Dear Diary... September 2019

Monday 30th September - Testing Testing, 1 2 3

It was a fair bit of time doing some research and development work today, and some of that was monitoring the deployment of the new VPN client to the user acceptance testing (UAT) group. On the whole the deployment went along nicely, and during testing I had noted that the configuration file being copied didn't always copy over, and worked out why. This was because that the MSI installer would then run an action or two post deployment (pretty naughty actually) and so as such this meant that you needed to give it a suitable pause of time before then copying the config file.

I was able to have road tested that which meant 100% deployment success on the machines that I had pushed the deployment to that were online, which is a definite plus. I think for me that it's important that we always have suitable testing, and even before any deployment to iron out any issues. It's meant that we can have more confidence about go live, but also as well that we're working well on getting things synced with Windows and Mac deployments working at the same time too.

On the Mac side of things I've worked out a possible upgrade plan for our JAMF Pro server, although it does look like we may have to do it in stages over time and make sure we have adequate testing in between. The good news is that we've got one of our Linux admins on board in terms of database side, so that'll be useful to have some suggestions offered that we can take forward. That's one other thing that really helps - cameraderie and assistance of everyone really does come to the fore.

I headed home through the rain to Victoria, and didn't go via Blackfriars. This was due to an earlier fallen tree that was there at Penge West which meant in the morning no London Bridge or Blackfriars trains were running, and diversions a plenty taking place. I had got to Victoria and diverted on to the Victoria Line to Oxford Circus, still mega busy of course. I think where possible I do try and avoid that but because of the District Line being icky I had no option. I do kind of wish sometimes that I could often do less hassle travelling.

Finally, I noted that for some reason there had been two Windows 10 updates in the last two days for some version - these tend to be included in the monthly Patch Tuesday updates anyway, but also shows that if you really do go bleeding edge then that's asking for some hassle. Sensibly in recent times the update releases have changed so only the monthly ones are available via WSUS/SCCM, meaning less hassle, much more preferable to be honest. In the meantime tune of the day is "Talking Time" by Cabaret Voltaire, which is just perfect background music for me whilst testing things out..

Sunday 29th September - Raining Lunch

It was nice to have a lie in of sorts, and as I wanted to see the start of the men's road race of the cycling World Champonship, it was up for me with a coffee to keep an eye on the early stages of that whilst The Love had a good sleep, which I know she appreciated. As much as we love Brian the cat, it's nice not to be woken up at 4am for his tuna! I made us some nice breakfast and it was good that I was able to put in more mushrooms than normal, just to add to the overall dish. The Love enjoyed it and we both settled in for the rest of the morning.

In fact the cycle route went through Leyburn and on the way through Middleham towards Masham, so we thought we might see the main route through on the telly including the humpback bridge and possibly the sign for The White Bear, but no, they flicked from the lead group to the peloton and missed the whole thing, which we knew as we saw a sign later for the direction of Masham the other way to where they were heading. Meh. Still, that would prove to be a race in pretty awful rainy conditions, which meant due to flooding two of the climbs had to be taken out.

We headed around the town centre in Croydon and I had a good look at a couple of clothes items in House of Fraser and Debenhams, to give myself some potential gift ideas too. The Love also insisted we went into Flying Tiger, where she got some useful things for work as well - primarily due to things happening next month and wanting a friendly display for the occasion in the office. She's always mindful of being able to improve things in her job and do it at a sensible price point as well. I did like the soft plush pumpkins as well - something for families to put in their house come Halloween that's decorative and not scary.

It was raining later on as we headed to the station and one train arrived, totally rammed. The next one arrived three minutes later, and it was empty, and we had no problems finding a seat. We smiled and thought "why didn't other people do this?" - and once at Victoria, made our way over on the tube to Warren Street and followed the way out and across over to the Crown and Anchor for a well earned Sunday lunch. The staff were rushed off their feet as it was busier than normal, but we were all chilled out and in fact the Pheasant Plucker ale was on top form.

It was a fond but sad farewell as The Love headed homewards later, and we had a big hug at Euston (unashamedly so) before she left. I headed home and got back in time for the F1 highlights from Russia, where Sebastian Vettel ignored team orders, and then karma hit as after his pit stop the car broke down. Lewis Hamilton made the most of all that and took the win with Valtteri Bottas second and Charles Leclerc third. It was a decent race all told, but have to say that I do miss the proper F1 theme The Chain by Fleetwood Mac, so make that one tune of the day.

Saturday 28th September - Factory Fifty

It was nice to have a little bit of a lie in this morning as The Love In My Heart was coming to see me this weekend, which always makes a nice change when she does. In fact she let me know she was on the train fine and that was all good and on time, which gave me enough time to do some final sorting out around the flat, replace the bedding, and nip out to the local Sainsburys to get some free range eggs, as the ones I'd had delivered on Friday were all broken and I'm being refunded for that (the driver was really apologetic to be fair, and stuff happens.)

I walked up to East Croydon to meet The Love, who looked lovely in her new Joules Autumn jacket. In fact the weather was getting warmer so she didn't need it later, but it was good to see how good she looked. We dropped off her stuff and we then headed to the Green Dragon for some well earned lunch. They do a pizza and drink deal for £9, and for an extra £1 you can upgrade to a pint of real ale too, much appreciated that. I did that and The Love had a really nice sub sandwich with barbecue beef in, and that looked ace. Always good to be able to enjoy lunch and chatter.

We then were on the train to Victoria before changing and heading on the tube to Pimlico, and a short walk from there to Chelsea Space, which is part of UAL's Chelsea campus. It was to see an exhibition called "Use Hearing Protection" which detailed all of the first 50 catalogue numbers of Factory Records. Naturally as a fan of all things Factory, it had to be done, and it did have the records in their sleeves which was nice to see, but it also had memorabilia from the time including press cuttings and hand drawn adverts, as well as reproductions of the notepaper (FAC 7) for you to buy as well as admire the original, and Linder Sterling's concept of the menstrual egg timer (FAC 8) too.

In terms of the vinyl rarities, this included the original sandpaper sleeve release of The Durutti Column's first album "The Return of The Durutti Column" (FACT 14) - an album which is worth around £300 with its flexidisc, £250 without, and the first issue release of Joy Division's debut album Unknown Pleasures (FACT 10) which is worth around £100. It also had the flip top original VHS cassette release of Joy Division's "Here Are The Young Men" (FACT 37) which was good to see, as well as the cassette only release of The Sex Pistols interviews, called The Heyday (FACT 30) so all good to see. Naturally plenty of the music of that era was being played, so being able to hear Shadowplay by Joy Division in there was just brilliant, and tune of the day for that reason. Was so tempted to buy a t-shirt, but £25 said no.

We walked over Vauxhall Bridge and took the number 2 bus via Victoria to Marylebone and from there we walked past Baker Street and then on to Marylebone High Street, and had a welcome coffee and custard tart (very much Lisbon styled pasteis de nata) in the Conran shop's café. The shop also had an adorable soft toy Miffy which was very loveable. We also had a nice walk down the high street and went in the likes of Emma Bridgewater and Caroline Gardner shops too, so that was lovely. On top of that, we then stopped off at Victoria Market Hall on the way back and had a drink at the rooftop bar, which meant Harbour ale from Cornwall. Definitely well worth it.

Later on after getting a madly packed train, we got back to mine and settled in for the evening to watch Strictly Come Dancing. Of course we both guessed that David James and James Cracknell weren't going to be too good on the dancefloor, but kudos to them for giving it a go. Karim Zeroual (CBBC presenter) was the best tonight, and he and Dianne Buswell really did go for it with their routine. I must admit I did also like the classiness and understated tone of the ballroom with Emma Barton and Anton du Beke as well, but all in all, standards were very good.

Friday 27th September - Fun Friday

It was a fun Friday as I was spending time during the morning sorting out a package for QGIS, an architectural GIS product that I've used before (and it is free to use) which one of our departments are looking at with a view to replacing one other paid piece of software which they are using. I thought it best to package the long term stable release and that way we know it'll be reliable, which is part of the plan of course. It was fine getting the silent installation switch sorted, but it was more about the uninstall.

Because the installer uses Nullsoft Scriptable Install System, you can of course use the /S switch with the uninstall executable to remove. But (and here's the but) it returns back to the command prompt straight away whilst doing its removal in the background. As such, it's always best to either use a start /wait (which failed in this case) or to have it as part of a command line batch file where you then tell it to wait for a number of minutes, and then clean up some desktop icons that in reality the uninstaller should have taken care of. With that all written, it was all good to go.

One good thing about SCCM is that if you re-send the content to the distribution point, it knows that the executable for the main installer hasn't changed content and the only thing that actually has is the uninstaller batch file you added, so adds that quickly to the DPs and content and doesn't re-upload the whole thing again, which is pretty good all round really. Anyhow, my colleague in the other office tested and seemed all happy so far, so definitely pleased with myself there.

I tried an alternative way home tonight, primarily as I wanted to mooch into the Marks and Spencer and it was easier to go from West Croydon to get to it. As the Northern Line came in,it arrived as a Morden service, so stayed on to Balham and changed at Balham for a Sutton via West Croydon train, and that was a stopper but didn't take too long. I arrived not too far in time as if I'd have taken my normal way to East Croydon, so worth noting. No beer on offer in M&S but a shed load of people hogging the reduced to clear section with the poor assistant not even getting chance to put stock on the shelves.

After seeing Gogglebox I decided it'd be nice to play some 12" singles I have, especially as I do like my vinyl and my work colleague has been getting back into it since getting an all-Marantz rig some time ago. I started off with the 12" of Swing Out Sister's fab Breakout single, not least as the B-side has the 7" version and Dirty Money as well, vastly under-rated. I followed that up with the 12" remix single of New Order's True Faith, complete with Shep Pettibone lengthy remix and the nice original version of 1963 as well - always good to listen to that than the horrid 1994 remake.

I then however really went for some Mancunian old school classics, and managed to play The Man From Delmonte's cult classic "(Will Nobody Save) Louise" which I used to bop around to at indie nights (that and Water In My Eyes were essential back in the day - and so that single is tune of the day. I must admit that I still do want the 12" of My Love Is Like A Gift You Can't Return but thankfully it also featured on the Indie Top 20 Volume 7 compilation, so have that on CD as well and can listen to the genius that way (which it undoubtedly is by the way!)

The night ended with some awesome artwork by Brute, meaning the mighty KMFDM were getting a play, including their excellent not taking ourselves one bit seriously single Sucks. No doubt about it, KMFDM sucks! In fact it's funny when someone comments on a KMFDM video online and states that, and those who don't know ask why commenter is slagging them offf, until another KMFDM fan corrects them. Hehe. Got to love that classic as it's from the brilliant Angst album also.

Thursday 26th September - Powering the BI

It was a pretty busy day overall, mainly spent doing application packaging and making more testing available in Software Centre for those that will need it. The positive is that a fair number of the applications I had packaged before, so had some experience of this as well as being able to look at some others which had been requested. One of which took me right back as it was a very old version of OpenOffice, where you had to create your own answer file in order for a silent installation to be performed. Thankfully it's handy to have some examples of the syntax to hand and it didn't take me long to sort out.

I also then turned my attention to Microsoft PowerBI Desktop, which we used to use a lot at one previous place of work (so much so it was a standard build application). However, in recent months Microsoft have rather oddly dropped the option for a MSI install and instead have an executable to call the shots instead. It's even more odd because the uninstall is still effectively calling the Microsoft MSI product code for reference that it installs within the executable. Oh joy of joys, although thankfully there was a list of all the possible permutations for installation on one of the pages.

However.. I remember from the halcyon days that the first time you ran later versions of PowerBI, you had this annoying advertising registration screen which you'd rather opt out of. Back then you could apply a registry key to do the job, and that was pretty good because it meant that you could apply it for the user login and so re-apply even if it was deleted for some reason. That key was to effectively set a DWORD to 0, and that was fine. In fact in the new version the same also worked, but the switch for the installer did not. How odd. However, there may be a way that we can effectively add that in a similar Group Policy type way.

I noted as well an email from the concierge of the apartment block I live in, expressing some concerns about security and how some sought to compromise it. The biggest problem it seemed was that some were tailgating to attempt to gain access to the building, but had managed to steal the chair and table from the reception area where the concierge is, and steal that at night (most likely to attempt to then sell it for alcohol or drugs sadly.) There have been some extra measures being put in though which is good to see, and also reassuring to note that because of CCTV, there's an easy way to identify any offenders accordingly.

I spent a bit of time tonight listening to the excellent KMFDM album Hell Yeah, especially as some of the songs seem particularly relevant in today's climate of uncertainty and a totally over-aggressive parliament at the moment. The one that stuck out for me above all else is "Total State Machine" and that's tune of the day as it certainly feels like how we're being ruled at the moment. The chorus batters along with some powerful drums and guitars and Sascha belting out "Your government hates you..."

Wednesday 25th September - Packaging and Penalties

It was a fairly busy day at work as I was sorting out some communications with one of my colleagues for a deployment next week, and also road testing a couple of things on the MacOS side of things. First of all was to be able to run a script in order to determine any 32-bit applications which may be running on a Mac, and they would have to be upgraded before the OS becomes MacOS Catalina, as the applications all need to be 64-bit to work correctly. As it transpired, we were testing a new version of our VPN client we use, and that version is 64-bit. Hurrah!

In fact, I was able to test the deployment of this myself, and once tested and the policy applied correctly it did indeed show the new version, and all 64-bit all round, so definitely good. I also then did a little test where I enabled 4G on the phone, ensured that could be used as a mobile hotspot, got the Mac to connect to it, and then I could launch the VPN client and see if it would connect to our VPN, and it did. It's always good to be able to assist colleagues to test these things yourself as well.

I also was checking over a possible package of Autodesk DWG Trueview, which reminded me of the old days of packaging large Autodesk suites. The good thing is that you still can use the /w paramater for the install to ensure that the install waits to complete before passing back from the command line, similar to the old /SMS command for the old SMS (pre-SCCM) for InstallShield installers. Doing that and having the setup called with the /i /qb /quiet /w switches in all means a nice quiet install, and compliance can be checked afterwards properly. Happy days.

Later on I was keeping an eye on all of the Carabao Cup games as the draw was on later too, so I would see who Manchester City would get. Fair play to Oxford United for absolutely tonking West Ham United 4-0, and indeed to Rochdale, who only lost on penalties to Manchester United at Old Trafford as well. In fact for me result of the night went to Oxford, although Burton Albion were at their cup giant killing act again despite the lack of power during the match as they beat Bournemouth as well.

It was nice too to be able to sit back and relax and watch the recent episode of the World's Most Beautiful Railway, shown on More4 earlier in the week. This week they were at the delightful Wemyss Bay station with the volunteers who keep the station looking gorgeous and with all the floral displays for the summer too, the sort of place that we need to cherish more to be honest - and why not, so the theme to the All The Stations channel is tune of the day - evocatively reminds me of a Summer trip...

Tuesday 24th September - Pasta Bake Prorogued

Well not quite. Unlike a certain Prime Minister who today at the Supreme Court had a ruling of prorouging parliament deemed unlawful and meaning that they would all have to come back as soon as possible, I thought that as I'd had the ingredients all ready to go, it was high time to make one of my favourite things - the chorizo sausage pasta bake. For this generally I tend to have everything in, bake it in the oven when good to go, and that'll last me two mealtimes, have half one night, put the rest in the fridge, have the other half later in the week.

I tend to use the chorizo slices for this as it's easier to layer up generally, and a good jar of pasta sauce (often the mushroom one as that's pretty good) always helps, as does some grated mozzarella and some penne pasta. Usually it's a case of boil the penne pasta until soft, then drain and empty half into the dish, then put half the sauce, half the chorizo on to cover the sauce, repeat that and then all the mozzarella on top - it's the right size for all that, and then put that in the oven for around half an hour until the cheese has browned nicely on the top, and all good to go.

And so it proved, and in fact as I had managed to get a stream of the Manchester City league cup game at Preston North End, I could have my tea and watch that at the same time, pretty good all round. City were playing a good strength side, especially in midfield and up front, with the likes of Raheem Sterling, Gabriel Jesús, Bernardo and David Silva etc, so lots to actually enjoy. We didn't mess about either, as it was a nice run from Sterling resulted in a low shot and well taken for 1-0.

Later on Sterling combined well with Gabriel Jesús and after he'd had a goal disallowed for offside, this time it was timed to perfection and the ball was finished for 2-0, before a run down the left from David Silva was turned in off one of the Preston defenders and that was 3-0, and by half time the game was effectively over. It didn't need any more from City in the second half and it was an effortless cruise to victory as well, which was nice to see. Well done to them.

If you wanted drama then it was over to Colchester United, who beat Tottenham in a penalty shoot out after a 0-0 draw during the 90 minutes, and well played to them too. It shows that if you don't take the cup competitions seriously, you get punished. You'd think that it'd be a good chance for someone like them to win a competition but apparently not. For me, this is why you take games seriously, keep the momentum up and going, and in true Manchester City classic song tradition and tune of the day, the boys in blue never give in.

Monday 23rd September - Switcheroo

When I got home last night after a long train journey, I had the lovely surprise of a package delivery from She Makes War that I'd ordered in her Summer sale. I had the Disarm:15 coloured vinyl 12" EP, and the Benji Rocks t-shirt, with her faithful dog Benji being given pride of place. That cheered me up no end and I figured that as I'd been playing a chunk of the Disarm album on the way home last night, it made sense to listen to it more, which I did again tonight, re-playing the early stuff once more. "I Am" is particularly ace with its chord progression and change late on, so definitely tune of the day for me.

Anyway, what I also got wasn't so welcome - no less than two mailshots from BT, saying "ooh, sign up for this!" and "here's your great new offer!" - added to the emails I'd also had from them over the weekend. I should add that those marketing emails don't give you an opt out option either - they send them because you're a customer. So I thought to myself this morning "You know what? I'm going to switch provider because I can probably get a better deal, and don't need endless marketing and mailshotting when I've told them numerous times on the phone that I don't want it" - so their loss, another service provider's gain.

One good thing these days is that when switching broadband you don't have to ask your old provider for the switchover code as you used to do. This is a good thing because it means that the old provider can't necessarily nag you to stay (and even if they do, to be honest, you're better off leaving them as they might just do a sales pitch on you). In my view, it's like this: I'll take the 12 months at the reduced rate and that's around £20 per month cheaper for the same package I am on now, and then after that look at switching again, or even give the provider a call to say "I'd rather stay with you, can you match x package?" and see what the response is.

But it's clear to me that BT need to seriously have a rethink about the way they endlessly mailshot in the attempt of sales. For one, it's a waste of paper, and even though I send it to the recycling after shredding my address, think of the time and environmental energy it could actually save by not sending them out at all and giving you as the customer an easy option to opt out - same goes for emails. When I signed up with my new provider, all the marketing contact was turned off by default, meaning you had to tick if you wanted certain emails. That's the way it should be and that's a good practice for others to follow.

I think too that it also goes to show that if you're willing to shop around and swap, you can save yourself some dosh, and on top of that, using something like Top Cashback can also make you quids in. And why not? It's actually a sensible thing to do and I think for me it's a case of adding value to the shopping around too. So if you were to get say £30 cashback, think of it as £2.50 per month off if it's a 12 month contract in total, and see if that knocks more off. Got to give these things a go I think!

Sunday 22nd September - Down at Downton

The Love In My Heart and I were relieved to see last night that Brian the cat was appearing to want his tea at his usual time, and scoffed it all (plus some Dreamies too). He had also done his usual 4am wanting his food thing which actually meant that he was almost back to his normal self too, so mightily felt pleased about that and was good to see that he was able to have a drink of water, potter around, watch the squirrels outside and be more calm, and generally speaking be as cute as he usually is. That made us both feel a lot better as we headed out for the afternoon.

First stop was Wilderness, the record shop in Withington to accomany their new bar in the Northern Quarter. The record shop also did coffee and beer, and a number of people were sat inside on the stools and outside on the tables having a coffee and chill out. To be fair, the coffee was lovely and the latte I had was spot on, and deliciously velvety. The vinyl selection was pretty good, with a good idea to separate the new and re-released stuff from the older used stuff, and CDs assembled in the racks too. I did pick up a couple of singles too: Gene's Sleep Well Tonight and best of all, Supra's ace Blue Moon (the proper Man City one) so obviously tune of the day - and all for a pound too. Bargain!

After good look around another couple of shops we headed into the city centre and spotted one of the Northern Quarter car parks charging a mere £2.50 for all day Sunday, we were having some of that I tell you! We then headed down to the Printworks and had a little drink before heading into the Vue cinema, and two tickets for the 2.35pm showing of Downton Abbey were ours. Of course, The Love is a big fan of the TV series as was and had been looking forward to the film for ages, so definitely worth me seeing what it was like for her, as well as me who had occasionally seen it from time to time.

And actually, I can see why The Love absolutely loved it to bits. It was a very nice storyline, affectionately also as well giving the downstairs staff plenty of fair air time as well as the likes of Lady Mary (superbly played by Michelle Dockery of course) with all the best saracastic witty lines of course in the hands of Dame Maggie Smith, delivered with suitable aplomb. I won't spoil it for you one bit, but suffice to say that it develops from some of the storylines at the end of the TV series, and indeed there's also a couple of really touching moments that will make you feel rather nice inside, definite feel good factor compared to the world at the moment.

After that escapism it was off to the Abel Heywood for a well earned late lunch / early tea, and we both had the Sunday roast in there as it's usually nice. The Love had the pork, I had the beef, both were really good and also came with plenty of vegetables and a crispy Yorkshire pudding. I must admit I'd have liked a bit more beef maybe, especially compared to the Sunday roast we'd had the other week at The Elizabethan a few weeks back, but still good. And the ale selection was very good, which pleased me no end I can tell you.

I did feel rather sad as we headed towards Piccadilly station later to head on the train home: the weekend always seems to go far too quickly and the time I spend with The Love is quality time, and that time cannot be under-estimated one bit. It does make me wonder a little if in the long term it would be nice for me to actually be able to spend more time up North - maybe even do a work from home on a Friday and then be able to head up Thursday evening occasionally. I did had a thought about that so may be something I need to approach and see what I can do at work..

Saturday 21st September - Watford Walloped

It was a nice lie-in for myself and The Love In My Heart this morning, and Brian the cat wasn't still fully himself as yet. He didn't wake The Love up at 4am for the morning tuna meal, which was unusual, and he just sat at the window a lot, either watching the squirrel go by or having a lie down. I think maybe that the injections were taking time and maybe making him feel a bit tired, but hopefully he'll be good soon - and we did note that as he'd had a treatment for fleas, one or two had managed to get on and were dying off the back, so brushed him clean and all appeared to be better on that side.

Later on it was over to the Etihad for me and to meet my friend for today's game against Watford. Of course we do have happy memories of playing them, not least in the FA Cup final a few months ago when we won 6-0 and to be fair to the Watford fans they stayed till the end. In the meantime after a poor start to the season the manager who got them to Wembley, Javi Gracia, had been sacked and replaced by Quique Sanchez Flores, who had previously managed them in 2015-16, when Manuel Pellegrini was City's manager (thus explaining what my friend had queried about the first time Guardiola had faced the Watford manager over here.)

It was nice and warm, and the sun was out, and City, well, were on fire. Despite the scoreboard malfunctioning the team line up and going all retro with the clock on the scoreboard as well, City were ruthless. Under a minute in and Kevin de Bruyne puts in a gorgeous cross which David Silva slotted home for the opener. A few minutes later and despite a good Watford change city went forward, Riyad Mahrez was fouled in the area, and Sergio Agüero scored a penalty, and six out of six games this season he has scored. 2-0, and absolutely did not expect it.

Didn't expect the next few minutes either. A Mahrez run resulted in a foul just outside the box, and Mahrez himself took the free kick - it deflected off Tom Cleverley and in for 3-0. From a corner, the ball was headed across the box from Nicolas Otamendi and Bernardo Silva headed from close range. 4-0. City then had a free kick and quick thinking from David Silva found Agüero whose low cross was met by Otamendi (of all people) and slotted home. Just eighteen minutes on the clock and it was 5-0 to City. Yes, five nil. Absolute slaughtering. They took the foot off the pedal and cruised to half time.

With that lead, understandably it was a good time to bring some of the other subs on to give them some game time, so the likes of Angelino, Joao Cancelo and Eric Garcia all had some good game time - indeed Garcia had spotted Watford's formation in the warm up and had spoken to Pep Guardiola about it too. David Silva combined with Bernardo Silva as the Watford defence failed to put a tackle in, and Bernardo slotted home from close range for 6-0. A cross from de Bruyne was met by Bernardo Silva again and a simple finish meant the match ball for him. 7-0.

This had equalled City's highest ever Premier League win, which was against Norwich City when Balotelli scored one off his shoulder, because he could. The best was saved til near the end though - after Riyad Mahrez had hit the bar, late on de Bruyne sized up outside the area and with zero backlist absolutely sent a piledriver into the top left corner of the goal. 8-0. Yes, EIGHT-NIL. It was a superb victory, and yes, only three points. But as Oasis' Wonderwall belted out after the full time whistle (make that tune of the day) we were both basking in the glory of the sunshine and the wonderful football we had just witnessed.

Friday 20th September - Forcing The Point

It was a relatively calm Friday overall which was good, but it did allow me to test out the new version of Forcepoint Endpoint in terms of deployment and making sure that it would actually upgrade nicely. Of course, there's two good things in reality in that the supersedence feature works a treat in SCCM do to this kind of thing (especially as you'll only affect new deployments with that and not anything current of course) and also that the installation is similar to previous versions so your notes in terms of detection methods etc can be exactly the same. Well, that's the simple bit anyway.

In fact it proved to be the case as the installation went fine on both a machine without a previous version on, and one with an existing one on. Both installed, and of course using the /norestart would suppress the reboot for now, although sensibly you would want to reboot at a suitable time to ensure all was well, more so with a new install. I did note that on my virtual machine occasionally when it rebooted first time after install it didn't start the services, but did appear to be okay on a test laptop I was using with the same deployment, so there may be something in that, we shall see.

It was off from work, up Tottenham Court Road towards Euston and a worthwhile stop off at the Crown and Anchor for some well earned ale before I got the train back up North. Actually, it was a really nice and really pale ale I had tonight that was rather gorgeous, not too over the top and in fact went down well and was very drinkable indeed, I liked that a lot. The ambience was as lovely as ever and before long it was time to head off and see what delights would await me at Euston.

And lo! The train gods for once smiled on me and the 1920 train was on time all the way to Manchester Piccadilly. I did have some tunes on the iPod including a back to back random playlist that really did cut the mustard massively, making the journey seem shorter through the dark, so much so that "A Dame With A Rod" by the Juliana Hatfield Three is tune of the day with suitable mentions to the likes of Senser, She Makes War, Slayer, Nine Inch Nails et al for also providing some quality tunage as the train sped through the countryside.

The Love In My Heart picked me up at Piccadilly and were soon back at her place, where Brian the cat had been to the vets and had had an injection, and thankfully wasn't being poorly now at least. He was being a total cutie and allowing me to give him fusses and cuddles, and he sat on the sofa next to his Mummy whilst we watched Gogglebox on Channel 4+1, with the focus on the world tag championship at Bethnal Green, which I'd caught a bit of during the week, it was mad bonkers! Brian still had a sad face on but we were hoping his treatments would be serving him well soon.

Thursday 19th September - Haircut and Tram

It was a busy day of sorts at work, but I was sorting out a mass of machines that really needed some clean up and possible deletion from systems. I'd worked out what was happening: the old machine names were a member of a security group, and that security group's OU was effectively being checked to see if any membership had changed by SCCM and therefore adding any members, even if they weren't in a machine based OU for the system discovery - all down to group memberships.

As I didn't necessarily want to delete the AD objects, it made sense to effectively check the group memberships, remove it from any of the AD groups needed (and because they had no SCCM client, nothing would be deployed anyway!) and then remove it from SCCM - do it this way so that when the AD discovery is performed, it won't rediscover it because of said group membership. I'm hoping this will help hugely tidy things up from the SCCM side, then it's a case of whether anything needs to be done on the AD side too - but that might be for someone else to check!

I headed on the tube on the way home to Wimbledon Park, where the usual ace staff at James Barbers did the business with my hair and chopped it nice and short, just the way it becomes neat and tidy for me. Interestingly, it was busier than normal so I had to wait a while before getting the hair cut sorted, but was worth it because the folks are ace. I think what it does show is that when you have a good reputation you're more than likely to experience busy times, and the Thursday night is their late opening too, so that probably is something.

It was then on to Wimbledon itself and having fun fun fun on the Croydon tram tram tram (cue Eccentronic's classic Croydon Tram song which is tune of the day) and getting home - in the dark! That's the thing now, the darkness really does come in and get a little nippy too it has to be said - so definitely well worth noting that pretty much every journey I take now up to Manchester on a Friday evening is going to be in the dark, so can't see out of the window and admire the scenery outside - so definitely well worth me making sure the iPod is charged and with tunes on.

It's the only thing about buying lovely vinyl actually - you can't really transfer all that to digital unless you've got specific kit, and of course from my point of view, as I've got a good turntable anyway, I didn't need one just with USB input or capture anyway (yet). I must admit though it's nice to be able to have a chilled out time playing some vinyl anyway, and the likes of the excellent turntable I have means that there's a nice warm fuzzy analogue feeling when I do. Ooh yes.

Wednesday 18th September - Insane in the Ukraine

It was good to be home in time for the football tonight, not least as I had stayed back a little bit later than planned in order to be able to sort out a few issues with some machines in our Seattle office. They had been registered in Active Directory but for some reason wasn't being correctly discovered by some systems including SCCM. I had worked out why last week and it was a case of seeing if the machines would come online, and once they are, then be able to check what version of Windows they had, populate AD, watch it import into SCCM and then I could install the client.

That all worked well and as I knew I was going to be late-ish back home, I decided instead to stop off and get something on the way home so I could have a quick snack on the train and then not think about having cooking to do when I got back. The train thankfully was on time and that meant I got back to East Croydon without any issues, and therefore get home and be able to make a coffee, locate where I could watch the Manchester City game later and get all that sorted out.

It was nice to see that Manchester City were taking the Champions League seriously and for the third season on the trot we were facing Shakhtar Donetsk in the group stage - and having won last time both home and away hopes were good for us to win. Sensibly we had put Fernandinho in central defence as John Stones was injured, and this meant a nicely balanced side throughout with Gabriel Jesús up front. I think that it was a case of sitting tight and then gradually hitting on the break.

City were playing well enough in the first half, and there was some nice interplay happening with Riyad Mahrez and Ilkay Gundogan in particular. Gundogan's shot from outside the area hit the post, and the ball rebounded to Mahrez, who was clearly onside. He finished with aplomb and that was 1-0. More was to come too as Mahrez became provider and slotted the ball right i the path of Gundogan, who used the outside of his boot to curl it round into the bottom corner. 2-0 at half time, excellent stuff!

The second half was City continuing the good form and although Shakhtar went forward a little, they weren't really offering that much going forward. They were leaving spaces at the back though and the ball was breaking free of the defence. Kevin de Bruyne had a choice, he found Jesús on the left hand side and the Brazilian did the rest, slotting home nicely for 3-0. Job very much done and a happy bunny I was with that too. Tune of the day is the ace "The Boys In Blue", the old Manchester City club song - because they never give in,and showed that great bounce back today after the Norwich loss.

Tuesday 17th September - Accelerate

Today was a different type of day today as I was off on the Overground instead of the train to work. But why, I hear you ask? Well, I was heading over to Canning Town, but knowing how hellish the Jubilee Line to Canary Wharf is, I instead took my usual other route which is to stay on the Overground to Shadwell, head up the stairs and then take the DLR to Canning Town instead (you can either take the service to Beckton or to London City Airport in this case). It was relatively quick and so much so I had exited the tube station and out of the Bow Creek exit earlier than planned, and walked over the bridge to London City Island.

From there I could see the new headquarters of the English National Ballet - and an impressive building to boot. The staircase was alone a wonderful piece of modern architecture and the spaces that some of which were lecture rooms today were also adaptable to represent a full sized staging for rehearsal purposes. Nice, I know. In fact our hardware manufacturer Lenovo had taken up the ground and fourth floors for what they say is their Accelerate day, where they have speakers on, show off some of their product range and also be able to have a chatter to them.

Anyway, it was nice to get a coffee and some pastries before then heading to the main hall on the ground floor. Probably didn't need a blast of "Firework" every time a speaker came on, but there you go. Two main announcements during one of the speakers' tech updates made the phones go all picture happy: one of which was the foldable ThinkPad X1 (yes, you heard it right folks, foldable!) and it was not just a prototype, but a model very shortly to go into production. You can even read like a book with it (haha, Kindle!) and if folded with one side flat, you can use an onscreen keyboard to type with the upper half being the display.

During the break for coffee I spotted a familiar face - no less than my manager from my previous job! It was good to see him and have a catch up and chatter for a bit, and keep him posted on how I was doing - and he let me in some inside knowledge into how they were doing too. The good thing is that whenever you leave a job, always leave on good terms with your manager because you never know when you're going to see them again, and this proved again to be the right move - we were in separate tech sessions later but that was an unexpected but welcome bonus to the day.

It was then to the fourth floor and we spent some time listening to how some of the new products would work, especially their proposed meeting room product which was a mini PC with rotating screen and cable management to really enhance that experience. It was noted from myself and my colleague that actually no mention was made of the communications software we use, it was all about Teams, Skype for Business (which Teams will replace) or Zoom - so it looks like they're the two big players in the market, something well worthy of note I think.

The time sped by and was back on the tube to Tottenham Court Road later and spent the afternoon in the office, and had a couple of meetings before then troubleshooting a couple of remote clients to end the day nicely. In fact, The Love did tell me later that Brian the cat had been sick again but had brought up a fair amount of hair and fur, so it looked like my hairball theory wasn't far off - and he did eat normally, so I suspect that he might bring some back up, but at least it's clear to see what it was now. I felt better for that and so had a good listen to the Synergy album I got at the weekend again - and tune of the day from this one this time around is the excellent "Legacy" which sets the tone perfectly.

Monday 16th September - Poorly Cat

Today was me spending a lot of time worrying about The Love In My Heart's cat Brian. He hadn't been his usual self and not even wanting tummy tickles off Mummy either, which is definitely most unlike him. I suspect that he's been having issues in his stomach, as the last couple of times that he's eaten any dry food or his favourite tuna and prawn Sheba, it's come back up in a matter of hours. The Love has genuinely sounded worried and possibly thought about the need to take Brian to the vet's, but I did notice last time I was there that he was preening himself a lot, so possibly a build up of furballs might be something.

Even though Brian isn't my cat, I do love him to bits, even if he doesn't always show the same affection back at all times. He does allow me to give him cuddles and fuss over him, and he does like to look up at the camera or if I wave my hands - he likes to folllow the movement and look all cute, bless him. I think too that for The Love it's definitely been a great companion to have in the flat, more so if it's during the week and I'm not there with her either. I've got my fingers crossed that he does get well very soon though.

With that all in mind, I was on auto pilot a little bit today. I had spent some time working on a way to possibly improve further some aspects of how we have the hardware inventory collated, but the key thing was that now we have stable systems in place, I can push the hardware inventory setting to be once per day instead of once per week, the key thing being that it's a simple schedule so that the time spreads out in a balanced manner. This works well primarily because you're not setting a schedule where you're overloading the server (not a good thing believe me!) and you then can get more accurate recommendations.

The positive aspect also is that it'll also further demonstrate which machines are not checking in regularly, and also where there might be a use case scenario for machines not being used - and what we could do about those. I must admit that I'm always mindful of any waste for financial reasons, and indeed in terms of licensing and other stuff we need to be sure that we are spot on with that side. I also think that it's a mindset change as such to be sure that we're on the ball all of the time too.

It was a quiet evening really but I did spend some time checking in with The Love over a spreadsheet she was querying - and as she had correctly suspected, the calculations were amiss. I'd worked out why and sent it back over, and she was spot on with what she thought was up. Even though she admits herself she's not an Excel expert, it's nice to see some of my thought processes rub off nicely. I ended the evening listening to some nice Orbital in the background, so "Last Thing" from their The Altogether album is tune of the day.

Sunday 15th September - Low Scoring and Low Prices

After having a well earned lie in this morning, I pottered around the flat for a bit. The Love In My Heart had recommended to me that I watch the programme about the professional dancers from Strictly Come Dancing from last night (was watching the football!) - and she said it was good. She was right too - a nice insight into the pros not just from themselves but also some of the celebrities who have taken part in Strictly over the years. Of course they had to have Ed Balls on talking about the somewhat iconic Gangnam Style dance with Katya Jones, but also nice to see some of the older faces too! Must admit though the chemistry and friendship of the dancers came through: notably the cameraderie with Kevin Clifton and Aljaž Skorjanec.

I then decided as the weather was really warm that heading outside would be a good thing to do, so I headed on the tram and tube to Wimbledon Park, and soon I was at the park itself and on to the crazy golf course. The little hut didn't appear to be open but then the person came over, so was able to sort out payment and do a round of the course. Admittedly some of it needs some TLC as some of the astroturf is coming up and needs to be stuck back down, but was playing pretty fairly. I didn't get a single hole in one, but fourteen twos and four threes meant a total score of 40 for the round, one of my best ever!

After that it was back to Wimbledon Park and on the District Line, changing over at Earl's Court and then on the tube again to Notting Hill Gate and to Music and Video Exchange, one of my favourite little record shops. I've been to the one in Greenwich quite a bit too but always find the original Notting Hill Gate one best for stock overall. They also have a good mix of collectors' stuff but also some good bargain stuff in the basement as well. I checked the ground floor first then went down to the basement.

Actually, that was well worth doing as I picked up three quality albums for a fiver - absolutely ace. One of which was one I'd been after for some time, the first album from The Family Cat, "Tell 'em We're Surfin'" which completes their early run quite nicely. I also got the Steve Winwood album "Talking Back To The Night" which includes the single Valerie, the one later covered by dance acts, and even better, the first album by Larry Fast's project, Synergy, dating back from 1975 in the US and 1976 in the UK - and it was the UK release with additional track as well. Well worth a good listen to the Electronic Realizations for Rock Orchestra album and from that, tune of the day is the excellent "Warriors" from said album.

I was flush with success and headed back on the Circle Line to Victoria station to celebrate and spotted a space or two on the roof top bar the Victoria Market Hall, so went for that and had a pint of the Harbour Drymer Ale, which was from Cornwall of course. That was nice to sit in the shaded area at the top and overlook the masses below with a nice cool pint and a space to sit and relax. The shade also meant the vinyl I had wasn't getting too hot, so double win. That said, I really do wish that The Love In My Heart was with me...

Saturday 14th September - Looping Around

It was a weekend where I wasn't up in Manchester seeing The Love In My Heart, as I thought there may have been a chance of me getting a ticket for the Norwich City v Manchester City away game. That didn't happen, so instead and with the weather looking prospectively decent, I decided instead to head out for a walk and take on the first section of the Capital Ring walk, which was a mere eight and a half miles between Erith and Bexley, taking in riverside walks and sights along the way.

There were no trains running from East Croydon to London Bridge unless you got the slow stopper at every single stop on diversion, so I came up with a plan of action - I knew my train to Erith stopped at Waterloo East, so got to Clapham Junction, changed for a train to Waterloo, then from there walked over the footbridge to connect to Waterloo East, and all sorted, the train arrived and went via Lewisham, Woolwich Arsenal and Abbey Wood before heading along the river towards Erith, and of course as the station is in Zone 6, I had some extra Oyster balance at the ready for the extra zone I'd travelled in (my Travelcard is zones 1-5.)

Once at Erith I walked from the station to the riverside and commenced my walk. I noted that the pier at Erith went out then turned right at a right angle, although the view looked pretty good it has to be said. I was also pretty pleased that as you made your way past the horrid industrial estate, and turned off for the yacht club, the path took you around the Crayford marshes, but the view of the River Thames was surprisingly quite nice and also seemed pretty clean too. There were some yachts in the river, and the path curved round to where the mouth of the River Darent was, and you followed this for a while until the Darent splits one way and the River Cray to the other.

I follwed the path, taking the River Cray in the background, and after heading under a bridge with a steep drop for lorries to get underneath, it was then along the lovely Thames Road marshes and following the River Cray all the way to Crayford. The Waterside Gardens here were surprisingly lovely, and I have to say that there was also a folk band playing songs outside a real ale bar too, and added to the overall niceness of the place. I liked that and may have to head back to sample the ale in that bar actually!

From there it was then following the park by the football pitches and back along the River Cray towards Hall Place, then veering off, up over the railway and along the A2, back down the other side, and on to a stile which took you to Chuchfield Wood. You followed the path here, dodging the fallen trees and having a nice bit of woodland to keep you well shaded, then a right turn takes you along a path and past St Mary's Cemetery, heading for the church in Bexley and soon arriving in the high street itself for the end of the walk.

I did notice in Bexley that I have a pharmacy named after me, and also a jewellers after my surname too which was interesting. I grabbed a quick sandwich for lunch and headed to Bexley station, where the train would soon arrive. However, I wasn't going back to London Bridge or Waterloo East, but instead got off at New Eltham. I had a record shop to explore, that being Classical Bargain Records on the station approach road. It was a really nice shop, the staff were lovely, and had a good mooch. I ended up getting four 7" singles, namely stuff by Howard Jones, Ultravox and Toyah and best of all "Girl Don't Come" by Sandie Shaw. I also got the Steve Winwood album "Back In The High Life" and a best of Blancmange CD too.

I noted of course that I could get the 162 bus from here back to Beckenham Junction to take the tram homewards, but did stop off in Chislehurst on the way back with good reason. I walked down the high street and noted the takeaway called Noble House, and there's a very good reason for this. In its previous guise it was called Hong Kong Garden, and the very takeway which inspired the Siouxsie and the Banshees song of the same name - so nice to see a piece of musical history in the flesh. Obviously has to be tune of the dane of the day that, and soon was back on the 162 bus to Beckenham, stopping off at the Marks and Spencer to pick up some ale bargains, then on the tram home.

I did see the Manchester City match later but wished I hadn't to be perfectly honest. The defending wasn't great and giving away the ball so cheaply for Teemu Pukki to score for Norwich and make it 3-1 was bad. We did come back to 3-2 but fair play to Norwich City to be honest, they deserved the win as they wanted it more and all worked hard to counter us on the break and expose some weak defending. It's a concern but seeing as it's our first league defeat since January, a bit of perspective might also be a sensible action too.

Friday 13th September - Not So Unlucky

It was good to get back in to the swing of things at work, at least because it gave me a day to get back into the groove somewhat but also be able to apply some of what I'd learned over the last four days into a real world scenario, and you know what, I had to do just that. One of our Service Team leaders needed to know which Macs hadn't checked in over 60 days or so, and they needed also to be models before 2017 which would be out of warranty. So.. I applied the logic of last check-in date, then an and with three conditions of years in brackets, saying model not like 2017, 2018 or 2019 (as all Mac laptop models do have the year in these days) - and yes, that worked nicely.

That felt good, and I'd also downloaded all the updates for Windows ready to apply to our test group next week prior to go live - that way we can be sure of any issues only hitting a small number and not the real world out there. In fact one of our Cyber security team had checked in as they had had reports of a slow machine, and on further investigation, knowing I'd not applied any updates, we'd worked out that Sophos had had a CPU spike and that seemed to be on file scan, so narrowing things down somewhat. I suspect strongly that in fact it had been a scan of something on the machine just taking time, so we were all good there.

The good news of the day was later on when I received an email from Jamf, effectively telling me that I had obtained a good enough mark to pass the exam I took, and therefore I am now Jamf 200 passed, therefore a Jamf Pro Certified Tech! Nice. In fact on my Jamf Nation profile, associated with my work address because I need to see the other resources, the certified tech image was already there to explain to all that I had made it. Excellent stuff, and feel mighty pleased with myself I have to say.

In fact on the way home I stopped off at the Freshfields off licence not far from the flat, as they have a good selection of craft beers and they also do 10% off if you buy three or more, which is good. I noted that the local Signal Beer Co had some ales in there, so got a couple of theirs (the Pale Ale as well as the Turbo Joost) as well as the Infinite Session IPA, a mere 0.5% and another one I can add to the low alcohol list to see how that measures up against the rest.

I had a nice relaxing evening, no trains this time for a change, and had a good long natter with The Love In My Heart before settling in to watch Googlebox, with its theme tune being tune of the day. I wasn't sure what to make of the new families, but it was good to see some of the old gang back especially Jenny and Lee (The Love's favourites) and the Mancunian Malones with the dogs being just as much as a starring role as anyone else in the show!

Thursday 12th September - Training Day 4 and Exam

It was the final day of the training course, and again quite nice to leave on a later train and still get into the course location well before 0900, so was able to get a coffee from the nice machine downstairs and have that to keep me going before the course would start in earnest. In fact we had got through an exercise yesterday and was able to get more done than we thought, so this left the final section to do during the morning, with a chance to run through as a group the sample exam in the afternoon before attempting to do the real thing, which you needed 30 marks out of 40 (ie: 75%) to pass.

It was good to go through the ways of how things would be working currently with the old style way of imaging and determining which way around that things would happen, although of course monolithic imaging (where you put everything you want into a disk image) has long gone by the wayside. Indeed, even the method of adding the OS and adding packages is appearing to then go in favour of the thinner provisioning where you join it as a managed device and once done then the configurations with extra software applies.

It's worth noting that if the install order is the same number, it's done alphanumerically, so for the core stuff you want to bring down, you might want to have it in a certain order and so numbering them might be key to get the right order. A bit annoying that as at least in SCCM re-arranging steps in a task sequence is an absolute doddle to do and you can actually put some sensible logic into it as well, so for example if you haven't installed any Lenovo drivers, why install the hotkey executable? I think this is why some still like the option of having all the apps come down in an imaging type step, but worth noting for provisioning for reference I think.

After lunch we went through the sample exam, and I picked up some things well and remembered some key points when learning during the course, so that was good to know. The important thing was for that to note was that if something didn't exist, it meant to create it. In fact one question was on instaling a printer driver package, adding the printer drivers, and then ensuring the printer was added based on the local configuration you had done. I was pretty sure this might come up in the exam too (and it did!) so glad I remembered that. In fact, the exam itself did seem pretty difficult on the whole - not so much because of the time limit, but because of the fact it wa a case of concentrating pretty hard and ensuring that you got the questions understood in your head before you started.

I left and headed home once all was done, and it was nice to be home relatively early, although it was also good to sort out the online food shopping order, get some cleaning of clothes and of the flat sorted, and then settle in for the evening to chat with The Love In My Heart and then watch Manchester City Women away at Lugano in the Women's Champions League. One of the Swiss channels was streaming it live, and the City site linked it, so I watched that.

The first half was even and was 1-1, but in the second half City turned it on big time, scoring freely and playing with a lot more freedom as Lugano tired. Liquid football all round, and City ended up with six in the second half and a 7-1 win, pretty ace that. In fact the theme from The Day Today is tune of the day as it reminds me of current news but also Alan Partridge's classic football sketch. Cue "that was a goal,", "thriker!" and of course ".. must have a foot like a traction engine." Indeed.

Wednesday 11th September - Training Day 3

And onwards to the third day of the training course. As I had got there too early yesterday really I wanted to see if leaving later made a difference, and indeed, I got on the 0801 train and was at the place before 0840, so plenty of time and indeed a nicer easier journey all round as well. I think for me that it's been good to be able to leave a little later and still have plenty of time to be able to get a coffee and then head to the training space. I must admit it was nice to do that and have a little bit of a lie in too!

So in effect following some of the things around packaging, it was creating some in a test scenario. The key thing was in some cases that actually you could already easily sort it out - ensure it was installed, drag the app into Composer, ensure the root:wheel rights were sorted, and that was an easy pkg done really. The trickier ones to be honest were ones where you had to think about what you needed to add to them and whether any user based configuration was also needed, so here you needed a .dmg creating and with an option later to redirect any user-based information accordingly.

Most of the other parts of the day were spent around policies first of all, and how you would implement them correctly in a scenario. So for example if you wanted to install a package that would have a desktop wallpaper put in the Library/Desktop Pictures folder, how you'd get that there, but also how you would be able to set the scope correctly so you'd only target what you need. In effect this worked well to a degree, and there were further things apart from packages that you'd want to do in a policy. The key thing was that you needed scope, trigger, frequency and payload (ie: what you want it do do). That worked pretty well and getting a check of those four things was key to it all working.

It also then moved on later in the day to configuration profiles, where either for mobile devices or computers you could set some configuration in place. To a degree this reminded me a little of Group Policy, so for example in one of the configuration profiles you could lock the desktop background to an image of your choosing (naturally you would want to ensure that the image was actually deployed first if not a default one) - or you could disable some of the system preferences for the user. Key thing here though was that you only wanted one type of payload per scoped machine to avoid clashes, and that is mega important. In fact one of the exercises deliberately made you have two policies with different preference payloads, and so one would replace another, or crash and burn (as mine did, and the instructor did say he thought it would happen.)

Naturally of course as the new version of JAMF Pro got released last night along with other Apple announcements, for the iPads there is going to be iPadOS13, and not IOS13, so a different flavour of those. This means for any new iPad it'd mean they'd also need the newest JAMF Pro to configure if they have the new OS, and we would expect a button to be showing if there was going to be different items based on the OS revisions, especially for the mobile configuration policy. Definitely something to think about, and for me too as I headed home listening to the likes of Siouxsie and the Banshees' ace "Happy House" (make that tune of the day actually.)

Tuesday 10th September - Training Day 2

It was a reasonably early start to the day as I wanted to make sure I had some washing done and then hung on the airer to dry before I set off for the second day of the training course. As it turned out, I managed to get a train I'd normally get, got a seat and arrived at City Thameslink way early. So I went into the Costa in the station where I thought I'd try the filter coffee they now have. So, the £1 advertised is actually only for a small, the medium is £1.30. But here's the thing: do that and you can have the breakfast plus items too, so croissant for £1? I'll have that thank you very much, so £2.30 all in. Sorted.

The second day continued with a final look at the smart groups but also extension attributes, where you can define any extra attribute you may want to collect as an inventory item (with for example a script) or even a dropdown selectable field where you may want to enter things manually, such as if it's a VIP device for a senior management user or something. I must admit I kept thinking "why not have the hardware inventory items as selectable so you can choose what you wish to collect?" although I can also see the extension attribute would be good for non-hardware related additional items, such as detecting if a folder or file exists that may flag something. I guess it's because all the hardware classes in SCCM are nicely tickable, and you choose what you need (and you can expand with MOF definitions.)

The app deployment side for App Store based applications is a nice thing and works well, but it's more useful if more likely you have an Apple business or education account and you've signed to the Volume Purchase Program - key reason being is that you don't have to have every single user have an Apple ID to have the applications installed via the store, plus you can also revoke easily enough by removing said user or machine from the criteria too. Nice. That was easy to monitor but because of the tokens required, you couldn't actually do a proper live demo of that - something Apple and Jamf need to get together, bash a few heads, and have some specialised training based tokens so you could replicate more closely. Even the trainer said it was a source of frustration, so not just me.

There were also some nice sessions on the basic understanding of Bash shell scripts, what you can do, and how in effect you'd be able to use something such as CodeRunner which nicely colours parts of the scripts in and be able to determine detections, run simple if then else statements (not forgetting fi at the end). For me having dabbled a bit in PowerShell and being able to run stuff there, some of it was similar, but you would probably grasp it quicker if from a Unix / Linux background - and to be fair, similar stuff with the permissions and setting things with chmod and chown as well too.

The last part of the day was the first dive into packaging with the likes of JAMF's Composer tool. I still think this is where I found it a little odd, especially as the Composer still has an option for snapshots, something I've not touched since the days of Novell Zenworks 4 and 7 to be honest. However, it looks like tomorow might be more beneficial to see what we'd be able to do with additional tweaks, and of course in some cases it's simply a case of dragging the application in and then sealing that (rather than the pretty interface of drag to apps to install which you don't want users to need to do) so all good too.

I got home again nicely early which allowed me to have an extended listen to some good tunes, but I kept thinking about how much my friend and I enjoyed seeing Public Image Limited a few years back, and me later seeing The Bad Shepherds in Hebden Bridge with Ade Edmonson belting out John Lydon's words to the epic "Rise" - a song which has got even more relevant over time, showing that in fact, he was way ahead of time was John. Definitely tune of the day for me.

Monday 9th September - Training Day 1

It was the first of four days of training for me this week, namely the JAMF 200 course being held in central London. As it transpired, the venue for the training was much nearer one of the train stations I commute to, and in fact, having checked, nearer City Thameslink than Blackfriars if I get off a certain part of the train - with less to get past, so headed off this morning for the train. Except, in true Thameslink rubbish tradition, they had cancelled some trains due to a lack of train crew, so naturally everyone piled on to the same train I was also on. Joy!

Still, I got there in plenty of time, and located the venue, which was actually part of a suite of different offices, similar to WeWork and reminded me of the old LABS building in Holborn when I started my current job too. It did have a posh coffee machine where you touch an iPad for what you want and the coffee comes out, but had to wait for the trainer to come down and collect us - thankfully others were also here who had got here early, so that made me feel a little less worried about being in the right place!

The training room was relatively small sized - three rows of four iMacs, coupled with an iPad to use for the course. The course workbook was small and more of a reminder reference with bullet points, hence the trainer suggested writing your own notes in, especially as the exam later in the week is open book. The only time I've seen that before is for the PRINCE2 practitioner, but it's that for good reason - the exam is rock hard and subject to you very carefully reading the guidelines and implementing them as you would see fit. What was clear though was that it would carefully get you into the way of back end administrating JAMF Pro and looking at the way things are done.

So for today it was mainly about getting things set up - so for example, ensuring users and user groups were set with correct permissions, and why sometimes you'd want a local user of the system as well as an LDAP AD based administration group to do tasks - as well as setting up the infrastructure for buildings, departments, network segments et al. It was also learning about user-initiated enrolment and preferences, and how you would be able to enrol devices easily and relatively quickly without too much hassle. This worked well to a degree although you inevitably want to see how that would work in the real world not just in a classroom environment.

The latter part of the day also concentrated on the likes of inventory searches, and how you would be able to define search criteria and output so you could effectively place that in a CSV or XML based report. One annoyance here: you can't re-arrange the order of the fields shown on the resulting output (something which is easily done in SCCM when you do a query!) and the Jamf attitude was "well you can re-arrange that yourself in Excel". But why? Kind of frustrating that to be honest - wouldn't take that long to implement a simple ordering mechanism for your selected fields, you'd think.

The final part of the day was pretty good, how you can determine smart groups for various tasks you may want to do. I can see this more useful for deployments, where you might want to only deploy an App Store app for those who can actually run it, so for example you'd have a smart group of MacOS 10.13 or higher (say for example if the app only likes the new APFS instead of the old HFS+) and have similar groups determining which OS you need. You could then of course use these suitably and save a lot of pain (in theory!)

I headed homewards later and it was nice to be home earlier than normal, so definitely for me a bonus that it was a case of getting on with a few things. I actually spent some time tonight listening to She Makes War too, not least because the vinyl I ordered was on the way, but also because there's still some great earlier stuff which definitely needs a listen from time to time, so "Slow Puncture" for that reason is tune of the day. Always good to wind down nicely and take things relatively calmly during the evening where possible.

Sunday 8th September - Snugburys and Bunbury

It was a nice morning of being all chilled out, having a light breakfast, and making sure that we were all good to go for the day out we had planned. I had the camera with me especially as I wanted to take some nice photographs today, and I have to admit that The Love In My Heart is getting pretty good with her phone (which has a decent camera) and taking some nice shots herself. I think if it's getting her back into taking pictures, which she loved to do a while ago, that makes me happy too.

We headed off along the M56 and A556 passing through the likes of Sandiway and then off towards the A49 and A51 and down the Cheshire countryside and off towards Nantwich. I could tell it looked busy along the way and at Snugburys, just before Nantwich, the crowds were out and The Love had to park in the overspill car park. We did note that they'd expanded the walkway to the fields to see the kunekune pigs and the goat at the front of the farm, so children and parents could get close up and personal with the animals, which is rather nice all round. Of course, that was a distraction before we headed towards the field with the straw sculpture.

It's a good tradition at Snugburys that they have a straw sculpture which you can see from the A51 and also close up and personal, and definitely gets the people in. This year it was a 40 foot high bee, made of both straw and wood for the yellow and black stripes, but also metal for the wings and the antennae. It looked awesome, especially when you had a view through the yellow wild flowers that adorn the path down the field to where the sculpture was. It was ace, and we both loved it to bits.

It was off to get some ice cream (be rude not to of course) and lots of yummy flavours to choose from. I went for the lavender and honey, which was a nice purple shade and lovely, but also the raspberry pavlova, where you could tell plenty of raspberries were inside the ice cream too. You also could get a white chocolate honeycomb on top, which I got for The Love (and 50p of which goes to charities to promote the bees and preserve them - nice.) It was rather gorgeously nice actually and made the trip even more well worthwhile.

We stopped off at Bunbury and was going to get some shots of the locks but the parking was non-existent, so we went on a tour of Bunbury Mill instead. The tour guide was knowledgeable and passionate about the mill, and it was certainly a case of exploring the long ladders, seeing the water power all the cogs and make flour and fine flour at that. It all still worked due to the way it was kept preserved, and well worth a visit if you get a chance around that part of Cheshire.

As it was kick out time at nearby Oulton Park we knew traffic was going to be busy so we diverted along the B5152 towards Frodsham but stopped off at Oakmere and had Sunday lunch at the Vale Royal Abbey Arms. It was a superb decision - the ale was on form, and as was the food. The Love had the Sunday Roast which had lots of lovely veg and spot on turkey, and the fish and chips I had was delicious - the chips were triple cooked and The Love approved highly. Some lovely tunes on here too, and the ale was called Ever Fallen In Love after the Buzzcocks classic (make that tune of the day)!

We later then headed back towards Manchester Piccadilly and I bid The Love a fond farewell before I headed off on the train back homewards. The weekend had gone by far too quickly to be honest, and I think for me that it was a sign that we both felt so relaxed was a surefire sign we'd loved the moments we'd had especially today. I think too that if the pics of the bee at Snugburys came out well, that'll bee (sic) nice to upload and share too. I felt sad on the way home as I do miss my love, and Brian the cat of course.

Saturday 7th September - Sifters and Sickness

The Love In My Heart and I had a well earned breakfast and Brian the cat wanted his usual fussing and Dreamies (as he does!) - and once we'd got ourselves ready and sorted we headed off to see The Love's father for a while. He had moved the PC downstairs but wanted the printer to be configured wirelessly so all was working. I suspected you'd have to connect it via USB and then convert it that way - which normally you need to do with the configuration software. That was done, the wireless printer was added with its wireless config sent, and lo and behold, it worked perfectly!

The good news also was that I had managed to locate an application which was a simple text to speech application which was free, and pretty unobtrusive. You launch it, show the small toolbar and then open any application you like (I did Notepad for ease of use). You highlight the text, press the play button, and the text is read out. You can also adjust the speed and it all worked properly with no issues. If you need the same and want something lightweight, Natural Reader 16 is the one for you. It just works - and the free version does all you need too. In fact, with all of that and the desktop picture back to what he wanted, The Love's father was a happy person.

And then it was for me off to the hospital to see my friend who was in there, and had been for the last week or so. Thankfully he did seem in reasonably good sprits and we chatted about the football including the England game and the Manchester women's derby, with the Etihad pretty busy (over 31,000 as it turned out) - and all sorts. I think he'd rather be out and home as soon as possible, but it's just the nature of how he is that I think that it's just waiting for further tests and checks to be absolutely sure. Bit annoying for him all round I think.

I then headed later to Sifters Records in Burnage, of course the inspiration for the lyrics for Oasis' "Shakermaker" (make that tune of the day) and had a good mooch. Unfortunately nothing took my fancy today but the quality of stuff was pretty good all round - lots of good classic vinyl, and some collectables and film soundtracks well worth checking out, not to mention cheap CDs and quality products all round. It's at times like this you appreciate the time you've spent previously assembling a nice collection.

Later on, after I arrived back at The Love In My Heart's place, we then went and had some tea - some gorgeous ham hock which just melted off the bone with some vegetables. I had my sticky toffee pudding ale, and that was beautiful, and we watched the launch show of Strictly Come Dancing. We did suggest some of the pairings, and guessed some of them correctly, but it was good to see that at least Anton du Beke didn't get the older conetstants for once. Opinion was uniform though on Claudia's red outfit - it didn't work and didn't make her look as good as she should. Even me as a Claudia fan had to admit that...

Friday 6th September - Bruised But Boosted

It was a busy day for me as I was deploying an update for a particular group of machines that needed it. In fact, it was a case of having to deploy it slightly differently, so I'd invoked the option of a restart with a time period allowed for them to wait or to restart straight away. The good news was that we'd targeted the said group with an email so they were fully aware of what was happening, and one of them even told me this morning that they had seen the restart prompt, so was particularly happy about that to be honest.

I was also checking over a number of options that I needed to consider as part of the current strategy evaluation, so was able to see that after some testing of applications, one site had added users to the Active Directory group, and the users had installed the application themselves via Software Centre. This is exactly the way we want to go for self-serving some of the applications we can, and it was really good to see that in fact we were able to get things up and running for them, so happy me.

After work a few of us in our team along with some of the procurement team (of which one of them was at the event yesterday) and we had a nice drink outside the Newman Arms. They do some decent ale in there, so that was an epic win for me, and it was notable that I wasn't the only one with a bruised arm after yesterday's shenanigans. In fact she told me that a number of people were suffering the same way - probably a sense of the kickback from the shotgun I guess!

It was then a walk over to Euston where all appeared to be miraculously well for once, and actually on time - although if I had got the 1857 train that was cancelled, so a lot of those might have been piling on the 1900. I was on the 1920, got my seat all sorted, and had the iPod on and listened to some excellent She Makes War along the way, including the ace "Please Don't" (so make that tune of the day) which as the sun set down on the train was a nice way to start winding down.

At Manchester Piccadilly The Love In My Heart was there to collect me, and we had a nice chatter and later on a well earned drink and snuggled up to Brian the cat, who allowed to snuggle up on the sofa next to me and for once didn't mind - I knew where his spot was and so made sure it was free for him, and he loved the fact that he could just rest. We watched 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown and I got all of the numbers game answers correct, so that made me feel pretty good all round!

Thursday 5th September - Shootin' Some Clay

It was a different sort of work day today, as I was off to West Malling in the Kent countryside (cue Geoff and Vicki from All The Stations: "To the Kent!") - and like them I was also starting off my journey at Bromley South, having got there via tram to Beckenham Junction, then the train to Bromley South. This was all within Oyster, so tapped out, then got my day return ticket to West Malling and then went back through the barriers. In fact, there was a nice coffee shop on the platform, so I got a coffee and then soon enough the train came. Interestingly, someone decided to have Smooth Radio on for all to hear, but hey, this did get to mean I heard Swing Out Sister's fab "Breakout" on the way, so tune of the day obviously.

Once at West Malling, the taxi rank at the station was consulted and I got a taxi to Ashtree Farm, where the event I was at was being held - a charity event that work had organised and I had been invited to. In fact, the taxi dropped me off at one entrance but one of the farm and events staff had spotted me and offered me a lift to the actual lake in the jeep as well. He was telling me that because of climate change,the farm had switched from apples to instead raspberries and strawberries, all good there.

After a light lunch and some drinks, there were around thirty of us in all, some from our workplace, some from companies who were also helping back the event, all in the name of charity of course. The good thing is that everyone seemed really nice and friendly, and were all chatty too. That helped calm the nerves a little, but even though it was clay pigeon shooting (no animals harmed folks) it was still a bit nervewracking as I'd never ever held a gun in my life, never mind a rather hefty and heavy double barrelled shotgun!

As I expected, I didn't do too well, I was just glad to at least hit the odd target. There were four ranges, one with two coming up at once in an arc, one with one in an arc, another with two coming out of different traps, and the tricky as hell one which has one bouncing along the grass, and another up in the air. Everyone struggled with that one, and interestingly one of the instructors did tell me that my left eye was stronger than the right, so if I shot left handed, I'd naturally use the stronger eye and be better - and surprisingly I was. I wonder if this is why for example on Guitar Hero I play tons better on lefty flip?

Later on we all headed to West Malling itself, which looked very nice but smacked of "our precious village" as well. We were in The Swan, having pre-dinner drinks first of all, with lots of chatter, and then the evening feast meal. The starters were lovely, especially the chicken liver paté with a nice little side, and that worked well. However, the main was unreal. It was rack of pork, thickly sliced, and then lots of sharing roasties, vegetables and a thick gorgeous gravy. It was unbelieveably nice to be honest, and well worth having. The Eton Mess for dessert was also spot on too!

It was good to speak to so many nice people, and the F1 discussion round the table had my brains racked - but did remember that Olivier Panis won in Monaco in 1996 - as that was a memorable race! I'm probably better on a pub quiz team than shooting clay pigeons, but there you go. I said my farewells and walked back to West Malling station, then took the train and tram back home. It worked out well, as although others had booked the Friday off and were staying in a Premier Inn, I had a busy day at work tomorrow, so no rest for the wicked...

Wednesday 4th September - Discovery

It was nice to actually get the head down and sort out a good few things at work today. One of which was quite a good one really - it looked like for some reason some of the devices in Active Directory, that were in one site which we'd taken over recently, didn't all appear to be showing their records correctly in SCCM, and thus not be able to obtain a client and have that installed. I took a good look into it, and this is where the log files are king - adsysdis.log - the AD system discovery - told me all I needed to know. One record was attempted to be imported but the OS information was missing, so failed to be imported as it didn't know if it was a Windows machine or not.

Of course, you can't just populate the OS and version on that tab - you can however if you have enough AD rights go to the attribute editor and enter the correct values there. Key thing here - we could see the machine online and so a nice bit of invoking a command via Powershell and doing a wmic os get version meant I could tell what OS it had, and comparing other records in AD, this meant I could attribute enter them in. Did that, and at next AD system discovery, hey look, there's the device coming in with a data discovery record (DDR) and all. Nice.

Of course from then over time you could just wait for an automatic push out of the SCCM client, but you can right click and do install client too - and after a few minutes the files started to download, the client then installed correctly, and started to then do a report back via its discovery cycle and so on, and populate the hardware inventory - which then meant any collection of machines requiring OS info would be correctly populated, and any software advertised would also be installed too. It worked pretty nicely all round, but there's a couple more I've spotted which need the same treatment. I suspect when the records were added to AD by a join that something went AWOL with the info at that time (normally this is relatively straightforward)

That all nicely on its way, I also sorted out some more application installs that were on the to do list, and mentioned to one of my colleagues in another office that they were good to go for testing. The positive thing is that already some staff can see the benefits and it'll mean that there's a common sense path to go down - and if in the long term we can avoid all manner of having to do manual installations, we should definitely take advantage.

Top tip of the day: if the uninstaller uses Nullsoft Scriptable Installer System (NSIS) often the uninstall completes command and passes itself back to SCCM before it's ready, meaning the detection will still think the app is there. To avoid this, create a simple batch file (call it say remove.cmd) and have the uninstall command line with /S for silent, followed by TIMEOUT /T 10 (or however many seconds you may need). This delays the pass back to SCCM for the detection method, by which time your application has properly removed and all is well with the world. Running timeout as a system user has it hidden with no on-screen prompts either, so pretty easy win all round - and then in your SCCM application, call remove.cmd for the uninstall, and ensure that the application content has that distributed. Worked well for me.

I spent some time tonight listening to the Kalima compilation "Flyaway" - I have the original release CD on Factory Records no less (FACD 219). It contains two tracks from their former guise of Swamp Children, and then mostly stuff from the singles as well as a few tracks off their first album too. It's a nice introduction to the band and all of the tracks appeared here for the first time on CD too (both the Swamp Children and first Kalima albums didn't get a CD release - LP only) For me - tune of the day - is the rather lovely "Sparkle" - with Ann Quigley on superb vocal form and a real bossa nova feel throughout.


Tuesday 3rd September - From The Factory Floor

At lunch time I decided to have a nice walk down Berwick Street in Soho (not far from the office) where of course there's some good record shops and of course I could, if I wanted to, do my best Oasis cover impersonation walking down there, but decided against it. One of my colleagues had bought himself some separates over the weekend including turntable, amp and CD player, and I thought about my vinyl collection and what gems on the Factory Records label I was still after (and there were several actually, believe me.) So a good mooch inside both Reckless and Sister Ray just had to be done.

Anyway, when I got home I thought about some of the more obscure Factory stuff I either own or am after, and ignoring the obvious selections (ie: Joy Division, New Order and Happy Mondays) there's some real gems out there. Take for example the wonderfully early 80s electronica in a marked departure for Section 25, with the iconic "Looking From A Hilltop" (FAC 108) - there's actually two versions of the video, one in the old infamous Hulme crescents and one at the old Belle Vue fairground site in Manchester (pretty much near where the Showcase Cinema is now) - and it's just a wonderfully fab tune.

In fact, early James singles were also on Factory and their second one (II) had the superb "Hymn From A Village" on there (FAC 119). In fact later on Factory released a 12" called Village Fire that had both the 7" singles on one 12" EP (FAC 138). I still adore this track and it's one of my all time James favourites - way before the re-release of Sit Down had catapulted them somewhat to stardom of course. In fact the artwork then was all hand drawn by the looks of it, adding to the band's appeal.

As well as Cabaret Voltaire having a second guest outing on Factory with the 12" single "Yashar" (FAC 82) with its excellent 12" versions, notably the longer John Robie one really having a sense of Eastern promise, lest we forget that OMD actually started life on Factory, as the first release of Electricity (FAC 6) was on there, well produced by Martin Hannett. For some reason the band went to Virgin / DinDisc and reproduced it themselves, but there's something nicer about the original Factory version.

Of course, Factory had links to various Manchester bands by the scene being quite collaborative even then. So, for example, various members of A Certain Ratio, including Martin Moscrop and Andy Connell, became also part of Kalima, a more Latin inspired jazz act. Their Four Songs EP (FAC 127) includes two of my favourite songs, the uplifting Sparkle and the cool late night feel of Trickery, which I'm going to make tune of the day. In fact the video to that has Andy belting out a great piano solo. And the story doesn't end there..

A Certain Ratio released their Force album in 1986, Andy having departed to join Swing Out Sister to of course much success. However, one of the tracks on the ACR album, "Bootsy" was released on Factory Australasia (FAC 166/7) as a 7" single. That and the album version had Corinne Drewery from Swing Out Sister as guest vocalist, thus making a nice crossover period between ACR and SOS at the same time. In effect, that was a classic example of Mancunian collaboration - indeed Bernard Sumner of New Order would later remix ACR tracks as well, and produce the odd one too.

Monday 2nd September - Indie Top 20

Back in the late 1980s and early 1990s, one of the great things about going into shops like Compact in Manchester was that they would always stock some indie vinyl and CDs, and thus make the buying process of said material easier. We were lucky back then, we had Piccadilly Records too and of course Vinyl Exchange for any second hand stuff too - and for many of us, having easy access to a lot of the indie singles on a compilation on CD format actually made it easier to digest - and you could blast out the tunes from the speakers in a nice quality also which is a bonus.

I recall Volume IX (or 9) which was from mid 1990. There were only 17 tracks on the CD primarily due to time restrictions and some 12" versions featuring, but it represents a very interesting cross section of what was happening musically at the time. There's a number of tracks on this album I really do adore, including The Fatima Mansions' "Blues For Ceausescu" for example, with an epic six minutes of running time and Cathal Coughlan being pretty much delightfully dark for most of it too.

Of course, the great thing was that a lot of the time it had some maybe less well heard of gems, such as AC Marias' "One Of Our Girls Has Gone Missing", definitely tune of the day for me here - it flows beautifully and has a really nice guitar that just smacks of classic Cocteau Twins also. Of course Lush were there too with the ace "De-Luxe", and that still is a track I enjoy massively now, as it sways beautifully with its middle section and guitars - maybe more shoegaze back then but definitely no less relevant for it.

There's also the classic early Carter USM single "Sheriff Fatman" which of course led plenty of people to start yelling "You fat b*****d" at gigs of course, all about greedy landlords and the way they'd let tenants live in slum housing without any help from them or any regulations. Of course the crossover with dance at the time was relevant here, so the likes of the 12" mix of New Order's "Round and Round", Revenge's awful 12" version of their track "Pineapple Face" (the one major let down on the CD), and The Farm's upbeat over of "Stepping Stone" as well.

But there's still some unadulterated joy not mentioned too - Birdland's rather punchy "Sleep With Me" for example, and perhaps best of all, "Joy" by The Sundays, still just as wonderfully emotional as when I first heard it back in 1990. Harriet Wheeler's vocals are just so spine tingling, honestly, and it's a real sense of dramatic climax as the song ends too. In fact, buy the compilation just for this, and all the other ace songs. You should be able to track it down, and then when you're done, check all the other fab albums too released by bands on there. You can thank me later.

Sunday 1st September - Slow Down Sunday

It was certainly a time to take things slower and have a slow down after a busy and hectic week. In fact I had a good long sleep, which was really needed, and The Love In My Heart would have probably been the same but only for Brian the cat deciding that a) he wanted to play out and b) he wanted some tuna and Dreamies (not necessarily in that order) which of course meant that he was being all miaow-ish and wanting his Mummy. That said, I got up and Brian did at least allow some fussing over too, so he was happy enough.

Once we had got ourselves all up and ready, we later went out to the Elizabethan pub in Heaton Moor and had some Sunday lunch in there. It was actually really nice, as the guest ale was a Lemon Radler, so it was a quite lemon infused ale, almost like a Radler lager style but with ale instead, and that was definitely refreshing and nice. In fact, the only regret was not having a second pint later! We did though order a Sunday roast each which was lovely, The Love had the ham and I had the roast beef, with plenty of meat, vegetables, gravy and a large Yorkshire pudding. Happy days indeed.

I also decided that dessert was an option too, and so indulged in an Eton Mess. It was very different as it was presented in a sundae style Knickerbocker Glory glass, with the cream and meringue near the top, the fruits in the middle and the ice cream in the bottom, so almost deconstructed in a way, but rather wonderful. I must admit though that it was good to try something different, and timed well as the rain was hammering down but had stopped by the time we had left.

Back at The Love's place, we had some time before I was getting the train home, and so we watched the More 4 documentary about the railways in Scotland, following a conductor as she took her final examinations, showing the work done to shore up a previously landslipped bank on the West Highland Line, and having lots of mentions of classic steam trains including one locomotive's final trip. Really ace all round to be honest, and that was something I'll need to watch more of I reckon.

It was a sad goodbye with hugs and kisses for The Love as I headed to Piccadilly Station and off to London Euston on the train, having a good listen to the fab album "Direction of Travel" by She Makes War, which was my album of 2015 (Pledgers got their copy that year, the rest of the world had to wait a little!) - and there's still plenty of great tracks on there including one of the singles "Drown Me Out" which is tune of the day. If you've not checked the album out, I implore you to buy it. And her other albums. Now.