Categorised by 'Surinder's Log'.

  • Published on
    3 min read

    Working From Home - A Three-Year Update

    It's 23rd March 2020 8:30pm and Boris has announced a stay-at-home order effective immediately. Absolutely befuddled at what is about to happen, I receive a call soon after the broadcast from my manager saying we should go to the office and collect any equipment that would allow us to start working from home.

    It is only after returning back from the office later that evening where it dawned on me that things have changed. Thoughts about health, family and concerns about my livelihood all of a sudden came into question. Uncertainty of life as we knew it.

    As strange as it may sound, my basic home office setup gave me a sense of focus, purpose and security. I consider myself as one of the lucky ones during the pandemic where I had a room that could act as a dedicated home office.

    The Very First Work From Office Setup

    Three years on I'm still happily working remotely. The only thing that has changed with each passing year since that fateful night is my office is better equipped and as of last year started making more of an effort in hybrid working by making appearances a couple times a week to my place of work. Being able to choose when to work from the office on my own terms gives me the freedom to break up the week and do find it refreshing. Best of both worlds!

    The pandemic was an uncontrollable force for change in many peoples lives and in my case, both personally and professionally. When I reflect back to the time before the pandemic, I often wonder how I was able to work around 47 hour week and yet still find time to cook, clean and relax. I can only surmise that this is all we have ever known and what was expected of us. A way of life ingrained in our DNA from the very moment we begin our careers.


    The pace of life has slowed to the point where, for the most part, I can schedule my working hours around my day. I now start my day earlier and undisturbed, allowing me to rip through emails and complete some tasks from the day before, all before my first meeting.

    I still work in a similar fashion to how I normally would do within an office environment where I am sat at my desk over many hours, but the main difference being - I have more time!

    I’m able to get personal mundane tasks done, such as putting the washing on, prepping healthy food (now completely handled by my wife), or even cleaning the bathroom during my lunch break. These types of tasks help get me away from the desk for small moments of time and be productive in doing so.

    Even though I've gone to a hybrid working pattern, there are stark differences between being at home and the office. Suffice to say I am more productive within a home environment as I'm able to focus on the job in hand without distractions (apart from a few scheduled meetings), which is a blessing as a programmer.

    There just doesn’t seem to be time to work in an office anymore on a full-time basis. Working from home has proved to be a positive change from both a work and personal perspective.

    Minor Downsides

    Working from home gives me a lot of flexibility in how I work. Sometimes too much flexibility can be a detriment to when you feel you can have a break. Some are able to walk away from their desk during lunchtime and stick to the 9 to 5. Unfortunately, I'm not the type of person who can do that.

    I find it quite difficult to set boundaries at home even though I have a dedicated working space. At least when working from the office, the day ends from the moment you leave the building.

    The Future and Sustainability

    Regardless what employers think of the work from home phenomenon, it isn’t going anywhere soon. It’s what future employees expect. If your job can be done at a desk, does it matter where your desk is?

    Since we've returned from post pandemic normality, I’ve become more conscious how professional myself and my surroundings may come across to new clients I talk to on Zoom calls and make an active effort in ensuring everything is up-to-par. - Some clients may interpret disturbances from family members and informal looking office surroundings as unprofessional.


    Working from home is just a small part in a bigger picture on how the pandemic has changed my life. It was a catalyst of positive change that forced me to reassess my priorities.

    Home really is where the heart is and there is no longer any doubt whether work and family life are able to mix under one roof. I wouldn't have it any other way.

  • Published on
    10 min read

    Year In Review - 2022


    I have been struggling to write my traditional end-of-year post as I am filled with a sense of melancholy after catching the dreaded COVID and now using the Christmas holidays to get some respite.

    The Christmas spirit of 2022 has passed me by and as a result, been experiencing "Scrooge Syndrome". This is quite possibly due to COVID ruining my plans or maybe because I am just getting too old for the festive holidays and my child-like sense of wonder is getting sucked out of me with each year that passes.

    I am hoping my recovery into the new year will be reignited and where normal service will be resumed.

    Anyway, without further ado, let the end-of-year post begin.

    2022 In Words/Phrases

    New site, Tailwind CSS, Wedding (part 2), India, Cotswolds, Tanking UK Economy, Netlify, Hubspot, Lego Ford Mustang, Stocks and Shares, Investments, Pixel 7 Pro, Writing, Spousal Visa, COVID Positive, Lots of writing, Anime


    A few months into the year, organic search stats dipped considerably, which led me to think that some of the content I was posting was not as relevant as I hoped. At this point, I thought I'd hit the glass ceiling... something that I've come to terms with since noticing the year-on-year positive increase in visitor and organic searches.

    The dip continued for 3-4 months, but carried on as normal and was more so determined to stay the course. Out of all the years of blogging, this was the year I felt most inspired and truly at an ease with writing and (thankfully!) managed to recoup the loss of traction. It was from quarter three of the year onwards that there was a substantial uptake in daily site visitors.

    Writing blog posts about Google Apps Scripts, Active Campaign and Azure were the top performing pages and helped drive traffic.

    I would say the most rewarding takeaway from this year is noticing increased readership based on recently written posts compared to older ones written from previous years.

    2021/2022 Comparison:

    • Users: +14.86%
    • Page Views: +14.49%
    • New Users: +15.33%
    • Bounce Rate: -0.51%
    • Search Console Total Clicks: +97.18%
    • Search Console Impressions: +109%
    • Search Console Page Position: -2.4%

    Record-breaking Number of Posts

    For the first time in my years of blogging, I have managed to publish the highest number of posts within a year - 29 (including this one)! I cannot say what the reason for this could be as this year has been very manic.

    Next year, I think I will slow down a bit and write a smaller number of posts that are longer in content.

    It was satisfying to see increased viewership on most recently written posts over 2022 and 2021.

    Caught The COVID

    I caught COVID in mid-December for what I believed was the second time after encountering it at the start of 2020 (back when tests weren't even a thing). Based on how I felt during the first time was completely different second-time round, which made me question if my most recent encounter was in fact the first. I felt dreadful for a longer period when compared to my experiences back in 2020.

    I am coasting through the Christmas holidays in recovery mode and trying to enjoy the simpler things life has to offer... when you feel like doing absolutely nothing.

    New Website!

    At the end of last year, I was learning the Tailwind CSS framework to see if it could be used to build a template for this website. It didn't take long for me to get the hang of building pages due to the wide variety of pre-built components available online for me to tinker with and easy-to-follow documentation.

    If it wasn't for the Tailwind CSS framework, I don't think I would have had the patience nor the skill to build my website template using native HTML and CSS alone. I was surprised at the quick turnaround time. By July the site refresh as well as some updates under the hood was released.

    I am just thankful this finally happened! After many "year in review" posts where I've repeatedly stated the plan to redevelop my site (and failed to do so!), this was the year where I managed to make this happen. The words I've written have never looked so good!

    There are still some minor tweaks I would like to carry out next year, such as a dark mode feature and re-integrate Algolia search.

    Further details on my site rebuild can be read here: New Website Built with Tailwind CSS and GatsbyJS.

    Stocks and Investments

    Ever since getting married, making my money work harder has been at the forefront of my mind. I read that if you're not making money whilst you're sleeping or do not have an additional revenue stream, then you'll never truly have financial freedom. Stocks and investments were something I initially got exposure to through my use of the Plum savings app I started using during 2020, where it would automatically make investments on my behalf based on a list of predefined sector portfolios.

    This year I decided to break away from the Plum app-managed investments and start building my own stock portfolio. It took me a little while to get the confidence to do this and my first few trades were small in value just to test the waters.

    So far it has proven to be an enjoyable learning curve that has bore fruit. I plan to write more in the future on how my investments are progressing which will be housed under the new Finance category.

    As it stands, my investment strategy has changed slightly since writing my very first post about the subject. My investments consist of:

    • ETF Index Funds
    • Renewable Energy
    • Tech companies

    I feel like there is no time like the present to make as much money as I can whilst I have little dependencies, especially as I have come to the investment game late in my life. Sometimes I kick myself for not having the knowledge that I have now when I was 25. I truly believe I could have been better off financially. I have to be realistic about the expected return of investment and have a 5-10 year plan on seeing where this takes me.

    14th January 2023 will mark exactly a year since I took control of my investment portfolio. I will be checking my MWRR (money-weighted rate of return) to tell me how much my portfolio has increased or decreased in value since making my first deposit.

    Lego Ford Mustang Build

    I’ve finally found time during the year to complete this Lego model. All it took was a couple of hours over a handful of weekends. Being someone who hasn’t built any Lego models since I was a child, I felt a little rusty and I have to admit, due to the sheer number of intricate pieces there were countless times when I lost my patience during the build process.

    Nevertheless, you can’t help but appreciate all the features the Lego creators have managed to cram into the model. The end product is a work of art and wouldn’t mind building another if the right model were to come along.

    Overall, a satisfactory build and a worthy addition to my office.

    Anime TV Shows

    I think getting COVID has changed my viewing habits and was surprised to find that I quite enjoyed watching a handful of Anime shows on Netflix to keep me entertained as I didn't have the focus or patience during the recovery period to watch anything that required too much thinking.

    So far I have watched:

    • Thermae Romae Novae: The adventures of a passionate Roman bath architect who starts randomly moving back and forth through time to present-day Japan, where he finds inspiration in the bathing innovations he finds. Watching this makes me want to travel to Japan and relax in one of their old-fashioned Onsen.
    • Howl's Moving Castle: The film in the most simplistic terms is about a teenager who works at a hat shop and gets transformed into an old woman by a witch who curses her. Even if you're not entirely invested in the story, you'll be entertained by the beautiful animation that is truly a feast for the eyes.
    • Kotaro Lives Alone: A lonely 4-year-old boy moves into an apartment building on his own and is befriended by his neighbours. Each episode touches on serious issues of abandonment, friendship, and life with a heartfelt and somewhat comedic effect.

    I am not sure if Anime based shows will continue to garner my attention in the future, but I very much appreciate what I have watched so far.

    Goals for 2023

    I think for 2023, a more realistic set of goals is in order. I'll plan on focusing more on life-orientated goals over planned achievements within my career.

    Workout and General Exercising

    I really need to get back into regular exercise as I have been quite lax in this department over the year. I used to schedule a workout a minimum of three times a week, which has now reduced to zero. I will start slowly by conditioning my body with light cardio initially and work my way to proper workouts.

    Get Back Into Reading

    I would like to allocate time to read more as I have a stagnant bookshelf that has not changed for quite some time. Being someone technical who lives and breathes the industry every hour of the day, I feel it would be a healthy change to diversify my focus.

    I miss getting lost in a novel and transporting myself into another world. I know the very book I want to sink my teeth into to get me back into reading: The Thursday Murder Club.

    There are also some finance-related books on my reading list I can delve into to assist further in my investment knowledge in between fictional storytelling.

    Less WhatsApp'ing, More Phone Calling

    I am someone who prefers to just send a quick message via WhatsApp (to the dismay of my sister) rather than grabbing the phone, placing it to my ear and starting an actual conversation.

    Sending a message is fine in day-to-day life, but should it be used so regularly that subconsciously it could cause a degree of separation to the very person who you are communicating with?

    The answer is: No.

    Most of the time on a daily basis I am overwhelmed with what life throws at me. The multitude of things that occur both within work and personal life is a juggling act. I am not the best juggler. As a result, having a proper conversation with a friend or family member has always taken a back seat.

    I think out of all my goals for next year, this one is going to be the toughest. As they say: The first step to change is knowing you have a problem... And I have a problem.

    DIY Project: Hardwire A Front and Rear Dashcam

    I am quite protective of my car. It’s my pride and joy that I like to keep in showroom condition. Unfortunately, it is not in showroom condition anymore ever since my car was damaged whilst I was in a part of London I generally hate driving in. Luckily, my car managed to come out relatively unscathed with some battle scars that require repair.

    From this point, it seemed natural I should purchase a dashcam for an added layer of protection and peace of mind. Come 2023, I plan on carrying out a hardwire installation where the dashcam will be powered directly by the car's battery. I’ve never done this before and am quite excited about the installation process.

    Be The Person I Want To Be

    I've come to the realisation that in some cases I am not the person I want to be and started inheriting what others want me to be. This comes from a single point of trying to please others and now is the time to have a factory reset without fear of reprisal whatever the outcome may be.


    My FujiFilm X100F has been gathering dust since my last proper holiday to the Maldives back in 2019 and since then I've been utilising my phone for taking pictures for every occasion. Now that I own a Pixel 7 Pro that has a fantastic camera array producing truly beautiful pictures, makes getting the FujiFilm camera out is even harder.

    I miss holding a traditional camera and next year I plan on taking it with me on even the smallest outing.

    Desk Upgrade

    This isn't a priority. But with each day I work from home, the more I feel that a standing desk would be a worthy investment for my posture and general health. In addition, I noticed the majority of standing desks result in less clutter and more organisation due to cable management and add-on accessories to make better use of space.

    I have my eye on a Secretlab MAGNUS PRO. It's a desk that combines both form and function!

    Final Thoughts

    This tiny piece of the internet gives me so much joy to share thoughts and impart the knowledge some may deem useful. Thank you all for reading and see you in the new year.

  • If you haven't noticed (and I hope you have), back in June I finally released an update to my website to look more pleasing to the eye. This has been a long time coming after being on the back-burner for a few years.

    Embarrassingly, I’ve always stated in my many year in reviews that I planned on redeveloping this site over the next coming year, but never came to fruition. This is partly down to time and deciding to make content a priority. If I’m honest, it’s mostly down to lacking the skills and patience in carrying out the front-end development work.

    Thankfully, I managed to knuckle down and decided to become acquainted and learnt enough about HTML and CSS to get the site where it currently stands, with the help of Tailwind CSS and an open-source base template to act as a good starting point for a novice front-end developer.

    Tailwind CSS

    Very early on, I knew the only hope I had to give this site a new look was to use a front-end framework like Tailwind CSS, requiring a minimal learning curve to produce quick results. It’s definitely not a front-end framework to be sniffed at as more than 260000 developers have used it for their design system. So it’s a framework that is here to stay - a worthwhile investment to learn.

    Tailwind CSS is predominantly a CSS framework consisting of predefined classes to build websites directly within the markup without having to write a single line of custom CSS.

    As you’re styling directly within the markup, at first glance it can be overwhelming, especially where multiple classes need to be declared on a single HTML block. A vast difference when compared to the cleanliness of builds carried out by the very skilful team from where I work.

    It’s a small trade-off in an otherwise solid framework that gives substantial benefits in productivity. Primarily because Tailwind CSS classes aren’t very specific and gives a high level of customisability without you having to concoct CSS styles.

    Even though there are many utility classes to get acquainted with, once you have an understanding of the core concepts, front-end builds become less of an uphill battle. Through rebuilding my site, I managed to quite quickly get familiarity with creating different layouts based on viewport size and modifying margins and padding.

    I found it to be a very modular and component-driven framework, helping avoid repetition. There are UI kits on the market that give good examples of the power of Tailwind CSS that you can use to help speed up development:

    Using Tailwind CSS took away my fear of front-end development without having to think about Bootstrap, BEM, SASS mix-ins, custom utility classes, purge processing, etc.

    Base Template

    I gave myself a 3-week target (not full-time) to get the new site released and this couldn't have been done without getting a head start from a base theme. I found an open-source template built by Timothy Lin on Tailwind Awesome website that suited my key requirements:

    • Clean
    • Simple
    • Elegant
    • Maintainable
    • Easily customisable

    Another developer by the name of Leo, developed another variation of this already great template where I felt it met my requirements down to a tee.

    Even though the template code-base used was developed in Next.js, this did not matter as I could easily migrate the Tailwind markup into my Gatsby JS project. Getting Tailwind set up initially for Gatsby took a little tinkering to get right and to ensure the generated CSS footprint was kept relatively small.

    As you can see from the new site build, I was able to make further modifications to suit my requirements. This in itself is a testament to the original template build quality and the power of Tailwind CSS.


    As well as changing the look of my site, I thought it would be an opportune time to make a few other small enhancements.

    Google Ads

    Removing Google Ads had been on the forefront of my mind ever since I moved over to Netlify to host my website. Previously, it was a way to contribute to the yearly hosting cost. Now, this is no longer of any relevance (as I'm on the free Netlify free hosting plan), especially when weighing the importance of a meagre monetary return over improving the overall website look and load times of the site.

    In its place, I have a Buy Me A Coffee profile for those who would like to support the content I write.

    Updated Version of Gatsby JS

    It seemed natural to upgrade the version of Gatsby JS from version 2 to 4 during the reworking of my site to keep up-to-date with the latest changes and remove any deprecated code.

    Upgrading from version 2 to 4 took a little longer than I'd hoped as other elements required updating such as Node and NPM packages. This resulted in a lot of breaking changes within my code-base that I had to rectify.

    The process was arduous but worth doing as I found site builds in Netlify reduced significantly.

    Gatsby Build Caching

    I briefly spoke about improved Netlify build times (above) due to efficiencies in code changes relating to upgrading to Gatsby 4. There is one more quiver to my bow to aid further build efficiencies and that is by installing the netlify-plugin-gatsby-cache plugin within Netlify - one-click install.

    I highly recommend everyone who has a Gatsby site install this plugin as it instantly reduces build times. For a website like my own that houses over 300 posts the build minutes do start to add up.

    Features Yet To Be Implemented

    Even though the new version of my site is live, there are features I still plan on implementing.

    Algolia Site Search

    As part of getting a new version of my site released in such a short period, I had to focus on the core areas and everything else was secondary. One of the features that didn’t make the cut was the site search using Algolia.

    I do plan on reinstating the site search feature at some point as I found it helpful for me to search through my older posts and surprisingly (based on the stats) visitors to the site also made use of it.

    Short-Form Content

    I like the idea of posting smaller pieces of content that doesn't have to result in very lengthy written blog posts. Not sure what I will call this new section. There are only two names that come to mind: "Short-form" or "Bytesize". It could consist of the following types of content:

    • Small, concise code snippets.
    • Links to content I found useful online that could be useful in certain technical use-cases.
    • Book recommendations.
    • Quotes.
    • Thoughts on news articles - John Gruber style!

    At one point, I wrote blog posts I categorised as Quick Tips, till this date consists of a mere four blog posts that I never added to. I think the naming of this category wasn't quite right.

    I see this section functioning in a similar fashion to Marco Heine's Today I Learned.

    My Bookmarks

    I like the idea of having single page with a bunch of links to useful sites I keep going back to. It could be sites that you have never come across before, making all the more reason to share these links.

    Closing Thoughts

    I normally find a full-site rebuild quite trying at times. This time was different and there were two reasons for this.

    Firstly, I've already built the site in Gatsby JS and involved minimal code changes, even when taking into consideration the changes needed to update to version 4. Secondly, using Tailwind CSS as a front-end framework was a very rewarding experience especially when page builds come to fruition in such a quick turnaround.

    I hope you find the new design is more aesthetically pleasing and makes reading through blog posts a more enjoyable experience.

  • Published on
    4 min read

    300th Blog Post!

    Hitting the 300th blog post milestone isn't something I could have ever imagined. But here we are. This seems like an ideal opportunity to look back and reflect on how it all started and my journey...

    Where It Started

    The year is 2007. A 22-year-old junior web developer called Surinder decided he wanted to create a blog to primarily serve as a knowledge base of all the things he learned in his career so far. Originally, built in BlogEngine - a nice open-source and lightweight .NET-based blogging platform, he made his foray into the blogging world.

    The very first post published involved a SQL matter that (at the time) he thought was very complex in nature - Implement SCOPE_IDENTITY() in Data Access Layer. It was this very post that started it all and as they say: The rest is history...

    As strange as it may sound, at the very start, my blog was a secret that I hid from my peers. Being a junior developer, I found myself lacking confidence in the very industry I was working in. What right do I have to start a blog and share any technical knowledge when those who I worked with are more experienced than me?

    After three years when I felt more confident in the type of posts my blog contained, I decided to allow search engines to index my content. It was also during this time I moved on job-wise and used my website to give my prospective employer an insight into my capability. It must have worked - I got the job!

    Identity Crisis

    In the early years, my blog had a bit of an identity crisis when it came to its domain name. It started with, to, then and lastly to what it will forever be immortalised as - The change in the domain name was a result of not wanting there to be an expectation that I will solely be writing about technical-related content and wanted the website to focus more on me as an individual.

    Finding My Writing Groove

    Throughout my time blogging, I've fallen in and out of love of writing and at times hit writer's block. As a consequence, there have at times been gaps in consistently outputting content. I think this is primarily due to taking a very long time to find my feet and finding a voice.

    I can honestly say that it's over the last few years I've finally found my writing groove and figured out the type of content I want to push out. Not only do I enjoy writing about all things technical, but also started garnering a fascination with writing more personal pieces where I’m not bound by any specific subject.

    Writing Is Both A Passion and A Healer

    The driving force after publishing my latest posts is the excitement of thinking about what to write next. This mentality has worked great for me as I know my next post will help me grow whatever the subject is in my next writing endeavour. I no longer feel like writing is a discipline, it's a passion.

    There is something cathartic in pounding the keys of my keyboard to output something that was once a small thought in my head to something of substance. I also found that writing acts as a coping mechanism during times of negativity and stress.

    Cringe Factor

    I do cringe looking back at some of my earlier posts. As much as I'd like to delete these posts, I leave them as they are to act as an anchor to ground me and as a reminder of how far I've come. Through the thirty pages of posts, I can see how I've changed throughout the years and grown as a person.

    In the very beginning writing was a way to make my mark in the world and if I could get some form of monetary gain or high readership for a post, I'd class that as a win. Now that I've matured this has is no longer of relevance.

    Content Syndication

    My strategy now is to make my content accessible to a wider audience by syndicating posts to other platforms. Syndication takes your content to more readers and helps boost organic and referral traffic back to your website. At the moment, I syndicate my content based on the subject matter:

    What I've learnt is that it's all about serving the right content to the right users.

    Imposter Syndrome

    Even now after 15 years of writing, I still suffer from the occasional bout of imposter syndrome where I perceive my skill set as lower than my actual skill set. There will always be someone capable of doing things better and I have to remember this shouldn't be a negative takeaway. Surrounding yourself with such people is an opportunity to learn more and become better at what I do. There have been posts where I received some good constructive criticisms that helped me approach things differently.

    Where Do I Go From Here?

    Blogging is a marathon, not a race. I've written 300 posts over 15 years, equating to 15 posts per year. If my writing groove continues on its current trajectory, this will only increase as long as I feel I have quality content to publish.

    I've noticed there are many posts stored within Evernote that don't make the cut - and this is good thing. Not every thought or idea is worth publishing.

    I hope I can continue to output content in the years to come and with any luck, I look forward to writing a post marking the next 300th blog post.

  • Published on
    5 min read

    Year In Review - 2021

    I haven't met any of the tasks I set myself based on my last year in review. But as life springs up random surprises, you see yourself shifting to a moment in time that you never thought was conceivable.

    If someone were to tell me last year that 2021 would be the year I'd find someone and finally settle down, I'd say you've been drinking too much of the finest Rioja.

    When such a shift in one's life happens, this takes utmost priority and as a result, my blogging has taken a backseat. After April things have been a little sporadic - a time when the new stage in my life kicked up a notch.

    Even though blogging this year hasn't been a priority, it's not a result of a lack of learning. I've just been focusing on learning some new life skills during this new stage in my life as well as keeping on top of new technological advances within a work environment on a daily basis.

    2021 In Words/Phrases

    Coronavirus, Covid-19, Omicron, Hubspot, Wedding, No Time To Die, Money Heist, Tailwind CSS, Prismic, Gatsby Prismic, Beard, Azure, Back The Gym, Blenheim Light Show, Camping, Abingdon Fireworks, New Family/Friends

    My Site

    Believe it or not, I have been working on an updated version by completely starting from scratch. This involved updating to the latest Gatsby framework and redoing the front-end. I came across a very good tried and tested CSS framework called Tailwind CSS.

    Tailwind is a utility CSS framework that allows for a quick turnaround in building blocks of markup to create bespoke designs based on a library of flexible predefine CSS classes. The main benefits I found so far is that it has a surprisingly minimal footprint when building for production and many sites have pre-developed HTML components you can customise and implement on your site. Only time will tell whether this is the correct approach.

    Beard Gains

    Growing some facial hair wasn't an outcome to living like a hermit during these Covid times, but a requirement from my wife. My profile picture is due for an update to reflect such a change in appearance. Even I don't recognise myself sometimes.


    When it comes to site statistics, I tend to lower my expectations so I'm not setting myself up for failure when it comes to checking Google Analytics. I wasn't expecting much from this year's stats due to my lack of contribution, but suffice to say I haven’t faired too badly.

    2020/2021 Comparison:

    • Users: +41.09%
    • Page Views: +45.56%
    • New Users: +42.03%
    • Bounce Rate: -3.06%
    • Search Console Total Clicks: +254%
    • Search Console Impressions: +295%
    • Search Console Page Position: -8.3%

    I'm both surprised and relieved that existing content is still getting traction resulting in more page views and users. The bounce rate has decreased a further 3.05% over last year. Out of all the statistics listed above, I believe the Google Page Position is the most important and quite disheartened that I've slipped up in this area.

    To my surprise, the site search implemented earlier this year using Algolia was getting used by visitors. This was very unexpected as the primary reason why I even added a site search is mainly for my use.

    One can only imagine how things could have been if I managed to be more consistent in the number of posts published over the year.

    Things To Look Into In 2022

    NFT and Crypto

    The main thing I want to look into further is the realms of Cryptocurrency and NFT’s. I’ve been following the likes of Dan Petty and Paul Stamatiou on Twitter and has opened my eyes to how things have moved on since I last took a brief look at this space.


    I haven’t been on a holiday since my trip to the Maldives in 2019 and I’m well overdue on another one - preferably abroad if I feel safe enough to do so and COVID allowing.

    Lego Ford Mustang

    I purchased a Lego Creator Series Ford Mustang near the end of last year as an early Christmas present to myself and I’m still yet to complete it. I’ve gone as far as building the underlying chassis and suspension. It doesn’t even resemble a car yet. How embarrassing. :-)

    On completion, it’ll make a fine centre-piece in my office.


    Ever since I worked on a project at the start of the year where I was dealing with Azure Functions, deployment slots and automation I’ve been more interested in the services Azure has to offer. I’ve always stuck to the hosting related service setup and search indexing. Only ventured very little elsewhere. I’d like to keep researching in this area, especially in cognitive services.

    Git On The Command-Line

    Even though I’ve been using Git for as long as I’ve been working as a developer, it has always been via a GUI such as TortoiseGit or SourceTree. When it comes to interacting with a Git repo using the command-line, I’m not as experienced as I’d like to be when it comes to the more complex commands. In the past when I have used complex commands without a GUI, it’s been far more straightforward when compared to the comfort of a GUI where I naturally find myself when interacting with a repository.

    Twitter Bot

    For some reason, I have a huge interest in creating a Twitter bot that will carry out some form of functionality based on the contents of a tweet. At this moment in time, I have no idea what the Twitter bot will do. Once I have thought of an endearing task it can perform, the development will start.

    Final Thoughts

    If you thought 2021 was bad enough with the continuation of the sequel no one wanted (Covid part 2), we are just days away from entering the year 2022. The year grim events took place from the fictitious film - Soylent Green.

    Soylent Green Poster (1973)

    Luckily for me, 2021 has been a productive year filled with personal and career-based accomplishments and hoping for this to continue into the new year. But I do feel it's time I pushed myself further.

    I’d like to venture more into technologies that don’t form part of my existing day-to-day coding language or framework. This may make for more interesting blog posts. But to do this, I need to focus more over the next year and allocate time for research and writing.

  • Published on
    7 min read

    Year In Review - 2020

    Well, hasn’t this been an interesting year? I couldn't have described it as eloquently as Helen Rosner, who managed to sum up the thoughts that ran through my mind at the start of the pandemic:

    2020 In Words/Phrases

    Coronavirus, Covid-19, holiday less, lockdown, DIY, UniFi router, armchair, daily HIIT sessions, home office setup, GatsbyJS, 10th work anniversary, Netlify hosting, WordPress (begrudgingly!), Batman Begins, Failing MacBook Pro, Social Share Image Improvements, Hubspot, work from home, social hermit, ultra-wide curved monitor, smart-home automation, family, new forest, outside Christmas lights, Pixel 5, Azure Web Apps, Azure DevOps, Google Photos disappointment

    Holiday - A Paradise Lost

    Over the last couple of years, I started a tradition on writing about my one big holiday I like to take each year. This was supposed to be the year where I expanded my Maldives horizons (after visiting Vilamendhoo last year) holidaying on another island - Cocoon Island!

    I wanted to go to Cocoon Island to celebrate my 35th year of being on this earth with family. But alas, it was not to be. Covid-19 cast doubt of travel uncertainty throughout the year and I'm hoping (like many others), I'll have the opportunity to travel once again in the coming year.

    My Site

    This has been the year where I have fully transitioned my site into the Gatsby framework and had an absolute ball in doing so! There is something liberating about having a website that doesn’t rely on the conventional CMS platform and as a bonus, I’m saving around £100 in yearly hosting costs after moving to Netlify for hosting.

    I need to pluck up the courage to update the front-end build as it not only looks dated but doesn’t perform very well on the Google Lighthouse score, which is something that should easily be achievable using Gatsby JS. Redeveloping this aspect of my website has always taken a back-seat as writing content will take precedence. Strangely enough, looking back over the year I should have had time to write more especially during the lockdown period, but I found this year to be mentally exhausting.


    When I look at the stats for this year, it seems like my older posts still seem to get a lot of traction. Maybe the numbers are trying to tell me that my more recent posts aren’t that interesting. In all seriousness, I have had another positive bump but not on the same level as in previous years. I am ok with that.

    As I stated in my last year in review post, I accepted that the figures will plateau. I’m surprised I managed to get any increase in stats as I lacked focus when it came to blogging and most importantly talking more about unique technical subjects with depth.

    2019/2020 Comparison:

    • Users: +11.45%
    • Page Views: +10.54%
    • New Users: +10.72%
    • Bounce Rate: -0.01%
    • Search Console Total Clicks:  +99%
    • Search Console Impressions: +91%
    • Search Console Page Position: +1.7%

    Experiencing The Missed Cinematic Experience of 2005

    On the 15th June 2005, a film was released that would forever redefine super-hero cinema - Batman Begins! There are certain films that must be seen on the big screen and for me, Batman Begins was one of them. It was unfortunate I gave it a miss on release as I fell out of love with the film interpretations of Batman after “Batman and Robin” scarred me for life.

    I instantly regretted this miss-step when finally watching the film on DVD over a year later. I yearned the day when I’d get an opportunity to see Christopher Nolan’s Batman on the big screen. Fast-forward 15 years from its original release, Covid-19 presented a small silver-lining where a handful of films were re-released to fill the gaping hole in the cinemas' schedule, caused by film studios withholding their new releases.

    The screening itself couldn’t have been more perfect. Sitting in the VIP seating area and having the whole auditorium to myself, gave a somewhat immersive and intimate viewing experience.

    The MacBook Pro Engineer

    My 2015 MacBook Pro's battery has been failing for some time now. So much so it's become a glorified desktop rather than a laptop, as any attempt to disconnect would result in the full loss of power. Being that my laptop is out of warranty and even considered buying a replacement, I plucked up the courage to replace the battery myself. Some may call this madness, but I thought this would be the quickest way to get a new battery in when compared to the estimated time Apple quoted me - 2 weeks. Two weeks is a very long time to be without a laptop.

    There is such a wealth of online resources demonstrating how the battery can be replaced via DIY videos on YouTube and iFixit tutorials. I'll admit, it takes guts to rip out an existing battery mainly due to the heavy-duty adhesive. It's a slow and arduous process. After this is done, the rest is plain sailing.

    I wish I could say my laptop is fully operational but it’s still a glorified desktop as I am still getting battery health warnings, leading me to think some other component is playing up.


    1st July marked my 10th anniversary at Syndicut. I always knew I wanted my 10th anniversary to be marked with something memorable... Covid made it memorable indeed for all the wrong reasons. I would have preferred to celebrate with my workmates on a social outing of some sorts, instead, it was a more low-key affair involving a raised glass of the finest Rioja to another successful 10 years!

    At this point, I have to really thank Steve and Nick (the directors of Syndicut) who managed to steer us through the choppy waters of the Covid-19 ripple effect. It’s thanks to them our jobs remained secure and I’m sure my fellow work colleagues would express the same gratitude that we came through the other side! For the first time in my life, I felt the possibility of facing financial insecurity.

    If this year has taught me anything, it's not to take one's job and career for granted especially when words such as “furlough” and “unemployment” is so prevalent.

    Journey for Self Improvement

    Depending on how one looks at it, when living on your lonesome and placed in a lockdown can be a recipe for borderline insanity! You could while away the time watching excessive amounts of TV or playing Scrabble GO (my lockdown game of choice!) with friends and randoms over the world, or utilise this time improving one's self. As they say - Idle hands make for the devil's work.

    With so much time on my hands, I became very conscious of ensuring I was being as productive as I could, whether that was doing DIY, learning new a new programming framework/language or forcing myself to exercise more often using resistence-bands with gyms being closed. Seriously, those resistance-bands are worth every penny. I don’t think I’ll ever be going back to the gym.

    Home Improvement

    When in lockdown, I no longer had an excuse to put off all the DIY and general house jobs I previously been telling myself I'm too busy to complete. The outcome has been very satisfying and in can finally say things are more homely.

    My most precious purchase is the new leather armchair which I've placed in the corner of the room along with some plants. It's since become a place where I can read, write and think... I've called it my "thinking space"! :-)

    Working from home gave me the extra push to properly kit out a small office space. Thankfully, this is something that was already in motion before the lockdown and had a nice industrial desk (made out of re-purposed Indian mango wood and steel) and a leather chair. Over the months, I kept adding more items to make my work life more comfortable. Currently, I am awaiting some Displates to cover up the bare walls.

    I’ve also been delving into some smart-home automation starting with the purchase of some smart plugs leading me wanting more! At some point in the future, I could hook up my smart devices to a Raspberry Pi for additional control through a mini touchscreen. Now that would be very cool!

    Google Pixel 5

    I didn’t end up getting an iPhone to compliment my iPad purchase from last year. Couldn’t bring myself to do it. Even though I’ve been looking for a replacement for my Pixel 2 for some time, there weren’t any Android phones I deemed a worthy purchase. Last years Pixel 4 didn’t tick the boxes that I’d hope it would and so opted for this years Pixel 5.

    The Pixel 5 isn’t what I’d class as the typical flagship. Google has redefined what they class as a “flagship” by not using the most up-to-date components when it comes to the processor and the camera. Strangely enough, the camera hardware hasn’t been updated since the Pixel 2, which is very odd. Nevertheless, I have found the Pixel 5 to be a fine phone. The battery lasts me two days on a single charge and (most importantly!) the camera picture quality cannot be faulted.

    Home Network Upgrade

    In light of having to work from home, I thought now might be a good time to give the network and little more stability, speed and security. My trusty old Billion 7800DXL router started to wane and found myself having to manually restart it on a daily basis. After failing to find up-to-date firmware to help remedy the issue, I thought it’s best to opt for an upgrade to a prosumer grade router - UniFi Dream Machine.

    At some point, I would like to beef up my network setup by getting a network switch cabinet filled with hardware from the UniFi range of products. Even though this would be overkill for my needs, it would be very interesting to setup.

    Final Thoughts

    I leave 2020 with an immense sense of gratitude where all those I consider close to me are safe and healthy. It’s strange to think over the last year has been something we have all bear witness and experienced together. Covid-19 has changed things - the very fabric of our existence. It squashes a persons ego.

  • Published on
    6 min read

    Year In Review - 2019

    I am glad to report that this year was a year of new learning. Not just about things from a technical standpoint but from a personal standpoint. I feel I started the year with a single-track mindset. However, as the year progressed I have become open to new ways of thinking and finally accepting that even though certain personal milestones I set for myself may not have been accomplished, I am content on lessons learnt from failure. Failure may suck, but it’s progression! It also gives me something to write about. :-)

    2019 in Words/Phrases

    Kentico 12 MVC, Umbraco, GatsbyJs, Azure Dev Ops, Maldives, Hiking, Drupal (yes I had to do that along with a bit of PHP), Cloudflare CDN Configuration, Google Lighthouse score, Headless CMS - strategic asset, Prismic, Netlify, Kontent, CaaS (Content-as-a-Service), Automated backups for personal hosting, iPad for improved productivity, A2 Hosting Issues, Writers block, New desk and office, Failing Macbook Pro battery, Considering an iPhone 11, Fondness of Port.

    Site Offline and Lessons Learnt

    I was welcomed with the first bit of failure in April where my website was taken offline (along with many others) for a lengthy period thanks to my previous hosting provider, A2 Hosting. They had no backups, no disaster recovery and no customer support. Their whole operation is a disaster.

    Failure = Lesson learnt.

    The only benefit of this experience was that it led me to a chain of events to reassess how I host my site and come to the realisation just how important my online presence is to me. Luckily, I was able to get back up and running by moving hosting provider. Thank god I had a recent enough backup to do this.

    Popular Posts of The Year

    This year I have written 26 posts (including this one). I've delved into my Google Analytics and picked a handful of gems where I believe in my own small way have made an impact:

    I think my crowning glory is Google classing my post about “Switching Branches in TortoiseGit" as a featured snippet. So if anyone searches for something along those search terms, they will see the following as a top post. I don't know how long this will last, but I'll take it!

    Google Featured Snippet - Switch Branches In TortoiseGit


    My site statistics have increased considerably, which has been amazing. However, I have to remain realistic and grounded in what to expect in future comparisons. I think the figures may plateau over the next year.

    The stats I post below is based on organic searches and I haven’t actively posted links on my social. Maybe this is something I should get back into doing for further exposure.

    2018/2019 Comparison:

    • Users: +50%
    • Page Views: +47%
    • New Users: +48%
    • Bounce Rate: +0.8%
    • Search Console Total Clicks: +251%
    • Search Console Impressions: +280%
    • Search Console Page Position: -15%


    I am so close to hitting the all-time milestone for the length of service when compared to any company I’ve worked in previously. In fact, I have already surpassed any previous record three-fold. As of next July, it will be 10 years! Wowsers!

    I can see the coming year will be a time to reassess how we approach our technical projects to accommodate new markets, technologies and frameworks. It’s always an exciting time to be a developer at Syndicut, but I am looking forward to sinking my teeth into new challenges ahead!

    Greater Emphasis on CaaS (Content-as-a-Service)

    Over the last year, I have noticed a shift in how content is managed. Even though I have been busy working away on headless CMS’s at Syndicut over the last few years, it seems to be the year where its properly been given global traction and market awareness. You can just tell by the number of events for both developers and clients.

    Through this exposure, clients are becoming technically savvy and questioning how and where their data is housed. Content is a strategic asset that should no longer be siloed, but distributed across multiple mediums, for example:

    • Website
    • Mobile Applications
    • Digital Billboards

    The key to a successful Headless CMS integration is not the development of an application, but the content-modelling. Based on what I have seen from other implementations, sufficient content-modelling always seems to be missed. Data-architecture is key to ensure data is scalable across all mediums.

    I am also a Kontent (previously known as Kentico Cloud) Certified Developer.

    iPad and Now iPhone???

    This subject matter truly alarms me.

    I’ve been considering getting an iPhone 11 after Google released their dismal spec of the Pixel 4 and on top of that, finding that I am really happy with my iPad Air purchase. This is coming from an Android fan!

    I have no regrets in getting an iPad, especially when combined with the a keyboard and Apple Pen. It makes you a productivity powerhouse! We live in a world where finding quality Android tablets with sufficient accessories is difficult to find.

    If I can get my head around being locked into the Apple eco-system, I might make the move. Why oh why is Google putting me in such a position. :-S

    I guess we’ll have to wait till I write my “Year In Review - 2020” on what I ended up doing.

    Coffee Tables and Desk Purchased!

    In my last year in review, I jokingly added a footnote stating I needed to get a coffee table set and desk. I can mark a massive tick against these two items for a job well done. In fact, I went a step further with purchasing a desk by converting a part of a room into a small office with the following additions:

    • Ikea desk chair
    • Corner shelves
    • An array of potted plants
    • Laptop stand
    • Very cool desk lamp
    • Nice grey rug with some pleasant subtle abstract patterns

    It’s now a perfect place where I can work and write without any distractions. The room still requires some finishing touches - in my case, it’s always the small jobs that take the longest!

    I was surprised at how productive I’ve been by finally having a small office setup. Gone are the days where I would be reclined on my sofa in front of the TV working away on my laptop.

    Redeveloping My Site

    It seems like I can’t go through a year without looking into redeveloping my site. It’s the curse when being exposed to working with new technologies and platforms. I like to ensure I am moving with the times too.

    I have been considering ditching Kentico as my content-management platform and opting for the static-generator route, such as Gatsby. Resulting in simplified platform-agnostic hosting, site architecture and with the added benefit of portability. I am in the middle of replicating my site functionality using Gatsby to see if it’s a feasible option.

    I will be posting links to my “in progress” site hosted on Netlify in my “Journey To GatsbyJs” Series, where I will be writing about things I’ve learnt trying to replicate my site functionality.

  • Published on
    11 min read

    Maldives and Vilamendhoo Island Resort

    Writing about my holiday has started to become a bit of a tradition (for those that are worthy of such time and effort!) which seem to start when I went to Bali last year. I find it's a way to pass the time in airports and flights when making the return journey home. So here's another one...

    Sun, sea, sand and a beach facing hut with an open roofed bathroom... Yes, I have arrived at the Vilamendhoo Resort tucked away amongst the many other beautiful islands of the Maldives.

    I’m not supposed to be here...

    Vilamendhoo Island Resort - Entrance

    If I told you our holiday location and resort was in fact booked by mistake, you’d probably think I was lying. But that’s exactly what happened. Originally, the holiday was supposed to be at the Preskill Resort in Mauritius. I can almost understand the travel agent getting “Mauritius” and “Maldives” mixed up, but how can the resort name “Preskill” get misconstrued with “Vilamendhoo”? Yes, I haven’t quite figured out this conundrum myself. Obviously, the travel agent had other plans and we were both talking on deaf ears. In fact, I have a tendency to fall deaf on hearing two words: “All inclusive”. :-)

    It was only upon being emailed the confirmation and itinerary of the holiday, I did not get what I asked for. But being the type of person who is a great believer that there are no mistakes and everything happens for a reason through the twists and turns in the grand journey we call life, I carried out some research on my new destination and was indeed impressed what my I saw.

    The Maldives

    I’ve seen the Maldives through the visual haze of TV, internet and brochures. - All of which never truly sold the destination to me as I deemed everything always seemed too perfect. I think we all have experienced in the past where promotional pictures look nothing like the real thing. Thus never really planned on ever making a visit any time soon.

    Vilamendhoo Island Resort - Shoreline

    This could not be further from the truth.

    The Maldives is one of the god given gems that needs to be witnessed in reality. This only becomes apparent when you hop onto the propella powered plane from Male airport as you soar over the infinite blue seas and islands naturally formed in all shapes and sizes. Your eyes are in for a visual treat and will salivate in glee!

    The only variable is the accommodation you come to choose and Vilamendhoo did not disappoint.

    Getting there

    I was flying from the UK which encompassed:

    • Flight from Gatwick to Doha.
    • Connecting flight from Doha to Male International Airport.
    • A Maldivian domestic flight.
    • Small bus ride to the coast.
    • Speed boat ride that has multiple drop-off points to other island resorts depending on the number of people you’re with.

    Due to my lack of geographic knowledge and overall preparedness for this trip alone, I was quite naive in comprehending the effort involved. Getting to Vilamendhoo could have been a lot more straight-forward if I opted for a sea plane transfer from Male, something that only came to light after speaking to other holiday-goers. Paying extra for sea plane transfer alone saves you around an hour (excluding waiting time) of additional travel time.

    Villa Air Flight

    Male airport is the central hub and  for providing various transport to the final leg of your trip depending on where your final destination resides. Trying to find the connecting transport was a little confusing and lacked clarity. But the people there are more than happy to guide and help with queries.

    It’s a no thrills airport that lacks free Wi-Fi (a standard staple by todays standards) where you’ll need to make your own entertainment, so make sure you get some films and books downloaded prior to pass the time. Or, you could get your first glimpse of what is in store by sitting outside and watching the sea planes and yachts pass by as they float over the blue sea.

    Due to the effort alone to get here, I would recommend you plan on staying in the Maldives for a minimum of 10 days to make it more worthwhile. Next time I plan on staying longer... if my work lets me. ;-)

    Greetings - Vilamendhoo Style!

    Upon arriving at the dock by speed boat, you hear sounds of a beating drum as you are greeted by one of the representatives and make your short walk onto the island. After some quick form filling and introduction on over a refreshing mocktail at reception, we’re good to head on over to our accommodation.

    No Shoes, No News

    What I found immediately different at Vilamendhoo compared to the other resorts I’ve stayed at before is their motto: no shoes, no news, which is evident both by the workers and holiday-goers. You can literally walk around the island, enter reception, restaurants in bare feet! All floors surfaces (excluding spa and your hut) have a thick layer of sand. It’s just like walking on a beach everywhere you go! Being the Indian I am, I still walked around with flip-flops as some areas were a little to rough for my sensitive feet.

    Accommodation - Beach Villa

    Vilamendhoo has varied accommodation based on where you’d like to be situated on the island and most importantly price. There are four options to choose from (ordered by cheapest):

    1. Garden Room
    2. Beach Villa
    3. Jacuzzi Beach Villa
    4. Jacuzzi Water Villa

    The Garden Room and Beach Villa offer the same amenities with the main difference being the location as highlighted by the name. If you can afford to pay a little extra definitely go for the Beach Villa, you won’t regret it. How can you afford not to? You basically have a little slice of your own beach front paradise meters away from the sea. I found this to be the most exceptional location if you’re fond of snorkelling.

    When I think back to my last years holiday in Bali where to access the beach was a 5-10 minute walk, the Beach Villa’s close proximity is a priceless gift that takes the headache out of a casual swim in the sea. It’s also worth noting at this point, you won’t be hassled by anyone trying to sell you anything whilst you lounge on the beach, which was a regular occurrence in Bali.

    Vilamendhoo Island Resort - Jacuzzi Water Villa

    Talking about the Water Villa’s would cause me too much mental anguish as I have seen how truly amazing they are situated in a prime location over the water in the lagoon. The Beach Villa’s might be close to the sea, but the Water Villa’s takes things to the next level with private sundeck and stairs to the sea. Who knows... maybe next time?

    I stayed in one of the many Beach Villa’s dotted around the coast of the island. My Beach Villa faced the south side where you will see much boat activity and if you gaze further into the distance you’ll see Dhangethi island (it’s the one with a massive satellite aerial sticking up). The upside of this location is its closeness to the reception, restaurant and bar. However, I would recommend the north side with its calmer waters due to little to no boat activity and its slightly lusher sands (I swear it feels different!).

    The villa is clean, simple and very comfortable with its tropical decor, controllable air conditioning and king size bed. At 55 sqm you have a lot of space to move around and at no time do you feel cramped. TV is an important factor wherever I go on holiday for times when I just want to do nothing. Luckily, you are provided with a 32 inch cable TV with access to a wide range of channels. I found myself watching a film every night before bed. Now thats what I call luxury!

    One thing you’ll find very different is the bathroom. It’s slightly outdoors, or “open air” as Vilamendhoo like to call it. So you’ll find yourself either looking up at the sky, surrounding trees or the mini garden that forms part of the bathroom during a shower or toilet time. It feels very liberating! You’re literally one with nature as nature calls.

    Vilamendhoo Island Resort - Bathroom Garden

    The included shower gels, shampoo and creams are exceptional. I’m an absolute snob when it comes to resort/hotel provided washes as they are just dirt cheap, but I was pleasantly surprised by the naturally derived Healing Earth collection. So feel free to leave your own toiletries behind as (like myself) more than likely will not be using them.

    Dining - Food Glorious Food!

    If you’re an “all inclusive” customer you will not go hungry. It’s worth every penny - I’ll be talking more about this further down in this post.

    The main dining area is the Funama Restaurant housed on the south-side at the centre of the island, making it easily accessible wherever your hut is.

    On your first day entering the dining area you will be given a table that will be your assigned seating throughout your stay which I originally thought would be quite restrictive. I was wrong. It’s efficient and you get a sense of familiarity with the staff who serve you. It’s at this point I have to make a shout out to our waiter - Ilham. He provided first class service, gave me a plaster for my cut toe (yes!) and shared his wealth of knowledge of the resort and made recommendations throughout our stay. Miss that guy! He deserves a promotion!

    The variety of food on offer is astounding that spans across breakfast, lunch and dinner. It’s a buffet each day. Every evening the food on offer is based on a theme, such as (to name a few):

    • Maldivian
    • Indian
    • Italian
    • Chinese

    If you’re not too keen on an evenings theme, there are still other dishes on offer that might be to your liking. It’s impossible for you not to be content with whats on offer.

    The food is outstanding across all meal time with a lot of variety. We were tempted to dine at the Asian Wok, but the quality buffet suited us perfectly. All the chefs really do deserve a lot of gratitude just due to the sheer quality and quantity of the food. The service runs like clockwork. As soon as one dish is all consumed in the buffet area, it’s quickly refilled.

    The desserts are pure bite-sized art forms.

    Vilamendhoo Island Resort - Desserts

    From looking at a handful of other reviews, some have commented on the ambience of the dining hall and the dim lighting. Ignore the naysayers. I quite like it!


    Being my first time visiting Vilamendhoo Island and the Maldives, I didn’t actually partake in many excursions for the sole reason of feeling an overwhelming sense of contentment. You are surrounded by serene beauty wherever you look. Judging by the serendipitous chain of events where the stars aligned, going to the Maldives has been a long time in the coming - I just didn’t know it.

    The handful of excursions I did get involved in consisted of:

    • Kayaking
    • Tour of Dhangethi Island
    • Spa (can I class this as a excursion?)
    • Sunset Punch Cruise


    If you’re not 100% confident in going further out to sea or extreme water sports, kayaking is the way to go. You can take your time and go as far out to sea as you feel able to within the 45 minute session. Vilamendhoo Island is deceivingly small and if (like myself) you decided to kayak your way around the island, this can be done in around 30 minutes with time to spare for a little messing around.

    Tour of Dhangethi Island

    Dhangethi - Boat HullDhangethi is a is a 20-30 minute boat ride away - the island with a massive phone antenna you can see over the horizon from the south-side of Vilamendhoo.

    The island is home to a small population of Maldivians with its primary infrastructure involving fishing, construction, boat building and tourism. Some areas you will have the chance to see for yourself during the guided tour of the island along with the local schools and hospital. For me the highlight was viewing an under construction hull of a ship. An image doesn’t give justice on the sheer scale.

    At the time of the tour I wasn’t very impressed with the island visit probably because I was expecting something different, but my opinion has somewhat changed as I look back and adjusted my expectations. It was a fascinating insight looking into the culture of the locals and history.

    The only thing I would say is the trip was 30 minutes too long. Myself and others found ourselves lingering near the dock waiting to leave.

    I wasn’t too interested in the souvenir shops as there wasn’t anything of interest to me, however I heard the goods were a lot cheaper when compared to the Vilamendhoo’s own shop.

    Sunset Punch Cruise

    The Sunset Punch Cruise is a late afternoon boat trip that takes you further out to sea and immerse yourself in the tropical sunset with a glass of Vilamendhoo’s “special (non-alcoholic) punch”. You may even encounter some dolphins along the way. It was uncertain to whether we’d actually see any dolphins as the cruise from the previous day had no such encounter so our expectations were kept to a minimum.

    I am glad to report that luck was on our side and what we experienced wasn’t just a brief encounter, it was a close encounter of the third kind! Not only did we see shoal of dolphins but they were also swimming up close interweaving around the bow of the ship for quite sometime in all their splendour, to the amazement and awe to all on the cruise. Sometimes I question myself on whether I really did see those dolphins and I wasn’t on some form of hallucinogenic trip from the “special punch”. Thankfully, I can confirm I was of sound mental state as I have photographic evidence such an experience did exist. :-)

    Even though the likelihood of seeing the dolphins is little hit or miss, I would still recommend this excursion just to have a chance of seeing these wonderful creatures in a close proximity.

    Go All Inclusive!

    Vilamendhoo Island Resort - Asian Wok Restaurant At Night

    If you are able to get an “All Inclusive” package at a good price, just go for it! It’s freedom! You know from a cost perspective you will not have to spend a penny more as long as you stay within the confines of the inclusive package. All in all, it’s a good value as you will also get some excursions free or at a discounted rate.

    As humans we have a natural instinct of wanting more and there is always a hint of disappointment when you find some red tape when in this case “All Inclusive” has some limitations. I would list the limitations out but they are so minor it isn’t really worth mentioning.

    It would be nice is Asian Wok was part of the inclusive package or offered a few meals, but I can understand why they don’t offer this as it lacks the table capacity unlike Funama Restaurant.

    Final Thoughts

    Going to the Maldives is what I can only call a proper holiday. You have an excuse to just relax and take life at the pace you wish. You could spend all your days being very active scuba diving, windsurfing and snorkelling through the crystal clear waters. Or just sit back on the sun lounger with a couple drinks to hand letting the days pass by. Generally, when on holiday I find myself feeling the need to explore the local surroundings to make the most of it - not here. While away your days guilt free!

    Vilamendhoo is small island of paradise that puts a spell on you from the very first moment you step onto the dock to the sound of the welcoming beat of the drum.

  • Published on
    6 min read

    Year In Review - 2018

    At the end of 2017, I made a new years resolution: make more of an active effort to blog. Not only within my own website but to also do a little writing elsewhere to try something a little different. Generally, I fail to stick by my resolutions, this year was different and I have to give myself a pat on the back for the number of posts I managed to crank out over the year.

    Even though I have blogged for over 11 years, I found setting myself setting a new years resolution to write more has increased my overall confidence in writing as well as enjoyment. I now find myself using writing as a release to organise my thought process, especially when trying to grasp new learning concepts. If what I write helps others, that's a bonus!

    I highly recommend everyone to write!

    Popular Posts of The Year

    This year I have written 24 posts (including this one), ranging from technical and personal entries. I've delved into my Google Analytics and picked a handful of gems where I believe in my own small way have made an impact:

    One of the most common crawl message everyone experiences when viewing their Search Console. There isn't an exact science to resolving this issue, so decided to investigate a way to reduce the number of crawl errors by looking into the type of links Google was ignoring and submitting these links into a new sitemap.

    PaginationHelper class that renders numbered pagination that can easily be reused across any list of data when called inside a controller.

    A nice helper method to easily allow for partial views to be rendered as string outside controller context in .NET Core.

    A Powershell script to clear out old IIS logs that can be run manually or on a schedule.

    Originally written for Syndicut's Medium channel, I write about my experiences using a headless CMS from past to present - Kentico Cloud. When posted to Medium, I was very happy with the responses from the Kentico community as well as the stats. Since posting, it one of the most active viewed posts on the Syndicut Medium channel.

    This year I started learning and developing my first app using React Native. I have much more to write about the subject next year. This post detailed a bug (now rectified in the new version of React Native framework) when an API endpoint returns an empty response.

    I've been using Cloudflare's CDN infrastructure to improve load times and security for my website. I developed a C# method that uses Cloudflare's API to clear cache from the CDN at code level.

    A completely out of the ordinary post - a post about travel! Writing about my time at Melia Bali is the highlight to any of the posts written this year. I was testing the waters for a different writing style and hoping to produce more in a similar format. Definitely got the creative juices flowing!

    Site Refresh

    Throughout 11 years of owning and running this site, I have only ever refreshed the look around three times in its lifespan. It's always been a low priority in my eyes and in October I released a new look to my site. It's not going to win any prizes, but it should make my posts easier on the eye with some added flair and professionalism. I've also worked very hard on implementing additional optimisations for SEO purposes.

    Guest Writing

    I made a conscious choice this year to use other places to write outside the comfort of my own website to do some writing. When writing outside your own personal blog the stakes are higher and makes things a little more challenging as you need to cater your content to a potentially different audience.

    Out of the 24 posts I've written this year, 4 of them are what I categorised as "Guest Writing"... I need to come up with a better name.

    Currently, I've written a post for C# Corner and the rest on Syndicut's Medium channel. This is an area I wish to grow in. I am actually in the middle of writing a piece (nothing to do with coding and more to do with fiction) for film/entertainment website Den of Geek. What attracted me to write for Den of Geek is not just their content, but their award-winning mental health campaign.


    When comparing my statistics to date over the year to last year, I have an increase in 25% in page views and users. Bounce rate I still need to work on - currently decreased by 4%. Google Search Console statistics are looking promising - average page position has improved by 5 pages and total clicks increased by 110%.


    2018 will mark eight and a half years working at Syndicut and this year like always has been filled with many challenging and exciting projects. If it wasn't for the diverse range of projects, which required me to do some interesting research, I don't think this blog would be filled with the content it has today. It's been a year filled with headless CMS's, consulting, blog writing, e-commerce, Alexa, ASP.NET Core, Kentico 12 and more!

    Bring On 2019!

    Bring on 2019 and some key areas I wish to focus and grow in...

    Public Speaking

    If I had to choose one thing I need to do next year, is to present a worthy technical subject for one of .NET Oxford's Lightning Talks. For those who do not know .NET Oxford - it's a great meetup for .NET Developers discussing anything and everything in the Microsoft Development industry.

    Every so often, they have lightning talks where developers can present their own subject matter. Even though I am familiar with presenting in front of clients through work, a technical conference is a completely different kettle of fish! After all, what you present needs to be useful to the people in the same industry.

    There was something Jon Skeet said in one of the .NET Oxford meetups in October that resonated with me. He said something along the lines of: everyone should do a public talk and take part in sharing knowledge. Now if Jon Skeet says that, who am I to argue!? I just need to have a ponder on the subject I wish to talk about.


    I would like to do some more consulting work. Syndicut has given me the opportunity to do that, providing our ongoing expertise to help one of our clients in adopting headless CMS (Kentico Cloud) into their current infrastructure. It was a surprise to me how much I've enjoyed consulting and this is an area I wish to continue to grow in addition to what I do best - code!

    Continue To Be Social Network Hermit

    I found it refreshing not to invest too much time (if any) in getting distracted by other people's lives on social networking sites like Facebook and Instagram. I will continue the process investing time in my own life and as a result feeling much more productive in doing so.

    I do not claim martyr in this area, afterall I am an active Twitter user and this will not change. For me, Twitter houses a collection of ideas from users in an industry I am very passionate about.

    Other Bits

    I really need a coffee table and desk! It's been a long time coming. Maybe 2019 will be the year I actually get one! :-)

    Surinder signing off!

  • Memories are what give life purpose. They allow us to go back to the past, into a time that shall forever be stateless. Most importantly memories are experiences that mould us into the person we are today.

    For some reason, when I think about the word memories the first thing that come to mind are pictures... Photos to be exact. I only started thinking how important photos are to me whilst I was having a conversation with my cousin Tajesh. Tajesh popped over this weekend gone by and like always has many fascinating stories to tell. One story in particular got my attention. He told me about an amazing trip he had in Australia many many years ago and how he lost all the photos he had taken after recently damaging his hard drive. On hearing his predicament, I was profoundly moved and imagined how I'd feel if I was in his position.

    Even though our brains are wired to remember events and experiences, memories seem to somehow fade away over time and we start forgetting the little detail of images until it forms into a hazy recall. We remember enough to transport us back to a time or a place, but the brain has a strange way of patching together what we once saw. As if they are pieces of a larger puzzle. If your brain is anything like mine where you can only selectively retrieve one piece of the puzzle that is most meaningful, we're missing a vast array of information.

    I decided I'd make an attempt to try and recover my cousins lost photos. He handed over his Western Digital Caviar edition hard drive carefully enclosed in an old VHS box, entrusting I'll have it's best interests at heart and keeping whatever memories that maybe locked away safe inside... A damaged hard drive is in some ways like our brains selective recall. The data is stored somewhere but we sometimes have problems accessing them.

    I'm no hard disk recovery expert and I am hoping some off the shelf software will help me in getting at least some photos back from his holiday. So what's the game plan?

    I'll start with using a piece of software I blogged about back in 2011 - EaseUs. EaseUs provides a line of software ranging from backup to recovery. It helped me then and (fingers crossed) it'll help me now. I'll also need a 3.5 inch disk caddy to allow the hard drive to be connected via USB and start the recovery process.

    As it stands, my cousins Western Digital Caviar disk doesn't seem to have any visible damage and there are no noises when run. It just doesn't boot.

    Stay tuned for future posts on how I get on.

    To be continued...