Dear Diary... September 2015

Wednesday 30th September - We Fight To The End

I had a pretty productive day in work, and a fair bit of time was spent with a member of staff going through the basics of Dragon Naturally Speaking 13, and how to get the best out of it. In fact the provided headset mic wasn't that good, and thankfully I had a Plantronics USB headset mic that was available - and in truth that was much better, not just in the way it recognised the voice but how easy it seemed to all get working and without any issues. Anything that makes life easier has to be an epic win I think.

Anyway, tonight was the next round of matches in the group stage of the Champions League, and after seeing us lose narrowly to Juventus at home on the first match day, it was an opportunity for Manchester City to bounce back against Borussia Mönchengladbach (try saying that after a few beers then!) - and we had played them in European competition before, during the 1978-79 UEFA Cup quarter finals - we lost to them over two legs and they went on to win the whole thing. They hadn't also lost to any English side at home, so no easy task whichever way you looked at it.

I wasn't so sure about the team news, with Yaya Touré back but possibly not fully fit, and the central defence partnership of Nicolas Otamendi and Martin Demechelis. Not sure how they were going to work together, and my fears were proven during a manic first half. Yes, City had chances and Sergio Agüero on a better day might have scored one of them, but it was a shambles at the back and only the superb goalkeeping of Joe Hart was keeping the score at 0-0.

Borussia Mönchengladbach got a penalty when Otamendi was judged to have fouled, but replays suggested it was rather soft. Joe Hart brilliantly saved the penalty and also before half time pulled off two world class saves. There was another penalty shout which actually looked more of a penalty but yet the Borussia striker was booked for diving. Terrible standards of refereeing really, and you did wonder whether that would be the case during the second half.

A few minutes into that half and Mönchengladbach were in front, with a well worked goal down the right and a ball pulled back for Lars Stindl to hit low and hard past Hart, and he didn't have a chance. Yet despite us going a goal down it seemed to spur the team into action, and gradually the likes of Raheem Sterling and Kevin de Bruyne were getting more into the game - more so when David Silva went off for Jesús Navas and de Bruyne went more central.

From the corner after Navas came on, the ball was kneed towards goal by Demechelis. It was clearly well over the line but the referee didn't give it as they cleared - and most of the players had stopped. Otamendi hadn't though and smashed it goalwards in off a defensive head, but did I care? No. It was 1-1. You do have to wonder though whether the referee and the fifth official on the goal line both need sacking for not seeing how far the ball was over the line - where's Hawkeye when you need it?

City pressed on and I was just hoping one chance would go in, and right at the end with almost 90 minutes on the clock a corner came over, the ball was controlled by Agüero and he was cropped in the box - definite penalty. Sergio was as cool as you like and slotted it home to give City a much needed 2-1 win. Remember folks - we're Man City, we fight to the end, and no more so than tonight, and all of a sudden our hopes look considerably better than they were a couple of weeks ago. Tune of the day is the classic City song "The Boys In Blue", as they never give in as the song goes...

Tuesday 29th September - CSI Finale

Tonight was the end of an era for UK fans of the original CSI series, based in Las Vegas. US broadcaster CBS had announced an end to the show after fifteen series (the US like to call them "Seasons") and so as a send off had planned an extended TV movie episode, with some of the former original cast returning for one final fling. In fact the show had its finale in the US on Sunday, and for once Channel 5 here in the UK were not going to be that far behind and thus show it tonight.

I'd had a nice evening meal with The Love In My Heart, and I had earlier tweeted the fact that CSI was on for us here. Imagine my surprise when none other than Marg Helgenberger (Catherine Willows in CSI no less!) actually did a retweet of that, which then had a shed load of UK CSI fans favouriting it too. The mind truly boggles sometimes how these things work, but I suppose if it helped get the word out and get people glued to the screen, so be it.

But before that, we watched Homes by the Sea on More4, where it focussed on homes with a gorgeous view all around Cornwall. Naturally that interested me anyway, so I was able to see the places and the villages with a viewpoint of having seen a fair bit of it myself. The cottage right on the harbour at Mousehole is something The Love and I had walked past on a number of occasions, and the tall concrete block next to the Exchange Arts Centre in Penzance was also something we'd spotted, but the inside was a lot better than the outside, and with some view as well.

So with The Love heading home, on with CSI and the classic "Who Are You?" theme tune by The Who (make that tune of the day) - and it worked out pretty well. Effectively a casino explosion set off a chain of events, as the casino is owned by Catherine, so she heads back from the FBI HQ, Captain Jim Brass was in the casino at the time, and one key early clue links the infamous Lady Heather to the case, so a bit of pressure from Conrad Ecklie to Sara, and Grissom is also back and on the case too.

It had a real sense of dynamics throughout, and notable too how most of the main cast were really spot on. I quite liked the fact too that they had Catherine's daughter Lindsey as a new CSI, and how one of the things she spotted helped get the case along nicely. Melinda Clarke was ace as Lady Heather, as she always has been, and instantly riled Sara during the case too. It was a good storyline on the whole although if there had been less commercial breaks, it might have been a bit longer.

The thing most people wanted to know was would Sara and Grissom get back together again after having been married and then divorced. Well if you haven't watched it as yet, I am not going to spoil it for you. What I will say is that the presence of Lady Heather makes it all interesting, and indeed the way that the case is solved also really does pull some strings. I must admit though it was a good way to end it all, and I can only hope that others have seen that the same way I did. Bravo!

Monday 28th September - Fixing Facebook

After a lengthy day at work I headed home a slightly different way this evening - basically on a different bus route and off to my Mum's. She had mentioned that as of late her laptop kept crashing when she was scrolling down on her Facebook timeline, and yet most other sites appeared to be working as normally intended. I had a couple of hunches but thought it'd be a good idea to check her laptop over, as it hadn't been done for a while and always good to keep it nicely up and running.

I got to Mum's and had a coffee, always welcome after a busy day, and she showed me what the problem was in more detail. It definitely seemed as if, despite having the latest version of Flash Player installed and working correctly, that a scroll down was causing a crash. I did for a second think of graphics driver, but also wanted to check a few things over anyway. I went through the plugins in Firefox - all good there. I checked to see if anything rubbish had been installed - absolutely not. In fact the only main task I really needed to do was to update her anti-virus software to the latest release, but nothing major that.

I then asked her not to scroll down the page and see the settings for her account. There was an option for video where auto play was turned to on. I thought "this might be a good idea to turn off" and so did that. She then scrolled down the timeline and kept going, and not one single crash whatsoever. I suspected that as she was heading down the page, more and more video content was attempting to open at the same time, eventually causing an error and the whole thing crashing.

So that appears to be that, I reckon. Might be worth checking that for yourself if you use said site, particularly on slower PCs or laptops where they might not be able to handle everything at once. In any case I checked a few other things out and all seemed well with the laptop, so Mum was most happy, not least as she had also noted a potential hoax where people were claiming that there were going to be charges imposed by the site, and of course she had the common sense to realise that was actually not right whatsoever.

I arrived home later and spent some time rocking out on Guitar Hero Warriors of Rock again, and this time tackled the pretty tricky "Deadfall" by Snot, and ended up not only beating my normal high score but also setting a new record for score gained during star power, so that's going to be tune of the day for sure. I really do enjoy the game a lot more now especially as I'm still improving the skills. I know I won't ever be superb at it, but if I can better myself, all well and good!

Sunday 27th September - Lancastrian

It was a very early start for me - 5.30am to be precise - as I wanted to see the Japanese Grand Prix live, and it was actually a good time to see it before the rest of the day's things I had planned. It wasn't the best race ever with Lewis Hamilton winning at a canter, but it did at least offer some overtaking during the race and a pretty animated Fernando Alonso effectively calling the Honda engine in his McLaren car comparable to a GP2 car in terms of performance. Not sure how that would go down mind you...

It was then on to Piccadilly Station and The Love In My Heart would pick me up there, and off to see her sister in Bolton. The Love's niece was heading off to university today and starting a three year course at the University of Lancaster, and so needed The Love's car to help transport more of her stuff and so be able to do the whole thing in one go. Naturally of course we were both only too willing to help out, and would also make for a day out in hopefully some sunshine and getting it all sorted. So once we arrived at The Love's sister's, it was getting the remaining boxes and bags etc into the boot, and after a quick coffee, time to hit the road.

It was a relatively calm and quiet journey following the M61 to the end and then on to the M6 and off at junction 33 for the A6, following the road through the nice little village of Galgate and on towards the university campus, located a couple of miles south of the city centre. It all seemed very nice as we headed up the hill and followed the road round to the main batch of accommodation at Alexandra Park - and to one of the colleges of the University in order for The Love's niece to pick up the keys to her hall and then be shown where exactly she was.

It was good to be able to get all the stuff transported out and into the room, which was one room in a seven room flat. It had a good sized communal kitchen with everything pretty much that was needed, and indeed a view over on to the other walkways around the place from a small juliette balcony. The room was en-suite with shower and toilet too, not too bad, and complete with Ethernet and wireless connections. The Love's sister had got a NowTV box to hook up to the TV brought along with the idea that any TV being watched could be via catch up - notably as most of the halls don't come with aerial sockets in the rooms.

Anyway, I soon discovered that NowTV boxes don't talk to any wireless networks that require a user name and a password authentication (WPA2 Enterprise effectively) as there's no option whatsoever to put the user name in. So if you know anyone heading to University and staying in halls, don't buy the white NowTV boxes - they won't work with Eduroam whatsoever for that reason. However, it looks like the newer black boxes have Ethernet at the back, so provided the device is registered, it may be possible to use that instead - be interesting to see if The Love's sister can change it for a black one and see what happens.

Lots of stuff was unpacked and generally it felt quite settled in, but before The Love's sister was going to do some food shopping with her daughter, the four of us headed to the centre of Lancaster, and located some of the main shopping streets and centres - good for orientation purposes if nothing else. We also spotted a nice little café so we did an early lunch - and an all day breakfast at that! It was really nice, as was the coffee that came with mine, and it was good just to take some time out and chatter also.

We returned back to the University and left The Love's sister and niece to sort out what they had left to do for the day and we headed back out and along the M6 and M61 back to the city centre Manchester, where we ended up having a well earned drink in one of the pubs in Castlefield by the canal - and even better, they had Black Cat on cask! Well, I wasn't going to say no to that I suspect, so in the afternoon sunshine it was rather nice to be able to take it easy and just relax after an early start.

Later in the evening I spent a fair chunk of time filling out application forms for jobs and have actually applied for four. In some ways some of the questions that required answers were ones I'd already provided for other positions before, and the examples still applied, so that did save some time. It's just a shame that there's also so much other repetition in filling out the application forms, such as the examinations gained, current and previous positions of employment and so on. Still, felt a lot better for getting all of that done as one of the deadlines was for midnight tonight! Tune of the day based on that is "Two Minutes To Midnight" by Iron Maiden - a classic rock anthem!

Saturday 26th September - Defeat and More Defeat

I headed up earlier in the day, and was setting off to hopefully get a birthday present for my nephew. I said hopefully because the present was in Early Learning Centre, and normally they're located within branches of Mothercare. The only one in the centre of Manchester was at the second floor of Debenhams, and despite me walking all the way around a number of times, I wasn't able to locate it whatsoever. I went to a backup plan of another present but when I went to HMV, and also Fopp and That's Entertainment, none of those had it either. Boo indeed.

By this time I needed to be elsewhere so I headed on the bus to The Love In My Heart's place and from there we were setting off to her Dad's place. He needed a bit of assistance with the PC, and I suspected that it may have been something straightforward. Well, it was, but not necessarily a straightforward one to sort out properly. One external hard drive with photos and stuff on - all good. Folder structure - not so good. It looked like in an attempt to copy things over there ended up being subfolders of subfolders of subfolders, and then in other folders that were also subfolders, the same content. I'd given him some good pointers and made a good start on sorting things out, and I'd like to think he got it.

Whilst all that was going on, City were at Tottenham in the early kick off and we had gone 1-0 up through Kevin de Bruyne. All good. Except the end of the first half and second half wasn't - and we ended up getting hammered 4-1. Even possibly worse was Yaya Touré going off injured too. I do think though that missing Vincent Kompany isn't helping us, but we also shouldn't be dependent on key players. And the other thing was: why not play Joe Hart from the start? Selection there, possibly wrong and paying the price for it somewhat. Even worse was Man U winning later and going top. No. Not good at all.

The Love and I had headed off to Early Learning Centre at The Fort in Cheetham Hill, and a quick pop in there revealed that the present I was after was in stock, and so got it all sorted. Why couldn't it have been so easier earlier I wondered to myself. We also headed over to Tesco near me and used the last Fuel Save discount, and it was 10p off a litre, so to make sure we got the best out of it, 30 litres went into the car, and that was a very nice little money off - it ended up working out 95p a litre for fuel, which these days isn't half bad. That should last her well for a bit.

So on with the rugby union then and England v Wales at Twickenham. With the strains of "Swing Low Sweet Chariot" from the massed England crowd, I knew that beating Wales and Australia might be crucial to the chances, or even one win from two (provided everyone of those three nations had a win each) might also then mean points or points difference counting. So it was with some excitement that the telly was on full blast and to see what we could do. Wales of course are a very good side but some injuries against Uruguay hadn't helped their cause in the run up to this.

However, what a match that did ensue. It was blow for blow, and England had got a decent try and so was 16-9 up at half time. Each time though they tried to pull away, it was only a penalty and Wales crucially got the difference back to four points before an Owen Farrell kick made it 25-18. Wales though played a blinder on the blind side and scored and so eight minutes left, the score 25-25. Another bit of England play which caused a penalty to Wales, and Dan Biggar kicked home a monster to take the lead 28-25. England had a penalty near the end but chose to go for the try and were forced out of the line by the scrummage. I'd have kicked and at least levelled the scores, but well played Wales, whom despite getting even more injuries rallied as a team and showed some real spirit.

England now know a win against Australia is a complete must, and even that might not be enough unless it's a good sized win, and so Wales can go to play Fiji next week knowing a win pretty much puts them through with the final match of the group against Australia to come. In the meantime tune of the day is the original version of "World In Union" as performed by Kiri Te Kanawa during the 1991 World Cup, and has been a fixture ever since (although I must admit I am not a fan of that Paloma Faith version whatsoever..)

Friday 25th September - In A Perfect World

I had the theme tune to Gogglebox, "Perfect World" by Kodaline, in my head for a bit of the day. Maybe I was subconsciously thinking about the fact it was on later? In any case, I had a fair few things to sort out today so I was on the case and getting them done, including having to distribute Adobe Creative Cloud 2015 to a number of PCs in a lab ready for next week - apparently timetabling had to be changed for the room and so it is now needed to be used for that purpose. As it transpired the room was free all day so that gave me some much needed headway to get things done.

I also worked on a few other things too, and one of them was getting a couple of PCs swapped around in a room so that one of them was in an ideal position for a member of staff to eventually be using Dragon Naturally Speaking 13 when they come back in next week (I've also got some time set aside to give them some guidance on learning how to be able to dictate into it and make the most of the things it has). I also did some spreadsheet work and made a query from SCCM look a lot better in terms of what we can do with it. I kind of really like manipulating data in a good way.

I had a nice surprise when I got home in that my Rugby World Cup ticket had arrived, and England v Uruguay at the Etihad is mine to go to. In fact, I'm in block 132, in the left corner as you look on the telly, in row J. The view should be decent of any English tries down there, and although a little pricey at £50 maybe, it was the cheapest ticket available. I know too that I'll be watching that with some interest depending on how England do against Wales tomorrow and Australia the week after before seeing this final group match.

Also in my inbox, in advance of the actual physical CD landing with me, was the download links for both high resolution MP3 and FLAC format for New Order's new album "Music Complete". I'd been looking forward to this for some time and I wanted to give it a bit of a blast before Gogglebox, so on it went. I think it might take time to grow on me, but it's noticeable that some tracks have lent themselves more to the Joy Division style of composition initially, notably the intro to "Singularity" which really smacks of that classic era before becoming less brooding - tune of the day definitely.

I then settled in to see Gogglebox and it didn't disappoint whatsoever. It was entertaining seeing them all scared witless with The Woman In Black, with Daniel Radcliffe acting (hence the two sisters Ellie and Izzi from Leeds turned on straight away in their pyjamas!) - and they also featured the news item about the unofficial David Cameron biography with Emily Maitlis from Newsnight giving the book authors a proper grilling (and the folks from Gogglebox agreeing).

What was heartwarming was a clip from the BBC Two documentary about how the body develops before birth, and showed a young baby born with a cleft lip, and how when it became three months old, the operation that they did to get it all straightened out as much as they could. In fact it was a really good operation, and I think Scarlett Moffatt said it best when she said how amazing the NHS is. Absolutely right, seeing skilled doctors and surgeons being able to operate and give the child a much happier quality of life really did feel somewhat rather lovely (lots of awwwws fro everyone too).

I had set myself to watch Strictly Come Dancing on iPlayer but did see part of Alan Carr: Chatty Man as well, with both Tess and Claudia on as guests. It was amusing how they pastiched Claudia's fringe into a game show sort of The Cube like, called The Fringe, with Alan and Tess donning wigs with fringes and attempting to do challenges if they were Claudia. She took it really well and looked gorgeous, so all good there. As for Strictly, Helen George was delightful and was the best dance of the night for me - very flowing and beautiful.

Thursday 24th September - Buy Art Fair

After a busy day at work, it was nice to have something to look forward to tonight, and it was the VIP opening of the Buy Art Fair in Manchester. We've been to the same VIP preview nights for the last two or three years now, and after starting life in Spinningfields, it's now at the former Granada Studios on Quay Street, which lends itself reasonably well to exhibition and stall space for selling art. It worked out well last year so I was intrigued to see who would be exhibiting and indeed how much there might be in terms of affordable art as well as items of sheer desire.

I walked to Piccadilly Gardens and met The Love In My Heart, and we decided to have a drink in The Bank before heading to the studios - primarily as it opened at 5.30pm and we didn't want to wait in the queue. The place had lots of rugby themed real ales on, and ten different ales in all (ooh yes), so I went for a rugby one - the well titled "The All Blondes" from the Skinners Brewery in Truro, Cornwall. And it was easily up to standards compared to the rest of their ales too, and very drinkable indeed. Nice one!

We then headed past St Peter's Square and along to Quay Street, and with our barcodes scanned we were straight into the studios and the art fair. Complimentary glass of white wine? Don't mind if we do. And we had a good look around. One that caught my eye was the urban art of Stewy including the limited print of the Frank Sidebottom picture that's been seen on Oldham Street in the centre of Manchester. It was a limited print run and three were left - but at £150 I thought it a little on the steep side - nice as it was.

The other thing that intrigued me too was a stall where there were striking photographs of reflections of vinyl singles - the Heidler and Heeps Vinyl Collection, so that they looked very decorative and arty. It was quite fascinating as a music fan to spot the singles that had been used, but one of them that definitely was my favourite was an all purple hue of colour for the vinyl, and based on the Joy Division free flexidisc with "Komakino" being the lead track (make that tune of the day as it's a great track anyway)

We saw my brother and his girlfriend there too as they were helping to man the stall for the Manchester Craft Centre, which they both share a unit at. The stall had a few of them exhibiting, and split the space equally between six to give them some exposure, which was a good call. We also had a nice chat with one of the galleries based in Edinburgh, the Urbane Art Gallery, and the owner was really knowledgeable about the art she was selling, including one of an urban scene that could have come out of the centre of Manchester (even though it wasn't) - and that was good to see.

Later on we then headed back towards the city centre and on to Chinatown, where we both fancied a Chinese meal for a change - we hadn't done it for ages (partially due to the fact the takeaway close to mine is pretty good) but it was so worth it. We went to Little Yang Sing, and the food was really good. I had the pork spring rolls to start as a dim sum, and The Love had these duck and cheese triangles, and they were simply awesome. I was wondering how they'd taste but we both agreed that they were a definite highlight and I'll be having those all to myself if we go again!

For the main, we both chose two mains where we could each have a bit of each other's, along with some egg fried rice, so The Love had the Cantonese Pork and I had the Crispy Chilli Chicken, which wasn't as strong as I thought it'd be - and that allowed the flavour of the sauce to really compliment the chicken nicely. The pork was very good too. The staff were also very attentive and lovely to us, so even though a service charge was mandatory, in truth we would have paid that anyway as it was a really nice meal all round.

We ended our lovely evening back in The Bank (not that far to walk from Little Yang Sing at all!) and I tried another real ale, the Haka Roo, this time from the Wychwood Brewery who normally do the likes of Hobgoblin. It was a rather nice ale too, a little more of an amber colour and very palatable indeed too. It was also nice to have more of a chat together, and I just wanted to freeze time for a bit because it was all so lovely. I had nice beer, beautiful gorgeous company and felt more relaxed - what was there not to like? A lovely time all round.

Wednesday 23rd September - High Scores And Baking

Another pretty busy day today, and good to get out of the office and see some staff, as well as get a fair few things done during the course of the day. In fact I had finalised a bit of application packaging, and was also testing out a few things too. I quite like it when there's an opportunity to test, but at the same time it's always worth doing a controlled test so that I know everything will work as intended. I also headed over to sort out an Adobe installation issue on one Mac (thankfully all went well there) as well as then be able to look into re-siting a printer where possible.

The traffic on the way home was rather bad to say the least, and the weather gloomy too - that fine drizzly rain which just wants to get you soaked through to be honest. It was also going slow and I think that was a knock on effect on traffic going into the city being a real crawl. I suspect that it may have increased slightly due to Man U being at home in the Capital One Cup tonight, but usually it's only later when it starts to get a bit more manic. I was just pleased to be home.

In fact I decided with renewed vigour to get rocking on Guitar Hero Warriors of Rock tonight and that yielded some rewards for me. I was on form. I beat my personal best on guitar on Jethro Tull's classic "Aqualung" and therefore earned the second score star for getting to a certain total, and at last too - so tune of the day that one is. In fact the key for gaining a shed load of points during star power is waiting till the tune slows down during the first round of "sun streaking cold, an old man wandering lonely" and timing it well.

I wasn't content there and carried on to Megadeth's "Holy Wars... The Punishment Due". I was in full concentration mode and timed my star power runs to really boost the score well and that did work a treat somewhat, and overall that meant I earned a first high score star, plus I smashed what I'd previously set by some 25,000 points or so, and also upped my score earned during star power to around 95,000 during the song - putting me at the top of my Wii friends leaderboard at the same time. That made me feel pretty pleased overall to be honest.

So on with The Great British Bake Off anbd down to the final five contestants. I must admit there's only two of them I'd actually like to see win. Ian is a little too smug at times and that really does wind people up (some people at work think the same too) and Paul just doesn't seem to always perform and yet manages to survive. Also, I do wish Flora would hold back on adding all little "extras" all the time and sometimes stick to the recipe. Tamal and Nadiya on the other hand are both just down to earth people, and also quite modest too. I think Nadiya was in shock when she got star baker, but so well deserved..

And then on to the finest TV series at the moment, Doctor Foster. Suranne Jones has been excellent, I'd say even better than she's been in anything else thus far, and the way that she was attempting to get all forms of the truth out was pretty impressive. The seduction leading to blackmail was really impressively done, and I think overall that there's still a fair few plot twists to go with two episodes left, with one moment in time during this episode making a few decisions that might hit home further on. It's been fascinating!

Tuesday 22nd September - Revisiting Lisbon

I had another busy day, and on the whole the day went pretty well. I was quite pleased to get working on a backlog of stuff I needed to do, but at the same time also progress a few things too. In fact I knew I was making progress when I could see the total number of cases logged to the team getting smaller as we were ploughing through them and getting them resolved. In fact I had finally got to the bottom of one case to be honest, and it meant that I could effectively plan a way of getting it all rolled out.

It was a piece of software that is pretty old but also not supported anymore, and serves up some archives for some of the administrative staff. The main server exists, and you can still map a drive to it, and the contents it needs to refer to, but the dongle driver needed to see the dongle on the server didn't like to play ball from the server - it refused to want to know Windows 7 64-bit. I had though managed to locate a revised driver, and that worked a treat to be honest, and so once I did the work on that, it was a little less tricky from there. Thank heavens for that really.

I did manage to eventually get home through the pretty bobbins traffic and it was then a case of getting a few things done and starting to make the tea as The Love In My Heart arrived. We had a nice catch up and chat and then I set about getting the food sorted - Hunter's chicken with some parmentier potatoes and some carrots. That went down really well and The Love settled in with myself to watch a repeat of Great Continental Railway Journeys - but we both had a good reason to watch it.

It was the second part of a journey that would eventually take Michael Portillo on to Lisbon, and that brought back lovely memories of our holiday together, notably when he was entering the Praça do Comercio and recalling when there was an ambush and how some of the Royal Family were killed there - but also a square close by that we've walked past where the country was declared a republic in the early 20th Century. And of course a trip to Belém to have the pastéis de Belém too (only seems right somehow, they're rather marvellous actually)

Later on we snuggled up and watched a documentary from ITV4 that I'd missed last night, which was former Indy Car racer and now ITV motorsport commentator Dario Franchitti as he went on a tour of the evolution of motor racing and how things had changed over the years, from the engine moving from the front to the middle or back in the late 1950s, how the chassis developed in the 1960s and aerodyamics changed the shape of the 1970s, followed by the likes of carbon fibre monocoques playing a much more important part. As it was in the backdrop of the Goodwood Revival Festival, it was notably noble to give a nod to the late Justin Wilson who had passed away in between Dario filming pieces, a good touch that (especially as Wilson would have raced against Franchitti in the Indy Car series.)

There was a final section on how the likes of Formula E (which Dario commentates on) now is pushing more boundaries with fully electric cars, and even how hybrids in both Formula 1 and endurance sportscar racing (winning Le Mans with a hybrid car for example) are now a good way forward too. It was really good stuff, and even The Love could appreciate the way that motorsport has changed. It made me think of the classic F1 theme, "The Chain" by Fleetwood Mac, so tune of the day that one is.

Monday 21st September - Let The Onslaught Begin

The first day of a new academic year at work for me is always pretty busy, and this year was no exception top be quite honest. We were still attempting to sort a lot of stuff out after we had moved offices over the back end of last week, and on top of that it was a case of doing what we could to get things sorted for all the other things we needed to do. I for one must admit that at this time of year a calm head is required and attempting to be that can be sometimes a little on the daunting side, but it needs to be done.

On the plus side, I do have a window outside now, and a North facing window at that, which does have a few advantages: it means I can let some fresh air in if I wish to, but also be safe in the knowledge that even on a warm day and due to the other buildings close by, it won't all be sun and glare on to the monitor screen (quite handy really). On top of that it also means that I do get the chance to be able to feel less enclosed in the space that I'm in (even though desk space and chair space is a little bit more at a premium in an attempt to get everyone in.)

The day went by very quickly indeed, as you can imagine, and I did stay back a little bit as I was in the middle of packaging up Adobe Creative Cloud - the device licence for teams version. In effect for education it's one of the two different types of licencing you can have - and you can only package up this version once someone has paid for a licence to be part of the device pool. Then the licence administator (or someone else who has been given equivalent rights to the same account) packages it up using Adobe Creative Cloud Packager, and so is then able to pick from that device pool when the package is made. When it is first run, it then activates online and you can see the device activation as part of that pool. Pretty good really.

Back at home, I thought a wind down was much needed, and so on went Guitar Hero Warriors of Rock on the Wii - and indeed plenty of rocking abound. I must admit there's some challenges in terms of score I'd still like to make - I'm around 400 off the next star up on guitar on Jethro Tull's "Aqualung" and can almost get that first score star on Megadeth's "Holy Wars.. The Punishment Due" as well. However what I did manage tonight was pretty good - a play through the whole of Rush's 2112, playing all seven parts of the track in turn.

That wasn't enough though and so decided to play some vinyl - and I have said album on vinyl too, so the whole of side one being the title track was an absolute must play - and tune of the day for that reason. I think in terms of concept it works really well, especially when you consider the thought gone into it. For example at the very end, there's three times of the phrase "Attention all planets of the Solar Federation" by three times of a second phrase of "We Have Assumed Control". Now, work out the number of total words said by each phrase in all (7 x 3 =21, 4 x 3 =12) - and you can see what I mean.

Sunday 20th September - Touched By Your Presence, Deer

The Love In My Heart would have had a bit more of a lie in this morning, but the two cats Jô and Brian wanted some attention early on, and so once she was up, it was hard to get back to sleep. Admittedly they also came to me for a bit of a fuss over as well, especially once I'd got myself up and out and about, but it was the way that Jô looks to the cupboard where the cat treats are with a little look of "please, go on!" that really is adorable but at the same time possibly a bit of a pain. I had "The Love Cats" by The Cure in my head after that, so it's tune of the day for that reason.

I checked the Rugby World Cup tickets site, and it looked like there were possibly tickets for the game at the Etihad and at Category D (the cheapest at £50) as well. I went through the add to basket, got it, and then did all the card payments, and voila! All done. I was therefore sorted, and so on Saturday 10th October it'll be me off to England v Uruguay, and checking the ticket website later I'll be close to one of the corners on the bottom tier, with not that bad a view at all!

The Love and I decided to head out for the afternoon and thought it'd be a nice idea to walk around Dunham Massey. It was a nice dry day and the weather was set fair. In fact when we got there we started to walk past the house and spotted in the parkland that there seemed to be a fair number of the fallow deer out and about. We followed one of the main paths, and spotted several young fallow deer out and about, so that was good to walk along and spot them. In fact going closer to the old slaughterhouse, several of them were in force and seemed to be congregating as a family.

We walked past the slaughterhouse, and hiding in the ferns close to the main drive were a small group of young fallow deer, where their antlers hadn't as yet grown. One of them was quite keen to be able to look with a little smile at people and get used to the idea of company in the deer park, whilst still attempting to hide in the ferns and other woodland in order to be able to run off if need be. I must admit though it was one of those moments I was glad to have the camera with me to capture the moment.

You're young to be posing, deer

In fact walking back down the main drive, several tree branches had been put together almost in shelter-like fashion, but ideally as the Autumn is traditionally rutting season, plenty of deer were out to give their antlers a good test, and so it proved, plenty of them wandering looking for trees or branches to practice on. I did get another good shot of one where it was on the prowl and yet still looking rather lovely at the same time. Plenty of people had noticed it too but were quietly watching it go about its business.

It was a good walk all told, and on the way back to mine we stopped off at the newly refurbished Parrswood pub close to East Didsbury. It was actually really nice inside, and now being a JW Lees pub, it meant I could have the current seasonal ale, the Drayman's Reward, which was really nice. In fact the food was good too - The Love had the Sunday roast, and that looked nice enough (slightly larger roasties would have possibly helped too) but my steak and ale pie was spot on, and yes it was a proper pie! Hurrah!

I headed home later and The Love did too so she could watch Downton Abbey but none of that for me. I caught up with Doctor Foster that I had missed the other night, and it was pretty dramatic all round, Suranne Jones once again excellent. And she even got the drunken doctor to take a break away, and for those of you wondering, the train station used was Enfield Chase (I saw the "Chase" bit of the station sign and looked it up, and there it was - with pictures to cross-check and prove it) - so if you pass through there, you can pretend to be her if you so wish to. Or perhaps not.

Saturday 19th September - Hammered

It was nice just to get a few things done this morning around the house, and also take a walk around the local market at a leisurely pace. I have to say though that the number of stalls has reduced as of late and certainly for me at least I'd be looking at re-evaluating whether it's worth actually doing the market for twice a month instead of once a week. I suspect too that if a lot of the stallholders are also doing other markets, realistically they can't get round them all..

Later on in the day my friend came over and we were going to make an afternoon of the day - heading out for lunch first and then off to the Etihad Stadium to see Manchester City against West Ham for the 5.30pm kick off. We headed to Pizza Hut near Ashton-under-Lyne, as we both like it in there, and plus from the last time I'd filled out a survey there we got a voucher for 2 for 1 on mains, so thought it'd also keep the cost down a fair bit. In fact, it worked out well: we both had the refill drinks that they do, and I also enjoyed the barbecue meat feast pizza that I had. All was good there. There was even some REM in the background, and "Shiny Happy People" no less, so make that tune of the day at the same time.

It was then on to the Etihad and hopes were high after five wins out of five for City, and indeed despite our Champions League setback on Tuesday we thought a bounce back was on. A word of caution was that West Ham had already won away at Arsenal and at Liverpool, and so not to be underestimated. As we got to the ground, the starting eleven was announced with a midfield of Kevin de Bruyne, David Silva, Yaya Touré and Raheem Sterling. Yet 15 minutes before kick off Silva had to pull out and be replaced in the starting eleven by Jesús Navas. I did have to wonder as to how much that would distract us and give West Ham a boost.

And sure enough, that was what it worked out. Five minutes were on the clock and the defence stood off Victor Moses and he unleashed a powerful shot past Joe Hart and it was 1-0 to West Ham. City pressed forward only to be denied by an excellent defence led by Winston Reid, and indeed their keeper Adrian, who was on rather good form, saving several good efforts, and indeed one from very close range from Sergio Agüero. The chances we didn't take proved costly, as West Ham from a corner scrambled and got the ball home from Diafra Sakho, and at that point I knew it was going to be difficult to come back.

Just before half time though, a breakthough. Agüero managed to evade three defenders and lay the ball into the path of Kevin de Bruyne, who shot low and true with his left foot to reduce the defecit to 2-1, and just before half time too, so hope sprung eternal come half time. And at the start of the second half, City lay seige to West Ham's goal, with Adrian in impressive form, and the chances kept coming (and went) with Yaya Touré having two chances going just wide, and on the break West Ham themselves could have scored another - it was end to end stuff in parts.

But try as City did, and even bringing on more strikers, West Ham held firm and fair play to them, they battled hard and a 2-1 win was well deserved for them. City looked a bit shellshocked though and it made me wonder just how much we missed Vincent Kompany in the centre of defence and indeed David Silva being the one to create the chances for the others - certainly we're a lot worse off without those two players. I suppose the League Cup game at Sunderland on Tuesday is a good place to bounce back.

I headed to The Love In My Heart's place after the match, and we snuggled up to watch some telly together. She had also made a rather gorgeous spaghetti bolognaise for tea, and it was rather nice the way it was done actually, with some extra mushrooms and carrots in there too. We settled in and watched First Dates on All 4, and it was intriguing to see some of the dates from the previous week have a much better time of it this time around, learning from what they did last time as well.

Friday 18th September - World in Union

It was one of the longest days at work I can recall, even if the time spent there was the same amount as normal. It seemed that for some reason we had to be out of our former building by the end of today as there were a team in the building next week doing asbestos investigations. As such it also meant that we had to have all hands on deck to make sure that we could do what we could to get things moving, so packing crates en masse, making split second decisions, and then cracking on as best we can during the rest of the day.

I handled anything coming in calls wise and made sure that people were informed that things may not happen as quickly as we would like due to the move being priority - most people were aware of what was going on and were okay with it generally, and so it was just a case of making sure that where possible we made some important calls. I think on the whole we'll look back at the whole week and one that really shows just how much everyone did pull together, no matter what they were doing.

It was good to be home and decided that the best course of action would be rocking out on Guitar Hero Warriors of Rock for a bit first, and so played the likes of "Sudden Death" by Megadeth, and then from the imports of Guitar Hero 5, the excellent "You And Me" by Attack! Attack! (make that tune of the day) and it was a good day to wind down before my online food shopping was due to arrive, and then it meant I could make the tea before tonight's start to the Rugby World Cup.

The opening ceremony was pretty good and Prince Harry did a speech as well, with plenty of people including Prince William and Princess Kate in attendance. The anthems were belted out and the whole of the Twickenham crowd were singing the national anthem especially loud. And then it all started, the England game v Fiji. It was a decent early start with a penalty and followed then by a penalty try. It was also a good try later in the half for the impressive Mike Brown, shimmying around two players and scoring in the corner. Fiji thought they had scored a try but it was disallowed, but then scoring a try moments later and it was 18-8 at half time.

In the second half England were more nervous and although Fiji scored a penalty they also missed more opportunities to make the score closer, and that would have been anxious. England brought in replacements off the bench as the Fijians tired, and that was telling, as first of all Mike Brown scored another good try, and a few minutes left on the clock. Another try would have meant a fifth bonus point, and right at the death England just got over the line...

Thursday 17th September - Moving Over

Another pretty busy day all round, and also me moving office as well. In fact as I had cleared my desk yesterday, the desk had already been put into position into the new office this morning, so all I had to do was effectively bring over my chair and my desk drawers, and I wheeled them over without issues. Once that was done I unpacked the crate with the monitor and phone in, and set myself up so that everything was up and running pretty quickly. My plan is I could see operations from here and make any calls I needed to make, and also then be able to get things up and running if required.

In fact it took most of the day for everyone to start shifting stuff over and to generally get themselves moved. In my view it was good to have that done now so we were ready for the start of the new year in our new home, and it was nice that I've actually got a window close by, and it doesn't seem to bring in too much sun to have any glare on screen either, always a positive that in my view. I also reckoned that it meant that I could always get some fresh air if needed, and the office is a reasonable temperature so as not to be too hot, we shall see how it goes I guess.

One thing I did manage to finally get up and running today was our new Vectorworks licence server. All the server software and everything complete with dongle was working perfectly well, however the original licence file didn't like working on a VMWare server. As such the reseller we got it from very kindly reissued us with a revised file, and when I applied that to the server, and gave the Reprise Licence Manager a restart, all was working very nicely indeed. Happy days.

Later on I headed home from work, packed my overnight bag, and then headed via the city centre to see The Love In My Heart. Even better was I was staying overnight at hers, so nice to be snuggly (well if the cats Jô and Brian allow of course!) - and it was a very nice chicken dish with some little jacket potatoes with garlic and some nice roasted carrots too. We settled in and The Love was indulging herself with the soaps for a bit, and after that I showed her how her work place had set up her archives in Outlook, and what to do to get them up and running. They were still using an older version of Outlook though!

We then watched a bit of Who Do You Think You Are with the actress Anne Reid, as she discovered plenty about her ancestors, including on visits to Scotland that one of the family was in fact deported a a convict to Australia. That was fascinating to see her visibly shocked by the whole thing. We then turned over to Channel 4 +1 for the latest instalment of "Hunted" where ordinary people go on the run and there's a special team of former detectives etc who are the hunters, who'll have all the needs and technology available to track them down. One key thing we both noted from that: don't use a mobile phone to call home especially, as the nearest mast could be tracked and they'd be on to you in a flash.

One thing it certainly also did show is just how much may be available in terms of CCTV, audio recordings of phone conversations, tracking of mobile data (hence pay as you go phones are often the weapons of choice too). One new couple of blokes deliberately did mobile texts to say they were going to Caister on Sea in Norfolk, except they were on a train to Manchester instead. Not daft they were! As for tune of the day, the tune of choice is the theme tune to "Hunted" by Nick Harvey, brooding, bassy and dramatic all at the same time. Epic stuff.

Wednesday 16th September - Sword of Omens

It was a pretty manic day at work today, and on top of all the day to day stuff, I was also packing things into boxes ready for our office move tomorrow. We're actually taking the desks we have with us, which aren't too bad, and also the cabinets that go with it that just wheel under the desks - for me it makes perfect sense to do all that and at least have a level of consistency in terms of the setup and layout. I did of course unplug everything including the network phone though so I'll rely on the voicemail going to my email till I get the desk set back up.

I did have a lovely surprise at the end of the day - The Love In My Heart asking me if I fancied a drink after work - and she was paying! I wasn't saying no to that and it was a very enjoyable pint in Sandbar as we both caught up with each other, and it was really nice to see her - she looked gorgeous it had to be said. I think too that it was good for her to be able to sound off a few things to me as well, so that it wasn't as frustrating as it may have been. I think it's good we can do that too - it's not just about all the fluffy happy stuff (as much as that is admittedly rather lovely!)

After having some tea it was off to Manchester Academy 3 to see The Sword, a band I've admired and a band I've seen before live at the same venue. It just seems the right size for them to rock out in front of an appreciative audience, and it was good also to get back into gigging after not going to one for a while - the Autumn really is the season when it tends to kick in a heck of a lot more to be honest. I did have a bottle of the Robinsons Trooper ale, but really - £4.50, what the hell Manchester Academy? Rip off is an understatement, I only had one for that reason.

On came the support band Hang The Bastard, and I have to admit they weren't to my taste. Musically the guitarists could all play, and they were going for it, but it's no good having a vocalist who is just going to scream for the hell of it and have a sense of not knowing what the hell he is going on about. That turned me off them somewhat, a shame really as I'm sure the bass guitarist in particular could easily get in most bands without any hassle - he really knew how to handle his weapon of choice.

Later, The Sword were on, and pretty much everything was spot on. No faffing around for them, just rocking with some tracks across the whole of their catalogue, nice crunching riffs, well played, and John Cronise's vocals really lending themselves well to his guitar playing too. Opening with the crunching "Buzzards" which really did set the scene, followed shortly on by the title track of their new album "High Country" - that sounded really good, especially as a little bit more of a mellow track.

And then - yes! - "Freya", still one of my favourites of theirs after all these years. It had been taken down a key or two but still sounded bloody mighty to be honest, lots of crunching riffs everywhere, and plenty of great solo parts too - tune of the day wasn't a difficult decision. "Tres Brujas" sounded brutal, "Mist and Shadow" was another really good new album track as it gradually built from a light start into something a tad more heavy, and "Lawless Lands" really did crack on massively.

It was also really good towards the end of the set to get another favourite of mine in "Maiden, Mother and Crone" and that was also taken down a notch from the original but still sounded cracking. The encore included the huge "Dying Earth" from the "Apocryphon" album as well, and that had everyone rocking out. So nice to have a gig where the audience appreciate the songs, and the band were just getting on with it and respecting the fact that they like us wanted to rock. And they did. One day, all gigs won't be about fancy light shows or the whole "showy" aspect, it'll be about the music, and the music only!

Tuesday 15th September - Champions League? We're Having A Laugh

After a long day at work the last thing I needed was a considerable amount of delays on the way home, but that's pretty much what I had. In fact I gave up on getting my regular bus and instead walked to another main road, got the bus towards the nearest stop to my house, and then walked the remaining half mile or so homewards. It did at least mean I'd get home in reasonable time to have my tea and be able to relax a little bit before then heading off out again later.

My friend collected me and it was off to the Etihad Stadium (or the City of Manchester Stadium as UEFA like to refer to it because sponsorship isn't allowed unless you're a Champions League sponsor - utterly pointless) as City were playing Juventus in the first of the six group games in Group D of the Champions League. After the impressive league start hopes were high, especially as Juventus hadn't been going so well in Serie A as of late. I did know this would still be a tough game though and so was cautious as we arrived at the ground.

The stadium was quiet inside, possibly due to the no beer sold inside the ground rule, but it meant we could have a brew and a chat, although service was really slow at the food points. We soon were taking our seats with Supra's ace version of "Blue Moon" blasting out (make that tune of the day) and then we were all set to go with the Champions League theme and the teams coming out, and it was a real spine tingling moment - it was over 50,000 inside the ground too, so that was good.

City attacked the first couple of minutes and could have scored, but Juventus were dangerous on the break, and so had to be mindful of that fact. It was end to end for most of the first half with City having the better chances, two long range efforts from Fernandinho almost being spectacular and Wilfried Bony not doing so well with a number of chances he had. It was a little frustrating but at 0-0 still anyone's game and so had to think that as we discussed the match over half time and saw some of the other highlights.

Second half was more end to end, and City got a corner on the hour mark. The cross came in and Vincent Kompany challenged for the ball with Giorgio Chellini, and the defender headed it past Gianluigi Buffon in the Juventus net, and so 1-0 City. Kompany celebrated as if he had scored it, and the crowd went positively mental. And that, sadly, was about as good as it got. Juventus had already had a couple of chances, Raheem Sterling should have scored a second but it was missed and David Silva couldn't convert the follow up.

We were made to pay, as a cross from the left came in and the defence missed out on a good header from Mario Mandzukic, and that was 1-1, and Kompany went off injured, and Sterling went off for De Bruyne. However Paul Pogba was having more of an influence on the game and it was his ball to Alvaro Morata, where the striker pulled off a stunning left foot curled shot for 2-1. And despite the late introduction of an admittedly half fit Sergio Agüero, that's how it stayed. Really disappointing actually, but again City just can't seem to do the business in the Champions League..

Monday 14th September - Moving On

Lots of moving today, which I expected due to all the decant moves coming to the fore. Unfortunately some of the work that was supposed to have been done this weekend wasn't able to have been done, which meant all hands on deck during Monday getting as many people as we could getting up and running. It was a case of either us handling it in various shifts, which we all did do, and then those not doing that could get on with the rest of the day to day stuff, which was growing by the second to be honest, and I wasn't surprised one bit.

In fact we were able to call off a couple of things generally just to make sure that everything was indeed giving us the maximum time allowed to be able to do what was needed. I stormed through a shed load of support calls doing my bit, and indeed trying where possible to make sure that as many people as we could were happy enough, and a lot of the staff seemed reasonably happy with their new surroundings. Some had forgotten that they could log in to any IP phone and it would just work, so it was good to be able to give them that reassurance and let them crack on happily.

It was good therefore to head back home and be able to do other stuff, and try and take things relatively easy. I did decide that rocking out was a good idea so on went Guitar Hero Warriors of Rock on the Wii, and it was good to rock out on some songs on hard difficulty, including parts of Rush's 2112. In fact the second part "Temples of Syrinx" I did well on hard guitar, not only beating my best score, but also getting another star for passing a certain score limit - and that worked out really nicely actually - tune of the day for sure.

Naturally on a Monday I did watch Only Connect as well and was pretty pleased with how it all turned out. The nice thing was that the connecting wall did have some fairly obvious connections, but one of them could have been in two or three of them so it was putting them all together. One team suffered at three strikes and out, not realising that their missing football nickname that they didn't spot was the Irons for West Ham United, which I got pretty mich straight off. I do like it when Victoria Coren Mitchell goes off on one sometimes.

It was just good to try and wind down a bit too because I know the next few weeks are positively busy as anything to be honest, and indeed it's always the same this time of year - but more so due to the sheer amount of work on. I was pretty pleased that I could rock out some more after Only Connect, and then be able to at least do some more high scoring. I think now I've got the hang on hard bass on some of the songs, I've learnt more to move the fingers across as required to hit the notes. Still rock hard on the tougher ones, but nonetheless progress made!

Sunday 13th September - Snugburys Sundae

It was nice to have a leisurely lie in on the Sunday morning, and whilst giving The Love In My Heart a bit more time to have some restful sleep, I got up and did a fair bit outside the front of the house, getting rid of a few weeds that had grown in the front yard, and then settling in to watch the Great North Run. The women's race was won with a three and half minute margin of victory by Mary Keitany, but the men's race was much closer with Mo Farah out sprinting Stanley Biwott - the two had broken away with five miles left and Biwott had tried everything to shake off Mo, but had failed.

We had decided that with the weather being dry and fine, and with a new sculpture up at long last, it was a nice trip out to mid-Cheshire to visit Park Farm in Hurleston near Nantwich, where the rather gorgeous Snugburys Ice Cream is made. People do travel a fair way just to eat the ice cream, never mind admire the farm animals or the (mostly) straw sculptures each year, and the dalek that's been up for some time was a massive hit with everyone, not least of course Doctor Who geeks (not me I should add!)

So early afternoon The Love and I were heading down the M56, then down the A49 past Weaverham and the turn off for Oulton Park before it joins and becomes the A51 heading down some lovely country villages before seeing the turn off for Snugburys as you pass the water treatment works in Hurleston. It already looked pretty busy mind you but The Love did at least manage to get a decent parking space, and before long we were admiring the rather massive kunekune pigs, and one of the two goats who was happily coming over to parents and children behind the fence for a bit of a fuss over.

We then walked to the field and towards the new sculpture, and The Love was a tad disappointed that it wasn't made of straw - there were some straw bales in the base, which was mainly there for decoration. This year, it's a sculpture of a cowboy, based on one of the family's love of the old Westerns film genre. The sculpture is made with Cor-ten steel with a smidge of copper, giving it an eventually weathered look similar to how the Angel of the North sculpture was made. It did look pretty impressive close up though!

Howdy, Cheshire partners!

As you can well imagine, plenty of people were admiring it, and how they made the lasso looked genius actually, and we walked back whilst I admired the kunekune pigs again before the massively difficult decision as to which two ice cream flavours to have in my sugar cone. In the end I went for the English Toffee, complete with nice crunchy toffee pieces, and the Strawberry Cheesecake, which was rather stunning also. I kind of wished I'd had the three scoops and given The Love the little chocolate wafer cowboy hat you'd get on top!

We decided on the way back to follow the road to the "Venetian Marina" that we had seen a sign for on the way down to Snugburys. We got there, and the marina by the canal was all nice, but it seemed to be more a place for people to buy narrowboats from a company there. And yet it was a brown heritage signed direction to it as well, not quite sure that seemed right to me. We did see a nice canal lock though with a boat heading down to it, so that definitely felt more by the countryside.

We then stopped off on the way back at The Fox and Barrel for lunch. And my, it was rather lovely. The staff were all attentive and friendly, the cask ale was properly looked after, and as for the food - well all I can say is I can see why it's been in the Good Food Guide for the last few years. The Love had the roast loin of pork complete with apple, stuffing and crackling, and the vegetables came in cute little side dish. My battered haddock was stunning - the batter was crispy but not greasy, the chips and mushy peas were top notch and a nice chunky lemon wedge to sprinkle over, plus tartare sauce in a spring lid jar. Also the portion of haddock was massive - no complaints either there.

It was a really nice Sunday out together, and a good wind down after being in work all day Saturday. The Love had Beth Rowley's CD on in the car too, so heading through the countryside with "So Sublime" playing in particular (make that tune of the day) seemed so right somehow. I was most pleased with the fact I'd had rather lovely ice cream and then we both had a lovely lunch out too, and it's moments like these when you spend it together that makes you realise just how important time together is.

Saturday 12th September - Saturday in the Office

So it was up early for me and into work today. We don't normally work over the weekend, but with various building moves happening, plus a mass of new kit arriving which we would also need to image, it was felt that it might be a good idea to get a few of us in to try and see if we were able to get everything sorted out. I was able to get in for 8am as most of my colleagues were (there were four of us from our team, plus two from other sites and some managers too) and this meant we could, to a degree, try and plan out some of the day where at all possible.

In the end, a mass of us ended up shifting 74 boxes of all-in-one PCs, unboxing them all, setting them up on the desks and then making sure that they all had their BIOS settings set correctly. What they also now have is a bar code and details of the serial number and the MAC address on the back, which meant we could then scan those in with our barcode reader, and thus be able to import them all into SCCM 2012 complete with their MAC addresses (I had to do some text manipulation to get it into the format required, but it worked a treat). As not all the network sockets were live, we could in effect only image 57 of them but that at least was a good start.

And not just image them either but get the first task sequence of applications on, and then set off the second before I went home (I stayed back a little bit to make sure I could schedule this to happen) and when I checked at home later, all 57 had played ball without issues, so I was really pleased that this had happened and it was therefore a lot less hassle - means we've got one massive less task to do over the next week. Unfortunately though a fair amount of what we wanted to do today we weren't able to do for one reason or another, so it was also a tad on the frustrating side.

I headed home later and had a shower before The Love In My Heart came over. It was nice to see her as ever and she looked lovely in her Warehouse top too. I put on the first course of our evening meal, a nice tomato and basil soup with some crusty bread, and it was nice and homely to have that before I put the main in the oven which was from the Sainsburys bistro range - chicken topped with brie and bacon, with some new potatoes, spinach and leeks complete with a nice sauce over the top. I also did some broccoli on the side as well and that worked a treat to be honest, it was all good.

We did watch some of Pointless Celebrities with the children's TV favourites (Sally James from Tiswas and Geoffrey Hayes from Rainbow on the same team - result) and later on as we both hadn't seen it, watched First Dates on Channel 4 from the other night. It was quite an intriguing opening, with one bloke Louis clearly being a pretty nice bloke but generally not that confident, which meant it was a little awkward to see him attempt to get a sentence out and actually make conversation with the very nice Adela from Manchester. To be fair, she let him down gently and actually praised his good qualities, and that if he came across more confident he'd be a good catch for a fair few ladies.

The Love hadn't seen Gogglebox either, so we watched that from Friday night. It still made me giggle a lot anyway, and The Love certainly was in stitiches when she heard of Scarlett Moffatt's nightmare date involving a Wetherspoons steak night and Halfords car park too. I still do like the theme tune, so "A Perfect World" by Kodaline is indeed tune of the day as it played in the closing titles. In fact it was almost perfect timing to turn over to see the conclusion of the Everton - Chelsea match on Match of the Day.

And talking of the football for a second, a really good win for Manchester City today, with Kelechi Iheanacho coming off the bench and poking home a stoppage time winner in a really tight game at Crystal Palace, which meant five games, five wins, five clean sheets and maximum points, and extending our club record to eleven consecutive wins (and also now six consecutive clean sheets, another record) and eleven goals without reply - and with nine different scorers too, pretty impressive that.

Friday 11th September - End of an Era

It was to be the final team meeting in our current building before we move offices next week and on top of that we'll also see gradually the building coming down and being eventually rebuilt, with a planned opening date of 2018. It's going to be without doubt a new change, and a new challenge too. In fact there's plenty going on over the next few weeks and I'm sure that it's always the same each year when you think that you're on top of everything and then something else comes along to really add to the massive workloads of everyone.

It was a really nice move by one of our colleagues who was chairing the meeting in that a cake was brought in that he had made with the date and time of the team meeting and with everyone's name on, all decorated. It was a nice sponge cake too at that, but a really nice thing to do. Also, one of our former student IT rovers who has been one of our summer assistants had her final day with us today before she headed off to finish her masters and possibly look at a PhD in the future - she has been a real treasure and a pleasure to get to know over the last year or so. In fact it was notable during this year's student IT rover recruitment that a lot of them have all said they want to come and work with us - showing we've done a lot right.

It did feel very "end of an era" in that way today generally, but also it showed that there was plenty to be getting on with. I for one was ploughing through plenty of stuff on the to do list, including sorting out a task sequence for a room with some new kit in, where we managed to get the final batch of software deployed late tonight, so should mean less hassle all round. I think too that realistically we're doing whatever we can to try and make the next few weeks a little more bearable.

I headed home later and it was nice just to wind down, and did a bit of rocking on Guitar Hero Warriors of Rock before my shopping arrived later in the evening. I even managed to not only beat my best score on medium guitar in Foreigner's "Feels Like The First Time" but also 100% it as well, I'd usually miss 2 or 3 notes in there so really good to get that one nailed, and also earned an extra star for star power collection too. I also did pretty nicely too on the star challenge on the excellent "Burn" by Deep Purple (make that tune of the day) and all was good there.

After the shopping arrived and I had my tea, I settled in to watch the first of the new series of Gogglebox, which I'd been waiting for to come back on. I always enjoy their views of the telly, and it's strangely compulsive viewing. It's hard to pick a favourite, but I do like Leon and June from Liverpool, as Leon tends to say how it is where June is more reasoned and fair. Also, I think that the ones that really do make me giggle a lot too without them realising are the Moffats, primarily sometimes as the mum is actually more funny than the daugher Scarlett is, more indirect humour I think.

Nonetheless though they had various shows to comment on including the X Factor, the news, and also the Antiques Roadshow where someone brought in an old toilet thinking it was worth a lot, when it actually wasn't, leaving some to find out the inventor of the modern toilet as well as then seeing the rather racy bits of Lady Chatterley's Lover too - and those two new sisters Ellie and Izzi from Leeds seemingly quite excitable about it too it has to be said!

Thursday 10th September - Domination

After a long day at work, it was me heading home, having some tea, and then getting showered, changed and out of the house in pretty good time for me to head to the City Football Academy Stadium, close of course to the Etihad Stadium, to see the latest home game for Manchester City Women against Liverpool Ladies. Effectively this was their game in hand, so a win tonight and City would be two points behind the leaders Chelsea with two games to go - and with City having their last two at home as well, it could work out rather nicely.

I got off the bus and for the first time took the walk over the Suisse Gas Bridge, which links the Etihad with the City Football Academy Stadium. The view from the top of the bridge was pretty good, as you could see beyond the stadium but also a view over the houses and landscape - and on a match day the view of the ground I can imagine would be pretty good too. I soon got in and got a good seat close to the half way line, and the players came out with men's captain Vincent Kompany's daughter Sienna being the mascot accompanying the City captain Steph Houghton - nice touch that.

The game kicked off and City dominated most of the first half, with a lot of possession and a fair few attempts on goal. Izzy Christiansen was continuing her good form in the middle of midfield, with Jill Scott also being tenacious, backed up by Keira Walsh as well. Up front Natasha Harding and Nikita Parris were doinng what they could, well marshalled by some of the Liverpool defence. There were a fair few fans sat to the right behind me who were getting all the chants going including "Izzy! Izzy! Let's get busy!" and also having good banter with some of the Liverpool fans who had made the trip over.

Just before half time City made the breakthrough with Lucy Bronze surging forward from right back, and her pass was pulled back to Christiansen, who sent a bullet of a curling shot to the bottom corner, and 1-0 was thoroughly deserved. In fact I was just surprised that we hadn't scored more than one to be honest! I had also spotted Emma Hayes, the Chelsea manager, at the game too and she was seeing what the opposition was up to. I guess too that it made sense as no other WSL games were on tonight.

City meant business in the second half and carried on the good work from the first half and if there were some better finishes from Parris and Harding, City might have wrapped up the three points earlier. Up front for Liverpool Natasha Dowie was getting frustrated somewhat, marshalled excellently by both Steph Houghton and Jennifer Beattie. Christiansen was still impressing as was Scott, and a tactical change was made as Krystle Johnston went off for Georgia Stanway, and once that was done, a few minutes later City got the second, with Stanway heading down the left and putting in a low cross for Harding to finish from close range.

Despite the efforts of the team, no more goals were scored and so it was 2-0, and with 1,009 turning up, a decent attendence too. It did leave City in a good position but more goals would have also closed down the goal difference on Chelsea (they are +12 we are +8) which may come into play if say for example we won both games and Chelsea won one and drew one. Tune of the day in the meantime is Supra's version of "Blue Moon" which belted out before the game and was cheered along by the City fans.

Wednesday 9th September - Salvaging

Another day, and this time stuck in traffic both going to work this morning and later on leaving work to arrive home as well. It does make me wonder just how much the traffic increases in Manchester when schools are around, but also just how much more congestion the city might get as more of the roads are becoming different in terms of flow, and with Oxford Road scheduled to eventually have part of it being buses and cycles only, it's going to be an interesting year or so ahead once that happens. Add to that some work on getting Princess Street two ways up to a point, and it will indeed be something to keep an eye on.

I did have a pretty good day, and managed to salvage some data off a faulty Mac. As it turned out I suspected the onboard display plus the charger port might not be fully functional, but with no screen showing but a HDMI cable connected to one of the large flat screens, I managed to type in the login password for one account with no visible screen, and once screen mirroring kicked in, the external screen was visible and that was pretty good. I then made sure I got all the data off that was required so felt rather pleased with myself on the whole actually.

I eventually got home and settled in first of all to see the Great British Bake Off. I must admit that a pastry week is usually challenging but I was quite pleased to see the fireman Mat doing pretty well. He really did rescue it with a great effort on the specialist technical challenge, and the showstopper of the vol au vents came out absolutely great, and I think a lot of people would have been very tempted by those. Alvin left, but it easily could have been Nadiya after her disaster with the vol au vents not exactly going to plan, shall we say.

I did also watch the first episode of a new drama series on BBC One tonight called Doctor Foster. It features Suranne Jones as Doctor Gemma Foster, who suspects that her husband is having an affair and ends up desperately trying to find out the truth. It seemed quite a well written drama with Suranne being excellent as the main character, and the way it all unfolded during the episode helped the emotions conveyed rather well. It'll be interesting to see how it all develops over the next few weeks.

I also did do a little bit of rocking too, and this time going back to songs I'd previously managed to do well on Guitar Hero Warriors of Rock and seeing if I could improve the score somewhat. I also then spent some time listening to The Prodigy's "The Day Is My Enemy" album, which has some cracking tracks on it has to be said - from the co-operation with Sleaford Mods on "Ibiza", the 8-bit inspired start to the thumping "Destroy" and perhaps best of all, the single "Nasty" with its fast paced and really catchy hooks. Smart that - so tune of the day for me that one.

Tuesday 8th September - History Made

Another day, and another set of stuff to do. In fact a new licence dongle had arrived for Vectorworks, and it appeared to use the same licencing software as some others do. In theory then as that was already installed, you just needed to add the dongle drivers, get that up and running, connect the dongle, make sure the licence manager started the service, and good to go. Well, almost. It turned out that for some reason the licence file we were sent might not like to play ball with the server if the server is on VMWare running Windows 2008 Server. I've bounced that one to the vendor to see what can be done.

Later on it was back to more Guitar Hero Warriors of Rock, and it worked out pretty well as I went for the more pop elements of the Band Hero imports into the game (and there's plenty of them). In fact some quite enjoyable songs including KT Tunstall's "Black Horse and the Cherry Tree", "Dirty Little Secret" by All American Rejects, and perhaps best of all, "Rio" by Duran Duran - rather ace that, and so because I'm such an 80s fan at heart too, an obvious choice for tune of the day.

The Love In My Heart then came over for tea, so it was on with the cooking whilst she was catching up with a good natter. In fact as she had arrived a little later than normal and because Emmerdale was on earlier tonight, I made the tea (some chicken in a cheese and leek sauce plus mini roast potatoes and fresh shelled peas) and then she could enjoy that with the soaps whilst I washed up. In fact I flicked over during the commercial breaks and then later on watched parts of the England v Switzerland game.

In fact, the game wasn't that great, but once Harry Kane had scored to go 1-0 up, it was chance for England to win the group and do so with two games left of qualification. We got a penalty near the end, and Wayne Rooney stepped up to break the all time England goalscoring record, with the 50th for his country, breaking the record of Manchester United legend Bobby Charlton who had held the record for years. For me, scoring that many for your country is a sizeable achievement and credit where it is due. You could argue about whether Rooney, Charlton or Gary Lineker is the best England striker of all time in terms of impact to the team as a whole doing som well, but nonetheless that's a good debate and dilemma to have.

We also watched from BBC Four the other night and on iPlayer, the second part of the "Queen: Days of Our Lives" documentary, concentrating on mainly their 1980s era and the early 1990s before Freddie Mercury passed away. It was always intriguing to get the views of Brian May and Roger Taylor, plus their later manager Jim Beach, former producers such as Reinhold Mack, and generally get a more insider view. I think a lot of people had the same view as Roger Taylor about the press when they were hounding Freddie Mercury as he got more ill, and it's testament today that their songs still endure massively.

Monday 7th September - In The Company of City Legends

It was another busy day at work, and it was a case in many ways of "getting there" particularly as the workload, as traditionally happens this time of year, starts to mount up considerably. In many ways I'm pretty pleased that we've been able to do what we can to get things done, but at the same time it does feel like there's still a massive amount to do. In fact so much so that a few of us, me included, are actually working on Saturday. Granted the overtime might come in handy for Christmas present shopping and all, but it's also good to show some commitment to the cause when needed.

I did also manage to work on getting one of the final pieces of the licencing server puzzle sorted, as the folks from FontLab de-registered the old server and gave me some pointers as to how to register the new one. In fact it was pretty easy to do on the whole, and so meant that with that, Maxwell Render and Dragonframe now running and issuing licences, it was good to get that side of things well and truly sorted, and therefore be able to really push on and get some final things sorted before the start of the year.

Later on my friend came over, and we headed off to the Etihad Stadium for a supporters' meeting that we occasionally go to. It's pretty nice normally, there's tea and coffee and a comfy seat in the East Stand ground floor conference room, and usually there's a good representation of former Manchester City players and those around the club who also love the game. This time around it was Peter Barnes, a great wing player from the late 1970s and early 1980s, very much the early years of me supporting City, and Ian Cheeseman, the local radio reporter and commentator on all things City.

Naturally as the start of the season had gone pretty well, there were discussions about what has changed, how the new players are settling in but also that real sense of how else things around City are changing: the women's team performing really well and how the World Cup performances really kick started their season once the players came back, and also a nod to how the younger teams are also doing well and that may mean some of them growing up to be first team players in the future.

It was good to hear Peter Barnes reminisce about the way that the game has changed, but how someone like David Silva would still be able to show their skills on absolute mudbaths of pitches, provided no one cropped him massively first. I think that he really did come across as knowledgable and passionate, and recalled how he was in Malaysia and watching the City v Chelsea game recently with a mass of fans who were appreciating the style of play this season.

Ian Cheeseman also noted (and correctly I might add) that it's all very well for someone like City to get a wider appeal around the world, but sounded a correct note of caution in that what shouldn't be forgotten are the local diehard fans: the ones who stuck with them even during their time in what would now be League One, the ones who have both Manchester and City in their blood, and how it's the local team for the local people. Spot on that - I definitely felt an affinity as a child and I still do now, it's my home city, it's my team, you know?

I got back later on and decided to wind down the evening with a bit of rocking on Guitar Hero Warriors of Rock, and because I did all the imports of the other games, I've got around 330 songs or so to play on it, which can't be bad. I therefore took on some that had previously been in Guitar Hero Greatest Hits and earned a plethora of stars on Motley Crue's "Shout At The Devil" first off, followed then by an epic attempt at "Free Bird" by Lynryd Skynyrd. Finally, and tune of the day, it was "YYZ" by Rush - and I managed to beat my score on this song too, so definitely epic win there.

Sunday 6th September - Car Boots and Dockyards

An early start for me then, as I was heading off to Knutsford to go to a rather large car boot sale held on The Heath and organised by the local scouts as a fundraising event. I had worked out the train times and so I was at the local station just after 9am, leaving The Love In My Heart to have a bit more of a lie in before she was heading out to a local carnival that she was helping some staff with representing her workplace. Surprisingly, the local station wasn't empty, with a few people going about their start to the Sunday.

I got to Stockport station to change trains, and the one to Knutsford was the Chester service, which arrived at Stockport some eleven minutes' late. It didn't make up any time on the journey, and so meant a bit less time for me to head around - the trains on this line are every two hours on the Sunday so wanted to time it right. I headed out of the station and along the main road and soon arrived at The Heath, and was pleasantly surprised to see quite a fair few cars and their boots selling stuff. Even better as I walked around was that everyone were geniunely selling their own stuff, and no traders whatsoever, so that was a good thing.

I did have a very good walk around, and eventually I purchased a decent selection of vinyl for not that much dosh: two vinyl albums: "Rio" by Duran Duran and "Bella Donna" by Stevie Nicks (which of course has the ace "Edge of Seventeen" on there), the 12" single of "The Thin Wall" by Ultravox (make that tune of the day - when I played it later the vinyl looked absolutely mint), and some 7" singles too: "Tainted Love" and "Torch" by Soft Cell, "Forbidden Colours" by David Sylvian and Ryuichi Sakamoto, and "Phoever People" by The Shamen - in fact both sides of that played at 33rpm so four mixes on the single.

I got the train back home later (thankfully all on time this time) and The Love had arrived back from her morning too, so we had a quick catch up and then headed out for the afternoon. She wanted to make sure she knew where she was heading to a staff do she's going to later this week, and so headed out to do a reccy. With that done, we thought with the weather being nice, we could eat out for lunch, and so headed to The Lowry Outlet Mall, and had a good walk around the shops first - in fact, so she bought a fair few birthday cards for forthcoming birthdays, and that meant that the parking costs would be nil - so that was a good thing.

We walked over to MediaCity and spotted that there was possibly room inside The Dockyard for lunch. We both like the pub because it does good food, looks after their ale properly, and the vibe is nice in there - and so it proved, with the jukebox playing the likes of Manic Street Preachers, Joy Division and Queen whilst we were in there. We both went for the Sunday roast - you effectively get that and a soup starter for £10 each, which is pretty good. The tomato soup was nice and thick and with a bloomer of bread too, and spot on to start with. And the roast was ace - I had the beef, The Love the lamb - but she would have been happy with the beef too! Lots of roasties, vegetable and a nice Yorkshire pudding - and even some kale too. Can't complain really - especially when the Bootleg Brewing Co ale was being served as well.

Later on we headed back to mine and I watched the F1 highlights from Monza, and it was all kicking off towards the end of the race, because the team had found out of a possible transgression of the rules to do with tyre pressures, so without explaining why, they asked Lewis Hamilton to make sure he had enough of a gap at the end to cover up to a 25 second time penalty, which he did do, but that meant taking some risks which weren't required really. The result stood, but it did make me wonder just how much some teams are pushing the boundaries a tad and ignoring the fact that recent tyre blowouts have been a concern for the drivers...

Saturday 5th September - The Equaliser

I had a busy morning of sorts, mainly sorting out stuff in the house, doing a shed load of washing, cleaning everywhere, and on top of that also making sure that I had got myself a baton of bread for the soup starter tonight - which I'd forgotten to add to the online shopping order which arrived last night. I did also decide that it would be good to do some record shopping early afternoon, so I headed off to Sifters in Burnage and had a good peruse at the vinyl there.

In fact, if you wanted early Now That's What I Call Music compilations, you would be in luck. They not only had the very first one (which I already have) but also numbers 2, 3, 4 and 5 as well. In fact Now 3 was the very first of the compilations that had the cartoon pig on the front cover, which also appeared on the adverts at the time with a pair of headphones, with Brian Glover being the voice of the pig. Also, another true fact: if you have Now 4 on CD, hang on to it. Apparently only 500 copies were pressed, and the single CD had tracks from the LP versions of Now 2, 3 and 4 on it. Last sale I saw online? £350. Wow.

Anyway, I headed homeward later and settled in to watch the England v San Marino match, with a win most likely giving England qualification to Euro 2016 and with a potential to win the group outright with a win against Switzerland on Tuesday. In fact the game started off slowly but then as a cross came over from a free kick, John Stones handled in the area, and yet the referee gave a penalty to England. It was only much later in the replays could you see that he was being pulled back by the San Marino defender which caused the handball instead of him controlling and finishing. Up stepped Wayne Rooney to score his 49th goal for England and level with Bobby Charlton.

The second goal was a San Marino own goal, and headed past their own keeper, and this also meant that there were now 49 own goals scored for England as well, making them (bizarrely) joint top scorer. England kicked on in the second half and scored virtually straight from the kick off with a good finish from Ross Barkley. Theo Walcott came off the bench and scored two, one with virtually his first kick of the match, and Harry Kane scored a delicate lob as well. Wayne Rooney will have to wait to break the record but Tuesday's home match at Wembley might just yet be a more fitting place to break the record..

The Love In My Heart had come over by this point and so I made the starter of our evening meal, and then it was on with Strictly Come Dancing to see who would get who. Admittedly, we both had fun guessing which celebrity would get which professional, and I got a fair few right (Anthony Ogogo with the new African professional Oti Mabuse, Peter Andre with Janette Manrara, Kirsty Gallacher with Brendan Cole etc.) I suspect that The Love would like Peter Andre to win, but I suspect that the dark horse might be Helen George (aka Trixie in Call The Midwife)

Later on we watched on iPlayer the documentary shown on BBC Four (I think it might have been on before) about Queen, and how they initially had struggled before making it into the rock gods that they became. In fact when it mentioned about the song "Death on Two Legs" (make that tune of the day) I knew it was about their former manager and how their contract was just pretty awful, and how much that affected the band early on. It's a stunning riposte to start the album "A Night At The Opera" too - and just gets better with each listen. I've even rocked out to it on vocals and guitar on Rock Band 3 too..

Friday 4th September - Friday Fun

Another busy day ahead for me today, although too it was good to be able to nail a few things down. One of which as it happened was testing out a few issues with one PC where it seemed not to want to push anything down via SCCM. After checking the client, uninstalling, reinstalling it cleanly, still nothing. In fact I looked up the error that it produced from the console and it looked like an RPC error (not good). In fact, running a System File Check showed that some of the system files were damaged. At that point - no contest, reimage the PC in question, and in fact it wasn't being used for the rest of the day, so an easy win really.

Once I got home I decided it would make perfect sense to get out Guitar Hero Warriors of Rock and start rocking out again, mainly on bass guitar this time around. I guess now I've been able to get better and have more use of the open notes, it means I can look at ramping up the score a little bit. In fact I can now to "Get Free" by The Vines on hard, complete with switching hand over to the orange notes as required, so was pretty pleased with myself to be honest.

I also had plenty of ironing to do, so it was time to blast out the new album from The Sword and get playing that too. I'm quite enjoying that actually, a bit more of a departure from their heavier earlier albums but still having plenty of crunching riffs along the way too. "Mist and Shadow" is a lengthy groove driven rocker, and perhaps is my favourite track of the album currently, so tune of the day it most certainly is. I'm going to rather enjoy seeing them live soon I reckon!

I also watched the final episode of the series of The Last Leg, which was funny but also serious in equal measures, and Alex Brooker's rant about the current situation with refugees was worth watching alone - it actually made a lot of sense and showed some intelligence in the situation whilst at the same time. Also, one tweet from a viewer was part of an Adam Hills rant which was actually a brilliant idea also - the viewer asked "Is it OK to scrap this year's tedious series of Celebrity Big Brother and instead use the building to house Syrian refugees" - not actually a bad call, partially because of Big Brother being numbingly appalling.

I also was looking at planning my weekend and had noted that there was a large car boot sale happening in Knutsford on Sunday morning. I already knew that The Love In My Heart was heading to a local carnival where her workplace was being represented, so I could of course head off to do that in the morning too - result really. In fact I seemed to remember which car boot it was - it's only held once a year on The Heath if I remember correctly, and in the past when I've been many many years ago I've had some good bargains, so definitely time to try that again.

Thursday 3rd September - Daffy Duck

Even though I don't necessarily do as much as I used to with the old computers and game consoles of old, I still keep an eye on what is happening in the world of retro gaming and in particular the humble and still very enjoyable Commodore 64. It's always a good blast when I have friends round to play the likes of World Games in four player mode for example, and naturally there's many memories of the many games I used to play when growing up back in the 1980s and early 1990s.

One of the great long lost mysteries used to surround a game which was due to be released by Hi-Tec Software in 1992, towards the end of the commercial C64 games era, and a licence of Daffy Duck at that (together with other Warner Brothers cartoon characters making their appearance in the game). It was reviewed, it had competitions to win copies of the game, some apparently went on sale (or not) but it basically had vanished, and not much trace of it was found at the time of release.

So imagine my surprise today when I saw the rather enjoyable announcement from Frank Gasking, who runs the Games That Weren't website and had mentioned this long lost game as early back in one of his articles for a fanzine back in 1997, and that a working full copy of the game was now available! Needless to say I was rather pleased, especially when you read the article and see the painstaking tasks that happened - including a meet up with the game's programmers and archiving all of their old disks, and locating all the assemblers and source code that was needed.

So a mere twenty three years on, most of now have had chance to have a look at and play the game, and I have to say, it's actually a really decent little game too. There are various levels which load off disk (these would have been a sequential multi-load on tape) in which there's different puzzles to solve on each of the levels. I got the hang of the first one, in that you find the lift pass, which not only takes you down a lift but opens a door, that gives you a plank of wood to fix a broken ladder, allowing you to climb over a platform and then outside to locate a lunch box. (and I'll stop here before I give the whole of the first level's solution away) In fact I played through a good few of the seven levels, and it not only was very playable but actually really neat overall.

I wonder how much money had been paid for the licencing though, when you count the characters in the game: Sylvester and Sylvester Jr, Tweety Pie, Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd, Road Runner for example. It did show a lot of ambition and indeed the game was supposed to be on multiple formats including the Atari ST and Commodore Amiga too, but no luck there. I think too it also demonstrates just how important it is to get as much stuff as you can archived whenever you can, and certainly for me some of my old disks with compositions on have been well worth salvaging too.

Actually, one thing I did salvage recently myself was something I thought I didn't have a copy on disk - which was an attempt at a cover version of Cabaret Voltaire's classic 1982 track "Yashar" (make that tune of the day) and it wasn't that bad I guess. Like a lot of things circa 1992 with various changes going on in my life, I got part way into finishing it but it never came to full fruition. Good though to remind myself of just what I was doing in the limited free time I had and how I made the most of it too..

Wednesday 2nd September - The Free From It All Bake Off

Both The Love In My Heart and I had had a busy day at work, and I think my cunning plan to take a different bus route homeward and avoid being stuck in traffic with the current diversions in place on Oxford Road paid dividends - I got home much earlier than I did the day before, which then allowed me some quality time to get a fair few things done and also rock out a little bit to Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock again. I realised I hadn't got the Mocker of Fate achievement in the game, where I just needed to complete five random songs with 5 stars on each, and managed that this time with the final song being Nine Inch Nails' "The Hand That Feeds" which I really like anyway (so make that tune of the day)

I had just about finished that when The Love came over, so all good timing. I switched off the trusty Wii in good time so that The Love could tell me about her manic day as well as settle in to watch Emmerdale and Coronation Street whilst I was making the tea - some Hunter's chicken complete with parmentier potatoes, petits pois too. All went down nicely and I had finished making that just before the start of The Great British Bake Off, so pretty decent timing really.

And an interesting challenge or three this week - all of them were "free from" challenges where you had to bake whilst taking into consideration differing requirements. So for example in the first one, making a cake without any sugar, so there were some useful ideas, the pineapple upside down cake getting a good vote because of the natural syrup making the cake a little softer and using the natural sweetness of that. Of course getting it right is a difficult mix but some people did better than others shall we say.

The technical was pitta breads, but with a twist - gluten free at that! Hence they were given an alternate set of ingredients, and some mixed with the water would be the substitute, and then seeing what they could do from there. It was hard. As was the showstopper, effectively making the equivalent of the classic Arctic Roll (seriously you just cannot beat the original!) - the twist here being that you had to be dairy free in terms of the ice cream. Some fared well and made some rather nice creations, but the way that one of their rolls went, attempting to put the jam in with the ice cream and causing it all to not hold together, I knew sadly that Ugne was on her way out. Real shame as she was a real sunny side up happy person, and isn't it nice to see that sometimes?

Naturally The Love had noticed that Don't Tell The Bride was on BBC Three straight after, and knowing she'd had a really stressful day of it, I decided that indulgement was the easy option. In fact the groom went for an Eastenders themed wedding based on the fact the couple loved the series, and he didn't do a bad job actually (apart from some absolutely horrid bridesmaids' outfits) - he even got Joe Swash in to do part of the ceremony, a massive surprise for the bride. They even had the do in the pub which apparently inspired the Queen Vic, so kudos where it was due.

Tuesday 1st September - Back For Another Month

Well it was the first of September, and in some people's cases, technically Autumn. And back to work after the extended weekend due to the Bank Holiday too. Thankfully I'd got myself plenty to try and sort out, and so on with the first task of the day - the licencing manager for Dragonframe. It had failed to install and I had an email from the vendor, DZED, which effectively asked me to run the licencing manager executable whilst the failure message was on screen with the -e paramater and see what would happen.

This came up with an error which stated that a DLL file was missing, and when I researched that error message, it transpired it was to do with Visual C++ 2010. The server had the X64 version already on (it's 64bit of course) but for some reason it was looking for the 32-bit version of Visual C++ 2010 (as the licence manager installs itself into Program Files (x86) that was a bit of a clue). So, I downloaded and installed that 32-bit version, then re-ran the licence manager installer, and badabing - worked first go. I informed one of our Servers team as well so that they were aware of this for future reference - be nice if the vendor mentioned it as a pre-requisite during the install process though.

One other nice problem I was able to resolve today too was an issue that was with a Powerpoint presentation - they had a video file, and had a converter which allowed them to save out a clip as MP4 but wanted to add the subtitle file too. It looked like they hadn't been able to spot the little icon for the drop down to add the subtitle file in, and once that was running, it seemed to do the job rather nicely indeed and add in accordingly - then adding that into Powerpoint with the "insert file" option worked well. With no guarantee that the place that the presentation was taking place had Internet access (or else an insert hyperlink to the web based clip would have worked too of course)

Later on I spent a rather lengthy period of time stuck on the bus heading home, all down to some over-running road works and diversions, but also due to the fact that pretty much most people were either back at school or doing their school run. It really amazes me how much the traffic does increase at the peak time compared to the school holidays, in which it's a really pleasurable journey to get to work most of the time. It has admittedly been accentuated by the ongoing work to remove the bridge over the University of Manchester's old shopping precinct centre (and Oxford Road looks tons better because of it) but still.

I spent some time rocking out on Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock on the Wii tonight, having got back into it a little bit recently. I still have to admit though that John 5's "Black Widow of La Porte" is still massively mental, even on medium guitar, and I get through it but struggle in parts, as there's just so many notes everywhere. It's a cracking tune though so it is tune of the day - but went back to something a bit easier for me to manage later as I hammered out "We're Not Gonna Take It" by Twisted Sister, maybe that should be Saido Berahino and his agent's anthem after West Brom refused numerous bids by Tottenham for the striker..