2023 in review

2023: back in action, in more ways than one.

Five conferences

After a three year break, I spoke at five conferences in the last twelve months:

  • RubyConf Thailand — a wonderful second edition of this event, the chance to share Hanami 2 on the stage for the first time, and first-time in person hangs with another Buildkiter!
  • RubyConf AU — a joyous reunion for my home community. Good to be back, and positive signs for the future. Met many Buildkiters in person here!
  • Brighton Ruby — I’ve admired Andy and this event for the longest time. To attend and contribute a talk was a dream come true.
  • RubyConf — my first time at the US-based RubyConf, and a brilliant time all around: made new friends, had many great conversations, and got to work with some first-time Hanami contributors during the hack day!
  • RubyConf Taiwan — What a revelation! A whole thriving Ruby community I had no idea about, and a conference was chock-a-block with interesting talks. Being able to keynote opposite Matz was a real honour.

I’d commend any of these conferences to you, and I hope to get back to each of them in the future.

Being able to talk at so many events was definitely not my plan at the outset of the year! But one thing led to another, and I just rolled with it. It was a pleasure to share Hanami with people in so many places.

One thing I appreciated over this period was the chance to refine my method of introducing Hanami, and moreover, how I deliver conference talks in general. I’m very happy with how this ended up. I ended the year giving two very different presentations, each in their own way imbuing the audience (I hope!) with a sense of both whimsy and possibility: one involved song and dance, and the other, a surprise costume reveal!

Delivering “Livin’ la Vida Hanami” at RubyConf 2023

After “Quest of the Rubyist” at RubyConf Taiwan 2023

A near-release of Hanami

Back at the end of 2021, we made a big push to get Hanami 2.0 released before I made it to RubyConf Thailand, and we succeeded!

I then spent all of 2022 working towards Hanami 2.1, which would introduce our view layer and a completely new approach to handling assets. As RubyConf approached in November, we attempted to do the same thing, to use the conference as motivation and make a big push to get the release out. I spent 2+ months working every night and weekend towards this, and we got so close, but didn’t quite make it.

Just two days before my talk, while I was already at the conference, we discovered what turned out to a release-blocking issue with our front end assets compilation. After a scramble at various stopgap fixes, we decided nothing would quite cut the mustard, and deferred the release. This was disappointing, but was the best choice for the project. After a break over Christmas, I’m now ready to take a final pass at this and make the right choices for the future.

Given this, I hope for 2024 to be a big two-release year for Hanami, with 2.1 happening next month, followed by 2.2 whenever it’s ready.

Family trips!

Once the Brighton Ruby opportunity came up, we decided to make the most of it and turn it into a family trip to Europe, our first overseas trip in the post-2020 era. It was an excellent time. We got to spend a bonus summer across Brighton, London, Paris, Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Brussels. The kids travelled very well, and we all can’t wait to do it again.

We also took a few nice road trips over the year, visiting Orange, Wagga Wagga, and ending the year with a relaxing week over Christmas in a house at Bawley Point.

Work at Buildkite

I had a good year at Buildkite. I spent the year in the same team I joined in 2022. Early in the year we hired some folks and brought the team to its full complement. Everyone is lovely, and we put in some great work towards four different quarterly releases.

I reached my first “bikkiversary” milestone in July, I joined an active on-call roster for the first time, I helped establish some clear direction for our future in front end development, and ended the year acting as an engineering manager, just to help keep things steady while my existing manager took some leave. Every one of these has been a pleasure. I’m continually humbled by the talent that surrounds me at Buildkite, and I’m looking forward to another year of learning.

Best of all, we gathered for our BIPOP (Buildkite In-Person On-site Party; yes, we love acronyms), our whole-company event in Cairns. This was a blast.


I read 22 books. In order:

  • Distress, Greg Egan
  • Sea of Tranquility, Emily St. John Mandel
  • The Water Knife, Paolo Bacigalupi
  • Shards of Earth, Adrian Tchaikovsky
  • Eyes of the Void, Adrian Tchaikovsky
  • The Thousand Earths, Stephen Baxter
  • Eversion, Alastair Reynolds
  • Lords of Uncreation, Adrian Tchaikovsky
  • Fractal Noise, Christopher Paolini
  • Me, Ricky Martin
  • Ancillary Justice, Ann Leckie
  • Ancillary Sword, Ann Leckie
  • Ancillary Mercy, Ann Leckie
  • Provenance, Ann Leckie
  • Translation State, Ann Leckie
  • Creation Node, Stephen Baxter
  • The Spare Man, Mary Robinette Kowal
  • Some Desperate Glory, Emily Tesh
  • Fugitive Telemetry, Martha Wells
  • System Collapse, Martha Wells
  • Fourth Wing, Rebecca Yarros
  • Iron Flame, Rebecca Yarros

I enjoyed them all! Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Final Architecture trilogy was thrilling, and discovering Ann Leckie’s Imperial Radch world was a true wonder: I’m so glad I got to binge all five stories together. It was a joy to revisit Murderbot with the most recent two books, and I don’t think I’ve read anything faster than I did Fourth Wing while hanging around a coast house at Christmas.

This year I also figured out my ideal e-reading situation. It’s the iPad mini, and Apple’s Books app in particular. Nothing beats its responsiveness and ease of use. And the iPad mini helps with the occasional tech book I read too. And thanks to Calibre and the Obok plugin, I can also buy books from Kobo and get them into Apple Books in short order.

Assorted things

  • We ended the year by giving the kids (9 & 7) each their own bedrooms. My desk/office is once again located next to my bed. Given I did this for three years already in our previous apartment, I expect this to work out well enough.
  • I started using the Retro app to share photos with a small group of friends. It’s brilliant! It has me sharing photos much more regularly, and helped me end the year with a nice collection of memories.
  • Thanks to several long plane rides, I did a decent amount of movie watching. Notables: No Time to Die (sob), Shotgun Wedding (fun), Jules (surprising), and Indy 5 (a triumph). Best soundtracks? Tetris, The Thomas Crown Affair.
  • I continue to pay attention to the little computer on my wrist telling me to exercise, though this unfortunately wavered towards the end of the year during my crunch on Hanami and conference talks.
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