Dear Diary... March 2021

Wednesday 31st March - Three From Three

It was back on with ITV1 tonight and for the third England World Cup qualifier inside a week, as they faced Poland at Wembley which could be a fixture to help decide top of the group at the end of the group phase, although I'm pretty sure that Hungary would also have a say about that to be honest. After a relatively easy win against San Marino and then Albania, it was in our hands to make it three out of three wins, and with Poland's best player Robert Lewandowski out through injury, a perfect opportunity to be able to take advantage and getb the result needed.

I had headed out after work to get a few small supplies needed, and it was nice to kick back on the sofa and settle in for the evening. It was going to be a good game in any case, but I do kind of wish ITV would have a better co-commentator than Lee Dixon - he's too behind the times in the case of modern football, and seems to think that it's England's right to beat everyone - when in truth, it isn't, and hasn't been for many years. England were ready to go and I was hoping that we'd get off to a positive start.

And a positive start it was too - as Phil Foden gained possession in the midfield, passed to Raheem Sterling who then ran down the left side and was too quick for the defence, and was fouled in the box for a nice easy penalty decision. Of course Harry Kane just waited for the former Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szeszny to move and slotted home easily for the opening goal. Despite England playing well, no second goal to help kill the game a bit more but would happily take not just 1-0 at half time but 1-0 at full time as well, to be fair.

The second half started with England seemingly on the back foot, and unfortunately that led to a defensive mistake by John Stones which let in the Polish forwards, and a simple pass to the striker Jakub Moder who smashes it past Nick Pope for the equaliser. Not good. Sam Matterface and Lee Dixon were both asking in commentary why England aren't bringing any substitutes on to try and change the game - despite the fact that both Mason Mount and Phil Foden were still going at defenders and winning free kicks in dangerous positions, and really keeping the Polish defenders honest. One such run resulted in a corner with a few minutes left.

Phil Foden took the corner, and it was headed back into the six yard box at the back post from John Stones - the ball finds Harry Maguire who smashes it home for 2-1 and what proved to be a vital winner, and part redemption for Stones' mistake earlier too. Being patient was key and showed how much Lee Dixon does not know about the modern game. Actually, while we're at it ITV, can we rethink the decision to get rid of Clive Tyldesley as well? At least he actually a) did his research and b) cared about England when he commentated. Or maybe ITV have got Andy Townsend lined up for next time - to which the only response is the Goldie Lookin' Chain classic, The Andy Townsend rap - make that tune of the day.

Tuesday 30th March - Heat in the Dekadrone

It was a fairly warm day outside, and unusually so for this time of year. Admittedly this is the sort of day when letting fresh air in is a must of course, but one thing about the office we have at work is that the aircon works really well and lets me perform at my best, so to be honest, if I was able to go in tomorrow as well as Thursday I'd be tempted to, and have all that lovely aircon there. It wasn't too bad as I had opened the windows earlier in the day, but still a little bit on the sticky side in parts - so short sleeves were an absolute must today that is for sure.

I also early on today took advantage of an offer via Costa Coffee - scan in the app at a machine in a local shop (such as my local Tesco) and whatever coffee you get, you'll get 300 points on the app, so effectively a free coffee next time you're getting a takeout from Costa. Nice. In fact I did need some things from the local Tesco anyway so made perfect sense to get what I needed, get the coffee last, pay and walk back home and have the nice Costa latte with my breakfast. Oh yes, spot on that.

I did have a delivery today too - the new Cabaret Voltaire album Dekadrone. A word of warning though: it's classic Industrial era Cabs here, not the beat-driven Industrial of the 80s which was a bit more accessible. It's one forty nine minute track of found sounds, experimentation and all blended together with a progressive pattern of bass and white noise underpinning the lot - the sort of thing that is very experimental. I liked it, and definitely tune of the day, but you may find the previous album Shadow of Fear a bit more accessible, or Stephen Mallinder's recent solo release Um Dada (my album of 2019) for that matter.

I also spent some time sorting out some more driver packages to be uploaded and have raised a change to get theme all switched in for the task sequence - what was there works fine, but nice to get the core models have some fresher versions of things and should be nice and reliable. It was also good today to write some additional documentation as well with regards to some processes and will be able to get that finished off later this week before the Easter period as well. It makes sense to use the time constructively.

I think too that with the heat being as it is, it'll be good to see it cool off in the evening, and certainly felt that way when the sun came down. I definitely can sense that the next two days will be warm too so to be in the office for Thursday will be pretty nice. It was also today good to have some other music in the background and be able to just concentrate on getting a few things done as well, so all in all a pretty productive day all round. I must admit though that it's been warm so far!

Monday 29th March - Springing Into Heat

Today's weather forecast said that it was going to be a tad on the sunny side for the next three days or so, with temperatures near me hitting around 23 degrees centigrade. And it's late March! Admittedly it is a change from the norm which is normally about half that, but it does go to show how quickly things can change too. I had the windows open anyway in the flat to let some air in (as is current directive, although I've always done that anyway) and another day of working from home commenced after some granola and a very strong Azera intenso coffee.

I spent most of today writing up some documentation - as it was a process that I was actually doing today anyway it was the perfect time to take screen shots as I went along and formulate it into a document. On top of that, the template that I use for the documentation also needed an update too in order to use the new corporate fonts, so was able to get all that sorted at the same time, and make the two documents that I was writing the first two to use the new template update. Nice.

I also then checked the Lenovo site and they had updated a number of Windows 10 driver packs, so it was a case of downloading those and getting them all updated and sorted. In fact, it wasn't too bad to set them all up and have them configured: what does take the time is the content distribution where some of the DPs internally aren't on the quickest connection ever. Naturally of course this does include the cloud based DP on the cloud management gateway, which is pretty quick all round to be honest.

It was a good productive day all round and spent the last hour or so of the working day being able to check over some documentation that I had previously written and working out what I'd need to do to effectively get that looking right with the new template style - and in fact pretty little to be perfectly honest, so I might look at that as a longer term job over the next week or two. The more professional the documentation, the better the job you have done of that - and it's always something to consider when working out the time it takes to get things done - not just the process, but the documentation behind it.

I also had a nice arrival courtesy of HMV today - the Cabaret Voltaire album Shadow of Fear, with the new album which was released on Friday, Dekadrone following on (and indeed another album to look forward to next month as well.) The rather pounding epic that is Vasto is tune of the day for me, it still has that intensity from when I first listened to it and shows no less of its power. Definitely back to the more 1980s beat driven style, minus Stephen Mallinder vocals (if only!) but nonetheless a definite bonus to have CV stuff to listen to.

Sunday 28th March - And It's Go Go Go Go!

It was nice to be able to kick back and relax today, and basically have myself set up for a late afternoon and evening of sport on the telly - the way the timings worked out I could watch the Bahrain Grand Prix at 4pm, and then after that switch over to ITV+1 and watch the England World Cup qualifier against Albania without missing a thing. It also meant that with the clocks going forward last night I could at least have some semblance of a lie in anyway, and so did that first before getting myself up and ready with nice strong coffee and some breakfast to keep me going.

I did have some time during the early afternoon to get out the Commodore Plus 4 and check out some games that had arrived over the last few days - the two main ones were both Fury and Torpedo Alley by Firebird. The latter, despite being somewhat simplistic, was enjoyable - fire torpedos at the ships going past and be ready to put your submarine below surface if a plane decides to turn up and try and bomb you. I managed pretty well to work out the timing, and also get a pretty good score too. It was then also back to playing Zolyx, and still as fiendishly addictive as ever..

It was then on to the F1, and it proved to be a dramatic race all round. Not least because of the wheel electronics which meant it cut out on Sergio Perez's Red Bull, and he had to basically control alt and delete the whole thing, get back to the pits and start from there. And the newcomer for Haas, Nikita Mazepin, spun off at the third corner and brought out the safety car. It settled down for a bit after that but was soon going to be a titanic scrap between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton, with Red Bull complaining that Hamilton was going too wide and turn 4 and not obeying track limits.

The irony of that came with a few laps left: due to different strategies Verstappen caught Hamilton and tried to pass him going into Turn 4, but ran too wide on the outside of the corner and outside of those same track limits - to which race control insisted to Red Bull the place be given back. I think they could have waited until the back straight, then let Hamilton pass, meaning Verstappen would then get DRS on the home straight and into turn 1, and also into turn 4 as needed. But alas, none of that, and a close race which Hamilton won, Verstappen second and Bottas third with Lando Norris fourth and superbly, Perez fifth in the Red Bull showing his battling quality once again. Tune of the day in the meantime is the tribute to Murray Walker done back in 2001 by The Cuban Boys several years ago called Murray on Track - a classic set of moments there.

It was then over for the England game and that proved to be okay, albeit a case of the home side putting eleven men behind the ball and asking to see if England could break them down. It was one move down the left which saw Luke Shaw put a delightful cross in which Harry Kane headed home for the opener - and after some bad defensive errors mid way in the second half, Kane found Mason Mount who coolly slotted home for 2-0, and that's how it ended. A decent result, six points in the bag, and with Robert Lewandowski being injured for Poland later so out of the game at Wembley on Wednesday, a double win.

Saturday 27th March - Into The Lea Valley

I decided today that a walk would be sensible, and with a view of keeping it reasonably local, it was off to do sections four and five of the Lea Valley Walk, a total of around five and a quarter miles. Once the current restrictions go from stay at home next week, I can then look at resuming the London Loop with the last five sections left to do - and realistically I'd like to complete that during 2021 and get that crossed off. I thought though that a relatively flat walk would be good to go, and important to get fresh air and exercise at the moment to keep me going.

It was off on the train to Finsbury Park, using the new under the canal tunnels from St Panrcas, and once there, on the 254 bus to Clapton Overground station. The line from Liverpool Street to there was closed this weekend, hence the alternative route. In fact as the 254 bus turned right and crossed over a little waterway I recognised it from the Capital Ring section I did back in 2016, so nice to see some old walking territory too. From Clapton station it was a right turn down the hill and following the road all the way to the River Lea Navigation, and soon I spotted plenty of canal boats moored.

It all looked familiar here, and a map check showed why: part of this section of the Lea Valley Walk has parts of sections 13 and 14 of the Capital Ring, so I remember passing the Hackney Marshes football pitches to the left, and heading towards Here East and all the new developments as I headed South-East. That said, I did those sections of the Capital Ring in January 2017, so four years plus have passed since I last walked here. It was good to see not far from Hackney Wick a little food market by the waterside, and indeed a barge moored there which served coffee and beer (when it'll be allowed to) so did have quite a nice vibe here.

I followed the tow path down to the Old Ford Lock - unfortunately all the houses which were the Big Breakfast studio for Channel 4 are all fenced off, so you can't see them, but just after here is where the Capital Ring turns off and you follow the River Lee Navigation over a nice new pedestrian bridge, then down underneath the road close to Bow roundabout. I could see all the new waterside developments here just before heading over to Three Mills Island, and as a Tesco was near here, and it was the end of the first section, perfect opportunity to get some lunch and sit by the water and relax a little before resuming my walk.

You then are effectively on an island with the River Lea on one side, Bow Creek on the other until you get to Bow Locks, quite popular with people fishing here too for some reason. It was then over the bridge and on to a rather odd floating path initially, which took you under a main road and for the next couple of miles I'd be following the Limehouse Cut, a pretty straight waterway following this all the way towards Limehouse Basin and heading under the DLR line between Stratford and Poplar too. Once I got towards the basin it seemed to open out nicely, and then recognised something - the Jubilee Greenway section 10 joins from here having come down from the Regents Canal.

So it was all the way along Limehouse Basin to the bank of the River Thames and although I could have gone to Limehouse to get the DLR and then Overground, I thought it'd be nice to follow the Thames Path and head along through a nice park and along through Wapping Wall towards Wapping Overground station, where a rather nice little coffee shop served me up a lovely latte before I headed down the spiral steps and on to the Overground train home, having done around six and a half miles in all with the extra walk. I do feel beter for it although I'll be resting my feet for the rest of the day. Tune of the day has to be the old theme from The Big Breakfast, especially as I passed the old place earlier.

Friday 26th March - End of the Week

It felt like a long week at work this week - not sure exactly why, it just did. However, I was able to get some positive feedback today from one of the service team members who had completed the Windows 10 cloud based CMG build and was impressed that it worked first go and indeed didn't take that long overall. I explained the final processes for domain join and so on after the fact, which he then was able to do and get everything done. I have to say it was good to have another tester show all the success as well, so definitely well worth giving those an opportunity to develop their skills and all sorts.

I also was able to do some further testing with regards to the way that I'd like to handle some of the potential scenarios going forward for some additional software distributions - whether we look at enforcing those to a degree now we know that content distribution via CMG works a treat (as we had new fonts to deploy recently and they worked perfectly well as a MSI installer sent that way) and with a view that we look at getting some additional pieces of software, if not already at some base version, to that. In fact all the core ones already are, so it's the more specialised stuff now.

It was then later in the day a chance to head out to Tesco to get a little bit of food shopping, mainly lunches for next week, but also to make sure that I could take advantage of a good offer that they had on and to get the pack of six Brita filters for the kettle for £20, which is at least a tenner off what they normally are. My kettle uses the Brita Maxtra fllters inside so I get some half decent water for making a brew - which is needed when you're in the South especially. In Manchester, the water is lovely and soft, and doesn't need anything, but London is a hard water area and there tends to be a lot of calcium in there especially, so having a water filter in the kettle does the job - The Love In My Heart noted the massive improvements in having a coffee at mine!

It was noticeable too that I was able to get round, get back out of there and head back on the bus to take advantage of the hopper fare, so of course only one fare of £1.55 charged for both journeys. Tesco wasn't as busy primarily due to the rain I think so that was something. When I got back home, I sorted out some trains to head to see The Love In My Heart. Because of the West Coast Main Line upgrade work, Euston is having a much reduced service at weekends, which means that advance tickets are only being released about a week or so before - and not at cheap prices I should add. So instead I'm going LNER from Kings Cross to either Doncaster or Leeds, then heading over to Manchester from there that way - which did work out about the same price even with the discount I used to get on Avanti. Granted it may take a bit longer, but at least I've got stuff booked now.

I watched two more episodes of Formula 1 Drive to Survive tonight as there wasn't much on telly to be honest. It was good to see how the likes of Ferrari were really trying to work out what was happening with their car, and come the Italian Grand Prix, it was a total disaster for the team all round - not least with Sebastian Vettel's timing of the decision to go to Racing Point, who are renamed Aston Martin for 2021. I think they'll focus on Pierre Gasly's actual win in a future episode as that'd be too good a story to miss. That said I still do miss the proper F1 theme tune, ie: The Chain by Fleetwood Mac, so definitely tune of the day for me that one.

Thursday 25th March - San Marino Stroll

It was on with the football tonight, and for a pleasant change, nice to have some game to watch on proper telly, as it seems that ITV have the rights to the England games for World Cup qualification - and as there's going to be ten of those in a relatively shortish frame of time, bearing in mind that it's close to Winter 2022 for the World Cup due to where it is being played, it was a sense of getting the job done as early as possible, keeping the players nice and healthy for the Euros coming up too.

So it was San Marino tonight, and on paper, should be an easy win (or so you would think at any rate.) England have never scored less than five goals against this side when they've played them, and as we remembered several playters who had passed away as of late including the great Colin Bell, it was good to see that from the off England were going for it, and two wasted chances early on did show that we were creating enough chances to easily win, but not putting them away which was an absolute shame.

Thankfully it didn't take too long to sort that one out and a good pull back from the left side found James Ward-Prowse, who slotted home into the bottom corner rather well and get the opener. It also wasn't long before a Reece James run and cross down the right side was perfectly into the head of Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who headed home from close range to make the score 2-0. Raheem Sterling also had a couple of chances he shoud have done better with before slotting home from close range after a good run down the left hand side, smashing the ball in off the San Marino defender.

At half time several changes were made and this did disrupt the flow of the game somewhat but it did allow an easy ball from the left from Jesse Lingard to be met by Calvert-Lewin for his second, before he was substituted for Ollie Watkins. In fact, the Aston Villa striker did score late on with a nice ball into his feet from fellow sub Phil Foden, and Watkins put the ball nicely into the bottom corner. It was 5-0 in the end but should have been more only for the San Marino keeper to pull off some superb saves, especially from a Ward-Prowse free kick special late on as he tipped it on to the post.

It was decent enough although I'd hope that England would score more of their chances when needed against better opposition - we'll see soon enough of course, particularly next Wednesday against Poland but we shall see I guess. ITV of course use an instrumental version of Bittersweet Symphony by The Verve so that's tune of the day - but the atmosphere did seem a little lifeless without any fans being there. One day we will be back and I'd love to go to Wembley and watch an international game with England there.

Wednesday 24th March - One Two Three

Some more testing at home today, primarily to do a timed test of our Windows 10 build process via the Cloud Management Gateway and to see how it all plays ball. In fact, I did two tests at different parts of the day, and it effectively clocked in at around 1 hour 15 minutes, which was pretty good all round. Not bad considering you have an operating system WIM to download and apply, as well as all relevant drivers, and then the applications that are core that we layer on top - effectively meaning it's the same as if we do it in the office.

In fact one of our colleagues from our New York site did have an issue attempting to get the task sequence to even run but made a minor tweak, ensured that the boot media was distributed (only change being the new background in WinPE, but best for consistency etc) and then they also were able to report back that they had some success too, in fact 1 hour 20 minutes so not far behind what we were getting here either, which is a good thing in terms of latency and so on, so definitely a positive feeling that.

I also spent some time tonight watching the next episode of the Formula 1 Drive to Survive documentary, this time focussing on the inter-team rivalry at Mercedes and also quite a bit on Valtteri Bottas, who was shown relaxing in a sauna in his native Finland with his manager. It was mainly around the Russian Grand Prix too, so was also interesting to see how narked Lewis Hamilton was for the penalty he got for the practice start violation and how mentally that changed things during the course of the race too.

I must admit though that I am counting down the days until I can see The Love In My Heart again, and managed to book a train for heading up soonish. It wasn't that good a price though and it almost seems like a deliberate tactic from Avanti West Coast to wait as late as possible to release tickets, and then claim that the demand is there for the advance tickets, hence they bump the prices up. I think it's pretty bad, especially as those who genuinely have a legitimate reason to travel (in my case support bubble reasons which is legal) are having to pay more for that.

In any case, I also did play my second favourite REM album tonight, New Adventures In Hi-fi. For me, still massively under-rated and the immediacy of the way that the tracks were recorded really shows through, especially in the lengthy epic that is Leave (and therefore tune of the day) - the quiet opening part gives way to a siren type effect and a more brooding deeper piece with some great guitars too throughout. Absolute masterwork that and if you do get chance, it's an absolute must listen in my view.

Tuesday 23rd March - Back In The Office

It was off to the office today in order to carry out some testing that I could do far easier with more kit around to be tested with, and indeed in order to also work out a potential hunch I had at the back end of last week and see if the hunch was right, in true Gene Hunt from Life on Mars / Ashes to Ashes style. No firing up the Quattro though, but the train into work was a little busier than it had been, and soon I was heading round to Pret near the office to get the first coffee of the day whilst it was still in the month of the unlimited coffee thing that they do (not daft me you know.)

In fact, it was nice and quiet in the office with only three of us in - one of whom is a regular in there anyway who I get on well with, and our facilities team too. In fact they had something for me - a number of the lateral flow kits so I could take them home and make sure that I had a good supply of tests for the next few weeks, and conduct them accordingly the night before I was due to come in. In a good way this does save a courier coming over with all of them so saves some money - and at the same time it all gets recorded and uploaded to add the stats to the tests, with more workplaces getting the in-place testing going.

My sister has been volunteering at the secondary school her children go to in order to make sure that they're all tested safely too, so I'm sure if I need any help in setting up the upload stuff I know who to ask, but in a good way it does mean that we're all attempting to do the right thing to keep everyone safe, as we all should. It was a year since the UK first went into a nationwide lockdown today and it is, as The Love In My Heart mentioned later on, a good chance to pause and reflect. I know I've been fortunate enough not to fall seriously ill and also that the two of us have been able to support each other throughout which has been a big help (and I sent her a nice card which arrived today, and I know that gesture was appreciated.)

With all the test stuff sorted the actual testing in terms of IT things all worked today. As my hunch turned out: I was correct. It seems that if you have Google Drive File Stream (or Drive for Desktop as it's now called) running, because of the way this interacts with Windows Explorer, if you want to invoke the OS update from Software Centre (in our case upgrading to Windows 10 20H2 via MECM) it errors out with error 0x80246007. The moment you then quit Drive File Stream and retry, it works, every single time I tried it out - and on three different machines. A fair number won't have that running, but it's definitely going to be a heads up thing we may need to keep an eye on.

I did also have a very positive thing to also take from today - some nice co-ordination from our manager in the China offices, who kept us in the loop to say that one model of laptop was getting hard to get hold of, and there was a possible recommended model instead. Having checked it out, not only does it have full driver support but actually uses the same driver package as the other model in its new revision, so sought about getting that all up to date and sorted at the same time. Good when things happen for a reason, and for me at least that shows that the established good points of contact all work well for me when they need to as well. In the meantime, tune of the day was something I had in my head on the way home from work - the rather nice The Desperate Kingdom of Love by PJ Harvey, still such a still and beautiful track.

Monday 22nd March - Back In The Swing

It was a busy day at work, albeit working from home for me today, as I had plenty to keep an eye on and monitor during the day. First off was sending out the March Windows 10 updates out to the business and making sure all was running smoothly there. I think since we started using the method where only the metadata (ie: what updates we want to deploy) is managed via MECM, and then uses the downloads from Microsoft Update to download the necessary updates, it has taken considerable bandwidth off our internal network and of course if the machine is connected via the cloud management gateway only, it still gets all the necessary too. So for that reason alone definitely some plus points.

I also today was checking over a list of machines that hadn't for whatever reason checked into the inventory system for some time and had a good meeting with our service team lead in order to co-ordinate first of all where some of those may have gone to (including some potential write offs) and on top of that, then making sure that we had an idea of where the other users and machines were so we could later chase and find out what was going on with them. We'll need some engagement to make sure all is well but at least we've got the info as accurate as we can to start with which is good.

Another good positive I think for me was to be able to head out at lunchtime and take a little walk - I think that it's good to get some fresh air and as it was I needed a couple of bits of shopping anyway, so covered two birds with one stone right there. A fair few were out but in the main heading to food shops, as it's about the only thing open. Surprisingly there wasn't a queue at the post office, as there usually is one, so I could have been tempted to go in and get some future gift card presents if needed. I do think though people are waiting until the rest of retail eventually opens up.

After work it was nice to kick back and indeed to get some playing some classic games on the Commodore 64 at that. It was back to the Six Shooter pack once again and this time another blast at Hyper Sports. I wish someone would remaster this and add the missing pole vault event from the arcade original, but the six events there in one load really do work well. Naturally of course the Martin Galway version of the iconic Chariots of Fire film theme is still brilliant even today, so that simply has to be tune of the day for that reason.

I did also settle down to watch the first couple of episodes of Drive To Survive on Netflix too, as I'd been waiting for this one to come out for some time. The first episode was intriguing as it was all about the pre-season and then the start of the season that didn't happen for obvious reasons - but then the second one resuming in Austria saw a spirited last and fastest lap from Lando Norris to get within 5 seconds of Lewis Hamilton (he had a 5 second penalty to add on) and he got to within 4.8 second and third place - the unadulterated joy was rather wonderful to say the least!

Sunday 21st March - The Banstead Gateway to Narnia

I did some research last night into another local walk I could do today, and so get some exercise and fresh air as well as keep fit and healthy. I must admit that once I've got into a good routine of walking, that really does help considerably with mental health as well as fitness, and once it's safe to leave a more local area (ie: when stay at home officially stops being that) then no doubt I'll be back on the trail of the London Loop. In fact, I gave my walking boots a good sort out this morning so that most of the surface mud was cleaned off, and that I can spruce them up ready for the next of those walks, in hopefully better weather as well.

Today though it was off on the 166 bus through Coulsdon and towards the stop where the bus turns right just before Chipstead, called Pine Walk, and from there I walked back along the main road (closed at present due to utility work although pedestrian access is fine) and past the road to Chipstead station before heading across the road and over to Chipstead Downs and Banstead Woods. It was the woodland that I was going to explore today, primarily due to the fact that there is a nature trail there through the woods that's a good three mile or so circular walk (The Love In My Heart always says I like walks that loop in some way) and with something else hopefully still present too.

Once I started the walk and indeed the climb uphill, what I thought would be there still was - a very large sculpture of Aslan the lion (for those of you who have read the CS Lewis Narnia books, you'll know who this) and once the path forked to the right, it was then a case of spotting the path down to a very tall wooden sculpture of the White Witch, and then further along the main path, a wooden wardrobe complete with a rail of clothes sculptured from wood. As you can imagine this was popular with families and children, and had to wait a little while before I could take a picture of the wardrobe without anyone in it (I prefer those sort of pictures with no people in and also to ensure I'm following safeguarding guidance.)

Once I had all that sorted it was following the nature trail, going up the far end of the woodland and crossing a road which leads to a hidden company building in the woods, and curving round the top end and climbing gradually uphill until you reach a small pond with benches to sit and relax at, which some people were doing and enjoying the fresh air. I then followed the paths through more woodland with the sun now coming in and definitely felt rather nice, and the paths wound their way and gradually downhill before ending up back at the wardrobe that I had passed earlier - and no one there this time so I walked through from the back to the front as if I was in the film version. Well why not?

I then followed the path left down the hill, over the stile and then turned right to complete the walk, and a good three miles well done. The coffee and burger van in the car park was doing a roaring trade and the staff were lovely and friendly, and ordered myself a coffee for all the hard work walking. It was a leisurely walk with coffee the half mile or so back to the bus stop, and timed it pretty well to be in good time for the 166 bus back homeward, where the afternoon's FA Cup games awaited, and Sheffield United narrowly lost out at Chelsea in the first of those.

I must admit though like most people I'm looking forward to Line of Duty tonight (the theme tune by Carly Paradis is therefore tune of the day.) I'm actually really glad the BBC aren't just going to put the whole series on iPlayer straight after the first episode is aired, it actually means that everyone waits for the anticpation of the next episode and can watch it themselves at that time. Having seven episodes is a good thing, although I am hoping that this doesn't impact on the quality, which with the way it was structured was always compulsive viewing. We will see!

Saturday 20th March - Back to 1970

I decided today to do two walks in one - yes I'd be taking a nice walk up and down the hills in Crystal Palace Park, but also after seeing some rather iconic footage of a Formula 3 race on the motor racing circuit there with James Hunt clashing with Dave Morgan (an incident later adapted for the film Rush, but fictionally replacing Morgan with Niki Lauda) and of course with the late Murray Walker commentary, I wanted to check out what was left of the former track and to see if I could effectively do a track walk. I had the camera with me as well as I wanted to take some shots of how it is now to give you an idea.

I headed to West Croydon station and then took the Overground over to Penge West, so could then enter Crystal Palace park from there. As per usual the coffee queue for the café was massive, but after walking around the lake and past the farm centre with the rather cute and adorable alpacas, I noted someone with a coffee cup and thought it was either the café inside Crystal Palace station or somewhere else. Anyway, it wasn't the station one but a little coffee van parked up near the station - and the americano I had from there was totally spot on, with no queue. Winning!

I soon headed back into the park and along the road where everyone now parks inside the park. I could see the grass mound that used to be part of the start finish straight (the only part that still isn't tarmac) and followed that past the arches and columns and right round the North Tower crescent curve, weaving through the trees at The Glade and the right hander at Park Curve (formerly Fisherman's) and then down the hill at New Link (and the hill is 1 in 8 in places, so you can imagine it was pretty rapid) before following the former main straight with the athletics stadium on the right. There wouldn't have been the jubilee stand here, so would have been wider too.

The original wall is still here though that cars would hit if they got their line wrong going towards Ramp Bend, so I followed the right turn towards Anerley Ramp, heading steeply uphill with the blind left and right heading up Maxim Rise, and once you worked out the line you'd take out as many curves as you could. There used to be a footbridge opposite the station here to take you over the track but that's long gone - and then towards the right turn for South Tower before going back on the car park road which was Terrace Straight. It definitely was fascinating to see all of that.

I headed back down over the bridge that takes you between the swimming pool and the athletics stadium and noted the three beach volleyball courts close to the pool, then followed the main path down and out of the park, heading back to Penge West to get the train home. I stopped off to have a look in Marks and Spencer to see if they had any beers on discount (answer was no) and then homewards, where in keeping with 1970, I played Black Sabbath's iconic Paranoid album, and the 5.1 remaster sounds rather gritty and metal. Tune of the day is Iron Man, which has an iconic guitar hook but also would have described the F1 drivers of the day - risking life and limb for the quest for speed.

Friday 19th March - Testing One Two Three

So with some additional testing to do today, I thought I'd set the example and actually use the software updated method within MECM to upgrade my own work laptop to Windows 10 20H2. In fact, the download of the 3.5GB or so didn't take that long, primarily due to relatively fast Internet here and the way that it actually gets the content direct from Microsoft instead of a local DP, which saves the VPN tons of bandwidth, and then it was a case of seeing if the update would install. It would actually not like doing so for some reason, but the moment I quit Google Drive for desktop, all good. Not sure if it was a one-off or not, but anyway, I let it carry on.

All was good in around an hour or so before a reboot prompt appeared (all nicely branded by the way) and then did the reboot, followed the on-screen messages, so no power off, and then after a reboot or two, was back at the login screen with everything nicely done and on 20H2. Relatively painless as it should be, to be fair, although of course I'd recommend minimising anything happening and closing down whatever you can whilst the update installs via MECM, but that should be standard. Indeed if you click in the install from software centre it actually tells you that really you should close any apps down and so on.

I felt positive about that and indeed positive that the day and the week had ended so well with a good chunk of testing happening all the time, so shows that the right way is always to road test a lot. Later on I headed out to the local off licence, Freshfields Market, as that place is very well known indeed for stocking local ales and craft beers, and you do get 10% off if you buy three, which is always a good thing. I actually went for two by the local Cronx brewery, the When Will It End craft pilsner (aka lockdown lager) and the Entire porter, which was cheaper to buy as a 500ml bottle instead of a 330ml can - work that one out. I also got the Pressure Drop's Fashion Porter too which looked rather classy in virtually a plain black can design. Nice.

It was good later on as well to kick back with some more rather good music all round - all in the name of some research and testing too, but definitely was well worth doing so anyway. I thoroughly enjoyed listening again to the Philip Glass soundtrack to Koyaanisqatsi on DVD-Audio format, it really has a beautiful surround set all round and really does immerse you in nicely, which is always a good thing. The portion entitled Resource is really charged, so definitely (and for Commodore 64 related reasons) tune of the day for me, so well worth checking out if you're able to get hold of it.

After a lovely chat with The Love In My Heart later and with Sainsburys delivering the food shopping really well, it was nice to settle down and watch Gogglebox later on. Admittedly it was quite nostalgic to see them watching an old episode of Baywatch with the likes of David Hasselhoff and Pamela Anderson in there, and did make you realise not just how 1990s it was but how huge it was back in the day - Saturday evenings on ITV always started off with this and got you in the right mood with this for sure. Of course, it showed too how low cut everything was to emphasise certain things which might not be the case now, as things have moved on.

Thursday 18th March - The Heat Is (Back) On

It was nice to know that today the final piece of the jigsaw to solve the central heating malfunction was to be fitted. The manufacturer of the system needed a particular valve which the engineer last time out identified was the fault - he was genuinely gutted he didn't have one in his van or else he would have been able to fit one out straight away and sort it. I had a call from the company this morning to say it was all good and the engineer should be with me around 4pm today, so I knew that was a good thing and meant I'd soon be having the flat all warm and cosy again. Not that of course it's that cold as it's well insulated, but nice to come home to a cosy warm flat especially.

But first, a nice new arrival for me as DPD delivered my rather large package from Richer Sounds - it was the Q Acoustics 3070S subwoofer that I had ordered a few weeks back, and was finally in so they could get one despatched from the warehouse straight to me. I was top of the list for the local branch to get one from there. And yes, the box was massive, and the subwoofer itself pretty big, but crucuially it's also not as square and boxy as some, so actually fits into the space that my old Mission MS8AS subwoofer was rather nicely. And of course that meant reading the manual, checking the setup and then later on definitely going to be playing some stuff.

The heating engineer came pretty much dead on 4pm, and buzzed the front door so must have been able to get in via the concierge. All was good and it didn't take him long to fit the part and then test to make sure all four radiators came on and were producing some lovely warm heat all around. Job done, no fuss, all working in quick time, and I set the automatic settings for when the heating should kick in - which it did exactly what it said on the tin later on and I could feel some nice very warm radiators all round the flat. Definitely a day for winning and the heat is back on (where's that Don Henley single where you need it?)

So with that and work done, it was time to spend some time setting up the new subwoofer with the AV amp. I'm not going to say too much about that setup as I'm saving it for a future planned review, but it was pretty straightforward to check and test, and then started to play some of my surround discs. In fact as an initial blast out I had played the Blu-Ray Audio disc of Pixies' classic Doolittle album so of course was spending lunch time happily singing along to most of the great tracks on there, and because it's still pretty under-rated, No 13 Baby is going to be tune of the day for me. It really does sound rather good with the extra surround and has been mastered carefully (also a good thing.)

Later on it was time to get out some more surround discs which gave me a perfect excuse to play them and get some good audio tests on the rig. I have to say that it really does show how well mastered some discs are by the way that the sound is really clean and precise and yet controlled. In fact, you might not think it, but the Super Audio CD remaster of Nine Inch Nails' The Downward Spiral is a case in point. The bass is really deep and controlled but the way the whole surround experience is really does make for it to be a different listen than it is in just stereo - well worth checking out.

And last of all, and because it's a legal requirement, I did the 2021 Census today. In fact it wasn't too difficult to do overall but it really did seem like there was a fair bit of information which was needed, so it wasn't the answers that were hard but just a fair bit to do. I must admit though that I did feel a little obliged to do so and would have rather not filled it in (but legal requirements prevented me from doing that.) Still, I can only imagine a fair number will wait til Sunday so wanted to effectively get it out of the way and make sure I didn't have to experience any crashes or other issues.

Wednesday 17th March - Office Of Outstanding Options

It was actually quite nice to be able to go into the office today, after I had performed the lateral flow test and came back negative. In fact, all my current tests have been negative which is a good thing, but it goes to show our wellbeing is being taken seriously. It was also nice this morning when I did arrive in the office that our Facilities Manager was there, who is ace, and had a good catch up chat with her about all the things in terms of future testing and how we've been able to put things in place to keep people safe. Of course with the building being shared with other tenants, how we'd do on-site testing may be something to work out, but I'm sure there is a way somewhere.

I spent the first part of the day getting the Windows 10 20H2 base WIM image updated, and this worked a treat. Primarily because I have a new script version of one I use to remove the bloatware applications not needed (I mean who in the corporate sector would want to use XBox? Come on.) but crucially it also has a list of ones that you do need to keep, and notable that in Windows 10 2004 this included an appx version of some Visual C++ libraries, and in 20H2 of course Microsoft Edge based on Chromium is there by default. With that in, and everything else checked to ensure the March cumulative update included, it all worked flawlessly and so was pretty pleased with that.

Then of course it was a case of testing out two machines as if I was building them for a user, so ran the Windows 10 task sequence with the new WIM and indeed new versions of Adobe Reader and Chrome that I had packaged earlier in the week. Everything played ball nicely and it completed in good time, so was rather pleased with myself it had done so. In fact, I was able to do one of my colleagues a favour later on and was able to get another four laptops done later in the day, so was a double good road test based on the fact it was all different hardware also.

One final thing I also managed in the office was to have a good chat with my colleague who looks after the room booking system and the way that the iPads outside each room show all the bookings. We noted that it appeared to have a need to be refreshed somewhat, and so he set to work on some nice new background and an icon to match the new branding, and we tested one and noted that actually the blue background version would work best, primarily as the right band showing available (green) or booked (red) showed well with the primary colours, so that was a good one to box off.

I must admit the train journey home later did feel less busy, not sure because it was a Wednesday or not, but it definitely was good to have a smile on my face knowing that I had had my most productive day in absolutely ages and that was good to do. So much so that I was able to kick back later after a lovely chat with The Love In My Heart and put on the Gary Numan live double CD When The Sky Came Down, recorded at the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester with the Skaparis Orchestra, a gig me and my friend was at! Needless to say it's still spine tinglingly good, notably Here in the Black which really does kick hard with the extra strings, so tune of the day it most certainly is. If you get chance when we're able to go to gigs and see Gary Numan live, you absolutely must, as he is awesome.

Tuesday 16th March - Six Shooter Session

Yesterday I had a rather nice little package in the post - something I had purchased off eBay and something I had wanted when I had a raft of Commodore 64 games back in the day. Ocean had issued a six game compilation which was given away with some Commodore 64s that the electrical store Dixons sold in the day - called Six Shooter. One of my friends had this compilation when he got his machine back then and when you look at the games on it, it absolutely smacks of quality releases all the way and a perfect opportunity to get you started on the way to some classic 8-bit gaming.

So it was good to revisit the six games here for a number of reasons, but I should add that it does include Wizball - not just my favourite Commodore 64 game, but my favourite game of all time. Needless to say I had a good time spent on that both last night and a bit tonight too, getting the Catalyte to pick up the coloured drops, shooting away at everything else and indeed managing to get pretty far considering too. I was able to complete the game without any cheats back in the day, but it was definitely the right learning curve once you got the weapon upgrades sorted, and the music and sound effects are still awesome. In fact the title theme by Martin Galway is utterly brilliant, so tune of the day it most definitely is.

Of course, there was also Head Over Heels, a game I own the original Ocean release of and a deserved Zzap! 64 Gold Medal (as Wizball should have been, meh) which is worthy of inclusion in any compilation, and next up for me was the shoot em up Terra Cresta. Considered by reviewers to be one of the weaker games there's still plenty of shoot em up action to be had and shares the faults of the arcade version, such as you respawn far too much back from where you end up, and it seems that unless you pick up all the weaponry along the way, you won't be able to get that far either. Still got some decent music and at least is pretty playable though.

Another arcade conversion in the obscure Konami game Mikie comes up next. To be fair though I quite enjoyed this first time round on the Konami Coin-Op Hits compilation, and still has plenty of character to be a fun and playable game, and the corridors to avoid everyone to get to the next room are also a little bit manic, so definitely one for a good joystick and reflexes here - I got to the fourth level for the first time I'd played it in a long while so that has to be good of course. It also has another good piece of Martin Galway music on the title screen with animated hearts everywhere making it a nice touch too.

Another of the big hitters is another Konami conversion - this time Hyper Sports. Despite missing the pole vault event out (boo) the fact it got the other six events into a single load, and indeed has some nice animation touches and one of the first uses of hi-res sprite overlays for the main characters to look more detailed is pretty good stuff, expertly handled by Dave Collier. I still enjoy the conversion now, primarily because it got all the fun of the original across, with the archery and skeet events being particularly playable, and the Chariots of Fire rendition by Martin Galway on the title screen is very good indeed.

To round things off, Parallax, the first full price Sensible Software game and as is typical Sensi, full of very different ideas and one that only ever got a Commodore 64 release. I loved the way you could fly the craft over and under the backgrounds, and you could go on foot to try and get the scientists and bring you back to the craft. It looks simple but it certainly isn't, and the cinematic type opening credits giving way to the psychedlic title screen and rather epic eleven minutes of Martin Galway music is just rather magnificent. Well worth getting hold of all of this if you own a Commodore 64 for definite.

Monday 15th March - Sorting Out

It was a day to get plenty sorted out, not just in work today but also some personal things as well. First of all though I managed to look at getting the new versions of both Google Chrome and Adobe Reader packaged up for the Windows 10 build task sequence. Interestingly, Adobe have stopped putting up any versions of Adobe Reader via their FTP site, which to me is daft, especially when you have an executable which you use to extract and package up using their own customisation wizard. Anyway, using the SCUP catalogue XML meant I could locate where the download was, get that downloaded and have it all done. Nice.

I also managed to check over machines which were registered in our inventory system and cross-compare them with those that are in our Mac management system - and as I thought, some of them were missing in the latter. I suspect someone may have got over-zealous with removals but at least we know which ones are reporting in and also which may need kicking in for a re-enrolment and going from there. I think I know what might have happened, but nonetheless good to be able to get things done I reckon.

Anyway, The Love In My Heart and I had notification from the venue in Antwerp where we were going to see Paul Weller last year (which got postponed to this year) announcing that it had been postponed again until May 2022, so we could if we wanted get a refund. The box office got in touch with me this morning via email to confirm a few details and they very promptly sorted that out with a lovely friendly service. We'll have to wait a bit longer for our first gig overseas, but one day when things calm down we'll definitely have to look at doing that for sure. Still, nice to have that all sorted and it showed a lot of other venues how to do things properly.

I also checked out Eurostar's refund and rearrangement policy: so we'll know 15 days before if our trains are cancelled (meaning we can get full refund) or not (so we have up to 7 days before to re-arrange for later in the year). I'd rather be refunded now of course, but no can do, so was pleasing to see that at least you'll be notified in advance of the free change of trains expiring, which makes sense. I can't see things changing anyway and to be honest it's just a waiting game to get that back. I'm just glad though we did book the apartment for our holiday when we did, as it is fully booked until November 2021 from April!

It was nice later to give the brain a good workout by watching the second semi final of Only Connect, and as you might expect, the questions were rock hard. I did note the rather nice use of the Muppets classic song Rainbow Connection though, so tune of the day for me that one. I did get the connecting wall though so felt pretty proud of that and the final missing vowels round of three films merged into one long title was deceptively evil, but showed a real sense of who would be able to get to the final. It's almost the end of the series but still as enjoyable as ever, not least due to the very dry wit of Victoria Coren-Mitchell of course.

Sunday 14th March - Roast and Relaxed

It was so nice to have a lie in this morning after a long week, and Brian the cat wasn't going anywhere - he was curled up all splayed out on the corner of the bed, and he was all snuggly. He even let me tickle his tummy and purred in appreciation which is rather nice. We did take it relatively easy and I left The Love to have more of a lie in whilst I got up and saw the rest of Match of the Day from last night and having a well earned coffee before heading back to bed myself for some more rest and relaxation.

As it was Mother's Day today, I had a call from my Mum later on to say thank you for her card and gift, which arrived safely. She was planning to use some of the money she got today to be able to do some bits around the back garden and to be able to give it a good tidy up of sorts, so that'll be nice for her to get that done. It was nice anyway just to see how she was and that definitely was a positive. And for myself and The Love, we had some nice Sunday roast lunch in for later on, as we'd had a delivery from Sam's Chop House yesterday with everything in there ready to go.

After breakfast it was time for a good game of Scrabble, where all the large letters ended up coming out relatively late on. I had the Z first and ended up doing RITZ and ZO, with double word on the Z and thus scoring 48, and the classic OX / EX straddle of triple letter on the X for 50 points too. It was nice though that The Love came out with some really good double words including PEONY and HERON and that worked out well. The Love was also enjoying one of her guilty pleasures, Say Yes to the Dress, the USA versions obviously, with the over the top brides and bridezillas.

The Sunday Roast we had was delightful - lots of lovely chicken and some shoulder of lamb which just was melt in the mouth lovely, along with some fresh vegetables, roast potatoes, stuffing, gravy, Yorkshire puddings and all sorts. It was delicious and that really went down nicely as we both sat together and enjoyed that - and a lemon roulade for dessert too with some cream which was rather lovely too. It was a lovely way to end a good few days together even though it had gone far too quickly, and felt rather sad later on as The Love took me to Manchester Piccadilly station to take the train home.

The Pret was closed in the station and so no coffee for me unfortunately, but did get a bottle of water from Sainsburys and had that during the journey as well as listen to some rather nice mellow tunes including Where in the World by Swing Out Sister (make that tune of the day) and although the train was delayed a little bit, it did at least get into Euston on time for me to head across to St Pancras and take the train homewards, so that was all good. It had been a lovely time and I will miss The Love of course, but the time we spend together is always special.

Saturday 13th March – Walking and Winning

The Love In My Heart and I had a rather nice breakfast this morning, which got us both up and sorted for the day together. In fact, it was nice to be able to get up, have Brian the cat want lots of fussing and love, and we were happily watching James Martin on the telly with Catherine Tyldesley as guest, and it now made sense why ITV were promoting a new drama series during the commercial breaks – as Catherine is in it, so was a good opportunity to chat about that as well as have some rather lovely looking food as well. And to be fair to The Love, the breakfast was spot on, even with a poached egg that was way better than those who do Four in a Bed in the B&Bs!

Later on The Love was heading off to the cemetery and for me it made sure that I would give her the necessary space there, so set off for a walk at the same time – she was also going to chat with her sisters too, so again, space needed. I wanted to keep up the exercise anyway, so headed off first along the Ashton Canal going uphill a few locks until I reached a junction to follow cycle path 60 along towards Openshaw, Gorton station and Gorton itself. I had walked down here previously to Ashton Old Road, but carried on, and eventually reached a bridge over with Gorton station platforms in the distance. The bridge looked like a platform in itself, maybe for an old train line, who knows?

After that the path widened somewhat and you could see Chapman Street Park on the right, and the path continued to head towards and then under Abbey Hey Lane, and then along the path going steadily downhill from the back end of Gorton and towards Debdale Park. I could carry on underneath the bridge to the park, but the path takes you up a ramp and on to the bridge and join the old Fallowfield Loop line – which The Love and I had walked all the way to Fairfield one day. The right turn was to head over the new bridge on Hyde Road where the road had been widened, and then towards the bridge close to Ryder Brow, where I could take the path down and follow the street back to Hyde Road, and followed this towards Gorton Tesco and to get the bus back to The Love's place.

The Love later also excelled herself making a rather gorgeous carbonara, and done from scratch and with fresh ingredients too. Lots of pancetta, really nice tagliatelle pasta, and the sauce direct from the cooking of the pasta with the fresh eggs and cheese, really did hit the mark massively. I don't know how she does it, but that really did feel special to have and I appreciated the effort made massively. I think as well for her that being able to cook for two is more rewarding than for one because you've got someone to appreciate the efforts. We also had some champagne as well (because why not?) and some nice drinks later on, and saw Bank Balance with Gino di Campo and his son, and how they at least managed to bank £16,000 for Comic Relief.

Later on I settled in to watch the late evening game between Fulham and Manchester City as The Love watched the royal stuff on Channel 5 – she said to me that if I was at home I'd be watching it, which was very nice of her. It wasn't the best first half but City stepped it up in th second half without question – with John Stones getting on the end of a Joao Cancelo free kick for the opener, and Gabriel Jesús taking advantage of a bad back pass to round the Fulham keeper and score a second – and with Ferran Torres being brought down in the box, up stepped Sergio Aguero to score, which was really nice to see him back amongst the goals. 3-0 win, 17 points clear at the top of the table, a very happy day. Tune of the day is the Clash's London Calling, as Fulham's banner behind the goal was “I live by the river” which was a line in said classic.

Friday 12th March – A Day Off

It was a day off work for me and a day off for The Love In My Heart, although she had to be there for a couple of hours this morning due to staffing issues to make sure that she was able to cover and to keep things going. Brian the cat was still on the bed of course and he had snuggled there and was happy, and I had a shower and got myself up and ready. Brian then sprawled out on the bed even more and decided that having a good sleep was the thing he was going to be doing today. I can't say I blame him to be honest, and he was happy to be there most of the day.

The Love returned back from work just after 9.30am and we were able to have some nice sausage and egg muffins together, with a coffee, and be able then to watch some old school Escape to the Country and relax together. It was nice just to chatter and have coffee and feel like we were making the time off just time to chill out. In fact later on we decided it would be good to head out for a walk, and so staying local, we headed towards Didsbury and over to Fletcher Moss, and even managed to get a spot in the little car park by one of the gardens, so that was quite good. We did note also some work going on for one of the gardens with some plans on display, which looked nice.

It was several weeks since flooding hit the River Mersey and parts of the gardens and park here was used as a flood plain via sluice gates in order not to flood the housing locally. You could tell that in parts the ground was still pretty saturated, although walking towards the trees on one of the paths showed that actually there was some dry parts of the park, mainly due to the wind blowing which was quite strong over the last few days. It was noticeable too that there was a queue for the Alpine Tea Room to grab a coffee or a nice cake, and they were still doing well under the circumstances.

We headed back homewards later and were able to relax and then later think about take out – unfortunately the wind had decided to break the automatic gates to the apartment block, and so was meaning that we couldn't go to the local Chinese ourselves, so it was a case of using the local one who also delivers, and so we got some rather nice chicken in lemon sauce (why add pineapple though, why?) and some pork in Cantonese sauce, along with fried rice, prawn toasts and some duck spring rolls too. That was all rather nice to be able to do that and indeed to enjoy the meal together.

It was good to flick over before Gogglebox, entertaining as much as that was later, and to see Top of the Pops from 1990. It showed just how many songs I liked in the charts back then including the likes of Depeche Mode, Pop Will Eat Itself, The Charlatans, and also The Sisters of Mercy, who were in the studio performing the track More, which has to be tune of the day – it's still an under-rated track of theirs and it showed just how popular they were at the time as it was mentioned about a tour culimating in a Wembley show as well. I also noted Cliff Richard's version of From A Distance before Bette Midler released her own version too.

Thursday 11th March – Reunited

It was good to be only on a half day at work today and for a good reason. In fact the morning was started quite early as I had to have a full saliva PCR test to ensure that I was tested negative prior to going in to the office next week, which I plan to do on Wednesday. I had a courier come to collect the test and it was all securely bagged and taken away, so most likely I would find out the result tomorrow. It is good that our workplace is taking things seriously and making sure we're all safe for going in to the office, but also that we're able to have all the necessary tests sent to us as well which although probably costs a little bit, apparently some of it will be Government funded, and that's sensible to get everyone back to work.

I also had a visit today from the engineers of the manufacturers of the heating system in the apartment block to see if they could sort out the heating issue I've had. I reported it to our building management who then got some plumbers on the case, and they noted a leak in one of the water return pipes for the hot water, which could have caused some damage. They recommended one of those pipe taps be replaced, and that they needed to get the specialists out to sort it. I have to say the engineer knew the system perfectly, he had the pipe swapped out and so no leakage (and therefore hot water) and recognised there was a valve which needed to be replaced – with that out of the equation all the radiators were working fine. He could come back on Monday with that part, so all good.

It was then onwards with the working half day and I had a meeting with my manager to sort some things out in a presentation and to be able to make sure we had all the facts prior to the meeting taking place later – which I'd normally be at too but the half day curtailed that. With that done it was time to have a little bit of lunch and to pack the final bits in my case, and then later on once everything was all sorted, time to then head off and take the train from East Croydon station to St Pancras, followed by a stop at Pret for a coffee, then a walk over to Euston staton in order to get the train to see The Love In My Heart (as we're support bubbles for each other, we're still allowed under current regulations.)

It was a very quiet train, and sensible that I was able to take a train in the afternoon so not to be in the commuter rush, so I could kick back, put the headphones on, and relax with some music on the way up including the rather nice Room For Squares album by John Mayer, which includes the rather great guitar picks during Neon, which is tune of the day for me. It was nice also to see daylight as I headed along on the train and it was also good that all tickets were checked so that no one was attempting to take advantage. I was able to enjoy the view as the train sped past, and once at Manchester Piccadilly, it was down to the tram to The Love's place – and it came straight away. Winning!

The Love was still at work and so I arrived back with Brian the cat to greet me. He of course wanted his tea and I was more than happy to oblige. That made him happy and I was also pleased when The Love did arrive back, where plenty of hugs were on offer. It was nice just to settle in for the evening together and we were able to watch some telly and also have some beef bourbignon for tea along with some potatoes and vegetables, and to enjoy being with each other. I always appreciate the time that we have together, but in the current situation, even more so. In fact, being snuggled up and having Brian also decide to get his cuddles and fuss was all rather lovely.

Wednesday 10th March - Saints and Sinners

It was a busy day all told but also a good day in terms of sorting things out and being pretty productive. I was able to look at a way that we could decommission a distribution point from MECM where effectively the server itself had died (the hard disk had at least) - and following some guidance, I was able to look at doing that removal. It's always better to do it with the server live so you can in effect do all the removals cleanly, but unlike the old days the way you can now do the removal and cleanup does allow for an option if you've not been able to recussitate a dead box.

It was also a case of cross checking some Macs as well to see if they needed re-enrolling in our management system, and of the list I was provided by my colleague I could see that both our anti-virus and the inventory software both had clients report in, which showed that they were indeed online and they were being used, so in effect it was a case of being able to track down where those are and recommending a re-enrolment which should sort out other things such as policies nicely as well, and deployments at that.

After work I had the added treat of a midweek Manchester City game, re-arranged because of our participation in the FA Cup sixth round and the Champions League next midweek, so Southampton came to the Etihad. They seemed to be the better side early on and had some pressure to contend with before we settled. A move down the left involving Oleksandr Zinchenko and Phil Foden resulted in a shot from Foden being saved, and thankfully Kevin de Bruyne followed up with the rebound off the bar to take the lead for City, so at least that was all good.

Or so I thought: Southampton got a corner, and as the corner came in, Westergaard was held back by Aymeric Laporte. The referee had a view of it, pointed to the spot, and VAR confirmed that one. James Ward-Prowse tucked away the penalty for the equaliser and it was 1-1. And then some controversy: the Southampton keeper Alex McCarthy tried to play the ball out and Phil Foden beat him to the ball - and the attempted tackle appeared to make contact with Foden and bring the ball down. No penalty said the ref, and VAR also said no as well. I do wonder what decisions have to be obvious that the referee made an error?

Thankfully after a bad pass across the Southampton midfield, this was intercepted from Riyad Mahrez, who cut inside and smashed it into the bottom left corner for 2-1, absolute liquid football that was. I was pretty pleased because we deserved that. Right on half time another surge forward from Mahrez and a shot hit the post, and Ilkay Gundogan was on hand to hit in the rebound for 3-1 at half time. Very nice timing that and certainly just what we needed to go on during the second half, and indeed to get back to being 14 points clear at the top of the table.

More of the same from City in the second half, and a nice move down the right involving Fernandinho and Phil Foden resulted in the ball being passed to Mahrez, who took on a couple of players who slotted home for 4-1. Che Adams then went up the other end for Southampton and scored almost straight away for 4-2 - the word is goal fest! More so as Foden burst through and set up de Bruyne to make it 5-2. This was really getting to be rather good fun it has to be said. Liquid football from both sides, and the main difference was that City took their chances more. It was definitely a plus to win though, and tune of the day is the City anthem Blue Moon as performed by Supra, full of indie guitars and rocking out. Because it does.

Tuesday 9th March - It's A New Record!

I must admit that I've been getting back into playing some old school (and possibly more newer school) games as of late, as there isn't much on television at present, well not until Line of Duty starts on March 21st, and let's face it, who isn't excited about that one? And so as well as having plenty of time to enjoy the games on the Commodore 64 and the Commodore Plus/4 in equal measures, and smashing some previous records on Winter Events on the latter in the process fairly recently, I thought it was time to put some batteries in the controller, and fire up the Nintendo Wii to go relatively newer school.

In fact, I spent a fair bit of time on Wii Sports Resort, not least because I have the MotionPlus controller (indeed, The Love In My Heart got me the game with the MotionPlus add-on for Christmas one year, a fabulous present all told) and it reminded me of when The Love and I would have enjoyable evenings together doing the likes of the frisbee dog (the dog is cute) as well as the frisbee golf, the archery (cue excited voice of "ten!) and also bowling and the three point basketball game. That enough should tell you that it was a game we played quite a bit and I became reasonably good at a fair number of the events.

What I didn't expect was the first time I picked it up in ages a couple of weeks back, and then at the back end of last week, that I'd actually beat my all time record for 9 holes on Frisbee Golf on the resort course, getting 13 under par and beating my previous best of 12 under. That was pretty nice, and I've still got some way to go before breaking the 18 hole record of mine of 25 under par, and as you can imagine there were some holes in one and some eagles in there to be able to do that. Still though it shows that the game is just as pick up and playable as it was on first release.

Tonight I turned my attention to the wakeboarding, and wanted to try to get the badge where you score 1000 points without crashing a single time in the expert level. I've got some ideas how I could do that but it's just noticing which way to actually perform the jumps and cross the waves, so that would be good. I did however then go to the beginner level which is free flowing and actually beat my all time record, scoring 2403 points in the process and indeed getting the pro badge on that level for it too - and the voice says "it's a new record!" which always makes any player of the game smile.

Ultimately though, it's still a game that I thoroughly enjoy and a step up from the classic Wii Sports (which to be fair was a killer pack-in title to get people to buy a Wii back in the day) and of course the one thing I also love about this is the title theme on Wii Sports Resort, it's so uplifting and even having the little stinger of the original theme at the end is just a lovely thing, so tune of the day. I defy anyone not to listen and have a big smile on their face afterwards, it's just so lovely.

Monday 8th March - Brand New Deployments

It was nice today to really get my teeth into a couple of things, and the main one I wanted to get done today was to have the Software Centre in MECM and the Self-Service in JAMF Pro all correctly looking the way we want them to. I had some revised logos to add, and usefully the colour palette of which colours to use, which of course is extraordinarily helpful - and saves guessing of course. I knew the dimensions of the images I needed too, so it was a case of using the tools I had to be able to take the logo (white on a transparent background) and then add the background colour in accordingly, so that it would look the part and match the colour I had for the background also.

In fact, that worked out well and once I knew I could use one of the backdrops with a similarly coloured pattern and gradient on the Mac side, plus a version of the logo to match the dimensions, that worked out well and meant that it was a case of being able to get things done in a reasonably quick amount of time too. In fact my manager gave me the go-ahead to have them both live, so once the managed settings were present, in both environments the new handiwork showed, and met with approval across the board which was rather lovely. I do like it when a plan comes together!

I also was monitoring the deployment of the new version of the inventory client we use in Windows, as there had been a new version of the client complete with some configuration changes for security reasons. The good thing as well is that it'd be another opportunity to showcase the fact that using the cloud management gateway is really helping with deployments, proven by the numbers of machines that got the deployment in the first day, and the split in numbers of machines that had deployed via a traditional distribution point (for example if the client was connected to the VPN) and those via cloud. It's a real benefit to us and shows the hard work does pay off, so felt pleased about that.

I did have a rather nice surprise in the post today from The Love In My Heart too, which is rather small but cute with it, and that really did cheer me up massively. I am missing her lots, and can't wait to see her, but know at the same time that we've been effectively doing our bit to be safe and also to make sure that we can focus on work and things like that too. It's always nice to speak with her anyway and can't wait till we next see each other, I suspect there'll also be some cuddles for Brian the cat too - as he keeps looking out of the bedroom window and I think he's looking for me (possibly...)

I also spent some time tonight having some music on, always good to calm the soul and indeed to be able to relax in the evening after work too. I have to admit that it'll be really nice when I'm able to go safely to a gig again and enjoy some live music, but in the meantime, I'll have to make do with the CDs and play them pretty loudly on my rig. One such example of that was the rather good live album with Queen and Adam Lambert, and so many classic tracks so well done, including a rather epic version of We Are The Champions too - definitely tune of the day for me that one.

Sunday 7th March - Palace and Derby

It was nice to have a lie in this morning after I'd had a really nice chat last night online with a few of my good friends. It was also good as it was a positive reaction to a new tune I'd composed on the Commodore 64 and was able to give it playback, and I'd been checking it over with a friend who gave me some really good pointers and advice along the way, so that was nice. It was also notable that one of them mentioned the infamous Music 2000 episode of Look Around You, so all day long today I've had that Machadaynu song in my head, especially the remix done by The Freelance Hairdresser, so that simply has to be tune of the day for me.

As I knew I'd be watching the Manchester derby later, I headed off earlier towards West Croydon and took the London Overground train over to Penge West, so I could have a circular walk around Crystal Palace Park. I was tempted to look at the food stalls for the Sunday food market, but the queue was massive and snaked around and along one of the paths, as did the queue for coffee at the café, so definitely sacked that off, and instead started the circular walk, going the opposite way round from what I had done last Sunday, heading uphill first and along towards the outside bowl where there's a plaque to commemorate the last ever UK gig for Bob Marley and the Wailers.

I also then walked uphill towards the top part where the actual crystal palace used to be and the sphinxes too, and it was noticeable plenty of families were out with their children, getting some exercise and a walk, but also it was busier than last week too, maybe because I had gone earlier in the day. I then walked down the hill on the other side and past the athletics stadium and the farm on the right which had plenty of animals out relaxing and having a look at all the passers by. It was busier too near where the dinasour scuptures were by the lake, and I took the higher path here to avoid the crowds somewhat.

It was a two mile or so walk all told, which was pretty good, and although the temptation to queue for a coffee was there, I decided it'd be easier to head back on the train as it was due in around ten minutes or so, and stopped off to head into one of the shops on the way home to get some essentials before then settling in with a coffee to watch the Manchester derby. And it was not a very good start at all as Gabriel Jesús gave away a penalty which Bruno Fernandes tucked way inside the first two minutes, with United taking the lead. That settled United down and City didn't seem to settle, which was not good.

In fact it was more of the same early in the second half as United went on the break, and Luke Shaw finished well. No matter what City did, they looked out of sorts and couldn't score - Kevin de Bruyne wasn't at his best and Raheem Sterling left his shooting boots at home. It hurts more because it's the derby of course, but I wasn't surprised that we just didn't have it for some reason. We had though won 20 plus on the bounce in all competitions, so if this defeat gives us a kick up the backside ready to go again, then that hopefully might be a positive thing to take from it. Better team won on the day though, it has to be said.

Saturday 6th March - Ups And Farthing Downs

It was nice to be able to have a lie in this morning to say the least - and especially after it had been a long week. Not necessarily because of anything in particular, but just a lot to concentrate on and I did feel quite mentally tired last night, so was actually good to go to sleep and to be able to stay asleep as well instead of be awake and think about too much. It was also good that I could head up in my pyjamas, have some breakfast and a coffee and generally lounge around for a while, before sorting out some washing, ironing and also cleaning up the flat so it's all nice and tidy before getting myself ready. In fact I powered on some tunes whilst cleaning and got Pop Will Eat Itself's US promo CD of Can U Dig It, including the Justin Strauss house mixes on, so tune of the day for that 12 inch version.

I had some lunch later and then with some birthday cards written out and ready to post, and with the vacuum cleaner's bin emptied of dust and placed into a bin bag ready to dispose, it was off to the bins, then the post box, and then the bus stop. I had two options on the walk that I had planned to do: I'd either get the 60 bus to Coulsdon South, and walk from there via Farthing Downs and Happy Valley to Coulsdon Common, or get the 466 bus to Couldson Common and do the walk the other way around. As it turned out the 466 bus came first so it was an easy decision to get on that, although the traffic between Purley and Coulsdon was slow due to some temporary traffic lights.

Once I got to Coulsdon Common and The Fox pub, I noted that outside there was a little trailer selling coffee as well as bacon or sausage baps as a nice filling bit of lunch or late breakfast. I ordered a latte to take with me for my walk and that was very nice, and I have to say that it was good to see some improvisation there - and with a small queue it did seem popular too. I walked along the path and towards Happy Valley, and the views there are always beautiful, with the hills really giving the valley a sense of being sheltered and really nice, and that's always good to be able to see.

I followed the path down the valley and at the bottom followed the path alongside the shrubs and trees and headed to the path through the woodland, replicating the path along the London Loop section six in fact. There's a sizeable climb through the woods and once you get to the top there's the car park for Farthing Downs, and also some toilets and a majestic view. In fact as you walk along the downs and appreciate the view at the peak, you can actually see The Shard from a mere fifteen miles away which is really impressive, and then it's quite a nice walk downhill as you head towards Coulsdon South station.

I was so pleased with good timing all round today as I hadn't waited long for a bus out, and around a minute or so after I got to the bus stop, the 60 bus came to take me home via Coulsdon town centre and Purley, and thankully not as bad in the temporary traffic lights either. I also then headed to get a few bits when back in the centre of Croydon and it was quite good to have walked around two and a half miles or so, with some hills involved, to keep me fit and healthy. I have to admit that it was nice to be out but also nice to enjoy the peace and quiet of the walk too - so calm and nice.

Friday 5th March - Testing and Terroni

It was off to the office today after I'd had my test yesterday and had the all clear, so that was good. It was remarkably quiet in the office though, and in fact only two of us were in. That did mean though that I was able to crack on with some testing that I had planned to do, and had all the network facilities and space to do so. In effect, our Networks team had changed the IP helper to go to our main MECM server for PXE instead of the local DP, so wanted to check what impact this would have on both the initial boot image loading during PXE boot, and then after that any impact on deploying the operating system itself and the relevant task sequence, in terms of any time delays.

As ever, I always have at least two pieces of kit, similar spec, same network adapter etc, and had also noted down all the times from when I was last in before the IP helper change, so knew what the numbers were beforehand. The good news was that the new config of the helper worked perfectly, and PXE did its job, so that was of course good. However, I noted it was around twice the time to download the boot image initially (around 1 minute 10 seconds as opposed to 35 seconds) but still way better than it used to be - and indeed I had double checked all the TFTP tweak settings you can make to be sure it was accurate. However, on the flip side of that, time to complete the task sequence from commencement was around the same, give or take the odd 30 seconds here and there, so that was a positive.

It was also good that I was able to check over some reports and find that there were some duplicate machines - different asset numbers, but the same serial number. A check with a few people showed that they had either been rebuilt or renamed, but the old name still existed. Clearing those out was a cinch, but that also indirectly meant that there may be some potential to have freed up some licences for some pieces of software as well, so that is a definite plus point for me. And the day went by pretty quickly, not least because of a very nice gesture for all staff this month that there's a 2pm finish every Friday in recognition of a year of battling and keeping going during the current scenario.

With that extra time in mind, I headed off on the bus from the office over to Clerkenwell and to the rather lovely Terroni italian delicatessen, not far from Farringdon station. I've been there before when I used to work not far from it, and it's ace. I checked yesterday and because they sell food, open as normal (face coverings on of course.) It was just as lovely as ever, and got myself some gorgeous rigatoni pasta as well as some really nice looking biscuits too. And they had proper Italian beer at that - the Ichusa, and also proper proper red Peroni, none of this Nastro Azzuro rubbish on sale here. And for those of you like me who have had the proper stuff (The Love In My Heart and I's beer of choice when in Naples) it's always appreciated. Happy to spend the money in there for sure.

After heading on the train home, I dropped that shopping off and headed to Tesco in order to get all the lunches etc for next week as well as some things for the home. There was a queue outside to get in, but was all good when inside, so have to say it was pretty good to be able to get round, get what I needed and get home well in time for when I normally finish work, it has to be said. Tonight will be about getting a nice takeout for tea, having a beer and either the Wii or the Commodore 64 is coming out for a bit of a gaming session too. In fact, I located a backup CD of some almost 20 year old remixes of Commodore 64 tunes, including a rather nice dance mix of Rob Hubbard's classic Crazy Comets music by Remi Brons, so definitely tune of the day for me that one.

Thursday 4th March - On A Bacon Roll

I was on a roll today, primarily because of the fact that today marked two years that I have worked at the company I am employed by. It is also two years for my colleague as well who started the same day as me, so was nice to be able to celebrate that time, albeit virtually. Of course, two very different years too - the first started in a rented building, LABS House, close to Holborn station, before then moving on to a really nice office close to Tottenham Court Road tube and within close walking distance of all the nice record shops in Soho as well as a relatively straightforward commute to and from work. Then of course the pandemic happened and that did change everything of course.

I must admit though I did treat myself this morning and headed to the local Greggs close to me for a bacon roll and a latte to have as a takeout and to have at home. It just felt the right thing to do to be honest and was really nice to enjoy that, plan the deployment I sorted out yesterday and get that carried out for our Macs (which was working lovely so felt positive) as well as then checking over a number of things, and commencing a very minor hot fix for the MECM server, which means that when you do a right click action on a machine, it does it only to that machine and not the whole collection (thankfully only those who use the admin console are affected, but of course you want to avoid multiple restarts!)

With that all done, it was really good to be able to then check over a few things and to package up another set of fonts on the test Mac - namely the ones which are licenced only for a certain numbers of users and machines at that. At least we have the control of that, and of course we're then able to get things tested properly and to be able to be sure that when we do roll out wider, it works. Of course I went down the line of packaging them neatly and that worked a treat all told so nice to be able to develop some more and get some compliance all happening which is a good thing.

It is also World Book Day today too so I had a quick message from The Love In My Heart to tell me that it was all good where she works and there were plenty who had made the effort with outfits and so on to celebrate. I think it's always a good thing to encourage people to do more reading, and The Love is right when she says that she prefers proper books - there's something so wholesome about that and it just means that you're able to enjoy the story more, and have something physical to take with you. Not sure about those e-Readers to be honest, not a fan.

It was also really nice to get the test done for going into the office tomorrow, and the good news - all negative, so can go in and do what I need to do. I actually had two tests sent to me so I've got one ready for the next time I go in as well and get tested beforehand. I have to admit though that it's a little nerve-wracking when you do it, but I know as I've been keeping safe that I shouldn't have much to worry about. It also shows how seriously work take our welfare though and that has to be a good thing in my book. So definitely feel on a roll, and after some discussion at work, Rise Above, normally by Black Flag, but saw a version by Henry Rollins and Cyndi Lauper online, and that is just wow, amazingly good, so tune of the day.

Wednesday 3rd March - Recovery Mode

So it was all good to plan for a deployment today, which had been tested, tested and re-tested beforehand - as you would expect. Of course, what you do also plan for is to give yourself enough time so that if things do happen untowards for some reason, you can turn it around. Today just so happened to be one of those days to be perfectly honest, and I could see straight away that it was having an impact on one of our servers in a not so good way - so priority was to work on a solution and to also look at another way of doing the same deployment without affecting anyone.

I spoke to our provider that hosts one of our instances and reported the findings - and my suspicion was that we had created a configuration profile in JAMF Pro, which included some font deployments, which weren't to that liking. Our provider confirmed that and recommended a package deployment via policy instead (which of course is pretty straightforward to do, so had the Mac with me with Composer on to be able to get that done) - and that seemed to be pretty good. In the meantime it was still slow on the server side, so after a quick discussion, got them to remove the offending profile - which may have needed an API call to do it. The moment they did that - boom! Everything was a lot quicker and a lot more responsive to say the least.

So in effect, if you're doing a configuration profile for Mac OSX, and even if the option does exist to allow fonts to be added in this way - don't do it. If you have multiple fonts - ie for light, bold, italic, all that sort of thing) then it's clearly not going to be a small deployment and the more you add, the more you'll see the CPU and RAM usage of the server creep up. Not good. The configuration profiles, as I've learned somewhat the hard way today, are more for smaller prefrence files and configurations available to be done, so for example a small plist file for configuring Google Chrome how you like - that's perfectly fine.

I was easily able to get the package done in composer, uploaded via JAMF Admin and tested on a few machines, including the test Mac I have, and that all seemed to be working nicely and did everything I wanted it to - which is a positive of course. So with that in mind it was pretty good to be good to go for tomorrow and still be in plenty of time for when we need it out there for - so that is good. In addition, the Windows deployment of the same set of fonts via MECM was going super smoothly, and it was also testament to the work put in that the Cloud Management Gateway served its content ever so well as well, which was really good.

So the day did end on a good positive and indeed later on I actually finally got my best ever score on the Night of the Demon table on Slam Tilt, beating the default top slot of 500 million with a score of around 523 million, so mega pleased with that. Still a difficult table, and the main theme of that table is tune of the day for me - sets the scene properly and really does give you the feeling that you should be playing it at night, which of course I was, so that was good. It's always nice to go back and beat your own bests on occasion.

Tuesday 2nd March - Intense Intents

It was a fairly quiet day all round in terms of what was going on outside, but it was a fairly intense day work wise, as everything seemed to arrive at once. First of all, the new version of one piece of software arrived which was complete with the customisations that we needed - and in addition, the configuration file set accordingly so that it doesn't use one component that isn't now required anymore. I spent a fair bit of time getting that both packaged and tested so that we would be able to get that deployed once it passed the final amount of tests later today.

I also had a notification from my colleague that we would be ready to get the new fonts deployed. I had of course road tested this in the last week or two and made sure that the deployment method to be used would work correctly across the board on both Windows and Mac (and it did) and so it would then be a case of getting the schedule set also with a planned change in order to be able to get that all in place - and with that done we can monitor that tomorrow and make sure all is right and working too. It'll also be a case to make sure that we can see how a larger scale deployment with some potentially via the cloud DP would work.

We also had a productive meeting with regards to some of the things we needed to do with our JAMF Pro Mac instance - and one of them was to be able to renew the push certificate via Apple, which has to be done once per year. The good news is that all the information needed was available, and I went through it live in the meeting and we made sure it was all done in good time, so that was a positive to take forward too. I do like taking positives whenever we can and it did feel like we managed to get a lot more sorted out today as well, so that was nice.

I had a nice little chat with The Love In My Heart later on, and she was happy because she had received a little card I had sent to her in the post. I am missing her of course, but we know of course that when we do get the chance to get back together, then we'll make the most of it - and being our support bubble with each other has really helped over the last year or so especially. It does feel a little weird that it's almost a year since things started to change and gradually we all started to move some working patterns (well I did, The Love's job means she has been in all the time) but I've just been thankful to have each other really.

It was then on with Radio 5 Live and listening to tonight's game between Manchester City and Wolves. I must admit that I am not getting bored at all with the current winning streak, and doing 20 on the bounce before tonight was rather good. As I'm writing this City are 1-0 up due to an own goal but it has to be said that we are playing well, and it is good to see that we're not letting up whatsoever at the moment. Tune of the day is the classic Manchester City anthem from the 1970s The Boys In Blue - because even then, the chant was that they'll never give in.

Monday 1st March - No Ides Here

Thankfully there's no reminders to beware the Ides of March and other such rubbish today, but it did feel a bit fresher than yesterday outside as I was to find out later. I got myself up and ready for the working day, and had some plans to write some documentation as well as be able to sort out a few inventory related issues. That was at least the aim, and I also wanted to be sure that I could test out some new deployments, so a reasonably busy day ahead for me at least.

In fact, I did have a very productive meeting with one of our service team leads today and managed to work out not only a plan of what to do with certain queries and accounts on one of our systems, but ways to resolve them too and a sensible way forward at that. Sometimes when working virtually it is all too easy to fall into the likes of email and online chat (and to be fair, formalising things in an email is always good anyway) but there's something good to be had about working things out in a meeting call and getting things discussed - always quicker than typing those ideas too of course.

I did need to head out at lunch time as I wanted to get a birthday gift for one of my relations whose birthday is coming up. They wanted a One 4 All Gift Card which you normally get at the Post Office - however the post office near me with it being a main one is always very busy with long queues and having checked the web site, it did mention you can get them in Tesco as well. Just to chance it, I headed to the local Tesco Express (which is a pretty decent sized one) not too far from me. And amazingly, they had them - so one of those purchased and with no queue, and that was me all very happy indeed it has to be said.

I also ended up later in the evening playing on the Nintendo Wii after I'd had a good little session of play on Saturday. I also mentioned to my work colleague that the top slots if you open it up are for the likes of the Nintendo Gamecube controllers, and the games should play fine on there as long as it's the first generation Wii (the model number needs to be RVL for this to work.) My own Wii is a first gen so if I wanted to I could play said games, but went for a marathon first to 999 points game on rotation on the snooker and pool game I have via WiiWare which is rather good fun.

I also took some time to get the old subwoofer disconnected from the current hi-fi setup and ready to dispose of when the new one arrives. I must admit it'll be nice to listen to surround DVD-Audio discs and indeed watch films in the full surround rig once it gets here, but in the meantime I've been playing a number of the new CDs I have in stereo and enjoying relaxing with the time to listen to them too. One of those happens to be the excellent Amy Macdonald album The Human Demands, and the lead single from that - especially the full album version - is the rather good The Hudson, so that's tune of the day.