Dear Diary...

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

2021
Dec
Nov
Oct
2020
2019
2018
2017
2016
2015
2014
2013
2012
2011
2010
2009
2008
2007
2006
2005
2004
2003


Monday 25th October - Drive In Monday

It was a work from home day for me today, and with the weather showing some signs of rain outside I was pretty thankful that it was to be honest. I did however have to head out first thing in the morning and get some stuff for lunches during the week as well as some milk for coffee, and of course some cereal for breakfast - I had enough for this morning but wanted to make sure I had some for during the week, as I've found having that before I set off or in fact before I go to the office means I don't get tempted, which has to be a good thing.

In fact today was a good day for collaboration and was spending time speaking with a couple of colleagues over the way that some of our staff potentially are using our storage solutions, and potential options. Ultimately, the way that they have to access a remote desktop solution isn't ideal - they're based in another country and not the best Intrernet connectivity either, so that's limiting to start with. However I did also note that once they were in and they had all sorts of adding network drive mappings going on (to a virtual drive anyway) that it wasn't helping the way that they were working either, so offered some practical solutions where possible.

I did venture downstairs to the concierge at lunch time to pick up a parcel, and I'd heard the news that after six years being based here that he was going. I did feel a bit sad about that to be honest because he's always been spot on reliable, always with a smile and a friendly face, and gets things done too which is good. And keeps all the residents informed of anything happening as well, which has to be a plus. He was also the one to show me round two apartments in the block and it was good to see both, one of which is my home at present which I've really enjoyed being as my base for the last six years, and will continue to do so.

I also ended up watching Only Connect later (as you do) and it was particularly good fun this time around. Of course Victoria Coren Mitchell was on her usual fine form, and the music question in the first round had the superb Drive In Saturday by David Bowie, so naturally tune of the day for me, with the connection of movies that I got after the second clue being the Cinema Paradiso theme. It's still as difficult and fun of course, but gave me some ideas for a much easier version for the work quiz this week as it's my turn to do so!

Both teams were also on fire on the connecting walls, and the missing vowels was pretty fun with the first series being locks, the second being stock, the third being barrels and the first answer of the fourth series being lock stock and barrel (and I got that of course!) - so that was good to see. I must admit that of course it does get harder throughout the series as you'd expect, but there's somehow something massively satisfying when you get stuff right!

Sunday 24th October - Pumpkin Picking In Nantwich

It was a nice morning to be getting up and going out, even if there was some rain afoot, as The Love In My Heart and I were off to Nantwich and to Snugburys Ice Cream. Of course, I needed no incentive to have their yummy ice cream of course, but we were mainly going because you could go onto their farm and pick yourself some pumpkins for Halloween. And it was always popular with families and with half term looming, an earlier start was on the cards: not least because of the possibility of breakfast from the rather fine Rosto van that is normally there at weekend!

We set off down Princess Parkway, the M56 and then the A556 and skirted around the likes of Northwich and Cuddington before heading along the A49 towards the A51 and Nantwich. However, just before Beeston, we had to take a diversion and continue to follow the A49 past Beeston and Spurstow before turning left at Ridley and follow the A534 towards Nantwich, then turn left back up the A51 for a small bit to Snugburys. It was open, we could see the pumpkins and the big straw bee sculpture was still there, so all good and definitely going to be good fun too.

It was a little bit wet so I got the brolly out and headed at the end of the car park to Rosto where a bacon sandwich was on the cards. It was gorgeous: fresh slices of ciabatta bread baked that morning with some very crispy bacon in the middle, and just was crunchy and filled the gap well. It had stopped raining at least so we were able to wander to the fields (same way as you go to see the straw sculpture, that bee was watching over us all) and took a good look at the pumpkins on offer. If you wanted lots, you could get a wheelbarrow and wheel them back. You got them weighed and paid for, all good.

Of course it wouldn't be a visit without ice cream so two scoops in a nice cone and the flavours of honeycomb and cherry blizzard were mine - and in fact it was also nice to see that the goat and the kunekune pigs still had their own space and you could see them. I think the pigs were interested in the ice cream as they came towards the fence to say hello, but they were adorable. It was a really nice time to be had and The Love had got herself a really nice shaped pumpkin too, so all good on that score.

We then headed back via the diversion and heading along the A556, I thought "why don't we go to Knutsford?" so we did. Not all the shops were open on a Sunday sadly but it was noticeable that the ale and bottle shop had expanded next door and was rather good, and that there seemed to be new shops and cafés open too as well as some of the posh shops they always had. We did try and get a table at The Angel on King Street but nothing doing, so instead we gave The Lost And Found a go. And we were glad that we did, the food was lovely. I had the pork meatball carbonara which was very tasty, and the burger that The Love had was also spot on, as was the beer and wine too. We'll have to go back for definite!

It was nice to relax later on at The Love's place and Brian the cat was being all soft and cute and lovely, and then it was off to Manchester Piccadilly station to get the train to Doncaster, then from there to Kings Cross. All was well albeit with the first train being delayed, so thankfully the time spare was handy, and got my seat with no issues on the second train. I had some tunes on the iPod playing as well so the excellent Seventeen by Penfriend (make it tune of the day) sped me along nicely to London, and got the tube to London Bridge and train home from there. It had been a lovely day and whole weekend, and this is why I treasure them with The Love so much.

Saturday 23rd October - About In Alty

It was a nice relaxing morning for myself and The Love In My Heart today as we both were having a lie in after a long hard week at work each, although not too long a lie in necessarily as the youngest and cutest relation was heading over with her Mum later to see The Love. Of course that was a time of adorable cuteness this morning and it was nice to spend some time with them. In fact, we had got a little present which we were saving for Christmas but handed over now - a Miffy t-shirt with a rainbow on, as we thought it might not fit if we waited. It was lovely, and appreciated.

We got ourselves ready later on and The Love had a really nice dress on with tights and boots, and looked smart and lovely. I also put on a nice pair of jeans (in fact a new pair I'd got from Next no less) and a shirt, so both were all smart. We were taking the tram from The Love's tram stop and out to Altrincham, where we were meeting one of The Love's friends and her husband for some afternoon and early evening drinks together, which would be rather lovely. Not been to Alty for ages since I had a good mooch around Tasty Records a long time ago, so nice to be back.

The tram sped its way to St Peter's Square and we changed there for the Altrincham tram, heading towards Timperley (you know it did, it really did etc, so The Robins Aren't Bobbins by Frank Sidebttom is tune of the day) and then into Altrincham. The Love's friend and husband weren't far behind us, as they can walk from their place into the town centre, and it was lovely to see them both. We ended up having plenty of chatter about football and music too which is always good, and made our way to the market, which was pretty busy with lots of independent stalls and some lovely crafts too, so definitely good. The market hall, similar to Mackie Mayor in Manchester, was also busy too.

We ended up first of all in Pi, which was a nice pub close to the market and indeed had some rather lovely ales on from local breweries. The good thing was that it was a very relaxed atmosphere in there, no overly loud music, just space to catch up and chat which is the right thing to do really. In fact it really did feel like the sort of place I could have a few drinks in actually. We got a space in the outside seating of the market hall next, and the Blackjack beer was on tap too (and that's vegan, so all good.) I actually had one of the Red Willow ales which looked fab and the pilsner met with The Love's approval, so all good.

After that it was time for some food, so on our friends' recommendation, we headed to an Indian vegetarian and vegan restaurant Japiur Palace (they have one in Fallowfield and Chorlton too) and that was certainly much nicer than I expected. It's somewhere that they go to, and I can see why. Excellent service from the staff, really nice varied menu, and actually not that expensive either. I had the samosa to start whilst The Love had the onion bhajis, and for the main I went for the Shahi Paneer, which was toasted Indian cheese in a mild curry sauce - that and some pilau rice was lovely. The Love's Aloo Palak was good too, and the upside down curry one of the friends had was rather intriguing too!

All fed and watered happily, it was a final stop at Goose Green for Costello's which is owned by the Dunham Massey Brewery, which meant a dark mild for me (not often you can get milds anymore so it had to be done I think) and some nice drinks and chatter all round. It was all lovely, and the time went by far too quickly for the four of us to be honest. We were soon heading back to the tram stop to say our fond farewells, but it was definitely a lovely day out and one we'll definitely have to do again without question!

Friday 22nd October - Draughtsman's Dilemma

It was off to the office today, and another negative test to record the night before, so all good so far. However, what wasn't so good to hear was that someone on the other side of the office had tested positive, and so those around them (not me) would need to be PCR tested to be sure. It's one of those situations which I'm sure we'll see more of as more and more head back to offices, but it does also make you wonder how careful some people are and indeed acting as if the pandemic is over (which it clearly isn't.) It's always a fine balance I know, but for me erring on the side of caution so far has worked well.

I did have a puzzle to solve today which was a bit of an odd one initially. So when Windows 10 building one type of laptop, which worked before, it appeared to be failing during the build and normally around the time of either on or just after installing the MECM client. As I was in the office and had access to one of the laptops, I could road test. In fact, I was then able to reboot the machine after it had failed, and check the SMS task sequence logs. That proved to be interesting and pointed towards the CCM Setup step, and of course that has its own log, ccmsetup.log.

The log itself had a big clue - so as part of the pre-requisites for the version 2107 client, you need to have the Visual C++ 2015-2019 libraries, at least version 14.28.29914 - older versions 2103 and below used the 2013 libraries so was never an issue of course. I always add the latest binaries in when creating the Windows 10 WIM image because other applications use those libraries. What the log told me was that it had found my later version of the binraries, but one of the files (vcruntime140.dll) was reporting a much lower version - so it was attempting to install something it didn't need, and failed out.

Now I knew of course that the drivers would install prior to the MECM client, and so checked the drivers as well to see what the state of play was (and it was the official manufacturer's pack, by the way). As it transpired, it was the Realtek camera driver that was at fault. So instead of checking the Visual C++ version before overwriting the file in C:\windows\system32, it would just overwrite anyway, so the version from that driver was the same as what was detected during build. So, obvious solution: remove that driver from the driver package, and go again, with a view to see if Windows had its own driver for it initially before adding one back in.

And the good news? It worked. First go. I did a second machine rebuild with another machine and that also worked flawlessly too, and in both cases the inbuilt Windows 10 20H2 driver for the Realtek camera worked, so no need to have it there. I'll probably have to double check a couple more, but was pleased to sort that one out and indeed to note it all down for the UK service team folks - and they have two more machines ready to go that they didn't have beforehand, so everyone wins.

Afterwards it was off to Kings Cross station as once again I was going the Doncaster switcheroo, and all good on LNER. The person sat next to me had a face covering on too as had I, so all good there, and treated myself to a rather nice stout at the Draughtsman pub on Platform 3B, which I had a fair bit of time to do before getting the 2042 train to Manchester Piccadilly. It was nice to be able to relax with a good drink and that set the weekend off well in my view, with the excellent Roy Harper's When An Old Cricketer Leaves The Crease on the iPod as I approached Sheffield, definitely tune of the day for me.

Thursday 21st October - Jumpers for Goalposts, It's The School 80s

It was another busy and productive day for me working at home, and managed to get quite a few tasks into motion. First of all, it was a case of spotting a machine which hadn't been connected to the network for some time and had a MECM client that wasn't even cloud management gateway compliant, so good to be able to get that sorted, and make sure that it was able to get the new client, and then be able to get all the additional software that was needed for it - it was even out of date for a couple of things we deployed months ago, but there we are. Got it all sorted in the end so a definite positive.

As is usual for me before I head into the office (as I will be doing tomorrow) it was time earlier for me to do the lateral flow test. The latest pack of tests I got (in the post too) were actually slightly different - a bit more liquid in the sample tube, and a smaller cotton swab, and basically up both nostrils rather than the throat and nostril job before. Seemed all straightforward though, but good at least do have double checked the instructions beforehand as they were a different pack. Thankfully, same result as the rest have been - negative, but really it makes perfect sense for peace of mind.

I say that because obviously it's not just about being in work tomorrow - it's heading on the train to be with The Love In My Heart at the weekend, having her lovely little relation come over to visit for some Nana time on the Saturday (which means I can entertain her with the Sooty puppet again) and then of course if we are out and about, knowing that as safe as I can be I won't infect anyone - and yes, I do wear masks on public transport still, all the time. Because I'm not selfish.

I also spent some time tonight watching the latest episode of a fascinating series on BBC Two: Back in Time for School. It was shown a couple of years back but missed it first time around, and this episode was the 1980s which meant plenty of classic tunes, actual Nik Kershaw doing a music lesson with an insight into his classic hit I Won't Let The Sun Go Down On Me, as well as the class attempting to the opening part of Depeche Mode's Just Can't Get Enough complete with synth and triangle accompaniment. Yes, really!

What also certainly was insightful into the teachers featured too, as a number of them grew up in that era and had first hand memories of some of the historical moments that happened: such as for example Scott and Charlene's wedding in Neighbours (cue one of the kids: "Is that Kylie Minogue?") but of course the soundtrack throughout was brilliant - everything from The Smiths to Wham, and Public Image Ltd's under-rated classic Rise (tune of the day) , as the school announced corporal punishment had been abolished - and you have to remember it was only passed by one solitary vote!

Wednesday 20th October - Working The Wheel

It was a busy day working from home, but actually with the weather being a tad on the lousy side, I was quite glad to be not travelling out to be perfectly honest. I was able to assist one senior member of staff today whom I had helped before, and she was wanting to check how she could be able to launch one piece of software with all the integrations in that were needed, so spent some time on a remote session going through it all and definitely was much happier once I had been able to explain things. Always good to be able to assist but do it with a smile and be nice to people.

Later on I was also able to look at evaluating with my manager the way that the old legacy templates were deployed for Powerpoint, and how we could improve the process somewhat. They were via Group Policy, but bear in mind that a number of machines or users work at home and don't always connect to the VPN, so no deployment of policy, then it was a case of seeing how to amend the policy, and once amended, then get a bit of a Powershell running to remove the files from where they get saved, and then point towards the online versions and be able to work with that. It was constructive and made more sense.

I also was spending a fair bit of time today with the Mac and this time with our anti virus solution. The vendor has a new version in their early access programme which reduces CPU time for one of the components, so was able to work with our head of Cyber Security and get that deployed to the Mac, and did a number of road tests including checking certain sites were blocked (they were) and that it was all behaving itself in other scenarios, which it appeared to be as well which was good. I must admit it was nice to see that the vendor had taken the issues we raised seriously and worked on a much better option.

I was able too to get some train tickets booked - in fact one of the ones was for The Love In My Heart when she comes down to me. I think because another line on the same day is undergoing engineering work, craftily it looks like for a number of trains there's no advance tickets at all, just the fulll £66 standard off peak single, so managed to get a time sorted that wasn't too late but a fair bit cheaper as well, which it needed to be really so it's affordable to go and all that sort of stuff. In fact, I've worked out that if I work from The Love's place on the Monday, the trains that evening back are cheaper than a Sunday, so something worthy of consideration too.

In the meantime I was also able to listen to some good tunes later in the afternoon as I worked on a couple of pieces of documentation and raising some changes so it was nice to have a welcome background piece. In fact, I've been really enjoying having a blast of 1990s tunes at the moment too, reminds me of a younger era of being in indie clubs and all that. So with that in mind, Bennet's excellent debut album Super Natural got a play and their "top 34 single" as they called it, Mum's Gone To Iceland has to be tune of the day.

Tuesday 19th October - Fixing

Well, I managed to after some considerable testing and checking, got to the bottom of an issue I was working on yesterday, and it seems like from what I'd read, I wasn't the only one seeing similar either. So yesterday I became aware that some of the Macs couldn't send to the print queues in the office, despite the fact nothing had changed on the Mac side and indeed, having tested it over VPN yesterday and in the office this morning, not on my Mac either. Something though was definitely amiss, it was almost as if the print server was refusing connection, despite the Active Directory credentials being correct for authentication.

A bit of digging later and checking with our Platforms Team and it seemed that the September update for the server had been applied as per their normal schedules - upon checking this, it seemed to be raising some issues around print that should be fixed in the October update. One of them applied that and arranged a suitable time with our head of service team to restart so we could keep an eye on it. Did that, still nothing - and all this time all the Windows laptops were all behaving themselves happily, which is sort of what you'd expect them to do - but reassuring nonetheless.

A check of the print system vendor's website however revealed something on top of that - and indeed it looked like exactly the same symptoms and setup we have in the office, and of course it affects all managed print systems, not just the one we use. Thankfully they had tested a solution as a suitable workaround, as obviously you don't want to revert the update back and be less secure. In effect it was setting a registry key to a particular value, restarting the print spooler service, and that should sort it. And... it did! In fact I had a Mac user colleague close by so I asked her to send a print job of something she wanted, that worked, and another member of staff also sent something, all working.

So, for those of you using print management systems, do check their knowledge bases as it may well be that a solution has been forthcoming. And.. be warned. The October Windows 10 update could also break things from a Win perspective (although I'd applied that on my laptop as an early tester for the updates, and that at least didn't affect sending jobs on the print system we use, which is a bonus.) So definitely well worth checking out and seeing what you need to do - and always get a test group ahead of pushing out any cumulative updates just to be absolutely sure beforehand.

I even managed to head to Victoria to get the 1754 train home so I could listen to the BBC Red Button commentary of Manchester City's away Champions League trip to Bruges. City were in imperious form and won 5-1 with Cole Palmer coming off the bench to score as well, which was excellent. I have to say that due to a few things happening at the same time it'll be nice to head to a home game pretty soon and cheer on the blue boys, with the classic The Boys in Blue ringing in my ears (make that tune of the day) as like the blue boys, I never give in!

Monday 18th October - Creation

It was time to get things up and moving today for reintroducing the distribution point role back to one of the offices, and with the server still up and running, it made plenty of sense for as much clean up as possible before adding the necessary roles back. So, because I knew I was going to be using the PXE responder instead as it's much more lightweight and all we need, I effectively made sure the Windows Deployment Services (WDS) role was removed, and then rebooted the server, and removed any files needed so that the drive used for the DP etc was nice and clean.

Once that was done (and it took some time due to a massive number of orphaned files in the RemoteInstall folder, which won't help speed of course) it was then a case of adding the site server back in, then adding the distribution point role. That seemed to go cleanly because I had cleaned up correctly, made sure the vital NO_SMS_ON_DRIVE.SMS file was there on the C drive so as not to use that one, and then the whole role was being set up on the large drive D without any issues. In fact, once I added to one of the distribution point groups, this meant that any content that needed to go there did so.

In fact, a fair amount of content went over to the DP during the day, and all good later on so that did mean that least that when we get networks to switch over the IP helper tomorrow so I can road test PXE and machine builds that all should be good, and it'll take the load off the main site server to a degree too. In fact, it was pretty good that they flagged it initially and as more people are in the office, what that tells me is that the network usage is going in one direction - up - and that we've got to have the necessary in place to be able to make sure we can get things done without interruptions.

At lunch time, I headed out to Next Clearance near me in order to pick up a parcel - a nice pair of jeans in my size that I'd ordered for a nice measly sum of £14 in all. In fact they do a nice tapered leg fit which works well for me and they're also very comfy too - so all good on that score. The staff were really friendly and I managed to get the parcel quickly, so that was a bonus. I also noted when I walked past a few of the shops that they seemed to be busy but hardly any mask wearing - and people wonder why the current infection rates are as they are? Dear me.

I of course have to be tested before going in to the office anyway and today's test, as all the others have, proved to be negative, which shows that I must be doing something right. I do appreciate though that not everyone might want to be as robust, and that's their choice, but basically I'll leave you well alone to your own devices thank you very much. In fact, Left to My Own Devices by The Pet Shop Boys is going to be tune of the day - it's still a great track of theirs and really has that excellent late 80s vibe about it too.

Sunday 17th October - Projecting Strictly

As I was having a good online chat with a few friends last night, I did miss Strictly Come Dancing, and so got up this morning to watch it on iPlayer, leaving Brian the cat resting all snuggled up with The Love In My Heart - them both being all contented sleeping. In fact I have to say that a few nice surprises happened last night. The tango between Sara and Aljaž was superb, and he was mightily pleased to get such a good score (four 9s no less) for the real hard work Sara put in, and was rewarded mightily. Classy, dramatic and really full of fire throughout.

Others who also did well were Tilly and Nikita with a powerful paso doble, Tilly really having to don the serious face but acting it really well, and also John and Johannes with their stylish American Smooth. I also did like the boundless energy that Rhys and Nancy had for their samba, and certainly for me it proves that Nancy should had a celebrity partner ages ago - she really is such a happy go lucky dancer and has a big smile on her face at all times, and who can't like that? Oh, and Rose and Giovanni doing a cha cha to Prince's classic Raspberry Beret (and tune of the day too - Rose actually wore said item as well.)

Later on after breakfast The Love wanted me to check out a projector that she had for work, and wanted to see how usable it was. The projector was quite small but did have inputs for HDMI and VGA as well as a little AV input jack that came with its own cable, and the ends allowed you to plug composite plus audio in, and also a SD card slot for pictures and video too. We tested the NowTV stick on it and brought up iPlayer which worked, and even had sound out of the projector too which was feasible.

Realistically you'd partner this with a sound system to potentially get the best out of it, but in a way it was good that it was all working fine, and putting in my camera memory card allowed us to view pictures on there too in a slideshow - nothing mega spectactular but it did at least all work. I was able to also look at possibly a couple of potential DVD or Blu-Ray players The Love could get that were small and work with that well, so that would mean sensible use of kit for not much expense, which is something at least.

We later on headed to the Elizabethan pub in Heaton Moor for a nice Sunday lunch together, which was rather lovely all round. We both ended up having the Sunday Roast ham which had a nice mustard topping, complete with plenty of gravy, roast potatoes, mash, broccoli and carrots, and really went down well with a big Yorkshire pudding also - a proper meal that. It was a lovely way for us both to have a later afternoon time to relax and end the weekend all feeling happy and contented too. Even the trains home were on time for me later as well so that worked out nicely!

Saturday 16th October - Christening

It was going to be a very nice day as The Love In My Heart's youngest relation was going to be christened today. What pleased The Love massively is that it was going to be in a nice church and with a little bit of a get together afterwards for family and friends too, and of course that it would be good to be able to have them there. Indeed, for The Love being the cool nana, and the other grandparents heading over from Portugal to ensure that they were there (they moved there some time ago, they're not Portugese native in case you wondered) it would be rather lovely.

The Love's sister was also very kindly picking us both up, and the new Fred Perry shirt looked good, so that coupled with the Next trousers I brought with me (which did have tinges of blue checks in there too) and some smart shoes meant I felt positively good. The Love had a really nice green dress on she got from Oliver Bonas, and her sisters were both also rocking out some nice outfits too - so definitely nice to see. We got to the church and were one of the first there along with the other grandparents, and they're both lovely, so was nice to chatter to them as people started to arrive.

The service itself was a reasonably quick affair to be honest, it was the only thing happening that afternoon and the priest who conducted the service was quite down to earth too which made everyone feel relaxed as well. It was also nice to see that people were being safe and keeping a safe distance throughout the church, and masked up (as I was I should add) as they needed too. The little one was surprisingly okay with having the holy water on her head and the oil and cross annointments too, I thought she was going to cry the place out (but that would happen later on when she got tired, bless.)

With that done, we all headed off to the reception venue for an afternoon of lovely family chatter, catch up, a really nice buffet complete with these filled Yorkshire puddings which had mash and sausages inside which you topped up with gravy - gorgeous, and also a nice cask pale ale from the makers of Black Sheep was on tap, so again, no bad thing there either. In fact, it went really well and was really pleased that everyone had such a good time. I was of course keeping an eye on the Man City score (gutted I wasn't going to be there, and I know The Love appreciated me being there at the christening today.)

Later on we headed back homeward and had a good watch of The Hit List as ever, as we both love the fact we can shout out the answers at the telly. I must admit I did feel pretty happy that I got a couple of the obscure ones as well - but there's always some quality songs on there, such as Squeeze's superb Cool For Cats (make that tune of the day.) Indeed, Brian the cat was being very cool for his cat self, having had his tuna and Dreamies and resting on the pouffle happily, all preening and showing just how ace he is!

Friday 15th October - Collecting And Proper Dons

It was a productive day working from home today, primarily because I was able to sort out a number of packages for the Mac, and to be able to get them ready and have a policy created in JAMF Pro so that they'd show in the self service part for the clients too. In effect, I'm attempting as much as possible to mirror what we make available in Software Centre in Windows via MECM, so that means that there's consistency in what's being offered. It's a shame that you have to jump through hoops of fire to get an externally hosted instace to talk to an internal LDAP / AD server, or else I could use the same AD groups for both systems and have a smart group in JAMF based on that. But hey ho.

The nice thing was that in fact I was able to get a considerable few done, notably the fact that both Tableau Reader (free) and Tableau Desktop (licenced) were already PKG packages, so no need to create anything else - just upload them to our instance, create the policy and self-service bits, and get it deployed to the group of choice, all done. In fact that really helped get things moving nicely, and the aim is to have a reasonable amount of parity by the end of next week so that we can at least be ready to rock and roll.

I had a message from TK Maxx to inform me that my parcel had arrived in the Covent Garden store, so as my train wasn't til 8pm from Euston, I made some tea after work and once that was sorted, I then got the train via London Bridge to Charing Cross, and then walked up towards Long Acre. The staff inside were lovely and I managed to pick up the parcel without any issues - and it was the Fred Perry shirt I had ordered the other day - long sleeved for a mere £29.99 and I had £25 off that with a voucher too, definite bargain.

In fact, I had enough time once I got the 29 bus towards Euston to pop into my old haunt, the Crown and Anchor, for a well deserved drink of the Wild Beer Pogo, and indeed to listen to some class tunes being played over the speaker system too before then heading off to Euston in good time for the train. In fact, the train was pretty busy but the journey was made considerably nicer by some excellent tunes on the iPod, including the majestic John Carpenter track Domain from the first of the three Lost Themes albums (make that tune of the day).

It was also good that nearby were a couple of AFC Wimbledon fans who were also speedway fans, and were seeing an international fixture at Belle Vue this weekend. It was good to talk about their support for Wimbledon and how proud they were that the club had gone back to Plough Lane (the old speedway and dog track, now converted to football for them.) Of course, us proper fans respect them a lot for that and would always support them over some franchise side from Milton Keynes too.

Thursday 14th October - Revert To Sender

It was back off to the office today - and it was particularly good as I noted early in the morning that the desk I really prefer on one side of the office was available, so a quick rebooking later and that was me all sorted before I set off, which was a nice bonus for me anyway. One side of the office still has every other desk not in use and socially distanced, which for me at present just feels a bit safer, and I'd rather feel that at present especially with the number of cases still being massively too high from my point of view.

Anyway, it was good to be able to get a plan of action together after having a chat with one of the network team (which are now part of our team I work on as part of a slight shuffle around.) It transpires that even though in the main using the main site server for a distribution point and PXE appears to have been okay so far, it looks like as more staff have come into the office, it appears that the main server is getting hammered with traffic, mainly from Windows 10 builds. This is because the main site server lives in a location elsewhere (along with other servers) and it's not the same building as the office, so therefore traffic back/forth.

A quick conversation and some charts revealed all we needed to know - and have some documented proof. This meant sensibly, and as the server hadn't been powered off or decommissioned on site, that it would make sense to reintroduce that server as a distribution point, and let that be used to ease the load. Of course, that's all internal with no traffic outside, so should be a lot more reliable for building machines (and I should add, also quicker too because the speed will be as constant as you want it to be.)

I was also able to get some applications road tested as well ready for some of the staff in our Chinese offices, one of which was approved by our Cyber security team, so that was all good. In fact, thankfully, it was a doddle to get packaged and to be able to get working, and I'll then look at getting the Mac version sorted tomorrow when with the Mac at home. Also, talking of Mac, I started some investigation into why one application didn't seem to want to work, and pretty much worked out in the main it was 32-bit, which of course won't cut it on anything Catalina or above.

Later on when at home I settled in for a nice relaxing evening with some telly, and it was good to be able to spend some time listening to some of the CDs I picked up from Music and Video Exchange in Greenwich a short while back. One of them was a Jools Holland CD with his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra, and it features Double O Boogie, which he usually ends up playing when opening his live shows (which The Love In My Heart and I can attest to) - so definitely for me tune of the day without question.

Wednesday 13th October - Bargain Hunter

It was back to working from home for me today, and it was also a good chance to get a few things sorted around the flat too - so setting off first thing this morning with some washing, which I hung up to dry before I started work, and at the end of the day then set off to do the ironing and got it all sorted. So sort of multi-tasking but with less time taken, and that has to be a definite plus doesn't it? I think too that for me I've been able to work the working week with plans ahead for when I am in the office and when I'm not in the office, so we shall see how that goes.

Anyway, I was able to help troubleshoot a couple of application deployment issues for the main application change, as some users couldn't do a couple of things and asked me to help after a training session on the app this morning. In both cases, using another browser to sign in and get the authentication authorised actually worked, so there must have been some cached old credentials in Chrome somewhere which was causing a loop around of login failures. It's good at least that I was able to think outside the box a little and get that done, but still, had to be noted.

I did nip out at lunch time as I wanted to be able to pick up an item I'd ordered from Next and it was available at the Next clearance place near me. I have to say it was pretty good service all round, quick, efficient and friendly, so all sorted in next to no time. In fact what I did get looks pretty ace, so I'm sure the recipient will like that a lot. I also did think about checking out the selection in store too but nothing floated the boat for me. But, I had an idea that I might be able to spot something online later.

And spot I did! In fact, I was browsing TK Maxx online and noted that they had a rather nice blue Fred Perry shirt for a mere £29, reduced from the normal £80 or so asking price. They had it in my size, and of course well that had to be ordered didn't it? I was after something like that anyway and more to the point it was also the fact that if say I'd have asked The Love In My Heart to get it me for a Christmas present, it might have gone by then - she agreed when on the phone to me later and said I had done well for snagging such a nice bargain. Always good when that happens!

With that all done I settled in and watched Monday night's Only Connect as I had missed it when getting the train home the other night. Of course, Victoria Coren Mitchell was in fine form as ever, and always witty and funny. The game proved to be pretty good too as the music question had an 80s classic in there, The Riddle by Nik Kershaw, so that has to be tune of the day. And naturally I did really well on the missing vowels round so would be worth you having on your team just for that!

Tuesday 12th October - Office Compliance

It was off to the office today and a chance to catch up a little after having had a couple of days off. In fact, I had been able to see on the way into the office that the trains were definitely getting busier with people, and that at least on the commuting routes the compliance (albeit optional) with face coverings was pretty high. I think people in those situations are trying to be considerate which is good, but after visiting Scotland and seeing how much better the whole thing is working at present, it does make me wonder why we didn't just keep things a bit more by law for the time being, but hey ho.

I got to the office and it was good to get a nice spot that I'd booked and this allowed me to be able to get a number of things done including road testing the Windows 10 build with a couple of software upgrade revisions, so new versions of Adobe Reader for one. I also was able to further test a plan I had where we could choose whether to have one piece of software installed or not, and that worked a treat. The other good thing was that I was able to see that deployments of the software needed for the main change over the weekend had worked well and that it was all good.

In fact I headed out for a short walk at lunch time and over to the Tesco to get the meal deal, but also noted that was also busier too than it had been. I'm wondering if more and more are coming to the conclusion that actually being in the office feels better from a productivity but also mental health point of view, and that in reality it'll be a 50/50 split between being at home and being in the office, it's certainly how that seems to pan out at any rate. It's definitely interesting to note at least.

Later when I got home after having a reasonably quiet train (got the fast one to East Croydon from Victoria so no masses at Clapham Junction) I made myself some tea and settled in for a nice chatter with The Love In My Heart - it was her first day back too and she seemed to be getting on a roll with various things. I think that's the thing: when you have time off to recharge you can approach things fresh and certainly for us both having that resting time and a nice lunch yesterday certainly helped matters massively.

I did also spend some time listening to the John Carpenter Lost Themes III album I got over the weekend, really handy that I'll get it playing on the iPod for coming up to Manchester this weekend to pass the time nicely. I must admit it's not as immediate as the likes of the superb Domain track on the first one, but once you've given it a listen or two it all fits into place well. The somewhat melodic yet haunting Dripping Blood is a perfect example of what's been achieved here and that really does suit the mood, so tune of the day for me that one.

Monday 11th October - A Leisurely Monday

If only every Monday could be this chilled, I think it would be a better place all round. The Love In My Heart and I certainly made the most of today by being so leisurely and relaxed together. In fact, Brian the cat was gently tapping his paw on The Love's hand asking Mummy to get up, but a well deserved lie in was what we both felt like after a long week and a good weekend away too. Eventually we did get up and see to Brian and he was content and happy to play outside whilst we had some really nice bacon rolls for breakfast - not sure what the rolls were that The Love got, but they were so gorgeous!

We thought after some mid morning cuppas and a chance to fuss over Brian (and indeed play ball with him quite a bit, a sure fire sign that he's really loving life) we thought that a walk would be quite nice and a good way to spend some time this afternoon, so once we were up and ready and all good to go, it was off to Fletcher Moss in Didsbury for a nice leisurely stroll. At weekends you cannot get a parking space in the relatively tiny car park just off Millgate Lane - this time around it was straight in for The Love, so that was good.

We did what we usually do which is to head along towards the Boardwalk, then follow that towards the paths around Millgate Fields. This takes you on a nice circular route so that you meet up with the path for the River Mersey before then heading off and towards a gorgeous avenue of willow trees which really is a superb feature of the park itself. From there we can turn right and follow the path by the old tennis courts and to the rockery as well, but this time we headed up Stenner Lane and past St James' Church as we thought that lunch was in order at The Didsbury pub.

This turned out to be an excellent move all round - plenty of tables outside too and with the sun still shining and not too hot, we thought it'd be lovely to have an alfresco meal together. I got the drinks we mulled over the menu. In the end The Love got the gourmet burger which was massive, and even had a fried egg in the middle of it, and I went for the gammon with eggs, a really nice cola rum glaze to go on top (which was gorgeous) and some chips and peas. It did the job nicely and being sat outside was all rather lovely it has to be said.

We went back via the rockery in Fletcher Moss and towards the rather lovely Alpine Tea Room café before then heading back in the car to The Love's place, where Brian the cat was being soft and cute and enjoyed his tuna and Dreamies for tea. The day was so nice but went by so quick and before long The Love had dropped me off at Manchester Piccadilly for my train home to London Euston. It was a very warm journey but had the music on to speed things up and this included the excellent Seventeen by Penfriend, which is tune of the day. I reflected on the way back on such a lovely time for myself and The Love too.

Sunday 10th October – Home and Strictly

It was a nice relaxing sleep for The Love In My Heart and myself, and the blackout blind certainly in the room did the job and it was lovely to stretch out and rest. In fact it was a really nice thing to be able to take our time, get ourselves up and ready and head down to the hotel bar where breakfast was served – so we opted for that to make it easier this morning, some cereal, toast and also coffee plus orange juice as well. It just felt really nice to be able to take things easy and once back at the hotel room, we got ourselves packed and ready to leave later on.

In fact we took full advantage of being able to have a coffee and so was able to head down to the bar later, have a coffee before dropping off the room key, and then head to Haymarket station to take the 1216 train back to Manchester Piccadilly. It was a short walk to the station but as the train approached I spotted it looked very busy: and with good reason – the reservations weren’t working on the train and so it was a case of a scramble for a seat. Initially we did manage to get one each and when a couple got off the train at Carlisle, it was then a case of being able to sit together – ironically by that time the reservations had been fixed, but too little too late.

In any case the train did empty out a fair bit by Preston and it was a bit more relaxed as the train headed over to Manchester Piccadilly. The station though did seem busy due to the fact that the Manchester Marathon had been on earlier in the day and people with their medals had been arriving at the station to take the train home. This of course also meant that the trams were busy too and so the tram back to The Love’s place was also going to be busy too – it didn't help that Metrolink cancelled one and that meant two tram loads of passengers attempting to get on to one tram.

We stopped off at the local Asda to get some tea, and that was really nice to have later – some chicken wrapped in pancetta along with roast potatoes and carrots. I also had brought back a nice ale called March of the Penguins from the Sainsburys I got the Fraoch from yesterday and had that with my tea, which was ace. The Love and I also was able to settle down and feed Brian the cat as well, and he was more than happy to be able to play ball with me as well which was pretty good of him all round.

Later on The Love and I watched yesterday’s Strictly Come Dancing on iPlayer before then watching the results show as well. I must admit we did both like Rose and Giovanni’s dance to the Titanic theme, but the excellent urban street dance by Rhys and Nancy to the Spiderman theme was also superb. For pure nostalgic reasons though having the theme tune to The Muppet Show (tune of the day obviously) and a dance from Robert and Dianne was rather good fun – so was glad to see them through. Two other couples were outstanding though: John and Johannes scoring three 10s and a 9 doing the paso doble to the Pirates of the Caribean theme, and AJ and Kai having some Whitney Houston from The Bodyguard vibes too.

Saturday 9th October – Rule Britannia

After heading out for some breakfast, and having a morning coffee in the Hub hotel, The Love In My Heart and I were getting changed and ready to head out for the day. The main part of the day was going to be spent at the Royal Yacht Britannia in Leith, something that The Love had wanted to do for ages – and we were going to do last time out before the weekend had been cancelled. It was good to be able to finally do so this time, and I wasn't sure what to expect but the prospect of a tea room onboard as well definitely seemed enticing. The rain unfortunately was coming down a little bit so we were a little bit worried it’d stay for the day.

As we needed to head out on both tram and bus, there’s an all day ticket you can get in Edinburgh which is all trams and buses for the mere price of £4.50 for the day. We walked up to the West End tram stop and got our tickets sorted from the machine, and before long the tram turned up and it was relatively busy: although lots got off in Princes Street. We were staying on til its terminus in York Place where we would then swap to the bus stop over the road to get the number 11 bus to Ocean Terminal where the Royal Yacht Britannia is now permanently sited. In fact due to the tram works extending the Edinburgh tram to Ocean Terminal, the bus was on a slight diversion but did end up in Newhaven Harbour by the sea before arriving at the terminal so that was nice.

Once we walked through the shopping centre, it was following the signs up to the second floor and to the entrance to the Royal Yacht Britannia, and we showed the barcode and in we went. Before you went on board, you had an exhibition and that also had some good photographs of the Royal Family and distinguished guests, but also all the staff, informally known as Yotties, and that was a good background to understand the inner workings. It was then over the lift bridge to the very upper floor where you could see the upper decks and the view over the harbour, before gradually working your way down to the lower floors.

In fact, as you went down, each floor had plenty of nice surprises: from the rooms that the Royal Family themselves a stayed in, all decorated in a really nice way with glass windows so you could see inside, and the quarters for the crew – each of them being able to have their own sanctuary on board, even places to have a drink in little bars and to be able to play games too. That was positive to see, and throughout the floors as you went down, all the servants and living quarters in equal measures were really well preserved, and it was much better than I thought, and The Love really enjoyed it massively.

In fact half way down we stopped off at the tea rooms with some lovely views over to the Firth of Forth but also a really relaxing place to be. We both had a lovely lunch in there: The Love had the ham and tomato sandwich, which had plenty of salad and crisps too – and I had the Cullen Skink soup - a haddock chowder with leek and potatoes and it was rather gorgeous all round. I had a nice beer and The Love had some wine to go with it, and it was really good to be sat together. The staff were lovely and the service was exceptional too so that definitely helped make the atmosphere special.

We actually spent close to three hours in total in there, and the tour was fascinating and even for someone who isn’t really a Royal fan, it was an insight into the working staff and the Yotties and how much they were valued really said a lot. We later on got back to the bus stop and this time around headed on the 34 bus back to Princes Street via Restalrig and Meadowbank, and got off near the newer shopping centre at the far end of Princes Street – and there was even one of the lions from the Tusk Lion Trail, several of which I had spotted in London, was there too, so nice to get a shot of that. In fact, it was nice to have a good look around John Lewis, Pull and Bear and other shops before taking the tram back from St Andrew’s Square and to the hotel.

The Love and I got ourselves ready and changed to head out for a nice meal later and watched The Hit List on BBC One. In fact, the two sets of contestants in the head to head were superb and managed to get so many good clues early on meaning that it swayed from team to team. I was pleased to have some quality 80s tunes in there though including The Human League’s classic Keep Feeling Fascination and so that’s tune of the day all round. The Love was in a really lovely dress with boots and I had a nice blue shirt on, and we were heading out for a beautiful evening meal together at a place we went to last time that we were in Edinburgh.

It was off on the number 2 bus from the hotel across the Grassmarket, past the Greyfriars Bobby statue and to Nicolson Square, and a short walk from there to Ciao Roma, a lovely Italian restaurant. We had a good table and we could chatter happily and decide on what lovely food we would have together. I went for the Birra Moretti Siciliana speciality ale, and The Love some wine, and chose the starters and mains. I went for the calamari, which were nice and crispy with garlic mayonnaise, and The Love had the paté which looked gorgeous. For the main I had the chicken and mushroom pizza which was delightful, and The Love had the chicken supreme with mushrooms in a creamy sauce, which was also very nice.

In fact, I had waited all weekend to treat myself to dessert, and had to go for one here in an ice cream sundae glass too – the caramel cup which had a few different ice cream flavours, Bailey’s, meringue pieces and all sorts. It was utterly gorgeous and we spent ages just being chatty and ever so chilled out. It was a lovely meal. In fact we went to the Sainsburys close to the bus stop back to the hotel, and I even picked up a bottle of the Fraoch ale to have later – which I didn't have in ages. It was just as good as I remembered it and we both relaxed in the hotel with a drink and reflected on what was a wonderful weekend all told.

Friday 8th October – Edinburgh in Autumn

The Love In My Heart got ourselves up and ready, and Brian the cat definitely wanted some play time and some more playing ball. He had got inside The Love’s weekend case and was resting there for a little bit yesterday evening, and was definitely very content and happy. He loved all the attention before we set off, and all ready for the tram to Piccadilly to take the train from Manchester Piccadilly to Haymarket station in Edinburgh. We were going to have a weekend there which had been postponed from the same time last year due to the situation at the time, and indeed the fact Scotland weren’t allowing anyone in either.

It was a reasonably good journey in our case – we had a table seat with us being opposite each other, so The Love was facing forward. There weren’t many stops either: Manchester Oxford Road then Preston, Carlisle, Lockerbie and then Haymarket. It was pretty quick all round and it was nice to be able to have a coffee on board as the train headed through the hills of the Lake District, the Scottish Borders and then onwards past Carstairs and a right turn towards Edinburgh, with the train stopping off at Haymarket and a fair number of us getting off there too – of course it’s a better interchange for the tram to the airport.

As we couldn’t check in til 3pm, we had booked lunch at the Haymarket pub close to the station. It was good to have some nice local ale and I also had a steak and ale pie which was rather gorgeous, and The Love had the fish and chips which looked very nice too. It was good to be relaxed. Once that was done, it was a small walk down to Torpichen Street and off to the Hub by Premier Inn there. It’s an interesting idea: rooms are a bit smaller and a more green colour, but big rainfall shower, massive bed with underbed case storage, smart TV, lighting and heating controlled by a panel on the bed. We had the bigger room which although still compact did the job well – everything we needed, and free Costa coffee from a machine in the ground floor reception too, which definitely was a nice thing.

Once we had unpacked and were settled in, and despite the rain, it was a chance to head to some of the shops, so we walked down the main road and towards Princes Street, turning left and then right onto Rose Street and following all the pedestrianised street there past a number of bars, some shops and a real nice feel being there. In fact Fopp was open along there so I nipped in and treated myself to the John Carpenter Lost Themes III album. Having listened to the album online a few days ago which gave me the incentive to buy the CD, the excellent track Turning the Bones is tune of the day – certainly very spooky and in keeping with the style of Carpenter’s film soundtracks.

We then went to St Andrew’s Square and admired the view from the square down to the Firth of Forth, and then headed along more shops in Princes Street and stopped off at Oliver Bonas as well to have a mooch around there. What was also nice was that the rain had gradually stopped to the point that it was drying out a little, and back on Rose Street we stopped off at Fierce Beer for a well earned pint – in fact I had the Caramel Moose stout which was absolutely lovely, and The Love and I were relaxed sat outside and enjoying a drink together. This felt a really nice start to the break away together too and we headed back to the hotel for a coffee and to get ourselves changed and ready for later.

We stayed close to Haymarket later on and had managed to get ourselves a table booked at Platform 5, opposite Haymarket station. It was busy downstairs with a guitarist playing but upstairs was a bit quieter, and it was all good. We had ourselves some nice drinks, and I had some gorgeous gammon and egg for tea, and The Love had a lasagne. She looked lovely in a really nice dress and boots, and it was just good to be out on a Friday night enjoying ourselves. In fact we both were able to take things easy and it was good to take a little walk later on as well before retiring back to the Hub to chill out with some prosecco and watch The Last Leg – all in all a very lovely weekend start.

Thursday 7th October – Unfortunate Events

I spent most of the working day sorting out some statistics but also watching out for the deployments of one of the pieces of software that we wanted to get sorted before a potential major change next week. It was good enough in terms of numbers that we knew that we would be all ready to rock and roll for the eventual go live day, so that has to be something. I knew too that as I would be on annual leave tomorrow and Monday, it made sense to have absolutely everything in place and to be ready to rock and roll. I think for me that it’s important to always have things in motion before you head off on leave – and the cover version of Get Ready by Ash is tune of the day

It was a departure from East Croydon over to St Pancras International and then a short walk over to London Euston and to head off towards Manchester to be with The Love In My Heart before we have a nice weekend away. I had booked the 1834 departure and it was all good when I got to Euston – it even looked like a Pret a Manger was going to be reopening shortly – it had closed at the start of all the works around Euston, but definitely will do well as people wait for their train. I got myself a Sainsburys Meal Deal and then heading off towards Platform 2 with plenty of people and then towards the North.

All seemed well albeit a few minutes delay, with some small delays at Crewe before then getting to Wilmslow and then as the train headed towards Cheadle Hulme, it stopped, right at the station. This wasn’t a scheduled stop and something seemed amiss to me, and with some parents with children unsure what was going on and what time they were getting home, it would be nice to hear from the staff onboard what the delay might have been. As it turned out, one of the Manchester Evening News reporters mentioned online that it appeared to be a police incident between Stockport and Manchester. Once I had heard that, it didn’t sound too good.

In fact, the train reversed past Wilmslow to Alderley Edge so it could switch tracks there, and then head via Wilmslow, Styal and Heald Green on its way to Manchester and thus avoid what had happened. All I managed to find out initially was that someone had been hit by a train, and looked like in the Levenshulme area. Not good of course, and I have a feeling that in those circumstances it may be a line closure for the rest of the evening and priority would be whoever it was would be treated with care and be safe – but you don't know in those situations what might happen.

The Love In My Heart picked me up and it was good to be back at The Love’s place with Brian the cat being all cute and adorable. He wanted me to play ball with him and I wasn’t saying no to that as he was more than happy for me to be able to keep him happy. I ended up watching Question Time and it was good to see the likes of Rosie Jones speak out on so many good points – however though it seemed that a number of people decided to send her ableist abuse, which definitely is not on. She made very good points all round and it was good to see the likes of Lisa Nandy back her up as well and agree – you don't have to be a politician to make some very good points I think.

Wednesday 6th October - Warmest Welcomes At Savers

It was a busy day for me today as we were deploying out some software to our Windows estate, and wanted to be sure that everything went as smoothly as planned - and the good news was that it did, with over 1,000 machines successful and zero failures during the course of the day. This is why you always rigorously test a deployment before you then carry it out, so you know that you can feel confident in what you're able to do. And in my case, do it well.

In fact, what I was able to do as the deployment was around a 90MB download or so, was see which distribution point that the machines would get the software from. So if they were online at home and not connected to the VPN, they'd go via the cloud distribution point and cloud gateway, which around 64 percent of downloads did, the other 36 percent either on site or connected to VPN went to the local DP, and got it that way. What it proves beyond any doubt though is that the cloud DP lightens the load a fair bit from the on site stuff, and on top of that, deployments work pretty smoothly.

At lunch time I headed over to Savers as I wanted to be able to get a few things for the weekend forthcoming, so needed a small size bottle of shampoo as well as a bath sponge, toothpaste but also wanted to get some hand wash and a few things for the flat. The staff are always lovely and kind in there, and polite too, and it really shows that I tend to go back there because the prices are fair but also because you're always welcome too - and so happily was able to get all I needed, in one shop, without any hassle. It's been a boon since they opened one within walking distance of me let me tell you.

I also was able to spot a retro gaming place in York that finally had sorted out its online shop again, and actually managed to locate two reasonably obscure games: one was the Alternative Software re-issue of The Magnificent Seven's Fiends game, which I've seen attempt to be sold for silly money, and a release from The Power House complete with audio track by H.E.X. on the b-side too (as was customary for games from that label to do so back then of course.) In fact, I can remember Sweet Therapy from being on the B-side of Osmium on the C64, so tune of the day for the nostalgia side.

I must admit too that it's always good to discover new things about the computers and games I played when I was a child and still have very fond memories of now. So who would have thought for example that the 80s home computer boom would have so many people still working in the games industry now, and indeed being able to put together some splendid work, not forgetting the fact that no matter what fancy graphics and sound you might have now, actually making a game playable and fun to do so should always be top of the list.

Tuesday 5th October - K is for Krypton

It was off to the office today for my only day in the office this week. I would have liked to have been in another day as well but being able to get a desk is proving not so easy to come by at present. In fact, I've been booking as much in advance as I can, and when I got in this morning I noted that the desk potentially just needed cabling in for the wired socket, and I had the wired access I needed to run a virtual machine and do some build testing after I made some changes - effectively adding new versions of Google Chrome and Adobe Reader into the mix and therefore keeping updated nicely.

I've also put together a plan of action in order that we don't need to install an old version of an application (which is used for some users for compatibility reasons with a piece of web based software) - so using the same method as I've done before for being able to select for example which language you want, I did similar but this time asked if you need this particular piece of software, defaulted the answer to No, so you have to select Yes if you do want it. I then made a task sequence step depending on the answer set, so skips the step if you answered no.

Of course in these situations and just to be sure, I always test both scenarios out and they both worked well - so you have the option. Realistically the whole thing will get phased out and I can remove the steps altogether but at least for the time being this does mean that we're able to gradually phase things the right way, and less occurrences installed too, so that has to be a plus point I think. Sometimes it's easier just to be able to show a sensible way forward.

After a lovely chat with The Love In My Heart and indeed admiring Brian the cat being all cute curled up with his classic "tickle me Mummy!" face on, which is so adorable, I noted that there were two full episodes from the first ever series of The Krypton Factor uploaded on to Youtube. I simply had to watch. Mike Moran composed the original theme tune (make that tune of the day) as The Art of Noise's iconic one didn't come in until 1986. One constant remains though: the North West television icon that is Gordon Burns presenting.

What's fascinating was that the assault course was basically a circuit with obstacles instead of a long straight run on Holcombe Moor it became in later series, and they had a weird personality test where the contestants had a scenario to enact, and a poll of viewers watching them decided the results based on their one take piece to camera. The general knowledge round felt less intense as it was basically the time left on the show to play with, but you could see all the foundations of what made a classic show - and let's sort of forget the Ben Shephard fronted era, eh?

Monday 4th October - Quizzical

It was a pretty good Monday work wise as I managed to get a fair bit of preparatory work done for later this week, especially as I've got the Friday and Monday as off as well for a nice long weekend with The Love In My Heart, so that has to be motivation to get through the week well I think. In fact today I spent a fair bit of time with our anti virus vendor and one of my colleagues road testing out a new version of their product, in advance of release, for the Mac.

Initial feedback from my testing seems to be two major positives: first of all, one of the components which was taking up to 100% CPU time is now taking up much less, freeing up processes for everything else, so definitely a plus there - and on top of that it also seems that the resulting reduction in usage means that the component not only loads every time but doesn't kill the VPN connection either, so that's also a real positive to take forward. I think the good thing is we now have some evidence and clearly for me it proved that my manager and I were right all along. Happy days.

Of course, Only Connect simply had to be watched later, as it is always a good way to give the brain a work out and admire the wit and wisdom of Victoria Coren Mitchell. In fact, one of the questions was a music one where the connection was pottery and from Moby's Porcelain, I actually would have had the 5 points and wouldn't have needed to hear the 80s classic China In Your Hand by T'Pau either, but there you go. In fact, I actually did well on the 90s film quotes in the missing vowels round and The Love would have been mega happy that one of the quotes was from a film starring her favourite actor!

It was also interesting too to catch up on the re-run of Blankety Blank that was transmitted on Saturday, but having a chat with friends, I missed it then. Admittedly, it was a tad disappointing. The format generally hasn't been messed around with too much, and Bradley Walsh is fine, but it just misses something compared to either the late Terry Wogan or Les Dawson who both in their own way seemed to commandeer things a bit better. It wasn't a disaster (see the revised Question of Sport for proof of that) but it made me wonder whether in fact we need a proper bring back of The Krypton Factor, Art of Noise theme tune (make that tune of the day) and Gordon Burns as your host of course.

I do think as well that being able to relax after a day at work really does set the senses well for the forthcoming week - a bit of exertion but in something I like to do is always welcome. It's interesting too that for many reasons that whenever I watch the likes of Pointless, there's always a question which gets my interest and so that really does mean that it's more of an incentive to watch. I did want to go on The Krypton Factor when younger but now I'd happily settle to go on Only Connect with two suitable team colleagues, and enjoy the experience of being on that!

Sunday 3rd October - All Over Battersea, All Hope and No Despair

It was going to be a nicer day weather wise today and after having a lovely chat with friends last night online, I thought it'd be a good idea to check out the Battersea Car Boot but also if I had the time to also have a walk in Battersea Park and be able to enjoy the fresh air and have a good time. I noted the times of the car boot and that worked well with me watching the London Marathon this morning (cue iconic theme tune The Trap by Ron Goodwin being tune of the day.) I did note that the October date seems to be next year's date as well - maybe a move back to April in its usual slot won't happen until 2023, but we'll see. In any case the Swiss dominated the wheelchair races with Marcel Hug and Manuela Schär winning respectively, and a good race in the women's race too with the third fastest British woman ever from Charlotte Purdue's excellent performance.

Once the marathon was all finished with the elite races, and I'd seen some of the everyday runners do their thing and raise lots for charity, it was off to West Croydon station and off to take the train to Battersea Park - the stopper train to more stops along the way, but all was good and made it to the station. The stairs to and from the platform are very steep, it's worth noting, but all was good and walked down the main road and to the Harris Academy where the car boot sale takes place. If you head in between 12.30pm and 1.30pm it's £3 to get in, but you get an earlier look than the 1.30pm time, which is £1, but as I saw later, had massive queues to get in!

It was pretty nice to have a good mooch round and whilst I didn't get anything today, I did see a more traditional car boot sale - no traders, just folk selling their wares. Some vinyl records too, and although nothing I was after, a good selection there, and it really was a case of all sorts being available. Definitely well worth it to have a look around the not having to get up so early was also appreciated: in fact I could even do another car boot early in the morning and then go to that one, so there's something there for sure.

I walked back to Battersea Park station and then along the road to Battersea Park, going in via the Rosary Gate and following the main Carraige Drive westbound first of all. The lovely tree lined drive really did feel gorgeous and plenty of cyclists and joggers and people walking their dogs too - the sort of place I'd love to walk around with The Love In My Heart for definite. In fact I located the Go Ape bit with the Putt in the Park crazy golf next to it - the course looked good, but only 12 holes for £10 for me seemed a little bit on the expensive side for what it was - especially when I've played some cracking full 18 hole courses on the coast for less.

I did though get myself a table at their café and pizzeria, and treated myself to a really nice ham and mushroom pizza for lunch coupled with a pint of Peroni in a tall glass. The pizza was lovely and very reminiscent of the ones I had in Naples, that sort of style. In fact I was glad my table was under the cover of the roof of the place as the wind picked up and then started to rain too - but I was all good. In fact, lunch had been well timed to avoid the rain and later on I took a walk around the remainder of the park and followed the carriage drive to the North and the East, spotting the children's zoo and the page garden before heading back to the rosary gate.

I headed on the train back from Battersea Park and changed at Clapham Junction for the fast train to East Croydon and onwards to home. I have to admit it was a really nice afternoon out and did wish that The Love In My Heart could have shared that one with me - but we're going to have a wonderful weekend next week and if I'm able to find nice new things for us to do when she comes here, that's got to be a great thing. I definitely like the fact that I can explore and discover and certainly doing the walks yesterday and today certainly showed that in spades!

Saturday 2nd October - Walking The Thames Before The Rain

I knew that the weather forecast wasn't going to be great and knew that it was going to chuck it down later, and still wanted to be able to take a nice walk today. So the easiest solution to that was to get up earlier and from that set off to the train station earlier. I did that after having some cereal for breakfast and it was all well at East Croydon - no rain as yet. It was off to Clapham Junction and then across the bridge over to Platform 5 for the train to Strawberry Hill via Richmond, a journey I've done before when The Love In My Heart and I went to Strawberry Hill House (which I can recommend, it is lovely.)

From the station it was a walk down to Radnor Gardens, past the Alexander Pope pub and off to start the walk. It was along pavements first towards Twickenham, then veering off back towards the River Thames and the small bridge over to Eel Pie Island, one of several islands along the Thames that are in the middle of the river. Apparently the Rolling Stones played on the island once. With that and Twickenham Rowing Club passed, it was then through towards the rather impressive Orleans House Gallery - an octagonal building housing some lovely artwork too.

It was along the Thames to Richmond, and passing Hammerton's Ferry to take you over to Ham House, and also seeing Marble Hill House in the distance. On the other side of the river I could also see the former Royal Star and Garter House on the hill, and Richmond Bridge loomed in the distance with its iconic arches. It was also good to then take the Ducks Walk path which would eventually get me back alongside the Thames again, and close to the railway bridge I'd taken the train over earlier - and under Twickenham Bridge, then in the distance, Richmond Lock Bridge.

At this point the Capital Ring joins us - in fact it's section 7 from Richmond to Osterley Lock, which I've walked back in 2016, so was good to remember some of the walk as I headed along the river bank towards Isleworth, and its really nice pub The London Apprentice, with swans on the river bank all content and happy by the river too. From there and around the corner it was a walk through Syon Park and towards Syon House, the London headquarters of the Duke of Northumberland (mainly based at Harry Potter, sorry, Alnwick Castle.) It was nice to walk along there and towards the gift shop and café - and then head towards the high street of Brentford.

Here it was following the River Brent / Grand Union Canal for a while and heading towards the Thames Lock 101 bridge, diverting back to the High Street again and then alongside the river for a while and reaching the long and narrow Watermans Park - the arts centre at the start of the park did look a tad run down unfortunately. It wa then alongside the front of some nice apartments and ending up seeing Brentford Ait island and then Kew Bridge in the distance, and six and a half miles of walking was done, so pretty impressed that I managed to get that done.

As I waited at Kew Bridge station for the train back home, with Brentford Community Stadium right behind me and looking very impressive, the rain started to come down more and definitely was the case when I got on the train and headed towards Barnes Bridge and Clapham Junction - and the train back to East Croydon too. I braved the rain for the walk home and nipped into Waitrose for a couple of nice beers to have later, and that was all good. I then in the afternoon relaxed with some sport, wishing that the old days of World of Sport were still around (and the theme tune of that is tune of the day nonetheless). Maybe more walking tomorrow, we'll see...

Friday 1st October - Smarter Than The Average Meter

So apart from working from home today and getting a number of Mac applications packaged, which happened to include the likes of Audacity, Adobe Reader DC plus the Asian Font Pack that our Chinese staff tend to use as it works well, and also MySQL Workbench too, I knew I was getting a visit from the folks from Morrison Energy who were doing the work on behalf on my energy supplier. I had got the okay from the landlord to replace the electricity meter with the smart meter (because the meters are in a communal cupboard further down from the flat) and all good to go for today.

In fact the engineer called me earlier in the day and wondered if he could come earlier because of the fact that he was doing other jobs in the same area. I had no issue with that and so I had a visitor around 11, so it was a case of turning off all the sensitive stuff at the socket first (which I always do anyway) then from there being able to make sure that I had the mobile phone set to be a tetherer for my laptop so I could carry on working, and that was all good there too. It took some time but at least I could carry on whilst the electricity was turned off for the time being to make sure it was all safe.

And later on - it was all done. In fact it was quite a nice little device that you get, and a charger for it too, and it communicates with the meter and gives you the display. However... and yes there is a however. Originally the reason that smart meters weren't put in the blocks was because of the lack of signal in the communal corridors. So whilst it picks up the signal from the meter in the hallway (or in the cupboard where the washing machine is) perfectly fine, if I place it in the kitchen, it doesn't work so well and was complaining about dropping signal - not so good.

However, I was able to utilise one of the plug sockets in the cupboard where the machine is, and that meant it could at least be on full charge and have a connection, and seems to be working there. It's a shame that where I've got a shelf in the hallway I've not got the plug sockets on one side, as that'd be ideal, but at least I can see at a glance where the energy goes. The interesting thing of course is that I might be able to work out what's using the most energy and look at potentially ways I can cut back. Certainly for me for example, making sure that some devices aren't on when not needed is a good start.

After a busy afternoon at work I was then able to watch Pointless and I would have won the £6,000 jackpot, as the prize round was about Glasgow bands and top 40 singles. I picked the Scottish 1998 World Cup song Don't Come Home Too Soon from Del Amitri, and that was a pointless answer (and so tune of the day) - a bit of an epic win to be honest. In fact I would have got another one by them and one by Travis, so can't complain. A nice way to start what looks like a wet weekend!