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How I work: an update

Some time ago (about three years now) I wrote a post about how I work. Well, I think it’s time for an update.

The above is an updated picture of my messy workspace. Let’s go left to right:

  • First up is an A4 day to a page diary. I use Google Calendar for long term calendaring (because it’s on every device I own) but this helps me schedule day to day tasks in a nice tactile (and therefore real) way. It’s good to be able to cross out tasks, and then see at the end of the day that I’ve actually achieved things.
  • Next is the watch: it’s my Garmin Forerunner 210 GPS running watch which I only wear for running. My day to day watch is a Pebble, which I love very much.
  • Below the desk is my Mesh desktop PC, which I’ll get to later in terms of software. It’s pretty, with lots of blue lights, but it’s big and heavy so it’s hidden away.
  • On top of the desk are my two HD widescreen monitors. On the left it’s normally code/text while the right is for previewing things, looking at designs, that kind of stuff, or for non-work things.
  • Under monitor 1 are my old iPhone 4 (for testing sites on Safari iOS), my business card holder, and my Rook work phone. The Rook is a very cheap Android phone which does everything I need for business, although the keypad is tiny and I’d like to replace it eventually. Still, it was ¬£50 and it’s good for calls and reading email, which is pretty much all you need a business phone for. My personal phone is a Nexus 5 which I love beyond belief. Android is amazing.
  • The keyboard is a wireless Logitech. I had a lovely wired mechanical keyboard which I ruined by spilling tea all over it. This is my second choice keyboard. It’s OK, but nothing special.
  • The mouse is an old-school Microsoft one. It’s nice and big and solid and wired (no batteries!) and has handy side buttons, although they’re a bit too light so are easy to click by mistake (they’re mapped to back/forward on my browser). The mousewheel is the noisiest thing in the office, not counting the dog.
  • Behind monitor 2 is a Netgear wireless range extender, which I only have for the wired ports in the back. Being a renter I can’t add a decent wired connection to this office, and the power situation is terrible so no IP over power, boo. I need the wired ports to plug in my…
  • …YeaLink SIP phone. VOIP is a great choice because it’s easy to move offices and keep the number, which gets confusing with area code but when you have business cards printed it’s good to keep the same number regardless.
  • Behind this is one of my favourite purchases, which is a very sad thing to say. It’s this¬†power adapter, which is great for an office with only one power outlet. The USB ports are low powered, but enough to keep my phone going, and the lead is nice and long.
  • Next up is my trusty Samsung printer. It’s a black and white, but it’s laser which means reliability and cheap printing: I was getting through an inkjet every 6 months before shelling out for laser. I don’t think any business should be using consumer inkjets; they’re a false economy.
  • On top of the printer are two very old Raspberry Pis, which I need to find a use for.

Not pictured but worth a mention: I have a Bluetooth Belkin speaker, which I mostly use wired to my PC. It’s a mono speaker but it’s got a really, really good sound for the size and surprising volume. It’s also great to take outside when I do gardening. I also use an Asus Zenbook 305 (old model) with an SSD: it’s such an amazing laptop I can overlook it being white. An SSD may be small, but I don’t really use it for development, and I have an external drive running WAMP if I need to do any dev work on the go. The best thing about an SSD is that it starts faster than you can think, and it also makes the laptop light and power-friendly. I also have a Hudl, which is a lovely tablet for the price, although the battery is shocking.


Not much has changed since last time in terms of software. I still use Netbeans as an IDE (version 8.0.2 now) and I still love it. I’ve started using Gulp to do SASS preprocessing and JS minification and very rudimentary bug finding. Netbeans can do SASS preprocessing but I have Ruby/Gulp/Bower installed on the PC and that runs most of it because it’s a bit more sophisticated.

My browser stack is Chome, then FireFox, then Edge/IE11 with occasional forays in to Opera.

Both PC and laptop are running Windows 10, which I was very happy with until recently, when the start menu on the PC has started giving me critical errors fairly regularly. I’ve got a couple of WD SmartDrives for backups or external drive use as well as Dropbox for cloud things.

The PC is running WAMP for development/testing. Once I’ve developed locally, I’ll FTP up to a test server, use the Serialised Data Replacer thingy, get it all right then FTP to live. I use Beanstalk for SVN or Git hosting and sometimes GitHub for Git, and rarely deploy direct from these services, although I probably should start. I use TortoiseSVN for native SVN and Git on the command line if I need to.

Office software is a combination of OpenOffice/LibreOffice and Google Apps. I use Gmail exclusively now and haven’t opened Thunderbird for months.

I use Creative Cloud for Photoshop – I was reluctant at first because of the annual cost but it’s actually really good and always up to date.

FTP is WinSCP, SSH is PuttY, music is Google Play Music which I love, anything else is Notepad++ or done online – Xero for accounting, mostly, which just keeps getting better and better.

Phew! A lightning tour of the office, all done.

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