I’m Chris Nutt, and This Is How I Work

This is a response to my friend Bryan’s blog post, which in turn is in response to LifeHacker. Like Bryan I wouldn’t say I am an amazing success, in fact I would use my deficiencies as an example of what not to do.

Name: Chris Nutt

Location: Fife/Edinburgh Scotland

Occupation: Web/Graphic Designer

Current Computers: At work an i5 Dell Optiplex with a rubbishy 17” LCD recently upgraded to Windows 7 64-bit and Adobe Design Premium CS6. At home a custom built i7 920 system inside a Fractal Design Refine R2, 6GB ram, AMD 7950 3GB, 2TB & 500GB HDD, 96GB SSD and B-Grade NEC 2180UX.

Current Mobile Devices: Acer Cloudmobile (7” tablet out on lend)

Work: Lumpy

What’s your best time-saving trick?

Hack as little as possible and abstract as much as possible. Not a small scale solution, but once you have the mindset in place you will be horrified by hacking. Hacked fixes have a habit coming back to bite you. The half hour you save today can be 2 days wasted tomorrow.

What’s your favourite to-do list manager?

In life Tasks and at work I keep it stupidly simple and use flags in Outlook. The moment I read a task related email I flag it red. Large complex managers scare the hell out of me, I am not a person who copes well with stress, the more minimalist the manager the more comfortable I am.

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?

Photoshop, Adobe is one of the flakiest software developers known to man, but no matter how badly they hack something Photoshop just fricken works. Having said that I am very much considering moving a lot of my work to Fireworks.

 My web designing setup is heavily focused on Firefox as a day to day browser it isn’t my first choice, but as a development browser I don’t think anything comes close. I extend Firefox with Firebug. Firefox and many other browsers offer similar functionality, but really I have found them all to not fit my work fully. I then use Total Validator and its Firefox plugin. Valid HTML is essential in cutting down unpredictability in the display of a website. Each browser can interpret vagueness in the HTML spec differently, but that is infinitely preferable to it just making a wild guess. Also invalid code can kick an entire document into quirks mode and then everything is squirrelly as hell. Why Total Validator though? LOCAL VALIDATION. I work largely on projects that are internal or initially internally developed. I can’t send code outside the building and in a recent case the code was partially created by JavaScript it didn’t exist in the source, but the DOM of the browser. In the screenshot above I have show how you can configure the TV plugin to launch TV and validate your generated code. Also I am big on accessibility. A large part of accessibility is abstraction of content from display, this is beneficial for a maintainable site and from an SEO perspective too. I also use additional FF plugins like Firesizer or accessibility toolbars as and when I need them.

I am not so fused about IDEs. I will happily use what is to hand. They must however do code highlighting and not screw with my code.

As an aside CSS validity is far further down my list, I prefer better organised CSS (always alphabetical properties, unless they have a browser prefix) and valid syntax to strict code validity.

I like Bryan also use the office suite, mainly Outlook, Word and PowerPoint. Getting half decent results from PowerPoint is oddly enjoyable. Then again that might be Stockholm Syndrome. InDesign is excellent, but I don’t use it so much these days. Illustrator is powerful, but also fucking awful. If Photoshop is sometime roughly cut diamond, Illustrator is a lump of coal constantly being recut. It is no worse and in some cases better than it’s current competition. However raw usability is still behind Freehand. The other Adobe apps are fine, Flash is just far to complicated and Dreamweaver gets 90% of it’s functions ignored and used as a glorified text editor.

Besides your phone and computer, what gadget can’t you live without?

At home George Formby grill, by that I mean my cheap Aldi George Forman a like that had completely removable plates and drip tray. It cooks bacon and toasties excellently. I wouldn’t want a ‘real’ one.

At work (and work from home) FUNC 1030 mouse mats. A low friction, high tracking surface can make very average mice track much better. I use the rough ball mouse side even with optical/laser mice. I have tried other mats, fabric mats, no mats and they all suck ass compared to the mats I have. I bought them 8 1/2 years ago from Alienware before they were owned by Dell. They were £8 each as apposed to £24 for unbranded. They have worn a bit, but still work excellently.

What’s your workspace like?

 We moved office last year and got Steelcase chairs and desks, they are pretty nice. I keep most things off of my desk. I scrap most paper, bar notebooks the moment I don’t need them. At home really messy, but two Ikea hacked tables with kitchen wood block work tops and round desk legs. An old shelf keeps my PC from sitting on the carpet. I have a cheap Viking fake leather chair that has seen better days, with the seat being boosted with inset cushion as the old foam was compacted years ago. I am considering getting a new chair. Two potentials is on second hand Steelcase chair or an Alfa Romeo seat chair. I crush me elbows a lot which gives me shooting pains down my arms, so getting a chair with removable arms or no arms would be ideal for me.

What do you listen to while you work?

Music via PlayerPro on my Cloudmobile. I am really into Art of Trance at the moment. I have Wildlife on One and Voice of Earth second hand. Otherwise anything I like, prog rock, trance, gothic rock, jrock, electronic…

What’s your sleep routine like?

If I don’t keep to a regular pattern I don’t feel to good. Generally 10:30pm to 7:00am. I sleep a lot.

What everyday thing are you better at than anyone else?

I would have said drinking tea, but I can’t have proper tea anymore

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

Err… Don’t Panic.

Any other interesting tidbits you’d like to share with readers?

Don’t play Skyrim your life will be over. If you must, mod it to hell.