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.

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 😉

Stop it with .. “world famous”

The next phrase on my silly rant list is “world famous”. no clue what is trying to be sold to me here when I read such a lofty claim

As I continue my completely irrelevant rants at every day phrases that surround us, the next phrase that deserves more than a cursory taking to the wood shed over its complete lack of meaning, is the classic “world famous”.  This one is often seen frequenting food establishments (including food trucks) with such lofty claims that one of their particular dishes, is renowned world over.


To which world are we referring to here?  The actual world, aka Planet Earth, or just their own wee world of a few blocks?

When it comes to claiming “world famous” I would say only a few of the bigger retail brands can truly stand up.  How often have you seen a photo from some remote desert place, or shanty town, to still see a beat up ‘Coca Cola’ sign hanging somewhere.  Now that is world famous.

Maybe it is simply aspirational – the hope that if enough people come from all over, on a pilgrimage to eat at the alter they too will find the unique joy that such a dish will bring and take it on with them, proselytizing to all those they come in contact with just how good that pizza, hot dog, chili, whatever was.

Personally I am confused as to what I am to gleam from this bold claim.  What are you really trying to tell me?

We should maybe consider instead “locally known to be quite good”.   This is way more believable than laying claim that it is “world famous”, because someone from out of country happened to breeze in one day, eat a dish, and tweet about it.

Keep it real people.

Stop it with the .. “Unlimited”

Start of a new mini series of harmless rants focused around words/phrases that have crept into our lives that have lost their original punch.

Start of a new mini series of harmless rants focused around words/phrases that have crept into our lives that have lost their original punch, leaving us wondering what will they be replaced by when we actually need to express the emotion of the word/phrase in question.

The first one, that came up in a LinkedIn thread is the wonderful marketing word “unlimited”.  We all know it rarely means unlimited, as there is usually a little asterisk, pointing us to somewhere indicating there is indeed a limit.  Yet, we have come to accept it.

Give you an example, I have a Verizon “unlimited” data plan. Hurrah. Cancel that home Comcast cable as I can pull everything through my 4G antenna. Whoa there hos, not so quick. Read the fine print, and discover it is really limited, as it is full speed up to a given “reasonable usage” mark then you will be speed throttled. What is the point in seducing us with such a blatant lie in the first place? Already our relationship is off to a rocky start.

We see this everywhere around us.

Cloud computing is another one that slips into this marketing lie. With such phrases as “unlimited storage” or “unlimited compute”. Now, anyone with half a brain, that gives it more than a passing thought, knows this is completely impractical as no matter how much disk space there is available, some fool, some where, will be filling it up.

To some of the bigger cloud players credit, I have noticed a shift in tone, to phrases like “near unlimited like storage”. Like telling you a lie, but winking at the same time, hoping you forget the word “near”.

Where it popped up in LinkedIn was around a conversation about that wonderful HR benefit lie propagated by some companies in and around “unlimited vacation”. Makes absolutely no sense. Yet we take it, assume there is some fine print, and buy in to the myth.

Stop it.

Push back. Instead of saying “unlimited”, just say “a lot“, or even better be honest, and proclaim “probably more than you will ever need“. That will resonate way more and get us on the right start.

What “unlimited” phrase have you spotted that has had you rolling your eyes at?

Productive Time Management

This week I played with the Pomodoro time management technique to see if it would improve throughput. Results are encouraging.

My typical day can be classified into 3 buckets; client interactions, writing and project work (with includes coding). It is very easy to get distracted as the events of the day transpire naturally.

I usually keep all non-essential emails to the evening when I am at home, where I will respond when the stresses of the day are behind me. I enjoy that part of the time and I am disciplined to leave an email unread until times I am ready to action it.

This previous week though, I have tried something a little different, to see if productivity can be improved if I dedicate blocks of time to a given task. I have started out with one hour blocks.  Setting a timer in Google I then focus on a given bucket, awaiting for the obnoxious noise telling me times up.

This is commonly known as the Pomodoro technique, while I am not following its complete rule set, the spirit of it has been embraced.

Overall the experiment has worked very well, particularly when it comes to writing. I discovered I wrote a lot more with improved quality. I think I can put that down to the fact that I was given license to not only ignore everything else that may come in, but to also know that my writing time was fixed, so it wasn’t that I was looking at a document trying to find the words for the whole day.

As for project work, an hour is probably not quite long enough. I will play with time frames to see if that improves. There is work that you need to get your head into, an hour is just not enough time for some of the more complex problems you look to attack.

I will continue this experiment for a little longer, but early results are encouraging.

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.