Originally from Suffolk, I've now lived in Nottingham for eight years. I'm an e-commerce and web development enthusiast, having managed e-commerce operations at directorship level. My weapons of choice are PHP, Slim micro-framework, HTML5, CSS3, Javascript, jQuery, Linux, Bash, Docker, and a little Node JS and the like.

Feel free to contact me at:

My Technologies of Choice

Desktop / Laptop

I use Linux on all my computers, specifically Arch Linux - bizarrely I found it the most stable, having run the same install for several years now, something I didn't do with more traditionally 'stable' distributions such as Debian. Fedora always worked well for me, as did Ubuntu (Gnome - couldn't get used to Unity or KDE). On Arch I use the Gnome (3) desktop environment - it took about a week to really get used to Gnome 3, but now I struggle on anything else compared.

Servers

For servers I generally run a stripped-down version of Ubuntu, mainly hosting various Docker containers.

I've tried many different hosting companies and VPS providers, including Amazon's AWS, Google Cloud, A2, 123-Reg, GoDaddy, various UK-based managed and unmanaged VPS' and servers, but the only one I can say I truly love is DigitalOcean (I don't work for them before you ask!).

One thing I would add for using Ubuntu on DigitalOcean if you're using Docker or Docker-Compose, use Docker's own installed and that of Docker-Compose to have the most up-to-date versions.

I'm also particularly impressed with their networking / DNS tools. I've had a fair few issues with other providers, and simply using DigitalOcean's 'Networking' by pointing the nameservers to DigitalOcean's has solved everything, and quickly (Google's DNS picks up DigitalOcean DNS record changes really, really fast!).

Browser

Firefox. Chromium / Chrome is good, they have some really nice extensions, but Firefox is just a workhorse. If you're on the Internet pretty much all day then Firefox is brilliant.

Ad Blocking

I personally don't use AdBlock (it's a bit shady with their slight sell-out, Google it) or anything similar. uBlock is good if you don't want to use native operating system features. However personally I simply edit my /etc/hosts file to point all ad domains to 0.0.0.0, i.e. a null address. This means the ad won't even do a proper external DNS lookup, saving system resources, bandwidth, and annoying adverts. Take a look at this GitHub repository for an always up-to-date list of hosts to block: https://github.com/StevenBlack/hosts (be aware however that Google Analytics is blocked in that, meaning you will need to remove the Google Analytics line from your /etc/hosts if you use the analytics tools personally or professionally).

VCS / Code Management

Git is the way to go for what I do (i.e. web development). I personally slightly prefer GitHub, but that may just be a historical love. Bitbucket is also good, I've used that both personally and professionally, although now personally it's nearly all GitHub.

Blogging Platforms

Years ago I had a Wordpress blog, it was fine. Then I had a custom platform I designed on Slim 3 - again very nice. Now I like Ghost, it's lightweight, fun to develop on (it's Node JS based, but easy to configure and adapt if you don't know Node). It works fine with Docker and an NginX reverse proxy, and LetsEncrypt.

CSS Frameworks

Bootstrap. After trying many CSS frameworks, Bootstrap is the easiest to expand upon, if simply due to the number of guides, modules, and examples out there. Materialize CSS is also awesome if you are designing a more modern website, or an admin. backend.

Javascript

Native Javascript / vanilla JS trumps all for smaller client-side interactions. jQuery for more UI changes and interaction. I've used AngularJS a little bit, I would like to use it more, it's great at splitting up frontend / server-side elements and is probably the more 'correct' way to design and run an application.

PHP Frameworks

I'm generally a bit hesitant when it comes to frameworks for PHP, you can get a bit stuck in a trap with them and end up with large and complex overlapping applications. I prefer using various instances of Slim (3) - it's so lightweight, you can code independent of the framework meaning you can switch easily to another or none at all, it's very 'API'-based so splitting your frontend and backend code is easy, and it works with Composer very nicely.

Third-Party Applications

I generally avoid closed-source applications and programmes, however I do have a few exceptions. I do use Dropbox (albeit with additional encryption, i.e. GPG) as I had issues with data loss and synchronisation with SpiderOak and OwnCloud was just not as convenient. I've used Trello, JIRA, Evernote, and many others, each having their benefit. However I use ToDoist almost religiously, it's a simple to-do app which gets me to get things done. For multi-department projects Trello works great. If it's just a development team, JIRA is great, particularly if using Bitbucket and HipChat.

I'm also a convert to Google's business suite, the whole Gmail with your own domain, Google Drive, Google Docs - it actually scales really well, particularly in an e-commerce setting from experience.

Travel

I've recently just driven to Ukraine from Nottingham with a friend, it was great - we went through France, Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Poland, Ukraine, Slovakia, Hungary, Austria, Switzerland, then back home. The best food was undoubtedly in Ukraine, which was surprising. The best beer was of course in Germany, specifically Bavaria!

I've previously travelled in and around Serbia, Italy, Spain, Slovenia, Czech, and Croatia. I particularly enjoyed Serbia, having picked-up a first edition sealed record of Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon for about £1.

Beer

Adnams. It's from Suffolk.