Michael Dyrynda
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Farewell 2018 December 31st, 2018

For me, 2018 was one of the most meaningful years I can remember.

Becoming Dad

The biggest 'achievement' - lets face it, my wife did pretty much all of the hard work - for 2018 was becoming a dad for the first time. This was something that was always a "some day" goal of mine, but my wife and I had decided last year that we were in the right place in our lives to take the next step. It was a time of a lot of unknowns, a lot of learning (way more than I wanted to know, of course) and all culminating in an altogether too fast arrival.

Elijah Cooper Valyntine Dyrynda arrived four weeks ahead of schedule on Sunday 10th June. We'd had a couple of scares in the weeks leading up to his birth, and our obstetrician ultimately decided it was safer for everybody if he was delivered by semi-emergency Caesarian section.

Arriving at the hospital in the early hours of the morning, before being told the news we'd be meeting our son that day was a little surreal, but a relief to know the stress of bringing him into the world would be behind us, and the hard work of raising him would be ahead.

Welcome, Eli!

Being premature, he spent three weeks in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), two weeks of which we spent travelling to and from the hospital twice a day to visit. These were the hardest three weeks of our lives, not knowing for sure when we'd be bringing Eli home with us each time we arrived, and being quite sad every time we left him behind.

Eventually, on Saturday 30th June, we brought Eli home!

Eli's homecoming

Eli will be 7 months old next week, and every day sees him growing and developing his own little personality. This part has been pretty easy; he doesn't move much, he doesn't say much, and other than having days where he doesn't sleep much, he's pretty easy going.

Having a baby has been difficult, particularly because he usually only sleeps for half an hour at a time during the day, so it doesn't leave much time to do much computer-wise, and when he goes to sleep, Rhi and I spend time together before turning in ahead of multiple overnight wakeups, but I wouldn't trade it for the world!

Laracon AU

North American speakers

In April of 2016, I emailed Taylor Otwell out of the blue with an idea; to bring Laracon to Australia. I wasn't really expecting a reply, let alone a positive response to the suggestion. I was already planning on attending Laracon US in Louisville that year, so held off on doing anything till I had the chance to experience a Laracon personally.

2017 came along and I was, at this point, organising our local PHP meetup. It's a much smaller scale event, but the general premise is the same; get speakers, organise food, keep people informed and entertained for the duration.

As we were already planning to start a family at this point, we traded the idea of running our own Laracon for taking a holiday as a couple one last time. We spent three weeks in the US around Laracon in New York, and on return, I set about planning the inaugural Laracon AU immediately.

I wouldn't say that organising the event caused me much stress, but there was a lot of unknowns having never organised a conference before. Finding a venue, sponsors, and selecting speakers that would provide great talks for a first time event where I had no gauge of the audience were my main concerns. That, along with avoiding spending any of my own money on the event.

Luckily Adam Wathan was immediately interested in coming (though I'm not sure how he feels about it now 😂). Soon Steve Schoger was on board, and whilst Matt Stauffer needed to clear things with his family, Taylor was the big name I was holding my breath for the longest. Special shout out to David Hemphill for stepping up to speak very last minute as we had a speaker unfortunately have to pull out.

There was a big push for ticket sales in the first week, and whilst they dribbled through over the proceeding months, I didn't think we'd ever sell all the tickets. Shawn McCool was helpful keeping me sane, reassuring me that many of the Laracon EU ticket sales come through much later, and sure enough, we ended up selling out our initial allocation of tickets one month before the event.

Our speakers put on some awesome presentations, our feedback was overwhelmingly positive, and I couldn't have asked for a more smoothly operated event thanks to the team at Monkey Baa.

Whilst I spent a lot of time running around during the conference (and still haven't had a chance to watch most of the talks), I'm really glad that I was able to pull this off. Especially with a newborn! Without the support of Rhiannon, I don't think I would have ever seen this through.

Fitness goals (and a ruptured Achilles)

I was visiting with my sister for Christmas/New year 2017/18, and she mentioned that her and the kids were going to do a 5km run on New Years Day. Sure, I thought, 5km is no problem.

It was bloody hot and humid that day, even at 7am when we took the run, but I got through it pretty comfortably. I completed the run in 0:32:15, and this kickstarted what would have been my most consistent fitness-focussed year to date. Early in the year, amidst ongoing knee problems stemming back to an arthroscopic MCL surgery in early 2015, I swapped running 5km 3-4 times a week to the elliptical in the gym. This was more practical as I was in the gym already, wasn't affected by extremes in weather, and was much kinder to my joints.

Amongst the cardio, I was playing basketball two nights a week, and lifting weights - though no paying too much attention to what or how I was doing so, yet. It wasn't until June when Adam Wathan was on the Laravel Podcast talking about Jim Wendler's 5/3/1 strength program that I started focussing more clearly on what I was lifting and how. It's a pretty simple program, and really works well for somebody like me that gets to log and program all of the lifts.

My one-rep maxes when I started at the end of June:

  • Bench press - 50kg
  • Shoulder press - 35kg
  • Squat - 85kg
  • Deadlift - 102.5kg

I managed to see steady improvement and an increase in weight right up until the day I ruptured my ACL (September 24th).

  • Bench press - 70kg
  • Shoulder press - 50kg
  • Squat - 115kg
  • Deadlift - 135kg

With the help of my Apple Watch tracking and prompting, I managed to reach my daily goal every single day from January 1st until November 7th - right through six weeks of injury - to the day I had surgery to reconstruct my ruptured ACL. My longest move streak stands at 311 days.

311-day move streak

Unfortunately, the injury saw me largely bed-ridden for two weeks post-surgery, and when you can't move much or do a lot, you tend to get demotivated. I tried to avoid eating too poorly but I was able to get back into the gym again just before Christmas, so I shelved most of the healthy eating till the new year.


Work was... well, work. The company I work for was acquired in October 2017, so this year was largely business as usual, whilst developing some new tooling and integrations for a big push into 2019.

We did get a lot of housekeeping done, though. We've got our main applications running on PHP 7.1 now, with a view to move to 7.2 early on in the new year and 7.3 once it's safe to do so - should be fixed in 7.3.1, though.

The team grew by two developers over the course of the year, and we got some great work done in refactoring our bespoke CRM into Laravel. There's more work to do, but we've been sidetracked by other issues beyond our control.

Overall, nothing terribly exciting to report.

Looking forward

It's going to be a slow start for me fitness-wise as I can't do much meaningful cardio at the moment, and I'll be starting with a lower goal than I'd like, but I'm going to take another swing at getting to 365 days starting tomorrow.

The days where I'm not slowly rebuilding strength in my legs will be the easiest to reach my targets, but I'm not gonna let this knee keep me from keeping healthy. A large part of this comes down to getting eating habits back on track, and slowly getting exercise back up to par.

Sadly, the injury marked the end of my basketball days, but it does mean I'll have more time to spend in the gym (or with the family 😅).

I'd like to make another run at Laracon. There's a couple of things I'd like to differently, some of the things won't be noticed by attendees, some things - such as shorter talks (and more of them) - will be more obvious.

I was already well underway this time last year, but now that I have some experience under my belt, I know I can hold off a little longer before starting organising again. Keep an eye out for that.

Work will see a big push on top of the integrations we built this year, with new products starting to be sold and scaling up that operation. The issues we've experienced this year have been kind-of worked around as we ran headfirst into year-end, but we have some good ideas in place to optimise and prepare for the future as we scale the business up. If we can't, we'll just need to suck it up at the hardware level.

The biggest thing for me will be spending more time with Eli. That personality isn't going to stop developing, and he's gonna grow up before I know it.

I don't know what I'm doing - it's all on the job learning and as much as people want to help, no two children are the same, so whilst people can share their stories and advice, it's really just up to Rhi and I to figure this kid out. We're definitely looking forward to it!

I hope you all had a great 2018, and I wish you all the best for an even better 2019!

Our little family
I'm a real developer ™
Michael Dyrynda


I am a software developer specialising in PHP and the Laravel Framework, and a freelancer, blogger, and podcaster by night.

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