Dear Diary... August 2016

Wednesday 31st August - Delays and Whirls

The end of this month, and one that seems to have gone by pretty quickly actually, it has to be said. What I didn't appreciate therefore was being stuck on a train as a train in front had seemingly broken down or was just held at a station, so it was a good fifteen minutes or so delay getting back to East Croydon from work. More than that though, a look at the departure board showed pretty much every single train was delayed. And yet there were staff from Southern handing out leaflets about the forthcoming strikes, clearly escalating their war of words with the RMT union. Maybe not their best move in order to sort relations out, it has to be said..

I did manage as well to be able to get a few things done this evening - mainly the ironing, and lots of it. The only thing when going away for a weekend is that inevitably there's a chunk of washing to do, and then getting time to get that all sorted and ironed as well. Thankfully I was able to set the timer on the washing machine so that the washing would finish when I got home from work, so not left in the machine all day, and then meaning that hopefully giving the ironing a blast whilst powering through some classic Sex Pistols including the legendary "God Save The Queen" (make that tune of the day) would be all good.

Of course The Great British Bake Off was on tonight, and the biscuit challenge was proverbially taking just that (see what I did there). Straight away I suspected one or two of them were in trouble, as making a biscuit with no crunch and just soft didn't bode well, and that for me was a cardinal sin. The technical challenge of the Viennese Whirls was pretty tough, and the two that made them did a superb job - they looked tons better than the sort of Mr Kipling ones that you can get, and I wouldn't have minded a few of those myself to be honest.

The showstopper though involved lots of gingerbread, as various large structures were being made. To be fair, Candice's pub idea with her family all in it was pretty well executed, and that definitely helped her get star baker this week - still not sure about her different lip colours, but each to their own. I had my suspicions that the two who had a disaster with the gingerbread were the ones to be near the bottom, and as she had done badly in all three challenges, Louise was the one to go home.

Still though it did make me think that to get this far, they must be decent, and it's probably the nerves, and added to that a different kitchen from what they're used to at home, where you get to understand all the foibles and the nuances of the oven that you're working with, and how that transpires into what you do with it. And of course the layout of your own kitchen means you put things in certain places and know what you're doing with that. I still can't bake for toffee regardless though, The Love In My Heart is tons better at it!

Tuesday 30th August - No More Pure Imagination

I woke up this morning with the rather sad news that Gene Wilder had passed away. There's so many films that he was involved in of course which were worthy of high praise, and for me of course he was the quintessential Willy Wonka in the 1970s film rendition of the Roald Dahl novel, but called Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory instead of the book title Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Gene himself had a hand in the scene where Wonka walks forward with a walking stick, leaves the stick behind and somersaults forward, the idea being you'd never know if he was telling the truth or not and leaving an air of mystery.

Naturally of course there's the many films he starred in alongside Mel Brooks which rightly were considered brilliant too, such as The Producers and Blazing Saddles, and then of course the films he starred in with Richard Pryor, the likes of Stir Crazy and See No Evil, Hear No Evil as well. The list goes on, and he also was a seasoned producer later on too, infact he wrote, directed and starred in The Woman In Red alongside Kelly Le Brock (you know, her from Weird Science and all that..)

I had to put on my soundtrack CD to said classic film and play "Pure Imagination" from it as tune of the day - it sets the scene perfectly inside the chocolate factory, and if he has a golden ticket to heaven, then he should be the one getting it. In fact it turned out he hid the fact he was suffering from Alzheimer's so as not to disappoint children who spotted him and said "There's Willy Wonka" and indeed have less smiles in the world as the child would have to encounter someone terminally ill instead. That's such a beautiful and touching thing to do.

It was a busy day at work today and a fair amount of prep work for the SCCM 2012 server upgrade to ConfigMgr version 1606 from 1602, but also at the same time it was a case of checking over some packaged applications and seeing how they would respond. I even managed to sort out SQL Server Management Studio as a separate install, using the new Microsoft download. It has a nice set of switches for quiet installation - /install /quiet /norestart - which should be a doddle to deploy really.

In fact I also spent some time investigating into other things too, such as the way that App-V doesn't always play ball with a secure distribution point. There may be a way forward from this, but need to cross check a few things and make sure that I'm on the right lines. I have already put forward some ideas and it was good to be able to see that I am getting used to how things are. It'll take me some more time to grow in confidence and get used to everyone, but that's all expected I think.

Monday 29th August - Wunderbar

The weather was all very nice and warm indeed as The Love In My Heart and I headed to the city centre to meet one of our friends for a get together to celebrate his birthday coming up later in the week. It was the nearest we could get to all meet up with him, his partner and two of his friends (whom I've met before and they're both really good people) and so six of us were heading to Albert's Schloss on Peter Street. It did mean for The Love and I that we could get the tram to St Peter's Square and get off at the stop. It's open, albeit two platforms, but to me doesn't look finished as yet...

Anyway, we headed into Albert's Schloss, and it was mainly German beer on as you'd expect. In fact the one cask ale that they did have was a 6.6% IPA, so I decided (as did The Love) to have the Pilsner Urquell initially. It was good for us all to have a booth seat by the window and later on the staff opened the large window so some nice fresh air could come in instead of the searing heat hitting the window and reflecting in on us all, so that was pretty good all round.

The food was very good too - The Love and I both had the croquettes with cheese and ham filling for starter, which were pretty large and filling, and there were three of them in all. The Love went for the bratwurst with potato salad for her main, whilst I went for the chicken schnitzel together with some fries. Our friend went all out for the sausagefest, three different types of German sausage in all, so the bratwurst, currywurst and kaiserwuest were all demolished!

I even had a trio of ice creams for dessert, which included cherry, vanilla and caramel - all spot on, and the drinks and conversation flowed throughout. Our friend's friends were talking about the F1 as one of them was a massive fan, and we mentioned our trip to Monaco a few years back, and that they need to go if they get chance as seeing the race there is special, even if it's the cheap seats or going full out for the hospitality - and believe me, it is so worth it to say the least.

The afternoon went quickly by and plenty of chat and conversation was had (as well as some nice beer all round) and it was a quick walk over later to The Bank where the New Order beer Stray Dog was supposed to be available but wasn't, so it was some White Witch instead for me which was still decent. It was good to natter further and The Love looked gorgeous in her new black top, I was so happy to be hers let me tell you. I had brought my case with me so The Love and I later on headed back to Piccadilly train station and for me to head on the 1835 train homewards.

It was a nice journey all round, fairly quiet too so that was all good, and lots of quality tunes on the iPod to accompany me back, including the excellent "Stray Dog" by New Order (ironic that!) which is tune of the day. Oh well, I didn't get to try the beer, but I can at least listen to the track instead, and indeed the whole of the Music Complete album, which is pretty good, and notably the first proper release without Hooky involved. Some would say not a good thing, but it stands alone pretty well.

Sunday 28th August - Two For One

It was a good day today to be a Manchester City fan - and my friend and I were actually heading to two games today. The club had made a conscious effort so that you could watch both the women's and men's team in the space of a day, and this also meant that with offers such as free admission for existing season ticket holders, it just meant an earlier start but no extra cost, so all was good there. I arranged to meet my friend at the car park for the ground and then we headed over the footbridge and to the Academy Stadium to see Manchester City Women take on Reading.

It was a good game and I knew it was only going to be a matter of time before City scored. The pressure was being piled on with Jane Ross hitting the bar and a couple of chances going wide when they could have hit the target, and it was one way traffic for most of the half. As we moved over to nearer the goal where City were attacking for the second half (and with a decent attendance of just under 2,000 as well) City kept pressing, and from a Toni Duggan free kick the ball was expertly headed in by Jennifer Beattie, and nothing more than she deserved for her performance up to that point.

The second goal took some time to come with the likes of Nikita Parris and Izzy Christiansen missing some chances, but then Jane Ross was fouled, City got a free kick and the sort of range that Steph Houghton doesn't miss from - and it was expertly placed in the bottom corner. So 2-0, and thirteen points ahead of Chelsea, although they'd now have three games in hand, one of them being their game later at Birmingham City which they won 4-0. My friend was really impressed with the Academy Stadium and I suspect he might be going back there soon!

We went to The Love's place later on for a well earned brew, and a fuss over the cats, and then back over to the Etihad Stadium for Manchester City v West Ham United. Last season we had lost 2-1 to the Hammers, and so wanted to be sure this time around we could do the business. I went for a 2-0 prediction, one of the fans nearby said 4-0 but that for me was optimistic. Still, I hoped that City would do well, and didn't have to wait too long before Nolito went down the left and pulled a gorgeous ball back to Raheem Sterling, who buried it superbly. 1-0 and that seemed good.

1-0 became 2-0 later on as the West Ham defence were a little slack in their marking, and from a well taken free kick from Kevin de Bruyne, Fernandinho rose highest and powered a header past Adrian, and a bullet header at that. Ironically it was almost a year to the day since he last scored for City, let's hope it's not that long next time. Raheem Sterling was running the show so well in midfield and my friend and I couldn't believe the transformation either to be honest, a different player almost.

I got us a brew at half time and was pleased to see that City have gone back to decent Douwe Egberts coffee, none of this Nescafé sachet rubbish. Thank heavens for that I thought to myself, and so a coffee was done. I was still drinking that watching the second half when West Ham surged forward and a header from Antonio was well deserved after a period of pressure, and Willy Caballero should have done better with the cross to be honest - a few people around us were thinking Joe Hart would have saved it...

But thankfully City kept going and for those that left early, why do you do it? You missed another cracking goal at that. The ball was played well and on to Sterling, and he rounded the keeper, but instead of going back across the box, he spotted the narrow angle and placed it beautifully across the line to clinch a 3-1 result. A really good finish to the game all round, and definitely a man of the match moment had he not already been given the award over the tannoy a few seconds earlier. I just hope it's not an early season promise going to fade to be honest, but we shall see.

Later on The Love and I settled in and had some gorgeous spaghetti bolognaise for tea (she's an ace cook) and then she indulged herself with The X Factor. I know she was most pleased to see Dermot O'Leary back presenting, but for me it was just endless cover after cover, and some done not so well it has to be said. It just made me hanker more for proper music to be honest, and not least that Manchester City had been playing "The Jean Genie" by David Bowie over the tannoy before the game earlier (both my friend and I approved - make that tune of the day) so there you go.

We did see the drama Victoria later on ITV, and straight away I noticed that a chunk of it had been filmed at Castle Howard (a place we both love) and Jenna Coleman was pretty good as the young queen too, showing a more fragile opening, especially with the toy dolls around too. I think also possibly the under-rated role in this opener was that of Rufus Sewell as Lord Melbourne - and the Doctor Who fans also had Eve Myles as Mrs Jenkins, one of the senior women of the house.

Saturday 27th August - Back Up North

An early start for me today, but a well worth it one. I had got myself up and ready and had left the flat at around 7.20am, all set for the train from East Croydon to Victoria, tube from Victoria to Euston all in good time for the 0840 departure to Manchester Piccadilly. As it turned out, I got to Euston with plenty of time spare, so that meant I could get a cold drink for on the train and also ensure I had enough cash on me at least for the first part of the weekend. The journey was rather nice and quiet too as I headed up to Manchester, the thought being that those coming for Manchester Pride might have come up yesterday - unlike those getting on the 0830 to Glasgow Central, that looked rammed.

The Love In My Heart came to meet me and we headed back to hers, where the two cats Jô and Brian were itching to play outside on the decking. Brian seems very happy when out there, although if it's too warm Jô tends to want to come inside instead - and then give me a little meow and sit next to The Love, sort of "she's mine! - hands off!" but I've got used to that now. I unpacked, we had a coffee, and then later on headed to The Love's father's place, where we had a good natter, and her sister came over too so it was good to see her also. In addition, I managed to also get the proper Youtube app on the Kindle Fire for The Love's father, he was well pleased.

We then headed off to Wine and Wallop in West Didsbury for a nice relaxing drink together, and they have a decent selection of real ales for a decent price (not as cheap as some places, but not too bad) - and indeed sitting there with the sun outside coming in through the window was rather nice actually. Fate transpired that as we were heading down Kingsway later Mum called me - something had arrived that we needed to help her out with and so we popped in on the way back to The Love's place and got all of that sorted out, and even gave Mum a lift to the bus stop so she could meet her friend later.

We headed back home, got ourselves showered and changed, and headed off later to The Ashlea in Cheadle to meet up with my friend and his wife, as it was my friend's birthday on Monday and thought it a good idea to head out for a meal together. As it turned out, all was well - the staff were really nice and friendly, and the food was as ever rather good. In fact I had a change this time, had the chicken strips to start, then the fish and chips for main followed by the sticky toffee roulade. My friend polished his lasagne off (all good there) and the trusty apple pie with ice cream had to be done. The Love's burger looked rather stunning actually - gammon and pork on it plus lots of extras and it was stacked to some height too. I half wished I'd have ordered it myself to be honest.

My friend loved his presents - I'd got him two David Bowie CDs that had a mixture of live tracks and also obscure radio sessions as well that I had to import from the Netherlands, but that was well worth it. Add to that the Bruce Springsteen High Hopes CD and DVD set too, and all was good. I know he appreciated them a lot, and ironically earlier in the day the iPod on the way up had been playing plenty of Bowie too - especially the likes of "Heroes" so that's tune of the day for me.

Friday 26th August - All Systems Go

It was a very productive get together with my team lead as we pored over the state of play of many of the applications and packages that we need to get ready for Windows 10 rollout and indeed for seeing if we can deploy them not necessarily just natively to the PCs via SCCM 2012, but using other stuff such as App-V too. I had pointed out a potential issue with the latter where we clearly need to look higher up for a decision, but on the whole I think the fact we're both very thorough people meant that we were on the ball and managed to discuss a lot.

I think too that also made me feel more positive - in that I know that for me I'm on the right lines, stuff is getting done and there's definitely a case of approaching things the right way and being as one with our methods. In fact in a twist of fate he was looking at a new version of a desktop application for Windows 7 / SCCM 2007 the same time I was also looking at the Windows 10 deployment, so all good there. Somewhat spooky too but I think for me it's important that we crack on, so all good.

And I've been paid, so definitely definitely hurrah for that. In fact it's more than I thought too so I will have to carefully look at the pay slip and check all is good, but if that's correct, I know it's for five weeks (I started before the end of last month) and so have a rough idea of how that's going to work out overall in terms of salary per month. I think too that for me it's noticeable that HR and payroll seem to be much more efficient than where I last was, and indeed I had a nice smiley happy HR person to chat to when making a coffee before, so all good there.

The train was busy but I got a seat, but for the fifth night out of five I didn't get home on time. I really don't envy anyone who does this journey at this time of day all the time and to be honest I can see why people just give up working in the capital due to the amount of time spent on trains heading South out of central London. For me, it only proves (not that I needed proof) that Govia Thameslink Railway should be stripped of their franchise as soon as possible and someone decent actually allowed to run the service properly.

I did however catch up on last night's Top of the Pops from March 1982 on BBC Four via BBC iPlayer, and first song up happened to be one of my favourite Altered Images songs with the ever lovely Clare Grogan - "See Those Eyes" and so that is tune of the day. In fact I had a good reminisce about songs from the era, although the number 1 of the Goombay Dance Band is a tad on the cheesy side, together with Bucks Fizz singing The Camera Never Lies. See it wasn't always all good then!

Thursday 25th August - Class Of 92 Revisited

I was excited to see the second series about Salford City, entitled Class of 92: Still Out of Their League tonight. The first series had been a fascinating insight into what happened when five of the famous 1992 Manchester United youth team (Gary Neville, Phil Neville, Nicky Butt, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs) took control of Salford City together with another businessman, and how their influence changed some of the ways that the club were running. The first full season with them as owners had seen new management and promotion up to the EvoStik Premier League.

This first episode saw the first half of the season, which included their FA Cup run and being on BBC Television (ironically the night after the second episode of the first series) and beating Notts County with a particularly superb second goal from Richie Allen at that. Naturally that did feature along with their second round match at Hartlepool which they lost in the last few minutes of extra time despite being the better side. In fact the two managers (Bernard Morley and Anthony Johnson) weren't taking any prisoners throughout.

Whilst I did appreciate that Bernard was getting married to his now wife Jemma, it did in parts seem a little like Don't Tell The Bride as she was getting her outfit all sorted (and she did look lovely in it, it has to be said.) It was fascinating also to see that striker Gareth Seddon was lining up his alternative career for when he did retire - although opening a cheese shop in the centre of Ramsbottom might not be everyone's idea of a different way. He was injured during the cup run, but his observation about how big a night it was, and how much he wanted to play in it shows that for players, the FA Cup is like no other.

On the other side of things, who doesn't love Babs Gaskill who serves all the food and coffee from her tea bar? You could tell she was riled when a surprise visit from Salford City Council took her ratings down a notch, and it was all paperwork based reasons. She knuckled down though and her reward was five out of five, and you could tell it meant a lot to her to get that. Her banter with the fans and being a proper Mancunian shone through hugely. Yaay.

I think also that the second episode next week is going to be exciting and tense. If you've glanced at the league tables from last season you'll work out what does happen, but it's the getting there, it's the behind the scenes stuff, and the chairman Karen Baird really does have the passion too - like when the club were attempting to sign a new player and that everyone was attempting to double the price to pay, she took no prisoners either. Excellent stuff all round. Tune of the day incidentally was the song that the lads were singing on their way to Hartlepool - "Forever in Blue Jeans" by Neil Diamond.

Wednesday 24th August - Eureka

I had a eureka moment at work today, and it was something that had been perplexing me for some time. I had managed to get the new version of Adobe Reader packaged, all good, and standalone, it all worked. It transpired that an earlier version had been installed by patching the original MSI and then editing that, which supposedly is meant to work, but in fact wasn't uninstallable due to the source path not being found for some reason. Therefore I'd concocted a task sequence to use the Adobe Reader DC removal utility and then do the install of the new version.

The odd thing was though that although everything showed correctly and the new version was there, on the next power up and restart, the Active X add-on for IE and the start menu shortcut was removed. It was frustrating and I was checking if the anti-virus solution was getting in the way, or if the Group Policy (which was removing the annoying Adobe ARM update service) was getting in the way. I removed the workstation from the AD group that gets the policy, and tested that. Still not playing.

Anyway, what I managed to work out was that the Acrobat DC Cleaner had indeed done its removal, but needed a restart to get rid of its final bits. Of course this meant that if you were then installing the new version minus a reboot then it didn't matter - next reboot would see those particular things you want - gone. So therefore it was easier to reconstruct a task sequence that did the cleaner, did the reboot (so that the remaining bits were cleaned up) and then perform the install. It appeared to work fine with multiple test runs so I was glad to fet to the bottom of that. And as the installer for the new version alone worked out of the box for the main OS deployment task sequence, all good. Hurrah for that.

The journey home though was long, long, and erm.. long. Unfortunately the trains weren't good due to signal failure. So I thought "Farringdon to Whitechapel on the tube, then Overground to West Croydon" - not a chance, underground line terminating at Aldgate. Instead I did the run I do to the hairdressers normally, but non-stop, so Circle Line to Edgware Road, District Line to Wimbledon, and then the tram from there to Croydon. This at least meant I was able to get home in good time for The Great British Bake Off, hurrah.

I quite enjoyed that too - the new contestants all seemed eager to impress but for me the standout was the bloke from Barking, Selasi, who cycles into his job in the City, and he really also made some solid bakes throughout. I had a feeling that the Welsh woman Louise might have gone out, but her showstopper did save her somewhat, and so it was Lee from Bolton who went in the end. It was tempting to have lots of those glossy cakes to eat but only the good ones after all!

On the plus side as well today, I did manage to wrap up lots of presents for my friend and send them off to him for his birthday soon, and the other presents for my friend in Manchester I'll be bringing with me this weekend, so that'll be all good. I think it was quite therapeutic wrapping them up and watching Bake Off at the same time, then later listening to a rather ace orchestral and rock version of Dream Theater's classic "Octavarium" by students at the University of Surrey. Believe me, it's cracking - see for yourself and tune of the day for that reason actually:

Tuesday 23rd August - Heatwave

It was another late shift for me today and I have to say I've got used to it now - getting up a little later than normal does mean me being able to get a few things done, and also that does mean that I've been using the time differently. I did at least note that with the weather being a tad on the warm side, having an air conditioned train and an air conditioned office really does pay dividends to say the least. In fact I've been pretty good at being able to time the lunch time run so I get to grab some lunch and take a nice rest in one of the local parks where there's trees and shade a plenty, so it means it's bearable even with the warm weather outside.

It was very warm indeed as I left work and the heat definitely hit me like it does when you get off a plane after having some nice conditions inside the aircraft. It did also mean that with some train delays due to the heat I was once again glad to get a seat, but this time be stuck behind a stopping service, and only just beating another one to West Norwood after leaving Tulse Hill, so it did mean that of course a slower delay and getting home later than originally planned.

I hope that's not an omen for the rest of the week, but when I did get home and at least get some air into the flat, I did manage to get lots of ironing done and that meant that it was less time spent later in the week - useful as of course The Great British Bake Off is on later in the week. In the meantime 500 Questions was my watch of the evening and seeing how well (or not) the contestants were doing. The winner from last night actually got pretty far into tonight's show as well (you can roll over if you're still in) and I'm sure that with a better choice of categories she might have made it further on. It is addictive viewing though.

I did also speak to The Love In My Heart as well and it was nice to be able to natter about all sorts - I had also booked a place for us and our friends to eat on Saturday night to celebrate my friend's birthday, and I'd picked up the train tickets for the weekend so at least I knew when I was heading up. I think I've got used to the weekend train trips up to Manchester, and I freely admit it's nice to be back there too, either watching Manchester City or spending time around the place. Being in Vinyl Exchange the other day gave me my happy face I have to say.

In the meantime later I watched some classic old episodes of the Angry Video Game Nerd, complete with the act theme tune by Kyle Justin (make that tune of the day) - not one I'd want to hum at work (due to its swearing et al) but also good fun. I revisited the classic slagging off of the Nintendo Action 52 cartridge and the only saving grace game that was on there - the Cheetahmen. And yes, I've watched the latest Beavis and Butt-head episode - naturally a classic. I did miss James going "what the hell is this c**p?" though...

Monday 22nd August - The Late Shift

This week was a change in hours for me as I'd been asked by my lead and my manager to cover for one of our colleagues who was off on leave. In effect this means 10am to 6pm instead of the usual 8am to 4pm, so at least that means that I get a lie in, although on the other side of the coin that does mean finishing later as well, so it'd be interesting to see how it works out with getting home. I haven't normally had to brave the peak hour at 6pm but with the station I get the train from being early on in the journey hope sort of sprang eternal, and so on.

It was a productive day or sorts at work albeit a little frustrating as a few things I was testing didn't quite go according to plan, but after doing some research on one issue later on for me it worked out that actually what I'd found was correct - and it may be a case of working out a different way of doing one sort of deployment. I think too that sometimes it's a case of working within the confines of what you have and realising that there isn't a massive budget for all sorts.

Another positive seemed to be at least when I was heading to Farringdon station later, and I managed to get a seat on the train. It was busy and certainly standing room only by the time it had left Blackfriars, but it was air conditioned so at least that meant a relatively calm journey. Add to that though a relatively slow journey as well as it got stuck behind a stopping service all the way to Tulse Hill, which made me think of a famous song but with the words changed - I'm only 24 hours from Tulse Hill, or something.

As a result and once off the train I got home around 7.15pm, which gave me a sort of barometer for the sort of time I'd be making the tea once I got home. I did that, spoke to The Love In My Heart which is always nice of course, and then it was quiz time. Mondays for me of course always means Only Connect with the lovely Victoria Coren-Mitchell, and the two teams were on good form. The music connection is always one that fazes them a tad though, so it was quite amusing that one of the teams thought a "let" connection was actually snow as well. Notably of course was an answer later mentioning that Pointless favouite, Central African Republic!

Then on ITV1, a new quiz show, 500 Questions, with Giles Coren, Victoria's sister and normally a restaurant critic but now turned host. Actually he did a really good job and the format seemed very good as well - effectively 50 questions a day over 10 days, and if you stay to the end of that day's 50 questions, you get to bank the money earned at the end. It's actually quite addictive, as three wrong questions on the bounce, and game over. And with categories to select from including for tonight One Hit Wonders, which mentioned some classics such as "Mad World" by Tears for Fears (make the original tune of the day) as the cover by Gary Jules was the one in the question.

Sunday 21st August - All Northern

It was nice to head into Manchester city centre with The Love In My Heart today, as we thought it would be nice to head around some of the shops but also be able to have some well earned cake and coffee. But before all that, we watched the re-run of the Olympic athletics from last night, and that gave me the chance to see Mo Farah clinch another historic moment, as he took gold in the 5000 metres with an awesome final lap and once he hit the front and stayed there, he wasn't being moved by anyone. And add to that a gold medal from Nicola Adams, and a bronze for the women's 4x400 metre relay team and that was a good night all round.

The Love drove into the city as she knows a few car parks that are close by that aren't expensive, and it would prove to be cheaper than us both taking the tram into the centre - it also meant she could drop me off at the station later on. So once parked up, we walked down to the Northern Quarter and went to Thomas Street and to Teacup for coffee and cake. The Love had been there with her friend the other day but wanted to go with me as well, and even though it wasn't cheap, it was very nice all round - nice coffee, and The Love's Victoria Sponge looked gorgeous. My carrot and coconut cake was nice too, but it doesn't quite beat the carrot cake at the Alpine Tea Room in Fletcher Moss Gardens.

We then went into Vinyl Revival to admire the prints and I was so tempted to get one and take one home, and also went into Vinyl Exchange for a bit too - and the vinyl was tempting there also. It was good to be able to mooch around and see some classic vinyl (and a considerable number of reissues, so a word to collectors and fans - check when buying of course) - and also it was a rather nice thing to see so many 7" singles at a good rate and again the temptation was all there.

We walked down Market Street and went in a few shops before heading into the Arndale Centre, and we went in a few of the clothes shops. In fact we got to Coast and in the sale we spotted a very nice top which I thought would look gorgeous on her. I was so right - she looked beautiful and it was one quality purchase at half price later for her, which she was most pleased at. I think too that she'd get more use out of that than perhaps getting a dress, and so was all pleased.

It was then off back to the Northern Quarter and after seeing a sign outside, we headed into Walrus for a late lunch together. The staff were lovely, and even apologised to The Love after her choice of food wasn't in. In the end, she had three of the sliders, little tiny burgers with different toppings on, together with some fries. I had the meatball pizza and that was gorgeous, home made meatballs with a barbecue sauce base and mozzarella, and it was stunningly nice. And washed down with a Meantime IPA too. And a nice vibe all round also.

We then got back to the car and me back to the train station in time for the 1635 departure back to London Euston, and it was a relaxing journey back for me on the train - with plenty of Morrissey playing including "The Bullfighter Dies" which was ace, and tune of the day for that reason. It reminded me of the gig last night, but also having a wonderful weekend with The Love made everything feel lovely. She and I, I would argue, are probably even closer than before, and it was just so nice to walk through the city centre together and feel that closeness and love.

Saturday 20th August – Morrissey in Manchester

I had an enjoyable day with The Love In My Heart, spending time with her over at her father's. Both her sisters were there, and it was good to see them, but also it was good because the Stoke City v Manchester City game was on the telly, so it meant I could see most of that (with the radio broadcast on the way there giving me the good news of two more goals from Sergio Agüero) and that was good to be able to see as well. In fact, City went and brought Nolito on and he scored two more, one with unselfish work from Kelechi Iheanacho and the other a brilliant finish laid on by Raheem Sterling, and so a 4-1 away win meant we'd be top of the league and above Man U on goals scored. Result.

Later on we headed off to Levenshulme Market, and it wasn't as good as it normally is, with possibly the bad weather stopping some stallholders, although more likely it was all the resurfacing work on Stockport Road which was causing tailbacks for ages as it was getting a much needed bit of TLC being done to it at long last. I did have a peek from distance at the old house and it looked like the owners were in doing some work to it and generally looking all good, so pleased about that really.

We headed back to The Love's place and my friend came over. We had a brew and a good catch up natter whilst watching the diving, which was a bit of a disaster for Tom Daley – he didn't qualify from the semi final, finishing last. I think something mentally wasn't quite there as he wasn't his normal self, and the final dive ended rather messily, and it was just a case of it was one of those days. I only hope that the two divers who did win the 3m springboard synchro (Jack Laugher and Chris Mears) get a little bit more credit for them getting the gold where Daley had failed.

Later on my friend and I headed off to Pizza Hut to have some well earned food before then going to Manchester Arena. It was a nice relaxed atmosphere in Pizza Hut, and it was also good that the meat feast pizza I had was really good too. My friend went with the margarita, and the refill drinks machine was handy, I even had some of the 7Up free with a bit of vanilla in – quite a taste sensation actually. The wind and rain though looked miserable outside so we tried to time our exit not to get too wet and windy.

It was then down from Pizza Hut to the arena and the car park there – where it was a total rip off. £12.50 event rate – yes, really. Granted it would mean we'd be completely dry from there to our seats, but still, not that cheap. Why not charge a much more reasonable rate such as £5-6 and give people an incentive to park there? But then again this is NCP (National Costly Parking) so I didn't also expect anything less to be honest. Once parked up we got in the arena and noticed that there were no meat products for sale inside, as per Morrissey's request (he's done that at other places too) so I suspect those inside who hadn't eaten would know that veg chilli with a pint was the order of the day.

The support act Damien Dempsey was very good, and I had seen him many years back support Morrissey before. His songs were part folk, part political in parts and my friend commented it was like Billy Bragg – and I could see the resemblance to be honest. For me at least, he played some good songs and it was well worth a listen. It was also noticeable that the band that played with him were pretty tight, and that made a difference in the cavernous soundscape of the arena.

The video wall showed footage of old classic songs such as tracks from the Ramones, The Damned, New York Dolls and the Sex Pistols as well as poetry recitals and old film footage, and as the screen went away, the drums from the opening of The Operation played to build up the excitement. The crowd surged forward to the front from the standing area (we had a good view from the top of block 113) and once all of that happened, on came Morrissey and we were both interested to see what sort of set list was going to be played.

And as it turned out, definitely one more for the diehard fan than someone who would come along expecting all the hits. He did start with Suedehead which was very good – lots of guitars throughout. It was then on with Alma Matters, and the fans were already reaching out their hands hoping Morrissey would touch them for their own special moment as well. There was also All You Need Is Me and You Have Killed Me as well, the latter of which sounded punchy with some great band work.

It was then into diehard fan territory which included B-sides such as Ganglord (complete with video footage of police brutality), It's Hard To Walk Tall When You're Small, and an excellent version of Jack The Ripper, complete with dry ice shrouding Morrissey to make him more dark too. Album tracks such as the title track of World Peace is None of Your Business, Kiss Me A Lot, Istanbul and The Bullfighter Dies were all good.

Perhaps the most tough thing to see was a great version of the Smiths' classic Meat Is Murder, with Morrissey changing the lyrics to “Kill! Eat! Kill! Eat! Murder!” and also including KFC in there too. It was also coupled with gruesome footage of slaughter houses and abattoirs which was difficult to watch – which of course was the whole point. It was a cracking version of the song though, and Smiths diehards also had What She Said as well later on which rocked along at a fair rate.

For me, my favourite was one of the album tracks, I Will See You In Far-Off Places, complete with stirring vocals from Morrissey and excellent guitar work from Boz Boorer, and so tune of the day is that one. Ironically now of course Manchester is a far-off place from Croydon, although my heart is always in Manchester anyway. We were also treated to Ouija Board, Ouija Board (minus the S-T-E-V-E-N and P-U-S-H-O-F-F lyric lines though, notably) and he paid tribute to Victoria Wood, Caroline Aherne and Prince before playing Oboe Concerto.

Only one song during the encore as is his wont, but it was a rollocking version of Irish Blood, English Heart though and before he sang it he proclaimed how the people would get sick of Labour and Tories, and now they were, and it did sound ace. The screen showed a still, a tune played in the background, the lights came on, and that was it – around a 1 hr 45 minute set list which was decent enough, and definitely one more for the fan who appreciates all of his songs, not necessarily just the hits. It wasn't full – I could see gaps in the standing and the seats, so around 90-95% capacity, but those who didn't go missed an excellent show. Viva Moz!

Friday 19th August – Rain and Gold

It was an enjoyable day at work as I got to look at some facets of App-V and had worked out something – for some reason, if you selected an App-V package in SCCM 2012 to download and run locally, all was well, but streaming content just brought up an immediate failure. I am going to investigate further, but I suspect this may be more due to the way that some of the back end side is configured, so something to check out in depth. I also worked out an effective plan of action for some application packaging so it's been quite good to knuckle down and get on with it.

The rain was still lashing it down and I was heading on the train later on, but before all that I had a little surprise – one of my former work colleagues and my friend was heading down to London to see her daughter, and as she had arrived in Euston just after when I finish work, I headed on the tube from Farringdon to Euston Square and met up with her and her partner at Euston. It was good to see them, albeit for a brief chat, but nonetheless a nice and welcome surprise, so all good there.

I then headed off to the Crown and Anchor pub for a well earned drink, and the Orkney Dark Island was still on (so result!) and not just that but the 1990s tunes were being played in the background, including some Nirvana and the classic “Ready To Go” by Republica (make that one tune of the day) and it was a nice chilled out vibe. I was sorely tempted to buy some camera equipment from Calumet on the way back to Euston but I did resist as I know it would have meant money spending that I needed to hold back on till I got paid.

It was then off to Euston, and heading on the 1800 train to Manchester. Normally I don't get this one but due to the fact that the trains were £10 each way as part of a Virgin special offer, it meant I could get this one. It was very quiet, which says to me that normally it's a peak time (£80 plus) fare and so good to take advantage for a change. It sped through the countryside and the rain lashed down at Stoke on Trent before I got to Manchester Piccadilly on time at 2007, where The Love In My Heart was there to come and collect me.

We headed to the Hong Kong takeaway near The Love's place and we got two dishes, pork in OK sauce and salt and pepper chicken. That with some fried rice for tea was a nice little treat for us both, and we really enjoyed it. In fact that was a good background for the women's hockey Olympic final, which I kept an eye on whilst other things were on the telly. We got back for the final quarter, and Britain equalised for 3-3, then the penalty shootout. I remember from last year Maddie Hinch's heroics getting England to beat the Netherlands and she did the same again, it was brilliant. We won 2-0 on penalties and another gold medal was British. Ace.

Thursday 18th August - A Day of Two Halves

It was a mixed day at work today, with things not quite going according to plan this morning and I had to rectify things pretty quickly. I had investigated an issue into why Adobe Acrobat Reader DC was still prompting for updates, and it turned out that some of the older versions were attempting to patch themselves, but as the installation was a patched install, it effectively doesn't allow the standard patches or updates to go on top. In addition for some reason the Adobe Acrobat Updater service appeared to be enabled, but checking the latest install it definitely was disabled.

So after some testing, thought it best with agreement to roll it out to our Windows 10 test machines. Unfortunately for some reason, even though I'd unticked the option to show the task sequence progress, because both items within the task sequence were set to only run when no user is logged in, the client queried for work, saw it had a task sequence, and displayed it with nothing moving - as it was waiting for the user logged off condition. I did manage to kill the TSProgressUI graphical interface screen at least but felt it best to atone for the error as best I could.

And once I'd done that and later in the day when users logged off, all appeared to be working as intended, so the method of delivery was fine. I did on the safe side swap the keyboard over anyway as it seemed that some of the keys, especially alt, appeared not to be behaving themselves. I also did feel a bit upset with myself as I knew it was set correctly, so why didn't it stick, and more to the point, why did it just seem to happen when attempting to test something else later? I thought also especially as we'd taken a backup of the test SCCM 2012 server on our test network, I wanted to test out the upgrade from version 1602 to 1606.

The upgrade took time but worked, and then it announced that there was a hotfix released after that, which was a recommended apply patch job. I did that, and all appeared to be well, and at least from that side it went pretty smoothly all round. Naturally of course it may take some time to do the live system, and I will be insisting on a full backup of the SQL database and the snapshots of the main servers taken before I even attempt a live upgrade - so that there's an option to go back. It also means we could roll out Windows 10 anniversary edition as well once done, so best to do that now while we don't have many Windows 10 clients talking to it.

I headed home later and had found out that the Brownlee brothers had won gold and silver, with them both destroying the field. It was so great, but it was on during the afternoon - gutted not to watch it live. I did though see the badminton bronze medal match with the British beating the Chinese. Add to that a gold in the 470 sailing (which was due once the final race was run as we had already done enough) and with Jade Jones in the taekwondo final later, it's another good day for the Olympians. Tune of the day then is the ace "The Look" by Metronomy, reminds me of sunnier climes..

Wednesday 17th August - Wimbledon Wednesday

So it was off after work to get my hair cut, which has been long overdue. I of course have been making sure that where possible I use someone decent, and the last few times I've consistently gone to James Barbers in Wimbledon Park, close to the tube station. The blokes in there are ace, and the one who normally does my hair is a Liverpool fan from Yorkshire, so when we talk about stuff up North, it kind of makes a lot of sense and feels like it's being back up there, so all good.

It's the first time I've been there since I've started the new job, so it was a good test to see how it would work when taking a different route. So it was the tube from Farringdon to Edgware Road, and literally going from the other platform next door to the District line, which runs from Edgware Road to Wimbledon. This meant a) I got a seat as it's the start of the service, b) a nice new air conditioned tube train (they really are miles better than the horrid abominations on the Northern Line) and c) a general relaxed feel, especially once getting past Fulham Broadway.

So all was good, and with the hair cut done and looking rather sharp, with lots of chat about the football season and how he managed to get an away ticket for the Liverpool v Spurs game at White Hart Lane despite the reduced capacity of the ground, and with me mentioning the start to the season and the City game last night, all was good really. In fact the time sped by and it was good to have the hair and eyebrows all sorted and looking good, and certainly will be spot on when I see The Love In My Heart this weekend.

I headed around the shops in Wimbledon for a little while and this included getting a mooch around TK Maxx too - not a massive selection for us blokes but some decent items nonetheless which I may have to peruse further at some point. I did also have a nice peek around some of the nice shops in the Centre Court Shopping Centre before then heading on the tram back to Croydon, armed with a coffee from Waitrose, as you do of course - and then settling in for more Olympic action.

In fact it was good that BBC Four gave some extended coverage to the first round of the women's golf, which seemed to take an age to complete a lot of the threesomes that were out on the course - five and a half hours to do a round which seemed pretty slow to me. The good news was that the course was testing out fairly the abilities out there and Charley Hull of Great Britain is in a decent position after the first round, with the final par five hole being a little tricky and the undoing of some. Nonetheless the proper golf theme, "Chase Side Shoot Up" by Brian Bennet needs to be played around nowish, a classic of its time and tune of the day.

Tuesday 16th August - Gold!

So with a chance of plenty of medals, it was a case of settling in for the Olympics, but not just that either - Manchester City were playing away at Steaua Bucharest in the Champions League qualifier, so it was a case of having the PC stream that game and at the same time keep an eye on the Olympics as well, so would be heading between screens with the eyes and seeing what was going to happen in terms of the gymnastics and then the cycling.

So on with the football first, and I have to say a professional performance from Manchester City. Sergio Agüero may have missed two penalties, but he did at least score before half time after David Silva had opened the scoring, and with Nolito getting his first Manchester City goal and following that two more from Agüero, and a hat trick at that. 5-0 and an easy win, and notably no Joe Hart again in net. I do think he is on his way out of the club and I suspect that Guardiola knows something we don't. We'll see if a Premier League team comes in for him before the transfer window closes.

In the meantime, medals galore. The gymnastics provided another two medals with the excellence of Amy Tinkler on the floor performing way above her sixteen years, and nailing a routine only toppled by two Americans, and her bronze was a well deserved medal, a bit unexpected but she really did nail it. Good for her. And Nile Wilson on the high bar did a cracking routine, only beaten by two even better ones and his bronze was also a great effort two. That's seven medals for the team in gymnastics including two golds in that - special times I think.

So on to the cycling and the omnium. Laura Trott had won the 250m time trial and so went into the final points race all looking good. In fact both her and her two closest rivals had lapped the field at one point and got an extra set of bonus points, and she stayed out of trouble and kept an eye on everyone well. It was pretty much settled with twenty laps to go, and then she made sure she got some points in the final sprint to finish well ahead of Sarah Hammer of the USA. The American was a tad cheesed off on the podium and almost walked off before finally joining Trott and the Belgian bronze medalist Jolien D'Hoore for a picture. One thing I loathe is sore losers - most other people would have been pretty chuffed to get any sort of medal to be honest.

So her fiancé Jason Kenny was up in the kierin, and wow, what an event it was for the final. The gun stopped just after the durney bike went off first time, and yet no one was removed as it wasn't sure who had passed the rear of the bike. The same thing happened with a different rider second time around, and it was the third start where eventually the final two and a half laps occurred, and Kenny kept his head and drove round the outside to really nail a fantastic win - and with a silver and bronze for the women in the sprint, a cracking night all round.

It also means that Jason Kenny now has six gold medals, the same as Sir Chris Hoy. Surely Jason would need to be knighted now, well in my view anyway. He really just played it cool and you could tell he was in the zone big time. Tune of the day is no less than "Gold" by Spandau Ballet, seemed pretty obvious to me that it is apt, and currently a massive amount of gold medals, and a medal total already more than Beijing, so our best ever away performance. Nice!

Monday 15th August - Back To The Warmth

I must admit the one thing you do notice about having an air conditioned office is that the weather outside seems warmer (even though it isn't) and having a little bit of a sit down outside in the little park close to Smithfield Market shows that when the weather is nice, everyone is pretty much out to lunch. It was good to be able to relax a bit and get focussed for the afternoon, and I've been making some headway in working out task sequence variables and how to deploy multiple packages in one step.

In fact I had worked something out - it seemed that during the OS deployment, if you wanted to install multiple packages, the programs within them for installation have to be set a certain way (whether or not a user is logged in) or else what seems to happen is that an install fail happens for those that aren't set. What may be a way forward is to have one program within the package for normal deployment (ie: when you want to do it with no user logged on) and another with the other option set, and then use that one as your package and program task sequence variable. I'll do some more testing on this before confirming and check the log files though.

In the meantime I had been testing out and imaging one of the new HP Mini PCs, primarily because of the fact that we're going to be testing Windows 10 with some users who need specialist call centre software on, and that means that their hardware, which we have tested and got working fine, can be given a more thorough test with an encouragement for them to fill in the feedback spreadsheet in order for us to see how effective it all is for them. With the right mounting, they mount nicely on to the back of a monitor, and you even get shorter cables too, which looks pretty cool.

It was nice to have the aircon on the way home, but what I didn't appreciate was that the lift in the apartment block was once again non-functional. I had to walk up the seven flights of stairs, but I had picked up the post and what did cheer me up was a little card from The Love In My Heart which she had sent last Wednesday (dear me, my post is awful!) and it was so cute, with a cat on and looking all snuggly. Awww. Very much the mode of how the cats Jô and Brian were most of the weekend to be honest!

In the meantime I've also been playing some of the vinyl that The Love brought down last week, and so was good to play the forty odd year old album that is Jethro Tull's "Aqualung". The title track is of course brilliant, but I actually also enjoy the second track, "Cross Eyed Mary" which sounds really rocking, has a great flute solo interlude and really does set the scene for the album wonderfully well, so tune of the day there. And there's even a great cover version by Iron Maiden no less...

Sunday 14th August - Snugburys Super Sunday

The Love In My Heart and I got up and we watched part of the re-run from the Olympic athletics from the night before. We had an idea of some of the results, but nonetheless seeing Mo Farah get tripped up, brush it off, get back up and storm to the 10000 metres gold medal was rather special to say the least. He deserved it massively, and at least one part of what was the Super Saturday back in 2012 was keeping going. Jessica Ennis-Hill did really well in the heptathlon and the fact that the Belgian athlete Nafissatou Thiam got five personal bests in the seven events to win showed how hard she worked to get gold.

Greg Rutherford also got bronze in the long jump but he appeared to be less than happy despite pulling off an excellent final jump to get the medal, then seeing the American after him costly brush his hand behind where his feet ended up to be jumping a lot less in his final jump. With all that and medals to come today (one definite gold and two silvers even before the start of the day) and with the weather set fair, The Love and I headed off down the M56, then the A49 and A51 and off towards Nantwich and the Park Farm where Snugburys Ice Cream is made.

The Love parked up and we walked to the field in the park, and saw this year's straw sculpture - no less than a giant Peter Rabbit, all 38 feet of him in fact. It was in tribute to Beatrix Potter and the 150th anniversary of her birth, and it was notable that the jacket was even coloured blue to resemble the lookalike. I was well impressed, and plenty of parents were getting their children to stand in front and have their pictures taken, absolutely undertstandable considering the classic children's character.

Peter Rabbit at Snugburys

And yes, it is that big. You can see it coming along the A51 and The Love had spotted it as she turned in for Snugburys even before we walked to the field, so it was impressive. In fact they had even created carrot cake ice cream for the duration of the sculpture being up, so naturally I wanted to give that a go but even more naturally wasn't surprised one bit to see that it had sold out. I did however have the clotted cream vanilla and the raspberry pavlova flavours, both of which were ace. Just having the ice cream was worth it alone, but seeing as the sculptures are ace, it made it even more so.

Later on of course we had lunch and a nice Sunday carvery at The Riverside, close to Acton Bridge, before then heading back to Fallowfield in Manchester and having a drink at The Beer Studio, which I meant I had The Lowry ale, which was rather good. It made me smile as I was remembering a moment at work where one of our colleagues was asking about the great artist, and I was explaining how it all worked. I think for me too it had just been a lovely weekend and was so nice to spend some quality time together.

I made my train in good time and The Love kept me posted with medal updates by text - and a lot of them as it happened. In the time of my train journey, Max Whitlock had won on floor and on pommel horse, with Louis Smith second also in that event. Then as I got off the tube at Victoria, another message - Justin Rose had won the golf. I saw some of that later on and was mega pleased for him to win it - he didn't whinge and pull out claiming Zika and all that, he approached it properly, as did runner up Henrik Stenson, and they were rewarded for actually giving it a good go and all to play for on the last. It was nice to see Justin go mental at the end too - he really wanted it and good on him!

I saw the cycling later and the sprint final was of course a British 1-2, but just a case of which order. Jason Kenny won and ended up being one of a few British athletes with five gold medals, and considering the others have been knighted (Sir Bradley Wiggins, Sir Chris Hoy and Sir Steve Redgrave) it might only be a matter of time for the Bolton born rider. I have no doubt though that Callum Skinner will win this himself one day though - he was a worthy runner up and blitzed stuff well too.

Tune of the day (and one possibly on repeat) is "Gold" by Spandau Ballet, and it had to be for obvious reasons. Sod all this super Saturday bobbins, it's now Super Sunday, and as I was off to bed, Andy Murray was off in his final against Juan Martin del Potro, and that could be a fifth gold, plus we're now guaranteed another gold on Tuesday due to the sailing finn class being decided before the final race, which doesn't happen that often. Go the British team!

Saturday 13th August - Lucky City

It was an early start for me and I left the flat at 7am in order to get the train and tube to Euston in good time for the 0820 departure to Manchester Piccadilly. I was most pleased to be able to relax on the train, and it was good that the scenery departed by so quickly. As The Love In My Heart had taken a change of clothes in her case last weekend, I was travelling light without a case and so it felt slightly odd not having to wheel it on and off the trains and tube, but that was also a nice difference too.

The Love came to meet me at the station dead on 1030 and we headed off to Marks and Spencer at The Fort in Cheetham Hill to get the dine in for two offer for £10 for tea later, and once done we headed off back to The Love's place and to fuss over the two cats Jô and Brian, who actually were attentive and didn't mind me so much as normal (that said, Brian is a big softie anyway, it's Jô who can get a little on the jealous side.) We watched some catch up from the Olympics from last night and then headed off to The Love's father's place.

All was good there and he had the Hull City v Leicester City game on, and we had a good chat with him as well as The Love's niece and her boyfriend. In fact Hull City were doing decent and ended up winning 2-1, and a well earned result. The Love's father had me sorting some stuff out on the PC, and I managed to get his Skype account all set up and working correctly, and because most of his family were already email contacts, they showed as potential Skype contacts to be added too - which made life a lot easier to say the least.

Later on we headed back to The Love's place, and I met up with my friend and fellow Man City diehard as we were off to the Etihad for the first game of the season, at home to Sunderland. Of course with the new manager Pep Guardiola and the new signings we had made, excitement was building and it was a case of seeing how we'd do. I didn't expect us to get out of the blocks and necessarily thrash teams straight away, and the first few weeks of the season are always a little case of settling down a bit, but our record against Sunderland in the Premier League is decent.

It was even more decent just three minutes in with Raheem Sterling being fouled for a penalty, and no less than Sergio Agüero scoring from the spot. I was happy as I have him in my Fantasy League team (and captain too) so that was good, and City pressed through the first half with Nolito also looking promising up front, and John Stones having a consistent steady game at the back. We both did think at half time that 1-0 may not be enough though.

And so it proved. City went backwards in the second half and didn't have that many ideas, in an almost similar way to the last few months or so, and a neat ball through from former City man Jack Rodwell fed Jermain Defoe, and he doesn't miss those. 1-1. Not good. In fact the £30 admission for away games had also seen Sunderland fill the away end, so fair play to them for that, especially with a 5.30pm kick off. Thankfully City brought on Jesús Navas and it was his cross from the right that was headed in as an own goal by Paddy McNair for a 2-1 win in the end.

We both weren't convinced by the result, and even less so by the farcical new exit system in place. The pedestrians had to go one side of a gate for the car park, and the other for the pedestrian walk along the main road. Of course it wasn't well signposted, so everyone went the wrong way which led to confusion, and the way that the car park "management" went meant that fans had to turn one way out and go on a long diversion. It took my friend ages to get home because of it and it was a total shambles by the club to say the least.

Back at The Love's place she was making the tea, but we had company, one of the relations with their little four year old, who was so happy to be playing catch with an American football and being all lovely and cute. It was good to see actually and that was a nice way of winding down, and we had tea later and saw some more of the Olympics, with the excellent women's team pursuit cyclists breaking the world record and winning the final. We even saw Match of the Day and Gary Lineker keeping his promise of wearing his pants as well.. the theme tune to that show is tune of the day - good to see it back of course.

Friday 12th August - Ruling the Track

It was a good day all round at work, and it was pretty good to to be able to take some time out at home later and relax a fair bit. I wasn't heading up to Manchester till tomorrow morning, and so it was a case of being able to sort out bits around the house and then watch the Olympic Games from Rio. The cycling of course was starting in earnest and as Great Britain normally excel at those events, and indeed some of the cyclists I'd seen going round the Manchester Velodrome when The Love In My Heart and I saw Kraftwerk there many years ago (still one of my favourite gig moments ever, so "Tour de France" by them is tune of the day

The British had already set the bar in the men's team pursuit qualifying, and then of course it was a case of getting through the semi final which they did easily, and then a final against Australia. This was epic stuff - the Aussies had beaten Britain at the World Championship, but Sir Bradley Wiggins was confident that the Brits woud bounce back. It was in a word, epic. The Australians really did try massively to get ahead and stay ahead, but the consistency of the pace of the British team really did show, and at the end with Wiggins having done a massive shift and left the last three to it, Ed Clancy, Owain Doull and Stephen Burke headed over the line - in a new world record to boot.

Travelling around 4km in 3 minutes 50 seconds, from a standing start, is pretty mind boggling all round, especially when you consider how much energy you need, and granted you can draft if you're the riders behind but the one in front's still got to go fast enough to do so. That's effectively over 60km/h for the whole race, which is just absurd. I feel pretty good if I manage around 25km/h on a road bike these days, and obviously that's on a level road...

The rowing had also given some gold medals too today, the coxless four as usual did their usual sterling effort (fifth games in a row that we had won) and the coxless pair of Helen Glover and Heather Stanning, unbeaten since 2011, had defended their title admirably. The number of golds were going up, and with the weekend to look forward to, maybe even more. I was of course also keeping an eye on the heptathlon and had seen Katarina Johnson-Thompson smash the British high jump record in the third event with a very good 1.98m in that - maybe that's something she can do as a single event in future too?

It was good though not to be tempted to stay up all night, as I did have an early train to catch tomorrow back to Manchester, which was going to be a nice weekend - the opening game of the season for Manchester City and a chance to head to see the new straw sculpture at Snugburys, ice cream central of course. It made the week feel that much better knowing I had something rather lovely to look forward to, and with me all tucked up in bed, I slept very soundly indeed.

Thursday 11th August - Progressing

I spent some time today working on testing some of the possible issues with a Group Policy and setting off a manual boot trace, using the experience from the Microsoft BootXRay sessions I'd had a few months back. In fact that worked out nicely as it meant I was able to effectively capture the trace really well, and then diagnose that complete with seeing when the necessary Windows service was starting and then if the policy applied. What it did show after testing was some level of inconsistency which I might need to look into a little further.

It was nice to take a walk out at lunch time and walk along towards St John's Square, noticing the former gate house that is now the Museum of the Order of St John. I'll have to have a wander in there one night after work if it's still open and see what is inside there as well as maybe observe the local area from the upper tower. It does look unique considering all the other buildings around it of course, but it's probably there befitting the area way before everything else.

I headed home later on and the train was particularly packed, not least as the one before had been cancelled and so everyone was piling on that. And this morning, despite the supposed suspension of the Southern rail strike, hardly any trains appeared at East Croydon and I had to get a mega packed one to London Bridge and take the tube from there to work. Not happy really, you'd think that getting back to normal with people in work would actually be simple to do. But then again this is Southern we're talking about...

I also spent some time seeing the doubles in the canoe slalom, and the same pair who got silver at London 2012 (Florence and Hounslow) pulled off another great run, ending up second with two to go. The other two didn't topple them though, one pair capsized and the other made mistakes, and so the British pair got a silver again, consistently performing well. Over in the golf too Justin Rose made history with the first ever Olympic hole in one as well.

I was also pleased to see that the track cycling has started in earnest, with the British breaking the Olympic record in the very first event of the night, so nothing changes there either. Of course this may be where we get to see some gold medal performances, and so it'll be a case of being glued to that and also seeing if I can stay up to watch the final of the Rugby Sevens, as the Brits play Fiji for the gold medal, and guaranteed at least a silver, so all good. Tune of the day is "Gold" by Spandau Ballet, which is obviously what I'm hoping for in some of the sports later...

Wednesday 10th August - Gold Rush

I headed off to Homebase in Penge on the way home from work tonight. I had been doing a research into some decent shelves to store vinyl, and the IKEA Kallax ones, as good as they are, were a little too large to store what I needed - some vinyl that belong in the family and were left to me, and what I didn't originally take with me when I moved. The Love In My Heart had picked it up and brought it in her car last weekend, and I wanted to ensure that it was available to play when I fanced it.

Homebase had their Clever Cubes range, and checking the measurements looked like it was the perfect fit to add vinyl into, with similar measures to the IKEA one. So once I got the train home via Whitechapel and then the Overground down to Penge West, it was a short little walk to the Homebase. I had to wander twice around the store to find the storage bits, and there it was - the 2 x 1 shelf unit for a mere £14.96 (yeah, why not just have it at £15 eh?) and it was mine.

As it turned out there's a bus directly from there to the flat, so took that home, and within around fifteen minutes I had assembled it all together, added all the vinyl LPs to it, and it looked the part in the bedroom. I of course just had to play some of it as well and so the excellent "In Every Dream Home A Heartache" from the second Roxy Music album "For Your Pleasure" with its false fade was intact, and so it's tune of the day - a classic like that and especially as it sounds so nice and warm on the analogue format.

Later on the diving was on and so I watched that and it was the 3 metre synchro. The British duo of Jack Laugher and Chris Mears were up there, and stayed up there, and were in the lead going into the final dive. The Americans went first and set an excellent dive and that was good, the Brits went after them and matched their dive to stay ahead, and that meant at least a silver. The Chinese went after that, but they over rotated and so their dive actually dropped them to third, and I've never heard the diving commentators go more mental to be honest. The first ever diving gold for Britain, and so well deserved.

Not just that, but an excellent gold from Joe Clarke in the canoe slalom as well, really turning it on and then having to wait to see two others not beat his time. He belied his world ranking and pulled it off when it mattered, and really shows that the determination of the British team in that was good. Later on too I was glued to the gymnastics and was enjoying the all around individual final, and was massively pleased for Max Whitlock - he made no mistakes, was solid on all the apparatus and a bronze was massively deserved for him as well.

Two golds though and four bronzes (the other bronzes being Chris Froome in the cycling time trial, Sally Conway in the judo and a GB v GB play off for bronze in the double trap shooting) meant it was a productive day and certainly showing that the team are still doing well. I must admit that getting home from work and being tuned into watch the many sports has been really good actually, and it's meant a nice relaxed evening cheering on the British, as you do!

Tuesday 9th August - Commodore Gymnastics

So another day of avoiding the strking trains, and it went fine, but for some reason it was taking longer than usual for a Hammersmith and City line train to arrive at Whitechapel to take me to Farringdon. I did get in on time though so that was a relief, and I set to work in looking into testing out a new package that I'd been asked to look into for a client as part of a call centre piece of software called Numonix. It seemed to want to do an install fine but I had found a paramater for the server to put in as a MSI property, and all is good there.

In fact the last thing I need to investigate is the fact that for some reason the client installs its own desktop service, which is fine to a degree, but what it does do is seemingly put back an icon on the desktop for access to a link to where the log files are stored. Normally that wouldn't be an issue, although it's always better to keep the desktop clean where possible, but when users can't access folders on the C: drive down to Group Policy restrictions, clicking said icon would result in an error. I plan to do some more testing tomorrow.

I arrived home on the normal train I'd take safe and sound (in fact it was the delayed 1559 departure so I actually got home earlier than planned) - and then it was on with the Olympic Games from Rio for most of the evening. Admittedly it was a bit on the tough side to watch in places with not that many medals, but the highlight for me was the all around team gymnastics women's final. The British women did pretty well and they were heading around the apparatus well, with only the odd minor error on the floor causing them some negatives really.

Naturally the Americans won and they were way ahead of the competition there, but the fifth place for the British women was still a great performance from them and it's a sign of progress that they're making. Sometimes it's easy to be negative about this sort of thing, but you can't win them all, and it's also worth noting too that some of them are still pretty young (Claudia Frangapane for example) so there's still lots of time for them to further develop too. It was good hearing Matt Baker get enthusiastic about all the class gymnasts, not just the British ones - fair play.

I spent some time later on looking at some old Commodore 64 games and extracting the music out of them for old times' sake. In fact one of them was a game called Skull which was a semi-3D maze game, and had little pieces of music for each time that you spent wandering around. Notably a lot of the pieces were national anthems, including the Welsh one (which is possibly the first ever use of said anthem in a computer game) and that was a surprise. Tune of the day though is the rather good "Retro Dreaming" by Pop Will Eat Itself, which actually didn't get a proper release, just part of it on a sampler, which later became "Equal Zero" on a later album..

Monday 8th August - Breaking Strikes

It was the first of five days of strike action on Southern trains today, which meant that it might have been carnage at East Croydon station and the usual masses trying to get on even less trains. I had formulated a Plan B which was effectively to take the London Overground from West Croydon to Whitechapel and then take the Hammersmith and City line to Farringdon. That way at least I would know that I'd get to work on time, and so it worked out.

It was hard though to say goodbye to The Love In My Heart, as the weekend had been so lovely. However I knew that she could relax and take the car and drive back at leisure, and be able to fuss over the cats Jô and Brian when she got back, and indeed she had texted me later to let me know she got home - and indeed around three hours or so quicker than originally it was to come down, so that was a positive. Back at the office I'd had two meetings and worked on a plan of action for the next few weeks.

One of that plan of action was to check out what could be done with setting variables in task sequence and then deploying applications as part of a task sequence using those variables. As a test, I looked at the new dynamic variable settings available in SCCM 2012 R2, as this allowed for setting variables on dependencies, but also setting multiple variables at once. So in effect you can set as many variables as you can, and then you call the task sequence based on that.

Your key is that your variables are named sensibly, so CORE01, CORE02 etc are the variables with the setting being the name of the app to install. When you then look at installing apps using variables, you simply use the variable with no numbers, and it then looks at the task sequence variable, corresponds accordingly and off it goes. Otherwise, you are limited to nine or ten applications in one step of the task sequence, but this means you can do more - for less.

You can do the same with packages too - although you have to bear in mind that for packages, the package ID has to be given along with its name, so it's not as flexible as applications may be. For example, your application may be the same name but different versions, but as long as you keep one with the right name (the latest version you wish to include) all should be good. You can also specify if you wanted to deploy that in a task sequence if there's no other deployment too, so that's pretty nifty. I'm going to play more tomorow but in effect it'll work really really well.

Tune of the day in the meantime is the rather lovely "Everybody's Gone To War" by Nerina Pallot, which is a really fab tune. In fact the title sums up the war of words between Govia Thameslink Railway (who run Southern Railway as part of that) and the RMT union in their bitter dispute. I can't see it being resolved soon but the company's tactics of "we'll do what we want and introduce the new roles at the end of August anyway" might not resonate so well with the travelling public, especially as a deal has been struck with ScotRail to ensure the guard's safety role is not compromised in any way.

Sunday 7th August - Olympic Park Sunday

It was nice for both me and The Love In My Heart to have a welcome lie in - the long night of Friday plus travelling on Saturday had taken its toll a little bit, and we wanted to have a chilled out time today. We did see that the Olympic Park did have one of the Team GB fanzones ready for watching the Olympics on a big screen, complete with bar, and of course it meant we could have a walk around there. I was there a few weeks back but for The Love it was the first time since we'd been to the Paralympics in 2012 and had such a good time there too.

We headed to West Croydon station and then got the train from there to Canada Water, taking the Jubilee Line tube to Stratford. We had of course noted that West Ham United were playing Juventus today in a friendly, and so the Westfield shopping centre was a tad busier with people anyway, and later on once the final whistle had gone, the roads around were closed to allow fans a hasty exit along to the station. It did mean they couldn't go through the shopping centre though as it was barriered off, and so that meant we couldn't get through either. Only one thing for it - a nice drink in The Cow pub beforehand!

Once done, we noted that the crowds had died down around 3.30pm or so and we were being allowed through, and so walked and followed the path to the Olympic Park, and past the Aquatics Centre. Where the fun fair was for the summer we noted that the big screen was at the end and so that must be where the fanzone was. We headed down and towards the river side, and then noted that it was £2 to get in (we had seen this on the Friday evening news) - and from there we then heading through the fun fair and to the fan zone area.

The £2 did give us some vouchers - £1 off a ride on the fair, and two 50p vouchers off a drink or food inside, and we could use that at the bar next to the fan zone. We did this for the first couple of drinks, so each drink was £4 per pint instead of £4.50 (ouch, London prices and all.) It was however good to note that they did have the Brahma Brazilian beer, but that had soon sold out. As a plus though they did have two ales from the London Fields Brewery, so I had their pale ale which actually wasn't so pale and really nice all round, and The Love stuck with Becks, and with nice weather and armed with sun cream, all was good.

In fact we stayed there for a fair while, seeing the British women do well in the rugby sevens and beat Canada, and all was good there, and they kept going back to the fencing in between the road race as Richard Kruse of Britain was doing well. I was explaining it to a couple in front who thought that we were from Yorkshire, and that the scoring system works electronically. In fact Kruse beat a twice Olympic champion and won very well indeed, and you could see how much it means to him as well.

It was very relaxed and chilled and to be honest part of me could have stayed there all evening if we'd both had tomorrow off work! We did leave around 7.30pm or so and headed for the tube station, much quieter now, and then on the Jubilee Line back to Canada Water with the train to West Croydon being quite busy. Once we got back, we then made some tea and had some chicken in olives with some dauphinoise potatoes and peas, and snuggled up to watch some more action. I have to say that the weekend went by too quickly, and it's been so nice to snuggle and cuddle a lot. Tune of the day in fact is the rather good "Is It A Dream?" by Classix Nouveaux, proper 80s tune and one I saw on the Friday. It wasn't a dream, the weekend was just so fab.

Saturday 6th August - Balmy in Brighton

The Love In My Heart and I had decided that going to Brighton might be a good idea today, and even with the knowledge that the trains might be a little bit on the busier side due to the main Brighton Pride parade happening today, and indeed the whole weekend of pride events, we thought that we could see some of that and then later on head around and be by the sea. So once we'd had some bacon on toast for breakfast and got ourselves changed and ready, it was a short walk to East Croydon station where the ticket machines all had queues as people were wanting to get trains.

Because The Love and I had a Two Together Railcard, we get a third off when we travel together. Even more so, if you go on a Thameslink train instead of a Southern one, Thameslink do a super off peak return fare for the same day, whereas Southern doesn't - and yet they're part of the same Govia Thameslink Railway franchise! I know, odd isn't it? That did mean that effectively a day return for us was a mere £7 each. Not arguing with that, and we let the first train go as it was absolutely choc full with nowhere to stand but by the door - criminally unsafe in fact.

The next train that came on to Platform 6 was a lot quieter, in fact The Love got a seat by Gatwick Airport and in truth hardly anyone was standing till we got to Burgess Hill and a fair number got on heading to Brighton. It was very busy in the station as we got off, but we made our way out and along the main road down the hill towards the seafront. We could see it in full view with the sunshine out in full and gorgeous blue skies, and I kind of wish that every day was this nice when we go out.

We did stop at one point as the Pride Parade was coming around the corner and up the road, so it was good to stand there and enjoy the second half or so of the parade going past, with lots of open top buses and floats and some very bright and colourful costumes, fitting in with the rainbow theme that was prevalent everywhere. Lots of cheesy tunes along the way of course, but everyone seemed to be really happy and enjoying it all, and the massed audiences were cheering too, so a nice positive atmosphere all round really. Good stuff.

We then walked to the seafront and headed West towards Hove, and stopped by the brand new attraction in the centre of Brighton - the British Airways i360 no less. It goes up around 450 feet vertically with a circular pod and effectively a vertical cable car up to enjoy the view - and the view looked good over the sea in the sunshine. It is £15 each for a ticket though, so might see if there's a discount in future. The shop underneath looked good and had all sorts of beach and maritime stuff as well as BA merchandise (as you'd expect.) It also sits in the shadow of the old former West Pier sitting out there as a shell out to sea.

We walked down the seafront with plenty of little shops under the brick arches, and the pebbles and deckchairs out with plenty of people taking in the sun. We also stopped off at one of the many fish and chip places and we ate alfresco, under a parasol, and avoided any seagulls taking our fish and chips off us. It wasn't the best fish and chips ever admittedly, but it was fine and would keep us going till later on. We then walked along towards the Brighton Palace Pier (the "palace" bit finally restored recently into its proper name, about time!)

The whole pier certainly was set for you to spend money at, lots of amusement arcades, fairground rides at the end including a log flume, a wild mouse type rollercoaster, a helter skelter, dodgems, that sort of thing, and also a Kentucky Derby, except it was the Dolphin Derby with dolphins instead. Naturally of course I had a go, and came a very close second (in fact I reckon I'd won but the game didn't register some of the holes I'd rolled the ball through..) and it was good to see that still being as popular as ever. Not that happy with £2 a go mind you...

We walked back along the pier, and we also saw some odd sights throughout the day, notably some weird fetish where people dress up as dogs, have chains around their necks for leads etc, and even walk on all fours and make barking sounds. I remember there being some Channel 4 documentary on it and thinking it was odd then but seeing it for real made The Love and I think "ewwwww" really. I know, each to their own and all, but there's got to be some form of limit somewhere right? Perhaps not.

We did then take a walk around the Royal Pavillion and were a tad disappointed to see the grounds around it were showing signs of overgrown plants, and lots of it fenced off (but this could have been to protect it during Pride weekend too) - and we also had an enjoyable walk around The Lanes and all the nice little shops there - certainly plenty if you wanted jewellery for example. It was a good walk or so and we then headed back towards the station, and although in a queue, we did manage to get the first Thameslink train back, sensibly a 12 carriage train too, and we got seats so all was good.

We stopped off at Waitrose on the way back from East Croydon station and got a nice pizza for tea, and later on once we'd had that we settled in and watched the Steve Jobs film on Blu-ray I'd got some time ago. It was quite enjoyable and I liked both Michael Fassbender as the man himself, Seth Rogen as Steve Wozniak (really showing the beardy geeky side) and Kate Winslet as Joanna Hoffmann. Bod Dylan's "Shelter from the Storm" features highly too, so tune of the day for that classic. I suspect too that some of the scenes may have been a little more over the top than they were - it did make for good drama though.

Friday 5th August - Love on a Friday

It was a busy but somewhat productive day at work and I managed to get quite a bit done, and work out some form of plan of action for the next week or so, and had a good and meaningful chat with one of my colleagues with regards to App-V and how that would all operate. In essence the key (as you would need to be for any form of packaging where you effectively do a "before" and "after" capture) is that you have a machine as vanilla as possible to ensure the environment is correctly captured when taking the install monitoring into account.

I was heading home as quick as I could though tonight as I knew that The Love In My Heart was coming down to see me and that it was going to be a nice long weekend together. She had today and Monday off work so the time spent to be driving down and back would at least not go into the weekend too much. In fact she did message me earlier to indicate that she was stuck in some traffic on the M6 and then that the M25 was slow, possibly a reaction to a protest which blocked some of the M4 slip roads and others attempting to find their alternative way around.

As it was I got a call from her around 5.30pm and she had arrived in the surface car park opposite my flat. In essence between 4pm and 7am the following morning it's £3 to park, which is good, and at weekends, 24 hours is effectively £9.60, which includes the evening hours. I had emailed the local council and they informed me you could effectively stay in the same car park and just add on each 24 hours as the existing one expires, and so we had a good plan of action (and I'd made sure I had lots of coins and so had the £9.60 ready for tomorrow for her.) I gave her a massive hug and it was just so nice to see her so early on in the weekend.

We spent the evening mainly in relaxed and chilled out mode, and I made some nice tea - in fact three courses. We had some lovely soup with some very crumbly bread and that was good, and the beef bourbignon for the main complete with some green vegetables was just the thing - and later on, it was then a little lemon posset dessert as we saw fit. I also managed nicely to be able to make sure I had some wine in for The Love, and so she was content, as was I, as she indulged on the soaps and in between I watched Top of the Pops from last night on BBC Four, which included Gary Numan's excellent "Music for Chameleons" and hence tune of the day- pretty good stuff all round.

We did think about staying up for the whole of the Olympic opening ceremony from Rio, and with the four hours or so time difference we knew it was going to be around a 4am finish. In the end, we thought that we'd see if we could stay up enough to see the British team come out, and armed with snacks and dips, we did manage that. We did see Andy Murray come out and hold the flag, and that was an honour he really enjoyed. Due to the Portugese language, some of the countries came out earlier, especially the likes of Spain and the USA as well. It was all seemingly good though, so let the games begin!

Thursday 4th August - Surprise Meeting

I had a nice surprise as I left work today - a text from The Love In My Heart. Alas, she wasn't in London (boo) but her nephew was, attempting to get all his visa and other things sorted out before he headed out to Taiwan next week to start his PhD (marine geography you see, hence the fact you go somewhere where there's plenty of marine life). All was falling in place finally, but he had to head down to get the last bits sorted out and was staying in London overnight, and The Love thought it'd be good for us to meet for a natter and a drink or two.

As it turned out, he was staying close to Elephant and Castle (my old stomping ground) and so it was a quick train ride from Farringdon to Elephant and then a short walk from there to the place he was staying at. It was good to see him and immediately we got chatting about all sorts, and I suggested a little trip out to Herne Hill as it's pretty nice there and away from the urban redevelopment going on, so it was on the 68 bus through Camberwell Green and via Denmark Hill, and soon we were at the station, and admiring all the nice little shops and bars.

We headed into the Commercial Hotel, which was a nice pub virtually opposite Herne Hill train station. In fact the menu looked very familiar - the same one as the Crown and Anchor near Euston in fact (a pub I love) and so we got a drink in there, and they had the Hop Twister ale, so happy little bunny I was. Even more so as the chicken and ham hock pie was on the cards, and I had that whilst he had the fish and chips. The food was just as good as the Crown and Anchor, and the vibe was nice and chilled out too, complete with beer garden at the back.

Conversation flowed and it was good to talk about all sorts, and I think for me that it was nice to be able to show someone different sides to the capital. In fact he was surprised that there were hills in South London, noticing the few in Brockwell Park close to the station. We then headed back on the train (much less busier now) and to Elephant and Castle, and got off and headed to the Wetherspoons there for another drink, and also to show a suggested route to where he needs to go tomorrow, and so that was all good (and nice California ale in there also, well worth a shot.)

The time went by very quickly, and I walked him back to where he was staying and said our farewells. The Love thanked me later for taking the time out, and for me it was really good to be able to do something different. In fact the journey home was pretty slow because of the hole near Forest Hill, so getting on any train from London Bridge was some form of achievement tonight. I did at least get home in time for the food delivery and still time so clean the place ready for when The Love comes tomorrow, so thank heavens for that!

Lastly, another 80s theme today for tune of the day as I appear to be in a right retro sort of mood this week. I'm actually going to pick the classic theme from the movie Ghostbusters by Ray Parker Jr (the original film folks!) - not least because of one fond memory of the film, and another fond memory of playing the game on the Commodore 64. If you were nifty, you realised that pressing the space bar during the title screen replayed the speech "Ghostbusters!" and so you'd spend time timing your presses so that the speech would be in time with how the actual song played. In fact when I mentioned this to my friend a couple of weeks back he didn't even realise it was doable!

Wednesday 3rd August - Back to the (Very) Old School

Inspired by the whole theme of Commodore 64 month, I decided as I had some spare time tonight to go back what I used to do a heck of a lot when I was younger - hack the music out of old games and enable them to be played on the corresponding sound chip emulators as well as the real thing. Needless to say, this was something I did a lot of back in the day and it's good to see that it's a re-exercise in learning and understanding 6502 machine code, seeing how the code works and then breaking it down into the bits that actually matter, including the music player and corresponding data.

A lot of the games I look at (for the hell of it) were from 1984, when the C64 was still in its relative infancy and people were getting used to programming better for the machine. In fact, having the music play when other things were going on in the game were made a lot easier by the use of interrupts, which allowed a scan every 1/50th of a second or so to do other things in the code before going back. It also meant that you could effectively multitask, so concentrate on the game code with one task, play music under an interrupt with the other. Having an understanding of that and the sound chip works really well.

The biggest surprise of all perhaps is an old game called Alien, released on the Softgold label in 1984. It's not to do with the film Alien (that had its own game) but the game I was looking at was a text adventure, but it had a little introductory tune playing during the opening introduction screen, and then in the game itself, perhaps a bigger surprise: speech! Using sampled sounds was still a relatively new thing then, and really only Electronic Speech Systems based in the USA got it sounding anything remarkably good (check out for example the classic game Impossible Mission to see what I mean.)

However, it was good to at least see some effort had been made when sampling, and the speech itself had a slight Australian twang in the accent, not least as one of the bits of speech said "Okay" and sounded spot on. The game itself wasn't that special, but working out the speech routine, where that was in memory, extracting the music data and code, and putting it all together into a nice file to be able to run was rather good, and did have a massive sense of achivement when getting that done. Nice to be able to do that for a change.

In fact, I also then spent some time listening to some 1980s tunes as well just to keep up the theme a little bit too (well I was a youngster back then!) - and definitely for me, some of the early Ultravox Midge Ure era stuff, notably the album tracks, are hugely under-rated. I'm going to go for "New Europeans" from the Vienna album as tune of the day, not least because of the fact that the C64 game Professional Skateboard Simulator covered the mid-song riff as part of its level complete tune - in fact the programmer and musician of the game, Gavin Raeburn, admitted to being a huge fan of the band (hence another game he programmed had a cover of "Love's Great Adventure" as well...)

Tuesday 2nd August - The First Freeze

Thankfully, no, not the weather either (although that was rainy today and heading out for lunch was a case of timing a walk to Sainsburys so as not to get too rained on during the walk, but with the added incentive of a nice chicken sandwich plus This Water too) but a nice surprise when I arrived home from work - no less than the first issue of the Commodore 64 fanzine Freeze 64, published by C64 stalwart Vincenzo Mainolfi, and concentrating on the art of delving into C64 games and seeing what hacks can be done, how you can see hidden messages in the game's code, that sort of thing.

For a first issue, I'm pretty pleased to see that a variety of subjects are covered, including the likes of classic games such as Monty on the Run inlcuding a cheat where you can use the jet pack all the time during the game, so you can fly around rather than work out all the precise platform work, as well as how to access the bad and good game ending (the bad ending is when you don't have all the right five items in the kit, and therefore are arrested for a lack of one of them) - as well as some other useful bits too.

For me, a former contributor of these sort of things to magazines myself back in the 1980s and 1990s, it was good to see that new games were also featured with the infinite lives type POKEs as well as the classic, and the Secret Squirrel feature was also good, delving into the game's memory and finding all the hidden messages there. In fact, there's one about yours truly in a classic Commodore 64 game - I'll leave you to discover which game and what it is. So all in all, a solid and promising start, and definitely well worth the dosh. If retro gaming floats your boat, give it a go.

All was well at work too - two meetings, both technical, and both where I could actively contribute as well, which did feel rather positive as well. For me it's also showed that a willingness to listen and take my useful ideas onboard has paid dividends and that it's a definite feeling of being involved straight away, which I didn't expect but has been a nice surprise. I guess too it's reinforcing my view nicely that there's a lot of good things to have come from the move down, and this is definitely one of them.

As well as that, I spent some time tonight listening to some classic 1980s songs, inspired in part by the ITV series Brief Encounters which has been making my Monday evenings rather enjoyable it has to be said. Definitely good to hear so many classics played, not least the vastly in my view under-rated "All of My Heart" by ABC (make it tune of the day) as that has a sweeping epic feel, with it fitting the whole feel of the album it's taken from (mainly songs about lost love) - and it just worked spot on last night. Yaay classic songs!

Monday 1st August - Train in the Rain

I considered myself quite lucky for me to get to work on time this morning, as various trains were delayed and my 0658 departure from East Croydon was a little delayed but had made up the time by the time I arrived in Farringdon, so all good. I spent most of the day sorting out a few applications and packages in SCCM 2012, but also documenting as I go, so there's a useful reference there for everyone. I have spotted a fair few things which may be a good option for improvements, so I am going to summarise some of those into some simple bullet points later this week once I've got some of the documentation together.

I also had the little get together for new starters this morning on the first floor of the building, and one of the Chief Operating Officers gave the introductory talk herself, which was a good thing. It actually made everyone there feel welcome because someone near the top was taking the time out to say hello and spend time with us. In fact, it was nice seeing some of the new people too and I suspect that they are going to take time to get used to things too, so not just me who needs to be able to hit the ground running either!

Later on I was going to get my 1615 departure train, but that was delayed, and then delayed more. In fact the 1629 train to Three Bridges (my back up in case I miss the 1615) was also cancelled, so I suspected that the train I was going to get on was going to be busy (not least as some of those who would get on the 1629 would get this one) and so it proved. I considered myself fortunate to get on at Farringdon as by the time it left Blackfriars, it was rammed, but I had a comfy seat so that made me feel somewhat happy.

It did take a while to get back home though, and the cancellation was due to the "shortage of train crew" that Southern instead of Thameslink normally peddle out as a failure reason. Thing is though that the whole GTR franchise have been having a lack of staff for a good few years now, not just when all the strike action has been going on. Naturally taking the goodwill of drivers doing overtime to plug the gaps away has meant that their chronic understaffing has been exposed for what it is - a scandal. And whilst I may not agree with the unions either, the facts are there in black and white that not enough staff = you can't run all the trains.

Still, I did of course enjoy watching Only Connect later on and especially seeing the contestants squirm during not just the music connection question, but also the music sequence round, even with the classic "I Second That Emotion" playing - I do like the Smokey Robinson version so make that tune of the day. I must admit that I also spotted the web browser question during the connecting wall and managed to get all the connections tonight - I was on form obviously!