Wrapping up 2023 - Technology, Speaking, and Strumming

Wrapping up 2023 - Technology, Speaking, and Strumming

As 2023 comes to a close, I'm taking a moment to reflect on a year full of significant changes and noteworthy experiences. Starting with the lingering excitement of joining Clock in late 2022, this year has been about diving deep into new challenges and opportunities.

In my role, I've had the chance to work on various interesting projects, pushing my boundaries in high-throughput environments. It's been rewarding to collaborate with some of the smartest minds in the industry, which has not only enhanced my professional skills but also broadened my perspective.

Outside of work, I've embraced public speaking, revived my blog, and indulged in my passion for music and technology. From discussing TypeScript at one of my favourite meetups, to sharing my journey as a Senior Engineer, and from attending tech conferences to daily guitar practice, 2023 has been a year of balancing professional growth with personal interests.

This last edition of the year is an attempt to capture these moments and share the insights I've gained. It's more than a summary of the year; it's a chronicle of the learning and experiences that have shaped me in 2023.

Career at Clock

2023 marked my first full year at Clock, and it's been an enriching experience from the get-go. Joining the team in late 2022, I was eager to dive into new challenges, and this year didn't disappoint.

The projects I've been involved in have been diverse and demanding. From developing intricate web solutions to tackling complex data problems, each task has pushed my technical abilities further. What's made this journey even more rewarding is the high throughput nature of these projects. Balancing efficiency with innovation has been a key part of my role, and it's a skill I've honed considerably over the year.

Working alongside highly intelligent and motivated colleagues has been one of the biggest perks. The collaborative environment at Clock has helped me not only solve tough problems, but also gain different perspectives. This interaction with diverse minds has been instrumental in my growth as a professional.

Looking ahead, I'm excited about the opportunities to delve deeper into AI and machine learning. My goal is to be at the forefront of driving Clock's growth in these areas. Skilling up in these cutting-edge technologies and applying them to deliver exceptional solutions is what I eagerly anticipate in the upcoming year.

Public Speaking Engagements

This year, I continued my foray into public speaking, an endeavour that's becoming increasingly rewarding. Each opportunity to speak has been a chance to share my insights and connect with like-minded individuals in the tech community.

In March, I delivered a presentation titled "Building and Testing with Typescript" for The Social Code meetup group. What made this talk particularly enjoyable was the unique twist I added - incorporating a Harry Potter theme. This not only made the technical content more engaging but also allowed me to explore creative ways to present complex topics.

Then, in October, I had the opportunity to share my personal journey in technology at the Chester Devs meetup. The talk, "Reflections of a Senior Engineer", was particularly close to my heart. It traced my path from a non-technical background to my current role as a Senior Engineer. Sharing this story was not just about my professional growth, but also about the lessons learned and the hurdles overcome along the way.

Additionally, at Manchester DevCon, I conducted a small lightning talk about the Container Pattern in React projects. This was an exciting platform to discuss a topic I'm passionate about in front of an engaged audience. It's always thrilling to discuss practical approaches in software development, especially when it comes to efficient project structuring in React. I wrote a post about this here, as there was some confusion over the word "container", as it now often refers to concepts like "containerisation" using tools like Docker.

These speaking engagements have not only helped me hone my public speaking skills but have also been instrumental in broadening my network and understanding of various technological perspectives.

Blogging and Writing

The revival of my blogging journey in 2023 has been a pivotal aspect of my year. After a hiatus caused by my WordPress site going down, I took the significant step of migrating all my content to Ghost. This transition wasn't just about getting my blog back online; it was about embracing a platform that aligns with my future goals.

Ghost appealed to me for several reasons, notably its clean, user-focused design and the potential it offers for content monetization. While offering premium content for paying subscribers hasn't been my primary focus this year, it's an exciting possibility that Ghost facilitates. This feature opens up new avenues for me to explore different types of content and engage with my audience on a deeper level.

The migration process itself was a journey through my past writings, a kind of digital archaeology that unearthed old ideas and insights. Now, with my blog successfully running on Ghost (mrstebo.co.uk), I've found a renewed passion for sharing my experiences, especially those related to technology and personal development.

Alongside blogging, launching this newsletter has been another significant step. It's become a regular outlet for me to share updates, insights, and stories with my readers. Writing about events like the AWS Data Deep Dive Day and technical concepts like the Container Pattern for React has been particularly gratifying. It's not just about sharing knowledge but also about the interaction and feedback from the community.

As I look towards 2024, I'm excited about the prospect of hosting my blog independently. This move will allow for greater customization and control, enabling me to delve into the technicalities of web hosting and offer a more tailored experience to my readers.

Personal Development

One of the most fulfilling aspects of 2023 has been my dedication to broadening my knowledge through reading. I've always believed that reading is a gateway to learning and this year, I've delved into books spanning a wide range of genres and topics.

My reading list has been quite eclectic, covering everything from technology, which is a natural extension of my professional interests, to more diverse areas. I've been particularly drawn to autobiographies, finding inspiration in the life stories of people like Jimmy Carr and Patrick Stewart. Their journeys, filled with challenges and triumphs, offer valuable lessons and perspectives.

Psychology books have also piqued my interest, providing insights into human behaviour and thought processes. Understanding these concepts not only feeds my curiosity but also helps in my professional and personal interactions.

I didn't shy away from fiction either. Sci-fi books have been a regular part of my reading, offering a creative escape and fuelling my imagination. The blend of futuristic technology and storytelling in these books has been a source of both entertainment and creative inspiration.

This diverse reading habit has been more than just a pastime; it's been a journey of continuous learning and personal growth. Each book has contributed to my understanding of the world and myself, and I look forward to sharing a detailed list in a future post.

Lifestyle Changes

My move to an Electric Vehicle (EV) this year marked a significant lifestyle change, aligning with my interest in technology and sustainability. Having the ability to charge at home has been a crucial factor in making this transition smooth. I recognize that this convenience isn't available to everyone, and it's something that greatly influences the practicality and overall experience of owning an EV.

A memorable, though less fortunate, part of my EV journey occurred recently. One windy night, the gate next to my charger swung into the door of my car, causing some cosmetic damage. It was a stark reminder of the unexpected challenges of new technology and lifestyle choices (and what happens when you don't listen to your wife when they say, "Move your car a bit further from the gate" 😬). Fortunately, it was just superficial and was entirely my own fault 🙈.

Besides the technological shift, my life in Greater Manchester, where I've resided for over ten years, has been enriched by cultural experiences. Attending a Hot Milk gig, a band from the area I'd recommended in the past (while assembling my daughter's wardrobes 😂), was a delightful surprise. Discovering they're from the same region brought a personal connection to the music, underscoring the vibrant and dynamic local scene I've come to deeply appreciate.

Hot Milk

These changes in 2023 have added new dimensions to my daily life, reflecting my adaptability and openness to embracing both the comforts and unpredictabilities of modern living in Greater Manchester.

Music and Personal Growth

This year has seen me deepen my connection with music, an essential part of my personal growth. One of the most gratifying aspects has been my consistent guitar practice. Almost every day, I've dedicated at least an hour to playing, and the progress is palpable. There’s something incredibly satisfying about hearing and feeling the improvement in my skills over time.

I’ve also shifted my approach to learning guitar. Previously, I relied heavily on tools like Guitar Pro, which were great for learning the ropes in a structured, game-like format. However, this year, I set a more challenging goal for myself: to memorize songs instead of just following along with the tabs. This shift in approach has been a significant step up, especially since my favourite pieces, like those from Dream Theater and Symphony X, can be quite complex and lengthy.

Additionally, I acquired a new guitar this year, which has been a fantastic addition to my practice. The feel and sound of this instrument have brought a fresh wave of enthusiasm to my playing. I'm considering sharing a video of me playing this new guitar, offering a glimpse into my musical journey and the progress I've made.

Another goal, which I've carried over from the previous year, is to perform live. While I haven’t achieved this yet, it remains a firm aspiration for the near future. The idea of sharing my music with others in a live setting is both exciting and daunting, but it’s a challenge I'm eager to take on.

Overall, my engagement with music this year has been about more than just improvement in technique; it's been a journey of self-expression and personal fulfilment. It's a reminder of how pursuing a passion can be both grounding and uplifting.


As I look back on 2023, it's clear that this year has been one of substantial growth, diverse experiences, and meaningful transitions. From the professional advancements at Clock and stepping further into the realm of public speaking, to revitalizing my blog and embracing the EV lifestyle, each aspect of this year has contributed to my personal and professional development.

The challenges, whether it was adapting to a new mode of transportation or learning to play lengthy and complex guitar pieces, have been opportunities for learning and growth. They've added depth to my daily experiences, enriching my understanding of technology, music, and life itself.

This newsletter, a new venture in itself, has been an excellent medium for me to share these experiences. It's allowed me to document my journey and connect with others who might find inspiration or insight in my stories.

As this year comes to a close, I'm filled with gratitude for the lessons learned and the progress made. Looking forward to 2024, I'm excited about the new challenges and opportunities that await. Whether it's further exploring AI and machine learning at Clock, hosting my blog independently, or finally stepping onto a stage with my guitar, I'm ready to embrace whatever comes next with open arms and an eager heart.

Thank you for joining me on this journey through 2023. Here's to a new year filled with even more learning, growth, and unforgettable experiences! 🍻🥳

Steven Atkinson Tech Blog
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