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A personal 2023 recap

December 22nd, 2023 Personal 2023 typed on a piece of torn paper on a black background

2023 is almost finished. Just a few days left on this year. In 2023 I managed to produce some helpful blogs which can be seen in the Archive. So, let’s inform you of what I have been doing in 2023.

Social Media

In November 2022 I deleted my Twitter account. I did not agree with the way Twitter was working under the lead of Mr Musk and decided it was time to switch to open platform. Mastodon was the one, and since then, I have been active on that platform from my own instance. For those who do not know how Mastodon works, here it goes, in a nutshell.

Mastodon is a federated social network designed as an alternative to centralized platforms like Twitter/X. It operates on an Open Source protocol called ActivityPub, enabling interconnected communities called instances to communicate and share content.

The ActivityPub protocol facilitates decentralized social networking by allowing different instances (servers) running Mastodon or other compatible platforms to interact with each other. Users on one instance can follow, share, and interact with users on other instances seamlessly.

Since I started using Mastodon, I have been growing my follower count to about 1400 followers. What amazes me is that the interactions n Mastodon are so much more present. Also the click through rates of links to my own site (the one you are reading now) seem to be way higher than on Twitter/X. I have a good feeling about federated social media. No single point of responsibility, no big tech selling your data for financial gains, and instances run by volunteers who are supported financially creates a solid base for a stable medium.

I have developed a Remindme bot for Mastodon in 2022, and I have started to refactor that to be using Web Push Notification rather than polling for new mentions to process. At this moment the bot is paused until development for refactoring the workflow is done. And it’s a tough cookie to crack (More info on GitHub and StackOverflow). Decryption of Web Push API Notifications is a struggle. But, I will succeed! I plan to use the 2023 Holiday period for making progress.

Personal

On personal level I have some things to share. Here we go.

Grover

Grover. That's the name of our dog who sadly passed away in March. We still miss him, as he was a friendly, funny, caring and loving dog and treated us with his presence for more than 12 years. When we got to know he was suffering from a fast-growing tumor on his spleen, we had to make a difficult decision.

On a Friday we decided his last was going to be the next Monday. So we had the weekend to spend as much time with him, and take care of him to make his last days as comfortable as possible. In that weekend we took him to the beach for a last walk. Here’s a picture of Grover that day.

Grover on the beach, looking to the sea.
Grover on the beach

Reading

Last year I read a few books, primarily on finance and Bitcoin. This year I continued reading, but not as much as last year. Here are some of the books I read:

This website

I have migrated this website from Hugo to Statamic on August 22nd, 2023 (here’s the commit with proof), It’s now hosted at Kinsta Static Site Hosting for free! You can host your static sites for free here too, up to 100 sites!

So why did I move to Statamic?

Hugo, being a static site generator, excels in speed and simplicity. It uses templates and markdown files to build static HTML pages, making it incredibly fast and efficient, especially for larger sites.

On the other hand, Statamic is a flat-file CMS (Content Management System) that offers a more user-friendly interface. It uses a control panel for content management, making it easier for non-technical users to update and manage content without delving into code.

These were the main reasons for me to switch:

  1. Content Management Interface: Statamic's interface feels more intuitive and suits my workflow better. It allows easier content updates and management compared to Hugo's file-based approach.

  2. Flexibility in Content Structure: Statamic offers more flexibility in structuring content, allowing me to organize and present it in a more customized way compared to Hugo.

  3. Add-ons and Extensibility: Statamic offers specific add-ons or plugins that align better with the features I need for my website compared to Hugo's ecosystem.

  4. Community and Support: The decision to switch was also influenced by the availability of community support, documentation, and ease of finding help or resources for Statamic compared to Hugo.

“But what about WordPress?” I hear you think..

Well, WordPress also has its strengths, particularly in its extensive plugin ecosystem, user-friendly interface, and widespread community support. It's often the go-to choice for many websites due to its versatility and ease of use.

Ultimately, the choice between Statamic and WordPress depends on your specific project requirements, technical expertise, and preferences regarding content management, security, and scalability. In this case, I just wanted to explore other possibilities, and since Kinsta is embracing other frameworks and CMSes it seemed like a good exercise to learn about other technologies besides WordPress. Also, a simple blog, can be a good fit to be hosted as a static site, for performance and security reasons I will not further dive into here.

Owning our own data

In 2023 I made more steps to own my own data. Social media was one step, the other was moving private stuff out of the public cloud and into our own cloud. Yeah, I know a cloud is nothing more than a managed server somebody or a corporation owns, and in this case I own it myself.

Our family is using Nextcloud for the following:

  • Storing our pictures from our mobile devices with Nextcloud sync
    In combination with my Synology Diskstation, with local and Synology C2 backup, all our files are secure.

  • Creating documents
    With the included Nextcloud Office, everything that Google Drive/Office365 can do can be done in Nextcloud too. No need to feed the big tech with our private data anymore.

  • File sharing
    If we have files to share with each other, or other people, we just create a shareable link in Nextcloud and send the link (with Signal of course). Easy as that. No need for third-party services. No need for others to get our data.

Fitness

Going to the gym three times a week still worked for me in 2023. Starting the day with an hour in the gym and after that open my laptop for work is a workflow I have started to like very much.

Since I have started working out in November 2021, I can see what theses exercises do with my body, and I can honestly say I’m very satisfied with the results so far, not just in what I see in the mirror, but also on the tennis court. I feel stronger, and faster on the court.

I’ll continue working out in 2024. 💪

Work

In 2023 I continued to work for Kinsta. As a Marketing Manager for the Dutch Markets I have connected with lots of clients and have seen a nice growth the number of clients and sites hosted with us.

I have visited a nice amount of Meetups in The Netherlands, and have visited WordCamps in The Netherlands, Germany and Greece. On these events it was very good to talk to people about the developments of WordPress and other technologies.

I’m looking forward to all the new features we will be deploying on our platform next year to server our clients even better. 🚀

Happy Holidays and all the best for 2024!

I want to wish everyone happy Holidays and healthy, fun, exciting, loving and happy 2024. 🍾

Cover photo by Deepak Gupta

About Marcel Bootsman

Marcel discovered the web in 1995. Since then he has paid attention to and worked with lots of technologies and founded his own WordPress oriented business nostromo.nl in 2009.

Currently Marcel is Marketing Manager for the Dutch Market at Kinsta where he helps Kinsta's client base grow with Managed WordPress, Application, Database and Static site hosting.

You can contact Marcel on a diverse range of online platforms. Please see the Connect section on the homepage for the details.