Things That Moved Me in 2023

It’s the time of the year again to reflect on what has happened in the last 12 months. It’s been quite a ride again, with many things happening, and also some things not happening. So if you are interested, come with me on a trip through my year in tech 2023.

On Earth

First things first, of course, the wireless domain: Earthbound, a lot has happened under the hood rather than in plain sight. 5G Standalone still has a tough time to actually make it to networks in Europe. Yes, there is one or two network operators who have started the service already some time ago, and even offer 5G SA free of charge when users ask for it. But who asks for it except tech enthusiasts? It’s main competition is 5G Non-Standalone (NSA), which was already launched in 2019, and often has a speed advantage, as it combines 4G and 5G carriers. High end devices are now capable to aggregate 3 or even 4 5G carriers, but that only helps once network operators start to deploy 5G in more bands and on a broad geographical scale. It seems there is little incentive for doing that so far. So long story short, the technology keeps evolving at a rapid pace without making it into the hands of users in Europe so far. Note sure what the situation is in other parts of the world.

What I also find interesting in retrospect is that the radio capabilities of cheap devices have remained mostly the same. There are still smartphones coming to the market that can’t aggregate any LTE carriers at all, or perhaps two at most. No trickle down effect on the radio side to be observed. But when fighting for fractions of pennies when it comes to the bill of materials, adding additional circuitry to support more than one frequency band simultaneously seems to be prohibitive.

On the evolutionary positive side, I see network capacity evolving. Especially in cities with good n78 (3.5 GHz) 5G coverage, I can now easily exceed a sustained speed of 1.5 Gbps in the downlink direction and well over 100 Mbps in the uplink direction when coverage is good and use is low.

On the mobile device side, off the beaten path, I was glad to see that LineageOS and other free Android flavors keep being ported to new hardware. After many years, I’ve moved to a somewhat more recent smartphone, a Pixel 6, and put the latest and greatest LineageOS on it. This fixed a number of significant shortcomings with my older device, most notably perhaps the support of VoLTE for voice telephony, not only in the home network, but also when roaming abroad.

And 2023 has definitely also been the year of the eSIM for me. While I’ve already tried out eSIMs the year before, they’ve made their way to family devices this year, and it’s a great and inexpensive way to get SIM cards from other countries to do some roaming testing from home.

In Space

While 2022 was my ‘Iridium / Garmin InReach’ satellite texting year, I had a great time this summer to use and explore Starlink for broadband Internet connectivity on the move for the first time ‘for real’ over many weeks. While not perfect, the system is amazing and kept me connected at well over 100 Mbps in places where terrestrial networks did not reach.

On the satellite texting front, there was also quite a bit of news for me. 3GPP Non-Terrestrial Networks (NTN) has specified LTE, 5G and NB-IoT over satellite, and there is at least one service now using the technology. It uses a geo-stationary satellite, and is thus quite different from the Garmin In-Reach service, so there are different pros and cons. Personally, I was happy to have played a very very small part in launching this service in my home country.

In the Air

2023 has definitely also been the year of flying in the virtual world. Having started this adventure the year before, I kept climbing the very steep learning curve and made my way from small propeller aircraft, to a more advanced turpoprop plane and finally into an Airbus A320. The thing that keeps me fascinated is that this hobby can not only be experienced in isolation only, but there are ‘real’ virtual air traffic controllers in networks such as IVAO and VATSIM, who make flying in the virtual world as real as it gets. And because I’m so fascinated, I held a talk on the topic (in German) at the GPN in Karlsruhe this year.

In the (Personal) Cloud

And while I’m already talking about the GPN, it was also the time and place to try new things in my personal cloud. As I was really unhappy with Collabora Online Office, I used the time and good vibes at GPN to try some other options. This is how I came across OnlyOffice, which also integrates nicely with my Nextcloud instance and works much better for me. Since then, I’ve refined my cloud setup a number of times and the solution is now used by me and other members of the household on a daily basis.

Also, I’ve started experimenting with Machine Learning (aka AI) for the first time this year to help me with programming. On the one hand I’m amazed by the productivity gain I could achieve by ‘asking’ a Chat Bot for how something could be done rather than ‘searching’ on the web. On the other hand, every now and then, answers that Bots produce that are downright wrong but look very credible. Not a problem for programming, because the flawed suggestion immediately leads to ‘interesting’ results or error messages, but for answers to more opaque problems of the real world, I remain more than cautious.

And then, after a full decade of happy use, I had to move my personal notes I keep in a MoinMoin Wiki to a new personal Media Wiki installation. I was pushed here a bit by the advance of technology, because the platform is no longer actively developed and wouldn’t run anymore on Ubuntu 22.04. A bit of a shame, as I was very happy with MoinMoin. On the other hand, however, it was also a good opportunity to push my Wiki from a local installation back into my personal cloud again, so I can check and add to my notes from more than just my personal notebook.

Looking Forward to 2024

Overall, an interesting and exciting year again with many unforeseen and surprising developments in tech space. And there is so much on my list of things to try, so 2024 will surely be an exiting year in tech for me as again. So stay tuned, more is to come 🙂

One thought on “Things That Moved Me in 2023”

  1. Thanks Martin. As always, I enjoyed the 2023 ride. Alot of things have been setup to make 2024 really interesting. Looking forward to it!

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