• Looking back at 2022

    As 2022 draws to a close, it’s time for me to write my final blog post for the year.

    It’s been a bit of a mixed bag of a year. COVID restrictions in South Australia have eased, and yet COVID is still an ever-present threat. As far as I know, I’ve avoided it, but just this week two families I know have lost family members. Such a terrible tragedy. Can I ask that you continue to take precautions to reduce the risk to both yourself and your loved ones. Too often it is those already doing it tough who are impacted the most by this pandemic.

    David singing

    My involvement with video streaming at my local church continues. I enjoy being a camera operator, but I’ve also taken on a ‘producer’ role, keeping an eye on the whole service, filling in and troubleshooting as necessary. To contrast those ‘behind the scenes’ roles, on Christmas Day I took on something new by singing up front!

    SevenFold (my band) did a few gigs this year. I do love making music with my friends. I’m looking forward to continuing that in the new year.

    On the health front, there have been some challenges for my family. Not to be left out, I had my own face vs. bike path effort. Some minor broken bones in my face, but fortunately no surgery was necessary. It did take quite a few months to start feeling normal again and get back on the bike. A useful reminder that a) I’m getting older and b) I’m not bulletproof.

    When not falling off my bike, I’ve managed to get a few local rides in, as well as the occasional ride with my Dad and the folks from Mud, Sweat and Gears down to McLaren Vale. More frequently I’ve been taking a walk around the neighbourhood most mornings before starting work. It’s good to get some fresh air, stretch my legs, and keep up with my podcasts.

    Work at SixPivot is going well. I continue to be impressed by the thoughtful leadership and am feeling quite at home. It was so great to finally meet almost all my colleagues in person at the SixPivot Summit. Our Adelaide team has grown from 2 to 5, and it was great to gather together for a Christmas celebration a few weeks ago.

    From a technical perspective, I’ve been spending a bit more time lately on the ‘DevOps’ side of things. Improving build and deployment automation, and digging deeper into infrastructure with Azure.

    I was renewed as a Microsoft MVP. Something I don’t take for granted, and try to leverage to the advantage of our local .NET user group. I’m keenly anticipating news of the next Microsoft MVP Summit. Will it be virtual? Will it be back in person? Hopefully they announce their plans soon.

    Speaking of our local .NET User Group, the Adelaide .NET User Group resumed meeting in person for most of the year, though we did have some online-only meetings when necessary. DDD Adelaide is still on hiatus, but I’m hopeful that we might be able to build a new organising team to run a conference later in 2023. It has been encouraging to see both Perth and Brisbane resume their conferences. Maybe in 2023 I might get to visit some of the interstate events. (I was hoping to get to Brisbane this year, but it ended up being the same weekend as a friend’s wedding). There’s always next time.


    Weather-wise, it felt like a very wet Winter and Spring. The garden had been so green, but now we’ve had a few hot days so it does seem like Summer is finally here. It’s funny how quickly you go from waiting for the rain to go away, to now hoping for a bit of rain to water the garden!

    It is nice to have some time off over the Christmas break. I did have plans to go cycling almost every day and do lots of jobs around the house. That hasn’t quite eventuated, but it is good to just pause and take a breath. I’ll have another week off later in January to spend time with visiting family.

    I pray 2022 finishes well for you, and that whatever situations we find ourselves in 2023, there are moments of hope and joy for us all.

  • Important changes for Azure DevOps Pipeline agents and GitHub Actions runners

    I don’t think this has been publicised as widely as it should, especially for Azure Pipelines consumers. ubuntu-latest is now resolving to ubuntu-22.04 rather than ubuntu-20.04.

    This has been mentioned in the GitHub blog and there is an ‘announcement’ issue in the runner-images repo, but I haven’t seen anything official for Azure DevOps/Azure Pipelines. Both services use the same agent virtual machine images. As of this writing, the Microsoft-hosted agent page still suggests that ubuntu-20.04 is used.

    This issue summarises the software differences between 20.04 and 22.04, and they can be significant. For example, I’ve already seen builds failing because they were assuming a .NET Core 3.1 SDK was preinstalled. The 22.04 image only includes .NET 6 and 7.

    This is in addition to the already announced removal of ubuntu-18.04.

    So make sure you declare all your tool requirements in your pipelines. Even better, run your jobs in a container (Azure Pipelines or GitHub Actions) with a custom container image that precisely specifies the tools and versions required to build and deploy your application.

  • Logitech MX Vertical Advanced Ergonomic Mouse

    Many years ago, I was working at UniSA developing software. I tended to grind my wrist into the desk as I moused, and over time my wrist and hand became quite sore. UniSA was quite proactive with occupational health and safety, and I had an OH&S consultant visit me in my office. She suggested resting my right hand as much as possible, using a wrist rest, and trying out different-styled mice. For a few months, I switched to mousing with my left hand. I acquired a mouse mat with a gel wrist rest, and I also trialled a trackball mouse. The trackball didn’t work out for me, but since then I’ve continued to use a gel wrist rest for both the mouse and keyboard.

    So it was a bit of a surprise when the discomfort returned a few months ago. I used a similar approach of switching to my left hand to give my right hand a break, but I realised that would only be a temporary solution.

    Asking for suggestions from my SixPivot colleagues, Logitech mice were frequently mentioned. With its unusual shape, intended to fit your hand at a more comfortable angle, I decided to give the Logitech MX Vertical Advanced Ergonomic mouse a go. Spending more than $100 on a mouse may seem a little extravagant, but if it would reduce the discomfort I’d been experiencing, it would be worth it.

    The mouse is certainly different. The ‘sculpted’ curve is covered in a rubber-like material, so it grips nicely.

    Mouse viewed from the rear

    One thing I’d read about was that it was easy to knock over. It is true, I’ve accidentally whacked it several times and tipped it over. Probably because it sits higher (almost reminiscent of a tiny Sydney Opera House), so if you are liable to be waving your hands around that’s something to consider!

    Mouse being held in a hand, sitting on a mouse mat

    It has the usual left and right mouse buttons and a scroll wheel. It took me a little while to get comfortable scrolling on the side, but I don’t think about it now.

    Mouse showing left and right buttons and scroll-wheel

    There are some other buttons near your thumb that some people might take advantage of, but I have yet to use them.

    Mouse showing top and thumb buttons

    Likewise, there’s a button on the top, that allows you to change the pointer speed. I can’t say I’ve used that yet either.

    Mouse viewed from above

    One feature I didn’t consider initially but do make use of now is that you can pair it to up to 3 computers and toggle between them via a small button on the base. In my day job, I may have a customer laptop in addition to my regular laptop. While I might use a tool like Mouse Without Borders to share a keyboard and mouse between the two, if I just want to use one laptop it’s a quick button press to use the mouse with that device.

    Base of mouse

    The mouse has a USB-C port that is used for charging as well as making the mouse usable as a USB mouse if you didn’t want to use Bluetooth. It seems to hold a charge for quite a few weeks if not months - probably depends on your usage.

    You can pair the mouse with Windows and it just works. Optionally you can install Logitech software which lets you customise how the different buttons work.

    I’ve been using the mouse now for a few months and have grown to really like it. I’m pleased that the discomfort in my hand has reduced.

    Recommended! (Affiliate links)