Work inspiration with Mark Reeves

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Mark Reeves

I build websites for clients as Clearbold, LLC

I'm Mark Reeves. I build websites for clients as Clearbold, LLC. At this point I bounce back and forth between a hands-on role in building things and doing project management for my team, which I pull together on a per-project basis.

We do HTML/CSS/JavaScript development for mobile-friendly website designs. We've been doing a lot of browser-based animation work recently. We also build most website projects with content management system support, typically on LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) platforms.

What hardware do you use?

I've been switching between a late-2011 11" MacBook Air running a 24" ViewSonic monitor and a 2009 iMac. I recently grabbed a brushed aluminum kitchen cart that, with its wheels locked, is the right height for a standing desk for me. It's been something of a trial run and is working well. I find myself standing for longer periods of time at the start of the week, and sitting down at the iMac on my desk more frequently as the week progresses.

I recently grabbed a brushed aluminum kitchen cart that, with its wheels locked, is the right height for a standing desk for me. It's been something of a trial run and is working well. 

I'm a big fan of all the power the little MacBook Air packs, and with its portability when I have an on-site meeting. The ViewSonic monitor isn't great and the iMac's bigger 24" screen is a treat. I've got an old, more than 10 years, set of JBL Creatures hooked up to the MacBook Air and JVC noise-canceling headphones that I'll switch to sometimes.

My previous iPhone was an iPhone 4. I planned on upgrading to the discounted 5 when the new models when they came out, but they nixed that model. I got a blue iPhone 5c at the same price point. I have a Google Nexus 7, running Android, from 2012 that I bought for testing websites that I'll often grab at night for reading or watching Netflix, and a 1st-generation iPad that's pretty much only used at this point for watching iTunes purchases or testing websites.

I got a Samsung Meteor desktop microphone this year for recording screencasts.

And what software?

Both computers are still on OS X Lion. I've found myself less interested in pursuing yearly upgrades with each passing year. If it works, it works. I think we're progressing to a web-as-utility collective mindset where novelty is less of a motivation. I've considered upgrading the MacBook Air to Mavericks, but may just wait for new hardware.

I've found myself less interested in pursuing yearly upgrades with each passing year. If it works, it works. 

My business email is now on Fastmail.fm, which is a great platform if you're looking for an alternative to Google-driven Gmail & Apps. On the MacBook Air I access that through Thunderbird. I use the web UI elsewhere. Firefox has become my primary browser, though I'm in Safari and Chrome often for testing.

I'm in Sublime Text 2 for coding all day. I keep TextMate handy for drafting emails or capturing notes. I do git through iTerm, a Terminal alternative. I open Photoshop CS6 begrudgingly when someone sends me design comps, and use Transmit for FTP. We use Flint to chat through Campfire-hosted chat rooms during the day. I have Harvest's desktop app in my startup items for time tracking, and Rdio's desktop app is open all day. When I occasionally do a screencast, I'll use Camtasia. I wouldn't call myself a power user, but Alfred is pretty indispensable for launching apps or using the calculator. I'm also a really big fan of Tapbots' Pastebot app for the iPhone and OS X, to move snippets of text back and forth, and use Tweetbot on OS X & iPhones for Twitter.

I've been using Dropbox for collaboration for a long time and recently added Spideroak to the mix for cloud-based backups and some synching across my computers. I'll often start a document on one computer, save it to Dropbox or Spideroak, and move right over to the other to finish it.

With all my business & personal stuff in Dropbox or Spideroak, and all my web projects in git repositories at Github, I don't do full backups anymore. A new computer is a clean install of apps and synching up with those cloud platforms.

Everything else is web-based: Web apps like Trello, Xero & Harvest. I also try to stay more purposeful with my time by using an offline calendar in the office. I do all my note-taking and to do lists on cheap legal pads and have plenty of mechanical pencils on hand.

What would be your dream setup?

I'd like a new 27" iMac. I'd like to get a better standing desk setup going. I have a few IKEA desktops here that I want to piece together with custom legs to build an ideal standing desk. The majority of our work is remote & virtual, so going with the iMac and making my home office setup ideal for me makes sense. As long as the 11" MacBook Air keeps going, I can always grab that to take with me.

I'd like to get a better videoconferencing setup going as well. Something that's not just the built-in camera at the top of my monitor, but is based around a meeting table and a permanent installation.

Where does your work inspiration come from?

I lamented on Twitter recently that the web started out as the frontier and is now the I-95 corridor. For readers outside the US, I-95 is a congested interstate highway along the East Coast. It hits Boston, NYC, DC, all the way down to Miami.

I got my start when the web was this place where you could go that was still in many ways unformed and unpopulated. We had the opportunity to shape it and it held so much promise. In a lot of ways, it's evolved to represent the worst of every preceding broadcast medium, with commenting systems tacked on. When I'm building things for the web, I'm working to live up to that potential, and make it a place that works really well for everyone. 

When I'm building things for the web, I'm working to live up to that potential, and make it a place that works really well for everyone.