Dear Diary... May 2019

Friday 31st May - Birmingham Bonus

It was a half day at work for me today, and managed to get plenty done, including having a good one to one chat with my manager. It pretty much confirmed that all was good and that I was getting on with things well, and to keep doing what I was doing as well. It was a good way to get through stuff and plan ahead for next week, especially as I was going to be having a good few weeks of hard work before I then have a holiday, so definitely well worth the time spent on some planning too.

I then headed from work and along Tottenham Court Road, and then to Euston, to be in good time for the 1403 train, but not to Manchester this time, but to Birmingham. The Love In My Heart and I were doing what we did last year and meet half way, and this weekend coincided with our anniversary too. It made sense to do that and indeed we'd booked the Macdonald Burlington Hotel (where we've stayed before and it's been lovely) as I'd had a gift card to use from the old job and spent that on to put towards the booking, so that meant two nights with breakfast around £83. Result all round really.

At the same time The Love was on the 1405 train from Manchester Piccadilly to Birmingham New Street, and as both our trains approached New Street, they were stuck in a queue for a platform. Mine arrived first and waited for The Love, but it turned out she was being directed up the stairs at the far end of the platform and out, so she went all the way round to where we were meeting! We were both there though, so all good, and we took the relatively short walk to the Burlington Hotel and checked in. We had a room on the fourth floor with comfy double bed, decent telly, bath and shower, and good sized wardrobe,and a window view that looked West towards part of the city centre. All was good there and we soon had ourselves all sorted and unpacked.

The Love did mention she wanted to go into the largest Primark in the world, and we soon located it on High Street, which was formerly the old Pavilions shopping centre back in the day. Not only does it take up four floors, but it has things like a beauty salon, a barbers shop, a café on the mezzanine level with cake and coffee, and also hot pizzas from an oven, a first floor café and also a second floor Disney café which was very popular with families and children (understatement!) and that was packed. I guess that it's attempting to make the whole experience more bearable for those like me who loathe the place, and The Love did get a few things from there, and the cake was decent enough too.

After that we headed around to Tilt, a bar with a difference in the city centre. They have over the ground floor, basement and first floor, around 20 pinball machines, all set properly in tournament play, and all working. I was pretty pleased to see the likes of the Iron Maiden machine, and the craft beers were very good, but on the first floor, there was Theatre of Magic. Wow! I've not played it in ages and it's my second favourite pinball machine of all time, so naturally of course I had to have a go. I still hadn't lost it and managed to get a jackpot and lock all three balls as well as doing a few of the missions, so definitely good to play it properly. Happy bunny!

We went back to the hotel and got changed for the evening, and decided to stay close to the hotel and went to the Bacchus Bar which is below ground and the Burlington itself. It's still as nice as ever in there, and we got a table in the dining section. It was calm and chilled but with some quality music on (make The Stone Roses classic I Am The Resurrection tune of the day) and The Love had the Hunter's chicken and I went for the rather nice fish pie, which really was good - plenty of mash and cheese and fish in a quality sauce, so definitely did the job.

Later after the food we walked up towards where the cathedral is, and then to the really nice pub opposite there, The Old Joint Stock, which has a theatre upstairs on the second floor. The ale was on form here too and The Love and I found a quiet corner to have a drink and a chat which was all lovely. In fact it was good just to be able to relax and natter, and it was all downhill later back to the hotel room, where we chilled out together and were all comfy and cosy heading to sleep. It was a lovely start to what was going to be an excellent weekend.

Thursday 30th May - Anniversary Number Eleven

Today is always a very special day for me, as eleven years ago today I met The Love In My Heart, and my life changed infinitely for the better (understatement). Her wit, warmth, humour and overall support and encouragement for me to do better for myself in both life choices and career, particularly over the last few years, has been wonderful, and I consider myself extremely lucky to be with such a beautiful and inspiring woman. I feel that every day, and the last eleven years have been so quick but yet so great at the same time - no doubt this weekend we'll be celebrating and enjoying ourselves together.

It was nice to wish her well on the train to work this morning, and her reply had a little love heart back, which was sweet and appreciated. It was a busy day for us both at work and so that kept us both occupied for most of the day. For me especially it's been well worth going through a lot of issues that we've wanted to resolve, and helped a colleague out sorting some Excel pivot tables in order to successfully process survey results and turn them into some really useful data too, so that was all good.

I had a nice surprise when I got home too, and that was something I'd ordered earlier in the week - which was the latest (2020) edition of the Rare Record Price Guide. It's now in its 15th edition and gets published around once every two years, with so many valuations of classic vinyl and CD, and which is well worth collecting and what is really a new trend for collecting too. For me, I know I have certain pieces of vinyl and CD which are worth a bit, and it's always nice to see what value progresses over time.

I flicked through and spotted some major artists with high prices for anything approaching mint condition, and in particular some of the late 1960s and early 1970s albums really are shooting up in value as they approach fifty years since its release date. For me it's perhaps noticeable that a lot of debut albums around that time are really becoming scarce to find, either because they're in the hands of collectors or because they're being played and becoming less easy to find in a really excellent condition overall. No doubt it'll be a good read as I flick through too.

I know that one of my most valuable items is New Order's Blue Monday 1988 CD Video single, and the True Faith one isn't far behind that either. I'll make the latter tune of the day primarily because it's a classic, the video is ace, and The Love also quite likes that song too, so definitely one to enjoy once again. In fact I do have a fair number of the 12" and remix singles, and anything originally released on Factory Records is generally going one direction - upwards in value. And I can't wait to see The Love tomorrow!

Wednesday 29th May - Re-Organisation

I had looked at the shelves with the Blu-Ray discs in and the ones with the CDs in, and noted that both were getting pretty full overall. In fact the tall shelf I had from IKEA is actually better suited to CDs, primarily because you can fit more shelves in for less, but what if I had a dedicated unit to put the Blu-Ray discs in, and so could use the tall IKEA tower for the CD singles I have, then free up some space in one of the shelving units for the CD albums, thus keeping them all nice and neat in alphabetical order? I did ponder this as I was heading off to lunch at work today, and having a mooch round the likes of Uniqlo and TK Maxx.

Anyway, I noted Argos had a sale on, and the very same unit that The Love In My Heart has got which is fairly narrow and a perfect size for paperback books and also Blu-Ray and DVD was on offer - and the discount meant I could go for an evening delivery and therefore mean less faffing around having to carry it homewards. That all done, I headed home later on and waited for a delivery between 7 and 10 - it came at 7.15pm, so pretty prompt all round and a nice delivery driver too, so that's always good to have a friendly face bringing your stuff to you.

I spent some time reading through the assembly guide, and set to work, and once I had everything in place, it was a case of getting the front support sorted, then the four main pieces put together with some pretty long screws, and the tricky bit was getting that in place, but that worked well, put the backboard on and nailed that down nicely, then once done, inserted the shelf holders, and slid the shelves in. To my joy it was a very snug fit indeed, which is a sign that all is well, and transferred the Blu-Ray discs into it. I could at a pinch get an extra shelf to fit inside it (Argos have a spares phone number so that might be doable) and expand further, but at the moment, plenty of room to expand.

All of the CD singles I have out of the other CD shelf fitted in the tall IKEA shelf unit (I just needed to add back in some of the shelf supports and shelves, which I kept, and move them upwards, and that looked neat and tidy, so I could then sort out all the recent CD purchases and get that all done in alphabetical order, meaning I've now got room for plenty more CDs and Blu-Ray discs as the collection grows, and found a good place for the new little unit so as not to be in the way of anything too, meaning I could hide away the speaker cables behind it too, so more tidiness abound!

I did watch the Europa League final too, and the first half was very dull indeed, made brighter by a much better second half where Chelsea, once they went in front, dominated proceedings and even an Arsenal goal back to 3-1 only gave Chelsea impetus to get a fourth and win the game 4-1, so Blue Day by Suggs would be playing loudly anywhere in West London right now (make that tune of the day) and I have to say, if I was an Arsenal fan, I would be livid with the way that they played!

Tuesday 28th May - Green And Pleasant Land

So as you'll know it was the European Parliamentary elections last Thursday, and one that might not have happened due to Brexit, but not being sorted meant we had to take part. Now, I of course did vote, and as I have done so for the last few years, I did vote for the Green Party. Of course seeing a candidate elected as one of the MEPs did make me feel a tad happier when I found out the results overnight on the Sunday, even if it was a case of some of the masses defecting from Labour and Conservative not to the Lib Dems, but to the Brexit Party. That said people have their own reasons and choice, and I respect that - the fact that those went out to vote at least means you can't complain and go "but I didn't vote and it's all rubbish."

But I know what you're thinking - but why Green? Lots of reasons actually. One of the main ones for me is that they're the main party who are taking climate change seriously, and a lot of their policies focus on better public transport and using better forms of energy as well, so a double win. Less cars on road and more use of trains and so on has to be a good thing, and indeed if we can make ourselves much more energy efficient, recycle, and actually lead the way in doing so and making our future planet a lot better and a lot less contributing to our own eventual destruction, then I'm definitely in on that. I don't agree with the tactics of the likes of Extinction Rebellion, but do think we need to take stock of the environment and make the world a better place.

Also, the Greens have sound and sure policies, ones which are consistent, and constant. As an example of this, they had campaigned to remain in the European Union, and are still the same level of consistency with that voice, that remaining is for them the better option. Compare that with the sheer inconsistency and lack of clarity that Labour exude, and the infighting of the Conversatives, and there's a refreshing difference. It's similar why so many nailed their colours to the Brexit Party and Lib Dem masts last week, you knew what their main policy was (leave and remain respectively) and it was a clear message similar to how the Greens do it.

I should also add that leading by example is key, and over the last few years when Govia Thameslink Railway has been effectively useless for a lot of commuters, the Green co-leader and Brighton Pavilion MP Caroline Lucas did not only attempt to make a breakthrough but also backed commuters, giving them a voice in Parliament and constantly battling against the likes of Failing Grayling and his idiocy. And for her local area in Brighton, plenty of backing and battling to reinstate services that were axed. Of course there are plenty of MPs who to be fair do serve their constituents, but leading by example is a quality any good leader should have, so massive respect where it is due.

I did on the plus side today feel green with happiness too - I finally got to the bottom of an issue that had been plaguing some users' machines, effectively taking ages for the login screen to appear. It's actually down to the way that some of the application containerisation happens if an app is sandboxed. If this is the case, and there's interaction with the local service required, a shed load of registry entries are created in the following location, which means also massive bloat of the LocalService user's ntuser.dat registry as well. So, do check HKU\S-1-5-19\Software\Classes\Local Settings\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\AppContainer\Mappings - and if you expand that and find a load of entries, delete the whole Mappings key, recreate it and restart. The difference is amazing.

Of course you could also boot to a restore disc and in an admin command prompt rename the local service profile in C:\Windows\ServiceProfile to something else, and let it recreate on boot, but it seems that somewhere some users are using a bad app that's not being liked in Windows 10 1809. At least I've got a way to rectify that now and my colleague was pretty chuffed with that all round. So in the meantime tune of the day is something that is a nod to the environment and in fact from REM's "Green" album, the excellent Turn You Inside Out, which when performed live Michael Stipe dedicates it to the Exxon Corporation (who own Esso, and had a large oil spill the same year...)

Monday 27th May - In The City

In the city, wrote Paul Weller, there's a thousand things I want to say to you (let's make that The Jam classic tune of the day, I'm sure The Love In My Heart would approve) - and indeed today The Love and I, after having a well earned rest, with Brian the cat snuggled on the bed back next to his Mummy whilst I was watching Ninja Warrior on catch up from Saturday evening, was all set to head out later. We were thinking about taking a walk but instead decided that some retail therapy and potentially some lunch in the city centre might be worthwhile instead!

We headed to the car park close to Piccadilly station (£3.50 for 24 hours, which is good and also close for me later to get the train) and from there we walked via the station and down the ramp towards the main roads and the shops. Of course some things don't change by Piccadilly, the 192 bus stop still has a large queue, the Spar is always packed, and the Wetherspoons opposite Piccadilly Gardens is just awful, one to stay well clear of. We first then headed to Debenhams as I had a voucher for there, and didn't see anything, but The Love did, so I offered the voucher in exchange and she got what she was after in there, so that worked out okay in the end.

We also did go to the likes of Uni Qlo, and TK Maxx, and although I saw a couple of shirts in TK Maxx, I wasn't 100% convinced necessarily - that said, I can always use online if I need to and be able to get myself something there - and we are going away this weekend so might even see something there anyway. One thing that did cheer me up no end though was seeing that Fopp on Brown Street was back open! It had closed with all the HMV buyout and changes at the back end of last year, but seeing it back and people in there buying music was rather delightful all round, it has to be said.

Later on The Love and I were going to possibly have food in the Abel Heywood, but there was hardly anything on the menu in, so we decided instead to leave that and go to Mackie Mayor. A wise move too, because I could have the Zest Spresso coffee porter from the Hawkshead Brewery which was lovely, and The Love had this gorgeous pork sandwich with egg and pesto, and I had the mushroom pizza as well. They were both fab and we chatted over our late lunch and all felt well with the world too.

We walked back towards Piccadilly station later and went into the Piccadilly Tap. The selection was good actually, and I had a lighter pale ale clearly inspired by Factory Records, so that went down well, and The Love had the proper Czech Budvar too (probably still prefers Moravka that you get in Mackie Mayor, but still) - and it was a nice chilled out vibe in there. In fact lots of rest and relaxation before heading off on the train, so "My State of Mind" by Swing Out Sister is tune of the day - definitely reflects that vibe that I had!

The Love headed home later and gave me a big hug and kiss, and reported back that Brian was all good and had his tea, and I was on three trains home tonight as Virgin were charging full price with no advance fares on the Manchester to London route. I went Manchester to Doncaster, then from there Doncaster to Kings Cross. The second section was a mere £13.50 advance which was good, and I paid around £8 for the other bit, so not bad really. I moved across to St Pancras and took the train homewards, and got home around 10.45pm so still late but not massively late if you know what I mean. A lovely weekend all round, and I'll have more of those please!

Sunday 26th May – Style in Styal

The Love In My Heart had a well deserved lie in, and Brian the cat was sat on the bed admiring himself and having a sleep and snuggle too. I got up and had a relatively relaxed morning watching the telly, and keeping en eye on what was going on in the world. We later had breakfast together, and The Love made some gorgeous bacon, egg, sausages and hash browns, which did the job nicely. We later on got ourselves showered and ready and despite the weather being not so good, we were going to head out and take a walk.

We decided that a visit back to Quarry Bank Mill in Styal was in order, so we headed out along Kingsway and via Heald Green, crossing the new airport road and carrying on through Styal Village and to the entrance to the mill and country park. The car park has been largely expanded now, and the entrance to all the sections has been moved so it’s at the top of the hill and close to the car park, making things flow much better overall. The mill and garden admission and so on is around £20 now, so membership clearly does have its advantages, especially for us both!

We walked along the top path which takes you to the upper garden, and plenty of fruit and vegetables were growing in there now, along with the beautifully restored lean to glass house which had plenty of fruit growing and some nice plants also. The shop has plants for sale and plenty to get you gardening, and even has a section dedicated to how the mill owners encouraged their children to do gardening too, quite nice to see overall that. We also then followed the path down the hill towards the River Bollin, and then followed that back towards the gardens and the mill itself, and walked to see the waterfall.

Whilst The Love went to the shop near the mill, I queued up for an ice cream – admittedly it was Cheshire Farm and not Snugburys, but I did have a single scoop cone of the lemon meringue flavour, which was very nice all round actually! It certainly felt fresh and the meringue pieces added to the flavour well, and the sugar cone was pretty large too. I was tempted by so many flavours but was going to be good really. We then headed back up the hill to the car park, and had a stop at Sainsburys in Cheadle Royal to get a couple of bits before The Love filled petrol – and so in two visits had racked up 300 plus Nectar points due to the Sainsburys anniversary deal!

We then headed towards Cheadle Hulme and headed to Platform 5 there for a late lunch / early tea. The Chorlton Pale Ale was on form for me, and The Love and I both went for the Sunday Roast. I had the beef and there were plenty of slices on there of really well cooked beef, roasties, new potatoes and vegetables. The Love had the half chicken and a side of cauliflower chese as well which for the extra cost was great value – in fact two could have shared that easily! It was nice to chill out together and we headed back to The Love’s place where of course Brian the cat wanted his tea.

Later on we watched the Monaco Grand Prix together – albeit the Channel 4 highlights, and it was a tough race primarily because Lewis Hamilton was having to defend for ages with tyres well past their best, but it was a class drive to do so and he was very good. I did feel a bit for Valtteri Bottas though: clearly impeded in the pit lane by Max Verstappen and not losing as much time having to do another tyre change was a good recovery. I do miss the fact that no one has “The Chain” by Fleetwood Mac anymore (make that tune of the day) and that would just have started this so well. Certainly though had some rain come down in Monaco, that would have been interesting…

Saturday 25th May – Cornwall Conundrum

I got myself up and ready and The Love In My Heart made me some lovely breakfast, and before long after a coffee I was heading off towards the bus stop – firstly to get the bus to the city centre, and from there the bus that would take me to my Mum’s. She asked me to head over and with her friend get all the times sorted for their forthcoming jaunt to Cornwall. They both have their national concessionary passes, so all the buses would be free of charge for them – and that would reduce the cost all round.

Mum was all ready with a coffee and a nice brew was had by all of us, and I started to show them the buses they needed to take on their journeys, so they could get to the next location. I did remind Mum too that it was a bit of an adventure for them, so if they wanted to change their plans and do something else during the day, they had options. In fact I had the full Summer timetable PDF on my phone so transferred that and my cut down version on to Mum’s friend’s phone, so she had it electronically if she needed to refer to it, and made perfect sense, and sorted out her “why does my phone go to sleep after 5 seconds” thing too, so she was most happy.

In essence, they take a circular route, starting and finishing in Penzance, stopping at different locations along the way and being able to see plenty of sights too. They do have an evening show at the Minack Theatre on one of the nights, which will be really good, and also some different places to go along the way. A lot will depend on how the weather is of course but the first few days at least look decent. I’m sure they will be able to enjoy themselves and see lots too, be interesting to see what they get up to.

Later on The Love In My Heart came over and we had a good chatter before The Love and I headed off for the afternoon. We ended up going to the Elizabethan pub and having a nice drink in there, and the drayman’s selection for a little late lunch nibble – with squid, chicken and messy chips, nice all round really. We headed back to The Love’s place and by this time Brian the cat was peckish and wanted to scoff his tea, which he duly downed well. The weather was still okay so Brian went out for a bit of a play with The Love keeping an eye on him so he wouldn’t attempt to sneak off!

We settled in later with some lovely ham hock for tea, and then watched qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix. What he hell were Ferrari doing and screwing up Charles Leclerc’s qualifying – “Oh you’ll be okay” – and he clearly wasn’t. Lewis Hamilton nailed pole at the end, and the Channel 4 folks had a really good opening segment with a tribute to the late Niki Lauda, and that was very well handled all round. It was good to see the race unfolding for qualifying, and with some rain possible on race day, that was going to make it a bit more exciting as well..

Later on we noted that the whole of the Freddie Mercury Tribute concert was being shown on Pick, so we watched that for the rest of the evening. Of course for me having the likes of David Bowie doing Under Pressure was good, James Hetfield of Metallica belting out Stone Cold Crazy (which Metallica would cover in full too) and a spot on George Michael doing a really good version of 39, and later with Lisa Stansfield belting out These Are The Days of Our Lives. Perhaps though the moment of that night back then (and still is) is the rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody (tune of the day) with Elton John doing the piano parts, and Axl Rose doing the rock section, and an unlikely alliance, but it worked. They were all heroes, just for one day..

Friday 24th May – Letter From America

I did feel rather bunged up for most of the day and it wasn’t nice to have to constantly use some tissues and blow out all sorts of rubbish from the nose either. I suspect that it’s at least attempting to get rid of all the nastiness of my cold, but I’d rather it be gone to tell you the truth. I did put a change in place this morning so that effectively two of the fonts that had bad MSI product codes were replaced with an optional available install via Software Centre, where the correct code was there for each one and they both install without any issues. Certainly it meant that the install was clean and efficient which has to be a bonus.

I also managed to work out a way to have a piece of software deployed where it needed to have an MSI deployed first, then some configuration files to the user’s profile afterwards, and have a valid detection method. Unfortunately you can’t use the inbuilt method of using %APPDATA%\<location> because the detection method doesn’t always run as the user in that case, and so fails. The file copy was correct and the files were being correctly created, so it just meant that a little bit of VBScript I was able to find online and use instead worked wonders – and so meant that the detection was right and spot on, and installed the MSI as a dependency first. Nice. I’ll get that out for further testing soon but felt happy.

I headed outwards later on and headed off towards Euston via Tottenham Court Road. I had time to nip into Sainsburys for a sandwich along the way and also later on once at Warren Street to head into Pret and get myself a 99p coffee. In fact that branch had ran out of the filter stuff so gave me an Americano for the same price. Win! Always good when you’re able to get more for less, and had a nice relaxing sit down and drink watching the world go by in the early evening. Of course, due to the nice weather the pubs were busy and the Crown and Anchor was particularly busy in that case.

I got to Euston, already knowing of some delays due to overhead wiring, and as I waited, I knew that it wasn’t going to be plain sailing. In fact, the 1940 departure was scheduled for 1955 due to the late incoming train, but the staff turned it around, I got the notification on the phone and I was soon on the platform, and got my seat ready to go. It did leave at 1949 so nine minutes late, only for someone to pull the emergency cord at Wilmslow because they had left their case behind on the train, so inconveniencing everyone else instead. Absolute numpties to be honest. This eventually meant a 23 minute delay into Manchester Piccadilly and The Love In My Heart was waiting for me to pick me up.

Back at The Love’s place, Brian the cat was being his usual relaxed self and wanted a fuss, and we settled in to watch a little bit of telly before putting on Top of the Pops from BBC4 which had some of the tracks from early December 1987. This included The Proclaimers’ classic “Letter From America” (make that tune of the day) and that for me was a case of singing along to the chorus over-emphasising the words “gooooooooooooo” and “looooooooook” as the lads sang it back then. Hard to believe that T’Pau were number one for the fourth week running with the seminal China In Your Hand back then, shows how massive a song it really was.

Thursday 23rd May - ZBook Zenith

I had an important task to do today in preparation for one of the larger events that we end up doing at work - and that was to prepare a load of the HP ZBooks in readiness for the next few weeks or so. Because of the nature of how they are used and so on, they do use CloneZilla to get them cloned and to have their images created. I'd already done some work on the HP ZBook G3 large laptops that were in use and made sure that they were all prepared with an image, and that was going to be the base to clone back to the other laptops, which were HP Zbook 14U G4 laptops.

I headed over to another office with my manager so we could base ourselves there and give everyone a hand. My two colleagues and I sourced where the laptops were, and made sure that they were all brought out, and once I'd got the hard drives and little USB drives ready for CloneZilla, I took the first one out and cloned the ZBook G3 image back. That worked, although I needed to do some driver changes - so had to remove the nVidia driver installers, and also the one for the Bang and Olufsen sound as the driver was different. I also used the driver package from the HP website, and this had everything bar the Bluetooth installer on, so that was helpful to get things up to date.

Interestingly though once that was done, and all updated, I noted that because these had 512GB hard drives instead of 256GB, I needed to extend the partition with diskpart and then do a disk check - this way it meant that effectively we would then have a disk imaging back to the 512GB drive nicely. We did have four or five of the the same model with a 1TB drive in, but I was able to do something else with that thanks to some of the advanced options that CloneZilla has.

So, your image goes onto a 512GB drive, but you don't want a 512GB partition. What you do is start CloneZIlla in expert mode, and in the first page of expert options leave as is, and on the second page, use one of the paramaters (-k1) which effectively tells it to expand the partition being written to. I tried this for the first of the 1TB drives, and it worked - perfectly! In fact that was really good to do so I did it for the remainder and this meant that those extra large drives had a correctly formatted partition and everything. Result! Tune of the day is therefore "Play To Win" by Heaven 17.

I was also sad tonight to hear the news that Judith Kerr had passed away. Her knack of writing with wit and for children was typified in the likes of the classic The Tiger Who Came To Tea, and all of the books with Mog the cat. The Sainsburys Christmas advert with Mog from a few years back was so heartwarming, and Mog being Mog too. The Love In My Heart in her job knows all of the children's classics, and needless to say all of them are up there and regular favourites too. It did make me feel sad because so many children will have grown up reading the books, and the legacy will be future generations of children loving them too.

Wednesday 22nd May - Puzzling

I went over to one of our other sites today and was basing myself with one of my colleagues over there. In fact it was good to see him as he was able to explain to me something that he had spotted with one machine - in that when you booted into Windows, it stayed at a black screen with no cursor for around five minutes or so, and then once it eventually loaded, it seemed to be having some issues with a few things. In fact when I checked, and looked into it, initially it seemed that some of the drivers weren't playing ball - notably the fingerprint reader and proximity card reader, as they both seem to be using the Intel Software Guard Extension and disabling themselves.

I spent most the day checking things over, and it did appear that Windows itself seemed relatively stable and once you got in, all was well. The event viewer was showing that some of those drivers not loading were causing some other network based stuff not to play ball straight away. I was wondering about that so took the decision to see if the Intel SGX software guard could be off, did that, still no response. I was wondering then if the drivers for the Intel graphics had also got in the way, and checked that over, not least because of the awful Intel DCH methodology which means if you install that, forget about removing it unless you want a world full of pain!

I managed to make some headway in that the machine was at least usable, but still had the black screen for a time before the login screen. I did wonder as one colleague mentioned to me that they were all working in one department or sector, whether they had any particular machine based policies applying to them or indeed if for some reason they had fallen off the domain for some strange reason and not recovered properly. Either way, I do need to make some further inroads but by all accounts that was happening to a few machines. I'm also wondering if we possibly have a duff batch somewhere along the way? We shall see.

Anyway, today was also good because I was able to take the bus to Victoria and head home from there relatively quickish, and a nice little surprise was waiting for me when I got home - namely a little drive bracket for the replacement PC. The chassis uses these plastic brackets which clip into place and hold the hard drives nicely and neatly with airflow all around based on the design. Of course, the brackets happened to be unique to the manufacturer of the PC, but a quick check on eBay revealed it was easy to get one. This was for the second drive, the main drive already was fitted in the bracket well.

It didn't take me too long at all to fit it all in and give the PC a reboot, and it meant that I knew that even though I'd managed to secure it temporarily previously, this way I know it's all good, and that's what I want really. I celebrated by blasting out the Black Flag hardcore classic album Damaged. It's essential, even though it's brutally under-produced and a bit raw in parts, although that's part of the appeal. All the essentials are here including the ace "Rise Above" which is tune of the day.

Tuesday 21st May - Here Comes The Song I Love So Much

It was a nice busy day at work, but it wasn't the most pleasant conditions to be working in - not least because the air conditioning had malfunctioned and so the ground floor office was getting really hot with all the windows being a sun trap. In effect it was close to 30 degrees and that to me wasn't good - even with liquid refreshment available it was just too hot. So much so that our senior management said to us all that if you were able to work from another office tomorrow, or work from home, that was more than allowable. I had a plan to head to another office anyway, so made sense to be able to do that.

I set off from work later but not homewards - oh no, it was first off to Tottenham Court Road and then on the Northern line and both branches, first the Charing Cross Branch to Euston and then swapping over there for the Bank branch going Eastbound at first, and headed to Angel. Of course that did mean the really long escalator up and out of the station but it did mean that I wasn't far from the gig venue tonight that I was going to, or indeed a pub close by to have some food for my tea and a pint of Brew Dog Punk IPA, which is pretty much exactly what I did!

Once I'd had some food and drink it was time to head along to the O2 Academy Islington - which is right in the middle of the small Angel shopping centre. It is a nice venue though and if it gets really warm the air con gets cranked on too, so nice to be able to enjoy yourself and not get too sweaty. I had my blue She Makes War t-shirt on as she was supporting Juliana Hatfield, this time round with her "Three" that of course released the ace Become What You Are album in 1993, and remember seeing them at Manchester Academy 2 not long after that. So definitely for me well worth the wait.

A good sized crowd had turned up for She Makes War, which pleased me immensely. Laura and band were on form, belting out a good range of old and new songs, and even the brand new song Seashaken too (so nice to hear this live already!) Of course, there were some great faves such as Delete, Slow Puncture and Drown Me Out belted along, and some of my own favourites from the recent Brace For Impact album such as Devastate Me, which sounded brilliant, and a nice solo touch with the little uke on Dear Heart, still a track I adore too. The set ended with a blistering version of Love This Body with the ending going full on grunge. Nicely done all round Laura, sounded like you've gained some new fans too judging by the reaction of the audience!

After a break, on came The Juliana Hatfield Three, and it was a great mix of the back catalogue from band and solo Juliana. What I didn't expect was my all time fave song of hers, Everybody Loves Me But You, to be on first (and thus tune of the day) - it was really well done and sounded fab. There were also lots of Three era tracks along the way, such as Feelin' Massacheusetts, with that chugging chorus, and President Garfield, which smacked of moments about Henry Rollins (Henry's real surname is Garfield in case you wondered). There was also a lovely version of My Sister too, which yes I sang to all the words, cos I love it.

What was a nice surprise was a killer version of Olivia Newton John's Physical, where plenty were singing the chorus with a feel of "I shouldn't know this really!" and other fan favourites such as If I Could, Rhinoceros, and Spin The Bottle. The main set closed with the classic track Nirvana, with the chorus still being one I can sing now (and had to be careful not to do so on the tube later) - "Here comes the song I love so much, makes me wanna go f*** s*** up... " - yes that. There were two small encores, the first of which had the awesome No Idols, and that made me very happy all round too. It was a great set and everyone left feeling very happy.

I spent a few minutes having a little chat to Laura (She Makes War) and she was doing a good trade selling her music. She explained that she was a big fan of Juliana, so to be offered the support slot was just ace. I did spot her enjoying the main set, and said that the gig was all good and enjoyable, and she was loving the fact I had my t-shirt on too! She was absolutely lovely, and that was an added nice end to the evening. I love gigs, and really need to do them more often..

Monday 20th May - Uploading

It was a day of some uploading all round, especially as the first day back at work since the JAMF event on Friday. I had had a plan to upload all the special Clonezilla images that were needed for one of the events coming up, and I had been working on those for a while. I'd had some of the staff check them over on Friday and they were happy, and got the FTP details, and set up FileZilla ready to go, and that meant I could crack on and get all of that started, finishing by the early afternoon and on the schedule that was desired, so definitely for me a happy situation.

I also had spent some time checking over one of the SCCM distribution points - it looked like it was for some reason not working. Thankfully an alert had gone to one of the server folks as another server in the same site was also down, so set them to work on it and to let me know once back up. I did also at the same time spend some time sorting out the drivers for both the ThinkPad T490 and T490s models, as they were the new stock soon to arrive and thought that a bit of prep work would be sensible to get things moving in the right direction - and less time spent later on.

In the afternoon I had battled with an installer and worked out just what was happening. The installer itself was horrible - it decompressed a MSI installer, but then had custom actions, and also decided to run the install from the temp folder and remove itself afterwards, breaking all installation source media rules. Definitely a bit meh, but what I did find was that if you had an Office document open at the time, it would ask you to close office, and have the installer lurking in the temp folder, so you could grab that sharpish as that was the MSI that you actually needed, nifty I know.

So with that in mind, in view I could then make sure that installed first, followed by a small thing to run as a user and copy the relevant configuration files over to the user profile - the idea being that in essence you'd have the software then running correctly and also configured the way that it was needed too, so here's hoping. It was good to get the teeth into something different, and for me at least showed that I still hadn't lost it when it came to app packaging!

Later on I did watch the Manchester City parade as it made its way down Deansgate and towards Manchester Cathedral, where large crowds were gathered cheering on the Blue heroes. It was nice to see they'd had a bus with the women's team and their two cup wins too, and good of the club to also include that. Of course the biggest cheer was for Vincent Kompany, and unknown to him Noel Gallagher was playing a gig last night, had a big screen with Kompany on and was singing the Oasis classic Wonderwall as a little tribute, which was good - and tune of the day.

Sunday 19th May - Bowling Bonanza

I had had a long coach journey with my friend last night, and we didn't get back to the Etihad Stadium till around 0030, so a late night all round to be honest. I was at least glad that the win had been worth the travelling, although my friend did say it did tire him out and he would wonder if he in the future might consider either using a different way to get there (train possibly) or maybe having to miss it, so in a way I was glad we did manage to see that game yesterday.

And of course the news was all full of the news that Vincent Kompany, our beloved captain and leader of 11 years standing, was going to bow out of the club, taking on the player manager role at his boyhood club Anderlecht. For me it was a good way for him to be able to give back to where it all started, and the way he wrote his message about leaving oozed class, showing that he loved us as a club and will always be a vital part of our history. For him to score that amazing goal against Leicester City to help us win the league was somehow just reward for a legend that he is.

Later on The Love In My Heart and I got ready to head out, and we were meeting up with some of The Love's family and partner, so was nice to arrange some quality time in Gusto in the city centre. We did have to carefully head around all those finishing the Great Manchester Run, and doing a sterling job raising a shed load of cash at the same time, so that was nice to see. In fact lots of the runners were heading towards the tram stops to get the tram home later so was definitely going against the tide a bit.

Gusto was very nice as ever - they did have a Sunday roast menu which The Love had a try of - having the paté to start and then the half chicken for main. Two things I noted - a lack of gravy (they asked for more!) and the vegetables came out on separate side dishes which looked nice. I did have the spaghetti carbonara and saved myself for the dessert, where a tiramisu had my name on - and it was very nice too I have to say. I even had a bottle of the proper Red Peroni to get into the Italian spirit, so definitely well worth me checkingt that out of course!

Later on it was over to All Star Lanes and we had one of the little side lanes booked for the four of us, so that was nice. In fact The Love hadn't bowled for ages but she was doing well enough, I got some spares, and there were strikes too along the way. It was a nice chilled out vibe all round, and certainly it felt fun just to be there having a good little bowl and high fiving each other when we did a good bowl or got plenty of pins down as well, so definitely well worth the effort all round. Time went by far too quickly of course and it was soon time to head to the tram station - but a lovely time had by all.

The Love and I headed on the tram, and hugs and kisses at Piccadilly before she headed home, and I got the train back to London Euston. The train was actually very quiet, so it was nice to chill out, have no one sat next to me (winning) and also then be able to kick back with the iPod and play the likes of "I Talk To The Wind" by King Crimson, just the sort of track to mellow out to and tune of the day as the train sped homewards. It had been a different weekend but one of happy moments all round.

Saturday 18th May - The Treble Is Ours

It was up, and with a coffee and cuddles for The Love In My Heart and Brian the cat, I got myself ready and all sorted to head over to the Manchester City car park, meeting my friend there and then getting everything sorted so that we could board the coach. The coach was to leave around 9am and so we could head down the motorways to London, then from there on to Wembley and be in a good spot close to the stadium for the FA Cup Final, as City would take on Watford for a chance to win the domestic treble - the first time ever in the English men's game!

We were both looking forward to it, especially as the club had paid for the coaches so fans went for free, and the tickets for my friend and I weren't that expensive (although some were pretty dear, we didn't do bad to be honest!) - and before we knew it, the coach was on to the M56, then the M6, and all the way down to the M1 before stopping at Watford Gap services for a break and some liquid refreshment, and a coffee went down very nicely it has to be said. It was then being stuck in traffic on the M1 for a bit until that died down, and the driver did the classic u-turn at the Brent Cross roundabout to get on to the North Circular, and soon headed off there and on the roads to Wembley.

We got there around 2.30pm which wasn't too bad actually considering the 45 minute service station stop. The two of us headed over to the Sainsburys and Warrens Bakery and I got myself a proper Cornish pasty (almost a tradition for me now) and then it was along towards the lifts up, and bumped into legendary City broadcaster and blogger Ian Cheeseman along the way, so he asked us about the game and score predictions. I went 2-1 City being cautiously optimistic, little did I know what was going to happen of course. We made our way to the entrances and was soaking up all the pre-match atmosphere, as you do.

The teams came out to train and we noted the special kit, a red and black striped replica of the 1969 FA Cup kit, and even with the names and squad numbers on the back (Lee 9, Bell 8 etc) so that was pretty cool. Of course it was soon time for Abide With Me (tune of the day - a proper Wembley anthem that is) and then the national anthem which Belle Voce from The Voice had the honour of singing. The crowd were all ready, and the players were ready, and 5pm loomed large. Could we do it? Hope was eternal, but let's see.

City attacked well from the off, but Watford also looked decent. In fact they had the best chance early on when a ball from Gerard Deloufeu went to Roberto Pereyra, but his shot was almost straight at Ederson and the City keeper pulled off a good save. They also had a shot which had the back of Vincent Kompany and were claiming a penalty, but not having that one. It did show they were committed though and for me it also showed that they weren't to be taken lightly. The first goal might just be crucial.

And then it came. The ball was played forward and Raheem Sterling's shot bounded in the air - David Silva won a header, and Sterling returned a header into the path of Silva - and he did the rest from there with a well taken volley on the bounce to go past Gomes for 1-0. It was a happy moment, and even more so when Bernardo Silva floated a gorgeous ball to the left side, and Gabriel Jesús was there to score, even if Sterling was attempting to claim it as his as the ball had crossed the line already! Still, 2-0 it was till half time, but not getting carried away - just yet anyway.

Watford came out all guns blazing in the second half and pressed forward, and rightly so too to be honest. They gave it a good go, had a couple of shots on goal and were looking a bit more intense. The concern their fans had was about being hit on the break, but Jesús was offside, and survived that. Then City changed it and put Kevin de Bruyne on for Riyad Mahrez. The formation changed and so did the speed and flow of the ball, and from there on there was only one winner, not least when Sterling and Jesús combined to put de Bruyne in and he walked past Gomes, and then calmly slotted the ball home for 3-0. Surely game over?

And indeed, that's how it was. City pressed relentlessly, and went for the kill. de Bruyne was on fire again and his ball from the left found Jesús in acres of space and onside, and he slotted it low under Gomes for 4-0. Raheem Sterling then got on the end of a gorgeous cross and hammered it past Gomes, who got his hands to the ball but couldn't stop it, for 5-0. Wow! That was amazing enough but we still had time for another de Bruyne ball which Gomes saved well from Sterling, only for the rebound to go straight to Sterling and he couldn't miss really. 6-0.

Six! Wow! It was the equal all time FA Cup final win (Bury 6-0 Derby County back in 1903, not even at Wembley back then) and Sterling set up John Stones late on and that could have been seven, but for a Gomes save on to the bar. The Watford fans stayed till the end and cheered their team on, which was appreciated and applauded by the City fans - a lot of loyalty there and for them they had done well to get here and give it a good go - they'll be back soon I hope as their fans that we met were absolute class and proper fans of a proper club. It was of course happy days for me and my friend though and 6-0 was absolutely unbelivable!

Friday 17th May - JAMFNation

So it was a different day for me today and a move to the (not so) dark side of Apple and MacOS. One of the things that I want to be able to develop is some nice cross platform knowledge, and as we use JAMF Pro at work (formerly Casper for those of you who remember that far back) it made sense for me to head over to the JAMFNation all day event that they were having just outside central London - one of my colleagues from another team was going to would meet him there later, but it was nice to be able to head up and then take the Overground for a change, onwards to Wapping.

I'd never left at this station before, and there were one slightly steep set of stairs before the lift to take you to ground level. As I looked up I saw all the magnificent bit of Brunel engineering with the stairs going up but also the cavernous feel as you headed down to the tunnel under the Thames (Rotherhithe is on the other side of the river the stop before). It was then off along towards Tobacco Dock, and I signed in, got a free t-shirt in large and then headed to the food area to get some nice coffee a neat little granola pot.

The morning was mainly an introduction to the speakers for the day and what that would entail as well as an introduction to JAMF and what they do. After an initial break they then head their main CEO speak and explain how a lot of IT teams are at a crossroads: they may be still on Windows 7 which of course expires support next January, and are wondering which way to turn. The key thing was that they also noted that freedom of choice was key: users wanted to be able to choose what sort of device they wanted instead of having one forced on them (ie: Windows) - although for me I'd work with either, it's nice to see that choice does influence.

I met up with my colleague in the next break - he was doing the advanced stuff and getting more deep down, and I was in the main Apple At Work strand so I could find out more about how their stuff works and what is planned to make things easier, and also some nifty little demos too. One of them was from one of the top brass of IT at SAP and showed the onboarding process and what they do, which worked well. In fact that was brave to do as these things go wrong!

I grabbed some lunch and spotted someone coming out of the advanced area - not just my colleagues either but two Mac expert colleagues from my former workplace of UAL! It was really nice to see them both actually and we had a good catch up and chat after lunch and indeed later on, once all the sessions were over, we were all invited to the Tobacco Dock rooftop bar, so I did join them for a drink as well. It was a welcome surprise and I think they were quite taken aback I was actually on a Mac based day of learning, but goes to show that I'm willing to develop myself too.

The afternoon had been about more show and tell demonstrations and how some of the JAMF features are there to effectively offer good management of the Mac platform without being over the top - and in essence really does set to work the fact that everything is at the heart of the customer and user experience. I felt positive on the whole and I think for me that it was good to be able to widen the net and make some thoughts in my head about how everything should seem. In reality that's all a bit different but would be good to know anyway - so there you go!

After a drink and catch up with my former UAL colleagues, I had to head off as I was off to Euston to head on the train up to Manchester. It was the 2040 departure, later than planned but primarily as it was cheaper, and so got on, played some She Makes War on the iPod (the fab "Undone" is tune of the day) and then it was a case of attempting to ward off the cold I'd been having for the back end of this week enough as the train sped Northwards at the night, and soon I was on the tram to see The Love In My Heart and Brian the cat, ready for a sleep before a busy day tomorrow.

Thursday 16th May - Java on Rupert Street

I spent a fair bit of time this morning sorting out how the old version of Java, which has to be used for one set of applications, could possibly be tweaked to play ball on later versions. It was clear from an initial test that the site concerned is horrid, and yes, it only works in Internet Explorer. For crying out loud. Anyway, I was able to locate a way of first of all adding the website to the security exceptions list, so that appeared to allow the prompt to run on later versions, which was nice, then asked if two more applets were to run on the latest release.

That selected, it then of course didn't play ball loading one of the web forms, which is pretty key to a lot of what happens under the hood. I worked out that it uses some form of old E-Business Solution (EBS) which effectively had updates for compatibility. Now, if they're not applied, in effect the newer versions of Java send a different vendor property (Oracle of course) rather than the old name of Sun Microsystems Inc. Those with good memories will know that Java basically went downhill and corporate when Oracle took over, and is still absolutely awful now. So much so, I don't use it on my box and haven't done for ages.

Anyway, those of you with fond memories will remember the old days of spoofing the agent string in a web browser, so sites that were supposed to only work with Internet Explorer (you know the ones) could be fooled by reading an agent string sent by another browser to pretend it's IE. Thankfully with web standards these days, it's not needed now, but it made me think. So, what if the report and forms app on the site is actually using for the old Java version vendor of Sun instead of Oracle? I was able to spot an article which basically said changing a property in Java for dJava.vendor and the old vendor name was the way to go.

So I did that, and.. cue drum roll. It bloody worked! Happy bunny. Well sort of. There's also another obstacle, but not technical - and that I've sent the findings of to management to discuss further. The good news is that was I able to demonstrate the ability to investigate a workaround and a way that we could up our security but at the same time still make things work the way that people want to. It makes me happy, and it also makes me feel so proud that I'm proving my worth.

At lunch a few of us headed down through Soho and to Rupert Street Market, which had a nice selection of food stalls. I went to one of the burger ones and had this really nice freshly made burger with a proper nice bun and some sauce for a mere £6 (no salad, just spoils it man) and that was pretty good all round. In fact it was good to spend time with colleagues that way and chatter about all sorts, and definitely for me another sign that I'm settling in nicely to the job too, which is good. In the meantime tune of the day is the excellent "21st Century Schizoid Man" by King Crimson - still rocking out from the days of Guitar Hero 5 as well, of course, but as an album opener to one of the finest prog rock albums ever, it has to be way up there.

Wednesday 15th May - And, We're Back!

So after doing some investigative work when at work today, and indeed spending half the day in another office getting another 15 of the registration desk laptops for the events all sorted (thankfully we had help!) the good news was that I'd had an email from DPD, which effectively told me that the parcel that had arrived (the new PC base unit) was all good and it was waiting for me outside the front door of the flat. Do bear in mind that you have to get through three secure doors, and a lift too, and you can't just walk up to where that is. I do wish though they'd kept it safer in the secure post room we have, but hey ho, it was there when I got back and that was the main thing.

First impressions seemed promising, primarily because of the fact that the outer case had a Windows 10 licence and licence key stuck to the top - excellent! This means one less thing to worry about from my perspective, and it had even been pre-installed, so I could get on with the wizard and do all the initial setup. Once done, and I was happy all was well, I then sorted out the other bits - so removed the DVD-ROM and added my DVD writer in, added my old hard drive as a secondary so I could get the data off it, and use that as storage, and also add the wireless card in too.

Once all that was happily detected, and all the drivers installed, I added back in the likes of Firefox, Thunderbird, Dreamweave for my site editing, that sort of stuff, and all worked seamlessly without an issue. Even better, the quietness is rather lovely as well - it just goes along with hardly any audible noise and really does seem rather good all round. I may at some point look at putting in a low power PCI-Express graphics card (primarily as the one I have, the GTX-460 is mega power hungry and would just kill the power for breakfast) but that's some way off to be honest. The main thing is all is well.

In fact, I used the Windows 10 upgrade wizard thing and noted that it had Windows 10 1607 on it, so looked at that to see how viable it would be to do the upgrade to 1809. It passed all the compatibility checks so I left it to run whilst doing other stuff, as it is a hefty download after all. Most importantly though, all appears to be working nicely and it's a real case of being able to enjoy using the computer again. I didn't need a keyboard or mouse, or the wireless adapter or anything like that, just rhe base and all was well. To be honest, I possibly should have done this sooner, but it's good to know that I was able to source something good and reliable.

So where did I go in the end? Encore PC, which is part of Stone Computers, whom I used to have dealings with when I worked in education. They're based in Stone in Staffordshire, hence the name, and their site has refurbished desktops from the likes of Dell, Lenovo and HP as well as Stone, and similar with laptops. All of them have a Windows 10 home licence on too, so that's time well saved and money too having to fork out for that. In addition, the box arrived very well packaged and was really professionally done, showing that customer service is key and really helps to make a difference. I used a code for 12% off (new signers up can get 10% anyway) and even with the next day delivery, the cost wasn't so dear either. Oh, and you can use Top Cashback as well!

In the meantime whilst all of that was getting sorted, I had time to listen to some music whilst sorting everything out. The good news was that everything kicked back in well, and was soon browsing the extensive collection. I had the Being Frank soundtrack on, and the excellent little intro theme to the Frank's World animation theme is tune of the day - it's really cute. I do wish that they had the full proper theme to the Channel M programme "Frank Sidebottom's Proper Telly Show" (it was in black and white with repeats in colour, well, because he could!) You know it's ace, it's really ace. Thank you.

Tuesday 14th May – Where Did The Cello Man Go?

It was a busy day in work but it was productive too. Mainly because an order for some accessories arrived, that I needed for a HP Elite X2 1012 G2 tablet. In effect we’re going to be using this for a particular task, but to do that with only one USB port and no Ethernet – not so easy. I identified that we had actually needed the proper HP USB Ethernet adapter, as this allows PXE boot. It reminded me of the way Microsoft did their Surface devices so that their firmware only allows an adapter. Although the HP one is a rebranded Realtek (and therefore a USB3 adapter with said chipset may work) may as well do it properly, and lo and behold, PXE boot!

So I was able to, after adding the driver package yesterday, PXE boot to SCCM, bring down the task sequence which does most of the work of staging a base image with some limited apps, and then from there is able to add some configurations and some printer drivers, so that in effect the only thing that we need to do is add the printer (which gets auto detected) and some other bits later on, then stage that as an image using Clonezilla (one of the events that we have basically uses Clonezilla for all of its needs and doesn’t touch SCCM, so a case of serving the customer with what was needed.)

Actually, I was also able to add the necessary bits to be able to get things sorted for some additional tweaks that one of my colleagues had spotted, who was out in Amsterdam currently. Minor, but good to have, including the ability not to set sleep mode on (done, a bit of powercfg sorted that) and the fact that we needed one of the accounts to be set up as admin as there were some odd minor errors with some of the printer config if not admin, so best to actually have all of that sorted. It will mean in future we’ll be able to nicely stage the whole thing, use SCCM to deploy the base (that side of it is fully documented in case we need it)

I have also bit the proverbial bullet and ordered a replacement PC base unit for home. I wanted a tower though primarily as I wanted to ensure that I could add back any existing bits I needed, including the wireless adapter, hard drive, and so on. I might also be looking at then possibly a fresh low wattage PCI-Express graphics card, as the nVidia GTX460 I’ve got is probably way too power hungry (it needs two 6 pin PCI Express power connectors for a start) – but I can do that much later on when I need to, so not necessarily an urgent one anyway. Once it gets delivered and I’m up and running properly I’ll have an insight into how potentially this may work.

I spent some time tonight listening to the Being Frank soundtrack CD which The Love In My Heart got me for my birthday. I must admit there’s a tinge of sadness of course because I do miss Chris, especially in Frank Sidebottom mode, but like the film, the CD has a cross-section of Chris’ work including early solo stuff, tunes with his brother Martin, and the pre-Freshies band The Bees Knees too. It’s a real sonic delight and shows the talent which Chris undoubtedly had, and much more than a fibreglass head. You know it is, it really is.

The opener, by Chris, called Cello Man, is tune of the day, and shows a real sense of feeling and sadness as Chris asks the listeners “Where did the cello man go?” with a delightful case of timing. Of course, selfishly, there’s the classic Freshies track about being in love with a girl on the Virgin Megastore checkout desk and even an extra keyboards version of the Magical Timperley Tour theme (which I’ve been on – you know I have, I really have!) – and the brilliant No Money by The Freshies too, pure power punk pop. Oh yes!

Monday 13th May – Computer Says No

So after a day at work where plenty of positives were being taken and a lot of development was ongoing, including working on some new application deployments and testing them, I arrived home to find a birthday card from a friend, but also the replacement motherboard that I had ordered which I was hoping would sort the PC out. I saw it was very well packaged and boxed up, and indeed had its antistatic bag and I/O shield inside too, so definitely well worth the relatively small outlay. I also had a spare processor just in case, so started to set to work.

I removed all the power, unplugged all the connector, removed the old board, and added the new one in, and gradually put in all of the connections and then was able to check that it was all good. I fired up the PC, and nothing. Still the same fans spinning round, and no response. I checked that all the connections were fine, and even did a processor swap to be on the safe side just in case. And to be sure, triple checked everything, and fired it up. No, nothing. Not even a bios beep with the memory removed.

I then noted a faint colouration when I looked at the board, and saw what I didn’t want to see. It looked like one of the capacitors had possibly gone, which to me indicates that the power supply possibly was the cause as well. Now, although the board is getting power, and I’ve changed RAM and processor too to be sure, nothing. Whilst I could get another power supply and try that, there’s no guarantee that actually even the original board may have survived. It might have done, but best not to take any chances. I suspect I should be able to salvage the parts I need if looking at another PC and can always hook up the hard drive elsewhere if we need to (I’ve got options for this) so that might be something.

In a way, I have had my existing PC since around 2010, and gradually added parts as I’ve upgraded, so for example adding a PCI-Express wireless adapter, useful for when I moved my router downstairs in the old house, and also a larger drive, and so on. Of course the key thing is that I did build all of that myself which showed I had the skills to do so, but whether I want to do that again at the moment might be something to consider. I’ll see what I can find online and take it from there, normally the safest way to be perfectly honest.

I did though settle in for the evening and do a shed load of washing and ironing, but in the main it wasn’t that – it was some nice music to listen to which kept me going nicely. In fact the King Crimson album In The Court of the Crimson King was the main one to be played tonight, primarily because of the fact I’ve wanted it for some time especially in 5.1 surround that this two disc version has. Of course, and having played it on Guitar Hero 5 some time ago, the opener 21st Century Schizoid Main is tune of the day.

Sunday 12th May – The Title Is Ours

It was nice just to be able to have a lie in of sorts with The Love In My Heart and Brian the cat, who was as usual being his own little self and wanting to play out at any opportunity. Of course he wanted to be able to chase the birds who were chattering away, but The Love was keeping a very keen eye on Brian and making sure that he wasn’t sneaking off for any reason. It was a nice little breakfast to be had, and we both decided that it’d be nice to head off out for the afternoon, and have a nice walk together.

We decided that we were going to go into the city centre, and so The Love parked up close to Piccadilly Station – there’s a car park close to the tram line which is a mere £3.50 for 24 hours, which is cheap really. We walked towards the Rochdale Canal and followed it underneath parts of Dale Street, which was pretty horrid and smelly, and didn’t seem the safest place to be either. Thankfully we got to Canal Street and the vibe was much nicer, and carried on down the canal under Oxford Street, past the former Felicini restaurant we used to love, and then onwards past Rain Bar and then towards First Street.

I had a brainwave of sort: my sister had given me some money for my birthday, so why didn’t we have a round of crazy golf at Junkyard Golf Club and try something different? We managed to get a slot not far from when we got there, and selected the Gary course, which had plenty of nice obstacles, mainly based with real car parts, tyres and the like. The only thing which wasn’t so good was that a number of groups were in front and playing awful (and slow) which held people up. I did think too that for the money paid, 9 holes just wasn’t enough and the full 18 would have been a lot better too.

We then went back to Rain Bar and had a nice drink outside (had the Rock and Roll Star ale too) before then walking up Mosley Street to The Bank pub which was empty. We had some nice sharers in there which were three for £10 and I had the Nicholsons Pale Ale too, so all good too. I knew that the football was about to kick off and was keeping an eye on the score for the first half, and my heart did sink for a minute when Brighton took the lead, but then Sergio Aguero did what he does, and scored a vital goal for 1-1.

We headed back to The Love’s car, and she dropped me off at Piccadilly and I had time before my train home to watch the remainder of the game in the pub in the station. In fact this worked well as Aymeric Laporte had scored to go 2-1 up. Even more so as I got to see an absolute piledriver of a shot from Riyad Mahrez to make that a safety net of 3-1 up. Of course, it was loud cheers everywhere and they became louder as a free kick from Ilkay Gundogan made it 4-1. Oh yes indeed. Excellent stuff. And that set me off very nicely before heading on the train back to London.

I got home later on and the Man City team had been singing Wonderwall by Oasis (make that one tune of the day) and in front of Noel Gallagher as well who was in the crowd. I tweeted about that with a link to the Man City video, and that soon started getting a number of likes. What I didn’t expect was this to get over 50,000 views and over 200 likes by the end of the evening. Apparently it was picked up by the Twitter Moments thing, which explained it all somewhat but was still pretty good to know nonetheless. Excellent stuff all round and watching Match of the Day later was rather joyous of course. We are the champions, again!

Saturday 11th May – Departing To Platform 5

It was nice to have a relaxed morning, with Brian the cat wanting lots of fussing over, and of course a play out. He heard the birds and that was enough for him to want to walk along the decking and make his presence known. We also had a nice little breakfast of a sausage muffin, and it was good just to have some telly on and chill out, and check out possible options for a small mini break later this year as well. I think for us both that it’ll be nice to have some long weekends together and make the most of the time that we do have.

Later on we went to see The Love In My Heart’s father, and he seemed well and was happy that we’d done some shopping for him too. It was good to chat with The Love’s sister and discuss the issues around Bolton Wanderers (which is quite sad really, no one is being paid, they bar Super John McGinlay from the ground – as The Love’s sister said, he is like God!) – there was also the playoff semi-final between West Brom and Aston Villa on the telly as well, which looked pretty tense and tight, and tackles flying in everywhere.

It was to my Mum’s later on, and her friend was there too, which was nice as I’ve known her for years and we get on very well. Mum and my sister had got me an All 4 One gift card so I could use that in lots of shops, my other sister had given me some cash, and my brother had got me the Zzap! 64 Annual 2019, nice bit of retro gaming goodness to read which was really good of him. It was nice to be able to have a coffee and a little mini bakewell slice and have a natter, and the time sped by before it was time to head off back to The Love’s place.

We got ourselves changed and ready, with Brian the cat running around after a little ball, and then headed to the tram stop to get the tram to Piccadilly, then the train to Cheadle Hulme (and it was a Pacer – noooo!) – and to the Platform 5 pub. We got a drink and were settled outside seeing the world go by, and our friends also arrived too. We had a table reserved inside and it was all nice and comfortable. It was a case of ordering at the bar when ready, so off we went and ordered the starters (for me and The Love) and the main. My garlic mushrooms were gorgeous and with garlic bread too, so that went down nice.

The mains were all good – I had the chicken and ham pie (and yes I did check it was a proper pie!), The Love had the Wexford Chicken, and our friends had the cheese and onion pie and a margherita pizza respectively. The pizza was delayed as the first one had been dropped by the chef, so took time to come out. However the staff made up for it and offered my friend a dessert for free, which was appreciated, and he had the Victoria Sponge. Naturally for me, sticky toffee pudding was on the menu and an option and that was very warm and very lovely. Happy days, and lots of time spent chatting with friends too so that was all good, even with the band nearby rehearsing for a live gig later!

My friends had been very generous with their presents, and got me Dream Theater – The Astonishing and the new Foals album on CD, as well as the CD/DVD set of King Crimson’s “In The Court of the Crimson King” – which I’ve been after for ages. They also got me three Tassimo pod packs as well which is well timed and will keep me going nicely. The day had been lovely and The Love and I took the train back later on which was pretty quick, and finished the day with watching old school Top of the Pops hits from 1978 – including Jilted John’s self titled classic (make that tune of the day) – with its iconic “Gordon is a moron” line. The Love was impressed that I knew all of the words too (well, I love it, so…)

Friday 10th May – Birthday in Liverpool

It’s my birthday today, and it was nice therefore to wake up with The Love In My Heart and Brian the cat wanting cuddles and a fuss. In fact he was more interested in the fact he could see wrapping paper and tissue paper and no doubt wanted to be able to play with that later on. It was nice to snuggle up and The Love headed off to get me the presents too. In fact I had brought with me the presents from my friend, as they had arrived in the post, and opened those first. He was far too kind – I got the Nine Inch Nails CD “Not The Actual Events” and both DVDs of The Day Today (cue Alan Partridge football sketch) and the classic that is The Adventure Game. Gronda gronda!

The Love’s family had all got me presents too – some nice bottles of ale which were going to be enjoyed at some point soon, some Euros for the holiday, Bohemian Rhapsody on Blu-Ray (going to enjoy watching that at some point again) – a gift card for Amazon and so on – all very nice indeed. The Love herself got me some lovely presents – this really nice Molton Brown face wash for additional nice grooming, a little fun present of some gummy bears (cute), the Peter Hook book Substance: Inside New Order, and the Being Frank film soundtrack CD, plenty of Chris Sievey work on there too. And.. a really nice blue and green Superdry watch, which looks spot on and is a little bit smaller in face, so casual and classy. I was massively pleased and felt happy.

We had a small breakfast and headed to the tram station to take the tram to Manchester Victoria, and we got a coffee before heading on our train – the 1024 to Liverpool Lime Street. It’s cheaper to go from Victoria to Liverpool than it is Piccadilly, and using a combination of advance ticketing and Two Together Railcard discount, I got us tickets for going there and coming back for £8.80. In total. For both of us. In fact we had reserved seats too, which was good, and we faced forward on the way there only stopping at Newton-le-Willows along the way, and soon arrived in the familiar surroundings (to me at least) of Lime Street station.

From there we decided that as it was attempting to rain, we’d head to the Walker Art Gallery. We could have done the Rennie Mackintosh exhibition but it was expensive, so we went around the contemporary art, including a display of the John Moores painting prize winners over the years, which was good to see. It was pretty busy in there, and that was a positive to see. In fact, I did note a exhibit for John Lennon and Yoko Ono called Double Fantasy (after one of their albums) and that was in the Museum of Liverpool, so wanted to see that if we could.

We did then go into the World Museum down the road, and that was excellent. The space and exploration top level had Tim Peake doing his thing which was good fun, and one of the floors had an exhibition of astronomy photography which was really awesome – gave me plenty of food for thought, and the bug house was just that – all bugs in glass cases and certainly if you were nervous, not one to see that’s for sure. They also had plenty of world based exhibitions for Asia and Africa, including traditional dress and wood carvings etc. A very nice place to go and The Love commented that children would love the place, and even got some little animals in the shop.

We walked through the city centre and towards the Cavern Quarter, as Mum had suggested we go to the Cavern. Well, there’s the pub, and the club, but the club charged to get in (it was a Friday) and we didn’t want to pay if we were only staying for a drink) so went in the pub instead, which was also playing some good tunes too. We had a drink in there and after there,I admired all the bricks on the wall outside and noted the one for Frank Sidebottom there too. You know I did, I really did. However, what we did notice throughout was the number of Irish themed pubs which really did seem fake and make the area seem much less authentic.

We headed towards the waterfront and Pier Head and before we got there, we stopped off at The Old Bank for lunch. This was a cracking move. Not only did they have Dizzy Blonde ale, but also their food menu was good and not that expensive either. The Love had one of the burgers, which was two burgers, onion rings and all sorts and looked massive! I in the meantime had the chicken and bacon pie, which was stunning. It was a proper pie (as the staff had great joy in letting me know) and the chicken and bacon was all shredded inside, lots of it, and masses of stunning gravy with mash and peas. Ooh yes. And the sound system was playing some proper tunes including Led Zeppelin’s iconic Stairway To Heaven in full, which went down nicely indeed. We can both highly recommend it if you’re around that way, and lots of tellies for the football too.

We then went to the Pier Head and noted the three Graces, and in fact the bottom part of the Liver Building was hosting a wedding with the balcony offering lovely views to the Mersey. The ferry terminal was busy with people waiting to cross, and we then headed over to the Museum of Liverpool, noting all the super lambananas along the way, one of which was a notable nod to some of the bands from the city including Echo and the Bunnymen, China Crisis, OMD, and so on. A very nice move all round.

The Museum had the Double Fantasy exhibition inside, so we went to that on the second floor. It was superb. Lots of items were from Yoko Ono herself, and surprisingly it was free admission – we were both expecting it to be a paid job. It was a nice insight into the years of time from when they first met to John Lennon’s death and beyond, with some of Ono’s art pieces being replicated, and also the original bedding from the Amsterdam bed-in where they wrote Give Piece a Chance. Plenty of inspirational items to see, you could sing along to some of the songs in a special booth, watch the Imagine video, and also note a replica of the Imagine tiling in Central Park in New York, along with a whole story of the Strawberry Fields garden there. That was poignant and a real moment to reflect.

For us both actually it was a really interesting exhibit – more so due to the fact it had different eras of their time, including the “Lost weekend” phase when they were apart and realised that actually they needed to allow themselves to be creative, and how their love of art was the source of their love together. In many ways I know some people blame Yoko for the Beatles break-up, I see it as being a place he was happy and the constant not being allowed to live a life due to “Beatlemania” must have been a place to escape from. To that end, Instant Karma is still one of those songs that resonates with me and therefore is tune of the day.

It was starting to rain sadly so we headed to Albert Dock and had a mooch around there, and seeking a drink and refuge in Revolution later so we could relax together. The rain had sort of stopped later so we headed to Liverpool One and around some of the shops, and saw their Dinasours Unleashed exhibition, which was hugely rubbish. Sorry, but for all the hype I was expecting them to be suspended over the shops with proper sounding noises like they were in Leeds a while ago. The Love did get herself a new top in And Other Stories, which looked very nice on her, which was good.

We headed back through the city centre to the train station, stopping to admire the cute kitties in the Cat Café (it’s the sister one to the one in Manchester) and then having a drink prior to getting the 1826 train back. We were glad we had a reserved seat as the train was very busy and it sped back to Manchester in quick time. In fact the tram from Victoria and the change of tram at Piccadilly was rapid, so we in fact got back to The Love’s station from Lime Street in less than an hour – impressive work! We snuggled up with Brian the cat and watched some telly and had a nice pizza to share later on too, just a lovely birthday all round.

Thursday 9th May – It’s Not Grim Up North

It was good to be able to get all of the case and everything else sorted last night, as I got up, had a shower, got myself ready and was soon on the 0738 train to London Victoria, where I then headed on the 390 bus to work. This way it’s about as step free as possible and I get dropped off close to the office, so that’s a positive. It does also mean that it’s less of a faff having to carry the case up flights of stairs (either at Embankment if going via there, or Oxford Circus if direct on Victoria Line) so definitely well worth leaving earlier for that to work properly and get me in good time for the day ahead.

On the positive news front, I did put in a prospective best offer for a motherboard on eBay which happened to be exactly the same make and model as the one I currently have (and served me well for ages before it died) – so that offer came back with a counter offer, and still not a bad price, so went for it. It should mean when it arrives I can effectively do a swap out and make sure everything is working correctly, and take it from there. I also did order some additional thermal grease pads so I can put one on the bottom of the heatsink and keep the processor cool – thought I may as well whilst that was being swapped over.

I had had a good day at work and at lunchtime I headed out to the local Sainsburys to get something to eat, but also thought of a nice thing – I ended up getting lots of little treats such as doughnuts, small cakes, cookies, and so on. I used to do similar at other work places (as did everyone else to be fair) for birthdays, and as it was my birthday tomorrow, thought it was a good idea. Actually, it was nice as I sent the email out, staff were all lovely and either thanked me in person or via email too, so definitely one to appreciate. In fact that was what stood out – how many friendly and lovely people I work with. That was a good thing.

After work I had time before my 8pm train and thought about where to go for tea. Then I remembered: always head somewhere out at Zone 2 for cheaper stuff generally, which is true. I then also remembered that the Wetherspoons at Elephant and Castle is cheaper (that station is dual Zone 1 and 2) and I was able to hop on the Northern Line at Tottenham Court Road, change at Waterloo, then the Bakerloo to Elephant. That worked nicely, not many stairs when interchanging and of course a big lift out of Elephant up to ground level. And that meant a nice ham and mushroom pizza, additional barbecue sauce, and a nice pint of Brewdog Punk IPA too. Epic win!

I headed back to Euston on the 68 bus later and was in more than good time for the 2000 train up to Manchester Piccadilly. I in fact had a nice relaxing journey up, listening to plenty of She Makes War along the way (make “Undone” tune of the day) and that was nice to just sit back and watch the darkness descend on the countryside. It was a little wet heading into Manchester and The Love In My Heart kindly picked me up and that was nice of her. We headed back to her place, had a nice catch up and chat and headed to sleep later, with Brian the cat just looking at his Mummy and wanting his tummy tickled, a lot actually!

Wednesday 8th May – Dead To The World

I arrived home from work, having had a positive day and was able to get started a number of things, including a full road test of seeing how a new version of the VPN client we currently have in use would work. I looked at a way that the install would work by removing the old versions first, then adding the new one and then adding the configuration file that was needed to have the correct details of the VPNs needed, and that appeared to do nicely. It was also good to get the proverbial teeth into a new revision of the Windows 10 build I’m planning, which will include BIOS updates for Lenovo models – that went well thus far.

I got home, put the kettle on, was ready for a coffee and then cooking my tea later, and put the PC on. Power light came on, all sounded okay, but no response, black screen. Uh-oh. This is not good. So I powered it off, checked again. Nothing. Nada. Now at this stage I would have expected more. So it was a case of undoing part of the case, checking inside, and indeed making sure that the components were all seated correctly. They were. All good there. Powered back on. Still nothing.

I repeated the tests with different components removed and re-added, and also by using the onboard graphics adapter instead of the nVidia card in there. Still nothing. I next then removed the RAM entirely, as no RAM at all should at least give you BIOS beeps saying that it’s entirely not present, right? No. So it looks from a fair bit of diagnosing that the motherboard has died, and certainly from a number of similar scenarios I was able to read and watch online, purely for my own verification, that all wasn’t so good to the world. Boo. Boo indeed.

In the meantime I was getting on with a shedload of washing and ironing, having only headed back yesterday after working from The Love In My Heart’s place on the Tuesday, which allowed me to watch the football on Monday night (and having to re-arrange a train, not so good.) The good news was that at least I had all that sorted and meant I was ready to re-pack the case for heading up to Manchester tomorrow night for a lovely weekend ahead with myself and The Love, so all good there. I thought it best to pack tonight as I wouldn’t be heading home from work tomorrow before the train.

I did one final check of the motherboard – still nothing, so it definitely looks like there’s a replacement needed there. I’ll do some checks online tomorrow and see what happens, and then go from there. Tune of the day in the meantime is the iconic “Dead” by Pixies, from the album Doolittle. It’s always one of my favourite tracks on that album anyway and really does have a feeling of intensity, with the main vocals going through megaphone or something similar too, definitely one to note. Naturally I do have all the Pixies albums because, why shouldn’t you? They’re still as brilliant as they were…

Tuesday 7th May - Working From The Love's Home

I was working from home today, albeit the home of The Love In My Heart. I had arranged a work from home day with my manager, which then allowed me to head to the Manchester City game last night against Leicester City, so was glad to have sorted that. I had the work laptop with me and this meant that I was able to effectively do all the things I needed to do - simply connect to the wireless network, log on to the laptop, and then fire up the VPN client and connect successfully to the VPN network, and this worked spot on.

In fact I spent a fair bit of the day writing up a report and a document that detailed the process that takes when a clean fresh version of the registration desk build happens, and what the steps are during it to get the device to a nice stable usable state in the meantime. It was actually pretty good overall because what it meant was that I could write all the documentation whilst viewing all of the sequence and information, so was able to do it in the right order. I was around half way through a thirty odd page document and noted that Brian the cat was on the prowl, watching the pigeons stroll past the front window!

I headed out for some lunch to get at the local Asda, and also was asked by The Love to get some Tiger cat litter and some washing up liquid, and sorted both of those out nicely and got myself something to put in the microwave for lunch. I then completed the documentation nicely, and sent that out, and also did some further reports and queries into what software was installed where. In fact, I ended up using some of the nice CMPivot tools within the recent versions of SCCM in order to do some investigations, and that worked nicely.

I then had the company of The Love In My Heart for a little while as she arrived home from work herself, and I was all done and dusted in good time. We had a good hug before she dropped me off at Manchester Piccadilly station and after a quick visit to Sainsbury's it was off on the 1835 train back to London Euston, which was relatively quiet. I did have the headphones on and that allowed me to listen to the likes of She Makes War on the way down (make "Devastate Me" tune of the day - still brilliant after the last six months of solid listening..)

I went through Victoria and on the train home, which was relatively quiet. I did have a nice couple of surprises when I got back though: a package from my friend which most likely had my birthday card and presents in, and another package which was something I'd backed ages ago - the Sidologie box set of Commodore 64 remixes done by Marcel Donné and co, all very Jean-Michel Jarre inspired. It ended up being seven CDs and a surround sound CD, with small CD-single like cases all fitting nicely inside a box. Nicely done, will have to spend some time listening to those..

Monday 6th May – Cometh The Hour, Cometh The Captain

It was a nice leisurely bank holiday Monday for myself and The Love In My Heart. We both had a lie in, and Brian the cat was wanting cuddles and a fuss, so he got all of that of course. Once we had some breakfast, and got ourselves showered and ready, we headed off for the afternoon and went over to Didsbury to have a nice leisurely walk around Fletcher Moss, always a place we used to go in the Summer evenings when in Manchester and being together during the week.

We managed to get a parking space and had a little walk through Parsonage Gardens before then walking down the tree-lined paths towards the River Mersey, followed the river for a while before then talking a walk back towards the flood basins, along and down through the woods and then back along past the houses where Cold Feet was filmed (as a local, you’ll know this) and then past the Alpine Tea Rooms and tennis courts. The good thing was that the courts now have PIN code locks on and when you book online you get a code to access at the right time, which is lots better.

We then headed off for lunch at the Gateway, and The Love was very excited because news was coming through of the royal baby boy being born – when we got there it was only the labour announcement but then that changed, and she does follow the royals on Instagram where it was also announced. Naturally she was pretty happy, and we had fish and chips for lunch as a sort of celebration, before then heading to Tesco to get some cat food for Brian (Tuna and Prawn posh Sheba only – he is a fussy so and so) and we were able to see him being comfortable and happy.

I headed off to the Etihad Stadium later with my friend and it was going to be a tense night against Leicester City. With Liverpool winning at the weekend, only a win would do to send us back top with one game to go, and it was definitely facing a Leicester side who had improved considerably, so we needed to be on our game. The side looked promising and Phil Foden was also starting, a considerable plus all round for us. My friend and I had our brew and were excited but a little on the nervous side as the game got underway.

The first half was nervous, the second half more so. Sergio Aguero had had a header saved off the line by Kasper Schmeichel in the first half, and he had also denied Aguero in the second half. Then Aymeric Laporte passed the ball in the centre of the Leicester half to Vincent Kompany, who went forward and then unleashed a thirty yard thunderbolt – right into the top corner. It was an unbelievable goal and understandably we all went absolutely mental to say the least – a proper classic finish and one that’ll live long in the memory – if we complete the job on Sunday that is. Blue Moon rang out at full time (make that tune of the day) and that really did set things off nicely!

Sunday 5th May – All The Gravy

The Love In My Heart and I had some bacon on toast for breakfast, and Brian the cat wanted a feed and a cuddle. He seemed happy enough although he also was more than happy to rest in his little box and just have a mini sleep too. As for ourselves, we were getting ready as we were heading out into the city centre later to meet some friends for Sunday lunch and to have a good time before then heading back later for the Line of Duty series finale – and that was going to be interesting!

We took the tram into the city centre and got there early so we could then head into the Arndale as The Love needed to get a present sorted – which was done easily. We then went ot St Ann’s Square and noted some food and drink stalls as well as a nice relaxed vibe, so had half a Sagres each and had a bloke playing acoustic versions of Manchester classics, and did a nice version of Wonderwall too, so tune of the day there. A few women on a hen do went past and tried to get the bloke to strum along as they were singing “Going to the chapel and we’re going to get married..” which was hilarious, I think they were on some hen do challenge as they were also jumping into the fountains further down the square!

We went into Annie’s and got ourselves a drink, and our friends arrived later on. It was nice to relax and catch up and chatter, and it was good that the staff were lovely and not obtrusive, and we ordered our starter and main from the Sunday lunch menu. We then got to our table and had the starters – I had the corned beef hash cake which was lovely, and The Love had the Welsh rarebit which really did look spot on too – and with a nice sauce to go with it to spread on. I must admit I was tempted by the soup as that did look good.

The main roasts we had were all lovely – three of us had the beef, and that came with roasties, vegetables, a Yorkshire pudding and lots of their absolutely gorgeous gravy, which is thick and very tasty too. The Love had the roast ham which looked spot on too, and we got some side portions of mash to go with the roast potatoes, so did feel pretty full afterwards but in a good way, so much so that I didn’t have a dessert which was unusual, but I was being sensible.

Later on we went to Beermoth for a drink in there, and I had this really nice light ale which was 2.8% and gorgeous, and we chatted for a while before then heading off to The Bank, where I happened to have a voucher for a free pint of Nicholsons Pale Ale too, and The Love was having some nice wine. More chatter ensued and it was good just to be able to catch up and natter for ages, and the time sped by, rather quickly too. Before we knew it, it was around 8.15pm and time to head off homewards, and we got back in good time for the final episode of Line of Duty. It was good, and no spoilers here…

Saturday 4th May – Semi Final Drama

The Love In My Heart and I got up and were pleased to see that Brian the cat was sat there just wanting a love and cuddles before we headed up to have some breakfast. Brian wanted a play out and was more than happy to be able to rest on the decking at the front, sitting there enjoying the fresh air. I also had the snooker on and was keeping an eye on the semi final between Judd Trump and Gary Wilson. For me this was the crucial session, Judd put a good run together and Gary wasn’t quite playing as well as he could have done – he wasn’t quite right for some reason.

Later on The Love and I headed off to see her father, and he appeared all to be well and was in good shape. The Love sorted his lunch out and her sister also came over with some shopping, so all was good there. Both her sisters had also brought over some birthday presents for me for next week, which was very nice of them too. The Bounrnemouth v Tottenham game was also on, and with two red cards as well from the away side – and Bournemouth scoring in the 91st minute with a winner to give them a well deserved win. It appears no one wants to finish in the top four anymore.

We then went off to my Mum’s and was able to have a good chat to her about all sorts, and she was in good spirits. We did mention about a possible trip out next week and she gave us some ideas too which was nice of her. We also headed to Heaton Moor later and had a well earned drink in The Elizabethan, which was rather nice all round – their new dark mild was gorgeous and we were able to relax too. The Love went into one of the little shops not far away and managed to get a nice couple of gifts along the way.

Once back at The Love’s place, we noted that the semi final between John Higgins and David Gilbert was still on. It went to a final frame and was pretty dramatic – Gilbert was going well but got a kick on a red and later on Higgins made a good break, meaning it went down to the final red and a safety battle. Gilbert made one error and Higgins did enough to win the frame and match 17-16. The post-match interviews afterwards were both emotional, Rob Walker giving David Gilbert a hug and he was gutted, and John Higgins relieved to get over the line. Dramatic stuff and none of that later for Judd Trump as he polished off Gary Wilson 17-11.

We settled in for the evening later with a gorgeous chicken casserole made by The Love In My Heart, and some gorgeous meringues with berries, cream and ice cream, sort of Eton Mess style but nicer overall, which was good. We then also watched the likes of Britain’s Got Talent (complete with funny magician) and also Top of the Pops from 1987. This included the likes of Pet Shop Boys and the rather ace “Crazy Crazy Nights” from KISS (make that tune of the day) and the Bee Gees at number one too. Interestingly it also had The Cure’s excellent Just Like Heaven too, which is still one of my favourite songs of theirs.

Friday 3rd May – Delayed Once Again

It had been a productive day at work as I got to release the latest updates to the build task sequence for Windows 10, and after my testing, this meant that the engineer could pick the English US as well as English UK language, and have all the localisations added as needed. I had an email from one of the technical team over in Utah, who had managed to test this out this afternoon (morning their time) and this effectively worked really well for them overall, and that pleased me immensely.

I decided to walk up to Euston, primarily because of the fact that it was easier with all the traffic and that I was able to have something for tea along the way. In fact I got to Euston and saw the station was very busy, so went down Euston Road a little and went into Pizza Express – the first time I’d been in there for a fair while. I was able to use a nice little voucher on their app, so got a starter and main for £12.95, so it was the garlic dough balls to start followed by a very nice La Reine pizza, my favourite from there – all was pretty good there.

It was then back to Euston, and it had started raining too which wasn’t so good. The concourse, even with the shops removed, looked a lot busier than normal, and then I noticed all the signage saying Delayed, Delayed, Delayed. A quick check revealed that there had been a trespass incident at Harrow and Wealdstone, following that there may have been a person hit by a train (and if trespassing, trains passing at 125mph is likely) – and so that was not good – and so had to wait patiently to see what happened.

The incoming train came in to Platform 12, was turned round and cleaned quickly, and then announced. I managed to get to my seat fine and because the 1940 had only left a few minutes earlier, anyone with offpeak tickets went on that, so my train was less busy. However, we had left twenty three minutes late, and that was to be even later as the train was having to go slow past the affected area. This meant that by the time the train had got to Milton Keynes Central it was around 50 minutes late, and it stayed that way for the rest of the journey.

I had been in constant touch with The Love In My Heart, and I was able to take the tram and head from Piccadilly to the stop for her place, and arrived at around 11.10pm at her place. Brian the cat was surprisingly relaxed and allowed me to give him a cuddle as I arrived. It had been a long day too and it wasn’t nice to be delayed, but that’s how it is sometimes. Tune of the day is the rather lovely “Surrender” by Swing Out Sister which kept me going on the iPod as the train was crawling slowly up North.

Thursday 2nd May - Our Dementia Choir

I had been looking forward to seeing a programme on BBC1 tonight, featuring Vicky McClure (Kate Fleming from Line of Duty) and a choir being formed in Nottingham, Vicky's home town and all having some onset of dementia. One of Vicky's own family had suffered with dementia, and that had a profound effect, and the fact she wanted to know more about the way that music could potentially act as a form of stimulation for those with dementia, and how it can help give focus and a better quality of life.

I think too that a real sense of being normal and down to earth is something that Vicky had throughout - which certainly made those who she met feel more at ease and more comfortable. Indeed in one of the first lessons, the choir tutor wanted volunteers and one of the singers belted out, in soul style, The Foundations' classic Build Me Up Buttercup (make that tune of the day) and the joy from singing that was clear to see. I for one felt uplifted watching that.

However, what then happened was simply lovely. One of the choir, Rae, used to play piano when she was younger, but hadn't played for so long - but something inside with all the music gave her the impetus to go and belt out a fair bit of Für Elise, and she herself was amazed that she still had it and was able too play. It made me cry tears of joy because getting that sense back and getting that feeling back must have been an amazing thing to do - and shows how much that the power of music really has.

It was a real sense of occasion performing for one couple at the end of tonight's episode, where they were shortly going to be getting married and Dan, who was a drummer beforehand, and his wife to be Jordan, were having a song sung to them. It was tears all around and it showed just how much it meant to them all. The sense of "I'm going to deal with whatever it is" by Julie at the end was also moving - a sense of defiance but also a sense of getting on as best they could, and that felt intense too.

If you haven't watched tonight's episode, hopefully you'll have the chance to catch up in iPlayer. It was a beautifully genuine piece of television but also a real feeling that not being able to do much about the dementia but try to at least be able to have some form of quality of life was also heartbreaking, in so many ways. Full credit to Vicky McClure, who was just her local Nottingham self and everyone felt that genuine person inside - and so many reasons that makes a difference.

Wednesday 1st May - Getting A Bit Messi

It was good today to be able to work on some stats of deployments for one piece of software currently being distributed at the moment, but also to work on planning ahead for the next set of upgrades that we're planning to do. In effect, we wanted to be looking at using the software updates in SCCM to do an Office 365 update, which during testing has worked nicely, but at the same time, I will be doing some more testing in order to ensure that all works well in a variety of scenarios depending on version available.

One part of that was that we wanted to ensure that a certain set of users don't actually get offered the upgrade initially, so we wanted their primary devices to be excluded. Naturally user device affinity is in play and that is working nicely, but of course that also means that we'd be able to use the tie up with that to ensure that if we have an Active Directory Group of users, we can tie in the primary device and have a device collection sorted - as the installation of said software is normally to device too.

My colleague and I had a list of names and emails and using a bit of Excel wizardry I was able to extract the left hand name part out, copy and paste that list into a list of AD members, and add it pretty easily. Once that had refreshed the group membership, I was then able to use a bit of native Windows Query Language (WQL, don't confuse this with SQL folks!) and that was able to tie the two up, and got around the same number of machines as the number of the users reported back, and a cross check on the whole appeared pretty good.

I spent some time tonight switching between an epic final session in the quarter finals of the World Snooker Championship, as John Higgins got past Neil Robertson in a bit of a classic, to the Champions League semi final as Liverpool travelled to Barcelona. It was going to be interesting to see if they could stop the likes of Lionel Messi, and indeed, despite Luis Suarez scoring against his former club, being only 1-0 down at half time meant an away goal could still be got and that might help matters.

Indeed chances came but chances also went, and it was then a case of Barcelona getting back on track, and after a bit of a scrambled goal for Lionel Messi's first, the second one he scored - a free kick from some distance - was pretty mental, and a goal well worthy of any final, never mind semi final. It was maybe a little bit harsh, but 3-0 and no away goal means it's all to do at Anfield next week. Indeed, if Liverpool lost away at Newcastle and Man City win on Monday night, we could claim the title the day before the Liverpool second leg at home to Barca, so who knows? In the meantime tune of the day is the Freddie Mercury and Montserrat Caballe classic, ie: Barcelona. Because.