Looking back on 2023

2023 was a big year. I built and launched an app, continued focus on a healthy diet, kept up with running 3 times a week, started a new job, learned a lot, traveled a lot, met lots of great people, old and new friends… a great year all in all! Here are some highlights, mainly for me to reminisce and remember.

1. Maintain focus on health

Having totally changed my diet in 2022 and lost 50kg from March to December that year, I managed to keep it up and added in 16/8 intermittent fasting while I was at it. I’ve introduced a few treats like pain au chocolat, protein bars and bran flakes, and over this year gained back 10kg, but been stable at that and finding it easy to maintain.

I kept up with the running too, which I’m really proud of. Just completed the last 7k of the year yesterday morning, and my Nike app tells me that makes 1,087 km this year, from 153 runs. My goal has been 3 times a week, so I think I pretty much did that all year! I was sick for a few days, so that must be why that number is not 3 x 52 :/

2023 Running Report I ran 1,087km this year!

2. Built a new app

I was using MyFitnessPal to track what I eat but found it quite ugly and tedious to use and it didn’t help me plan ahead well. I had an idea of what I wanted and that aligned with a strong desire to get back into hands on Rails development with a personal project to test that “one person framework” promise.

Happy to report the promise is true! I had so much fun building 1500cals.com for myself, then the game changer was then getting into Turbo Native. That allowed me to extend the product to a native iOS app and being able to hook in to Apple Health data, which means any workouts and steps tracked by my phone or Apple watch are automatically synced to the app and calories deducted from meal plans

1500cals iOS App Diary and Stats screens in the 1500cals iOS app

I’ve been using this every day now since I pushed the first MVP web version on February 27th and can absolutely confirm it’s helped me massively with staying on target, meal planning and shopping, and making sure to track any snacks I may eat.

My intention was always to make this for fun and just for my own use, but I’m now convinced it can help a lot more people to meet their goals, I ended up polishing it up just about enough to release to the app store and let others try it out.

Just in the first 4 days since I published it on the app store 126 people have downloaded and created accounts! That’s really blown my mind. If I can help just one of them feel the life changing health benefits I achieved myself with this, it will be incredible.

3. Travel

I was very lucky to travel a bit again this year, and here are some of the places and events I got to in 2023:

January: Las Vegas, USA

I went to Vegas for the The Consumer Electronics Show which takes over the city for 5 days in January. I had lead the efforts to get Cookpad Alexa widgets launched on their smart screen and big screen TV devices, and given they had an entire hall dedicated to Amazon, I wanted to be there. I was also able to meet some great entrepreneurs building new smart kitchen appliances, and see a wondrous amount of new and often space age looking tech.

Outside of the conference, highlights were probably bumping in to “Elvis” at the iconic “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign while I was on a 7am run, and then managing to catch a David Copperfield show which was incredible!

Elvis and Me in Las Vegas, USA Elvis(?) and Me in Las Vegas, USA

April: Atlanta, USA

This year Rails Conf was in Atlanta. After attending many times, I’d not been since before Covid so wanted to reconnect and see what was going on. Despite the venue being a rather uninspiring, cavernous concrete box it was great to meet many old friends and make some new ones.

Outside of the conference, I was really impressed with Ponce City Market, and also took a long walk over to the birthplace of Martin Luther King Jr. and surrounding area. Of course, I got in a few runs around the Olympic Park - solo, and one with the organised Rails Conf group.

Running at Olympic Park, Atlanta, USA Running at Olympic Park, Atlanta, USA

May: Matsumoto, Japan

Ruby Kaigi! Simply the best event there is for Rubyists hands down. I’ve been fortunate to attend many times in the past, but this year after several years not being able to go due to Covid was extra special. Even more so as it was held in one of my favourite places, Matsumoto. The talks were of course incredible, and getting to hang out with so many ruby friends and luminaries was fantastic.

Matz and Me in Matsumoto, Japan Matz and Me in Matsumoto, Japan

Outside of the conference, I of course took the chance to do the Matsumoto Castle tour again. I think its the best castle in Japan. Some would disagree, but its amazing. I also planned one run to explore that area and circle the castle. Then the second run I joined Nate Berkopec and we went along the river. Great fun.

While in Japan I took the chance to also visit Lake Biwa, Hikone Castle and Inuyama Castle, both of which are original constructions from late 16th early 17th century. Stunning.

October: Amsterdam, Netherlands

As one of the 8 Founding board members of the Rails Foundation, a new conference in Europe was one of the key initiatives and opportunities I wanted us to achieve, but what Amanda put together with Rails World in Amsterdam this year was way beyond my expectations. Simply sensational.

Yaro, Me and DHH in Amsterdam Yaro, Me and DHH in Amsterdam

Outside the conference I got in a couple of runs around the snappily named Koninklijke Nederlandsche Stoomboot-Maatschappij Island (KNSM eiland) near the conference hotel, and also a meetup of turbo native developers. Otherwise it was all about the talks, networking and then dinner with board members and speakers.

4. Blogging

If you got this far, thanks for reading! Just wanted to note that this very blog was an idea I had to try and share more about Ruby, Rails, building things and general product development. I set an arbitrary goal to write something every 2 weeks and post on every second Monday. The first post was February 27th, 10 months ago and this is post number 25 so I think I just about made it, although the cadence went a bit off when I had a lot to say :D

5. New Job

After an incredible 13+ years at Cookpad, I left the company in September with a lot of pride and gratitude for the opportunities and experiences that had been given to me. My plan was to spend a good 6 months or so working on my own apps and projects, with a bit of consulting on the side. This was going well for a few weeks until a new opportunity arose with a company I really admire and had been a happy customer of, so had to jump in as a full time CTO again! More on that in the near future, but definitely exciting.

Wrap up

So, all thats left to say is thanks to everyone I’ve had the pleasure of working or hanging out with over the last 12 months, and I’m really looking forward to what 2024 can bring!