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Reflecting on 2015

This past year has been incredible, and it is one for which I am very grateful.

I spent most of the year working on Crestwood.co.uk, which was rather challenging at first. My work involved re-writing a legacy Rails 2x CMS in Rails 4, and carrying over a lot of legacy functionality, including interfacing with a SOAP based warehousing system (Opera).

The 'feed' aspect was originally rather straightforward, but this was highly complicated by a decision that greatly impacted the project — a decision that was completely out of my hands. It even had me reading up mathematical papers from 1970's by Dijkstra, where I implemented a rudimentary shortest-path tree-searching algorithm in Ruby.

Towards the end of the year, I left Whitespace (UK) to join Stembolt, based in Canada. From Monday, I will be continuing on a really fun project that's soon to revolutionise a particular industry.

My work has largely focussed on implementing various API end-points that would be accessed via native-mobile clients. Part of this work has also resulted in my implementing server-side OAuth authentication for mobile apps, with an initial focus on iOS.

My Annual Shopping Spree

Whilst my work has been rewarding, I made my annual trip to Singapore this year as well, which ultimately ends up as a "Mike-style Shopping Spree" (patent-pending). It's a shop-till you drop holiday, along with great food and being pampered at one of the best hotels.

Computing Toys

During my 2014 'spree', I picked up a Synology DS1515+ NAS which I setup with 5x 4TB WD Red Pro drives for around 16TB of accessible storage at RAID5. However, RAID is not a backup a solution and I pretty much ninja'd 2015 with all my data setup in a single RAID volume. Yes, I was certainly lucky, but I'm not taking it for granted.

Therefore, this Christmas I bought a DS1815+ 8-bay unit, and added 4x 4TB WD Red Pro drives — this was economical, as I have yet to use all the space in my primary RAID volume; plus, I can always expand my backup RAID volume as needed.

Setting up my backup unit was also an interesting challenge, and I learnt a fair bit and hope to share some of that experience in another blog post.

Passion for Pixels

The second bit of kit that I picked up on my 2015 shopping spree was ...drum roll please — some sexy camera gear!

During my 2014 spree, I picked up a Canon EOS70D + 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM and this has been keeping up fairly well during the past year. However, I found myself struggling in many low-light situations, even though I do love the 70D's video recording capabilities (it has a touch-sensitive swivel LCD, Wifi + GPS).

The 70D's AF system on the other hand, is rather pants. Even the 6D, which I did consider, has a really shoddy AF system. I wanted a chock-load of cross-type AF points and something that rocked both high-ISO shots and also something I could use to shoot birds and wildlife. I decided to go for the absolute best, and picked up a Canon EOS5D Mark III + 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS USM II lens (where I've actually owned the v1 version of this short-telly back in 2006).

So now I have two Canon cameras, the 70D for YouTube videos and the 5D3, along with two very nice L lenses.

Along with tools like Adobe Lightroom, what's nice is that my passion for photography ties in quite nicely with my 5K iMac and very sexeh RAID setup.

Passion for Watches - I'm officially a 'Collector' now!

I also collected my Audemars Piguet Royal Oak from service, which I had given in Singapore last year. They only needed a couple months to complete the work and even though the watch was ready for collection within Q1/Q2 of 2015, I didn't really care to travel just to collect the AP. Since getting it back, it has been an absolute wrist-hog. To the point that my new Rolex (less than 2 months new) has been neglected, and the Pateks have gone onto my Orbita winders.

With Christmas out of the way though, I am looking forward to wearing my most active pieces as part of a new rotation. It will most likely be Patek Annual Cal during the afternoon, GMTIIC during my work shift (when I'm working in sync to PST). Then the AP during my 'night' and morning. That's the plan for now.

What's in store for 2016?

I may look to make a few trips out of town over the weekends. I really would like to have a work/hobbies life-balance, something I need to make a better effort at this year.

Actually, it would be work/exercise/hobbies. That pretty much covers rest of my goals for the year.