#276 — End of 2023 Special

Dec 31, 2023

As the bards once sang, “well, the years start coming and they don’t stop coming,” which is amply demonstrated by reaching another annual special.


Still at GoCardless, still on the same team. Well, more-or-less, there’s been a re-org but the new team is basically just the old one renamed with a couple of extra reponsibilities.

I am also still a mid-level developer. Promotions seem hard to come by, and what with the whole tech startup funding crunch, they’ve become even rarer around these parts. While I am well-paid, and got a raise this year, more would always be better, you know?

I find it hard to know what to say about my work, given that it’s all closed source and commercial now, and a lot of what I do is implementing features and making changes that we’re then going to sell. Nevertheless, this year I’ve worked on various improvements to our core systems, so that we can scale to handle more and more payments, and I’ve recently been working on some features which are going out (at least in an early-access state) in the near future: but which haven’t been mentioned anywhere externally yet, so I don’t think I should really give any more detail. I’ll definitely mention in the weeknotes when these things do launch though: I can point at it and say “I did that”.


It’s been another year of steady progress towards the ultimate goal: financial independence.

I didn’t anticipate making any big changes to my financial habits this year, and I didn’t, really. I tweaked my budget a little (and have re-done it completely for 2024, based on historical spending), and have started being more aggressive about keeping medium-term savings in a high-interest savings account and not in my usual bank account, but that’s about it.

My “runway”—how long it’d take to run out of money if I quit my job right now and just lived off the current cash and investments, at today’s market value, with no lifestyle changes at all—is approaching 5 years, and I should hit that target early next year. Financial independence needs at least a 25-year runway, fully invested, as that’s the point where the income from the investments starts to cover both inflation and expenses. I’m still saving about 50% of my income, I had hoped to be saving more by now but inflation (both economic and lifestyle) have held that back. So it’ll take a while to get there, but progress is happening.

My plan for 2024 is to just keep doing what I have been doing, and to be even more aggressive about transferring medium-term savings into more efficient accounts. The interest may not be much, but every little helps.


This year I read 66 books, which is pretty consistent with previous years. Maybe slightly up, but not really by enough to indicate a trend. I went out to bookshops a bit more than last year, I discovered a few new authors, and that’s something I want to continue in 2024. I also want to get into more nonfiction. I quite enjoy history—especially ancient history—but I’m not very well-read in the area.

I have, however, really hit the limits of physical space in my flat now. Unless I want to start getting rid of other things, there’s no more room for bookshelves. My shelves aren’t full yet, but they’re getting there, and I could easily fill them next year. This means I’m going to have to start to prune my book collection, but ultimately I should end up with a better collection: the books I actually want to keep, not just everything I’ve ever read.

So here’s what I read this year:

My top three books read in 2023 are:

Coincidentally, all of this year’s top books involve large spans of time.

Star Maker takes place over a long period of time, jumping forward and backward in history as the narrative needs. Sand from Ancient Sorceries and Other Weird Stories involves interacting with a remnant of the ancient world. The Halls of Arden Vul is about exploring an ancient ruin and trying to figure out forgotten secrets.


A few small changes this year:

But otherwise things continue more or less as usual. I’m still happily using NixOS (dual-booting with Windows on azathoth, my desktop machine). I actually spend most of azathoth’s time in Windows, and SSH into either nyarlathotep or carcosa when I want a NixOS machine.

I’ve got a few things in the works for 2024:

I’ve long-paused my project to migrate away from Google services, as Photos, Drive, Docs, and Sheets are just really convenient and I don’t really feel like putting up with the hassle of migrating to some other solution.


There have been some hiccups this year, with players leaving and games getting stalled, but we’re not in a crisis situation right now. In total I’ve played 2 systems and run another 6, with a total of 11 people across 2 groups:

Right now I’m only running one campaign:

I wanted to run a Delta Green campaign, but couldn’t get the players for it. So that might be the next campaign after Arden Vul, or I might try to recruit some more players and run both campaigns in parallel. I really enjoyed the sanity mechanics of Delta Green: having mechanical stats for the important interpersonal relationships that help your character stay grounded, and having the ability to project sanity damage onto those to reduce the damage but strain the relationship, seems like such a great evolution of the “sanity as mental HP” mechanic.

Finally, I’ve just joined a new Friday group which will be playing Pathfinder 2e. We’ve done a session 0 this week, and will be kicking off the campaign in the new year. I’ve never played Pathfinder, and it’s very different to the sort of game I usually go for, so I’m interested to see how I find it.