2018 Roundup

A review of all things in 2018 with a focus on health.

I normally write a roundup of my year but didn't manage to get one done for 2017 that made it out of my Statamic draft folder.

Having seen many of my fellow developers given an overview of their 2018, it served as a good reminder for me to get back into mine for 2018.

I've found writing these posts in the past to offer a good time of reflection on achievements and failure in a personal and professional capacity.

If I were to summarise my year with one word, it would be health. Or a lack of good health to be more precise.

I started 2018 with a bout of pneumonia that I believe stemmed from a viral infection that hit me on Christmas day last year while we were in New Zealand. That had a bigger impact on things than I was expecting keeping me away from work until mid/late February before I started working with Hubsolv on the Ibby project.

When you're a self-employed contractor (and the sole bread winner), a prolonged period of illness is no joke. Luckily a good emergency fund sustained us during that time.

I finished the backend of this year with what was initially believed to be a corneal abrasion but later diagnosed as a corneal ulcer - who knew that was even a thing? Regardless of the specific diagnosis, both meant I couldn't be looking at screens while it healed causing a little havoc with the Garbanzo project we're working on at Zaengle (more on Zaengle to come).

If you're a guy, this section is particularly for you

Sandwiched between those 2 health issues was a cancer scare. I found a small lump on my testicle. I did nothing. At least initially.

Don't be like me. I'm ever thankful for my wife to realise there was something on my mind and if weren't for her, I'd probably still be sitting here in denial. It's not that I fear death or anything like that but embarrassment about going to the doc with that kind of problem. I definitely think that's more of a guy than gal thing. It seems like they're more in tune with their own bodies.  So, if you're a guy, check your balls regularly. If you feel something not quite right, get to the doc, get it checked. Don't be like me.

Thankfully, my lump turned out to be nothing more than a small cyst common for men who have had a vasectomy but I was a fool/selfish whatever for:

a) not going to the doc right away
b) not going to the doc right away after speaking to Sarah

There were only a handful of folk who knew about this, so please don't feel left out that you didn't know. I'm only saying this now because it may help someone else that is perhaps experiencing the same thing.


In light of those health concerns, Sarah and I have been reconsidering our life insurance options.

I've had a life insurance policy for as long as I've been married but continually amazed by the number of my peers who have dependents that don't. My policy (currently at least) would clear what's left of our modest mortgage in the result of mine or Sarah's death or critical illness. I'm looking to redress the balance a little on that. If I lost my eyesight tomorrow for example, that has a massive impact on the family income. I know there are visually impaired developers out there but it would take a period of adjustment for me that our current policy wouldn't cover.

If you have dependents, please get some kind of insurance policy in place. Make it easier for the other person should the worst happen.

Active measures

While it's by no means any guarantee of survival, I plan to do a lot more physical activity in 2019 and try get back to the fitness levels I enjoyed up until I gave up playing football a few years ago. My local gym isn't far from our house and I don't go anywhere near enough.

Yoga (minus the mumbo jumbo) was something I enjoyed a few years ago so I'll look to get back into that too.


2018 was the year that I finally got to work with friends using technology I enjoy. I joined Zaengle full-time in May.

I've gone back and forth on going full-time with another company over the last 2 years. In my contracting life I've generally looked at 3 things when considering joining a project

  1. money
  2. people
  3. work

If 2 of the 3 are in place, it's generally something I've rolled with. Going full-time though is a different proposition entirely. I felt like all 3 of those would need to exist to be somewhere long-term, more than that, the company ethos would have to be a good fit as well.

I've known Philip Zaengle for going on 10 years and we share the same work/life philosophy. I've known Jesse for the same length of time and speaking to him before joining Zaengle, I felt like we'd be a good fit for one another.

The Zaengle philosophy is "Be nice, do good". That's something I've always tried to do in my personal and professional life.

I've felt the immense benefit of joining the Zaengle team this year and we've produced some great work together already using cool tech like GraphQL, Apollo and Nuxt (alongside our staple diets of Laravel and Vue). I'm really looking forward to where 2019 will take us.

The Zaengster's

Being nice, doing good

Back in April, I also took part in a hackathon to help homelessness in Glasgow. My team built a small Laravel app integrated with Slack that helps members of the public report instances of rough sleeping to the street team of the Simon Community. In addition to being a practical help for a social issue it was also a bit of a hook for my oldest daughter into the world of software development.

My faith

My faith has really helped in my struggles this year. Like I mentioned earlier, I have no fear of death personally. I know where I'm going when I die and reading my bible during these small health trials has reaffirmed that regardless of my health, God has His plan for me covered.

Seeing God move in our church this year has been equally awesome. Late last year, we had the opportunity, as Harvest Glasgow, to buy our own building in the Mosspark area of Glasgow. Our prayer as we pursued that was that the only way you could explain how things came together was through God. I'd love to go through tell you the story sometime of how things fell into place so that we could own 167 Ashkirk Drive.


I'm thankful that for the second year running, I've been able to spend Christmas and New Year with my normally New Zealand based family. We were there for 6 weeks or so last year and this year they all made the trip to Scotland.

Our crew on a boat in Portugal

My kids continue to blow me away with their diversity as they grow. As much as they're all so similar in age and get along so well (for the most part) they are all so very different. Whether it's Levi's quick wit, Hannah's amazing upper body strength for a 10 year old, Rebecca's engineering intellect or Rachel's desire to randomly come and give her dad a cuddle. What an immense thing I get to be part of.

Then there's my Sarah. This woman's selflessness, love for me, our family and others blows me away. I love you.

Me and my Sarah

I hope everyone has a happy and healthy 2019 when it comes.