Dear Diary... August 2019

Saturday 31st August - A Cup Of Twee

It was another nice morning of rain and sun, and I mean nice because it felt a bit cooler because of the fresher air, and not sticky and muggy. The Love In My Heart was heading off out to meet her friend for the afternoon, and looked gorgeous in her Oliver Bonas turquoise top (as she always does when she wears it - it's very much a go to top that one.) Brian the cat was going to be with me all morning but he was happy to play in the play tunnel, rolling around and then having a sleep, surfacing only for some Dreamies in the early afternoon.

In fact The Love and her friend headed to Cath Kidston on King Street, and the upstairs part now has a place where you can sit down, relax, read some of the old catalogues that the shop had and have a brew too. She sent me a picture, which I instantly thought was having a cup of twee. Anyone who's ever been in one of the Cath Kidston shops will know exactly what I mean - it is high on the twee scale at the best of times and just having to take all that decor in would be enough for most. If they added kittens as well.. like, seriously uber twee!

Myself and my friend did have a cup of tea at the Etihad in the afternoon, as we usually do (primarily as the club still see it fit to use Nescafé instant sachets, the most evil and foul coffee known to anyone) and we were chatting ahead of the game against Brighton and Hove Albion. I wanted City to do the business of course, but were mindful of the fact that we did have a tough game against them in the FA Cup semi final, despite our league win (4-1) at the last game of the season to clinch the title. Their manager has changed too, so be interesting to see what would happen.

And we didn't have to wait long to find out, around 68 seconds to be precise. Oleksandr Zinchenko laid through a quality ball to David Silva who pulled it back across the six yard box and there was Kevin de Bruyne to smash it home from close range. 1-0 City. Brighton were trying to play open passing football and credit to them and their manager Graham Potter for doing so, but that did leave them open at the back. De Bruyne carved a pass through the defence and the ball went to Sergio Agüero, he stormed past two players and slotted it home too.

It was then the second half and more of the same, and City of course were on it straight away. Further moves down the right with Kyle Walker bombing it down were good, and also the passing of David Silva was sublime - a nice move resulted in the ball going to Agüero who smashed home another into the top corner for 3-0. And if you want an inspired substitution, bring Bernardo Silva on, let him get the ball from Agüero, take two touches and the second one smash home into the back of the net. That was 4-0 and in the Fantasy League standings for me, that was pretty ace. A blast of 808 State's "In Yer Face" was ace as the teams were introduced (definite plus and tune of the day) and the feel good factor was at the Etihad for sure.

Friday 30th August - Another Friday

It was another Friday, where actually I got a lot done in a short space of time, which is always good. As I had been spending some time adding some tweaks to the Windows 10 build revisions, I updated the documentatin to that, and on top of that I started the client push of the new SCCM client following the successful 1906 upgrade. This worked pretty well because it meant that I could get that out there starting today and by the middle of next week, pretty much all of them online would be done with the rest to go as soon as possible.

Of course, I was also monitoring a couple of deployments (which were going well) and also looking further into some requests from our offices in Shanghai as to making some more software available via Software Centre in SCCM. The list was pretty good and I needed to check on a few things to make sure that pretty much everything that was needed was covered, and asked some questions back to make sure that I'd be getting the right installers to do the job.

It was also good that we had our monthly little drinks get together post-work, where we head up to the 5th floor of our building, and just chatter about normal stuff with the odd beer or soft drink as well. I think that it's a good initiative just to wind down occasionally, and it's nice to feel part of the whole IT family and be able to natter to all sorts. We normally work well together anyway, but it's good that there's a real sense of togetherness, which is such a marked difference from previous.

It was then later off on the way to Euston (and as the weather was nice, I actually walked it!) and stopped off at the Crown and Anchor, as you do, for a pint - and there was a passion fruit milkshake type IPA that grabbed the attention - it was very nice actually, a lot better than I expected. It was also good that it felt chilled with some good tunes on, and the train was slightly delayed later (as it was delayed coming in to Euston) so sat back and enjoyed some She Makes War, notably "I Want My Country Back" which is tune of the day and a definite one to play loud and proud over the rantings of the current Prime Minister, that is for sure.

The Love came to meet me at Piccadilly and we headed back to her place, where Brian the cat had already assumed the position on the sofa, but ran to the door to greet me and his Mummy, and let me give him a stroke and fuss, which he doesn't normally do. I dug out his play tunnel that we'd put away all Summer, and he gave it a good sniff then decided to play in there before snuggling inside and looking all cute. I think he'll be having plenty of sleeps in there now occasionally, but he just looked adorable inside. Awww. I love it when he is being so cute, more than enough to melt any heart really.

Thursday 29th August - Onwards and Upwards

It was today to get the upgrade to SCCM 1906 done at work. The good thing was that our server and database folks had taken the necessary backup of the database and a snapshot of the servers I needed, and also used our server alert maintenance software to ensure that the main server was deemed to be put in maintenance during the point of upgrade so that none of the services would report back down (as they were being upgraded of course). It's always good to get things prepared before you start, although I have to say that these days the new updates are pretty smooth.

Today was no exception, I'm pleased to report as well. The download and pre-requisite check did take some time, and that was all positive (remember folks: always do your pre-requisite check first) - it was worth noting too that in future the new client binaries etc are only going to be SHA-2 signed, not a problem for Windows 8, 10 and upwards, but if you still have Windows 7 clients, they need the SHA-2 update back from April beforehand - which you may need to factor in beforehand - or ensure that the update is pushed out to those machines pretty pronto beforehand.

Overall it was all good, the thing which took time in the main was doing the new install of the management point during role setup, which was around 10 minutes, but the rest then sailed through, and on top of that, all the distribution points then got their content as needed, and all appeared to be nicely working on them all. I always do a through run of a Windows 10 build before giving our Service Team folks the all-clear, so went through that and checked it all worked (it did) and the pushes of applications via Software Centre, updates etc were all behaving as they should do. It was mighty pleasing to be honest.

I also spent some time this afternoon snagging some insider previews of forthcoming Windows versions - primarily so I can road test if an upgrade process would work, but in addition, seeing if there's any immeditate gotchas. It's perhaps notable that the update to Windows 10 1909, rather than being a massive feature update, may actually show as a cumulative to get people upgraded - however that might be from just 1903, so we shall see. In any case I think Microsoft have started to realise, especially with Windows 7's end of support being round the corner, is that the six monthly new version upgrades kind of upset a lot pf people, especially when those are only valid for home and Pro users for 18 months maximum...

I did listen to the Champions League draw, although UEFA's site for the live stream was being icky. However, I have to say that weird science (cue Danny Elfman's band Oingo Boingo's ace theme tune, and tune of the day) was at play - City yet again got Shakhtar Donetsk in the group (Group C this time) with the other two particpants being Dinamo Zagreb of Croatia and Atalanta of Italy. Notably the Atalanta game is getting moved to the San Siro (yes, in Milan!) so might be a good opportunity to go to that one if the chance arises.

Wednesday 28th August - What A Ding Dong Do

Today thankfully was a considerable few degrees cooler, which did at least mean that it was more bearable on the journey in and out of work. I must admit that I did have a jacket on because it was raining this morning, and did try to spit a little with rain on the way home too. It does look better for tomorrow and Friday though so that's a definite plus, but still cooler and sort of back to normal for the time of year. It's always good when you have a clear head too in order to plan ahead of what you're going to do, why you're going to do it, and what you need to look at doing in future.

I've effectively started work on making more applications available in the SCCM software centre, where possible, so that it'll not only help out the folks in our service teams, but everyone else too. I did a report pull from the hardware inventory, seeing what software has been installed over time and what is in use, and noted a fair few pieces, which are all freely available, which are in use by a number of users. These proved to be ideal candidates for testing a package, getting the detection method right, and also seeing how it'd all look.

In fact, the good thing was that memories came flooding back to me as to how to do some of them, so for example the likes of R, and R Studio (which is more graphical interface that uses the R statistical engine to do its work but be all prettier.) I know it's quite popular, and the good thing is that it makes sense to have R as a dependency if you want R Studio, so that you can put the two together. In fact, that's working nicely, and the dependency installed correctly, along with the software, and all showed the right method too. Happy bunny all round with that.

I also had some good success with the likes of FileZilla (pretty straightforward what one) and so on, so it's the ground work for a much larger plan overall. I've already had some suggestions and feedback from some of the Service Team folks too, so working on them is a useful priority and making sure all is the right way round too - and that's working well. I was keeping an eye on updates being deployed successfully and also preparing for the SCCM 1906 update, so all busy there.

I was mightily relieved to learn on the way home that Bolton Wanderers appeared to have been saved, with Football Ventures (Whites) Limited now doing the takeover, as originally planned. And guess who was attempting to block it all? Yes, current owner Ken Anderson. Why am I not surprised? I must admit I think that the legendary former club commentator Dave Higson will be looking up from up above, down to the University of Bolton Stadium, and proclaiming "What a ding dong do." And if you've never heard his commentary, you need to - proper biased, stuff of legend, and on the BBC2 Fantasy Football shows with Baddiel and Skinner (theme tune of which is tune of the day!)

Tuesday 27th August - The End Of The Gigg

It was a really sad day as it turned out as the day became night, with the appallingly bad news that Bury FC had been expelled from the English Football League (EFL) by the EFL Board, after an extensive meeting in the evening. This had come after one of the potential buyers of the club had pulled out after performing some due diligence and realising that there was more to the club and its structure of debt than meets the eye. Naturally they would have rather have had longer to make up their mind (a point that had been made to the EFL even prior to Tuesday's extension) and not having to make a snap decision.

Two other offers were supposedly tabled but either ignored by the EFL or blocked by the current owner Steve Dale, who in my view never should have been allowed to be the owner - not least for the reason that he didn't even realise that Bury had a football club. Not respecting a club or its history is something I wouldn't have stood for myself, not least when you consider that they along with my team Manchester City jointly hold the FA Cup final record of a 6-0 win (Bury were first in 1903 against Derby County, we equalled that against Watford this year.)

But also, the EFL are supposed to have a "fit and proper" test, aren't they? By all accounts either none was taken (maybe due to the premise that the club was being bought for just £1) or that due diligence wasn't taken. It took me less than a minute or two to check Steve Dale on Companies House, see all the companies dissolved with him at he helm and how many other failed companies he had been involved in, and that was alarm bells. Unfortunately, the team doing so well (and let's not forget, getting promoted to League One after having had an excellent season on the pitch!) masked some of that to the outside football world, although I suspect the diehard Bury fans knew what was going on.

Of course, it also affected the Neville family somewhat. Gary and Phil's mother Jill was still involved with the club until a few days ago, and their father Neville had also spent considerable time and effort with the club over the years. Some were spouting abuse to Gary and Phil as to why they couldn't save the club, and it was pretty clear why not: due to their stake in Salford City, it's a conflict of interest and a breach of FA rules to have a financial interest in more than one club - reason being of course is that you could fudge results to suit the teams you would own in that case, and a reason why the City Football Group (who own Man City) have money in Melbourne City and New York City, teams that Man City could never play at a competitive level.

I do feel really sad actually as one of the founder league members have been expelled, meaning that potentially starting 2020-21 down the league pyramid, if they survive. I can only hope that there's a flaw somewhere in the EFL's governance (highly likely considering they had the likes of Shaun Harvey run the show at one time) and yet something can be done, but I feel a hint of sadness tonight. In lieu of this, there is no tune of the day, just the sound of silence as I feel so helpless that there isn't more any of us ordinary fans can do in that situation, and the wider football family should feel its loss greatly.

Monday 26th August - Sweltering

If yesterday was very hot, and the hottest August Bank Holiday temperature on record, today managed to be even hotter, if that was possible. It was very humid and sweaty everywhere and I even was really glad to manage to find anywhere with a hint of breeze or aircon later. The Love In My Heart was also saying how warm it was in the corridor to the flat here, and that certainly didn't help the overall temperature. Yes, there's being well insulated to keep places warm in Winter, but it's unfeasibly hot in the Summer. Now if only the flat had air conditioning..

Anyway, we decided to have a little walk around the centre of Croydon, mainly because of the fact that there was an exhibition of Lego animal displays on. They were all actually very good, with a large lion, orangutan, penguin, snow leopard and many more across both shopping centres. Also they had some free activities for the children, one of which had to be booked in advance because it was so popular, where you had to build with Lego and you could follow some instructions to make your own creation. Nice idea that.

We settled in for a bit during the afternoon and then headed on the more air conditioned route towards Euston, so on to Farringdon first, then the tube to Euston Square. We did that primarily because we knew the Victoria Line was going to be hellishly hot. And it made sense, as we were nearer to our usual lunchtime slot at The Crown and Anchor, which had its big folding doors wide open and we had a seat a nice big table for just the two of us. Happy days.

Definitely more so as we both had the fish and chips for lunch, which was all lovely, and really nice fish especially, and I'd tried the Strawberry Hells limited edition of the Camden Hells lager, which was nice and went down well. Later on I also had the Mikkeller Hair in the Postbox IPA, which was on offer for two 330ml cans for £4.80 - can't argue with that as it's more than a pint. It was a little strong, but very nice and very drinkable, especially as we were sat outside with a smidge of shade but on the whole, sweltering heat!

We walked to Euston and I gave The Love a hug and kiss goodbye, and felt really sad that the time had gone by so quickly - we'd had such a nice weekend and the weather was very good for us both (more her than me!) - and it was good to be together for a longer weekend too. Tune of the day is the rather lovely "Nothing Less Than Brilliant" by Sandie Shaw, because it sums up how I feel about The Love, but also because it was a song that's always got me feeling happy when I listen to it, and is from her era collaborating with The Smiths and actually writing her own bloody good songs too. Still one of my favourite singles ever, this.

Sunday 25th August - Sarfend, Innit?

The Love In My Heart and I were up relatively earlyish for a Sunday, but for good reason. I had booked us train tickets to head to Southend-on-Sea for the day. I'd always wanted to walk the whole of the pier (some 1.3 miles or so, the longest in the UK at least), and see what it was like generally, and The Love thought it'd be a good chance to get some sunshine - and the weather did look hot. Very hot in fact, it was reckoned to be hitting 32 degrees in some places which is just madness.

Now, because I was clever with railcards and online discounts, I got us tickets from Barking (in Zone 4) to Southend Central for £11.80 return for the two of us, so £5.90 each. In addition, to get to Barking, we'd do the Overground from West Croydon to Whitechapel, then tube from there to Barking. As it happened, we got off the Overground, headed to the platform and one was just about to come in for Barking, so epic win. At Barking, Platform 7 did look very busy so we moved down to the far end and got some cold drinks for the train ahead.

Good job we did - the train was already very busy when it arrived, but we managed to get some seats, but it was standing room only all the way to Southend, with people attempting to get on at the likes of West Horndon and Basildon but not really having much joy either. It was a relief to get off at Southend Central but then so was pretty much everyone else, resulting in long queues to get through the barriers and out of the station - and lots of families with buggies too.

We walked down the High Street and headed towards the upper level of Southend Pier to enter, and wait a little bit in a queue. We decided that we'd do the walk and ride option, so you walk one way to the end of the pier, then take the pier train back later on. Money paid, we started to walk down, and actually, it was pretty nice, the sea breeze blew, the train passed us, and there were places to stop along the way and admire the view on benches as well. Eventually we made the end, where we noted the little café that is used for Jamie's Friday Night Feast (and it has signage to tell you) along with a pavilion and bar, RNLI lifeboat station and little beach huts where you could get food and drink.

By this time we felt lunch was on the cards so we did the thing and had fish and chips from the stall there. Actually it was pretty nice, the fish was well cooked and white, and crispy batter, and the chips were good too - no complaints from either of us really. We also noted the crazy golf at the end of the pier, so we had a go of that for £3 a round. It was bloody hard, some of the holes really needed pinpoint timing of hit to get the speed right, and one was nigh on impossible because of the way the ball would roll up and hit a barrier. It was still fun and I did get a hole in one on the last, so still not lost some of those skills just yet.

We looked round the top observation deck in the lifeboat station at the end of the pier, and that was majestic, as well as have a drink of the Spitfire Lager in the pavilion bar with the sun shining. I checked the cricket score - England amazingly had got to within 100 of Australia, still with wickets left and a target of 359 overall to win. Surely we couldn't pull this one out of the fire, could we? I was going to be keeping an eye on that later. It was nice on the pier overall though and both The Love and I were impressed, it seemed quite calm and relaxed and everyone was lovely who we were served by on there.

We took the train back and that trundled along leisurely, and got back to the seafront and walked along. I have to say it looked like the South East's version of Blackpool here, with pubs that looked not so great, full of arcades with grabber machines a plenty, and takeaways that didn't exactly look inspiring food wise. On the other side of the promenade by the sea, the beaches were absolutely rammed with people and heading to the beach - and everyone else attempting to get into the car parks. It was mental. In fact the west side on the other side of the pier was much quieter, along the cliffs and with a few cafés but nothing like as busy. Tune of the day in fact is the ace "Sheriff Fatman" by Carter USM, as there's nods to both Leigh-on-Sea and Southend in the lyrics..

As we were stood at the observation tower having a good look from there, it came through that England had beaten Australia - by one wicket. When I saw the highlights later, it was unbelievable. I had clearly written the team off (although to be fair so had everyone else) and not accounted for Ben Stokes absolutely playing the innings of his career, scoring 130 plus not out and having Jack Leach at the other end block out for dear life and keep in so Stokes could be on strike. Unreal, really, and how did that happen? I think if you had a ticket for that day, that's a pure "I was there" moment.

We headed back on the train later, moving down the platform and yes, we got a seat that way too, and then it was via the Underground and Overground back home. Later on I did some nice Wiltshire ham gratin from Sainsburys for tea, and we settled in to watch Who Wants To Be A Millionaire and then later Sanditon, which was a dramatisation of a supposedly unfinished Jane Austen book. The Love adored it, pure period drama for her, and for me it was pretty good. I was racking my brains where I'd seen the character Charlotte before, and it then hit me - Casualty, she had been in that!

Saturday 24th August - Sauntering Round South London

It was good to not be on a train this weekend - that was the turn of The Love In My Heart, as she was heading down to see me this weekend instead. The temperature was going to soar upwards so was going to be a very warm one (understatement) and also we had some nice things planned ahead for the weekend, so it was good to get all the flat all tidy and sorted, and keep an eye on the cricket just in case England did manage to pull something out of the fire, get Australia out cheaply and then have to go for it and possibly chase a large total to win.

The Love arrived all on time and we soon headed back to my place, and after being on a very warm tube earlier, The Love got herself changed and ready, and we were soon heading back out. We were going for lunch first so we thought we'd try Basil and Grape in the centre of Croydon. We did their lunch menu, which worked out pretty well actually, you could have either a panini with or without dessert and a soft drink for a fixed price, and a pizza, dessert and soft drink for a fixed price too. You could also upgrade (and I did) to some alcohol, so I went for a half pint of Menabrea to go with my lunch.

I have to say - it was really nice. The staff were lovely, as was the food. In fact the Nduja pizza I had was one of the best pizzas I've had in a long time - the base was crispy, the sauce spot on and the spiciness of the nduhja sausage really did work well. The Love's panini looked hand made and a proper nice bread as well. Oh, and the tiramisu was gorgeous too - really nice. Adding to all that were some quality tunes in the background too, including John Mayer's ace "Your Body Is A Wonderland" (make that tune of the day) which really did add nicely to the atmosphere.

All was well there and we walked to West Croydon station to get the train to Balham - it was the old stock one which has no aircon, so was pretty hot inside there it has to be said. Surprisingly the Northern Line from Balham was cooler and we soon arrived at Clapham Common, and had a nice little mooch around the shops there. In fact Sass and Belle had closed down since we were last here, replaced by an eaterie called Common which did look nice. However, The Love did have both Joy and Oliver Bonas to have a good look around, and she did, and we ended up having a drink on Venn Street outside the Picturehouse cinema, which had a good selection of beer at their bar, full respect for that.

We then headed back on the tube, this time to South Wimbledon, so we could get to Wimbledon from there. Admittedly it was a longer walk than I expected, so must note that for reference. There was a nice little shop close to the station though where The Love did get a gift, so that was a bonus, and the walk to Wimbledon did at least give us the chance to have a nice little walk together too. In fact in Wimbledon itself we had a good look around Uniqlo, as well as the likes of Paperchase and, best of all for The Love, Chickidee in the Centre Court shopping centre - the one at Croydon has closed, so good to head there anyway.

It was on to the tram and to head back to the centre of Croydon, and we went into the Dog and Bull and went into their beer garden outside, which was a lovely space and the ale was on form too - the Sussex Best I had was lovely. It was nice to just relax and chatter together there and I'll have to come back here at some point to try the pizzas and sit outside one evening, that'll be good. We then were off back to my place where I did the Waitrose dine in for two for us for tea, where the main course was good but the sides were maybe a little on the underwhelming side.

However, tonight was quiz night because not only of Pointless and indeed Who Dares Wins, which we both like, but also the return of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, complete with some pretty daft contestants all round it has to be said. However the final one got to £64,000 and was doing well, and I suspect that there may be a tricky question or two for tomorrow. Still, it was a lovely day all round and nice just to spend the afternoon and evening on a saunter or two.

Friday 23rd August - Ashes To Ashes

It was a fairly sedate day in work, although I was spending time updating a fair amount of documentation that I had been working on, including one that has all the steps of the Windows 10 build task sequence. I added the new steps I put in so that the task sequence error timeout is extended (making it easier to spot errors) and indeed a little completion message when it all works, helping the folks out. It was good to update all of that, and with screen shots of various steps, it weighs in at around 40 pages or so, pretty large but had to be done really.

I was keeping an eye on the cricket at Headingley as well, although it became clear early on that this was going to be another shower of bobbins from England. They had bowled Australia out for 179 with Jofra Archer doing well, but could the batsmen actually do the job this time? The answer, ashamedly, was no. And not just no. But absolutely disastrously no. Imagine if you will only one player scoring double figures in the whole innings, and also being the fourth lowest ever home total by an English side, and one of the worst batting performances in terms of giving away your wicket, and you're only half way there.

It was absolutely shambolic really - batsmen kept hitting the ball with stupid choices of shot which of course was going to be out straight away. And to make matters worse, there seemed to be not an element of being bothered about it all either, more a shrug of the shoulders as if there had been some form of acceptance of being so bad. This does unfortunately stem from bad captaincy on Joe Root's part - his form batting his dipped too, so maybe hand the captaincy to someone else and let him just concentrate on the batting side I think.

To sum it up - if it's at all possible, England were bowled out. For 67. Yes, I didn't miss the number one in front or anything like that. Absolutely pathetic. None of the batsmen really tried, and if you want proof of that, on the same day and on the same pitch, Australia are around 140-odd for the loss of four wickets, and some of their batsmen have showed patience and are working hard for the runs, and the lead is over 250 runs now. It'll mean Australia will go 2-0 up with two to play and of course will retain the Ashes, and deservedly so to be fair.

It was nice and warm and so nice to be sat outside in Soho Square at lunchtime (it's not far from the office) and certainly for me good to also take some shade but also just watch the world go by. For me certainly it's definitely been good to be able to take the time out at lunch, and not be tied to the desk (as nice as the aircon in the office is, certainly helps matters on that score). I think for me it was good also to blast out some KMFDM when I got home as well as the fresh air comes in through the window, so the rather ace "A Drug Against War" is tune of the day.

Thursday 22nd August - Haircut One Hundred

Where do we go from here? Is it down to the lake I fear? No. Not as in the old 1980s Haircut One Hundred song at least, although it always makes me smile when I hear that being played due to those rather odd lyrics in the song itself - obscure and yet typically 80s too. It was off to my usual jaunt of James Barbers, and as the Thursday night is a later opening (and thus works well with the work schedules) it was off on the tube to Embankment, then the District Line to Wimbledon Park.

One thing I've noted is that at Embankment, the tube is pretty busy going Westbound, but if you go the far right end of the platform, you're at the right end for being nearest the exit at Wimbledon Park, but also avoid the masses at Victoria - and normally will get a seat either there or Westminster when someone changes lines. It happened for me today at Victoria, so was obviously winning at that one, and admired the nice scenery going past as the tube headed into daylight and above the likes of Parsons Green and Putney Bridge before heading past Wimbledon Park, where the crazy golf seemed to be being played a bit too. Tempting!

Anyway, the staff in James Barbers are always a good bunch - and no exception. One of the staff is a Liverpool fan and he's spot on when he does my hair - and it was him today. Always good to have some good banter about all sorts of footy anyway, and they normally have BBC 6 Music on via their Freeview telly. This does of course also mean some decent tunes too, and none less than Joy Division's iconic Love Will Tear Us Apart, which of course made me think of my beloved Manchester and is therefore tune of the day.

It was good to get all shorter and sorted in any case, and left feeling a lot lighter and much less clumpy hair, so obviously that was good. In fact one of the customers in there was getting married on Saturday so was having his wedding cut in there - no pressure on that one obviously. I think though it shows that it's always busy when I head in there no matter what day of the week it may be, and word of mouth certainly gets round there (and their other branch in Tooting Market, which is also ace) so well recommended by me if you're around South London and need your hair sorting.

I headed home later and had a good chatter with The Love In My Heart, although Brian the cat was doing his best to be all little sleepy cat by all accounts. I must admit it always makes me smile if I can hear him miaow on the phone or if he is purring contently, a sign that he's happy too. The Love has tomorrow off work (and nice weather too, woo) and so that can be a Brian day, where he gets lots of fussing and attention. As for me, I settled in for the evening watching some old school 1980s Match of the Day, particularly a match between Grimsby Town and Manchester City from 1984.

Wednesday 21st August - Booting in LA

It was a fairly lengthy afternoon and early evening, as I was working with one of the staff based in our Los Angeles office to work out why one of their Intel NUC machines wasn't PXE booting, and as it turned out, other machines weren't PXE booting either. I did find that rather strange to be honest especially as I knew that it had been working before. I also checked in with our Networks team and was able to get confirmation that the configuration of the IP helper was working as designed.

So I took a look deeper in, and although SMSPXE.log on the server had been responding to PXE requests correctly, and I was able to see that there was a recent attempt, for some reason it just didn't want to know. Even a quickfire remove the PXE tickbox and re-add it (which normally just re-assigns the role etc) wasn't liking it whatsoever, so not really what we wanted there really. I had noted too that for some reason it was also referrring to an older boot image that doesn't exist.

So, the belt and braces approach. In effect, remove the PXE role entirely, give it chance to settle down, and you'll find that the WDS role is ready to be removed. Do a reboot, and that should be gone. You'll then see the RemoteInstall folder with the boot images etc still there. This also has to be removed, and a further reboot done. With that done, it's then a case of adding back in the PXE role, checking distmgr.log on the SCCM server and ensuring that the confguration is sent to the DP, which it was, and sure enough, the role was re-added, the remote install folder recreated. All good.

I re-sent the boot image, and once that was re-sent and the server had a couple of minutes to process, I got the LA folks to try a normal machine. It booted, and because I'd added the RamDiskTFTPWindowSize tweak for good measure, the WinPE boot image took around 40 seconds instead of around 15 minutes to fully load, epic win all round that really. That was a great improvement, but still the NUC wasn't playing ball for some odd reason, even resetting the BIOS to defaults just to make sure no odd settings were present didn't do much. Then I remembered..

So, what if a previous attempt from that NUC had attempted to PXE but the record in DHCP was still there? It seemed that it was, a quick removal of that assignment and next PXE attempt, it got an IP straight away and was PXEing in no time. Odd, but I suspect that there may have been remnants from a previous oddly assigned name it didn't like, and because something else had seen the same IP but with a different MAC address, it maybe didn't like it. Not that it mattered - it was working, and the folks in LA could do what they needed to do. It ended up being a later than normal finish but good to know I'd done the job.

I headed into the local Waitrose on the way home primarily to take advantage of the meal deal for £12 offer, that's actually better than M and S because the selection is better, you get to have two sides and not one, and you can even choose beer or chocolates instead of the wine, should you so wish to. However, I went for a nice chicken dish, some potatoes and vegetables as the sides, a nice Italian met selection for the starter (yes, you can pick starter or dessert too) and then some pinot grigio, all sorted for when The Love comes this weekend. And it reminded me of the MJ Hibbett track "Never Going Back To Aldi" (make that tune of the day) which extolled the virtues of being able to occasionally shop for nice things at Waitrose and how a fridge full of nice things is the equivalent of bling, apparently!

Tuesday 20th August - Test, Test and Test Again

Today was the sort of day where you manage to get a lot of things done, but where time did seem to be on a go slow for some reason. I was doing some tests to make sure that the new methodology I was going to put into the build task sequence tomorrow was going to be robust, but also at the same time that there were checks made as to what else may need to be updated in the next week or so too, and tie some of those in together nicely. Makes a lot of sense I think.

As it transpired, there were both new versions of both Google Chrome and Adobe Reader in the equation, which meant I was able to effectively get them both packaged and usable from a SCCM perspective. I made the conscious decision of packaging Adobe Reader properly when I started, and documented the whole process, so that it was easy to sort out and of course a sensible way forward to do in future, as it proved today actually. In fact the new version installed spot on, detection method was sound, and it performed the way that I would expect as well, so definitely a bonus.

One thing I did note though was Microsoft's re-releasing of the August cumulative updates for every single Windows 10 version bar the new one, 1903. As it turned out the main reason was that any old macro code written in VBA 6 for Microsoft Word (and let's face it, plenty of old code out there as I know from my previous job and all) would come up with an error if it was attempted to run if you installed the update. Clearly this may have been done to stop people running old code (I get that) but the resulting outrage from users caused a reversal and an issue of an update a few days later.

So as a result, I had to do a re-sync from the SCCM side so the new updates (which were available to WSUS services as well as Microsodt Update) would show, then replace the 1803 and 1809 versions with the new ones and redistribute the content, plus ensure our testers would get the new versions installed as well. A bit of a pain but at least it means we can go straight to the fixed versions when they are released, which is better, and why you test. No thanks to Microsoft once again though..

I did later on when I get home finish off the chorizo pasta bake I made last night - which I knew was enough to have two meals from. In fact it worked pretty well and still tasted good, and I think the way I layer it helped a considerable amount. I definitely always enjoy making it too, so as the Autumn draws closer I might have to consider that once again to be honest. And had a good blast of some KMDFM, namely their Rocks - Milestones Reloaded album and the mix of WWIII on there is tune of the day - quite dark and yet for the current times too..

Monday 19th August - Travelling For 10p

I had a look at Northern Rail's website earlier as I wanted to check when advance tickets for Manchester to Ulverston were on sale for the Sunday in October when I'm heading over to see one of my friends there. As it turned out their website had something else, a Flash Sale offer, where you could actually get advance tickets for as little as 10p each way. Yes, 10p. I thought this was worth experimenting to see how far you could actually go for 10p, and the answer is - pretty far.

It's basically for certain off peak trains in September (so not valid for my October jaunt sadly) but still, I did some checks and was able to get Manchester Piccadilly to Liverpool Lime Street for 10p, Manchester Victoria to Leeds via Bradford for 10p, and perhaps, best of all, Leeds to Carlisle on the Settle to Carlisle railway (which is uber scenic) for a mere 10p each way. I mean, that's absoultely a bargain and a half that. Of course some of the best off peak journeys are during the week, but to be honest, if you have the time, then it's well worth it! Obviously, no railcard discounts!

If you wanted to go extreme, then how does Manchester Victoria to Newcastle for only 30p grab you? Yes, this is actually doable. You'd do the Victoria to Leeds via Bradford bit, then do Leeds to Carlisle (nice Settle to Carlisle line as above) and then hop over from Carlisle to Newcastle. In fact if you're using Northern only, there's no trains from York over to say Northallerton, so it actually makes more sense. Granted, it'll take a lot longer, but if you're in no rush and you want to see nice scenery along the way, then that's pretty doable actually..

Anyway, work today was a mixed bag - on the one hand I've been able to work out a method where I can get a nice message to display when the task sequence completes, and one which remains on screen nicely too. The good thing too is that effectively it will mean that it'll be a useful aid to those who are doing the building work of getting machines reimaged etc. I was going to use a previously working method I'd used before, but because we have a legal notice prior to our logon screen, that wouldn't do the job, so thought of another way of achieving the same goal - so nice to have it there really.

I also had a nice new delivery earlier too - a new case for my phone, and all clear this time. The previous one had served me well but I noted some cracks around the outside of it, so thought it best to get it all sorted out. It works pretty well, and of course surrounds the phone nicely, and works the right way too - with all the buttons and cables accessible. Also the protective cover for the front still allows the touch screen to work properly, but keeps the original screen tidy. All good, and tune of the day is also a tune I've had in my head most of the day primarily because I'm such a bargain hunter, namely "Mum's Gone To Iceland" by Bennet...

Sunday 18th August - A Couple About Town

Both The Love In My Heart and I had had a well earned sleep, and Brian the came up on the pillow and wanted a tummy tickle (or several!). In fact Brian let me give him lots of fussing and cuddles which he doesn't always do, so that was nice of him. I think he realises now that I do love him to bits, and with the odd little supply of Dreamies to keep him happy as well as company when he's looking out of the window in case tabby cat shows up, he's getting used to me being around once more, which is a positive. The Love had made a gorgeous chicken casserole last night which was just the thing after the disappointing football too.

We had a bacon sandwich for breakfast, and then pottered around leisurely for a while before then deciding that it'd be nice just to head around the city centre, have a mooch around a few shops, then have Sunday lunch out. In fact The Love knew some good cheap car parks around the Northern Quarter, so off we headed and it was although a little cloudy at least it was dry, so hopefully that would remain the same all afternoon. Car park fee paid, and it was off into the Northern Quarter.

The first stop was Siop / Shop on Tib Street, which looked a nice litle café with a number of the signs being in English and Welsh (Siop is Welsh for shop, incidentally). We had a capuccino and a latte in there, and the staff were really friendly and lovely, and the coffee was good too. In fact the cakes on the counter also looked tempting but I was trying to be good to be honest. Definitely have to pop in there, as they had a rack of vinyl that was being played on their turntable too - lovely vibe.

From there we had a good walk around some of the shops close to the craft centre and Thomas Street, as well as Oklahoma, before heading into the Arndale Centre. In fact I also went into Fopp and it felt nice to be able to browse the CDs and vinyl (and definitely much more vinyl since I last went in) so that felt good. We also had a good look in Uniqlo and had a walk down to Oliver Bonas, where The Love picked up a really nice coral pink short sleeved top with a bow back, perfect for Spring and Autumn, reduced to a mere £20. Bargain!

We later headed to the Abel Heywood pub in the Northern Quarter, as their Sunday roasts are rather good all round. In fact, that proved to be the case as ever today, with The Love having the pork belly and me having the rather nice roast beef, which was the right side of tender and with plenty of vegetables to go with it too. The music was an eclectic mix of good stuff including EMF's classic "Unbeliveable" (make that one tune of the day) and it was nice to relax over lunch too - and later on we'd also head to 57 Thomas Street where a well earned pint of the Marble Pint had my name on it. All in all, all lovely.

Saturday 17th August - VAR-cical

It was good to be heading off to the Etihad Stadium to see Manchester City in action for the first home game of the season, and even better that my friend was coming with me, as we usually do. To be fair, he hasn't been fully well over the last month or two, and I was worried for his health quite a bit. The good thing was that sensibly I knew that we might have to go a bit slower as needed, and be sensible about things generally. I think though that for him it's also a good chance to have some respite from not feeling 100% as well as of late, and football normally can cheer you up!

So we both met up as we usually do and headed up towards City Square, where we noted that one of the special guests happened to be the actor Martin Compston who of course plays Steve Arnott in Line of Duty amongst other things. I'm sure plenty would have not recognised that he normally has a Glaswegian accent, and shows how good he is when he gets into character. Billy Duffy of The Cult, a lifelong City fan of course, was there too, and I'm sure that he would have been raring to go to see the Blues, as we all were.

The sun was staying out surprisingly (rain had been forecast) and it was nice and bright come kick off, with all the pre-match build up getting us all excited, and a nice blast of 808 State's "In Yer Face" (make that tune of the day) blasting out old school as the squad, then the subs and the players playing was announced, quite a nice thing that. Of course playing Tottenham Hotspur would be a tough opener at home, but looked like we were ready, and so off we went.

City were relentlessly attacking, and every time we went forward I thought we'd have a shot on goal. My friend did comment that being more clinical might be good, and how the referee (and VAR) did not see Rodri getting deliberately being pulled back for a stonewall penalty is beyond me. However, a lovely ball from Kevin de Bruyne was expertly met by Raheem Sterling's head, and that meant City took the lead. Sadly that lead didn't last too long as Erik Lamela was allowed to charge forward and using Aymeric Laporte as a shield curved the shot past Ederson for 1-1.

City regrouped though and another superb ball from the right from de Bruyne was met by Sergio Agüero for 2-1 to City, and more chances came and went. I'd have taken 2-1 at full time to be honest, but half time was good, and we then got back into action for the second half. Unfortunately, we conceded a corner, Tottenham brought on Lucas Moura and the first thing he did was head home from a corner for the equaliser. Sloppy defending really and not the ideal scenario for us to press for a winner, especially as controversially Agüero was substituted for Gabriel Jesús.

The game went to the four minutes of stoppage time. A corner came over the the ball came to Jesús, he took a touch and then slotted it home. YES! The crowd went mental - a last gasp winner and all was just the thing. And the way that the Tottenham players' heads had dropped, you could tell they were gutted. However, the referee, about two minutes after the goal had been scored, was prompted in his earpiece by the VAR team. The scoreboard said "VAR - No goal" and then showed the part of the replay that caused them to cancel it out - as Aymeric Laporte had challenged as the corner came in, the ball hit his arm on the way to Jesús, and under the new handball law, unintentional or not, they weren't giving it. Yet, on closer inspection, the Tottenham defender handled too, so in that case, could have been a pen - in which case we had advantage and goal should have stood.

It was a right sickener to be honest, especially not winning the first home game after Liverpool and Arsenal had won earlier in the day to be top of the table, and as we headed back, it was a major talking point. I was pleased that both Alan Shearer and Danny Murphy on Match of the Day later both say how poor VAR was for that and indeed for missing the penalty, and that we were unlucky not to win. I do think that it'll hopefully get better but it's just sod's law that we had to be affected and with all the Sky Sports cameras and all. Oh joy..

Friday 16th August - Forever Delayed

And no, I wasn't playing the Manic Street Preachers' singles album, before you ask. It was yet another Friday where the trains let me down and I wasn't having a good time getting back up North to Manchester. It's more essential from now until May because as well as seeing The Love In My Heart and Brian the cat, it's also because the Manchester City home games will be on and they will be ones that I will be going to, provided they're not some daft midweek or Monday night effort. I must admit that the priority is always The Love because we have such lovely times together, but there's even more reasoning.

I had checked in the afternoon at work and the news was not good. The electric power lines had issues at Rugeley, which is near where the lines break off, one way to Stafford, and one way towards Stoke-on-Trent. Now, because all the main line goes either way, a line break here really does muck things up. It looked like no trains from London to Manchester via Crewe on Virgin were running, meaning everyone would be getting on the other trains. Thankfully I checked online and via their Twitter, and it transpired that they had relaxed the advance ticket restrictions so I could get on an earlier train (or any train during today.)

So, I left work, and was not going to head for a drink at the Crown and Anchor before the train (as otherwise that would have been an option). I went straight to Euston and noted that some trains were delayed getting in, but waited near the Platforms 12-15 entrance thinking it might be there, and it was - Platform 12. Get in! I knew my ticket wouldn't have a reservation on the 1820 train, but I knew that Coach C was unreserved, so off I headed, and got a window seat and everything. Double get in!

Unfortunately, there was a trespasser on the railway between Hemel Hempstead and Berkhamsted which meant the train was on a go slow, and leaving 10 minutes late out of Euston meant 35 minutes late at Milton Keynes Central. I had suggested Chinese when I got into Manchester but I said to The Love it might be further delayed, so she said to me to get something in the shop and she'd make her own tea. I timed it spot on - got the last cheese burger, added with some crisps and a drink for the £5.50 meal deal. No coffees unfortunately or else I'd have had coffee instead of a cold drink, but at least San Pellegrino was an option so can't grumble.

The train was delayed at Rugeley and eventually got into Manchester around 2115, around 10 minutes before my 1920 train would have arrived. However, that train ended up getting into Manchester some 40 minutes late which actually meant Delay Repay would have kicked in anyway either way, so sure enough I'd get an email telling me I'd get half the fare back. Admittedly, one thing I'll miss when Virgin lose the West Coast franchise is their auto Delay Repay (the first train company to do it!) is spot on, all the time.

The Love collected me and we headed back to her place, where of course Brian the cat had lodged himself on the sofa and was all cuddly, wanting a fuss and a love as he does. We did see Top of the Pops 1988 when we got back in, and this included the number 1 single from Fairground Attraction, "Perfect" which is tune of the day - sometimes there's just some great pop tunes, and that's one of them. Some decent chart tunes at that time too - but also novelty acts including Harry Enfield's "Loadsamoney" single, and "Pump Up The Bitter" by Star Turn on 45 Pints too, oh dear me...

Thursday 15th August - Fixing The Cycle

It was sort of back to normality today as I headed to our normal office base, and spent some time checking over why for some reason the odd application deployment was showing a chunk of red (normally indicating error) when in fact there was no error message showing for the deployment, and that the software inventory side was showing the same application fully installed and working. I had a hunch but wanted to check a few things to see if I was able to follow what was going on and then work on a solution.

So normally when an application is evaluated for deployment, anything associated with the machine or user is evaluated to check compliance, so the application, deployment type etc are all called to see what the state of play is, and AppDiscovery.log details that. What it also does is check it as a configuration item so CIAgent and CIDownloader shows the back end of what is going on. Now, the latter log file appeared to show that as items were being checked, one was coming back with a bad error and showing red, and thus therefore not allowing the other items to be properly checked for compliance, hence a CIDownload error. There is a SCCM report for Application Infrastructure Errors which reflects that.

I was able to see that the scope was indeed our scope, but the deployment type was a long GUID which is often not easy to locate and find anywhere. However, if you connect to the PowerShell console from the SCCM admin console, you can do Get-CMApplication, and output that to a text file. In there, each application has a corresponding raft of XML definitions. So, I was able to locate the GUID that way and found the reference to an old version of an application which appeared to possibly still being deployed. As this was left behind hidden by a previous incumbent, I removed the deployment and also removed the content from the distribution points (DPs), and did a retirement as well, then as a fail safe, resent the content from the application I was sending to the DPs too.

And, hey, badabing! The next application evaluation cycle showed no errors, clients with the application reported back already compliant (good) and that ones that needed it were ready to go and install (not many, but did see a few which was positive) but also meant that I was able to see the compliance properly. I suspect that having seen similar behaviour before but in a different way is that the application definitions can get borked if your antivirus product interferes with them in any way, so going to triple check with our security folks to ensure that the relevant exceptions are added (my last place didn't have them all there correctly which caused all sorts of issues until they followed the proper documentation as per Microsoft best practice.)

Later on at home I spent some time in a mainly chilled out way, watching some good telly and also listening to the rather good album by The Chemical Brothers: the ace No Geography. And there's some excellent killer tracks in there and shows them back on form big time. The rather pulsating "Gravity Drops" is a perfect slab of electronica and hamony throughout showing just what they can do and how much their style is spot on - tune of the day for me no question.

Wednesday 14th August - Through The Rain

Being a Mancunian, I am used to the rain, and had my jacket on to keep the wet weather off me today. It was amazing though just how many people in London seem to reach for the brollies at the slightest touch of any wet weather, and of course insist on having the biggest brolly possible so as to get in people's way when they walk past. It's not a monsoon or anything you know, just a bit of rain, and for me it was fine as I headed from Temple station to one of our other offices to see if I could work some magic on a couple of specialist printers.

Myself and my colleague had a good look at what we could do to make them work well with our current setup that we have for events and things like that - and had two models. One of them was a USB only model but used the same control panel application as a previous model, meaning we just had to add in the driver, connect the printer via USB and it all worked, straight out of the box. We aligned the print feeder and then used the software we have to send the print jobs off, and that all worked perfectly, and we got the speed increased pretty well too, and with an automatic cutter as well - we were liking this. A lot.

But as for the other one, dear me, where do I start? It claims to be wired and wireless, but here's the kicker on both counts - as soon as you install the drivers and software, and set it up to be a network based printer, it uses WSD discovery (which has been around for ages and isn't particularly good a protocol to be honest). We did get its IP address and looked at the web control panel, which when switching over to https decided to have its own certificate not approved by any certificate authority, so of course Chrome and Firefox went "computer says no" and rightfully so.

We also noted that it added some Windows Firewall rules, all of which seemed to be indicating it'd work over a local subnet only - and that's fine if say both machines are on the same subnet, but.. (and here's the but) taking into account network switches etc, it took around 20-30 seconds minimum for the control panel to launch and respond, then same one that launches when you send a print job to it. Absolute garbage, especially when connected via USB only it works perfectly fine with no issues whatsoever. And then having to connect it via USB and then attempt to set up wireless, only for the fact that of course you have to have a SSID with password as if you were on a home network, none of the WPA2-PSK high grade stuff either where a logon and password has to be entered... So yes, bobbins it is then.

I did head home later on and have a really nice chicken burger for tea (because I can) and then settled in to watch some classic old school 1980s Match of the Day thanks to the 1980s Football Memories Youtube channel. In fact I saw the December 1984 match between Newcastle United and Arsenal, with St James' Park looking a pretty awful ground back then too. And Charlie Nicholas even scoring for Arsenal too, years before Soccer Saturday and all that - and the classic MOTD theme tune is of course tune of the day - it evokes so many good memories.

Tuesday 13th August - Patience Of A Saint

So I had some more testing to get done, and get done I did. So, my theory of actually being able to use the OS upgrade task sequence to effectively do the OS upgrade to Windows 10 1809 worked, and worked first go. If you did attempt to use the servicing plan rule it would effectively not work as it would deem that the update isn't needed and would want you to go to 1903 instead, which wasn't what was on the cards. I think going forward Microsoft need to maybe revise the cycles a bit, maybe 24 months for Pro and 36 for Enterprise unless LTSC, and that should give people more stability. When your estate is all laptops you cannot have people having lots of downtime to install OS upgrades all the time, you know?

Anyway, all that was sorted, and have a good plan of action going forward as well as currently, where now I integrated all the cumulative updates up to July in the Windows 10 1809 WIM, it means that it's a lot more of a stable build and everyone seems pretty happy with that too. In fact I was able to locate two Lenovo machines where for some reason their model tag is incorrectly being reported in the BIOS, and there is a way to report it back correctly using the BIOS update utility and a special command line parameter. Works pretty well actually and managed to get a machine over in New York back working happily using that.

I headed homeward but all was not well at Blackfriars. A train appeared empty on Platform 1 but what had happened was that the passengers had all had to get off, as there was no driver to take over the train from here, and with no relief driver (yes, it's those train crew shortages - again) then it had to leave with no one on, assumedly heading back to the nearest depot. Of course that meant that the platform was completely rammed and dangerous to be honest, with not enough room to move safely in my view.

In fact, the situation more so on Great Northern as well as Thameslink has led GTR to put up a release indicating that there actually is a shortage of drivers and that they're not good enough - well tell me something I don't know for the last four years or so! I suspect that the Summer holidays might have meant more off than normal, but as a company you always have to manage that properly so you do have enough staff on duty - and surely holidays are all year round, so why does it always appear to be the Summer when it's worse? Answer - and simply, bad management and planning.

I spent some time at home tonight listening to the debut Electronic album, which was of course the effective Mancunian supergroup with Johnny Marr and Bernard Sumner. It's not often a debut release doesn't have a debut single, especially Getting Away With It, but I have the original Factory Records CD release (no re-releases here) which means that it's not easy to get hold of. It does have the excellent tie in with Neil Tennant that is Patience of a Saint though, and that's tune of the day - still a rather great tune all told!

Monday 12th August - One Thing Leads To Another

So I was undertaking a double test today on some machines I'd rebuilt with Windows 10 1709 Pro on, to replicate some machines out there in our estate. I knew that I could use the dism command to effectively apply the cab file with the online KB patch to get the July 2019 cumulative on (primarily to ensure that a vulnerability is taken care of) and put that into a little task sequence, so I could run the dism command with no restart, and a second step effectively giving users an hour to restart themselves before it would automatically kick in. The good news, after some checks and tests, was that this seemed to behave well and show the correct OS build revision afterwards.

I then look at "well if that worked, could we go to 1809?" - and that's something I'll need to check. We could of course go to 1903, however, that's proven to be not as reliable as some would think, and it may align better with the fact that the xx09 versions have longer support for say Enterprise et al, which indicates to me that if Microsoft are supporting those with a 30 instead of 18 month timeframe, then there's a logical reason for that I think. All good in many respects and that has to be taken into consideration.

I'll do some more divluging on that score tomorrow, but was also writing up some documentation as well today which effectively details some of the ideas that we're going to put forward for future planning, which should work well. I definitely know that there's aspects which are good but also aspects which can be made better, and I think that the good news is that I have the team with me on board as a whole, but also had a really good one to one chat with my manager and who also shares that same belief. It's nice to know that what you do does make a lot of sense.

I got home later on and after having some tea decided I needed to order a replacement case for the mobile phone, as the one I currently have appears have some cracks on the outer corners, and managed to source one for a relatively cheap price. In fact, The Love In My Heart got a really good one with her Motorola G6 Play anyway, and still uses that to this day perfectly well. I guess it's a case of being able to keep the phone neat and tidy and well looked after, nothing worse than cracks left right and centre.

I also decided to dig out some of my DVD collection and re-watch some stuff, so tonight I went with the DVD released by BBC detailing the glory years of The Superstars, when it was a proper telly event to see who would win, if Brian Jacks could do 100 dips, or if the likes of Daley Thompson could challenge him. I did review it way back when and most of that still stands true today, and a shame that the BBC archives couldn't do complete series run box sets (that would be ace). The theme tune of course is still the best theme tune on telly ever, so definitely tune of the day for me.

Sunday 11th August - Going Wild In The Aisles

The Love In My Heart had got up early to sort out Brian the cat, and I headed up early to see the rest of Match of the Day, having only seen the Manchester City game last night before heading off to bed as it had been a long day. No sooner had I got up than Brian the cat decided he was going to sleep on the pillows and be next to his Mummy, which apparently he tends to do during the week when I'm not there. He then gave me a cross ears look of "My Mummy!" as he snuggled back down, bless.

Later on The Love and I had some breakfast and got ourselves up, showered and ready to head out. As the weather wasn't going to be that good we decided that we'd head to the shops, mainly John Lewis in Cheadle, and have a mooch around there. I thought it would be good to do that and then head off for Sunday lunch, so we were able to head over there. In fact I had a good look at the Nespresso machines, especially as the new one was on demo, but also we had a good look at the gifts as well, and got some potential ideas.

However, down in menswear, I noted that some of the items were on sale, and the shoes and footwear were included. I saw a nice pair of VANS trainers, they were called Atwood and were like a denim canvas style, and they looked a nice shade of blue, and we checked the box, they were in my size also, and reduced from £52 to £26, so I decided to treat myself and get them. I can always wear them when I next go on holiday and look smart but also made sense to get them whilst they were cheap too.

The Love and I then had a quick look in Sainsburys and the Habitat section inside before going off to lunch at the Ashlea in Cheadle. I had the chicken and mushroom pie (and yes it was a proper pie!) and The Love had the pork belly Sunday roast which was very nice indeed. In fact I also had the Trooper Light Brigade ale, so definitely well worth the trip out there - and The Love had a voucher for a fiver off the bill as well, which we then used to get a drink in The Gateway pub later on too.

I said my goodbyes at Manchester Piccadilly later and got on the Northern train to Crewe, then the London Northwestern train to Euston, combined cost £17 this time, but still cheap. I had Senser's ace Stacked Up album on the iPod and had "Eject" blasting out (make that one tune of the day) and I picked up a coffee at Crewe to have on the train. It all went well and of course meant it was considerably cheaper too, so something I may need to think about more often..

Saturday 10th August - Liar, Liar, Pants On Fyre

It was a different journey up from London to Manchester today, primarily because this was a late booking to get up - I had hoped to get a ticket for Man City's away game at West Ham but that didn't materialise, plus as well I needed to give The Love In My Heart some love and support too, as I was missing her lots, so booked some trains on the Monday but realised that going on Virgin would be way too expensive, so went down the cheaper but slower route instead, which you have to do via split ticketing and is not an option normally!

So it was at Euston for my first train, the 0846 London Northwestern service to Crewe. It did stop at a few stops along the way, mainly Milton Keynes, Rugby, Nuneaton, Atherstone, Tamworth, Lichfield Trent Valley, Rugeley Trent Valley and Stafford, but that meant not that long really - a two hour four minute trip to Crewe, only around a half hour slower than Virgin for that. Actually I got a seat by the window, had the case on the luggage rack at the top, and was relatively comfy as I had my Costa coffee from Euston and the headphones on playing some tunes on the iPod.

The train arrived to Crewe all fine and headed across over to Platform 1 for the train to Manchester via Northern,which went via Manchester Airport after Wilmslow. It was a stopper, and a basic three car electric effort, but did do the job and got me there. So, the total cost was £10.50 for Euston to Crewe, and £4.50 for Crewe to Manchester, meaning a total of £15. Not too bad at all really, and in fact after some research, I reckoned if I booked it early enough, you could potentially do that for £11 all in, which is really good to be fair. I had the likes of A Certain Ratio's version of Shack Up on as I travelled up so that's tune of the day.

The Love In My Heart collected me at Manchester Piccadilly and after a quick stop at hers to drop some bits off and indeed give Brian the cat a bit of a fuss and love, we headed over first to see The Love's father, and the nice surprise was that her nephew and girlfriend were there with their dog Mabel, who I have to say is the cutest little poodle ever, and so well behaved and friendly. I even had her give me a little lick on the hand as I was giving her a love, and that was nice to see that a good owner has made the dog understand company and a friendly face. The Love got lots of attention although Brian the cat might not agree later..

We also headed to see my Mum and like us, she had also booked some time away next year, off on a trip with some friends which wasn't that expensive and actually for what it was is a really good deal. I know she'll be looking forward to that and we both chatted for ages, so that was nice. After that we headed over to Wine and Wallop in West Didsbury, where the Burton Road ale was on and that tasted pretty good, and sat by the window as we saw lots of locals with their dogs stopping off to have a drink too.

Later on we had a nice posh hand made burger with some chips, onion rings and breaded mushrooms for tea (The Love did an excellent job, especially with the dessert of ice cream, berries and meringue!) - and we then put on Netflix and the documentary about the infamous Fyre Festival. It was really interesting to hear so many have their own story of what seemed to be going on behind the scenes, but on top of that a real sense of as the event got closer then there just needed to be more lies and rubbish spouted out, and having those who arrived being diverted everywhere before seeing what a total disaster it was, and indeed how some people were still getting emails to invest in other fraudulent activities. If you do get chance, watch it.

And of course Manchester City did the business, thrashing West Ham 5-0 and not getting out of third gear most of the time. Raheem Sterling got a hat trick and looked impressive, and also Kevin de Bruyne was back to his best and slicing open the defence. Perhaps best of all though was the fact that the defence looked solid with midfielder Rodri just in front, and Ederson's impressive double save at 2-0 up turned the game nicely in our favour again. The boys in blue never give in!

Friday 9th August - No Power, Captain!

Well, I would have been home much earlier tonight, but as I was about to set off from work my colleague told me of some breaking news that there appeared to be a lack of power in some parts of the country. Now I know that some of my trains come from North of London and through, but hoped that not all of London was screwed. The tube was all good and I did manage to get to Blackfriars okay, although there appeared to be nothing at all moving to be honest - primarily because north of St Pancras it was no trains at all due to that power outages, so I thought to sit tight at Blackfriars.

Actually, what was sensible was some trains were being turned round at Blackfriars and going back down South, thus easing congestion. I for that matter did manage to get on one that was going North but was stopped there and went back down to Horsham from whence it came. And as that stopped at East Croydon, happy days. However, I considered myself very lucky indeed - other people have been stuck on trains for a considerable amount of time and are stranded between stations, maybe needing evacuation, some stations are in darkness, and even though power is back on mostly, disruption continues throughout.

I thankfully did have power when I got home which meant I could have something nice for tea and indeed chat to The Love In My Heart about last night's fab gig. It turns out that her place had a little gig of their own yesterday as someone came with a keyboard and was playing lots of lovely little songs, sheet music and everything, including the likes of some songs from Frozen (you can guess which one of course) and even a nice rendition of Somewhere Over The Rainbow at the end, and pretty apt considering all the rain up North at the moment, some of which I'll probably experience tomorrow too.

The Premier League started tonight too and it was no surprise to see Liverpool in dominant mode against Norwich City. What I didn't expect though was for them to score four before half time including one from Virgil van Dijk - not complaining there in Fantasy League terms of course as a defender scoring goals always scores pretty highly in terms of points anyway. It is already a sign though that they will be the most likely team to challenge Man City for honours this season, and I still think that after a very narrow Community Shield win last weeknd.

I also spent some time tonight listening to The Chemical Brothers' ace album "No Geography" and found that to be pretty ace all round, some real hard hitting choons and a real sense of being in the moment. For all its really good bits I must admit I do love the opening track Eve of Destruction, which has a real sense of panic of what would actually happen if the world was to destruct, beautifully electronically engineered - and thus tune of the day. I do hope the trains sort themselves out for a trip up to Manchester tomorrow though...

Thursday 8th August - Marrvellous

After work, it wasn't on the train home for me tonight. Oh no. Instead it was off to the Royal Festival Hall in the Southbank Centre complex to see Johnny Marr, former Smiths guitarist and still a Mancunian music legend (and of course big Manchester City fan, so approve of that.) It was part of the annual Meltdown Festival that they have there, and this year curated by Nile Rodgers from Chic. It was clear from the list of acts that it was a very diverse and eclectic set of acts playing which really does work well in terms of getting people to see something different. For me it was a good chance to see Johnny live and after seeing his Glastonbury set, it was clear Smiths songs were also going to feature.

Before all that excitement though, it was off to Wagamama for some well earned food. I had wanted to go for a while and as there's one in the same building at river level, made sense. So I walked across the bridge from Embankment, had to wait a few minutes and was then shown to a table inside. I had the Kansho ale, done with Meantime Brewery, and the nice ginger and lime kick was just the thing. Of course the chicken katsu curry had to be done, and was as good as it ever was, and of course the coconut reika dessert - definitely rude not to have done that! All was lovely, and it was then upstairs and in the Royal Festival Hall - and in good time to locate my seat high up too.

First up were Mystery Jets, who were very good. In fact the lead singer had a "Choose NHS" t-shirt on and dedicated the last song, "Hospital Radio" to those who are battling to keep it going and that got a massive cheer from the crowd to say the least. Their set was six well crafted songs which went down well, including "Serotonin" which just sounded majestic too, and "Bombay Blue" was a really lovely track as well. Definitely for me it's going to be a case of ordering the new album and indeed their back catalogue - shame on me for not doing so earlier to be honest!

I decided just to have a water in between acts as the bar didn't have any decent beer, at all, and the only draught beer at a temporary stand on the fifth floor was Red Stripe. Ewww. In any case I got back to the seat and saw the anticpitation rise, and as the lights went down, out came Nile Rodgers to say a few words about how much he really respects and likes Johny Marr a lot, and introduced him and band on stage. In fact Jonnny's son Nile was named after Nile Rodgers, and years ago when Chic played Manchester, Marr played guitar for Le Freak, so, obviously massive respect all round.

So Johnny Marr and band came on, and let's be honest here, were utterly brilliant. After the bright and breezy opener of "The Tracers" it didn't take long for The Smiths classics to come out, including Bigmouth Strikes Again, which had people up and singing along, and then a little later on a nice surprise for me "You Just Haven't Earned It Yet, Baby" which you could tell where the diehard fans were as the ones who sang! In between, the likes of "Day In Day Out" and "Hi Hello" went down really spot on, and showed the guitar craft of him and band in full flight.

After "Walk Into The Sea" he announced a bit of a Manchester disco, and so it proved, going into two songs by the band Electronic (him and Barney Sumner from New Order if you remember) including the superb "Getting Away With It" and really having a chunk of funk in that, and then became more acoustic as he said "Let's stay on the Factory Records era" with a storming version of "Get The Message". Again, happy to hear that, and then a nice slow version of "Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want" which had couples all in a hug nearby and singing, which was gorgeously nice.

But for me, being a diehard Mancunian and knowing my Manc history, what was next was tune of the day, even usurping all The Smiths songs, as he went back and did the funk that was A Certain Ratio's classic "Shack Up". A couple near me knew the ACR song, well played them too, but you could tell that people were checking on their phones for the origin of that song. We then had "This Charming Man" which of course had everyone up and singing and doing their best Morrissey style dance when they could, with the storming "Easy Money" by Marr himself in between.

The roof proverbially almost came off next because that guitar riff that opens up "How Soon Is Now?" came on, and my, it was beautiful, and such a great version, with full on rock and a real sense of getting the original across well. The band went off, but then back on for the encore, and straight into a solo song "Rise" just to ease the anticipation before the end with two Smiths classics, my favourite song of theirs "Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me" but then the clincher, with Nile Marr on full guitar, was "There Is A Light That Never Goes Out." My, that was impressive, and of course the guitars were spot on, everyone sang along, and it was just brilliant.

I have to say it - easily the best gig I've been to this year so far, and I've been to some very good gigs this year. I think the mix of great solo tracks, adding in some Electronic stuff, and not just a homage to The Smiths, was a good move, but also having an ACR song in there? Utter genius and a show of love and respect's for Manchester's musical past as well as present too. If you get the chance to see him on the current tour, you need to go, and those going to Manchester Albert Hall next month are in for a massive treat, let me tell you!

Wednesday 7th August - Gronda Gronda!

I spent a fair bit of time this evening watching the first few episodes from the fourth and final series of the Adventure Game box set. I had watched Series 3 some time ago (primarily due of course to Rongad and the classic "Doog yrev!" catchphrase - but he only appears in one episode of Series 4 sadly) and there were some subtle differences in the final series. For example, the narrator at the start would explain that Arg was a planet of small consequence with a friendly race of the Argonds, and how they were able to transmit Arg-O-Vision all the way back to Earth and show what the contestants were doing.

Notable though was the absence of Gnoard in this final series, replaced instead by Dorgan (very well played by Sarah Lam) who effectively was the little guide to the contestants and part explain what to do. Her interactions with the butler Gandor seemed a lot more effective, and actually when showing a preview of the middle game (usually involving some water and a way to reach a clue from something in the water there) really showed a nice sense of humour too - very well played all round. There was even a dark room with infrared light that the contestants had to guide through to get a key and a crystal to get out.

It was often that one of the female contestants would play that game, with the likes of Scottish singer and actress Fiona Kennedy having to don some boots and then enter the black hole to find everything. I must admit that it was quite interesting to see the interaction with all three contestants, especially as often one of them wouldn't be a celebrity as such. As per series three, the vortex smacked of BBC Micro computer graphics and sound, but the other notable change was that Rangdo was now a teapot, not an aspidistra, but you still had to do the bow and go "Gronda Gronda!" or else the teapot spout would hiss with disapproval. Amazingly, one episode had all three contestants cross the vortex, with some rather dodgy moves from Rangdo and Gandor..

Natually for most of us it's the vortex that we remember best, not least wanting to see the likes of Keith Chegwin getting zapped at the end and having to "walk" home from Arg, but those who were clever realised what the cheese roll they'd been given after the "How many Argonds round the pond?" game was actually for. Interestingly, series four is also in the order of planned transmission rather than actual transmission, as the fourth episode (with George Layton and Joanna Monro) was postponed due to the Challenger space shuttle disaster happening the same day.

Of course there was also the iconic theme tune, which only didn't appear in series two (maybe it was brought back as it was more popular) which was Duo in G Opus 34 No. 2 (2nd movt), originally composed by Ferdinando Carulli and performed with acoustic guitars by Julian Bream and John Williams from their album "Together" - and definitely for me tune of the day as it's a beautiful piece of music in its entirety - and you can get the CD cheap online too, so might have to invest in that!

Tuesday 6th August - Doog Yrev!

Tonight I decided to have a relaxing evening, with a well earned coffee, and watch the episodes from Series 2 of The Adventure Game that's on the DVD box set I have. I've always loved this programme from being younger when it was normally shown on BBC2 before or after Monkey, so it was my Friday night viewing sorted to be perfectly honest. I admired the oddness of the whole thing, the difficult challenges that were around throughout and of course, the infamous vortex at the end where the contestants would be evaporated if they weren't careful enough.

Interestingly, only four of the five episodes from the second series survive, and one of those is actually a copy which was preserved by a viewer on an old video tape because someone at the BBC decided to wipe their archives, and there is still one episode missing of course. Nonetheless there's enough there to see how it all progresses. The second series has the different theme tune from the rest (the ace acoustic guitar one from series 1, 3 and 4 was replaced by a more trumpet inspired tune - still tune of the day though) but still one I remember from way back when, with the creator Richard Dowling welcoming the contestants (two famous, one a member of the pulic) to what looked suspiciously like BBC Pebble Mill in Birmingham instead of the shuttle to Arg....

But anyway, all the really good bits I remember are of course there, with the inhabitats, the Argonds, being able to shape shift from dragon to human form - apart from Rangdo, the ruler of Arg who is an aspidistra plant, and not yet having to get everyone to bow and go "Gronda Gronda!" within sight, but still the same scary plant. Naturally, there's Gnoard (Charmian Gradwell) who would introduce the games to the contestants and show how the vortex game is played, and the daft butler who kept looking for his spectacles to hear, Gandor (Chris Leaver). In case you didn't already work it out, everything is an anagram of dragon in terms of the characters.

In Series 2, Lesley Judd (who had played in Series 1) became the in-house mole, initially being freed by the contestants but working against them. If they worked out she was the mole, all three got to play the vortex, but if they got it wrong (such as one episode involving Graeme Garden) that contestant would evaoprate but to the other side of the vortex, and then take part as the opponent in the game. Sneaky. And of course, there's the currency, drogna, which you had to work out what the rules were to get far and indeed be able to pay Gandor the relevant "fare" to proceed onwards to the vortex.

It was always fun seeing the contestants being evaporated at the end, although careful use of either a ham sandwich or cheese roll could alert them to where the vortex was, and so help their escape. In fact from series 3, plenty of BBC Micro trickery was around, including the sound effects and graphics for the vortex. That also included the Australian character Rongad (Bill Homewood) who would say everything in backwards talk, hence the catchphrase "Doog yrev!" (work it out folks) when you did well. Suffice to say I'll need to make some time in to see all six episodes all present of both the final series, but watching it all proved just how good it all was. Gronda Gronda!

Monday 5th August - Going Your Own Way

So it was back on the train and tube and off to work this morning, and thankfully it looked like it was raining as the train approached London Bridge, but by the time I'd done the train and tube up to Tottenham Court Road, all appeared to be well again, which is something. I guess too that it has to be said that it did seem a little less busy in that the 0740 train I often get doesn't always guarantee a seat, but managed to get one with consummate ease today. I hope that continues for the next few weeks whilst the rest of everyone seems to be on holiday, with me already having had my large holiday.

One good piece of news was that the course booking for myself that I and my manager was attempting to sort out had come through, and so as such I'll be doing a four day course in September not far from Blackfriars, and with an earlier finish too - so that week will be good to be out there and get home earlier, woohoo! It'll be good though as a stepping stone to actually spreading my wings and learning more about the other (dark) Mac side too, and that's always good to keep the hand in and have a good bit of cross platform knowledge across the board really.

I also was checking over the potential other way that we could roll out a Windows in-place upgrade, by making the feature upgrade available via Windows Update and software updates in SCCM. I managed to get the correct version, placed that on a couple of distribution points and then will start a road test accordingly, most likely with a live machine as sometimes it might be that a virtual one can't cut this. Ideally I want to see if it's been given enough time to do the installation but also how reliable it is - my in-place upgrade task sequence using the fresh WIM works a treat, so let's see what it all brings.

I headed home later and settled in and put some nice DVD-Audio discs to enjoy the full surround, and place the sub on working well. It was the excellent Fleetwood Mac Rumours album and that in surround is just fab - especially the likes of Dreams, Second Hand News and so on. Of course for me one of the stand out tracks is Go Your Own Way, so that's tune of the day- especially the guitar lead towards the end which really builds up well and shows the mastery at work of the whole thing. Ace.

It was certainly feeling cooler in the evenings and less sticky, which is a good thing and having fresh air through the flat will certainly help me sleep too. I must admit I do manage to sleep okay but normally I need it to be cool as I'm quite warm blooded, so that way even with the window closed and the room being a tad warmer, I can get comfortable. It's always good to have at least got some rest and feel like I can face the world the morning after you know..

Sunday 4th August - It's All Ivy

It was nice to have a good lie in with The Love In My Heart this morning, although Brian the cat was purring at us to want to play out as well as have a fuss over, and then lay on the pillow next to his Mummy later on when I got up to get a shave. He is so clingly to The Love, and really wants no one else to give him a fuss and a love, although he does let me stroke and fuss over him so that's good. In fact today he just wanted lots of tummy tickles and cuddles, such was his mood.

We got ourselves ready later as we were heading out with friends to Spinningfields and to head to The Ivy, which of course we've been to the Kensington branch of said brasserie. Of course in Manchester having a nice purpose built building with roof garden, oriental kitchen as well as the classic ground floor brasserie was a good mood, and all the staff have jackets on with simialrly floral attire as the outside does, which does make it stand out somewhat. The Love and I arrived early and the lovely bar staff were very attentive, and I had the First Chop Jam, which is a Mango Pale (and also gluten free) which was lovely.

Our friends arrived and we had a drink and a chatter before being directed to our table. We had a really friendly and polite and down to earth waiter, who was really helpful and on hand when needed. I was of course going to have dessert so skipped on the starter, but The Love decided to have the paté with some gorgeous melty brioche bread, and that looked rather nice all round. In fact I had supped the lovely Jam ale and so went for another one, and two of us shared a bottle of rosé accordingly.

The mains came and they were not disappointing at all. The fish and chips two of us had was really good, a nice little pan of the mushy peas on the side, the chips triple cooked and very nice, and the fish had a good crispy batter and a nice white fish, with the lemon in cloth to slowly drip on as needed (and less messy) and the tartare sauce was spot on to go with it. The Love had the chicken Milanese (which was proper chicken and not veal which made her very happy) and that looked pretty big all round, so again spot on really.

Of course I was wanting dessert and the staff even gave us some free coffees as one of the ales wasn't to one of our friend's liking despite it being recommended, which was very nice of them actually. I did have the pistachio and raspberry sundae, which was absolutely yummy - pistachio and vanilla ice cream with some grounded nuts, some fresh raspberries, a raspberry coulis on the side, mini meringues and plenty of it. I just loved it so much that I could have easily gone for another had I not felt so full. It was all good though and the four of us had a lovely meal out together.

We then headed to the Albert Square Chop House where the Boilerhouse Citra was on top form, and the staff let us sit downstairs where the restaurant part is and even cleared a table for us to drink and chat with aircon on, which was nice considering the humidity too. That ended the afternoon nicely with good beer and conversation all round, and it was a short walk to the tram stop to say our goodbyes after that. In fact I was testing out the contactless use of the Metrolink since it was introduced, so wanted to see if that worked well - so will be checking the bank statement tomorrow to see if the right amount is taken out.

I headed back to The Love's place, said my farewells to The Love (lots of hugs) and Brian the cat too before getting the tram with my case to Piccadilly station, getting a bottle of water and then having a relaxing journey back to London Euston with the iPod on and the likes of the excellent Foals blasting out - in fact I had to go back and put one of their tracks on a second time as it just felt the right mood to do so, and with that "In Degrees" is tune of the day. And I got home in time to watch the Community Shield higlights, so got to see Man City's penalty shootout win against Liverpool. Onwards and upwards...

Saturday 3rd August - Cheadle and Chilling Out

It was good to be relaxed with The Love In My Heart and Brian the cat this morning, and Brian wanted to have his usual play out and was happily wandering around the decking, noticing the birds around the place and hearing their tweeting meaning he was on bird watch - but thankfully no tabby cat was around to really wind him up to be honest. We had some breakfast and The Love was also baking, she was making some scones for later and had some clotted cream and jam. And yes, was looking forward to that too!

Later on we met up with The Love's sister, father and niece and headed back to The Love's place, and had a well earned coffee with the scone. The jam and clotted cream was perfect to go with it and really did add a sense of luxury and taste all round, and the racing was on from (as they call it Glorious) Goodwood. In fact The Love's father put a bet on one of the races earlier and the horse that he had backed won - although it was a mere 7/2 odds, and the favourite, but a win is much better than nothing of course.

We decided to head for a walk later on and was going to go to Fletcher Moss, but the road was being resurfaced and even with that the car parking was still a nightmare and full. Instead we decided to go to Abney Hall Park in Cheadle, and noted the new look car park (much better) and this time followed the path round the pond, up the hill towards the new care home, then round the back through the fields, arriving near the pond at the other end, following the railway path around the back of The Ashlea and then past the fields of cows back towards where we started - a nice walk all round actually.

It was onwards to the Gateway pub for a well earned drink too - I had some very nice summery ale which had a hint of apricot in, and we were sat outside although there were a few wasps circling around which wasn't too good to be honest. The Love was seeing other people on tables have to try and swat them which was fun to watch but thankfully they avoided us a little which was okay. We also went later on to B&M Bargains on the way back and I picked up the likes of Ginger Tom ale for a mere £1, as well as some nice ales from the Steam Box Brewery too.

Later we settled in for the evening and had Brian the cat playing out (again!) and The Love made some gorgeous chicken stuffed with mushrooms and wrapped in parma ham, which was gorgeous, especially with potatoes and vegetables, and had a stuffed mushroom starter and a creme brulee to finish off. We watched the likes of Who Dares Wins and later on Pointless Celebrities where Shaun Ryder of Happy Mondays was on with his wife. Made me think of some Mondays classics so their version of "Step on" is tune of the day- you're twisting my melon, man!

Friday 2nd August - Chinese and Chugging Along

It was a relatively calm day at work, mainly with me performing some checks and maintenance tasks all round. In fact I had noted over the last month or two, now with everything else appearing relatively stable in the SCCM side of things, that the console based operations take much longer sometimes than they should, even if directly from the server and using the console there. I suspect that there was something database related there, and read up on a couple of articles which appeared to point the same way. I'll mention it to one of our SQL DBAs on Monday (he was off today) as that could potentially be another improvement going forward.

It was good too that the weather was at least looking a little more breezy and fresh outside, I think it's been pretty humid the last three days and that can be really oppressive, especially in a large city centre. I did treat myself to a nice little lunch though, especially as later on I knew I'd be having Chinese takeaway with The Love In My Heart (a good idea put forward by her, and I thought so too). It was also good to see when I popped into Flying Tiger that all of their back to school range is quite nicely tiger themed complete with cartoon styled tigers, neat that.

I did have an issue to deal with late on but that was all sorted as much as I could do, and I was able to head off to Euston and be at the station ready for the 1857 departure to Manchester Piccadilly. Thankfully this time around the train was in the station and on time, so that was good, but at the same time I knew it might be busy, and it was this time around, with people pretty much getting on at the last minute. I had my seat though, so was all sorted, and had the headphones on with some good tunes.

The train was (yet again!) late though - it got into Crewe a minute or two early which was good but then had to wait for another train at Cheadle Hulme and proverbially crawled into Manchester and ended up some eight minutes late. I was concerned for The Love picking me up as these days the short stay is a maximum 10 minutes for collections, but the car park again had "free passage" so thankfully that was eliminated. Somehow Kraftwerk's ace "Trans Europa Express" (make that tune of the day) somehow wasn't express, yet again. Not having much luck really.

The Love and I headed to the local Chinese, where the crispy shredded chilli beef was ordered as well as the chicken Kung Po, and that was something we both liked too, so we were able to share the main dishes and have the fried rice to go with it. It was really nice just to be able to get all that sorted, and for us both all good to wind down and have Brian the cat looking at us hoping it was fresh chicken for him to nibble on. We had a bit of a retro Top of the Pops watch from 1988 including the likes of Fleetwood Mac and so on before it was time to get a very well earned sleep!

Thursday 1st August - Secure and Subwoofer

It was a busy day of planned changes, but one that made a lot of sense. In fact the main change I made today will mean that going forward we have a much better take up of security updates, and I can see the benefits of that from a long term point of view. I have been monitoring things during the day and the numbers definitely add up, as well as the fact that there's a considerable number of reports telling me the same thing too. I feel pretty pleased with myself all round and so felt like a nice drink after work was in order with a few colleagues too at the King and Queen, a fave of mine because of the Totally Acoustic events often happening upstairs (and they have decent ale on.)

So in essence, after some testing last week, I made a planned change in SCCM which meant that for the first time probably ever, the remote sites which have a relevant boundary, boundary group and localised distribution point, were able to get their Windows update information from the software update point and then download them from their local DP, ready to install. It was a case of ensuring that a fallback boundary group, which contained just the software update point site role, was set up, so that in each of the remote site groups, they only used that as fallback for the software update point.

In effect, this means that when a client at a remote site is in a boundary group, their site server serves the content via their local DP, with immediate fallback to the software update point to get the info as to what is available. Because the update packages are always distributed to all DPs, it's a fairly easy job to get them all and indeed to be sure that they download when connected locally ready for install. The good news was that the moment I made the changes and pushed a policy refresh to machines, all of them started talking the right way (as the WSUS server was set in Group Policy, but the boundary settings meant it couldn't actually see the software update point)

I felt good about that and more good news was to happen when I got home too. The fuses that I had ordered had arrived, and so it was a case of checking if my subwoofer would come back to life or not. I had the backplate loosely screwed in, so took the screws off, added the fuse in, screwed the backplate nice and tight, connected the power, switched on, and, voila! The standby red light came on, and then I tried a speaker test using the AV amplifier. This confirmed that the subwoofer was on and was lit green accordingly, happy days indeed and that meant a simple £3 fix overall instead of spending lots on new. And I have a spare fuse now if it ever goes again. I rule!

To double check everything and to give it all a good workout, I dug out the DVD-Audio disc of Queen's classic album A Night At The Opera. I soon had the green light going on the subwoofer, so all good, and having that play in glorious 5.1 surround was something else. Naturally I still adore the opener Death On Two Legs (Dedicated To..) so that's definitely tune of the day as I played the whole thing. I also gave it a rest, then put the DVD-Audio of Metallica's black album on. I know normally the subwoofer should kick in at the first bass drum kick, and yes, it did, so definitely all working as intended.