/work/

Portfolio

My current portfolio. These are the major projects I have been working on in the last 3 years. It's not a complete list as some projects are long-term or recurring appointments. Also, It'd be too much to list all the articles I've written. Yet, all the important work is listed here chronologically to give you an idea of my services and skills I have to offer.

Projects of 2011 (selected)

TÜV SÜD s@fer-shopping website

It's not your usual website. The term 'perfectionism' doesn't even come close. This well known certification authority has exceptional high standards as even a moderate security issue on their boiler plate website would instantly create ripples across the press and online business. In early 2011 the management decided to give Typo3 the boot and to replace it with a capable and particularly secure system that offers similar or better functionality without changing the basic design of the site. The project was conducted as a competitive bid with a mandatory deadline. It contains a couple of highly customized administration modules that had to be tailored and evaluated to fit an existing work flow. Apart from the initial web design everything had to be built from scratch. Also, the whole system had to pass internal pentests before going live. It is assumed that the website and server is constantly under attack - by professionals.

 

Project scope: Everything (and with everything I mean everything)
Project time: ~4 months
Tools and Techniques: Debian GNU/Linux, Apache, PHP, MySQL, Python, Javascript, Bash Scripting, XML, XTHML
Role: Senior Developer

PC WELT LINUX 04/11 DVD and Magazine

Here's where passion and profession meet and culminate. I still grant Linux-related projects special attention even when my schedule is already a bit stretched. Because it's just wonderful to have time to play and experiment while being payed for. And that's usually the best environment to test new ideas and to develop fresh skills off the beaten track. A magazine like IDG's PC WELT LINUX offers me lots of opportunity to do so. A while back I switched the cover DVD from SYSLINUX to Grub 2 in order to be able to boot ISO files directly from the media. This move has proved to be immensely rewarding: It's now possible to put several Linux Live-Systems of the same kind (e.g. Ubuntu, Lubuntu, Kubuntu, Xubuntu). Altogether no less than 12 Linux live-systems fit on the 9-GB-DVD. As usually in concluded with intense testing. Going to print with 20.000 DVDs doesn't allow any margin for error!

 

Project scope: Tech writing, DVD production, multiboot environment
Project time: ~4 weeks
Tools and Techniques: Grub 2, Bash scripting, XML, XHTML, Javascript
Role: Editor, Author, DVD Developer

Django: Intranet Address Management

Django: Intranet Address Management

A well written, fast and modular web app based on Django. TULP Gmbh wanted a simple to use yet powerful address management tool on their Intranet. For them it was the first foray into Django but it didn't take them long to convince them of the advantages of a MVC framework. Python-Django can be tricky at times due to lacking documentation of recent methods, but it's aways very rewarding to delve into it. Django is non repetitive and saves a lot of code. The results are just graceful and the performance is stunning. When given the choice of RoR, Ruby or PHP I'd always choose Django. You'll need a strong Python background though.

 

Project scope: Server configuration, Django, AJAX
Project time: ~ 1 month (accumulated, with breaks)
Tools and Techniques: Apache, MySQL, Python-Django, XML, XHTML, Javascript
Role: Senior Developer

Wordpress as a CMS: Frank Heublein Industry analyst

I've been maintaining this individual website for quite a while now and it evolved into its current form in about 3 years' time. Starting with CMS Made Simple it quickly became clear that a CMS wouldn't be enough. Above all things, this customer needs a blog. The static content doesn't change much. What would be better as a blog platform than Wordpress? Since version 3 Wordpress can be also used as a CMS with only a couple of customizations needed. A fresh and clean web design was also part of the last relaunch. Needless to say, the customer is very happy with this decision to move to Wordpress.

Update: As of October 2011 the website now uses a privacy-aware implementation of Google Analytics in accordance with German privacy laws.

 

Project scope: Web design, customizing Wordpress 3.X as a CMS
Project time: ~2 weeks
Tools and Techniques: PHP, Wordpress, JQuery, HTML5
Role: Web designer/developer

PC WELT LINUX multiboot DVD with Grub 2

Since using ISOLINUX for multiboot DVDs the necessary customizations for different Linux distributions have always bothered me. Some Live-Systems don't play together well when booting from the same media. Init-Scripts need a lot of attention here but are not very well documented. The solution is to include and boot ISO files directly thus minimizing the customization process. This is one of the use cases where the boot loader Grub 2 is a huge step forward. With version 1.99 of Grub 2 the boot loader now mounts ISO-files on a loop back device. It can access the Initrd and Kernel files directly to initiate the boot process. It doesn't work yet with every Live-System because the distribution needs to support it, too. For example, it already works with current Ubuntu distributions and spin-offs. Another benefit is that the ISO file itself stays intact. Not only is the DVD a multi-bootable disk but also serves as repository for the original images that can be easily transferred to USB disks and Flash media with tools like dd or Unetbootin. WIN!

 

Project scope: Building an El-Torito multiboot environment with Grub 2
Project time: ~3 weeks
Tools and Techniques: Grub 2, Bash Scripting, Virtualbox, vRDP
Role: Linux Developer and master tinkerer

Ulrich Gleiter Fine Arts

This award winning, emerging artist splits his time between three continents (Asia, Europe and America) and needs an easy to use website to document his work. I designed and built his first site a couple years now and it underwent a three major changes since then. It was always based on Coppermine Gallery and it stayed that way to keep things simple. The current incarnation uses the latest 1.5.X version of Coppermine with only a handful of modular customizations. The switch from version 1.4 to 1.5 has not been easy as some parts of theme had needed a complete rewrite during the update. With the current version in place there are still constant changes on a monthly base. Thanks to the minimalist structure of Coppermine the artist can update and publish new paintings on his own.

 

Project scope: PHP online gallery and web design
Project time: Long-term project, still in progress
Tools and Techniques: Coppermine Gallery 1.5.X, PHP, JQuery, XHTML
Role: Web Designer/Developer

Projects of 2010 (selected)

Localization: Cillit Bang Israel

Plenty to "clean up" in this project: With the launch of a new line of detergents in Israel Reckitt-Benckizer needed a Hebrew website for their products. The design and framework was already developed by Austrian design office LOOP AG and a preliminary copy deck was provided by a translation office. LOOP AG also tailored the custom PHP framework which is not ready for right-to-left content, requiring extensive rework of the CSS and some changes in PHP. The Hebrew website had to merge the CI, translations and new localized graphics. Some graphics had to be done from scratch for the Israeli market and the translations needed thorough proof reading.

 

Project scope: Website localization and rebuilding
Project time: ~2 month
Tools and Techniques: CSS, XHTML, Flash, Javascript, some PHP
Role: Web developer, translator

Dr Alon Chen, Weizmann Institute

The Weizmann Institute maintains a centralized web server for their labs and groups. And while every group is responsible for their own website a lot of restrictions and guidelines apply to the individual site as you would expect in a centralized environment like this. For me as the web designer that meant that for Dr Alon Chen's site only a limited set of tools was available, basically only HTML and Javascript. To reduce the maintenance efforts I built XML templates for the website to create XHTML with XSLT and DSSL offline whenever an updates was needed. This proved especially useful for the gallery which was build using the KDE's XML-parser from kipi-plugins. Update August 2011: The institute has now made the transition to a customized CMS, Drupal in this case. The institute's staff now maintains and updates the website on their own while my design and layout remains in place and is largely unchanged.

 

Project scope: Web design
Project time: ~6 month, on-off long-term project
Tools and Techniques: XML, XSLT, DSSSL XHTML, JQuery
Role: Web Designer/Developer

PC WELT LINUX multiboot DVD with ISOLINUX

IDG Germany publishes their quarterly PC WELT LINUX magazine since early 2005. This special interest magazine exclusively deals with everything Linux and Open-Source. A big part of their success is the cover DVD that provides the latest versions of Linux distributions and live system on a bootable disk. In order to boot several systems from one DVD the distributions are customized and integrated individually with Peter Anvin's ISOLINUX. The integration process often requires changes in the distribution's Init-scripts inside the compressed Initrd. Often, things break and due to lack of documentation it usually involves a good dose of trial-by-error development. The build process is done on my root-server in Europe that provides the customer with new images whenever needed, bypassing long shipping or download times. For testing purposes we use a open-source virtualization platform and RDP to test and evaluted images and to incorporate changes even on short notice. New images are available instantly.

 

Project scope: Rebuilding a El-Torito multiboot environment with ISOLINUX
Project time: ~6 weeks, recurring project
Tools and Techniques: ISOLINUX, Bash Scripting
Role: Linux Developer

Wordpress: Kern-Energie.com

A German start-up specializing in personalized food, nuts and dried fruits in this case. This project was split in several parts: While another web design office build the CI, layout and the shop based on Magento, my part was the server's configuration and to create a preliminary website with Wordpress. With a limited budget, the customers needed a lot of consultation and technical advice to get things done and to avoid common mistakes. Magento is pretty heavy on the server. So in order to take some load of the web server, I chose NGINX to serve static files directly and to act as reverse proxy for Apache. Since the online shop went live, Kern-Energie.com now maintains the site with their own team of webmasters. Honestly, this project almost tanked and I'm just glad it seems to have worked out for everyone!

 

Project scope: Linux server configuration, Wordpress
Project time: ~3 weeks
Tools and Techniques: NGINX, Apache, MySQL, PHP, Wordpress, Bash Scripting
Role: Linux Admin, web developer

Tech writing: PC WELT LINUX Articles

In 2010 IDG Germany published 4 quarterly issues of PC WELT LINUX. This magazine's production is completely out-sourced to Liane M. Dubowy of the con.Tec editorial office. All authors are freelancers or individual contributors. This model has worked out well and the magazine has developed into one of the major regular Linux publications in Germany. The magazine's audience is desktop users, hobbyists and sometimes even admins. I've been occasionally contributing articles and tutorials to the magazines for a couple of years now. In 2010 I wrote most of its hands-on articles (CLI magic, tips and tricks) and distribution reviews. It's still a great way to develop fresh ideas, play around and test new software while being paid for it! This magazine is in German.

 

Project scope: Tech writing (in German), tinkering, graphics and illustrations
Project time: ~4 weeks, recurring project
Tools and Techniques: Linux systems and Open-Source software of all kinds
Role: Regular freelance writer

Projects of 2009 (selected)

Prestashop: Boost Sports

Another B2C website and online shop, this time built with Prestashop. Boost Sports was a spin-off from Boost-Kiteboarding with the same team but with a wider audience in mind. This online shop doesn't just focus on Kiteboarding but offers a variety of sports gear and clothing. Prestashop was fun to work with, the compliance with German laws requires some customization of its modules. Parts of the site's design was co-created with another individual contributor. To speed things up, the site uses NGINX as a reverse proxy and as the main server for static files. The site is now maintained by its new owner and I don't know what's going on there right now.

 

Project scope: Linux Server configuration, Blog, Online-Shop, SEO, Design
Project time: ~2 month (accumulated)
Tools and Techniques: NGINX, Apache, MySQL, PHP, Prestashop, Wordpress, Bash Scripting
Role: Linux Admin, web developer

Online Shop: boost-kiteboarding.com

This German online shop for kite-boarding gear made its debut with a bang. Developing the site's blog, shop and CMS was fun. Thanks to thorough and effective SEO this shop it could get some of its key products on top positions in search engines. Yes, that was back in the time when good SEO still made a huge difference. Apart from creating most of the design of the site's shop, blog and CMS I ran quite successful campaigns to place the F-One kites and the Loaded Longboards in Google's first five results. While it is still important to avoid common SEO mistakes, I would more focus on content and affiliate campaigns today. SEO itself is a lot of work and therefore expensive. It makes sense if the site's content is already in pretty good shape. Unfortunately, later in 2010 Denis Burghardt, the web site manager, moved on to other ventures. The site is now maintained by its new owner and his own team of webmasters. My original web design is still in place though, even if a bit outdated. They still seem to like it.

 

Project scope: Web design, CMS, online shop, blog, SEO
Project time: ~10 month, on-off long-term project
Tools and Techniques: CMS Made Simple, Zencart, Wordpress, JQuery
Role: Web Designer/Developer, SEO consultant

TÜV SÜD: Linux Server Administration

TÜV SÜD: Linux Server Administration

A Linux project for fun and profit: Building a Linux web server for a major customer from scratch. This customer moved from a managed hoster to their own root servers. They not just needed a capable admin but thorough documentation as well. The configuration is rather rigid and the system keeps a minimalist flair. Another set of harddisks was added later with iSCSI, at a time when there was no stable kernel module available. A solid Python script for encrypted remote backups with logging facilities saves the important data via SSH. As of today, everything still running smoothly. There have been plenty of updates, though.

 

Project scope: Linux system administration
Project time: ~1 week
Tools and Techniques: Debian GNU/Linux, Bash, Python
Role: System administrator