I know I’ve been threatening it for a long time, but the new version of Tokyo Story is coming VERY soon. It’s in the final stages of development right now, with some new features to make it easier to explore the content on the site. Posts have been really slow over the course of last year, that will change too.
The new features will include slightly improved typography and colour schemes, a search box, better pagination, easy access to all podcasts and videos, and new categories for posts with navigation in a new sidebar. On top of all that, a much needed facelift all round which I hope doesn’t compromise the atmosphere of the blog, which I’ve always been happy with. I always wanted to keep things simple and not detract from the main content, but I feel now that the site is too ‘bare bones’ and this gives it a slightly lifeless quality which I want to remedy. It feels static, and I think the new inclusions will add a bit more vibrancy. If anyone has any suggestions, requests or recommendations please feel free to put them in the comments.
Looking further down the line, I will be pushing the freelance web design side still more and seeing where that will go. I’ll also be creating one or more WordPress themes which I might even offer for sale if they turn out OK. As a platform for these things, the website languishing in the root folder of this server will change completely, as it damn well should. This will be built on WordPress and will feature articles detailing side projects, client work, and written pieces about web design and development as I see it, as well as of course offering my services.
I’ll be making more videos too. Now 2011 is behind us, setsuden is over with, the lights are back on, the video screens over Shibuya crossing have flickered back into life and the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant has acheived cold shut down, there’s a renewed air of optimism in Tokyo again. With due reverence to those that lost their lives in the disaster and all those affected by the aftermath of the biggest earthquake in recorded history, we can tentatively look forward to and hope for, even expect, great things from 2012. There’s a lot more energy around already – and it’s only 3rd January.
Radio Tokyo Podcasts will continue as planned without any particular interval. I’ll fit them in when I can and when the mood takes me. The key to all of this stuff for me is striking a balance between having it a passion and making it a chore.
I’m in the process of elaborating on an idea for what I like to call a geographical bookmarking tool for us city dwellers that will, providing the model stands up under scrutiny during the early stages, make an appearance in open beta form with the eventual plan of having a partnering iOS app. I have other ideas for web services and apps I’d like to see, purely because I’d like to use them myself, and that’s the best reason to build one. And build them I shall!
I don’t usually put techie stuff on here, but I wanted to talk about what, in my view, is the best web development environment you can have for a freelancer or a small team, especially if you’re pushed for space and have a restrictive budget. Now I don’t care what other people think but I believe that if you’re involved in designing interfaces and user experiences, and especially if you’re in any way involved in typography, you should be on a Mac. I live in Tokyo, so space is at a premium, therefore I use a MacBook Pro to save space and also to give myself the option of working in a cafe or while traveling. After all, with the right amount of RAM the MBP is as powerful as a desktop, give or take. Having said that, for design work the screen on the laptop is probably not sufficient, so I also have an Apple Widescreen Cinema Display. I usually run the MacBook Pro in clamshell mode when it’s connected to the Cinema Display, although it is of course possible to use the laptop screen as a second monitor. I have a wired network at home because speeds are reliable that way, and I don’t want to be bathed in constant radiation living in such a small apartment. At the center of this is the network hub which is in turn connected to the broadband router. The network hub allows me to easily add other machines to the network should I be working with someone else on a project and also connects to the server which is a Mac Mini. The Mac Mini is perfect as a server as it is small, silent and energy efficient. The great thing about Mac OS X is that I can schedule it to shutdown and startup at any given time. Right now it automatically shuts down at midnight (I seldom work past that time nowadays) and then restarts at 8.00am. This saves power and is therefore better for the environment. When the server starts up, Apache and MySQL start up automatically too and I don’t have to do anything. The server sits on a bookshelf and has no keyboard or mouse connected to it. If I need to administer the server, I just open up Mac OS X’s screen sharing feature and do everything through there. Backups are made through Mac OS X’s Time Machine to an external HD, so client’s work and all other data on both the workstation and the server is safe should anything happen. Couple this with SVN version control for scripts and it’s all I will ever need for my home development environment. It’s not even that expensive!
3Waves Japan Market Research is a full-service qualitative research agency based in Tokyo that serves the overseas market exclusively with a team of bilingual and bicultural consultants, and they chose me to build their website. The project was a joy to work on because they’re great people, but I also got to build a Flash weather widget for Tokyo, as well as scrolling interfaces, dynamic XML-driven slideshows, and a component in Flash that interfaces with the WordPress blogging platform. All-in-all it was a bit of a tour de force and we’re all over the moon with how it turned out. Have a look for yourselves, or even better, contact them about your market research requirements in Japan. Unfortunately they’re so good at what they do they’re in very high demand already so get them while you can (the launch was January 1st 2010).
Now the new site has been indexed, I checked how it was doing on Google. Suprisingly, the search term ‘freelance web designer tokyo’ landed me on the first page! I’m worried that things are going to get busy in the foreseeable future, so I’d better get my projects finished.
It’s nothing much, but I decided I had to put something up ‘in front’ of my blog. My blog doesn’t really mention my freelance web design work, so I had to rectify that by creating this site. The work on there is somewhat lacking due to the fact that I have only just started freelancing in earnest. Expect at least one new project a month in the portfolio from now on (give or take). There’s lots of freelance web design work lined up, but I’m still accepting new projects, so please get in touch via the new site at Stephen David Smith (dot) NET.
I just checked stephendavidsmith.com, and although it was owned by someone else at the time of me buying this domain, there was no hosting associated with it. Now, however, there is a fledgling protfolio site on the other side of that .com URL. I just wanted to point out that it has nothing whatsoever to do with me. I thought it was worth mentioning as the discipline of this other S.D.Smith is similar to that of mine, but I just wanted to ensure there was no confusion, capiche? Actually, I’m a bit upset about it.
UPDATE: I forgot to mention, a new site destined to reside in the root of stephendavidsmith.net (that’s here), is due to be launched by me, advertising my freelance web and multimedia production services. Give me one more week, and I’ll have it up. In future you will be able to find your way here from the new site, or come directly to this blog at stephendavidsmith.net/tokyostory.
A new piece of work I did for one of my freelance clients is now up! Sure Languages is a language services company (i.e. translation and interpreting) based in the beautiful city of Bath, UK. They’re superb at what they do, offer great service, and are a nice bunch of people to boot. Which means, if you require language services, no matter where you are in the world right now, talk to these people. They’re extremely professional, and very efficient, and their new website isn’t bad either!
This is an e-commerce site I starting building freelance about a year ago, but it was put on hold for a time. It’s now up and running, so if you want, go and have a look at Kelly’s Crystal Shop. I thought I’d put a link on here because it saves me having to submit it to all the search engines (the spiders will find the site from the link on this page). It sells incense, oils, crystals, fossils and many different types of gifts. Perhaps if this is your thing, you could buy something from the shop? You can pay using PayPal or major credit cards.