Each year I try to look back on the year that was, partly as an aide de memoir for myself, and partly because someone else might find it interesting. Twenty twenty was a very strange year so this post isn't exactly going to be in chronological order.
The year started well
January and February were the quiet before the storm. I attended and spoke at Christ Church's conference, towards a safe and secure smart world, for which you can find my summary here. I'd been starting to think about smart homes and the Internet of Things and my talk was titled IoT: Are you safe after a breakup? (slides here). Sadly that was my only in-person speaking engagement of 2020.
Following our restructure I moved from being a Network & Security Engineer to the Deputy Senior Information Security Officer. I've had a keen interest in information security for years, and have lectured in it, so this was a good move for me. Despite the increase of homeworking I didn't see a massive increase in security incidents (I had visions of people printing at home and losing paperwork) which was quite reassuring.
Sadly not the boardgame. Unless you've been hiding in a sealed bunker somewhere you'll know that the world was hit with Coronavirus / Covid-19, which promptly became a pandemic. Workplaces across the UK closed, dispersing their staff to work from home. Schools closed for all except vulnerable and key worker children as the government declared a national lockdown. No going out or mixing except to get food, medical supplies, work (if you can't work from home), or for exercise (initially "once per day").
Places of worship across the country closed too, with the closure of churches affecting me personally. All of a sudden we had to move our services online and I'm pleased to say we hit the ground running on that front. My church's YouTube channel has over 100 videos ranging from services to children's resources. Oh, I was elected as a church Elder (charity trustee) in November too.
In early July our lockdown ended and different rules came into place - people could mix again and some workplaces allowed staff to return. It wasn't to last though, with infection rates rising meaning another lockdown followed around Christmas time.
My love of fountain pens continued and I bought three in 2020. The first two, a TWSBI Vac 700R and a Pilot Capless / Vanishing Point, I justified as "supporting a small business" (the fantastic Writing Desk in Bury St Edmunds). My third pen was a second hand Lamy 2000.
I didn't have a vaccuum filling pen in my collection and the TWSBI Vac 700R seemed to be a good starter price point wise. Given the whole body of the pen is the ink resevoir I don't have to refill it often, very handy for long note taking sessions.
Pilot's Capless, more commonly referred to by its pet name vanishing point, is a retractable fountain pen - you click it like a ballpoint and the nib pops out the end. I got mine in matte black with a black nib (made out of gold but then coated with something).
Finally the Lamy 2000. An iconic pen that's not changed in decades and made out of a material called Makrolon with a gold nib. Unfortunately my second hand extra fine nib writes more like a medium but it does write pretty well. I'm also addicted to the capping action as the springs inside the clip have a really satisfying feel as the pen clicks home.
Currently the Vac 700R and Lamy are off for some servicing.
We managed to get to the Isle of Wight for our holiday, reliving some of my childhood memories. Understandably there were precautions left, right and centre when it came to mask wearing and hand sanitisation. Nonetheless we enjoyed ourselves and stayed in our first static caravan.
A broad category here as I did a lot of learning in 2020. First off I began learning Welsh on DuoLingo. You might think that's an odd choice, given I don't live in Wales, and it is. After watching a bilingual English / Welsh TV programme (Hidden) and realising that every time I looked away from the screen they invariably spoke Welsh (with English subtitles) I decided it was time to do something about it. As I write this post I'm 302 days in and really enjoying it.
Dw i'n mwynhau dysgu Cymraeg.
(I enjoy learning Welsh.)
I've had a subscription to Pluralsight for some time, purchased largely because work weren't investing in training me (that's changed since). Studies of the Cisco CCNA qualification continued during 2020, although it's not so relevant to my new role. I've also learnt about Microsoft Azure and dug deeper into Nmap.
My biggest learning moment though was earning my Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) certification and being inducted into (ISC)2. I wrote about my CISSP experience in an earlier blog post.
I did a lot of reading, from thrillers to text books (CISSP) to novels that thought about work methodologies while also telling a story. I've listed some of them below.
- Crime dot com by Geoff White
- The phoenix project by Gene Kim, Kevin Behr, George Spafford
- Books 1 - 3 of the Cia Rose apocalypse series by Rick Wood
- #taken by Tony Parsons
Fellow geek Glenn Wilson gave me the opportunity to proofread his book DevSecOps and we had some really good discussions. The irony is not lost on me that I provided "feedback to correct a number of inaccuracies" yet my name is spelled wrong - did make me chuckle.
Techy & geeky bits
On the blog front, I managed only 39 posts over 2020, down on 2019. I've already got a number of posts in draft for 2021 so hopefully I'll be able to keep to my weekly schedule.
I had originally planned an eVitabu dev week for May but lockdown soon postponed that. Fortunately though I was able to get over to Geoff's to work together on the project in late September / early October and it was good to spend time really focussing on it. Geoff's got a really nice home and I did some of my planning next to the fire:
Since originally thinking about home automation I've really started to get into it. I started to consider the problems I could solve using Home Assistant and planned a number of projects. More info on those as I work through them.
What does 2021 hold?
Well it doesn't look like we'll be out of this pandemic any time soon, even with the vaccine being rolled out. I'm expecting to do a lot more home working (will I ever go back to the office?) and a reduction on in-person speaking gigs. I'm looking forward to being able to go back to in-person worship and actually being allowed to sing - no dates on that yet though.
May 2021 be better than 2020!