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.

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.

Isolation – things I have discovered

Now on my 6th week of isolation (self after a trip to Scotland, then forced isolation), I have discovered a few things about myself.

Now on my 6th week of isolation (self after a trip to Scotland, then forced isolation), I have discovered a few things about myself.

  1. I was under the impression I was not a people person, but I miss people (hopefully a temporary side effect)
  2. Being continually with ones loved one has not been anywhere as bad as some have it; we purposely keep apart during the day and make a point of pretending to come from work around 6ish to keep some normality
  3. Doing laundry way more often than I probably need to
  4. Reduced monthly credit-card spend dramatically by getting rid of a lot of unnecessary subscriptions
  5. Netflix, Amazon Prime and YouTubeTV are great online services, but very easy to get fatigued by each, so need the variety to rotate around them all is required
  6. On that, Star Trek TNG is as old to me now, as the original series was when TNG came out; (play the spot the Picard memes game)
  7. Deleting and not listening to downloaded podcasts does not make you a bad person
  8. Not watching as many movies as I would have hoped; can’t seem to concentrate on them as well as I use to
  9. BBC is one of the few news sources that does not sensationalize the news
  10. Find myself doing a lot more DIY jobs around the house (cleaned the gutters the other day)
  11. Nibbling from the kitchen has to stop, but not found an effective way to curtail that activity (Cadbury’s chocolate supply is perilously close to zero)
  12. Finally using all those soaps/shampoos collected from hotels over the years (don’t need to worry about that running low anytime soon)
  13. Video calls is way quicker and easier than writing an email
  14. Speaking of that, double chins are a fact of life (thank you video calls)
  15. Enjoying listening to the good old fashioned radio again (bandwidth free), reminds me there still is a world outside
  16. Saving a small fortune by not eating out for lunch
  17. Reading books again; dusted off my old kindle and enjoying the ideas being sparked
  18. Now that I am home, find myself talking to the dog while she spends the morning with me. (she then goes and spends afternoon with my loved one, so maybe I am talking too much. Noted).
  19. Invest in a good headset; makes said video calls way easier
  20. Amazon Chime really does blow chunks; yet another half-a-release from Amazon, I am sure it will be good in 18 months like most of their AWS offerings
  21. Google Meet continually impresses; it just works, no software required
  22. Jackbox.tv has been a surprise amusement for remote family time
  23. While video calls are great it is way harder to multi-task like you use to on conference calls
  24. Everyone wants to be your connection on LinkedIn (clearly a lot of random ‘connect’ clicking going on as people are either bored or desperate for leads)
  25. Tiger King on Netflix (no more than that needs to be said – only in America eh?)
  26. “Hello, I am your man Steve Harvey” seem to be addicted to our lunchtime show; (YouTubeTV archives has a lot to answer for)

Let us see how this looks at the 12th week mark.

3 simple guidelines to protect our ever connected ‘smart’ device universe

As we become more beholden to companies to keep our smart devices functioning long after purchase date, I propose 3 guidelines to address this imbalance and risk.

Smart devices. They are everywhere. Even if you don’t read a single online article, a walk around your local BestBuy, Target or Walmart you can’t but help seeing the growing aisles of devices promising to make your life that little bit easier.

From thermostats, garage doors, security (?) cameras, door locks, bulbs, wall outlets, dimmer switches, drip-monitors to even smoke-alarms they are all vying for our attention in our Internet connected world. This is before we get to the countless consumer devices, like the swarm of voice activated plastic towers (yes, i am looking at you Amazon and Google), baby-monitors to pet-monitors (and one where you can play laser tag with your kitty while you are away). I could go on, but I think you get my point — everything is getting the Internet-Of-Things treatment.


Back in the day, we bought a device, plugged it in, and it performed the duty it said on the box. No fuss no nonsense. No apps to install, no Wi-Fi to configure, no 3rd party service to sign-up to and blindly agree to the terms’n’conditions. No matter what happened to that company or to the network, the device would still do what it was meant to do. I still have the same music deck that I went to university with over 28 years ago. However, as I look around at the various devices I have been seduced into buying, I wonder if they will make it past the year, let alone generational.

We are increasingly relying on a whole ecosystem to stay alive for our devices to be useful. Alexa becomes an ornament when the Internet or Amazon is down. Nest is just a wall-light when Google has a problem. It is not limited to the company staying in profit, we also have to be nice to the company, just in-case they lock us out as a punishment (see the story of the Garadgetsmart locking out a poor reviewer from their own home).

What if a company changes direction? Your investment in all these gadgets are now at risk (Logitech has decided that Harmony Hub is no longer viable bricking a whole bunch of universal remotes).

I have my own personal story — I was locked out of my own home because Tesla put out a software upgrade and broke the garage opener functionality that I was relying on. Two weeks later it was all back to normal after a fix to fix the fix.

Every morning I wake up and if things are still working then it is a good morning — it could all change in a second as each device relies on power, network, service and reliable software. Way too many factors — it is amazing the bloody thing works at all.


We need far more redundancy and stability in this ecosystem. We need confidence in the devices we are buying.

With that I am proposing are the following three guidelines for a consumer charter:

  1. Initial cost $0
    Hardware that relies on a back-end to function, should be free ($0) to purchase. Charge a small monthly subscription to cover all costs.
  2. Minimum 5 year life from date of purchase
    Full refund if the device stops performing it’s duty within 5 years due to a company changing direction. This should be backed by an insurance policy that the company takes out to cover in-case of insolvency.
  3. Open Platform
    Let devices be controlled by a 3rd party solution. Open up your API’s to allow alternatives to take over should you fail to do yours. Allow me to manage everything from one portal.

We need to get a handle on this. We are investing huge sums of money into an industry that is predicated on obsolescent and we’re being held hostage to the whims of a corporate entity whose only goal is to squeeze as much profit from us as possible.

Next time you are about to buy that smart device, read the small print, see what relationship you are entering into, the risk you are taking on and ask yourself if the brand you see before you will still be around in 2, 5, 10 years time.

Otherwise, you just might be buying a pretty piece of plastic art.

Update 5th Dec: Google have disabled YouTube on Amazon’s Alexa Show product.  YouTube on Alexa was a heavily marketed reason to purchase the voice-activated assistant.  Another area where the consumer has little to no recourse on the functionality disappearing from their product.  Imagine your microwave suddenly refusing to reheat your pizza because of a legal dispute.  This is our new world.