of the league too. Get in.

Tuesday 5th February - Scooby Doo Ending

Another busy day, but I did head out at lunch time and managed to have a nice walk down some of the shopping streets close to work. I just fancied a walk outside in the fresh air and didn't want to be inside really. I've come to the conclusion that it's always good to get some fresh air and be away from the office and take full advantage of your lunch time, especially if you've got somewhere you can go that sells food reasonably cheaply or for that matter you can get some shopping done if you need to. I must admit that it's nice to do that.

In fact before that we'd had a productive meeting in terms of resolving some issues and managing the expectations of those issues. We headed up in the lift back to the floor we're based on, and I mentioned about the quote from Scooby Doo of "We would have got away with it had you not been for you meddling kids" which had them both smiling, and one of them giving a little rendition of the proper Scooby Doo theme (make that tune of the day). I then of course made the statement that Scooby Doo was completely ruined when Scrappy Doo came into play, which they both agreed. Both said people have gone up pretty hugely in my estimation!

Later on I sorted out some tickets for Mum for her holiday - she's off to Cornwall in June and wanted to take in a show at the Minack Theatre in Porthcurno. The Summer season tickets went on sale yesterday and after speaking to her friend she decided that she wanted to go to see a show there during her break. In fact, the prices weren't too bad and it does mean that she'll be able to enjoy a show. I went with The Love In My Heart years ago and we saw A Midsummer Night's Dream there, which was ace.

And.. if you happen to be down there in May, get ready for next week, as there's shows in May with the ace Seth Lakeman on his own acoustic, and then a Levellers acoustic show for two nights. I know that'll be pretty good all round actually, and knowing how both can really get a crowd going even with acoustic sets, it's nice that they play such venues. In fact one of Seth's previous gigs here had a DVD release which I have, and it seemed a very special atmosphere. So if you live down those parts, do go.

I noted also tonight that Newport County had beaten Middlesbrough 2-0 in their FA Cup replay, which means that the game is on BT Sport against Manchester City in the 5th round a week on Saturday. It does seem like the muddy pitch might be a leveller, but if you can play football you should be able to play on any surface. There's also no replays either this time, straight into extra time and penalties, so I'd rather see the job done within 90 minutes either way to be fair. It's going to be interesting to say the least...

Monday 4th February - Lock and Load

So today I spent some time documenting on how I'd be implementing AppLocker, with a view of using the security model of least privelege so in effect those who aren't administrators cannot run certain applications, but those who are would be allowed to do so. It was one of the recommendations that we implement some form of lockdown to the local machine following a review, and in essence as we've got all the necessary structure in place for AppLocker, it made sense to go with that way.

There is of course one key thing needed to be sure of for Windows 10 (and it's easily missed unless you edit the policy on a Windows 10 machine by the way) is that the policy needs to be sure that any default Microsoft metro style applications (the .appx and bundle ones) are allowed to be run by all users. Not allowing those, especially the Shell Experience Host, means that you will get things such as Start Menu breakage, which is not really what you want. So I documented that with a suitable note, and to ensure those are allowed accordingly. Preferably as we've added a custom .appx app for the pen settings for one device, I made sure I ran the checks on that laptop in question so it can be included - easy enough I guess.

It was then working backwards in the case of priveleges, so one of the default rules is that you allow executables in the Windows folder and subfolders so that the operating system can run all it needs to. However for example you may want to add exceptions so that for example standard users cannot run Powershell at all. Effectively the exceptions are what you want to disable, and use the standard rule for users (as there's an inbuilt rule for Admins to run all).

Also, because you can use digital signatures, in effect if you detect the 32-bit version of Windows Powershell but use the digital signature, any executable matching the same signature is also blocked, which means (you guessed it) the 64 bit version of Powershell is also blocked as well. Add the same for Powershell ISE and in effect the user cannot run the app, and even from a command prompt this doesn't run - you get a "This has been blocked by policy" setting. Nice, I know.

Tonight I was sorting out a few things in the flat but also keeping an eye on tonight's game at West Ham as they played Liverpool. They deservedly manged to get a 1-1 draw, which means that the gap is now three points with the same number of games, and with a better goal difference for City. So if Manchester City can beat Everton on Wednesday night, we'd go top, admittedly having played a game more, but as the Liverpool game in hand happens to be at Old Trafford, that could prove to be interesting. So West Ham's classic anthem "I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles" is tune of the day. Cheers lads!

Sunday 3rd February - Goals in Sergio's Arsenal

It was nice for myself and The Love In My Heart to have a lie in. I admit that the travelling on Friday had caught up a bit and did feel pretty tired Saturday night, and although Brian the cat had insisted on his play out time in the cold weather, it was nice to be all snuggly and warm together. Brian even came up to the pillow and decided to rest next to his Mummy, as is his want of course. It was just good to be able to take things relatively calm and relaxed and get up when we felt like it, albeit late morning for croissants and coffee.

Later on it was off to the Etihad Stadium with my friend to see Manchester City take on Arsenal. After the midweek loss at Newcastle, we needed to win to get back on track really, and anything less wasn't on. The weather was a bit icky and was chucking it down, and we got inside as soon as we could and had our pre-match cuppa and chat. It was good therefore to be ready for the game ahead and we both hoped City would win - I was cautious and went for 2-1, my friend went for 4-1. But to be honest, I'd have taken a 1-0 win and been happy with that really.

The game kicked off and I didn't expect an early goal, but that's what we got. The ball was attempted to be cleared by Alex Iwobi of Arsenal but he ran into Aymeric Laporte who dispossessed him, and then put in a gorgeous cross for Sergio Agüero to score the opener - after a mere 46 seconds! Maybe too early like last time, but no complaints from me especially in Fantasy League terms at least. He was looking lively and as were City, and had a goal disallowed for offside a few minutes later.

Arsenal didn't take it lying down though and forced a corner around ten minutes in. The corner was headed on and there was Laurent Koscielny, completely unmarked, to head home from close range for 1-1. City looked okay going forward but Arsenal were keen to go on the break a bit too. The next goal I felt was going to be crucial and thankfully it was City that scored it, a neat move down the left resulted in a delicate chip from Ilkay Gundogan, which was met on the volley by Raheem Sterling who laid at across beautifully to Agüero to score from close range, two minutes before half time. 2-1, all good at the half and with The Chemical Brothers' ace Hey Girl Hey Boy blasting out too (make that tune of the day)

City pressed on in the second half and Arsenal ran out of ideas, they looked leggy and poor after the interval. City didn't have to come out of second gear really and it was a nice cross from the left by Sterling that was met by Agüero sliding in. The ball bounded off his hip but may have also brushed the arm on the way in as it just about crossed the line - the referee's watch vibrated and it was 3-1 to City. And that was how it stayed too. Granted it was a good result and it'll all depend on what Liverpool do tomorrow night, but at least we've done our bit, gone back to second and put the pressure on.

It was good to head back to The Love's place for tea later, some lovely roast chicken with all the veggies and that was lovely to have, some good gravy too. Unknown to me she had also baked the lightest and rather gorgeous Victoria sponge so I had that for afters which went down lovely before she dropped me off at Manchester Piccadilly station to get the 2021 train back to Euston, which unsurprisingly was full of Arsenal fans all rather sad at the day's result.

Saturday 2nd February - Cold on Platform 5

It was a nice relaxing morning chatting and catching up with The Love In My Heart, and we both had a lot to chatter about as we had obviously not done so on the Friday evening due to delayed trains. We also had some nice breakfast and Brian the cat had had his play out, albeit in rather cold and chilly weather. The Winter sunshine was coming, but that was deceptive - it did melt the ice from the tops of the cars and windscreens, but still wasn't ideal either. Thankfully all seemed good later on and The Love and I headed out for the afternoon and early evening.

First port of call was her father's place, and to catch up with him. We had a brew and a chat and he was quite pleased with how the Tottenham v Newcastle game was going - he had a bet on that not only would Tottenham win 1-0 but Son Heung-Min would score the only goal too. That was pretty much how it turned out and it did mean that they would leapfrog Manchester City into second place in the table, with Newcastle doing all they can to try and get a draw at least but not managing an answer. They did play well and proved that their win against City the other night was no fluke result.

It was then off to Mum's, partly to drop off my sister's birthday present with Mum (as it was my sister's birthday today but she had gone away for the weekend) but also to have a catch up and chat. I did tell Mum about the bus changes and how the 168 had been withdrawn but morphed into the 150, but now running from Hyde to Belle Vue, then following the old 168 route to Chorlton before being extended to the Trafford Centre. Not sure how this would work but it would mean for Mum she could see her friend in Denton with only one bus to take, and the other way round. It was nice to chatter and it was then for us off out too.

We decided that we were going to have a late afternoon lunch / early tea, and so decided to head to P5 (formerly Platform 5) in Cheadle Hulme. The bar area was reasonably busy because of the rugby, but the eating area was quiet. We noted that by the rear windows was pretty cold all round but we found a space nearer the bar that had a table with a warm radiator, which The Love of course approved of. We had a nice meal in there - I had the chicken with peppercorn and stilton sauce with mushrooms, and some nice vegetables, and The Love had the pork belly with some colcannon mash and peas, and thick gravy. All was good, and even had the Chorlton Pale Ale to go with that too. Win.

We stopped by Asda later on the way home to get some food shopping, and after that it was then a case of heading home and feeding Brian the cat his tea (which of course he loved, especially as we'd got his favourite tuna and prawn Sheba) and we settled in for the evening mainly in front of the telly, watching the likes of The Voice as well. Interestingly for me at least one of the final singers was a woman called Moya, who had been offered a contract and album before but was then ditched, and lost her confidence to perform - but the way she sang showed why she was signed in the first place to be honest. It is though a sad state of the record industry that so much pressure is put on an artist that they feel so depressed due to the experience. Tune of the day in the meantime is "Shine" by Take That, which blasted out from The Love's car as we headed out earlier - and she loves it, and reminds me of those Morrisons adverts...

Friday 1st February - Delayed Arrival

After a busy day at work it was good to be able to head off homewards, have something to eat for tea, and then get all my weekend stuff together and all ready to come up on the train to Manchester Piccadilly to see The Love In My Heart. I must admit that I've been used to Friday evenings and it's often nice if I can get an earlier evening train. However, because Virgin Trains relaxed the off peak restrictions for Fridays, the downside of that has been that advance tickets have become more expensively priced (something they forgot to tell you) so realistically only trains from 2040 onwards remain reasonably cheap.

I did manage to head off back on the train and tube to Euston Square, which meant I could nip into the Crown and Anchor for a well earned drink before the train. They had a number of guest ales on including the rather excellent Sloe Storm from Adnams Brewery, which as the name suggested had a hint and a trace of the sloe berry in there, as well as being rather ruby red and a nice dark colour as a result. A real Winter warmer and perfect considering the rather cold weather ahead.

I left on time to head to Euston, but to be honest had I known the delays to be faced I would have definitely stayed in the pub instead. I did a bit of checking online when I saw all the departure boards all have "Delayed" all across them and it showed that there was a trespasser on the track near Cheddington, which is a station in between Milton Keynes and Tring. As such getting trains in to Euston was proving difficult so couldn't get any out either as a result.

I was debating whether they might actually cancel the trains and then I'd go home and come back tomorrow instead, but trains were coming in albeit slowly, and so the 2040 departure did arrive into Euston, and once I'd boarded (and saw all the people who clearly do not do trains regularly find all sorts of basic issues such as locating their seat) it was time to kick back with the headphones on and listen to the likes of She Makes War, with the excellent "Undone" being tune of the day as I would set off, albeit 31 minutes late and already therefore qualifying for Delay Repay.

And fair play to the Virgin Trains train manager - he mentioned it as the train approached each stop, reminding customers to put their claim in if they didn't do so already. Of course booking through them means automatic delay repay, so much easier for me to be honest. The train kept to its 30 minutes or so delay, and as a result I arrived in Piccadilly just before 11.20pm, so off on the tram to The Love In My Heart's place, and pretty much straight to bed, where Brian the cat came to say hello and let me give him a love before being all snuggled up with his Mummy. Aww. He is so lovely.