Earlier this year before I started freelancing I worked at mytaxi and was part of the website team that worked on a relaunch.
The goal was to combine the mobile and desktop sites into one awesome responsive website that worked for every device now and in the future.
The underlying CMS was Typo3 and that had to stay because of various reasons. Typo3 made us a bunch of problems but we managed to work through them.
I left before the site was finished, but a few days ago the new mytaxi.com finally went live. Although there are a few things I would have done differently if I could do it again I think it is definitely a big step in the right direction. I hope the team continues to develop the site – especially a responsive images solution is needed.
Somewhen last week Henning, my brother, decided he wanted to start blogging. The topic should be sports in general, but mainly soccer. We decided to use WordPress and naturally I wanted to build a custom theme for him.
So on the weekend we had a Skype session with screen sharing and build him a relatively simple theme. The name was clear pretty early on: wolfsport.de
The focus should be the text, so we went for a single small column and the nice typeface Fira Sans.
He had a pretty specific idea for a logo, which we put together with my little bit rusty Photoshop skills. It would be nice to have the logo as an SVG, but I only had raster graphics to work with. Maybe I can rework the logo in Illustrator in the future.
I didn’t use any frameworks or the like for the frontend, only some styles from my own, incomplete boilerplate like my slim
_normalize.scss. The site is complete responsive, but because of the simplicity of the theme, there wasn’t much to do to accomplish that.
On the WordPress side of things we use Cachify to cache and deliver static, minified HTML which speeds up the site tremendously. I also installed Statify so Henning can get a sense of how popular his blog gets. That’s about it.
It took us about four hours from idea to finished WordPress site. If you want to have a look at the code, it’s on GitHub: https://github.com/martinwolf/wolfsport
After getting several request from individual people wanting me to do this post, here we go. I will talk about my hardware as well as the software, services and tools I use as of June 2014.
13” MacBook Air
I had a lot of different Macs over the years, but settled for a 13” MacBook Air. I currently have the Mid 2012 model. It’s fast enough for the things I do, it’s incredible lightweight and I just love the wedged shape. I often use the MacBook solo and it’s so much nicer than the normal MacBook Pro’s, even though they got a lot smaller, too. Only thing that would make it even better is a retina display. And sometimes I think about switching to the 11” model.
27” Cinema Display
As I said I often use the MacBook solo, but if I really need a lot of space, I’m really happy to have my 27” Cinema Display. You’re right, it’s not the Thunderbolt Display, but the display itself is the same. So no need to upgrade for me.
Apple Wireless Keyboard & Magic Trackpad
I really like to work with the MacBook in front of the display and thus omit the peripherals and use the internal keyboard and trackpad.
If I decide to mix things up, I opt for the small Apple Bluetooth Keyboard which has the same layout as the internal keyboard of the 13” MacBook Air. I add the Magic Trackpad to the equation. I somehow like the internal Trackpad more. Not sure if it’s the size or the angle — or something else entirely.
Apple iPhone 5S
I probably don’t have to say much about this. Works perfectly, is fast, beautiful and the camera is awesome. What else do you want?
Apple (Retina) iPad Mini
I have both, a Retina and a non Retina iPad mini. I use the the Retina one mainly for reading books and long articles while I kept the other one for testing purposes.
I have an Samsung Galaxy Nexus at home, but it’s not mine. I know that I need one or two Android devices for testing and will buy them soon.
Buy on Amazon
AKG K550 headphones
I own a pair of AKG K550 headphones for when I don’t want to listen to music over the speakers. I find I can get focussed better while using headphones, even when I’m alone and it’s totally silent around me.
Buy on Amazon
I have a stationary Windows PC which was actually for gaming but is now that I work from home also used for Windows and especially IE testing. In case it interests you, here is the list of gaming hardware:
Processor: Intel Core i5-3470 (3,2 GHz)
CPU cooler: Alpenföhn Himalaya
Graphics: XFX AMD Radeon HD7950
Display: BenQ XL2420T
Memory: G.Skill (8 GB)
Samsung 840 Pro Series (128GB)
2TB Seagate Barracuda 7200rpm
3TB Seagate Barracuda 7200rpm
Power Supply: be quiet! Dark Power Pro 10
Case: Fractal Design Define R4
Mainboard: Asus P8Z77-M
Mouse: Logitech G400
Keyboard: Razer BlackWidow Tournament Edition
Headset: Logitech G35
Mousepad: Steel Series
I have several external hard drives for my Time Machine backup and for archival purposes of my photos and some other stuff.
I also have a 2.1 sound system from Creative, which is probably a hundred years old but still works fine for me.
Sublime Text 3
I use the Sublime Text 3 beta for all of my coding and have no problems whatsoever. I want to give vim a try in the future, just to get a feeling of why some others like it so much, but at the moment I’m just the fastest with Sublime Text. I don’t like huge applications with site management and all this stuff, so my Sublime Text looks very minimal, that’s how I like it.
By now I do quite a lot on the command line and my app of choice is iTerm 2. It’s just what was recommended to me and I like it. It’s basically like the Terminal app but with some extra features.
Google Chrome (Canary)
I’m known for switching my browsers but most of the time Chrome is my default browser. It’s where I feel most comfortable. I often use Chrome Canary (the bleeding edge version of Chrome) as my main browser to test drive all the latest features. It goes without saying that I use almost any browser on a daily basis because of testing.
All of my code is version controlled and I use git for that. I can’t recommend that enough. Get on the git-train.
I know, there are built-in solutions for local development and I did it like that for a while but MAMP is just so comfortable and easy to use that I stuck to it. I start my servers and quit the app after that. The servers keep running and because I hide the dock icon nothing is left. Nice and clean.
This is a little tool that I helps me measure things on screen and also provides a magnifier. I can activate it through
CMD + Shift + D. It doesn’t do much else, but I couldn’t live without it. I just wish I could hide the menubar icon. I recommend you uncheck the “Smooth images in loupe” option.
Quotes, ideas, lists, short writing — Simplenote is the place where I keep all of my text based thinking.
OmniFocus 2 / TeuxDeux
I’m currently in the process of organising my daily freelance life and am using OmniFocus for creating todo lists, projects and so on. But I’m also trying TeuxDeux.com for as a simpler approach which might suit me better. So no clear recommendation on this side of things. Maybe I’m using a combination of both in the future.
Photoshop CC 2014
I have the Creative Cloud Photography subscription which provides me access to Photoshop CC 2014 as well as Lightroom 5 and some other small apps like Adobe Edge Inspect. It’s just one of the things you need to have and this is a relatively cheap solution.
iA Writer / Writer Pro
I often write short posts right in WordPress, but from time to time like to turn to a dedicated writing environment. This post for example is written in Writer Pro. Both apps are very simple and clean.
My gulp watch task creates a LiveReload server to which the browser extension can connect and thus automatically reload the site any time I save a file. Make live easier.
Chrome Web Store
Awesome extension from Google which gives you great advice on how to improve the performance of your site.
Chrome Web Store
It’s not only a browser extension, but a complete app. Couldn’t live without 1Password. It stores all of my passwords and with a single keyboard shortcuts fills out login forms and logs me in.
Sends the current site/article for reading later to Instapaper.
I use IRC to stay up to date with a couple of friends throughout the day. It especially nice since I’m working from home. I’m also part of a few coding related channels like #respimg and #css on irc.w3.org. IRCCloud is the perfect service for that. I pay a small monthly amount and IRCCloud makes sure I’m always online and don’t miss anything. The iOS app does what it should and on Mac I created a fluid app out of their website. Works perfectly. They have a ton of great features and are adding more frequently.
Webpagetest.org is a great way to test the performance of your site and improve upon the results. It’s free and there is no excuse not to use it.
Finch let’s you create a url pointing to your local dev site, that anybody anywhere can use. It’s great for showing progress to a client or just test driving your local site on a variety of different devices. It’s currently in free beta.
Almost all of my files except for massive amounts of photos and the apps themselves live in my Dropbox. It’s reliable and I feel save.
As I said all of my coding is version controlled through git. I use GitHub for that. Most of what I do is publicly visible but I also pay for some private repositories for client projects.
Don’t want to miss Spotify and the endless stream of music for just a few bucks a month.
Yes, I’m one of those guys from the past who still use RSS. Feedbin is my service of choice and it is amazing. The syncing is fast and reliable and the web app is one of the best I’ve ever seen, beautifully designed and fast as well. Reeder for Mac and iOS and a lot of other apps have the ability to sync with Feedbin if you don’t want to use the website.
I do quite a lot of reading in the read later service Instapaper. I pay 1$ a month, I believe, to be able to highlight as many paragraphs as I want to. I think one gets also some other features.
GMail & Google Calendar
This is the hub of all my e-mails and calendars.
There’s probably something I forgot to mention, but I think I covered the most important stuff. If you ever further questions, just write an @reply, e-mail or Facebook post.