Year in Review: 2020

Scott Brady
Scott Brady

I know I said I wanted to travel less…

While this year was chaotic in many different ways, writing this review has helped me recognize the positives and put my achievements into perspective.

If you are interested in writing your own review or just privately taking stock of your year, I recommend checking out the ultimate annual review.

Previous years: 2019, 2018 Catch up.

What Happened in 2020

Let’s start by focussing on the positives, in no particular order:

  • Promotion: I am now Mr. Manager at Rock Solid Knowledge, taking on extra responsibility after one of our directors retired at the beginning of the year
  • FIDO certification: the FIDO for ASP.NET Core component I spent 2019 working on got certified by the FIDO alliance. This was meant to happen in person in South Korea in March. No points for guessing why that was canceled…
  • New house: I bought a house last year and managed to move in this February before lockdown. This included my own office, which helped me get through the transition to working from home (although I’m still not a fan)
  • New cat (Squid): Yes, another cat. We adopted him from the local cat café just before lockdown started. Again, a big help for my mental health this year
  • Speaking at NDC Oslo: I spoke at an NDC event! While I didn’t get to speak at the Oslo Spektrum, I am really proud of my talk and hope to give it in person in 2021
  • Baby Brady: I’m going to be a dad 🙂

The State of

This year saw a dip in traffic in March. Again, no points for guessing why. While traffic has crept up to 1,600 average users per day, I’ve seen some spikes thanks to some of my articles getting featured on the “Articles for you” page shown on new tabs in mobile versions of Chrome.

2020 Website Analytics

I managed to release 18 articles with another 5 on As planned, there were many more cryptography topics this year, mostly around JWTs and their alternatives.

This was also the year that I finally hit 1,000,000 lifetime visitors 🎉 (over 2,000,000 page views) on my website.

For design, I’ve made a few more tweaks. I’ve finally started using Tailwind’s utility classes, which has improved some of the pages’ uniqueness. Despite my initial skepticism (sorry Karl), it took using this in anger to fully appreciate Tailwind’s usefulness. This year I’m going to finally add a bit more color variation to the site.

Top 5 Articles Released in 2020

You really liked my articles on JWTs and those were the articles that qualified for the Chrome new tab page. The top-ranking articles released this year include:

Honorable mentions include my work with JWTs and their (not particularly great) alternatives:

I’ve also been improving some of my older articles with clarifications and my newer writing style. This typically requires lots of patience, where I’d rather be creating something new, but updated articles do receive a 50% average traffic increase. I have more to update, so bear with me if I haven’t gotten to your favorite.

2020 in Pictures

The view over London from our airbnb during NDC London
Exhibiting at NDC London This is the view from our Airbnb
A Nordic nRF52840 development kit lit up during FIDO authentication
Building my own FIDO authenticator I installed OpenSK on a Nordic nRF52840 DK one flu-addled weekend
The front of my new house
Moving into a house that I own My office overlooks a woodland
My new cat squid being silly
Squid! The pictures on my phone suggest that I may have a favorite
Flowers from the Unicore team
Working on Unicore I helped out with moving Umbraco to .NET Core
The FIDO certified logo
Getting our FIDO2 certification My work building a simple to use FIDO library was rewarded with a nice shiny badge
A screenshot from YouTube showing me talking at NDC Oslo
Speaking at NDC Oslo I talked about authentication and FIDO2
A screenshot from GitHub showing the ScottBrady.IdentityModel source code
Creating my own crypto helper library ScottBrady.IdentityModel handles EdDSA and JWT style implementations of Branca and PASETO
A screenshot from my wife's 20-week scan
The Baby Brady My son, arriving 2021

Plans from 2020

Despite a lack of motivation, I didn’t do too badly this year.

  • Write at least one blog post a month - yep, this worked out really well. Although I still had a burst of articles in July and August. Which was a bit silly of me, as they are not exactly high traffic months (most of Europe was on holiday)
  • Lose more weight - I lost a bit more despite the amount of stout I’ve been drinking during the lockdown. But I won’t be looking at the scales over Christmas
  • Build something with my hands - plans were made, but while I did renovate some old tools (I don’t have any hand me downs), progress stalled once I filled my garage with old furniture
  • More crypto - yes, but my interaction with that community hasn’t been great. I’ve experienced gatekeeping, dogpiling, and messages on Christmas day telling me how their implementation is better than mine 🤷‍♂‍ I think we all struggled with 2020. Overall, the articles have been popular, and some people have been kind enough to collaborate with me
  • Update the UI of IdentityManager2 - lots of updates early in the year, but it looks like the UI will stay the same for now. I am now in charge of RSK’s AdminUI, so stay tuned regarding a modern alternative to IdentityManager
  • Another Pluralsight course - “Getting Started with SAML 2.0” is due to release in late January 2021, and yes, it addresses the fact that SAML is dead and will continue to be “dead” for at least another decade. I also updated my OAuth course to include some newer OAuth recommendations and some OAuth 2.1 info

Plans for 2021

I’ve been told that becoming a dad might affect my sleeping pattern, so I’m not going to set any metrics on my plans this year.

  • Keep on losing weight - it seems to be staying off, so while I’ve accepted the beer belly, I’ll keep going until my chubby cheeks aren’t quite so prominent
  • Another Pluralsight course - it might take a while to find a new topic, but let’s see what the year comes up with
  • Update old articles - some need a full rewrite, others a lick of new paint. This year, I’ll focus on this rather than pressuring myself to release new articles
  • A little more crypto - I’ve got a few more .NET crypto focussed articles in the backlog, but I’ll probably back off from the more general cryptography topics until I have the energy to deal with the unwelcoming behavior that comes from that community
  • Another "project" - I want to focus on building tools this year. Since I can’t travel (see corona) or sleep (see baby), having something to build should keep me busy
  • Use a different programming language - I keep trying to learn a different programming language, but I often get put off by the tooling (I’ve been spoilt by .NET). This year I’ll try and build a few things in something not written in C#

That’s enough rambling and introspection for one year. Until next time.

Benji the cat
Toby the cat
Squid the cat

Happy New Year!