Benjamin @ 27

Another big year, lots of travels, lots of fun, and lots of sun.

The Big Moments

The biggest moment of the arrival of Valencia (Sia).

She's now huge, but it's been a wild first 8 months of her life.

What's Been Happening?

Following my birthday last year, we had a fun birthday for Penelope a couple of days later.

Penelope terrified of all the people

In June, we did a weekend away in Mooloolaba visiting the aquarium.

In July, all my XBox friends (a.k.a. internet strangers) came and visited on the Gold Coast. Much to Joelle's relief, they did not come to mug me, instead we had a blast doing things like paintball, go karting, timezone and just generally having a good time.

Legends in real life too

In September, well, this little human popped into our lives

6 weeks later, we were off on a plane to Sydney. Joelle's whole family got together to celebrate Dave's birthday at Australia Zoo.

Sia's first plane ride
Penelope with her best friend

One of my proudest moments in the year was watching Penelope perform at her dance concert. It's a bit haphazard watching 2 and 3 year olds run around on stage, but she did a fantastic job.

For the Thanksgiving holidays, we got to do a fun "staycation" at Joelle's parent's apartment in Southport. It was nice to have a little getaway, even if it was here on the Gold Coast.

Penelope was over the moon when she got a trampoline for Christmas. We now spend all our time on it playing "popcorn" together.

We travelled to Geelong again for Christmas and had a blast spending time with family as always.

For Joelle's birthday, I got her this super cool orange beach tent. We've been able to use it for a bunch of beach and park outings at the HOTA.

Penelope also found her new favourite activity, which also happens to also be Joelles. Bowling.

Penelope's little toe tap she does when she bowls

We didn't really plan it, but for Easter this year we ended up going to Geelong again!

Toasting marshmellows
Bike riding with Dad on the Great Ocean Road

Back up in Queensland, we decided to get another kid-carrying-friendly bike so that we can all go for a family ride together.

I think one of the coolest things that happened in April, was Dave teaching me how to construct shelving for our pantry.

Before - After

Then finally one week ago we got to go away for a weekend with a bunch of families from Church to a Big 4 in Sandstone Point (next to Bribie Island).

Penelope's favourite thing to do was to kick over all the pieces

Work @ Microsoft

Still kicking around at Microsoft on the OneDrive and SharePoint team (ODSP). Nothing too notable that I can publicly talk about, did some work on both the desktop and mobile side of Viva Connections.

Still no changes in job title this year, still @ level 64. Pushing for 65 this year, we'll see if it pans out. Sadly, things have been a bit hectic at work with layoffs and pay freezes.

Side Gigs

I've been mentoring for a little while now on MentorCruise. I really enjoy training other software engineers, especially people getting started out in their careers. It's really rewarding to see them progress and hit their personal goals.

FIRE goals

Nothing too much changed with FIRE goals. The market still hasn't been very favourable, although there is some interest rate relief. We'll see how we go heading for this goal over the next 10 years. The biggest factor that will influence this is if we have more kids.

Personal Goals

Last year I completed my pushup challenge, with 66,569 pushups. Here is a picture of Penelope joining me on some beach pushups.

This year, I'm doing situps, but I've decided to be less crazy and only commit to half a year. It seems last year I managed to encourage some people, so this year Karli from Church has been joining me on the situps, and Jack my brother has been doing pushups.


Lots of running this year, bits of cycling too, but nothing as hectic as last year. The Gold Coast has such beautiful places to exercise, my current favourite is definitely the federation trail from Main Beach to the Spit. From the car park opposite Seaworld it's about ~6.8km, and Main Beach to the Spit is ~10km return.

On the statistics side, I did 42 recorded runs on Strava (usually 5km, sometimes more) and only 19 rides (probably 20-30km average).

Joelle and I also have plans of doing a (sprint-length) triathlon in November with our friend Lila. Our training has started, but the biggest gap for us both is the swimming. Need lots of time practising in the pool.

I'm slightly happier with body image after the pushups and situps. This meme still rings true though:


This past year, I worked on a couple of fun projects:

  • Polishing up "The Read Bible", my open source project for user-submitted audio bible readings. Read more about it here.
  • Australian Spelling - A spelling application geared towards Australian students. Hasn't had much traction (~15 downloads a month), but it's neat nonetheless. Read more about it here.

I also worked on some random ones that didn't warrant a blog post:

  • Lofi Time - A page I paired with Lofi Generator to create a YouTube stream of lofi music + the current time. Mainly to be used as a TV background.
  • Messenger GPT - Auto-generate replies to Facebook Messenger conversations with GPT-3.
  • Toddler Learning - A horrible app to try and train learning numbers and letters for Penelope (she worked out how to beat it instantly).


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


Pretty boring on this front, more of the same. Here is the full list of songs added to my library in the last 12 months, a bunch added from mixes, hence the raw number of them. There are some gems in there for sure though (Winter by Fazerdaze comes to mind).

Movies and TV

Top TV show discovered this year was for sure "The Boys" recommended to me by the (xbox) boys. It's pretty full on show, but wow was it fantastic. I also started watching a few shows like The Last of Us and Mandalorian, but certainly not as on-the-edge-of-my-seat keen to watch as The Boys.


I didn't read many books this year. I listened to Radical Candor, it's actually a great book about being real with people. It's mainly geared at management (which I'm not), but still a good read. I also started "Thanks for the Feedback", about how to receive feedback. With my Bible study group, we read through "30 days to understand the Bible" by Max Anders which gave a great overview of the course of events through the Bible and how they tie together.


On Xbox, I'm still playing Call of Duty, this time MW2/WZ2. Haven't been on as much lately, since my friend group has been playing lots of AOE2, which I tried but struggle to feel it's worth it for the massive time investment. I also played a few racing games here and there with a racing wheel I bought second-hand, and a little bit of Assassins Creed.

One thing I did get really stuck on this year was chess. I played a stupid amount of chess (on lichess), like 4000+ games. I got my ELO up to 50th or 60th percentile (1500-1600 lichess, 1200-1300 chess.c*m), but it's just so toxic. I can't play one 5min blitz game, I end up playing for 3 hours.


Operating Systems

Still rocking Windows for the work PC and Mac for my personal laptop (M1 Air), they're still working great.

Software I Use (changes)


  • Situps - for keeping track of my increasing situp counts.
  • Lichess - open source chess app FTW!
  • Tinycam Pro - We converted baby monitors to IP cameras and now use tablets / phone for viewing. Also works wonders pairing with bluetooth headphones when gaming.
  • Newpipe - with the death of Youtube Vanced, this has been a great Youtube app. Although I've recently spun up Revanced which seems to work well.


Nothing much on the desktop front. We switched to GitHub Codespaces for most of our development at work, which is absolutely awesome because it means we can code properly from a laptop (and much faster in many circumstances than desktop too).


  • Open AI / ChatGPT - Awesome text generation / natural language processing / AI tool. Works great for conversations, as well as many programming use cases.
  • Midjourney - Awesome text-to-image generation, currently state-of-the-art IMO. Costs $10 a month, might only continue for a month or two.

Hardware I Use

On the hardware front, Joelle bought me a macropad for Christmas, it's pretty useful for doing things like jumping between workspaces on Windows and just generally for having a hardware volume knob. I also bought myself a second-hand iPhone XS Max, this was partly for having a separate dedicated "work phone", and also partly for developing my own applications (like Australian Spelling).

One other neat addition this year was a new monitor on my desk. It's a pretty basic 4k monitor, but it does support HDMI 2.1 with 4k 120hz, so it pairs nicely with the xbox which has now relocated to my office.

Joelle also spoiled me again this year with one more bit of hardware for my birthday, a Steam Deck!

On the exercise "hardware", we purchased a basic bike from 99 bikes and a child seat so that we can go for bike rides with both Sia and Penelope.

To Come!

That's where I'm at! Here are my rough goals for the next year:

  • Be a good Dad to Penelope and Sia, spend time with them.
  • Complete the triathlon with Joelle in November.
  • Carry the situps all the way through to the end of June.
  • Keep going on the side projects, writing fun code that interests me, write plenty of blog posts.
  • Spend some good time with family and friends on the Gold Coast.
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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