Dear Diary... June 2012

Saturday 30th June - Birthdays and Late Finishes

It turned out to be a pretty busy day for The Love In My Heart and I today. We headed up after a lie-in, and once we'd got ourselves sorted out and ready, it was a trip to The Love's Mum's. The Love's sister was coming and as her nephew was back from Dundee for a few days, she thought it'd be nice to see him (he studies at University there) and he had his girlfriend with him as well. It was always good to see The Love's Mum and Dad anyway, and plenty of conversation and chatter followed over a cuppa and a relaxing time. The nephew's girlfriend seemed really lovely and chatty, easy to talk to and with a gentle Scottish accent - and as some of her relations are Man City fans, that of course got my approval.

After a quick stop back at The Love's place, we headed back to mine via the city centre, as I wanted to nip into Timpsons and get my watch battery replaced for my Bench watch. I had a feeling it was going this morning and it then stopped, and so it was a case of nip in, get some wine from the Tesco Express whilst I was waiting, and then pick it back up. My other watch has a lifetime of battery changes and I opted for the same here, not cheap but well worth it as the job is always done properly and to a high standard by professionals - and I do happen to like that.

We got to mine and after picking up the present and card that I'd wrapped up, it was off on the way to my sister's place for my niece's 7th birthday party. It had started to rain pretty badly just after we left, so I was spending time under The Love's brolly as we went down the road to my sister's, and got in just before a massive deluge kicked in. It was a shame but thankfully the kids' bit of the party had been and gone, so they'd all retreated inside. It was a nice Hawaiian theme for them though with my sister having done stickers with the English and Hawaiian names on, a nice touch that.

My niece loved her card which we had made via Hallmark's website - it was a Forever Friends card but with a picture of my niece with some massive glasses on which I took a picture of during my 40th birthday meal, and that somehow just worked rather nicely. She loved it, and loved the present too - the Lego Friends Beauty Shop, which would go nicely with the other Lego Friends sets that most of the family had purchased for her as well, so she could put them all together at some point.

Despite the weather, my brother in law managed to get the barbecue going by using a massive parasol to cover it and so be able to walk from the back door to the barbecue without getting wet, and this worked pretty well actually. We had some lovely burgers, pork, steak and sausages along with some drinks along the way, and it was nice to see some of the family and the little ones, and most of all my niece was enjoying her little self. My little nephew was running around for fun, but when it was time for bed, he gave his Mummy a hug and off they went - so nice to see when they know how to behave I reckon.

It was relaxed time of it all and we headed back around 8pm in good time to see some of the tennis on BBC One. As Andy Murray was on, all of the schedules on there had obviously been thrown out of the window (no surprise there then) as he played Marcos Baghdatis. I have to admit that the Cypriot player seemed to be enjoying himself with a smile on his face and that to me said a lot - it got the crowd behind him a bit too. It was one set all when the roof was put on with the lights for the evening's play, and that certainly made it more dramatic.

We flicked over to the Million Pound Drop at 10pm and saw some of that happening with Davina McCall doing her best to gee up the twosomes to win some money. The first pair that were on had answered one question last night, and at the sixth question moved money at the last second which meant that they stayed in the game, and at the end they had the question of whether the TV or driving licence came first. Logically they knew it was drivers licence, which was correct, and won £50,000. Nice work that was!

We switched back to the tennis and Andy Murray had took the third set on a tiebreak and was attempting to race through the fourth set and was 3-0 up as we rejoined it. We knew that they had to go off at 11pm because of the local council's regulations, and Murray sped through the games as quickly as he could. At 4-1 up it was 10.57pm and he broke serve just seconds before the 11pm barrier. Sensibly with him serving for the match the powers that be allowed the game to finish and Andy did it, coming off at 11.02pm, the latest ever finish in Wimbledon history, but worth it for the fans obviously.

The Love and I agreed that we should try for tickets next year (we did try for the Olympic tennis but no luck whatsoever!) and attempt to use the public ballot to do so - you never know, it might just work! In the meantime tune of the day is the closing theme to the BBC's tennis coverage, namely "Sporting Occasion" by Robert Farnon, which sounds more 1930s ish in terms of musical arrangement and style, and the closing minute or so is what the BBC use. Somehow it suits the Wimbledon grandeur style to be honest and works rather nicely!

Friday 29th June - Come Rain or Shine

Today was a real mixed bag weather wise, it couldn't make its mind up whether it was going to be a sunny day or a wet and windy day, or even a bit of both to be honest. Myself and one of my colleagues were at one of our technical group meetings this morning and it seemed to be rather nice as we left, so we didn't need to take a coat with us. However, just after the meeting finished and we were set to depart from the building we had the meeting in, the rain decided to bucket it down all of a sudden, which wasn't pretty to say the least, and it was a bit more of a rush than I expected to head back to the office.

And later on the weather on the way home still was indecisive, with being sunny one minute and full of rain the next. In truth I had no idea what it would do, and the plan I might have had for heading out for a walk with The Love In My Heart was failing miserably because I couldn't trust what was going to happen. The Love had left work as she was on a late shift but the weather was icky either way, and so when she arrived we decided to make a relaxing night in of it instead.

I set to work on the chorizo sausage pasta bake and timed it so that by the time it was cooked, Coronation Street would have finished, so she could indulge herself in the soaps whilst I was sorting the food out. In reality that worked out pretty nicely, as it allowed me to make the pasta bake spot on, and she had a glass of pinot grigio (the Ogio is back to half price in Tesco which means win win all round for The Love) so all was very well indeed there. It was nice to relax and have the evening meal together actually.

After some watching of the tennis on BBC One we switched back for The Million Pound Drop on Channel 4. You do sometimes feel sorry for the contestants when they get to the last question and get presented with a right bitch of a question such as which of these floats in a pool of water, a can of Coca-Cola or a can of Diet Coke? It's pot luck as I'm sure many people don't know that for sure and so would be just guessing. As it was, it was the can of diet coke but let's be honest, you'd have no clue of knowing...

Tune of the day in the meantime is "Light and Tuneful" by Keith Mansfield. I know what you're thinking - that's standardish KPM library type music, right? Wrong, folks, completely wrong. It's of course better known as the theme music to BBC's Wimbledon coverage. Aha! you all say. Now I get you. It is a bit twee and 1970s cheesy, especially if you listen to the full version of it, but still, whenever you hear it, you know what time of year it is and how they'll show Andy Murray's matches on BBC1 all the time. Well he plays tomorow, so let's see if that rings true or not...

Thursday 28th June - Why Always Me?

It was a good productive day at work today as I spent a fair bit of time with one of our Helpline staff who was spending a week out and about on the campuses. I spent the morning going through all the possible Mac stuff that he needed to know, from the basic things of finding where the likes of system preferences are to the more advanced stuff that you may need to know such as a permissions repair to make sure that file permissions are correct and that applications will therefore run and without any problems too, so all good there.

During the afternoon we headed out on a few support calls and so it was good to be out there and meet some of the staff as well as customers as well, and I had to nip up and fix one of the broken printers on the 7th floor of one of the buildings - which turned out to be that a card reader wasn't seated properly and so wasn't reading cards when swiped, so good to get that all done I reckon. It was also very warm and muggy, not the sort of weather you really want with no air around, but judging by the news reports up and down the country, at least we didn't get any flash flooding!

I got home later on and did a shed load of ironing whilst watching some of the Wimbledon tennis on BBC1 followed by BBC2. Andy Murray got through although I think had it gone to a fifth set against Ivo Karlovic he might have had problems. Karlovic though threw the toys out of the pram by saying that the umpiring was biased as he kept getting foot faulted. I'm not a big Andy Murray fan, but as the umpires are neutral to the countries of the players playing, how can they be overly biased - after all isn't that what challenges are for?

I then saw James Ward try his hardest against the wonderfully named Mardy Fish to become the second Briton through to round three. He did save match point and took the fourth set on a tie break and at 3-3 in the final set it was looking evenly matched. Crucially Fish held serve and then broke James Ward in the next and from there on in it was plainish sailing to win. It was nice though afterwards to see Mardy compliment James and say that no way was he world number 170-odd - and considering that he's seeded 10 for this tournament, high praise indeed. Little would we know the drama with Rafael Nadal later..

I did the food shopping at Tesco a day early and then headed back to watch Italy v Germany in the Euro 2012 semi final, which I did have a vested interest in. I want Italy to win to land me the sweep at work but also as a Manchester City fan I want to see Mario Balotelli do well, and bring that form back to City after the tournament. It was good to see Gianluca Vialli, the Chelski striking legend in the BBC studio and he was obviously cheering on his fellow Italians, much to the delight of all English fans watching. Sorry, I can't cheer on Germany no matter what!

The first half started and Italy were a little bit lucky at first not to go a goal down but then Mario Balotelli started torturing the German defence with his will to get he ball, hold it up and get at the defenders, and with Andrea Pirlo being brilliant in the middle as he was against England, then it was a matter of time before the tide turned. And turn it did, a lovely move on the left found Antonio Cassano who beat his man and put a delightful cross over which Balotelli wanted more - and thundered a header past Manuel Neuer in the German goal for 1-0. Get in there Mario!

Better was to come too as Italy cleared from a corner and had left Cassano and Balotelli up front. The ball broke to Riccardo Montolivo, who had the sense to pick out a gorgeous ball to Balotelli - he was on-side, and had left Philip Lahm for dead, and headed forward to smash the ball past Neuer, and I do mean smash it. It was an awesome goal and so well deserved for Mario for me - and of course 2-0 up against Germany doesn't normally happen. Even though Germany pulled one back right at the end with a penaltuy, of course it was Italy through and that made me proud to be a City fan and even more proud of Mario too. Get in!

Tune of the day has to be "Mario Balotelli" by Ruff Sqwad, with Tinchy Stryder. Despite him being a Man U fan, he's always been impressed by Balotelli and so for his and the band's free EP released at the very end of last year, the guys wrote a song and had the chorus of "Why always me?" of course with reference to the t-shirt that the City striker wore during the Manchester derby 6-1 massacre at Old Trafford. Another performance from Mario on Sunday like that wouldn't go amiss let me tell you...

Wednesday 27th June - Streaming Snow Leopards

I'd had a busy day today at work, and it was good to have got on top of a few things at the same time. I'd arranged a repair for a laptop tomorrow and on top of that I'd also worked on sorting out the planned training programme for tomorrow as one of our Helpline staff was coming over to see me and talk about all things Mac - as I know my way pretty much round them these days. I'd worked out what I was going to cover and also how I was going to sort it all out, so it was good to think on getting things ready.

After work it was off to see one of my uncle's work colleagues as he wanted to see if we could get streaming to work from a Mac to a TV that had wireless built in, and so be able to play any video footage from the Mac on the TV itself. It was one of the early Intel dual core iMacs which had been upgraded to 2GB of RAM, and Snow Leopard had recently been installed on it (it was a little too weak of spec to really get the most out of Lion, I think, but still good enough for Snow Leopard).

First things first was to make sure that there was an up to date version of Firefox on there, as many of the streaming clients for Mac actually make use of Firefox for its web friendliness (and also because code can then go cross platform). It was then a case of trying out TVMobili, which basically ensures that on Mac or Windows your kit is effectively a DNLA streaming server across your home network, with you deciding what stuff you want to share in the relevant folders.

We installed TVMobili, and straight away it looked at the music folder in the user account, and we also told it to include a video folder on the user's desktop as well. Once it did all that, it recognised there was video content and you could browse to it from the server side using Firefox on the Mac. All good. It was then a case of configuring the TV to talk to the wireless router, and once that was done, it was activating the "connect to PC" option, which saw the Mac on the network, and you could browse to the video files and play them - and it all worked really well it has to be said.

And for an extra bonus point it was also then seeing if we could get the printer to print from the Mac, and once we'd put the wireless information directly into the printer, it was able to see out, and we were able to send a test print from a web page to the Mac and it all worked really well. Isn't it great when stuff works? Well, I'd like to think so to be honest. It was good to be positive and to be able to have everything working in the simplest way possible so that it's a doddle to get it all going.

I got back in time for the penalty shoot out between Spain and Portugal. Admittedly it hadn't been the best game by all accounts and I was quite surprised that Cristiano Ronaldo wasn't taking a penalty for Portugal. The Portugese missed a couple and it was down to Cesc Fabregas to score the winning penalty to put them through to the final. They'll face the winners of Italy v Germany tomorrow, a match I've got a vested interest in because I have Italy in the sweep at work!

Tune of the day is "Boredom" by those legendary Mancunian pop punks the Buzzcocks, as I remember seeing it featured on the film Control when I watched it again the other night, but also sums up what I'd have felt if I'd have watched the Spain v Portugal game, and indeed how it felt seeing England v Italy on Sunday - boring! I just hope that the games improve here on in really because largely the football's been stuff to forget during Euro 2012 so far.

Tuesday 26th June - Muzu Magic

Had a pretty good day in work as well - and finalised all the professional development review stuff ready for Monday's meeting that's scheduled. I think to be honest that for me it was important to mention everything and note all the achievements that had I'd managed - but not just individually, as a team as well. It's important sometimes to actually look at things from a team perspective and take it from there, and there's plenty of positives to take from the last year or so.

I also spent some time this afternoon checking over the overnight Mac imaging and on the whole it seemed to work pretty well. However, you still have to install the Boot Camp Services MSI to get something like right clicking working, as well as deciding what operating system to restart in, but the drivers are at least all there so it's all detected and working pretty well. Of course, it's mainly for testing and evaluation purposes only at this stage, but good to know that in theory, it can be done.

I headed home later on and got a few things around the house sorted out, including plenty of washing and even some ironing (boo!) before The Love In My Heart came over later on. She had been on a late shift at work and so was pretty busy herself, so I appreciate the time she takes out to come over and see me - much appreciated let me tell you. I had some spaghetti with meatballs on the go, and we happily enjoyed that before settling in for the evening and watching some telly.

Later on there wasn't much on, so I fired up the Blu-ray player and showed her one of the channels that I've been trying out on there - and she liked it too. Called, it basically has a shed load of music videos which you can watch on your player in full screen, and basically be a video jukebox. The video playback over the Internet worked very well indeed, and of course watching it on the telly made perfect sense too. We had a look over some Swing Out Sister first, and was amazed to see just how 1980s their music videos were.

We moved on to Paul Weller and The Love was overjoyed to see "Sweet Pea, My Sweet Pea" as one of the videos that was playable. It was (and still is) one of her favourite Paul Weller songs, and so that's tune of the day - it is rather lovely after all. We were really surprised to see three Beth Rowley songs on there though, so we had to play all three, notably "So Sublime" which is my favourite track from the "Little Dreamer" album. Be nice if there's a new album out soon, Beth!

Monday 25th June - In Control Of Bananas

I had a productive day of sorts in the office today. I spent some time going over my professional development review, as I've got a meeting for it scheduled next week. It was a case of remembering what I'd achieved over the year and looking at my training objectives. For me it was also seeing what I'd met and what I feel I should have met - and in either case to be honest I know I've done better in some cases than in others, and so it's a case of knowing where you need to improve. I think if you're honest with yourself you'll always be able to see where you can get better.

I also spent time this afternoon with a more recent Macbook Pro to see if I could do the same thing as I did the other day with a Boot Camp image and get that all up to speed with Windows 7 as well as I did with my previous older Macbook. I had to get one of my central colleagues to update the x64 boot image with the necessary Broadcom Ethernet drivers, so at least then when booting from the boot CD the server would be able to talk to the Mac and bring down the main image. It in theory worked pretty well, although I've left it running overnight so we'll see if we have a stable Mac running in the morning.

I got home and had a nice surprise arrive - the banana plugs that I'd ordered off eBay. It was a pack of twenty of them - ten red and ten black so that I'd fit them to the speaker cables for my rears and centre speakers, making for a much nicer and easier connection overall. It didn't take too long to remove the speaker cable from my Onkyo AV receiver and connect up all the banana plugs there, and did the same for the rear of the speakers as well. It was easy enough to do and it meant nice clean contacts all the way round. And sound wise, it all sounded very good indeed, like it should.

I ghen decided that I was going to watch Control on Blu-ray. It was the first time I'd see it on Blu-ray and with the surround cranked up with the speakers connected more securely than before. It sounded excellent, and of course with many of the band's songs performed live by the four actors who played Joy Division, it actually really makes for a more realistic feel. Of course having the volume cranked up reminded me of when I saw it at the Cornerhouse when it first came out, and how busy the cinema was and how glad I was to have bought a ticket for it there and then.

Tune of the day in the meantime is from that film - and it had to be a Joy Division song really. One of the early band performances is them doing "Transmission" which is one of my favourite songs of theirs. Technically their appearance on Granada back then was actually them doing "Shadowplay" instead, which would have been ace, with the same introduction given by Anthony H Wilson back then as in the film - but hey, that's me being picky. Still a cracking effort, and listening to the original song only shows how intense it is. Dance, dance, dance, dance, dance to the radio!

Sunday 24th June - Torching the Penalties

The Love In My Heart and I were up very early this morning, as the Olympic Torch Relay was coming close to my house. Of couse, let's be honest, it's a once in a lifetime opportunity to see something like this and I really didn't want to miss the moment whatsoever. It was due near me around 8am, so we got up at 7 and made sure that we had a good vantage point - and we did, with shelter from the rain that was coming down at the time. A crowd was starting to turn out for the event and a bit further down the road from me the locals had put some stalls on as well.

A few of the convoy went past first - including a bus with some of the torch bearers on, the Samsung Hope Relay van with plenty of people on it all exercising, a Coca-Cola vehicle with free drinks and frisbees, and an open truck with a band playing, and also lots of support vehicles and even Real Radio reporting live as the torch went down the main road - which certainly added to the atmosphere. It was almost 8am and the crowd indeed had become quite sizeable - not bad for a Sunday morning in the very cloudy conditions!

We got to see the torch and runner come past us, and I managed to outrun the torch runner and get ahead for the changeover which happened - and sent another runner on her way. She was blind and so had a guide runner with her for the leg of the journey, but had a massive smile on her face as she did her bit with the crowd of locals cheering her on. Local estimates reckon 3,000 people packed on to the main road for a quarter mile stretch or so near me, and that's very not bad. It was well worth seeing for that once in a lifetime moment and I'm sure that it's proved popular as it's toured the country.

Later in the day we went to Mum's for a spot of lunch as it was my brother's girlfriend's birthday. It was lovely to see them both too and they were in fine spirits, with Mum providing some lovely lunch including chicken with potatoes, vegetables and a gorgeous creamy sauce to go with it, and a nice berry cheesecake with some berries to go with it and cream - just the job really. We spent a very nice afternoon relaxing and chatting away and that was good to do before we headed back to mine and made a decision about where we were going to go for a little Bank Holiday weekend away together.

In the evening it was England v Italy in the Euro 2012 quarter finals, and so I had my uncle, brother, brother-in-law, two of my cousins and another with his girlfriend, so eight of us in all packed into mine for the game. I'd made some pizzas, garlic bread and some chicken bites, my brother-in-law had brought the crisps, my cousin and girlfriend cakes and flapjacks and my uncle the beer, so we were all set for an evening in together hoping that England might actually do the business.

After an okay first half, It was pretty much one way traffic once the second half had got underway, with Italy menacing on England's goal with the skill and guile of Andrea Pirlo in midfield augmented by the way that Mario Balotelli was knuckling down and playing so well up front. As diehard Man City fans, we all agreed that this was the Mario we wanted to see next season, he worked hard, was up for shooting and really hit his shots on target and it was only City team-mate Joe Hart along with some excellent defending from Joleon Lescott and John Terry keeping the score at 0-0.

It was much the same in extra time too and it didn't look good - England were just sitting back and defending for their lives, almost hoping for a penalty shoot out instead of making a concerted effort to at least go for goal and make it through to the semi finals. I knew (as we all did) how rubbish England were in penalty shoot outs, and even when we were 2-1 up after two penalties, once we started missing ours and Andrea Pirlo tucked his away with aplomb, it soon became 3-2 to Italy with a penalty left each - Italy scored theirs and that was it - England were out of it.

To be honest, we were all in agreement that although the team did look a lot more together (and all of them sung the national anthem - a fact not lost on us all) it was just that technically we weren't good enough and possibly now a team in transition. That said I think no one expected us to get out of the group stage, so to be fair to Roy Hodgson to come in at short notice and get us to the last eight and lose on penalties is pretty credible really. We just now need to make sure that we qualify for the World Cup in 2014 and see what happens from there - the key thing is that we've got someone who is instilling into the players what it means to play for your country.

Tune of the day in the meantime sums up how that new found togetherness is in the team - Suicidal Tendencies' "Pledge Your Allegiance" which if it isn't a call to arms, I don't know what is. The end of the second chorus as sung by Mike Muir sums it up perfectly: "As long as your heart beats, pledge your allegiance!" and I'm sure we agree with that. It's also a pretty kick ass hard rock number from one of their best albums too - "How Will I Laugh Tomorrow When I Can't Even Smile Today".

Saturday 23rd June - Presents and Spiders from Mars

I had a busy sort of day out shopping, as I had two birthday presents to get and also a birthday card too, as it was my brother's girlfriend's birthday tomorrow, and my niece's birthday next Saturday. I'd already got a nice card for my niece sorted out, but wanted to get all the presents and stuff sorted today so I knew that it was done. Besides which I knew that I needed to get my hair chopped so it was the perfect excuse to kill the proverbial two birds with one stone and all that.

So after getting things cleaned in the house, showered and changed, it was off into the city with the rain possibly attempting to come down. That said, it wasn't going to stop me anyway and as I waited for the hairdressers to open, I went to Mcr Coffee Co and had a very nice americano coffee and a bacon sandwich. Their coffee is ace and isn't expensive and the brown bread for their toastie was done spot on, with shed loads of bacon, no skimping on there. That was a very nice way to start the day and before long it was over to The Northern Cutter where their staff did their usual wonderful job of making the hair look shortened and cool.

After that it was down Market Street and towards the Arndale Centre, as the present I wanted to get my niece might have been in Argos. A couple of possibles were there but there was one particular present I wanted and you could only order it from there - and was a bit concerned that I wasn't going to get it in time for the day next Saturday, so decided to forget that. It was a much simpler job in getting my brother's girlfriend's present, and with that done and a very nice card purchased, I walked back to Piccadilly and decided to head out to Toys 'r' Us on Great Ancoats Street in the Central Retail Park.

It turned out to be a very good move. Despite their website claiming that they didn't have any stock of the particular set that I wanted (I'd have gone to Stockport if need be) there were four of them on the shelf. Wasn't a very difficult decision then to get one of them, head to the counter and purchase it - my sort of shopping really. Go in, get what you want, pay for it and then leave. Job's a good un and I headed back via the street towards Piccadilly station to get the bus home from there - it made much more sense to me to be honest.

I then spent some time during the afternoon watching the other David Bowie stuff that I'd recorded from BBC4 last night - the first being a documentary into the story of Ziggy Stadust, expertly narrated by Jarvis Cocker and featuring contribution from some of the Spiders from Mars band themselves as well as the late Mick Ronson's wife, along with contemporaries of the time such as Elton John. It was a fascinating insight into whole creating the whole alter ego had transformed his career from being good to being up there as the most recognisable pop star of his time, and the fallout from it. Certainly the androgynous look back then wasn't accepted by everyone.

There was also a showing of the very last Ziggy Stardust tour gig, which had been filmed at the Hammersmith Odeon in London in July 1973. For me this really epitomised the whole Bowie thing during that era - a crowd that was ready to enjoy themselves and the whole band in full flow - little did they realise the announcement that Bowie would make during the gig of course. Hard to pick a favourite track when the show is so legendary of course, but I'd go for "Changes" as it seemed apt that he knew it'd be a change after the show. It's also another of my favourite Bowie songs, so tune of the day was an easy decision there.

Friday 22nd June - Rain On The Parade

It certainly felt like a dark and dingy sort of day today with plenty of rain positively bucketing it down everywhere. I had thankfully plenty to work to do which I could do in the office and didn't necessarily have to leave the building for - was quite glad of that especially as you could see the intensity of the rain and how much there was. Even as a rain-hardened Mancunian, today wasn't the best day to be outside and I made my trips between buildings when out on jobs pretty quick, not least when I had to patch in a cable in one of our buildings which is in the basement network cabinet. Oh, joy!

As I headed for home it was still tipping it down and I was glad to take cover under the bus shelter. I was thinking about one of my best friends who was heading to see Bruce Springsteen at the Etihad Stadium tonight, and with a couple of friends from Flickr also going, I was just hoping that the rain would stop so that The Boss could deliver another excellent show for them all. I've seen City there when it's been foul weather and because the area around the ground is very exposed and open to the elements, it's not perhaps the prettiest place to be when it's foul.

I got home and made something to eat, and later on I could see the faintest bright cloud appear and at around 7pm the rain had indeed stopped a fair bit, just in time for The Boss to take to the stage. It was good news for them and I took advantage to do the food shopping a little later, and timed it so I got to see most of the Germany v Greece Euro 2012 quarter final. Let's be honest: Germany could have won by more than the 4-2 scoreline and it was testament to Greece's determination that they'd briefly pulled it level at 1-1 before the Germans turned it up another gear and seemed to be scoring at will.

Before that though, and with the rain outside still pretty bad, I'd had food and watched Cars 2 on Blu-ray, which arrived yesterday. It was part of an order of three Blu-ray discs I'd ordered from Tesco, as I had a voucher for a shedload of extra Clubcard points if I spent £25 at their Entertainment website - the other two I ordered were Control and The King's Speech. I'd never gone to see Cars 2 at the cinema, primarily because of some negative reviews, but I do like Pixar's animated films and the price was right, so thought "well why not?".

I was glad I did really. Despite the fact that the whole spy sub-plot does put people off a fair bit, it did actually all make sense in the end as it tied in nicely with the whole reason for the "World Grand Prix" series that was organised. It was good casting to have Michael Caine do the voice of the Finn McMissile spy car, as he lent his tones perfectly, and of course a little guest appearance from Lewis Hamilton was very well spotted by me. It was good family fun, maybe a little predictable in parts but still decent enough - although I do still prefer the first one it has to be said.

Tune of the day in the meantime is David Bowie's "Oh You Pretty Things" which featured on a BBC4 programme shown tonight (I recorded it and watched it later after the football) which was from the Old Grey Whistle Test. It was one of many Bowie classics shown in a hour's worth of songs, mostly taken from BBC appearances with the odd song by artists whom Bowie inspired (Lulu's version of The Man Who Sold The Word, Peter Noone's version of my above tune of the day, etc). All in all, rather ace and shows just how bloody good Bowie still was for his time.

Thursday 21st June - The Longest Day of Rain

It just had to be, didn't it? After all the good weather that we'd had over the last few days with the sun at least making a thinly veiled attempt to come out and be nice, it was back to some form of rainy normality today, with lots of chucking it down, particularly as I was coming back from another building where I'd had to check out the backup server and make sure that it was running as well as the tapes being changed to make sure everything still worked as intended.

It was then a case of heading around various buildings in the afternoon with the rain still trying to come down in buckets, as I needed to patch in a network socket in each of them in preparation for a swipe card system coming in across most of the buildings - this is so that they'll be more secure and will only allow staff in who have their cards with them. It'll be a long overdue and much needed security measure, and it was a case for me of checking each of the sockets in the network cabinet, and then connecting and informing one of our network folks so that they could do their bit from there.

I also too had spent some time putting together one of the HP monitor and base unit stands that we now get for some of the kit. Effectively you take the existing stand off the monitor and mount the new stand correctly, with the monitor clicking into place. You then screw a fitting on to the back of the small base unit which then goes on top of the base at the back, and this then all goes together with a little cage to keep the cables tidy. In effect it's actually pretty good but the instructions are akin to the furniture you'd get from Argos: ie: not very good.

The rain was still coming down in buckets as I got home from work: admittedly it wasn't the best weather ever and to be honest it was not the weather to head out in, so I had plenty planned for the evening which included watching the whole of the Czech Republic v Portugal Euro 2012 qualifier, and with good reason. I think to be honest that Portugal more than deserved their 1-0 win, they were the only team actually looking like they'd score and wanted to get the result within the ninety minutes with a well taken header from Cristiano Ronaldo the difference between the two sides.

More rain fell after the football and I tried out the Internet radio stuff on my Onkyo TX-NR709 AV receiver. It actually works pretty well as the vTuner Internet Radio as a built in application has records of all the local radio stations, and tunes in pretty quickly to them all. I even favourited some of them such as local stations to me as well as Radio 5 Live, and to be honest it makes much more sense than an AM/FM tuner. It'd be nice too if more AV receivers had a DAB radio instead, but you can't win them all and Internet streaming radio is at least the future (well sort of).

Tune of the day in the meantime is the pretty apt "Why Does It Always Rain On Me?" by Travis. I always liked that song of theirs, it had a really wistful and thoughful feel to it whilst still having some lovely indie guitar type moments as well, even though it was a bit more gentle than some of their stuff (notably the stomping "Tied to the 90s" for example). I suppose too that with the rain heading down all day it'd have been pretty easy to sing the chorus as I looked outside to see.. yes, got it right, more rain.

Wednesday 20th June - Windows on the Mac

Had a bit of a productive day at work today, where I had spent some time working on getting a Mac to bring down a Windows image with SCCM so that if people wanted to dual boot the Mac then they could do. One of our deployment colleagues had noticed a good webpage where you could deploy Windows 7 via SCCM to an iMac, and I took a further look into things to see if it was doable with our current SCCM setup. It made sense for me to have a go because I've got some Mac experience but also as a general test it might prove pretty handy to do so anyway.

The Macbook I used for testing was an older black 13" Macbook model from 2007-2008, which had an Intel chipset. Checking on the Mac Hardware Profiler, this actually had a Marvell Yukon network card built in. This made it considerably easier for me because driver support for that card is built in to the SCCM boot image that we have, and so didn't need to request any changes to that. Later Macbooks and Macbook Pros will probably have different network hardware so it'd be a case of seeing what they had before you start - you can of course check that in the system information on the Mac itself. It also gives the vendor and device IDs so you can of course look them up (big clue: vendor 8086 = Intel)

I then duplicated our main deployment task sequence and used this as a base, and added the steps as detailed in the above web link. I effectively mapped a drive to a folder on our SCCM server, and in that folder created a text file for the necessary diskpart script. In effect this step replaces the "partition disk" step in the task sequence, and the command line that follows that sets the boot sector correctly are absolutely essential, or else it doesn't work. Also Bitlocker isn't really doable either, so another good reason to disable the "partition disk" step so that you're effectively partitioning the drive as you needed to on a Boot Camp basis.

You then in the task sequence have to modify the step which brings down the main build image and tell it which disk partition you need it to go to - for Snow Leopard Macs this is disk 0 partition 3 (Lion is partition 4 because of the Recovery partition that Lion has, note, so you may need to either have two slightly different task sequences or just decide if you're only going to deploy this on Lion Macs or not.) The Windows drivers for Apple Mac are normally contained on the Boot Camp support media that is burned during the Boot Camp process on the Mac. However if you have the original Snow Leopard media (which I did), all the drivers are on the disc too. All I did was extracted them all and created this as a new Apple mac driver package (64 bit only). There was no WMI query I could find at the time, but in effect if manufacturer = Apple in WMI, that could potentially be the filter.

Once the driver package was done, I removed all the task sequence steps for all the other drivers, any other hotkey installers etc as this was not necessary - I just wanted it to be less cluttered. I then created the task sequence media CD, as you can't PXE boot from Mac to the SCCM PXE server, you'd need the boot CD to do the job for you. I then on the Mac ran Boot Camp and went through the steps, partitioning the disk in half and half - I didn't need the drivers as I had them already, and also said "install OS later" instead of booting from the operating system CD - because the SCCM boot CD isn't recognised as an OS installer by Mac. I also ensured the MAC address of the Mac's network card was brought into SCCM as an unknown computer, so it would then use that name accordingly.

On the next boot, I held down the option key (that's ALT for Windows folk) and then selected to boot from the CD. The CD booted happily and located my task sequence and off it went. It did take some time to download and apply the image, but the hard drive formatted correctly and was correctly partitioned and formatted without problems, and when asked to restart, I had to remove the boot CD (or else it'd have booted to there first!) - and was home and dry from there. It did take some time but it was looking pretty good and I have to say I was very pleased with myself.

A while later the task sequence completed, and the familiar Windows 7 login screen appeared, I logged in as me. All the devices were detected correctly by Device Manager, and the task sequence had completed with no errors at all. I was able to run all the usual software on it without any problems whatsoever, and generally the hardware worked pretty well (the age of my Macbook meant that the trackpad didn't have right click enabled, but hey ho) - even the iSight camera was happily detected after I'd installed Skype as an extra test.

So there you go - bringing down an SCCM image to a Mac - it is doable after all. As both a Mac and Windows user, I'd much prefer that the Mac was used just as a Mac and didn't have Windows anywhere near it - but there are some cases when you want the raw power of a Mac (such as the Mac Pro from last week) together with the software that only runs on Windows (Autodesk 3ds Max being one prime example) and want to utilise both in the right way, as you'd see fit of course.

After all of that it was good to wind down for the evening, and The Love In My Heart came over. Whilst the weather was still decent, we headed out to Chorlton Water Park and spent a nice time having a good walk around the lake, as well as spot a beautiful white swan out on the lake. All the serenity was soon disturbed as a dog decided to run after and scare one of the Canadian Geese, only for that to start to run towards the dog before jumping into the water - quite surreal really. It was a lovely walk around though and good to get the fresh air and exercise.

We then had some spaghetti carbonara for tea at mine, and after I'd indulged The Love by letting her watch the soaps which I recorded whilst we were out for our walk, it was out with the Scrabble and on with a decent game all round. The Love did some great moves with the J and the X, including EXPLOIT (also making TE) on double word, making 37 points in all, and that was good to see. I did pull out a move out of the bag though, as I played UNQUOTE (also making AIDE) - with the blank used as an N, and the U on double letter, this meant a total of 103 points including the 50 point bonus for getting rid of all your letters, my second highest move ever.

Tune of the day in tbe meantime is "Something Every Day" by Swing Out Sister, the opening track on their Beautiful Mess album which really does set the tone off perfectly, with some lovely backing from Gina Foster on vocals whilst Corinne sounds as luscious as ever on there. It's dreamy and floaty and just has that relaxed chilled out feel, perfect for the game I reckon. I really did want to go to London to see them next month but it just works out way too expensive, boo!

Tuesday 19th June - One Nil To The En-Ger-Land

After a busy day at work, it was good to head home and get everything sorted out for the evening's big match. First of all though, I'd managed to get an empty box which was the perfect size to put my Sony STR-DB790 AV amplifier in, as I'd sold it on eBay for a decent amount of money and I'd arranged with the buyer to come and collect it from my place, and to be fair, he was spot on, arrived in good time and he was able to take it away and enjoy the sound from it in the near future. Of course, it was a bit sad for me to see it go but I knew that if it was making someone else happy then that was good.

Plenty of the blokes in the family came over in good time for the England match, and I had put some pizzas and garlic bread in the oven, and my uncle had kindly got some tuna melt paninis and some potato wedges as well, so we weren't exactly short of food for the evening, and with all the drinks in, it was good to relax and get on with the game too. I was a little nervous as I knew that a defeat would put England out, although I had predicted that we'd win 1-0 in the predictions league at work, so here was hoping.

England started off a little tentative with not that much in the way of chances, but at the same time every time Ukraine threatened either John Terry or Joleon Lescott were keeping them at bay, with Joe Hart pulling off the saves when they were needed to. Up front Wayne Rooney was back and he wasn't completely sharp, although the attention he got from the Ukranian defence said to me that he was still a threat to them with often three of them marking him. I was okay with 0-0 at half time as a draw was enough for England to get through anyway.

We had some more drinks in and settled in for the second half. Not long after that England took the lead. Steven Gerrard put in another excellent cross, and the Ukraine defence could do nothing but deflect it across goal and at the far post was Wayne Rooney to score one of the easiest goals that he will ever score. No complaints from any of us of course, and there was some debate if the ball was going in anyway, but it clearly wasn't, so fair play to Rooney for making sure. It put us in a great position and more so when Sweden dared to take the lead against France.

The rest of the second half was nervy and Ukraine should have had an equaliser when a shot which Joe Hart could only take the sting out of was cleared by John Terry, but as replays correctly showed, it was behind the line and should have stood. Having said that the Ukraine player who shot was actually offside when the ball was played, so maybe that levelled itself out anyway? And even more so of course after the goal against Germany in the World Cup which wasn't given, so there you go.

As the rest of the game carried on and we all chattered away and cheered the boys on, there was a sense that we would win 1-0 and that would be that. The score came through from the other game that Sweden had gone 2-0 up so it very much looked like the group would be won and that'd mean avoiding Spain in the quarter finals - double bonus time there. England did enough and although we weren't great, it's when you grind out 1-0 wins against the run of play that shows the true sign of winners. Ask Man U over the many years, and Man City this season just gone - it's that sort of never say die attitude.

Tune of the day is perhaps the best England football song ever, and no it's not Three Lions (although that would be my second choice). It's "World in Motion" by England with New Order, because it has that Madchester vibe about it and yet still sounds pretty funky and spot on even now. It also was my theme tune during Italia 1990 and it was the first World Cup where I really got behind England and cried like mad when we lost to Germany in the semi finals. Oh yes, and there's John Barnes' epic rap too which always makes me smile when I hear it. You've got to hold and give, but do it at the right time... yeah Barnesy, whatever!

Monday 18th June - Forza Italia!

It was another good day at the office and I finished off the Mac Pro that I've been working on for the academic. It was the last part of it all today - install the remaining software as needed, fully update Windows 7 64-bit to all the latest service packs and critical updates so that it was über-secure, and on top of that then formatting one of the 2TB hard drives so that it would be a Windows NTFS partition instead of a Mac one. There's two 2TB hard drives in there, so effectively it'd mean that one would be for writing Mac files and swap files etc, and the others for the Windows stuff, so made sense really.

I headed home later on and I was keeping an eye on my eBay auction for my Sony STR-DB790 AV amplifier - I'd be sorry to see it go really as it's served me so well but at the same time I'd rather sell it, find it another happy home and declutter at the same time, so win all round really. Thanks to the eBay App for my Samsung Galaxy Y android phone, I could effectively keep an eye on that during the evening whilst watching the football, which to me seemed like a good idea and a perfect use for the techology to hand.

After having some very nice king prawns in garlic and herb with some lemon rice, it was then time to settle in for the evening and watch the football unfold. As both matches were on BBC and both in high definition, the only difficult decision that I had was which one to spend more time watching. I did have a slightly vested interest in this purely because I had Italy in the sweep at work and so wanted to qualify for the quarter finals to keep alive my chances of winning a nice £80, ooh yes, so I was keeping my beady eyes on that and so when Cassno scored the opener for Italy I did feel a bit better.

As it turned out at half time with Croatia v Spain being 0-0, Italy would be top of the group if it stayed like that. Even though Spain and Croatia's goal difference would be better, it then goes off results between the three teams, and if they all ended up draws, Italy would have two 1-1s and the other two a 1-1 and 0-0, so Italy would then have scored more between the three. There were still plenty of permutations open as the second half was going on, and as such it meant that a goal in any of the games could have changed it - and Croatia went close to scoring a few times which would have been interesting.

Near the end though Spain broke the heart of Croatia with a goal from Jesus Navas after some good work from Cesc Fabregas, but that still meant that if Croatia found an equaliser, they'd be through. Italy did score again approaching stoppage time with a lovely volley from a corner - and who else but the mercurial Mario Balotelli? I was pleased for him of course as it made him the fourth Manchester City player to score during the tournament, so all good there. Italy still pressed for a third because that'd mean that if even Croatia equalised, it wouldn't matter anyway.

As it was, Croatia lost 1-0 and the Italy v Ireland game had finished 2-0 to Italy earlier on (two minutes before) so all the Italian fans were waiting anxiously to hear the news from the other game. They of course were delighted as was I to see them go through. It does make a difference I think when you have money on it somewhere, and in the predictions league at work I think I'm still top with my colleague catching me up. Tune of the day in the meantime is the wonderful "Touched by the Hand of Ciccolina" by Pop Will Eat Itself, the most under-rated football record. Ever. And it's about an Italian politican and ex-adult movie star. Go figure.

Sunday 17th June - Rock and Gorilla

The Love In My Heart and I had a leisurely morning and after breakfast I watched the final part of the Punk Britannia series, recorded from BBC Four the other night. It was intriguing to see the likes of Public Image Ltd, The Fall, The Pop Group, Joy Division, Magazine and many others on there with some bloody great songs as well, and some great interviews with the likes of John Lydon, Howard Devoto, Mark E Smith being his nonchalant best, Vini Reilly, Peter Hook and many more too. It was intriguing against the backdrop of the late 1970s in the UK and how much Margaret Thatcher taking power changed the landscape musically too.

We then headed into the city centre and off to AMC Cinemas (we both get student discount rate there as a staff perk at our workplaces) and so went to see Rock of Ages. I was intrigued by the fact it was based on the musical of the same name and of course it had lots of 1980s rock numbers, and for The Love it had Russell Brand (whom she likes) and Tom Cruise (whom she likes even more) and so it'd be also notable to see how their roles held out.

At first we didn't hold out too much hope as even in the context of a musical it sounded too much like High School Musical or Glee at times, especially during a couple of the opening numbers. Having someone like Julianne Hough in one of the lead roles didn't help - a bit too squeaky clean as a country singer / professional dancer really and not "rock" enough. The same can't be said of Russell Brand and Alec Baldwin who were both excellent and suited being the rock club staff very well indeed - with their comedic humour coming to the fore. Got to love it when Russell plays Donkey Kong and says "No one puts Donkey in the corner!" which we both got, hehe!

The film did get better and we both said at the end that it was better than we expected. I didn't expect Tom Cruise to actually get to sing in his role as Stacie Jaxx, but sing he did. He actually did look the ageing rock star in a good way and that was camped up in some way, especially with the monkey Hey Man, who was classic - the sort of way off humour that appeals to me in a way too. It was well worth seeing even if it got a bit Glee again at the ending by the use of a certain Journey song (but that could also be levelled at the original too of course) but good wholesome fun nonetheless, and certainly having the humour throughout added to it nicely without being too cheesy.

After the cinema, we both felt a little on the peckish side and wanted to have something for an earlyish evening meal, and so we thought we'd try out Gorilla on Whitworth Street West, which is located on the site of the former arts place The Green Room (which I miss terribly - I saw Steve Coogan there in 1992 and it was the first time he ever did Paul Calf!). We'd heard good things about the place and it looked pretty busy when we've walked past, and so thought we'd give it a go. With its stripped back walls and bricks showing, it certainly looked actually warm and homely.

I've got a few positives and a few negatives, so call this a review of sorts if you will. First off, the positives. The food was gorgeous. The Love had the Sunday roast belly pork, and you did get lots of pork and indeed vegetables, well done potatoes and it looked a hearty homely meal. I had the pasta with meatballs as one of the specials, and that was cooked beautifully with some home made meatballs being the star as well as a big piece of crusty garlic bread. All good there, and the coffee I had was also very nice too.

The negatives they do need to sort out - for example I went twice to the bar (once for drinks and once for food) and both times the staff behind the bar were too slow and were too busy chatting to each other to notice people needing to be served, even though one woman (who was one of our former students and was very attentive and lovely when she collected our plates after our meal) seemed to be doing all the running around and actually being professional - put the bar staff to shame.

The biggest negative though is no cask ale - I mean, we're in the centre of Manchester with plenty of real ale fans amongst us, and although they did have bottled beers, they were massively overpriced, and I mean massively. I'd go there again for the food but I'd most probably be looking to have a drink elsewhere afterwards, which is a real shame as the vibe and ambience in there does work, as does the layout and the neatness of it all. I'll watch this space though as I'm sure that I won't have been the first one to have spotted a few teething issues.

After that it was off to Sandbar, where I could have a gorgeously on form pint of Black Cat and with The Love we sat by the window in the relative peace and quiet that the place has on a late Sunday afternoon, and I put some tunes on the juke box including The Jam's "The Bitterest Pill" which I know that The Love likes, as do I (so tune of the day there). It was good just to chatter and to watch the world go by, and certainly for me it was the perfect end to a rather lovely weekend.

Saturday 16th June - Zizzi Top

It was a day that was pretty long but ultimately one that was lovely. First things first though was to head out in the morning, and do some private things I needed to do and get those done before heading into Costa Coffee in Cheadle and having coffee with some toast for a late but well merited breakfast, and that was nice to do. It was really busy too which probably indicates it's the only place in the area to get a decent coffee, and certainly the pace of it was relaxed even if it was busy, so maybe a social sort of thing as well.

I then headed on the bus to Stockport where I'd be spending my HMV gift card that my cousin had very kindly got me for my birthday. What I didn't realise till I asked at the till was that it was loaded with £20 on - very generous of her it has to be said. I did mull over whether to get maybe one or two Blu-ray discs or instead get some CDs, but then I saw two albums I wanted and both of them were limited edition versions, so that sort of sealed the deal for me. I got Amy Macdonald's new album "Life in a Beautiful Light" which had the extra acoustic and singalong tracks on, and Tenacious D's "Rize of the Fenix" which had a bonus DVD as well as two extra tracks on the CD itself.

In fact when I got served at the counter, the woman who served me said that it reminded her to buy a copy of the Tenacious D album herself, and that Jack Black had apparently gone into the Apple Store in Manchester where her boyfriend works and needed his Macbook looking at before the show. Still, it was good to see that some people did have music taste, and so felt pretty good as I headed home and listened to both albums during the course of the afternoon and indeed as I spent a fair bit of time cleaning the house up to make it all look good.

Tenacious D went on first and plenty of it I remembered from the live show, and it was all good. The title track sets the scene in almos rock-opera style with its various parts, and the little comedy skits are up to the usual D standards. However my current favourite track is the less than two minutes but succinct and to the point "Rock Is Dead" which is just great fun - so tune of the day that one I reckon. I also listened to the Amy Macdonald album and certainly there's more maturity in the songwriting, even if at times it can sound a little on the too safe side. I'll have to give it a few more listens and see how it grows on me.

Later on I headed back out to the large Tesco as I wanted to get all the food in for Tuesday night's England game as I knew a fair few of my relations would be back at mine. Heading to the large one would also mean that I could get it all in one go, and get some beer and other stuff too that my little one doesn't have. I also spotted The Muppets on blu-ray, and as I'd taken my Clubcard vouchers which effectively meant I'd get £5.50 off the cost of it, I thought "sod it, may as well" and so purchased that as well. I had a quick flick through of it before The Love In My Heart came over, but definitely wanted to watch it in full at some time, as the quality looked spot on.

The Love came over and we got showered and changed before heading out for the evening. I'd also got a nice gift card for Zizzi for my birthday and felt that it would be nice to use that and have a meal together. I'd booked the one in the Triangle because it seemed to look nice inside and also because it meant we could walk down from the city centre and have a good time. It was bucketing it down with rain though so we timed our approach to the bus into the city well to not get too wet and then walked through the Arndale Centre to the Triangle so avoiding the wet weather as much as we could.

We've not eaten in Zizzi for ages, primarily because of an experience we had in Leamington Spa once where the staff were being really arsey about not giving us an offer of a fixed price menu that they had on display outside and being really unhelpful during the time. Thankfully, the staff at Manchester Triangle proved that the above experience was thankfully a one-off, and they were friendly, helpful, chatty at the right time without being too obtrusive, and also knew the menu well and were able to, for example, offer a dessert recommendation to me (more on that a little later).

Anyway, we perused the menu and for the starter, The Love went for the olives and I went for the breads, which were all lovely and just right with some balsamic vinegar. The Love's olives looked good for her but you did have to take the centre stones out yourself, which is why there was a little side dish with that starter to put them in. We did share the bread a bit anyway and that was nice, so a good start there. The mains came out too and we weren't disappointed, my penne della casa was full of chicken and pancetta in a creamy mushroom sauce that wasn't sickly but rustic and spot on, and The Love went for the Salsiccia pizza which is part normal pizza with a little calzone pocket - the spicy sausage on the pizza part was awesome but gave you a kick, but all good.

Another difficult decision for me was to pick the dessert as they all looked pretty good. In the end I went for the Torta Amaretti and our waiter informed me it was an excellent choice and his own favourite, and if I wasn't sure he'd have recommended that one for me. He was to be proven right: gorgeous amaretto and mascaropne cheesecake which had a nice almond kick as it melted in the mouth, with some berry compote on the side to give it a tarty kick too - and that really did help nicely. Needless to say I enjoyed that lot and the waiter told me afterwards that if there's any left that goes close to the use by date he ends up taking it home and having it - fair dos I guess!

We then headed towards Piccadilly and had a well earned drink in Kro, watching the world go by. Almost all the cask ales were sold out apart from one, which did have a nice ginger taste to it and certainly felt rather nice in the mouth as we chatted away. It was good then to head home and watch The Million Pound Drop on Channel 4 Plus 1, see that we hadn't won the lottery (again!) before then resting and having a good night's sleep. It was a lovely day all round really and I know it proved how much I adore The Love.

Friday 15th June - En-ger-land!

It was another good day with the Mac Pro in the office that I'd been working with yesterday. In fact, Windows 7 had finished installing overnight, and so it was on with the long process of installing all the specialist software on it. We checked task manager out and were pretty amazed by the raw power on offer. The Mac Pro has 2 6-core Intel Xeons, and in Windows 7 these are also hyperthreaded, so in effect Windows sees it as a mere twenty four processors at once, yes, twenty four! I really wanted to do some high resolution video encoding and see how fast that it would do it.

That said, once I installed Adobe Creative Suite 5.5 Master Collection I tried the native 64-bit version of Photoshop and we were talking under one second for program launch. Yes, really. The raw speed combined with the solid state hard disk really did show here, and the Windows Experience index was pretty much off the scale. I also installed Microsoft Office 2010, zBrush, Rhinoceros 4 and Nero 11 as well as all the necessary web browser plugins etc, and it was pretty quick too it has to be said. We tried some Apple trailers for QuickTime and playing them in 1080p was just the stuff of awesomeness.

After work I headed for a quick drink in Sandbar with one of my colleagues from our administration team downstairs who was moving to a different department, and he seemed pretty pleased that he'd got the new job. It was good too because the Black Cat was back on cask and at the right price too, so I happily enjoyed a nice pint of that before heading back home and getting the house sorted for the evening's entertainment, the England game against Sweden.

Gradually the relatives came over and the kick off had been delayed by fifteen minutes due to the late running of the Ukraine v France game - which had a massive shower and storm just after kick off and so they had to go off for almost an hour as the pitch was sorted out, and eventually France won the game 2-0. I put some pizzas in the oven and we discussed how the game would go, not knowing what would happen. I just wanted a nice safe boring 1-0 win and for us to get the three points really, I wasn't that fussed!

We tucked in to food and we kept a close eye on the game, with England playing pretty well and putting some crosses in. One from Steven Gerrard found the head of Andy Carroll and he met it with aplomb for 1-0, very well taken and I'm sure a massive confidence booster. England had a couple of good chances to go for the second goal but it was still pretty tight and as I poured the beer and got out the crisps and chocs for everyone (bar me for the chocs) we hoped the second half would be as good for England.

However, ten minutes in and it all had gone pretty pear shaped. England didn't clear a free kick and the ball went to Olof Mellberg whose shot was saved by Joe Hart and would have gone wide had it not hit Glen Johnson who tried hard to keep the ball out but it went in off him, and so 1-1. From a free kick given away stupidly by James Milner a few minutes later on, the ball was crossed in and Mellberg scored (definitely his this time) and so England were 2-1 down and naturally we were feeling a tad on the deflated side.

Credit though where it's due to the England manager Roy Hodgson - he didn't like what he saw and changed it, taking Milner off and putting on Theo Walcott. Straight away he looked lively, and from one corner, the ball came to him and he whacked it home from twenty five yards as the ball dipped and curved as it headed towards goal. And better was to come too - as Walcott broke forward, put in a good cross and Danny Welbeck put an excellent back flick on the ball to sneak it past the Swedish keeper for 3-2 and cue delirium in the house as everyone went pretty mental to say the least.

It was a good evening and after the game I put on some clips of THAT Sergio Agüero goal on Youtube, including the infamous Argentinian commentary which hadn't been seen or heard by a couple of the family - and they straight away appreciated it when the commentator started singing "Na na na na, na na na na, heyyyyyyyyy, Kun Agüero". Awesomeness. So Stream's "Na Na Hey Hey" is tune of the day - much prefer that over the Bananarama version!

Thursday 14th June - Double The Football

I had a productive day at work today, mainly having lots of fun with a brand new Mac Pro that one of our academics had for some specialist 3D rendering. They wanted the raw processing power of the Mac Pro complete with Xeon multi-core processors, along with the fact that they could dual boot to Mac or Windows 7 and have all their necessary software running on the Windows side of it in a rather quick rendering mode to say the least. What I wanted to do first is concentrate on the Mac side of it first and set off from scratch with the Mac.

I went through the standard stuff for Lion when the Mac booted, and then my colleague had some instructions how we created our standard Mac image from scratch, so I pretty much followed all of that - making a few tweaks because it was a staff and not student Mac, but effectively doing what we needed to do there, so making life a lot easier. It also meant that once we'd done all the standard software that comes with every Mac that we image, I could effectively create an image for the Mac Pro so if we ever got another one, we'd have at least a good starting point.

To finish things off with it for today, I set about using Boot Camp on the Mac Pro, which first of all created a CD which would be full of the correct drivers needed for a Windows 7 install on the Mac Pro, and then asked me to insert the Windows 7 disc. As it's such a powerful machine then for me at least it made perfect sense to whack the 64-bit version straight on there, as you'd expect. I left that running and then headed home as I wanted to see the Italy v Croatia match.

In fact that game was half decent with Italy taking the lead in the first half with a good free kick from Andrea Pirlo, with Mario Balotelli of Man City seemingly doing a lot better than last time. However, as the second half progressed Italy weren't doing that much and when Balotelli got taken off it was inevitable that as Italy tried to press forward, Croatia grew in confidence and it was no surprose when they equalised mid way through the second half, with a tense end to the match for both teams as effectively a defeat for Italy would be far more damaging and so they didn't want to lose.

After that it was off to the local Tesco to do some food shopping and indeed to get some food and stuff in for tomorrow, as the England game would of course be on BBC1 HD tomorrow and so I've asked some of my relatives over to watch the game with me. I got some frozen pizzas, some chocolate and crisps etc and I'm sure that would do pretty nicely for us. I also got some food shopping for during the week at work and also for when The Love In My Heart would come over too, and so felt rather good that I got back in perfect time to see Spain inspired by Manchester City's David Silva stuff the Republic of Ireland 4-0, and it could in truth have been many more as well.

Tune of the day is "The Metal" by Tenacious D, which when listening to it reminded me of seeing them live the other night at Manchester Apollo. I have also rocked out on this track on Guitar Hero III on the Wii, and although it might seem an odd choice to some, there's plenty of rocking guitars on there which made for a good challenge when playing that instrument (the likes of vocals and drums were just figments of gaming imagination back then) so for me that shows the mighty D at their best. And remember: try to kill the metal, and you'll be stricken down to the ground...

Wednesday 13th June - Ubuntu and Dead Pony Club

I had dabbled in Ubuntu over the last day or so as I wanted to help one of my colleagues at another site out who was looking at a way of getting a Linux-based operating system to effectively dual boot with Windows 7, but also be pretty user-friendly as well as being easy to deploy using SCCM. I had noticed previously when I've tried Ubuntu that you can actually dual boot easily and use their Windows based installer Wubi to effectively create a disk image on your hard disk to which Ubuntu runs off. Whilst of course not being as fast as using a proper separate partition, on powerful machines it should still be plenty good enough for what it needs to be used for.

So with that in mind I noted that with the latest Ubuntu distribution 12.04 that if you wanted to install Ubuntu in the same way, you don't use the version of the Wubi install that comes on the disc, but instead use the standalone Wubi installer but together with the ISO image of the Ubuntu CD. A bit more digging and I found a page with all the startup switches for Wubi, and some of them proved to be interesting, only for the fact that we could add a default username and password, how much of the hard disk we want to use as a disk image partition, and on top of that, if you wanted it to be unattended. Wooo!!

In fact when testing out an install via the command line calling all of those switches, it worked, and then exited. This is because when you run Wubi normally it asks you to restart but the default is no. Also, my colleague found out later on that you couldn't run Wubi with all its commands from the distribution point on the SCCM server, so together with one of our deployment solutions team it was found that if you copied with Wubi executable and ISO image to the local machine, and then ran Wubi with all the switches, and finally forced a restart, it made it pretty seamless and worthwhile, installing Ubuntu and everything. Nice.

I felt pretty good to have assisted in some way and pointing my colleague in the direction of how Wubi works was the very least I could do - and when you have a nice text saying that it was successful and thanking me for my assistance, that really did make my day, awww. It made me feel like I knew what I was doing and that I am at least approachable for others which has to be a positive thing. It also meant that I could start to unbox the Mac Pro that I was looking at to set up for a colleague too.

After work I headed towards the city centre and met up with one of my and The Love In My Heart's friends in Rain Bar as we waited for The Love to join us after she finished work. It was nice to chill out in Rain and have a good chat about the trip to Nice and Monaco we had, and how much we could tell about the hospitality - and we knew our friend would love that if he ever decided to go. The Love looked a little stressed when she arrived but a glass of pinot grigio got her in the right frame of mind. She had on her gold dress that she wore in Monaco and looked gorgeous with it too.

We then headed to Lloyd Street and to The Olive Press for the evening meal that we'd booked. I'm a member of their dining club which effectively means that we get 40% offline tonight off the food side of the bill, so that's good. The food is usually excellent in there and tonight was no exception whatsoever, with the mushroom starter I had being gorgeous. The Love and my friend's pate looked good too and that might have also tempted me, I admit.

The main courses were all lovely - The Love had carbonara, our friend had the pizza diavolo complete with plenty of hot chillis and stuff like that, and I had the seafood risotto, with salmon, prawns and scallops in there, which all tasted divine, and it was also good to have plenty of chatter during the evening too. I even had some gorgeous ice cream for dessert and we all had a coffee to complete the meal in a nice way, and between the three of us with the food discount it didn't work out too badly either - and was very good value for the money of course. I might just have to go there again soonish!

We then went round the corner and to the Brew Dog bar, which had just opened last month. I don't mind the Brew Dog beers and so ended up trying out the Dead Pony Club beer, which was gorgeous, so much so that we stayed in there and had another one afterwards. The bar even had a Judge Dredd pinball machine which of course I had to have a go of, and on top of that they were playing plenty of metal and Industrial stuff, including Nine Inch Nails' "Mr Self Destruct", a tune I adore, so tune of the day easily there. It was a nice laid back vibe in there and I really enjoyed it.

The time went by far too quickly though and before we knew it, it was time to head back to The Love's place and to say goodbye to our friend and his partner, whom had joined us in the bar later on. It was a lovely evening with good food and good company, and I think that always helps to have a great time together. I just might have to go back to the Brew Dog bar sometime to try some more of their ales, and the burgers were apparently designed by the last year's winner of Masterchef Tim Anderson, so that might prove to be intriguing!!

Tuesday 12th June - A Bit More Calm

After the excitement of the England game yesterday, it was back to a more normal and relaxed sort of day today. Not least because I had some time to check over Corel PDF Fusion and successfully package it for SCCM type distribution. Turns out we have a site licence for it and as it allows you to create PDF files, it might prove to be a good alternative to Acrobat Pro (which isn't cheap if you want to licence it of coruse). For the likes of me, being able to successfully deploy an application also shows how well written it might be if the deployment is pretty simple (or not).

Anyway, it turned out that the latest update available on Corel's site is actually the full install, and not a service pack or anything, so that at least meant I could roll out the latest one. All good so far. It turns out that you can extract the main downloaded executable, and when you do, it has two installers contained within - one for 32-bit and one for 64-bit. These are actually InstallShield scripted MSI installers, which in effect aren't too bad to get packaged up but need a bit of care and consideration to get right. You can at least pass MSI properties this way which means that if you wanted to, say, inject a serial number then it's doable.

So what I did was let the installer get to the point of extracting the MSI and running its install process. Now, here's the thing. As the MSI is extracted you can of course look at this with Orca and see what's going on under the hood in the custom properties. There seemed to be a nice option where you could decide if you wanted to have PDF and XPS files associated with the application (which I didn't want to do to keep the associations for PDF with Adobe Reader as all our PCs have it) but also strangely two different MSI properties for the serial number, one of which the usual ISX_SERIALNUM and the other being SERIALNUMBER. And guess what? Only one of them actually works!

Once I'd sussed that out it was plain sailing from that point - it was then a case of passing the commands to the setup executable so that it knows to install the application silently, using the MSI paramater /qn. In addition as it's an InstallShield script, using /v followed by the MSI paramater or property without spaces normally does the job pretty well, so that effectively meant a silent install and passing the serial number etc was doable. I tested it on two 32-bit Windows 7 machines and it effectively worked perfectly - all was very well with the world there then. I need a colleague to test it on 64-bit which will work and then that's another one under the belt.

Back at home, it was nice to spend a relaxing evening with The Love In My Heart, and after making us some rather nice hunter's chicken with baby new potatoes and some vegetables, it was good to take it relatively easy. I even indulged The Love with an episode of Don't Tell The Bride on BBC Three as she had complained that there was nothing for her on the telly since Euro 2012 started. Not my fault, but you know, it only seemed somewhat fair somehow that she was able to have a bit of a girlie indulgence, and I just held her close to me and that was still lovely.

We had a game of Scrabble after that with me putting on Swing Out Sister's "Get In Touch With Yourself" album which was rather good to listen to again. I still adore "Incomplete With You" on that album, it just flows along beautifully and Corinne's voice is on top form as well. And I guess it sums up how my life would be without The Love - as Corrine sings "My life is incomplete without you" and I so have to agree with that - tune of the day easily. And I even pulled off a couple of decent Scrabble moves including RAZORS with the Z on triple letter, so happy days.

Monday 11th June - Man City 1, Man City 1

Work seemed to go by pretty slowly today, although I was spending some time experimenting with Ubuntu and its Wubi windows-based installer. For the latest 12.04 version of Ubuntu, it seems that the installer executable on the CD is merely to bootstrap into it so that you can do the Ubuntu install - fine if you want to do that thing. However, the separate download of wubi will actually let you, along with an ISO image of Ubuntu, install the OS using a large hard disk file as its partition. This has several advantages in that it's easy to remove if you don't want it, and it doesn't have to faff around with the partition tables too much either.

Anyway, the executable looked like you could pass the paramaters to it - but were they easily documented and findable? No. In the end I realised that the setup exe was a compiled Python program, and so I knew that it was -- for the switches, and found the repository online of wubi and its source code, which gave me the necessary paramaters to pass to the setup. Basically, --username and --password were pretty obvious to set up a default user ID etc, --disk (size in megabytes) for the size of the virtual disk you want to create, --32bit to force a 32bit install, and lastly --noninteractive to do what it says on the tin.

I did all that and the setup did its thing, and I knew it had completed as if you run the setup normally it asks you to reboot now or later. I rebooted, and blam! Ubuntu 12 installed and it all worked pretty well too - and so was then as a final test able to remove it easily in Windows as well. Hurrah to that! Might prove useful for the future if anyone wants to dabble with it without having to reformat and repartition their Windows drive - and it should in theory work pretty nicely if I was to use the same command line in SCCM. We shall see.

After work it was off with a couple of colleagues to the pub to watch the England v France game at 5pm. We were going to go to The Footage, but that was already choc full with no room to move (and no food either) and so it was round the corner to The Pub, where we got a seat with a decent sized telly right in front of us in good view, and they did cheaper beer (including Hobgoblin on cask, YES!) and food to so we could order something at half time if we liked. Of course because the game was on ITV it meant pesky adverts and not a great build up, but hey ho, at least we were able to watch it.

The first half started and England looked a little tentative but when they got forward they had their chances. James Milner rounded the keeper only to shoot wide from an excellent through ball, and the French did have a couple of shots on goal which were well covered and seen by the defence. I had a feeling that we needed to break through and get a goal, and so when we got a free kick I said to my colleague "I fancy Lescott to get on the end of this" - and my, did he ever! Great header from the Manchester City defender and obviously that mad me pretty pleased. 1-0 to England then.

However, I did worry that the English defence were standing off France a little too much for my liking, and so it proved. France headed forward and the defenders were just stood back, didn't close down and that allowed Manchester City's Samir Nasri to belt a low shot past his team mate and England goalie Joe Hart for 1-1. It was deserved to be honest and I think England were looking for the half time whistle as the game started to turn France's way somewhat.

The game carried on in the second half and although England did carve out the odd half chance we didn't look like adding a second, despite the hard work from Danny Welbeck on his own up front. At the other end Joe Hart saved well from Frank Ribery and he kept things tight at the back, but the way some of the defenders sat back wasn't pleasing to see. Still a 1-1 result was good for England and I'd have taken that before, and add to that a nice cheap eat with two meals for £7 with me having the lemon chicken and all wasn't that bad really.

Tune of the day as I heard it on the terraces was Baddiel Skinner and the Lightining Seeds' classic anthem that is "Three Lions". It somehow had the fans singing along when England scored and went 1-0 up only for it all to be frittered away pretty quickly, but nonetheless it at least showed that England fans were in good voice and getting behind the lads. I just hope we can sing that more often as the tournament progresses, but we will see won't we. I did get this result and the Ukraine 2-1 Sweden result right in the predictions league at work, so yaay!

Sunday 10th June - Why Always The D?

It was a relaxing morning at The Love In My Heart's place, and she made a really nice sausage toastie for breakfast with some coffee as we both just took it easy during the morning and watched Country Tracks on BBC1 to relax a fair bit. Neither of us had won the lottery (shame!) as that would have been a pretty good thing overall, but never mind. I left around 12.45pm and headed via the city centre for home, as I was going to watch some of the football later and had a gig to go to in the evening as well with my friend, so all set for a good day.

I spent a bit of time during the afternoon sorting out some stuff around the house and my friend texted me to say he was a little behind schedule but was on the way, so when he arrived I made us both a brew and rang Pizza Hut for a delivery of pizza for us for the footy - he had a margherita with mushrooms and I went for the Texan BBQ one, which I've had before and it's rather gorgeous all round. It worked out pretty well as we'd done a bit of rocking on Rock Band 3, and the pizza arrived pretty quickly and in time for the football kick off between Spain and Italy, so all well there.

Of course with us both being Man City diehards we wanted Mario Balotelli and David Silva to do well - but Mario had a chance when he broke from the right which he should have done much better with and ended up being replaced by Di Natale, who then went and scored a gorgeous finish a few minutes later after an excellent through ball from Andrea Pirlo. A few minutes later and David Silva's final touch was the through ball for Cesc Fabregas to score the equaliser, and that's how it stayed till full time. It was an intriguing match though and to be fair I thought Italy were the better side, they at least went for it and weren't ultra-cautious like the Spanish were - especially at the start of the match.

With that done we headed off a few miles down the road towards the O2 Apollo, and managed to get a good spot in the car park for my friend, and soon were heading along the queues towards the entrance. It was a 7pm doors with possibly a 10.30pm finish, depending on the licence that they had, and so by around 7.30pm the Apollo was pretty full, it has to be said - made a nice change that. The crowd were clearly here for Tenacious D too because they all had the t-shirts on and looked like a proper rock audience, the sort of people I know who like decent stuff - that's why they were here and not at the Etihad after all.

The support band were The Bots, and they were really good actually. They were two brothers: one on drums and the other doing electric guitar with occasional synth duties and vocals, and he bounded round the stage often with a hat on - but they were really rocking the place. The drummer was only 14, but my could he drum, and he put out some good beats and rhythm for the guitarist to belt out some screaming lead chords and vocals too. My highlight was probably "Northern Lights" which had that slightly punky feel and really had a nice dirty guitar sound, sort of like early Rage Against The Machine - no bad thing at all. Might have to check their most recent album out.

That got the crowd warmed up nicely before just after 9pm on came Tenacious D, and for the next hour and three quarters had the Apollo singing along to most of their songs whilst Jack Black (aka Jables) and Kyle Gass (Kage) did their thing with the acoustic guitar and vocals. They have a great lead guitarist and bass player on the albums and live shows, and the drummer Brooks Wackerman has played with Bad Religion, Infectious Grooves and Suicidal Tendencies - that's a pretty good CV, and he rocked.

The opener was the title track to their new album "Rize of the Fenix" and the back of the set had the wings of a phoenix coming up first, then the head and body, which were basically a phallic symbol as is The D's sort of thing that they do. Plenty of tracks off the new album were played, which rocked pretty hard, including "Señorita", "Deth Starr" (complete with alien in disguise zapped by a kid's pretend laser gun which Jack Black had with him at the side of the stage) and "Roadie" as a dedication to the roadies that kept the band on the road and were always helpful to the band.

We also got plenty from their previous two albums too including "Beelzeboss" and "Kickapoo" from the Pick of Destiny soundtrack, the former having the guitarist do the Dave Grohl role in the film with suitable aplomb, and it was great to sing along to that one as well. We also got "Dude (I Totally Miss You)" from there too. However, I'd say that it was their tracks from their eponymous debut album that got the biggest cheers of the evening, with the likes of "Friendship", "Kielbasa" and a lengthy "Double Team" as the last track of the main set that went down massively well with the audience, and it really did feel like they were rocking!

The encore was just Jables and Kage doing some acoustic numbers including "Baby" and best of all was saved till the end, a lovely melodic acoustic version of "F**k Her Gently" with everyone singing along, including lots of couples stood near my friend and I with both male and female belting the words out in equal measure. It made for a great end as the whole of the Apollo sang with them in unison, and that for me was a classic moment. Tune of the day it simply has to be - and it meant I was humming the song once I got home before watching the Canadian Grand Prix highlights on BBC One HD. What a gig it was!

Saturday 9th June - Wet and Cold(play)

It was nice to get things done during the day, and so I headed first to the large Tesco near me and did all the food shopping first thing. It made a lot of sense as I was able to get around without any problems whatsoever, and blitz all the shopping in pretty quick time all round. I got what I needed and the staff even very nicely recycled one of my bags for life as it had a big tear in it, and certainly not suitable for any further shopping. I managed to do all that and get home before yet again it started to hammer it down with yet more incessant rain. Dear me, what the hell is going on with the weather at the moment?

Later in the morning I headed over to Mum's for a coffee and also armed with plenty of pictures that I'd had processed by the fab people at DS Colour Labs in Didsbury. I promised Mum she could have a pic of The Love In My Heart and I from our recent holiday, and I'd done a fair few in all (over 50) from the holiday, with some duplicates, so that Mum and The Love could have some if they so wished. It was nice to chat to Mum and to be able to have a coffee, show her the pictures and have a chat for around an hour and a half or so.

I headed back via the local Blockbuster as I wanted to see what Blu-ray discs they had cheap. They did have plenty of used discs but when I checked on further inspection, they were all ex-rental copies and were clearly shown as "rental only" - not exactly what I was after really. I know that there's also That's Entertainment in the centre of the city which sell proper second user discs cheap, so I might have to check there at some point. In any case I got back and down came the rain again - so not exactly too pleased with the weather really.

I packed an overnight bag and later on in the afternoon it was off to the city centre where The Love was going to pick me up and take me to hers, and we managed to avoid the mass of traffic heading to the Etihad Stadium to see Coldplay. Of course, we did spot that plenty of people were queueing up, and The Love's sister and niece were heading there later to see the gig, so each to their own I guess. Coldplay just aren't my thing I'm afraid, they just strike me as pretty dull and pretty boring..

The Love and I had coffee with her sister and niece before they headed over, and we'd be able to hear the sound from The Love's place, so we could have the window open and listen from distance, but it'd probably be audible I reckon. We had tea and it was a very nice chicken dish with mushrooms in a creamy sauce, together with potatoes and carrots, and some garlic bread on the side, and did the job rather nicely. I'd seen the Netherlands lose to Denmark and we had the other match in the background whilst listening to the support acts - whom were both poor to say the least.

So much so that we needed a worthwhile music escape, and so The Love put on the Paul Weller "Headlines and Hang-ups" video. It's only ever been available on VHS, but it's a fascinating mid 1990s insight into the man and how his thinking was back then - as well as how much his late father was an influence on him. He was a proper Cockney geezer and no messing with him either I reckoned. It went through Paul's career so far, from The Jam (ace) to The Style Council (not so good whatsoever, although The Love begs to differ) and to the start of his solo career (back to ace). It was great seeing him acoustically do "Wild Wood" so that's tune of the day as I've always liked that song anyway.

The relatives got back from Coldplay, together with a couple of friends of theirs whom they'd met after the gig, and by all accounts they'd had a good time. They had been given wristbands which would glow in the dark during various songs, and we'd seen and heard the fireworks going off during the main set, so I guess in terms of a show it was good if you were there. But I clocked it at one hour twenty five minutes, and considering that where The Love's niece and sister were that it was £65 plus booking fee for the ticket, I don't personally consider that to be good value. Still, one man's meat etc... I guess.

Friday 8th June - The Euro 2012 Championships Begin

It was a completely lousy day weather wise, with incessant rain for pretty much most of the day. I was glad I was inside for most of the day and had pretty much got to the bottom of configuring Firefox version 13 for enterprise use, with lots of nice little preference tweaks that make life a little bit easier. For example: if you've got a shed load of programs all with possible Firefox extensions, do you really want every user to be asked to install them? Of course you don't! This is where a careful use of one preference or two makes all the difference, as the extensions will automatically be enabled without user interaction, which of course is pretty much what you want.

I also spent some time later in the day sorting out a few large format printer issues as well as also work on a laptop that needed a re-image with a nice clean Windows 7 laptop install from our image we have, and that took it pretty well and did the business very nicely indeed, so was rather pleased that it managed it successfully and without issues. It's great when things work, I reckon. It did at least mean that with everything going on the day went by quite quickly, and I even had a spot of lunch in Sandbar. I was tempted by the Black Cat but to be honest I felt I'd save the beer drinking for the weekend, so it was a nice coffee to go with the lunch instead (and becuase they only charge you £1.20 for it, a relative bargain in my view.)

I got home and thought for a split second about doing the food shopping, but when I saw how bobbins the weather was, I decided completely against it and so instead headed straight home, where the opening game of Euro 2012 was about to start, so stayed in and watched Poland v Greece on BBC1 HD. Playing the sound through my Onkyo TX-NR709 receiver, the Humax Freeview HD box recognised that the BBC was transmitting in Dolby Digital 5.1 and output it as such, so it was nice hearing the crowds in surround as the game unfolded.

Two sendings off changed the game either side of half time - the Greek sending off was a bit unlucky as it was two yellow card offences, neither of which might have merited a yellow either. The Polish sending off though was more clear cut - Wojciech Szesczny, the Arsenal goalkeeper, had clearly brought down one of the Greek team and it was a definite pen and red card. The substitution was made before the penalty and on came the Polish number two, who saved it. That was pretty amazing but Poland will be kicking themselves for slacking off in the second half and allowing Greece back into it for in the end a 1-1 draw and about the right result.

Whilst the BBC's coverage was exemplary, ITV showed yet again why they should never be given any TV rights to any major tournament. Their panel, Patrick Vieira apart, looked tired and dated with Roy Keane pretty disinterested and miserable, and as for the commentary - Jim Beglin. Why? He is the most boring, dull and miserable pundit there is who always seems to state the obvious. At one point he proclaimed "Give it to Arshavin" in a style similar to the "Give it to bloody Gordon!" speech in the football film There's Only One Jimmy Grimble. LIke, as if we didn't know that was the plan of the game at the time. Sometimes, less is more, you know?

And on another level - ITV haven't clearly mastered the fact that a HD broadcast means 5.1 surround sound. Oh no, Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo at best for them. It's not hard to transmit in surround correctly - if Sky and the BBC can do it properly, then why the hell can't ITV? It's clear that their coverage was second rate and not least with Adrian Chiles presenting - again a classic case of "why?" here. Say what you want about Gary Lineker on the BBC, but at least he's been there and done that in terms of football, and represented England with pride intact at major tournaments, so he knows what he's talking about as a presenter (and has to put up with Alan Hansen at that.)

Mind you, the Russians far outweighed my expectations and how they were only 2-0 up against the Czech Republic at half time was beyond me. Apart from the two goals they scored, they did have a hatful of chances to bang some more in, and even when it went to 2-1 early in the second half, the Russians didn't panic and were soon going through the Czech defence like a hot knife through butter and two further goals gave the 4-1 scoreline about the right look based on how they played. Alan Dzagoev is already the tournament's leading scorer with two goals in that game and he looked pretty lethal it has to be said.

In the meantime, tune of the day is actually a reminder of how you write a proper football song for a tournament: "Three Lions" by Baddiel, Skinner and The Lightning Seeds. It had the mood right: indie pop goodness, two blokes who'd made Friday night their own with Fantasy Football League and their endless ridiculing of Jason Lee, and it all seemed to work. Not least the video too where they got some of the England squad to recreate classic moments from yesteryear, such as Bobby Moore's well timed tackle on Pele, Lineker's goal against Germany and Bobby Charlton belting it in the back of the net in the 1966 semis. Ah, those were the days...

Thursday 7th June - Another Manic Day

It was another busy day and with me being the first port of call to handle the support calls that came in for our campus, it was definitely a case of thinking on the feet for most of it. It worked out pretty well though as a lot of the calls I could handle remotely as and when needed, and it also gave me the chance to complete some work that needed doing, such as sorting out one of our network cabs. Across the two switches there were around 20 ports that had never been used in the two years since we replaced the switch, and so as such they all needed unpatching so it would mean free space in there.

I didn't mind doing it, as I'd been given a list of which ports in the switch weren't used, and so gradually removed the patch cables one by one and, because we'd documented the details of the switch so well, it meant that we knew what should be at the other end and what should be removed, and it was spot on. It made the job certainly a hell of a lot easier and so meant that before I knew it, I'd unpatched all the twenty ports that needed to be done and the whole thing certainly looked the part. I then had to patch two in which were needed for some specialist printers, but of course I now had some free ports to do that, so much easier in the long run I reckon.

When I got home after a pretty busy day, it was good to wind down a little, have a coffee and then sort out a few things around the house before The Love In My Heart was coming over later. One of the things I definitely was going to do was pre-order the Manchester City end of season DVD - a 2 disc extravaganza of how my beloved team won the title this year, and I'm sure that might need a nice night in for myself to watch when it arrives. The City official shop were selling it for £20, but a quick look on Amazon revealed it was £12 there, so no contest. I do wish sometimes City would actually price their stuff similar to the online retailers so that more people would buy stuff from the shop - they're only losing out on retail sales this way.

With that done, and with a customised card ordered for a forthcoming birthday, then it was nice to relax in front of the telly as The Love arrived, getting in out of the pretty foul weather pretty quickly. I made us some spaghetti carbonara with the pancetta a little overdone and crispy, just as The Love likes it, before settling in to see some of the soaps that she could finally catch up on, as well as a little of the Diamond League meeting in Oslo in between, which I remembered well from the 1980s when the likes of Steve Cram would go there and smash the 1500 metre or mile records. These days it's all about Usain Bolt winning, and he did tonight.

Later on I indulged The Love a little, as the next few weeks of her TV watching would be disturbed by Euro 2012 and all that, and she enjoyed the documentary celebrating Prince William reaching the age of thirty later this month. As with most royal ITV documentaries, it had the usual suspects: that photographer bloke from The Sun, Jennie Bond, Philip Schofield, that Telegraph reporter who always seems to be in the same blue dress, and such like. For me it seemed like it was trying to portray how much William wanted to live life as normal as possible, and how an unprecedented press blackout whilst he was at University actually stuck - a rare thing with paparazzi everywhere these days.

Tune of the day in the meantime seemed pretty apt, as the band were one of the late Princess Diana's favourites, and they also played in the tribute concert organised by William and Harry to remember their mother, so a bit of Duran Duran is the weapon of choice for today, and what better than "Sunrise" which showed even in their later career they had a habit of producing some canny catchy pop numbers. And yes, I do remember them first time around in the 1980s with their slightly dodgy video for "Girls on Film" - to say it was a bit risque would be the master of the understatement...

Wednesday 6th June - Firing On All Cylinders

It was back to work today, and hey, didn't I know it! It was very busy indeed and had various calls coming in during the day with regards to some faulty PCs, a laptop which needed looking at, and in between the support calls I was helping sort out (including a software installation) I was also having a look at the release preview version of Windows 8 as well. One of the PCs I was looking at seemed to have a dead hard disk so it was a case of changing that over and then re-imaging it with our current Windows XP image - as it wasn't due for the Windows 7 rollout as yet.

I spent a fair bit of time too today looking at how we could possibly customise Firefox 13 for a future Windows 7 build and indeed so that it'd have all our current lockdowns on it. In fact, I worked out where some of the tweaks were but getting it to play was a different kettle of fish. All of the main browser stuff is in a compressed Java archive called omni.ja - and you can open this with 7-Zip and play with the contents - and the key files you need in terms of changing things around are also in there, which is good.

I eventually worked out what needed changing in terms of the browser branding and also the tweak we do so that about:config doesn't show anything, and once that was done it worked pretty well - and a revised omni.jar was done. The next thing then which took some time was to work out how to ensure that it didn't ask you to install all the add-ons when you first launched the browser, and that in the end wasn't that bad to work out - it was just a case of tweaking a few files and options in the user's profile, which we'd have a master copy being brought down anyway - so all was good there.

It was pretty late when I got home from work as I'd been doing some research and testing with regards to that, and The Love In My Heart was trying to get hold of me as well in a little bit of a panic, but managed to help her out with some TV and connectivity issues that she was having to try and sort out - and calmly talked her through it all. I guess when you've got a rig like I have where you need to make sure everything's connected properly, it's good to be able to at least use that knowledge properly and to the full.

I tried something new on the Samsung Galaxy Y tonight - books from the Android store. Turns out the Google Play books app was free and worked on the phone, so with the wi-fi connected, I downloaded the books application first, and then from the web store chose a couple of the freebies and classic novels, namely Pride and Prejudice and Treasure Island, and saw how they performed. It wasn't too bad, maybe too little text on each page in too big a font, but nonetheless it actually did read well and the little gesture to flick the pages also worked nicely. Granted, not a Kindle of course, but hey - it works, right?

Tune of the day in the meantime is the classic "Tour de France" by Kraftwerk, namely the etapes 1-3 on the Tour de France soundtracks album. The classic bike race isn't too far away now, and certainly seeing plenty of cyclists around Nice and also recently with the streets of the city of Manchester being closed for people to ride around, it certainly evoked happy memories - not least when The Love In My Heart and I saw them live at the Velodrome, which was an awesome moment to say the least!

Tuesday 5th June - Android Jubilee

The Love In My Heart got up and were pretty pleased that we'd both had a restful night's sleep, and that got us feeling nice and relaxed for the day ahead. I made us some breakfast whilst The Love had on the service for the Diamond Jubilee from St Paul's Cathedral - all very pomp and circumstance of course. They even played the Welsh hymn "Bread of Heaven" which of course many football fans know as the source of a football chant, such as "We were here when we were s**t", "Is that all you bring away?" and of course for us City fans "Feed the Goat and he will score". It was just nice to see really.

All the celebrations seemed to be carrying on into the afternoon with plenty of people to be glued to the telly for the carriage parade later, and The Love In My Heart headed home to watch that as well as some of the other Jubilee stuff going on, leaving me to get plenty of washing and ironing done and also to head into the city centre to see what I could do about getting a replacement phone. I'd had the existing Sony Ericsson Spiro for around 18 months or so, which meant of course on pay as you go that I was eligible for a upgrade, so that was good. I'd had an idea of which phone I was after, maybe an Android one - not at the top end cos they're pricey - but something pretty usable with maybe wi-fi.

I went in all the mobile phone retailers and compared and contrasted the costs of the devices and what could be done in terms of upgrades. The official O2 shop wanted £80 for the two phones I'd weighed up, and that was too much compared to Carphone Warehouse and Phones4U, who wanted a mere £58.46 for the Samsung Galaxy Y. I asked the folks in the O2 shop if they could price match, and they couldn't, so it was back down Market Street to Phones4U, and I did the business there. It was actually 10% off their normal price due to a sale on, and an upgrade meant it was cheaper anyway, so all good there.

I got the phone home and plugged it in to charge (same MicroUSB socket too, so my existing chargers all work, hurrah!) and had a read of the manual as well as had a play with the phone and checked the settings out. It seemed to have an ARM v6 processor and indeed Android 2.3 Gingerbread, and that I knew meant not everything could be available, but still not too bad for the price. I soon had it hooked up to my wireless router in the house and remembered to turn off data roaming on the phone network, so wouldn't be charged for the data.

I tried the Google Play store, and found that even though I had a valid Google account, it needed to have some form of Googlemail or Gmail address to be able to get apps from the Play store, even if they were free. Bit annoying to be honest, but hey ho, managed to sort that one out. I soon snagged some useful stuff such as BBC News (which worked a treat) and also Adobe Reader for any PDF files as well, and on top of that some other nice little goodies - even a player for playing old Commodore 64 tunes on there - so I could in effect have every tune I could ever want playing on the move if I so wished. Nice!

I spent the evening doing a shed load of ironing and washing whilst having on the Traffic album "John Barleycorn Must Die" which gave the new amp something to think about. I really like the opening side one (as it would be on the vinyl copy I also have) and in particular "Freedom Rider" which is segued from the end of "Glad" and has its own identity with a slightly dark progressive rock and folk feel, with the middle instrumental section giving the whole thing a real sense of mood. Tune of the day easily really - and perfect to listen to during the late evening as well.

Monday 4th June - Speke Of A Gorgeous Pub

It was a day and a half for myself and The Love In My Heart, as we decided to make the most of the best day weather wise of the whole Diamond Jubilee weekend and head off out for the day. As The Love was getting ready and as I was making breakfast, I couldn't resist but have my punk moment and play the Sex Pistols, namely "Pretty Vacant" but most of all "God Save The Queen". The Love does love all the royal stuff going on with the Jubilee and all that, and whilst I'm not that fussed either way, I do object to the way the BBC are throwing every event really in your face, meh. So tune of the day it is then, and to hell with me if I think there's no future for you...

It was off through the city centre, avoiding the mass cyclists taking part in the day of cycling around the city (and a surreal sight seeing them all pedal on top of Mancunian Way, it has to be said) and then down the M602 and M62 towards Liverpool, coming off at junction 6 and following the A5300 / A561 towards Liverpool Airport, where there's a turn off for Speke Hall. We'd not been there in a couple of years and it was good to head back and see some of their new features, including the maze and also the lovely gardens, always worth a walk around I think. Anyway, we noticed that there was a stage set just past the hall to the right, and upon further checking it looked like it was for a concert with Russell Watson. Oh joy - not.

Thankfully we weren't getting involved with any of that, and so headed to the maze and had a pleasant wander around that. As it turned out it was pretty good as the trees were starting to grow around the fencing laid out, and also the National Trust had put in some gates, which could be open or closed in different ways, hence making the maze actually different each time you visit, with layout changes meaning a more difficult path to follow next time - nice touch, that. The gardens were as lovely as I remembered them with some pristine trees and plants.

Walking around the path that takes you close to Liverpool John Lennon airport would of course be perfect for any plane spotter out there as you're literally right at the end of the runway and so would be able to see the planes take off and then some. The path takes you round the back of the Hall and from there we could see the temporary stage as well, and then back to the gardens to walk around, and that was rather good too. We even had a cuppa and a cake in the little café there, which was actually pretty nice all round really - not least because the coconut and orange cake I had was gorgeous.

After a visit via Mum's for a coffee, we then headed back to mine, got changed and headed out for the evening to properly celebrate four years of being together. Our proper anniversary was the day after we got back from Nice after our holiday, but we'd arranged to head out tonight for a meal together, and so it was off to one of our favourite haunts, the Midland in Marple Bridge. It's always very nice in there, and they usually have good cask ales on too, so that's me sorted. The food menu had a bank holiday special menu for £17.95 for three courses, but you could have the normal menu too if you so wished, so we had choices.

We had a very nice table by the window overlooking the river below, and it was good to look out of there and admire the view as well which was rather good. The Hopfest beer I had was stunning and so much so, I had another pint of it later in the evening, and The Love's wine looked spot on as well - and that was also good. We plumped for the special menu in the end, and for starters I had the mushrooms in marsala sauce on toast, which was very rustic and flavoursome, perfect really, and The Love's brie with apricots was also good, the softness of the apricot balancing the strength of the brie, so all good there.

However, the mains were nothing short of gorgeous and I wanted to go back later and have them again if I could. The Love went for the classic burger, done well done as she asked for, and with plenty of meat along with some nice chips and salad as well, looked home made and the bit of the burger I tried was just that. I went for the beer battered haddock, and that was massive and stunning too - nice crisp batter and not fattening, with lovely white haddock inside. You got mushy peas, a good tartare sauce, some spicy ketchup and some gorgeously thick chips which really did taste nicely fresh and homemade too - perfectly wholesome and beautifully done.

The desserts were good too - I'd been waiting all week to have the treacle and ginger tart with clotted cream and I was not to be disappointed either, and it was great. The Love had the raspberry sorbet with peach, and that certainly aimed to cleanse the palette. It was a lovely relaxing intimate meal together and it felt perfect for us both to relax like that, and after getting back home we caught the last bits of the Jubilee concert from Buckingham Palace with the likes of Stevie Wonder, Madness and finally Paul McCartney doing their thing - and it wasn't as bad as I thought, although Madness should have had some more time in my view - they were excellent all round.

Wednesday 3rd June - Through The Pouring Rain

We headed off out of the Travelodge early-ish this morning, as we didn't want to get caught up in any traffic and also wanted to be sure that we could even possibly spend a bit of time at mine rocking on Rock Band 3, if we were able to get back early enough. We left around 10.30am and the traffic wasn't mental but was still relatively busy, and a lot of people were heading off to London for the Jubilee River Pageant, which started later in the afternoon, so I suspect a lot of people would be all the way along the M4 towards London, which isn't that far really if you go along that way.

We left the M4 behind and soon followed the A449/A40 and then the M50 to the M5, and just after you get on the M5, it was off at Strensham Services for some well earned lunch. It was bucketing it down with rain and we were both glad to be in the dry having something to eat. Not bad really as we got there just after 12 noon and so were leaving there just before 1pm. We got through the M5 okay and then on the M6 and it wasn't that bad traffic wise thankfully, and the only real slowdown we encountered was close to the junction we were coming off, as traffic was heading to Tatton Park for the car show that they were having there. Not too bad though and we were back at mine just after 3.10pm, so not too shabby at all.

It was still hammering it down with rain so we got in pretty sharpish and I played some music as well as Toy Story 3 on the new rig on Blu-ray so my friend could see what he'd put towards with the vouchers for Richer Sounds he'd got me for my birthday. We then spent some time on Rock Band 3 and that was pretty good fun, my friend handling vocals and me handling guitar. We tried David Bowie's "Space Oddity" but both on hard, me on hard guitar and my friend did his best ever vocal on that, and so we cranked up a pretty decent score. tune of the day that has to be for fairly obvious reasons.

My friend left for home later on but we'd both had a great weekend of it and it was good to spend some quality time (especially for him I think) and now for me it was more quality time,this time with The Love In My Heart, whom admittedly I'd missed a heck of a lot during the weekend. What was more frustrating was that my mobile phone had appeared to stop working for some reason - the screen seemed to have no response whatsoever and just went off without warning, and upon closer inspection the ribbon cable connecting the slider to the screen had also ripped, so the keys weren't responding to the commands either, boo!

We settled in for the evening and I made us the dine in for two meal that The Love had very kindly purchased, so it was some nice fresh steak with chunky fresh chips, and with that I added some garden peas to go on the side. It tasted pretty good and I had some Hobgoblin as The Love had the rose wine that came with the deal, so all was well there. The desserts were also gorgeous and we'd had those whilst watching the last bit of how Gary Barlow put together all of the Commonwealth's varied musicians and singers together for the song "Sing" which was the official diamond jubilee song - some honour for him to be involved in that I reckon.

We also saw the final of the Apprentice, and to be honest I was surprised a little at the outcome because for all intents and purposes, Ricky seemed a pretentious so and so. However his business plan was actually the more realistic and most well-written and common sense out of the four, and he was more human in his interview which I think came across. Jade had no chance with hassling people with telemarketing and it was no surprise to me she was the first to go, and investing in wine as a hedge fund? Come on Tom, not going to wash for me I'm afraid. Still, it's been a good series if only to see how sometimes even the so-called brightest business brains can really muck it up..

Tuesday 2nd June - Nuuuuuuuuuman!

It was a pretty early start for me today as it was off to my friend's house, and then the two of us would be heading down to Cardiff to see Gary Numan playing at the Coal Exchange on the second last night of his most recent tour. A lot of the tour had taken place whilst I was away in Nice and Monaco, and also he wasn't playing Manchester, annoyingly enough, so after a bit of scoping out of venues we decided that Cardiff would actually be doable: it's a Saturday night so no time off work needed, and the venue responded pretty quickly about access arrangements etc for my friend, so all well and good.

So we set off and the rain stayed away for the time being as we headed down the M6 towards Birmingham. Already in Staffordshire we were being warned of massive tailbacks on the M5 between junctions 12 and 25, pretty much all the way through Bristol down to the South West. My friend had planned to do M6 / M5 and then M4 to Cardiff, but the M5 side of it looked pretty bad to us both. As we headed further down the M6 and towards the M5 we also saw a sign that junction 4 to 7 of the M5 was also pretty bad. We stopped at Frankley services on the M5 between junctions 3 and 4 and worked out a plan of action.

According to the road atlas, we could take the A38 at junction 4 and join the M50 at junction 1, then down the M50 / A40 / A449 to the M4 that way (the latter parts being the route my relatives normally take so it's pretty sound) and so we followed the A38 skirting round Droitwich and then through Worcester, and then sure enough came the roundabout for the M50. We had my friend's sat nav on and we'd put in the postcode for the Travelodge we were staying at (just off the M4 junction 35 as it happens) and so had Beavis and Butthead directing us in voice mode, hehe, that was cool!

We got along the M50 despite lane closures, encountered a bit of traffic into Monmouth along the A40 but sailed along the A449 and to the M4. Only then though we saw how rammed the M4 was - the rugby match taking place at the Milennium Stadium had started already but I guess three lanes into two at that tunnel near Newport is tricky, and then sheer amounts of traffic joining the M4 was causing issues. Once we crawled to around junction 30 the traffic sped along and so we reached the Pencoed Travelodge just before 4pm, and it was good to see that the room was nice and we had a brew to celebrate getting there relatively unscathed.

We also spotted that next door was a Harvester Bar and Grill, and instead of us trying to get something to eat in Cardiff which might be mental if everyone was leaving the rugby, we decided to eat close by. It was a good decision as we got to a table around 5pm just before hordes of rugby fans had headed off the M4 and to there on the way home, so it worked out pretty well in the end for us. My friend had the scampi which was spot on and for me it was the rather nice chicken and bacon barbecue stack, which did the job nicely.

It was then along the M4 to junction 33 and following the A4232 all the way towards Cardiff Bay, coming off just before the tunnel and heading past Techniquest, down a side street and there we were, right at the venue, and all parked up! Excellent. We'd got there a little before the doors opened so we listened to the coverage of the England v Belgium game and noted that England won 1-0 but in the end it wasn't a great performance, but the job was done. I suspect more of the same during the tournament might win us stuff, we shall see.

The venue looked really nice, an old building and with all the original features intact, but in that a bar to one side, the stage at one end of the main rectangular space area and plenty of good places to get a view with the stage pretty high up, so all good there. On came the support band Officers, and they were pretty good - sort of Industrial with beats, a little inspired by Marilyn Manson so to speak, and producing a pretty good sound which quite a few of us got into nicely. The band were tight and professional and really did have some kick ass pounding sounds, with some synth lines that Numan himself would have been proud of. Best track was probably "Co-Education" which really did sound powerful live.

Just after 9pm and with the crowd chanting his name as the lights went off, on came Gary Numan. He'd labelled this as a set where he was promoting "Machine Music" which was a 2DVD set of music videos of his singles right up to the present day along with more obscure TV performances from the archives, and so would be playing a set of songs featured on there along with recent stuff. I for one was glad to see that he'd kept "The Fall" in from his recent "Dead Son Rising" album as that kicked big time with the four little triangles of lights pounding with the beat and producing an excellent atmosphere.

As a retrospective, it was good to see that quite a few of the songs were ones he'd not played in the last few times we'd seen him live, such as "We Are Glass" (I enjoyed that one) and "Metal" (which as a NIN fan and someone who loved Trent Reznor's cover of this song, thoroughly enjoyed seeing Numan do it again). It was also a very pleasant surprise to get "This Wreckage" as well as "Bombers" too, so it catered for the classic fans as well. We got "Rip" though as well which I adore from the "Pure" album so that was me belting out the chorus big time.

Of course it wouldn't be a Numan set without some of the most well known songs though, and especially if there were big hits involved in this compilation, so "I Die You Die" and "Down in the Park" were in the main set, and during the encore the likes of "Cars" and "Are Friends Electric" which of course had everyone going "whooaaa" during the right parts as the fans normally do. I must admit for me that I quite liked the fact he was playing stuff not played for a while though, as it gave the set some variety and some much-needed impetus. Nice too that he did "Healing" the track he wrote with Ade Fenton for Fenton's album, and that was very different, so tune of the day that one - very dark and brooding.

It had been a good set overall and a shade under an hour and three quarters, and with the rain positively lashing it down outside it was out of Cardiff very quickly and we were back at the Travelodge well before midnight, and so we'd look back on the way back thinking about how good the gig was as well as how well the sound engineers had done - it sounded loud but yet clear, and used the acoustics of the venue to great effect. It was a nice place to go for a gig, and well worth heading there again sometime we reckoned.

Friday 1st June - Surprise, Surprise!

I had another pretty busy day at the office, and sorted out a few things before the extended Bank Holiday weekend here in the UK. I spent most of the day with two HP Workstations that one of our lecturers had purchased, they were doing specialist 3D modelling and stuff like that. As I wasn't sure if the drivers would be different from what we already had, I first tried using our standard Windows 7 64-bit task sequence via SCCM to see if it worked. It sort of on the Z400, but the Z210 had a few drivers missing including notably the network driver, and so as such wasn't joining Active Directory and the like properly.

I spent some time then downloading the various needed drivers: chipset, HECI and SOL as part of the Active Management Technology stuff, the Intel network card (brand new one) for the Z210, the Broadcom one on the Z400 (but it turns out either could have had either card, joy!) as well as the Realtek audio and nVidia Quadro graphics drivers (same set on both). With that in mind I created a driver package in SCCM and got clever with the WMI query so it'd only run if the model was either the Z210 or the Z400. I copied our master task sequence, added in a step for the drivers and then re-ran it on both machines. And it worked - all drivers present and correct, and spot on imaged. Go me!

During the remainder of the afternoon after I'd spent some more time with the machines finishing them off, I'd entered the Euro 2012 sweep at work and another of our sites was hosting the live draw over Skype, so we tuned in to see that. I was pretty pleased I got Italy, not a bad choice and of course Manchester City's Mario Balotelli plays up front for them, so if England do bobbins, I still have interest in the tournament. It's winner takes all so at a fiver a go, we're talking £80 to the winner. So that gives me a bit more of an incentive to watch, I reckon.

After work I headed home and then off to Tesco, where I didn't need much food shopping. This is because I'm off to a gig tomorrow and coming back Sunday, then The Love In My Heart very kindly got the dine in for two deal at M&S for Sunday evening, and then the two of us have booked for an evening meal on the Monday evening together at one of our favourite places to further celebrate our fourth anniversary together (and why not). I got back from Tesco pretty quickly and then thought "I'm going to surprise The Love and meet her in town after work" and set off for Piccadilly.

The Love had finished work a little later than normal (she had texted me but didn't know I was coming in to the city) and so was very pleasantly surprised to see me when I met her at her bus stop. We went to Kro in Piccadilly so she could have a glass of wine and me the Elbow beer Build a Rocket Boys (well it's rude not to, I reckon) and we chatted about the day and what had happened, as well as informing her that I'd booked the table for Monday night. She had the stuff from M&S with her so I took it home later so I could put it all in my fridge ready for Sunday night, made a lot more sense.

It was so lovely to see her and we chatted for ages and I even had a coffee in the next drink and felt relatively relaxed. I had freshened up a little when I got home and put some nice aftershave on, and The Love commented on it which was nice of her. I did feel good and it was just so lovely to see her and spend some quality time with her chatting away. Kro also has happy memories for us both as it became a staple meeting place when we were first going out with each other and we still love it now, so there you go.

On the way home I was heading to get the bus back and all of a sudden I heard a loud cheer and bibbing of horns and as I turned round, I could see in the distance a load of naked cyclists heading towards Piccadilly Gardens. It seemed very odd and bizarre to me that they'd be doing that - and there must have been a reason for it, but there you go. In sort of a tribute, Queen's "Bicycle Race" has to be tune of the day - not least because the video was controversial because of some naked cyclists - maybe that's where tonight's lot got the idea from methinks!