Monthly Retrospective: May 2024

May’s update was late, and June’s is in danger of rolling into July, so here’s a few highlights from my life in and around tech…

At work

On the work front, it was a short month – I was on holiday for the last week and with public holidays too there was lots to cram into a few short weeks. Nevertheless, I still managed to:

  • Continue to develop Node4’s new ransomware scanning service.
  • Finalise a dozen product data sheets for our public cloud services.
  • Submit some blog posts to our marketing team to support upcoming campaigns.
  • Keep pushing some pre-sales activities forwards.
  • And mine and Bjoern Hirtenjohann (/in/BjoernHirtenjohann)’s internal Node4 podcast on public cloud was released:

But the biggest activity in the month was presenting at Node4’s Infrastructure Symposium. One of our Practice Directors brought all his teams together to learn about the products and services that we jointly deliver. With four (or five, depending on how you look at it) companies all merged, there’s been a lot of change at Node4 over the last year or so. Getting everyone together is a great way to break down boundaries and understand the direction we’re headed in. And for me it was a chance to outline that our cloud offers span public, private and hybrid delivery models – and that we will deliver what’s right for the client, not for us. We call this Pragmatic Cloud (and I freely admit we didn’t come up with the term, but it I like it a lot).

I also celebrated my 9 year anniversary of joining risual/Node4 in May. And, for those who were confused by my comments last month, I was saying that my recent move has been overwhelmingly positive and I’m in a better place than I have been for a long while!


Away from work…

  • My youngest son, Ben, passed his driving test. I was ready for a big insurance bill, but what I wasn’t ready for was: a) no decrease on the bill for the 19 year-old’s insurance (now with 2 years’ experience); and b) a 350% increase in premiums between him passing his test 2 years ago and the 17 year-old passing now. Even with a black box, parents as named drivers, etc. the car insurance bill for the two old cars that our family share with the teenagers was around £4500. For contrast, the bill for my Volvo (with just me and Mrs W as drivers) actually fell and is now back under £500. Public transport is just not reliable enough where we live, so the choices are: a) drive the teenagers everywhere; or b) pay the money. I’m still getting over this assault on our savings… some families just won’t have that money and I dread to think how many uninsured cars there are on the road as a consequence.
  • My eldest son, Matt, continues to race his bike up and down the country. After a catastrophic failure of the fork steerer tube, his Canyon road bike was hastily replaced. That meant a drive to Wakefield to collect the new bike, but it is rather lovely. I don’t get to all his races these days but I did manage to watch him in Ixworth and I was in the team car again for the Lincoln GP. Unfortunately, when he went to Ireland to race the Rás Tailteann I had to make do with watching for updates on Twitter!
  • Ben and I have been planning our Interrail trip – and now we have bought our passes along with inbound/outbound travel. Plus, we’re going to be taking the NightJet sleeper train from Berlin to Vienna! There were a few challenges with seat availability (things have changed since last time I went – we can use high speed rail, but there’s limited availability and we need to pay a supplement). This is more of a problem when dates are fixed so we had to change our route a little. On the flip side, with the start and end locked in, the middle section of the holiday is now free for us to be flexible.
  • I completed the home network upgrade. Was the switch from AmpliFi to UniFi worth it? Time will tell. It’s certainly more flexible but it’s cost me more and my house does not lend itself to structured cable runs. Maybe I should have just replaced the broken AmpliFi mesh point but it felt like I could fall into the trap of the sunk cost fallacy.
  • On the home automation front:
    • Octopus Energy sent us a Home Mini, which should give more granular data on electricity consumption, once I get the Home Assistant configuration right (I’m still tweaking).
    • I’ve also continued to play around with Home Assistant, including a bed occupancy sensor (which I can link to turning off the lights). I will admit that’s probably a step too far into nerd territory.
  • The month ended with a short break in Spain. Originally scheduled for May 2021, we never did get to go on a family holiday to Barcelona and the Costa Brava, though Matt made it out there on a training trip to Girona earlier this year. So, half the holiday, with only one of the “children” (though he is now twice the size!), Nikki, Ben and I spent a glorious few days in an around Begur.


These retrospectives are a bit of a blogging catch-all, but I did write a post on LinkedIn that turned into a blog in its own right. You can read it at the link below:


Bits and pieces

  • 300m short of 200km!
  • Choose your PIN wisely:
  • Commentary on technical debt and the British Library’s ransomware attack woes:
  • Who doesn’t love a bit of Top Gun?
  • Thoughts on location tracking for family members:
  • Why it’s better to find a real application compatibility fix instead of just giving users admin access:
  • And why encrypted messaging is difficult:
  • Finally, shipping sunlight for green energy. Not as bonkers as it sounds!

Featured image: author’s own

Weeknote 20/2021: Echo chambers

This content is 3 years old. I don't routinely update old blog posts as they are only intended to represent a view at a particular point in time. Please be warned that the information here may be out of date.

This week has been a bit flat. The weather is mostly awful, so I don’t much feel like riding my bike. I hurt my back exercising on Wednesday. And I have 5 weeks to get into shape for my ride across Wales.

This weeknote will be a short one. I can’t believe it’s Friday already…

This week I:

  • Desparately tried to bring some very dry design workshops to life with the inclusion of visual content, only to find that Microsoft Teams isn’t very good at sharing digital whiteboards, yet:
  • Was reminded that annual reviews are a good opportunity to take stock on what’s happened in the last 12 months.
  • Received my new UK (non-EU) driving licence:
  • Escaped from my home office and spent a few hours working inside a coffee shop, for the first time in months.
  • Learned that my social bubble is oh so echoey… when I stepped outside it I heard of people for whom the discomfort of taking a lateral flow test is some kind of hardship (Really? Spreading Covid is a lot worse, I’m sure!) and got called an idiot for not agreeing with conspiracy theories around government tracking of citizens.
  • Felt the need to remind people that there are two NHS Apps:
    • The NHS App (authenticated), which lets you access your own health record.
    • The NHS Covid-19 app (anonymous), which is used for test and trace purposes.

This week in pictures