Benjamin @ 24

Another big year in the Kaiser household! Lot's of stuff happened, Joelle is pregnant, I made senior at work, we bought a house and I went on my first cruise!

What's Been Happening

I'm almost a dad!

Joelle and I are expecting the arrival of our little girl on June 3rd. She could come sooner, who knows she may well come on my birthday! So far we feel like we've bought all the stuff we need, at least at the start, so it's just a waiting game now. The nursery is looking really nice (thanks to Joelle's taste).

Married Life

Here are a couple of snapshots from what married life looks like for Joelle and I over the last year.

Exercising on the Gold Coast
1 year wedding anniversary @ Best of All lookout
Cruising it up!
"Yeah, we'll sit in the car table"
Our "Bath" in our new house
Joelle knows how to make Valentines day awesome
Joelle learned to solve a 3x3 cube, I learned to solve a 4x4


I got promoted again! Now I'm level 63, bottom rung of the Senior Software Engineer band at Microsoft.

I also moved to a new team inside of Microsoft. I used to be with the SharePoint team and now I'm part of the team. The biggest motivating factor for the move is that Joelle and I are planning on moving back to Australia mid 2021, but the SharePoint team doesn't support a role moving to full-remote whereas the team does! It was a hard move to make, I really wasn't sure if I wanted to leave the SharePoint team because I get along so well with so many awesome people there. My manager was also super supportive of my career progression (he landed me the promo to Senior!).

The new team has a new world of challenges, I joined the team to take ownership of their React.js codebases. Because the codebase and the front-end side of the team are in their infancy compared to SharePoint, a large part of my work so far has been bringing some of the awesome engineers work that's been done in SharePoint over to the codebases.

If you're curious what I actually build looks like, checkout and the app I primary work on the Azure Pricing Calculator.

Me running a demo booth after a work hackathon

Buying a House

So among all the madness of changing teams, planning on moving back in 2021 and realizing we are going to have a baby, Joelle and I decided to buy a house in Redmond. Seems kind of crazy, we're going to own the place for <2 years, but hopefully there should actually be a bit of appreciation in value and besides, we absolutely love living here compared to the small apartment we were in beforehand.

Verandah Out the Back
Hosting (hence why it's so clean)
Looks like a $M ski resort view when it snows


Once again, getting the travel bug out of our system before becoming parents. Here is the list of places we visited in chronological order.

Gold Coast

We spent a month on the Gold Coast around the cruise with Joelle's family.

Cruise! Vanuatu + New Caledonia

My first ever cruise! Was lots of fun hanging out with the whole Willder family. I actually managed to last the entire time without getting sea-sick but I can't say the same for everyone else...

Bon Voyage!
My first time on a horse!

Floating @ Yakima

Although this is technically a day trip, I'll still throw it in here.

San Diego Road Trip

Joelle and I drove all the way down the West Coast of the US to San Diego. Driving parts along the Oregon coast and some just straight along the freeway.

San Francisco
Santa Monica (Los Angeles)
San Diego
Sea World

Las Vegas (React Conf)

I went to a conference for work, it was great catching some sun in Vegas.


I'd never been to Europe, and if there was one place in Europe on the top of my list, it would be Italy. With Joelle pregnant the time was ticking before taking trips got harder. We booked a trip to Italy for the week of Thanksgiving to go and enjoy some pizzas and see some cool places.

L'Antica Pizzeria da Michele - True Neapolitan Pizza in Naples for €4.5
Amalfi Coast - a less safe Great Ocean Road
Our View in Salerno (yes, I convinced Joelle to walk up this hill)
Firenze - Just like Assassins Creed
Colosseum = very cool. Hagglers/pickpockets = not cool. 

Other Random Things

Running + Riding

I've continued to run a little bit this year, it's nice with the new house we have a trail that goes around the man-made lake out the front that is ~1km long. I ran my first 10km (in ~1h13m) and on a Strava segment I managed to tie for the top place (out of like 7 people that have ever run it).

I also bought a bike last year, so I managed to go on a few rides at the end of last year before it got too cold (I'm 100% a Fair Weather Rider). Haven't really been on any lately.

Here's my Run and Ride stats, could be interesting to compare next year:

Wisdom Teeth

Got my Wisdom Teeth removed, actually wasn't as bad as when Joelle got hers taken out.


During quarantine I decided to pick up juggling. So far I can juggle three juggling balls pretty much continuously but it isn't without the mistake here and there. I've noticed being able to juggle juggling balls nicely translates to juggling other things too. I don't think I'll pursue this past just juggling 3 balls / for a fun party trick, but it's definitely an enjoyable way to pass some time (even if it drives Joelle nuts).


Through this part of the blog post, the oldest tradition, I'll list my different interests and how they've changed since last year.


No real change. Got to see Mallrat and Allday perform live in Seattle though which was cool.

Movies / TV Shows

Favorite show was probably the third season of Westworld. Joelle and I again watched Married at First Sight (Australia) this year, so much drama! Other good shows I watched were: Chernobyl, The Mandalorian, Better Call Saul.


Books from the last year! Most of these are audio books back from the days before COVID when I drove to work, but a couple are epubs that I've been reading on my tablet.

  • Remote. Some interesting thoughts around remote work from a guy running a remote company for quite a while.
  • Difficult Conversations. Made me laugh whilst reading it, because one of the scenarios is about Benjamin an engineer who has to tell his boss he's got a new job. Go figure.
  • Outliers. This one is a classic I remember my dad reading and telling me stories from it. It was well worth the read, and definitely makes me reconsider sending kids to school early.
  • A Random Walk Down Wall Street. If you're going to read one book on investing, it's probably this one. It basically helps explain different approaches to investing, and why you're best off with a broad market index fund.
  • Cribsheet. Great book explaining the data behind some decisions you have to approach in the early years of your child's life. This was the first "baby" book I read.


So much Call of Duty Modern Warfare. Joelle and I also played a couple of fun games together, Human Fall Flat and more recently, and more fun, Totally Reliable Delivery Service.


Operating Systems

Still loving my Arch Linux with i3 setup. Work is now all on Windows again, but we're moving our backend to .NET Core so that may open the door to Linux dev in the future.

Personal Programming Projects

So a few updates here, last years new project, hasn't really gone anywhere, so much so I didn't renew the domain! The instagram is still there, so is the website at, but i haven't bothered adding to it since Rome and Naples.

As for this years projects, there have actually been a bunch!

Market Cap Leaders

Super simple website that just shows you which US company is leading in market capitalization.


Bunch of random web experiments I made on the cruise for fun.


Find a cars 0-60 faster than it can get there. Basically I got sick and tired of confusing websites that made it super hard to find a cars 0-60, so I scraped a bunch of them from another site and made a faster experience. It's also open source.


I couldn't find a nice visualization online that would show me the offsets between timezones and when they change next (based on daylight savings), basically I wanted to know "right now it's 6 hours difference between Seattle and Melbourne, but when does it go to 7 hours? and when does it change next?". This website answers that and has pretty tables too! This one is open source also.

Learn Piano

Okay, as much as I am trying to learn a song on piano, this project is literally named Learn Piano (got a good name suggestion? let me know). The basic idea is to let you learn a piano piece with falling notes but that the notes wait for you to press them before continuing (so you are playing the song, not just watching it be played). There is technology out there that provides this functionality, but not web-based and there is now a Web MIDI API that let's you listen to MIDI keyboard events in a browser now, so I went ahead and implemented it. It's open source too!


I made some updates to Stretto, my web-based music player, over the last year too:

  • Media Session Support (so you can use the keyboard media keys to control the playback when not focused on the chrome tab it's running in).
  • Sharing functionality for playlists so users can share them! Here are some songs I was listening to in January!
  • Artists feed that let's you keep up to date with what music your favorite artists are putting out!
  • The mobile app now supports mix generation for any YouTube track.

Stretto is still mine and Joelle's daily driver, it'll probably remain that way until I decide I don't have enough time to fix it / add features to it to keep it relevant.

Software I Use (Changes)

On Phone / Tablet
  • Strava for tracking my runs/rides
  • Redfin/ for checking house prices
  • Kiwi Browser + custom css + useragent faker for accessing Microsoft Teams without using InTune/Company Portal. I had an incident in LA on the way to San Diego where thanks to Microsoft device policy, three failed attempts to unlock (in my pocket) caused my phone to reset. Never again.
  • Lithium for epub reading (+pro version for syncing position)
  • XBox Game Streaming. This is honestly a game-changer. Being able to play console-rendered games via the cloud or my console in another room to my tablet is an awesome experience.
On Desktop
  • Windows Terminal since it actually behaves nicer than ConEmu for use with Git bash on windows.
  • Barrier for sharing my mouse between machines. It's an open-source fork of Synergy which I used to use.

Hardware I Use

I bought a new phone, OnePlus 7 Pro! Mint condition for $550 second-hand on craigslist. I really love the edge-to-edge screen + selfie popup camera. I would honestly keep buying this form factor over the punch-hole design if they kept making it, but it looks like even OnePlus have gone away from that design with the OnePlus 8.

We bought a super nice tablet too, the Samsung Tab S5e, it's super thin and has a really nice screen. I use it mostly for reading and game streaming, but also use it for movies when travelling. Joelle uses it occasionally in the kitchen when trying new recipes, we have an arm mount thing for it.

Here is a snapshot of Joelle and my desk in the new house:

To Come!

This is a good summary of where I'm at as of May 26th 2020! Here's the list of things I wanted to do last year:

  • Have a few more fun holidays. Including the coming one on the Goldie
  • Kill it at work, ship what I'm working on, make it to senior
  • Stay at a good weight, stay fit too
  • Keep it up with the reading
  • Keep it up with the entrepreneurial ventures, be it The Good Stuff Pizza or something else

So I did pretty well on most of these, definitely dropped the entrepreneurial ventures, but I did enjoy writing a bunch of software for fun. Nailed the reading, nailed it at work, weight... pretty good, 87kgs is good for now, ideally would be <85kgs.

My list of things I'd like to do in the next year would probably be:

  • Do my best to be a good husband and father. Spending time with Joelle and bubs, learning and growing to be the best dad I can be
  • Keep reading interesting stuff, be it baby books, investing books, programming books or other interesting stuff
  • Keep programming (time permitting, I hear this parenting thing is a killer for free time)
  • Stay a good weight, keep running/cycling to stay fit (also hear it helps for being a dad)
  • Deliver some solid results in my new team to start having impact before relocating to Australia next year and working in a different timezone to everyone else!
  • Prep things for the move back to Australia!
Benjamin Kaiser

Benjamin Kaiser

Software Engineer working on the SharePoint team at Microsoft. I'm passionate about open source, slurpess, and Jesus.
Gold Coast, Australia

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