2019 in review

A look back over my 2019.

2019 in review

2019 was an interesting year for me, with a trip abroad, new members of the family and more opportunities to give talks and lectures.  A quick run-down of my year - as much for my reference as anything else.  I managed 52 blog posts this year, although not quite at a rate of one a week and posts varied in length.

Public speaking, lectures & workshops

I was flattered to be invited back for the second cyber security conference at Canterbury Christ Church University in January.  The theme was "emerging cyberspace challenges and solutions" and I talked about how the increasingly wide knowledge gap, between various parts of the industry, was an emerging challenge.  You can see my slides here.

It was also a privilege to be able to talk to Christ Church University students about the challenges of security in the enterprise and for governments.  This lecture looked at some network topologies, how important it was to define "normal" for your environment, and the challenges of securing email.  From memory only a third of the group attended the nine o'clock lecture, which was sad.

Christ Church also partner with East Kent College (EKC), a local secondary education provider.  I ran a hands on workshop for EKC, taking around 20 students through penetration testing and vulnerability management.  Feedback from the workshop was great so I hope to run another one of those.

Me presenting at one of the workshops.
Me presenting at one of the workshops.

In October I spoke at local tech meetup CodeHarbour about the challenges and things I'd learnt while developing eVitabu.  Slides are here.  CodeHarbour meetups happen roughly once a month in either Folkestone or Canterbury (Kent, England) and feature talks from various areas of the tech industry.  The events are free, often with free pizza and a drink (if you register) so it's worth coming along.

More eVitabu work

eVitabu saw more development work and I was pleased to be able to spend two weeks on the project full time.  (Blog posts about those for February and July parts one and two).  There are more exciting things coming for eVitabu in 2020 and I'm looking forward to another dev week.


It's fair to say I found this year quite frustrating and stressful at work.  The team was understaffed until July which lead to me doing lots of support tickets but not working on anything more interesting (projects), and I confess this took its toll on me.  From April we were under threat of restructure and, eventually, it was decided that some IT functions would be returned to the clients while the rest remained in shared service.  Morale at work was the lowest I've ever seen it and the human impact of the restructure's uncertainty (finally unveiled at the end of October) was left unchecked.

On the plus side, possibly my highlight of the (work) year, I and a colleague ran a "network defenders training day" for the public sector organisations in the area.  Hosted at the University of Kent, the delegates hacked in our lab to find pieces of a recipe.  A minor snag (I had forgotten to configure one of my VM's network settings after import) meant one piece of the puzzle was unobtainable for most teams, but other than that the day was a great success.

Photograph of the network defenders day.
Photograph of the network defenders day.

The result of our restructure was the loss of six good people and quite a rejig.  I've moved roles and am now the Deputy Senior Information Security Officer, which should be exciting.

Air travel

For my wife's birthday we took a trip in a helicopter - a shout out to Polar Helicopters in Manston for looking after us and making it a really enjoyable trip.  Our ride was 45 minutes long and we managed to get from Manston to Canterbury and back, seeing sights such as Canterbury Cathedral and the Reculver Towers.

The city of Canterbury from the air, including the Cathedral (top right).
The city of Canterbury from the air, including the Cathedral (top right).

Our family holiday took us to New York and overall it was a good trip.  Central Park is huge, much bigger than we'd expected, with many children's play areas (with fountains) and a number of walks.  My highlight of the week was meeting singer songwriter David Ippolito as he played on Saturday.  It was great to join the groups of people on "the hill" as he played his set.


It's been an expensive year for technology purchases, having acquired a Fitbit Versa, mechanical keyboard and a Chromebook.  Hopefully these devices will last me a good number of years.

As regular readers will know, I'm a keen user of fountain pens and I bought a Waterman Carène and TWSBI Eco Crystal recently.  The Eco has been my workhorse pen for work (it has a massive ink capacity) and I'm hoping the Carène will become my main writer at home.  Sadly it's back off to Paris for repair after it was damaged during a nib swap at the factory.  I purchased my fountain pens at The Writing Desk in Bury St Edmunds - they provided a fantastic service and I recommend them to you.

Hacktoberfest 2019

I participated in Hacktoberfest again although didn't contribute as much as I'd hoped.  I've started early planning with a friend to host a Hacktoberfest event next year - if you're interested please keep an eye on my Twitter feed.

2020 - the year ahead

I have a number of posts planned for 2020: some "how to" posts for networking, more on development and security topics and I'd like to do a series on retro computing.  It'd be great to have you join me for 2020.

Banner image: "tango office calendar", from OpenClipart.org, by .