2022 in review

Now that we have started 2023, one can take a look at the year that was 2022. Personally it was a great year (no deaths/cancer in the family so that is new), with a number of stand out moments.

The biggest one is that I married, Kelley, the lady of my dreams in the summer. We wedded in our own home, with the ceremony in the front, and the big tent in the back. It truly was perfect. We had our close family come over from the UK, and with our close friends/family here in the USA the time we all spent together was far more special than any of us could ever have imagined. Each morning I wake up, not believing I got this fortunate.

Special mention to the night before the wedding, when we all had one major karoke night, with everyone taking the mic for their song of choice. Those are memories that will never leave me. Thank you.


Healthwise, getting to that age where I have to really listen to my Dr, as we are still within a fighting chance of correcting anything. On his advice, I purchased a Peloton back in January. With my first ride on the 15th, I had no idea if it was going to stick. I have tried many activities before, but none really got into the habit to make any material difference.

For some reason the Peloton, with its deluged of data, succeeded where others failed, with the metrics below speaking for themselves. I purchased a heart monitor to go with it, which is a game changer, as it shows just how much effort you are putting in to get to where you need to go. The data has shown my heart is indeed stronger 12 months later, with my average output sitting at 350 for a 30 minute ride – compare that to my first ride out at 205. As I crossed the 50 threshold late in the year, I can honestly say, I have never been in better shape – thank you Cody!


I have been tracking everything I watch for the last 5 years now, and 2022 was no different. Between movies and TV, I consumed 278 different shows, compared to the 184 in 2021 (2020 has the highest with 405 – must have been some sort of global pandemic or something to have me at home consuming so much).

My top 5 rated movies of 2022 :

  1. Elvis
    Being a huge Elvis fan (son and I made a pilgrimage to Graceland in ’21) I was hoping it would not disappoint, and I can say, even after the 5th time watching (twice in the cinema), Baz Luhrmann hit it out of the park with his story telling and the new remixes of the classic tunes.
  2. Thirteen Lives
    The story of the Thailand football team being trapped in the caves, Ron Howard, once again cements he can transform a true life story. I knew the story, but it was edge of your seat stuff throughout.
  3. Bullet Train
    Where the hell did this come from? It hit us like a bullet train! With a whole “Snatch/GuyRitchie” feel, this kept us entertained from start to finish. The witty dialogue is what pulls you in.
  4. Top Gun: Maverick
    I mean what is there not to like; Cruise played to the audience, plucking at every single string from the original and doing it in a way that never disappointed. This could have gone so wrong, but never put a foot wrong.
  5. Against the Ice
    Now this surprised us, the true story of two explorers as their fight to survive in Greenland as they look to map out the area. Went into it, knowing nothing, but was captivated throughout. The book to which it is based on, is waiting for me to read.

As to what made it to the bottom of the list, there was a number of turkeys, but the biggest disappointment was the new Avatar. I was bored senseless, and the complete lack of story didn’t help. Every single thing that happened could have been prevented if the kids did what their parents told them!


On to the TV side of things. What a year for great drama. I have excluded series that are beyond their first season, but Slow Horses and Succession are just getting better as each one moves on.

My top 5 new TV series of 2022 are:

  1. SAS Rogue Heros
    The “true” dramatization of the forming of the British SAS, with a huge amount of dramatic license taken, but enough to keep it anchored in reality. Extremely funny and witty.
  2. House of the Dragon
    It took a few episodes to get going, but once I finally allowed myself to buy in to Matt Smith’s character, it delivered, to the point where you were itching to get to the next episode.
  3. Reacher
    Amazon nailed this version of Reacher, which is completely different from the Tom Cruise movie version.
  4. The Guilded Age
    Julian Fellowes goes stateside for his Downtown Abbey version, and delivers with the right level of upper crust snobbery in a new world, wrestling with new money over inherited money. Captivating.
  5. Karen Pirie
    Her from Outlander – yes, this is another one that came out of no-where and proved to be a great detective series set in Scotland.

Notable mentions going to Brassic, which while in the 4th season now, only recently discovered and it is tears-running-down-cheeks funny. This was also the year we discovered Endeavour (the prequel to Inspector Morse) and it was brilliant (though I could listen to Roger Allam read the telephone book).


I keep a YouTube playlist for each year too, adding any tune that catches my ear throughout the year. While not formally ranked, the top 5 tunes that found themselves being repeated more than they probably should have been:

  1. Primal Scream – Moving On Up (Glastonbury 2022)
  2. U2, Leonard Cohen – Tower of Song
  3. Lady Gaga – Hold My Hand (Top Gun soundtrack)
  4. Elvis Presley – Trouble/Guitar Man (’68 comeback special)
  5. Macklemore – Chant

The Elvis OST featured heavily in my repeated listens, and continues to do so. I also added a lot of vinyl to my collection (as I have blogged historically), nearly rounding out the full catalogue of my favorite Leonard Cohen.

Gadget of the year

While I didn’t buy it last year, the reMarkable tablet continues to prove its investment. I love it. I use it all the time with all my meetings, muses and doodles captured there.

I have been reading a lot of books, and I switched over from the Kindle to the Kobo Libra, which I picked up second hand on eBay for a steal. I find it nicer than the Kindle and easier to consume content from outside of the Amazon eco-system.

I love my DeWalt power tools, particularly the 24v battery powered ones. I keep an eye on all the deals going on to add to my already overburdened collection. Though the one that had everyone say “why on earth did you buy that“, then proved its worth many times over, was the DeWalt 24v fan. This little beauty was mocked upon first arrival, but soon became the darling of the family.

It kept us cool in the hot summer and featured heavily in our wedding in July in our garden. If you look closely, it was behind Kelley and I and Pastor Tom, cooling us while we exchanged our vows. When the power went out for a night due to a summer storm, it ran throughout the night, keeping our guests cool.

This is the one that claims the gadget of the year award from me.


This was also the year I got my book finished and released online (best seller online at Manning for a number of months – so pleased with that result). 2023 will see it go into print, so excited to get it physically in my hands.

My career changed direction, when I joined New Harbor Capital as Partner, heading up the Portfolio Operations Group providing technology guidance and leadership to our portfolios. As with every new challenge in ones career, it should always be the hardest so far, otherwise you are not growing. This one is proving that, but thoroughly enjoying each day.

I also got to go to the Cayman Islands for the first time in my life, and while I am not a beach/sand person, I have to admit, I thoroughly enjoyed sitting under the tiki hut, with my bluetooth speaker and reMarkable tablet, as I wrote the final chapters of my book. I will confess to kicking and screaming prior, but Kelley (as usual) proved right to drag me to that wonderous place which was basically the UK in the sun (I loved it!).

Looking at 2023

As I look at 2023, I have a number of resolutions or goals I want to go after. I want to spend more quality time with my beautiful wife. I find myself enjoying more time away from the keyboard and weekends I love piddling in the garage whether that is a little woodturning or fixing/maintaining stuff (you know the sort of stuff my father would be proud of).

I wish to continue looking after my body, or as my Dr says “keeping the old man away” and focusing some “me” time so I am here for many years to come. The Peloton will help me there, and I will continue to knock out the daily miles.

I would like to get my motorbikes license this year, which is just a 2 day course. I had it in the UK, so this is just a formality. I have the helmet/gloves already to go just need to book it. I would like to get an adventure trail bike (the type that Ewan McGregor/Charlie Borman uses in Long Way round). I have my eye on one already – just need to be in a position I can legally ride it.

As the infamous line in the “Always sunscreen” song beautifully states, “The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that Never crossed your worried mind“. Who knows what ’23 is going to throw at us, but instead of worrying about it, I am going to try and put good into the world (something my inspirational wife lives by), and when the shit does hit the fan, I hope I am prepared to deal whatever comes with grace and composure.

Here is to ’23 – I am ready.

Compassionomics ~ book review

How a little compassion can transform a whole industry and lift the lives of millions in the process.

It is fair to say that I would never have picked up this book had it not been for the executive leadership at one of our portfolios who spoke highly of it. Transformative they said, wait until Chapter 8 they said. They were not wrong.

The premise of the book is simple – if the patient truly believes the provider has their best interests at heart, genuinely caring about the outcome, then the patient will have a measured improvement, including taking the providers advice as well as maintaining any prescriptions.

Sounds easy doesn’t it? Yet anyone that has been through the healthcare system, will know only too well, which providers treated you like a number, and which ones treated you like a human.

The book is packed full of stories (both patient and provider) and research data illustrating how a little compassion can make a huge difference all around. This includes the provider. Forget the stereotype of grumpy old doctor, research has shown that compassion both given and received has a net improvement all around, including aiding with reducing burnout in providers.

As for Chapter 8 – was it worth it? You bet. The authors outline, through a series of independent studies, that the extra time required by a provider to show the patient some compassion was only 40 seconds on average. Yes, that is all it took, to change the dynamic between doctor and patience.

One of the interesting observations that came out a number of times throughout the book, is how the perception of the doctor, caring, has changed through the years. We used to have the image of the doctor, intently caring, listening to everything we say and do, while they come up with their diagnosis.

Nowadays however, that perception has changed, to where we the patient only see the Doctors back, as they type furiously into their EHR software, or searching up symptoms, with the continued feeling that the patient is intruding or getting in the way. This is not showing compassion.

The authors show, again through many different studies, how the lack of compassion is costing us all much extra cost – misdiagnosis and wasted prescriptions that are ignored are some of the reasons. There is so many eye-popping statistics scattered throughout, that to repeat them here, would only spoil it.

While the book is solely focused on the healthcare industry, there is no doubt, the findings from it, can be applied to any industry. How compassion can come in many different forms and be applied in many different ways, with no real formulae or set of rules to simply follow.

Overall, a thoroughly enjoyable book, easily paced with lots of relatable stories, especially if you have been (or had a family member) recently go through the healthcare system.

If you prefer to listen to a podcast episode, with the authors themselves, they were on Freakonomics a couple of years back.

People are leaking their RDS database backups

Researchers discovered incompetence when handling AWS RDS database backups, exposing them on the public network for anyone to take

File this under “Disheartening that we are still seeing this“. AWS has this feature where you can make your RDS backups public, making it easy to share them with other AWS accounts to spin up new database instances. Doesn’t mean you should though.

Research team over at MITIGA have published a very exhaustive look at their analysis on how they discovered not only a huge amount of publicly available data backups, but of those, an alarmingly large amount of them that had Personally Identifiable Information (PII) data.

We wouldn’t even call this hacking. Incompetent cloud engineers have packaged up the complete database, and left it out on the doorstep for anyone, passing by, who is interested in it. No need to worry about breaching firewalls, network layers, or even guessing at username/password combinations.

The article’s statistics are demoralizing to anyone in the cloud and security space.

  • The total number of snapshots seen in this month (Oct 22) was 2,783
  • Of those 2,783 snapshots, 810 snapshots were exposed during the analyzed timeframe
  • Additionally, 1,859 snapshots of the 2,783 were exposed for just 1-to-2 days

There simply is no excuse for this sloppy and incompetent practice. It demonstrates a complete lack of respect for security and instead of going down the path of securing with IAM roles, they just thought it easier to make it public. Ease of use I am sure, they said to themselves, convincing themselves no one will know.

As the old saying, with great power comes great responsibility. Learn the tools. We need more name and shaming so people start taking this more serious. Don’t just name the company, but the head of security or cloud that allowed this to happen under their watch.

To read the full report head on over to MITIGA

What makes a great product manager by James Hamilton

What makes a great product by AWS guru James Hamilton

James Hamilton, a true computing legend who has architected many revolutionary things over at AWS that us mere mortals can only dream and be in awe of. I have followed him for many years, and have always taken the attitude – when James talks, you listen.

I have come across many product managers in our portfolios over the years, some good, some poor, and some that shouldn’t be anywhere near the product. This is a hard role to get right or even define properly, but you know it, when you see it done right.

James has a great take on what it takes to be a great product manager especially inside of AWS. I would caution though, that I am going to assume he is referring to the great managers that design their core AWS products, and not the ones in charge of the AWS Console (it is getting better, but it still feels like an after thought, a reluctant layer put on top of what is already a great API).

If you ever find yourself with some time on your hands, and would like to get a peak under the covers at AWS, then do a YouTube search for the sessions that James has given at re:Invent over the years. Mind blowing some of the things they have done to get the performance, scale and uptime out of AWS that we all rely on.

Read his take on Product Managers here.

Adrift America in 100 Charts ~ book review

Prof G’s latest book details the state of the country through 100 charts, each one powerfully presented and creating a lot of stroky-chin moments.

Scott Galloway’s latest book, “Adrift”, is not really a book in the traditional sense – its longest run of prose is maybe 3 pages. Instead the book is a collection of 100 thought provoking charts, with only the minimal of commentary preceding each one. The reason for this I can imagine is that the charts speak and deliver more of a punch any words could ever muster.

Due to this rather unique format, the book lends itself to being opened up and be instantly consumable no matter what page you land on. Though, for maximum impact, one should really read the charts in each section sequentially as they build the narrative, even though the sections can be read out of order.

The charts themselves are not difficult to digest, presenting data, in a variety of styles and formats to illustrate the growth or decline of the American economy.

Any frequent listener/reader of Prof G’s output will know he doesn’t pull any punches and is not scared to say the things we’re all no doubt thinking, but this time, backed with historical data. Statements such as “social media are enragement platforms” noting then in a number of charts, how our young are getting further isolated from one another, and how this is creating future societal problems. Or how major universities are hedge funds masquerading as educational intuitions, but being taxed as the former.

The book isn’t all doom and gloom, there is much hope and cause for celebration. As he noted “nothing is that wrong in American that can’t be fixed with what is right in America” (quote attributed to President Clinton) but to start the correction, one has to first acknowledge where the system is failing, where the inequalities lay, and how small changes can start to make a difference.

Well worth the read, and given its unique format, makes ideal toilet room material.

The touch of Music

Vinyl records are more than just scratchy reproductions of sounds

I grew up in the world of cassettes and vinyl records where the only virtual alternative was the local AM/FM radio station. The logistics of consuming music in that way, was frankly tedious, expensive and fraught with danger; single bump could ruin a perfectly beautiful album.

Yet that is all we had. So when digital music arrived (hands up who went through the LimeWire/Napster period) it was more than a breath of fresh air. It was a revolution, allowing us to not worry about our car stereo chewing up the tape if we played it too often, or to play the track we wanted having to wade through a whole album of content just to get to track 7.

Limewire circa 2000

Yet, as I get older with over 20 years of digital music amassed, I wonder what I really have to pass onto the next generation. Will my son’s look up my old WinAmp (exactly!) playlists and fondly think of their father and his wild tastes? Of course not. Such memories will be lost forever. Spotify/YTMusic/Plex/iTunes playlists are for a moment, not a lasting legacy.

When my mother died a couple of years ago, I found myself a drift a little, like most sons do when they lose such a pivotal figure in their lives. As I was going through boxes, I discovered my old records that I collected as a teenager. In there was a couple of my mothers records and then it hit me. Here I was touching something that connected me with her – it wasn’t just an Elvis Presley album, it was the ACTUAL Elvis album mother would put on, while doing the ironing while we played around her feet. The sounds wasn’t a digital copy, but a result of the actual grooves in the physical format making the needle bounce up and down, reproducing the same sounds she enjoyed so often.

It was recreating a moment in time.

There was more. Records need housing. This packaging, there to secure the core offering, is donned with beautiful artwork, sometimes with notes, or lyrics all to make up an experience. The same experience that is recreated every time you slide out the vinyl record prior to spinning. It is here, I discovered some hidden gems. My mother, who at the time annoyed me she would graffiti my beautiful record, with the date and time.

Queen; A Night at the Opera – Gifted after passing my high school exams July 1998

Yet what my pimpled, testosteronal teenage self couldn’t fathom, was that my mother was creating a legacy for me.

Sitting there going through all my (and her) old records, I noticed all the little notes she left, some have faded forever lost, I finally realized the true value of this medium. Forget all the bullshit about superior fidelity, or richer/fuller sound. It was about packaging up an emotion and feeling that only music can bring someone, in a physical format that can be enjoyed for years to come. Something the digital format can never come close to delivering.

Ed Sheeran + Gifted Christmas 2020

For the first time, I fell in love with vinyl. 30 years ago it was a necessity, now it was emotional. Yet this new love affair was going to be more than just amassing a large collection. Oh no. Each album was going to be carefully curated and chosen based on the feelings it evoked.

When I add a vinyl to my collection, it isn’t a purchase. I see it more as a lease, a temporary hold if you will. I see it as capturing a moment, a sequence of emotions, to package up and pass onto the next generation. I want my sons to know, when they pick it up, that their old man enjoyed not only that song, but that ACTUAL song. Just as I did with my mother.

One Christmas, my son asked what I would like, and seeing how I was building up a collection, records would be an easy win for that year. While I supported this, I did hit him with a couple of conditions. I asked that he only buy a record that he knew that we both enjoyed, and secondly, he sign it personally with the date and the occasion. Upon receiving the gift, I said that I wasn’t taking ownership of it, merely holding onto it, to enjoy listening to it until such times I was no longer walking this planet and he would take it back under his stewardship.

I listen to music every day. Even in a video conference meeting, there will be music playing in the background, only loud enough I can hear. That is digital music.

Often though, I push the keyboard away, and go and make a point of spinning up some vinyl’s, taking the time and effort to truly switch off from the screen and allow myself to be immersed in the sound produced by that needle bouncing around the grooves. Reconnecting with memories and creating new ones along the way.

I love the physical tactile experience that playing records brings me, upon an evening, with a glass of single malt, just enjoying where the mood takes me.

My advice – get yourself a record player and start spinning up some memories.

BTW I make no apology for my Leonard Cohen records 😉