Benjamin @ 28

This post marks a whole decade since the birthday blog posts began! Let's jump right into it with the highlight reel.

What's Been Happening?

Just after my 27th birthday, Penelope had her 3rd birthday!

Joelle and I celebrated 5 years being married by visiting Outback Spectacular, which is a live theatre show with horses and a 3-course meal. Oh, and you get to wear fun hats!

On the home improvement side, we got some fake grass put in the backyard, and solar panels put on the roof.

We got to do some fun dates with Penelope. I loved taking her to Cowch, which sadly closed down.

We did a bunch of trips to Geelong. Doing fun things like having a fire and marshmellows with the girls.

Penelope and I operated some heavy machinery up at Mount Tamborine for a kids birthday party.

Several friends visited from interstate and across the globe, like Maitreya and Georgia (2 times!), Ben and Leachy.

We celebrated Sia's first birthday down in Geelong with a jungle themed party!

A couple of days after Sia's birthday, Joelle's sister Beth got married to Jono!

Later in September, we travelled back to Victoria again for a trip away to rosebud with Joelle's family for her mum's birthday!

Back up in Queensland, we enjoyed a few beach days with Joelle's pop-up tent.

Penelope performed her dance concert later in November.

And the following day, Joelle and I participated in the triathlon we'd been training for all year! We did a sprint distance, 750m swim, 20km ride and a 5km run, and although we started in separate groups we managed to cross the finish line together!

In December we decided to roadtrip down to Geelong for the first time with the kiddies. It was actually a really fun trip, stopping in Dubbo on the way down and Sydney on the way back.

Stopping for icy poles in 35 degree heat at some town in the middle of nowhere
Joelle and Jackson ran their first 10k together in Geelong

Jumping ahead to the start of this year, Penelope started kinder  🥲

I went on a crazy exercise plan of running 5km x 6 days a week for the first 2 months of this year while doing intermittent fasting. Got down to the skinniest I've been in my adult life. At which point Joelle told me I had to start my bulk and go to the gym!

Couple parkrun while Aunty Alyssa played with the kids

Then on Friday this week we received a new car. Turns out novated leases are quite a good deal with the EV FBT exemption. So we'll be getting rid of the Porsche now that we've got a Kia EV9.

It's not a van! It's a large SUV 😉

Work @ Microsoft

I got promoted last September! Now I'm a "Principal Software Engineer" (level 65) at Microsoft.  Some of the stuff I worked on that's been publicly announced was the SharePoint Copilot work to create sites and pages leveraging AI.

Now I've switched gears to work on a different project at work now that our team is responsible for the Viva Amplify product.

On the WLB front, I finally got approval at work for a MacBook Pro as my work laptop. Which thanks to BrightIntosh means I can work from literally anywhere, since the screen gets so bright it can be used in almost direct sunlight. I didn't actually have a photo of the new device, but here I am working from a café @ Burleigh beach with my MacBook Air.

FIRE Goals

Still constantly feels 10 years away for FIRE. Market has been pretty favourable, MSFT is at ATH. But we've decided to put in a pool in our backyard, so that'll put a slowdown to it all a little bit.

Personal Goals / Fitness

Last year, the biggest personal goal was the triathlon, which Joelle and I managed to finish. Honestly, we were so worked up about the swim leg of the race, but it ended up being so insanely easy with the current of the creek basically carrying us.

This year, I was focussed on "cutting" at the start with the hefty amounts of running. Now I'm focused on trying to build muscle while still socially running on Tuesdays and Thursdays/Fridays. I took up a gym membership at Planet Fitness in Southport, $5/week makes it a no-brianer.

Tuesday morning runs with Fraser after men's connect

On the statistics side, I recorded 108 runs, 17 rides and 14 swims over the last 12 months. I also managed a couple new PBs for running, 22:30 5k and 55:26 10k.


I've worked on a couple of projects this year, but much smaller ones.

I also started, but got nowhere near finishing:

  • A public food diary blogging app, to keep you accountable to your social network on your diet goals.
  • A project to publicly track the full catalogue of supermarket prices at Coles/Woolworths and make it publicly available. This alone requires another project to make a puppeteer scraper that runs as a Chrome extension to avoid the anti-scraping mechanisms on the Coles/Woolworths websites.
  • A meal planning application. Providing the fun of Hello Fresh, but letting you automatically price them and source them from supermarket websites directly (requires the above project for tracking Supermarket prices).
  • A project to track the current price of slurpees at different retailers. This only got to the design stage.


Still keeping this part of the blog series alive, but it's pretty slim.


Some bangers from across the year, quite varied genres.

Movies and TV

Still hanging out for the next season of The Boys. The spinoff series "Gen V" was pretty good.

Really enjoyed watching Dune 2 and re-watching Bladerunner 2049. Definitely a good dark humour movie I watched would have to be The Menu.


Read through How to Talk So Little Kids Will Listen with Joelle, quite a helpful parenting book for toddlers. Read through The 4 Hour Body and followed the diet plan for a little bit prior to the triathlon to good success (~0.5kg of weight loss per week consistently). Also read through The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work which is quite a helpful book on building a healthy marriage.

On the parenting front again, Joelle and I read through The Five Love Languages of Children. Really basic concepts, but great to think through loving our children how they want to feel loved. For now, Penelope is quality time and Sia is definitely physical touch.


Been playing lots of Call of Duty (both MW3 and now Warzone/Resurgence) with my online friends lately. I finally switched over to PC gaming for that sweet 4k 150hz experience.

Over the last year I also played a bunch of titles on the Steam deck Joelle got for me. Including a bunch of emulation of older PS2 games. One of the coolest features is streaming games to the Steam deck from your PC or xbox over the WiFi. We also took the Steam deck to Geelong for our holidays, which was fun to play group games like the Jackbox Party Packs with our family.

I also sought help for my chess addiction last year and am almost a year sober.


Software I Use (changes)


  • Olauncher Launcher - Minimal launcher, trying to make the home screen less "grabby" with all the app icons.
  • The official ChatGPT app - way smoother than the mobile website.
  • personalDNSfilter - Easily block ads at the DNS level across your Android device. Kind of like a pi-hole but running on-device.
  • Duolingo ABC - Great app for Penelope learning to read and spell.


  • Brightintosh - Boost screen brightness insanely high on newer MacBook Pros.
  • Lunacy - Figma alternative that runs on-device and saves to a file (i.e you can commit it to a repo).
  • MainStage - I started playing piano at Church, so this software is great for that. I use it with the Ultimate Worship Patch.
  • Ollama - Great for running local LLMs.


  • Trilium - Open source self-hosted note-taking app. I tried using Obsidian, but the locked-down closed-source nature really started to bug me.
  • Started using Google Sheets to track a few more things. The most fun is tracking net worth with automatic stock-price calculations (I just manually update account balances once a month, but stock price and exchange rate update live automatically).

Hardware I Use

The biggest upgrade on the hardware front would be upgrading my GPU and CPU cooler in my Windows desktop. I'm now running an AMD 7900 XTX which can push well over 150 FPS in Call of Duty at 4k with some setting tweaks. I noticed my CPU was holding me back with a basic cooler on it, so I upgraded the cooler to a dual-tower Thermalright PS120SE.

For my reading, I switched over to a Kobo Elipsa 2E e-reader. Super nice to have all the books easilt accesible in a slim device that is readable outside. Joelle

also converted but got a waterproof model!

Thanks to the recommendation from Richard, Joelle bought me some new headphones for Christmas. The Audeze Maxwell planar magnetic headphones. Really nice gaming headphones that also have just become my general pair of headphones for music/work too, they score really highly on rtings. Also on the audio front, I adopted some JLab Go Air Pop true wireless headphones for my workouts when I want to listen to music. Mainly because they are cheap, have good insulation/bass and you can run without them falling out!

I also upgraded my video calling setup on my desk with a full-blown Sony ZV-E10 for my video calling. This means my audio and video are now super-crisp for my work calls. Here's a pic of what my desk actually looks like recently.

I also completed a project where I mounted multiple keyboards in a bookshelf in my office and hooked up the USBs for lighting. Two of the keyboards actually wouldn't turn on unless connected to a computer... so there's also a hidden Rasperry Pi.


I also got a neat keyboard that you can use on top of a MacBook keyboard called the Nuphy Air60 V2. It looks pretty nice with the keycaps swapped out. It's even QMK/VIA customizable, so I remabbed the caps-lock key to FN + the FN layer to match the Pok3r layout that I'm so accustomed to.

On the outdoors hardware side, I also upgraded to a bigger scooter, a Bolzzen Gladiator which I bought second-hand off marketplace. The thing is capable of pushing 60km/h, but on the roads I would only ever take it to the legal limit of 25km/h of course. I also ride the scooter with a dirt-bike helmet.

To Come!

So there's a full breakdown of the last 12 months of my life! Coming up over the next year, I aim to:

  • Make some more progress on my side projects
  • Make some gains at the gym and
  • Continue to focus on maintaining a good WLB, spending healthy amounts of time with Joelle and the kids while also doing some great work at Microsoft
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

Post Comments