Dear Diary... September 2021

Thursday 30th September - Panic on the Streets of Mitcham

After a busy day at work, I decided on a last minute whim to head to a really decent retro gaming shop, Crazy Thumbs in Tooting. This did mean I could head on the tube from the office, but knew it was going to be busy because the nature of the tube lines in South London (and there's not many of them) - and so I was expecting it to be choc full. I walked down to Green Park station to pick up the Victoria Line and this wasn't too bad - it did empty a little at Victoria and a bit more at Vauxhall before then heading to Stockwell for a quick change to the Northern Line.

And as I expected, the Northern Line was massively rammed. Although some got off at Stockwell to get the tube to Brixton, plenty were getting on and although a number got off later on, it was only after Balham when it was a bit less rammed. I got off at Tooting Broadway and took the right turn along one of the main streets and over to Crazy Thumbs. The many shelves and glass cases were full of all sorts of gaming goodness, some of which were decent value in terms of games, but others not so cheap (Amstrad CPC 464 for £195, Atari 7800 console only for £125 for example)

In the end though I did pick up a couple of nice Commodore 64 titles - the original double cassette case release of Epyx's classic Super Cycle, released via US Gold in the UK, and that was a mere £2.99, and then the excellent 180 darts game on Mastertronic's MAD label fro £1.49. Notably, the case has the second generation MAD design, but the tape itself if the first gen MAD (the more cartoon styled) - which makes me wonder whether the artwork was planned to be different or whether Mastertronic were just using the label templates to finish off using it!

Anyway, with that sorted, I headed off home on the 264 bus. All was well until we got past the centre of Mitcham and towards Mitcham Common. The bus appeared to be stuck in a queue of traffic, and it wasn't exactly moving fast. As the bus headed along the A236 along Mitcham Common, I could just about see why in the distance - right at the end there's a BP petrol station, and with the current amount of people being idiots and buying petrol in a lot of cases when they don't need to, it was a long wait. The bus driver eventually managed to squeeze past later on, but a total faff.

Back at my place all was well and good, and the nice thing was that I was able to have a nice chilled out conversation with The Love In My Heart later on, and all appeared to be much better with Brian the cat too which was nice. I did later on have some tea and settled in to watch some telly, and it was a case of being able to relax and take my time. I did also listen to some music too tonight and it was good to blast out some Stephen Mallinder tonight - Hollow from the Um Dada album is a perfect album closer and defintely sums up my feelings after some events today - tune of the day.

Wednesday 29th September - Configuation Conundrum

I certainly felt today as if the countdown conundrum clock was playing in the background with a puzzle to solve, and in fact I managed to get a few things sorted today. After the printer fun and games yesterday, I had a chat with our head of Service Team and showed a proposed mock up of the home screen on the printer complete with the corporate logo background updated. I got a good positive nod of approval for that, and so was able to then be able to update the printers located in the London offices with that and make it all rather nice - and that of course would mean it looked similar to our meeting rooms and so on.

I also looked once more at the Mac configuration profiles and noted something in JAMF Pro - the config profile for one of our pieces of software, that we created for use with the M1 processors (because they don't support Kernel extensions and you can't apply them) loaded its totals pretty quick, but the original old one that was most likely created a while ago and possibly imported with an old configuration profile XML when we had an older version of JAMF - took a lot longer. So I thought: well I know what the settings are, why not create from scratch and see what happens?

So I did. And wow, what an improvement. And, after testing yesterday I decided to get that applied to my Mac, making sure I was descoped for the original. That applied fine, and then after that, connected to the VPN. And it didn't disconnect, once, in almost three hours of use before I shut down for lunch. That was impressive, and same story in the afternoon. I might be on to something here but before I go en masse with it, I'm going to check in with a colleague who was doing some testing with a couple of colleagues on another avenue we explored, so going to check that first and go from there.

I also spent some time doing some more packaging of Mac applications in a view to get them aligned more with what's out there and offered in Windows, so we can present them the same way in Self-Service via JAMF and Software Centre via MECM, so it's a one stop place to get what you need. The good thing so far is that out of three I packaged today, one was a native .pkg installer which could be immediately uploaded ready for deployment, and the second was a .dmg disk image which contained.. a .pkg installer. Winning there of course!

So with things moving a pace nicely, and with me managing to produce a nice list of assets to tie in with a possible early deployment of something we want to get out there in advance of a wider rollout, I did think positively today, and was cheered up nicely by a really nice email too which made my day. I think we all need those boosters of confidence, and that certainly did do so. So onwards and upwards, and indeed blasting out some superb tunes from Cabaret Voltaire, such as the whole of the Drinking Gasoline EP. I've got the 2 x 12" singles version and Kino still sounds ace from that, so tune of the day.

Tuesday 28th September - Printer Perplexion

It was up early and off to the office for me today, and it wasn't the nicest weather but at least stayed dry for my walk from Charing Cross to the office - which is good to be able to do and at least have some uphill walking as part of my daily routine when heading off to work. I have to say though that despite me booking a desk and checking in, the weather clearly put people off coming in and it wasn't that busy - which made a mockery of it supposedly being full. That didn't make me fully happy but hey ho, what can you do? I had actualy brought in the Mac as well as my Windows laptop so I could further undertake some testing.

In fact, I was able to further demonstrate on the Mac that removing our anti-virus product did seem to make a difference to the stability of the VPN client - I actually used the phone as a hotspot to ensure that it was seeing an external network and then connecting from there. I've sent the logs over to one of my colleagues who has an open call with the AV vendor concerned, so we'll see what comes of that. Naturally, I've put the AV product back on of course, but always good to do a controlled test and then be able to work out what the state of play might have been originally.

Also, for some reason, it was flagged that when accessing the printer to retrieve the print jobs from the master queue in true follow me print style, nothing was showing. In fact, it was showing the wrong screen entirely, and so after some investigation, I logged a call with our printer vendor whom we have a contract with to investigate. The good news was that in the end I was able to determine with them that in fact one of the menu options for printing to look at the queue of jobs wasn't going to the print queue but locally, so was a case of being able to investigate why that might have been - possibly a power off at the wrong time, or a reset of the screen options?

In any case, what I was able to then do was work with them to get the arrangement of the screen correct and from that be able to put the right icons back in the right place, and be able to remote to each printer, see the correct screen layout and access a print job too, so all good. In fact now I've got my head around that we may be able to re-customise the logo and put a more recent corporate logo and background on there too, so will be doing some tests with that tomorrow.

It was very windy and rainy later on after I'd got home and had some tea, so was glad to be able to have got back before the weather got bad. I did also spend some time tonight having a good chatter with The Love In My Heart who does appear to feel a lot better which is a bonus, and then listening to the excellent album from Stephen Mallinder: Um Dada, which somehow seemed even more appropriate after the sad passing of former Cabaret Voltaire bandmate Richard H Kirk last week. The title track is a beautiful piece of Industrial funk and deserving of tune of the day for me.

Monday 27th September - Trusting the Hunches

It was a sort of bitsy day working from home really (well at The Love In My Heart's place, but you get the idea.) It was a case of all sorts happening which was good in one instance but not in another as it meant that I wasn't on site in an office to try and see to some things, but at the same time it did mean I had a nice quiet time to be able to concentrate too whilst The Love was recuperating in bed with Brian the cat by her side, being all cute and snuggly. You can't help but love Brian the cat really for knowing that his Mummy isn't fully well and he was being so kind and loving.

I also managed to make a breakthrough on an issue I could see that some people were having but not everyone - in that effectively if connected to the VPN, on occasion there would be either a disconnect straight away or at other times later on. I suggested that it may well be that components of the anti-virus product might be interfering with one of the components of the extension that the VPN client uses, so as a controlled test (and it's only Mac users incidentally) we decided that for someone we'd temporarily remove the anti-virus and see what happens. And as if by magic.. it started to be much better.

It's a strange one but I know we're going to get some investigations done tomorrow and that definitely in the Gene Hunt style of following the hunches (which is what I did but had some good info to back that up incidentally) then we can make some progress and be able to get things moving. I was also able to look at packaging Visual Studio Code as well - the installer looked like it was written via Innosetup, which does mean I can record the options, save to a file and call that back in conjunction with a silent install as well which is the good way of doing it.

The day went by and after the final meeting of the day it was nice to have some quality time with The Love, who was thankfully feeling better and that was a positive for me. I must admit I was tempted to work from there tomorrow too and re-book the train but did feel safe in the knowledge that The Love was getting there. It was a massive cuddle and a brush of his fur (complete with contented purr) for Brian the cat, and it was then off on the tram to Piccadilly station in order to get the 1915 train back to London Euston.

The train was thankfully quiet and it was good to chill out with some tunes on the iPod, notably the excellent Danny Elfman album Big Mess, and the track True - even without Trent Reznor on the single release, it sounds rather uncomfortable but in a really massive Industrial styled way and for me tune of the day - no compromise and all that. In fact I got to Euston on time and the train made an extra stop at Selhurst on the way to East Croydon because of the Crystal Palace - Brighton game that night, which would have probably been a very tense atmosphere inside there to be honest.

Sunday 26th September - Slow Down Sunday

The Love In My Heart had a well deserved lie in and of course so did Brian the cat too - if he wasn't being on top of the headboard lay there being all cute, he was at the bottom of the bed purring and wanting tummy tickles. He's such a pampered cat at times but you can't help adore his little face to be honest. The Love did spend longer in bed and rightly so to recuperate, and I got up and started watching the world road race cycling from Belgium, where the tour of Antwerp early on looked like it was a very nice city to visit - we'll definitely have to note that for the future we think.

The Love got up later and I made some bacon with toast and that went down nicely all round, and we watched the elite races of the 10K part of the Great Manchester Run. The course had changed very slightly this year due to flat developments near Chester Road, so turned right just before First Street and down to Deansgate station to then carry on down the main road for ages - so that meant a cut across one of the car parks by Old Trafford to make sure the distance was right. It worked out well and although possibly going a little too fast, Eilish McColgan smashed the women's race!

After that, I headed off to Asda to get a bit more shopping and noted that the petrol station was all bollarded off and empty, meaning idiots had panic bought here too just because they could. I don't get it to be honest: if everyone just bought normally, it wouldn't be a mess, but maybe the media had a part in this similar to the fiascos over toilet roll and pasta in the first stages of the current pandemic. Yes, we're still in it folks, worth reminding you all of that. I got what I needed in Asda and headed home to relax with The Love, who took a nice afternoon nap to get well whilst I watched the conclusion of the cycling which was pretty ace, well done Julien Alaphilippe!

It was then later time to order in some food for tea, and I got a delivery with some nice chicken and some fillets at that (so all boneless) and some other sides too, that went down nicely and I was pleased that The Love managed to eat too and kept it down, a sure sign of being slowly on the mend I think. We turned over to Channel 4 for the F1 highlights from Russia, and well, what a race that was. I did feel like Lando Norris was going to win but then when the rain came, the moment McLaren heard that Mercedes were going to pit Hamilton for wets, they should have insisted (Lando saying "NO!" was a bad move in hindsight) and covered it well.

As it was, Lewis Hamilton got the job done and won his 100th Grand Prix, a monumental record. Lando recovered to the pits to finally change tyres and finished 7th, and Max Verstappen changed tyres right too and was 2nd, not bad from 20th on the grid I think! It's going to be a tense last few races, but I have to feel for Lando a bit too - if only he'd have pitted. Still, at times like this if we could have The Chain back as the proper F1 theme please (make that tune of the day) we'd all be happy wouldn't we?

Saturday 25th September - Strictly Sizzling

It was a relaxing morning as I changed the bedding, sorted out the flat and made sure that all was well whilst I was going to be away at The Love In My Heart's place this weekend as a change in the advertised programme. My train wasn't until 1420 (earliest I could get cheap) and so it meant I could get all the things I needed to do all sorted in the morning, then be sure that I could potentially set off earlier, which is what I did, and stop off at the Somers Town Coffee House half way between St Pancras and Euston and have a well earned rather nice pint sat outside in the relatively nice weather - not too hot, not too cold, just nice to be comfortable and relaxed before heading towards Euston.

Euston was pretty busy to be honest so was glad I'd booked and reserved a seat for the train - as it turned out almost all the reservations was in Coach B, and I'd picked a seat in D similar to the one in B I normally have (the carriage layouts are exactly the same) so that meant sat on my own and next to no people - winning. In fact I'd got a Sainsburys Meal Deal for the train for lunch so that kept me going nicely, and had the headphones on with the iPod blasting out the likes of Gary Numan, Penfriend, Blancmange and many more. You know, becase I can.

As I got to Manchester Piccadilly there were still a fair number of Manchester United fans heading home after their loss to Aston Villa, made more sweeter by Manchester City's win at Chelsea. Never felt more like singing the blues, City win, United lose. Thought against singing that at the station or on the busy tram heading off to The Love's place though, and arrived in good time to see The Love not feeling her best, but I did what I could to chatter and make her giggle, and feed Brian his tuna for his tea, with a suitable purr of approval along the way, thankfully.

I headed over to Asda for The Love later and got us something nice for tea, some chicken wrapped in pancetta with cheese and also some dauphinoise potatoes to go with it, as well as some water along with a couple of beers for me - as I could enjoy them later watching telly. The Love was sat along the sofa so she could use the pillows to be upright and not feel too sick, and I set about making the tea later which she ate most of - a considerable improvement which I did think was a positive at least.

We watched Strictly Come Dancing later and it's always nice to watch it together, plus of course the first time all fifteen contestants were taking to the floor with their professional partners. Both The Love and I were really impressed by the moody Tango to New Order's classic Blue Monday (got to be tune of the day that has) with John Whaite and Johannes Radebe proving that a same sex all male couple can work really well. I also loved the energy of Rose Ayling-Ellis for Shake It Off along with Giovanni Pernice, she was styled very much in the late 60s mould but looking so well for it too.

The other big surprise was AJ Odudu absolutely smashing it out of the park with new pro Kai Widdington too, it has to be said. A cracking first week effort which was more like week six or seven to be honest, and Adam Peaty with Katya Jones at the end also were very good too. The standard looks pretty high this year and I do think that although someone can improve massively and come from behind to take the crown, it's going to take a mighty effort. As for Dan Walker, as likeable as he is, and he did okay, I don't think he'll get that far unless the BBC Breakfast masses vote to save him every week!

Friday 24th September - Changing Course

It was off to the office today and I must admit it does seem a little quieter (and therefore less people so safer to be in) on the Friday as well. I wasn't heading off to Manchester tonight, as The Love In My Heart was due to come down tomorrow. However, I had a phone call early on from The Love, and she wasn't feeling well and actually wasn't even going into work (which is something that she never ever normally does, so it must have not been great.) After seeing how she felt later, I knew that it wouldn't be fair for her to come and see me on the train and risk not being well at all, so I thought that it'd make more sense if I was able to change things around and head up instead.

In fact, it proved to be quite good that we'd sort of decided earlier today that a change of plan was needed: as this meant I could take advantage of something recently introduced by a number of train companies. You could change the advance ticket for a future journey, especially if it's an e-ticket, for no fee, or if there is a slight difference in fare, you just pay the difference. I looked as to what I could swap for me to head back down to London, and the Monday evening looked sensible (as I could work from The Love's place on the Monday) and that was that all sorted, so no money lost there.

I knew though that the Sunday trip back via Doncaster wouldn't be exchangable, as we had taken advantage of the £7 seat sale and got a cheap deal for part of the journey, so instead looked at what other options there were. Any time of the morning was going to cost a fair bit, and I even considered a coach journey on National Express or Flixbus: yes it'd take longer, but also cheaper of course. In the end though I noted a nice window of being able to get from London to Manchester direct from around 2pm, and so managed to book the 2.20pm journey up for a reasonable rate, so get there and to The Love's place in good time for some tea and some Strictly (unless of course Brian the cat wants me to play ball!)

That all sorted over lunch, I spent some time this afternoon peering over some Mac configuration profiles, and looked like in some cases some of them weren't applying on some Macs because of the error stating that the configuration must come from a user approved MDM server. Upon checking with my colleague in this, it's effectively a case of running the command to remove the JAMF Framework, then rebooting, and then re-enrolling the Mac in JAMF Pro to ensure all is well. I suspect somewhere along the line the authentication or certifcate had bombed out if not connected in a while, so that's going to be a test and a half.

Still, I did head over later over to James Barbers in Wimbledon Park as planned and got my hair chopped very nicely indeed. It's always a quality cut when I go there no matter who does it for me, and always very friendly too. So if you live anywhere around Wimbledon Park or Tooting (or can get to either location by tube) let me tell you it's well worth the wait. They normally have 6Music on too, and tonight my favourite Lush song De-Luxe was playing in the background too so definitely tune of the day for me - beautifully ethereal, gorgeous guitars and lots of feeling throughout. Awesome.

Thursday 23rd September - Packaging Pro Time

It was time to look at getting a number of Mac applications packaged up today, with a view that, if there's an equivalent version of an application that we package in Windows, then where possible we should have that available for Macs via self-service in our JAMF Admin portal. In a good way this means we actually get it to also behave similarly to Software Centre in MECM for Windows, and this also presents us with consistency but also nice corporate branding of both, so pretty easy to be able to use and get working correctly.

From the ones I took a look at today, it's either already ready for you as a .pkg package file (in which case, upload that using JAMF Admin and create the policy for Self-Service to make available to the group you want) or it may be just the native .app application itself, where you can place that in the applications folder and use JAMF Composer to effectively just capture that app within the folder and get it to be a .pkg package that installs it there - which when done correctly in practice, works just as well.

In fact, the OpenJDK binaries for both runtime environment and the development kit both were native .pkg installers for both the long term releases of Java (8 and 11) which means they're generally more stable but because they're open source, free of the restrictions that Oracle place on you, which are many. I think they had to release the source somehow but glad it all works out. Certainly from what I saw, it works out really well and they were nice and easy to get sorted, as were the likes of the native .app within a zip file such as XMind and Cyberduck as well.

With that all working pretty nicely, I spent some time tonight poring over some lines of machine code from the Commodore 64 to work out effectively if a game which didn't actually get a commercial release had bugged music from the start (namely Roadburner, due to be released by Players and with music from Sonic Graffiti.) I was able to work out channel 2 was where it didn't quite work but without knowing the ins and outs of the way that the sequences were called, wasn't able to see if it was just a few bytes wrong or not: but looked it. And of course without a full release, no original tape to fall back on or else that'd have been handy to work out.

Anyway, I also kicked back a bit tonight too and decided to watch The Hit List from last week that I missed when out at my sister's wedding. It was a Strictly Come Dancing special and naturally I did sort of want Janette and Aljaz to win, but that didn't happen as Clara Amfo and Johannes Radebe totally smashed all the rounds and walked away with a sizeable total fro charity too which was nice. I do like the simplicity of it all - shout out the title and artist and get it right. In fact I did plenty of times for the older stuff, and was quite pleased to have got Club Tropicana by Wham very early on (The Love In My Heart loves that too, so tune of the day!)

Wednesday 22nd September - Finally, The Firewall Fix

I had been battling with a rather odd problem I'd spotted since the start of yesterday where for some reason the number of clients that MECM could see connected to the cloud management gateway and reporting in dropped considerably. Normally I reckon it's around 300-450 depending on the time of day, but that seemed to drop to around 100 which I knew wasn't right. I checked all the configuration side from the MECM point of view and that was all okay, the gateway was ready and the connection check test showed it was working. I did note that the log file did appear to want to be communicating with some form of update for some reason, but these were as far as I could see periodic checks to see if an actual config change or whatever was needed.

So I thought: let's look at the data flow, and Microsoft very handily have an excellent document, not just with a diagram, but also with the ports that need to be allowed in and out (or in certain directions) and also for what reason. So, if like me, you set up the cloud management gateway when on MECM 2002, it'll be a single VM instance using the classic cloud service, so there's certain ports for that, and other ports for others. A check with our networks folks showed that one of the ports appeared to show a firewall blockage not allowing traffic from the MECM server to reach the CMG.

Hmmm, I wondered, this might be it. Normally the CMG would fall back to HTTPS if not using TLS-TCP, but maybe for some reason it wasn't able to, or maybe since 2107 upgraded, there's other bits involved (and even though clients have been fine for around two weeks since, you never know.) Anyway, I got the IP of the CMG (you can check this in the Azure Portal if you need) and then got the networks team to get the firewall rule sorted. I gave it some time and - badabing! I could see clients again and would be able to communicate with them as well which was something.

I also headed out at lunch time to Boots in the centre of Croydon in order to get my flu jab. I had booked it relatively early to make sure that I was able to get it done (primarily as I have to pay for it and the £15 is a small price to pay to ensure I don't get too ill over the Winter months.) I have to say that the staff were both professional and lovely, and the pharmacist who did the injection asked all the right questions to make sure all was well (one of the vaccines used has egg in it, so if you're allergic to that, or vegan, no can do, they have alternatives)

I must admit that was good to get sorted, and I had a very good afternoon reading some documentation and also then spent time too being able to relax and listen to some more Cabaret Voltaire after yesterday's sad news. I do have plenty of singles, but the Who's Arguing Mix of Don't Argue, only available on the B-side of the 7 inch single, is still ace and tune of the day - not just because of the sampled speech that drives it along, but also the dark mood of it and the beats too.

Tuesday 21st September - Nag Nag Nag No More

It was a fairly productive day at work, with me being in the office and being able to sort out a few things from the comfort of the workplace. Interestingly, it was also nice to be by the window overlooking the street below from the second floor, and that meant that it was light and airy where I was sat. I must admit that for me, being able to be in a comfortable spot and with the aircon working nicely, and feeling relatively distanced and safe, that had to be good. I also decided to revamp the Windows 10 WIM image and include the latest Visual C++ 2015-2019 update too, so meaning that it was even more ready to go out of the box, because I can.

During the walk over to Charing Cross station on the way home, all felt sunny and warm outside and all felt nice. However, at Charing Cross whilst waiting to see which train to board, I noted that a number of musicians I follow online seemed to be all referring to something happening. Then, I saw a heartbreaking tweet from Stephen Mallinder and that confirmed what I had been fearing. One of the pioneers of Industrial music and from one of my favourite bands, Richard H Kirk, had passed away today.

To say that Cabaret Voltaire were one of my favourite bands was an understatement. From the difficult and found sounds that resembled their early Industrial era, with the brooding loudness that is Nag Nag Nag and the teetering on edge Silent Command, to the 1980s beat driven era which gave us plenty of really precise beats, chunky basslines and Mallinder's really soft whispery vocals on the likes of The Crackdown, James Brown, and the epic I Want You (and yes, that song is about the art of self pleasure in case any of you wondered). The latter would be covered by Rob Hubbard (along with Whip Blow) on the C64 game I, Ball, so for that reason alone has to be tune of the day.

As the Cabs ended the 80s and into the 90s merging funk into house and then into a more ambient piece, with albums such as Body and Soul and The Conversation, it ended up being on hiatus for many years, only for Kirk, the sole remaining member, to knock out three albums in less than a year of late, with the superlative Shadow of Fear being massively powerful and dark and the two "drone" albums BN9Drone and Dekadrone showing that long moody album length pieces were still to be enjoyed. The fact the latter two were released this year still showed him at the height of creative powers and doing his own thing.

I think as well that so many indie bands paid tribute showed the lasting legacy of the impotance of Cabaret Voltaire too - they sparked that spirit to a degree along with the likes of Joy Division, and whilst not having the commercial success of the latter, they stuck to their guns, did what they wanted to do, and the back catalogue stands proud. I even have some of the Richard H Kirk solo albums too - and Hoodoo Talk with Peter Hope being a real beat driven fest, The Number of Magic blissfully ambient. Such pioneering spirit is going to be hugely missed by me and a void has been opened, sadly.

Monday 20th September - Just Another Manic Monday

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday 19th September - Strictly Sunday

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday 18th September - Sister's Special Day

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday 17th September - Doncaster Dilemmas

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

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

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

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

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


Thursday 16th September - Farewell, Sir Clive

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

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

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

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

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


Wednesday 15th September - Liquid Football

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday 14th September - Busy Busy!

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

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

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

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

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

Monday 13th September - Lies, Lies and Statistics

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday 12th September – Raducanu and Remembering

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday 11th September – Leeds for Less Than A Fiver

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday 10th September – A Proper Question of Sport

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday 8th September – Warmth

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday 7th September - Upgrading Quirks

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

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

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

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

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

Monday 6th September - A Night On The Box

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday 5th September - Sunny September Walk

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday 4th September - Crazy Queues Of Golf

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

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

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

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

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

Friday 3rd September - Out on the Town

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday 2nd September - Out With The Team

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday 1st September - Working and Winning

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

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

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

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

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