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Geeky Stuff

Written by Raymond Santos Estrella on 31 August 2013 - No Comments

I originally started getting into webdesign just to prove I could. I started in the heydey of what would be termed HTML4 (a specification which was later scrapped by the W3C), Internet Explorer 4, Netscape Navigator, and Windows 98.

Back then, Netscape was still king but Internet Explorer was quickly gaining steam, everyone had annoying animated GIFs and MIDI music embedded on their pages, and your choice of free webhost was Geocities, Angelfire, and Tripod.

The Times They Are a-Changin’

The technology for building and maintaining a website has definitely progressed since those early days but the foundations of good design are, in my humble opinion, immutable and timeless. The rules of typography, margins, padding, whitespace, and proportion—all borrowed from hundreds of years of print still hold true for the LCD screen; only one’s field of view changes. And that has been my guide through all of this.

I’ll try to enumerate here, as far as practicable, all the tools and technologies I’ve used to build this website as a guide to anyone who might want to make their own little niche on the web as well. I won’t expound too much into describing each item; just follow the link to their homepage for further information. I also recommend reading their Wikipedia entries as those might describe them in a language more closer to the vernacular and devoid of too much geek-speak.

Ubuntu Linux Probably one of the better distributions of Linux, Canonical’s Ubuntu allows easy scaling and transfer of site assets from one server to many or one server to another, respectively.
Apache Apache is by far, the web’s most used and reliable server software. To me, it’s scalability and reliability are a known quantity.
PHP PHP is the most common scripting language used to serve dynamically generated webpages. On this site is used the typical way, by generating pages whose data is contained in a relational database, thus separating application logic from data.
MySQL MySQL is a commercial brand of relational database software that has at it’s core the SQL programming language that was designed to quickly and efficiently store, retrieve, and manipulate large structured data.
HTML 5 HTML5 is the latest revision of the markup language used to present and create structure for the web. I really, really like this interpreted language. It’s logical, precise, and hierarchical in application. Even Aristotle would be impressed!
CSS3 CSS is a language used in the creation of a style sheet which, in turn, describes the presentation semantics of a corresponding HTML document. Without it, none of those fancy graphics, big headings,drop capitals, and hovers on a page would be possible.
JavaScript JavaScript is the programming language that makes the web as we know it function. It can control the browser, manipulate the HTML document and communicate asynchronously with a connected server.
jQuery jQuery is a JavaScript library meant to abstract complex JS functions into an easy to use and robust framework that can manipulate, transverse, and select DOM elements and provides functionality that makes most of the interactivity (AJAX techniques and JSON data) on this site possible.
Twitter Bootstrap A large part of this site’s code and design was initially based on Twitter’s Bootstrap project which, itself, was initially started to simplify front- and backend web development with a comprehensive and well planned framework.
LESS LESS is a dynamic stylesheet language created to make dynamically-generated CSS files possible with the inclusion of variables, nesting, operators, and functions. It enables the static nature of CSS attain a level of programmability that is the avenue of higher-level programming languages.
Adobe Photoshop Photoshop is the gold standard of image editors. No designer or digital artist worth his salt ignores Photoshop. I use it on a regular basis ranging from the initial mockup and actual design of this site to everyday image manipulation and touch-ups that are destined to be posted on Instagram.
Dreamweaver What Photoshop does for images, Dreamweaver does for site code. I couldn’t have possibly built this site&rsuo;s code and content without Dreamweaver. As someone who loves working with code, I spend quite a bit of time using it to create, modify, and optimize the large number of PHP, Javascript, HTML, and CSS files that this site uses.
CloudFlare CDN CloudFlare protects and accelerates this site. Its web traffic is routed through CloudFlare’s global network of servers to automatically optimize the delivery of web pages for faster page load times and performance. They also block threats and limit abusive bots and crawlers from wasting server bandwidth and server resources.
SiteGround webhosting I absolutely love SiteGround’s hosting services. They’re top-notch in their field, have excellent servers, competitive pricing, and provide very quick and comprehensive customer support. That last one is very important because there always seems to be some strange issue every now and then and SiteGround’s tech support staff get to the root of the problem really quickly. I’ve had zero problems with their hosting so far. Two thumbs up!

The Wheel, Inclined Plane, Levers aka What I Use

I can pretty much get work done on any kind of machine, on basically any platform, but I always do have my preferences for different kinds of tasks.

Role Device
Smartphone I’m currently using an aging Apple iPhone 4 16Gb. I haven’t gotten around to replacing it because I’m reluctant to move away from Apple’s ecosystem (I’m not a fan of Android apps, sorry) and I wasn’t particularly impressed with the iPhone 5 and 5S. Maybe the next generation will get me to move. I’m
Main PC I have a decent, relatively powerful PC built around an Intel Core i5-2350 2.4Ghz processor, 8Gb DDR3 SDRAM, and 120Gb SSD. I dual-boot Windows 8.1 and Ubuntu Linux 13.10. This is an all-around device which I use for working with productivity and design applications, watching movies, reading books, downloading torrents, and playing video games. I’m trying to consolidate my future game purchases on Steam.
Notebook I regularly use an old Acer Atom-based laptop with a tiny 11″ screen. It’s a bit of a hand-me-down from my dad but I can’t really complain. I’ve limited myself to just using it for browsing and Office apps but it can do pretty much anything you throw at it, albeit slowly.

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