About

[ I'm a curious explorer ]



Hello!


My name is Rafal


I am an IT Consultant


° ° °

I work & live in Cracow, Poland.


I build unique websites for creative people and small business.

I also set up, optimise & maintain cloud IaaS solutions (servers, storage & networks).


I like to know everything about things I'm passionate about. I spend my spare time tinkering with Linux machines, experimenting with code, reading docs and learning about latest technologies & cloud configurations.


When I'm not in front of a monitor - I, my beloved wife and our 7yr old son (he already know how to properly use a camera ;) ) are out with cameras looking for that 'perfect moment' to capture.

I'm not a 'web developer as you may think of' - what I do is more like a HTML/CSS/Pure JS website coding (no frameworks) mixed with 'Server Administration' thing sprinkled on top with 'Linux System Engineering'- if you really want to name it. What I'm talking about here? Well, I look at websites as a complex, connected things. Of course it is just a bunch of lines of code glued together to display things for you - right? But underneath there is a software running it, plus there is an operating system keeping things together, and let's not forget about servers and networks.
Websites I build are well incorporated with web apps running them, servers are properly configured to use only what is needed to run. Website code is written to work as fast and stable as possible.



On a daily basis I heavily use linux console, code inspect within browsers, ssh, code editors. But there is more:



Infrastructure

  • Cloud computing: AWS, Linode, Digital Ocean, Gandi.net
  • DB (rarely but yet): Redis, MongoDB
  • Cloudflare, Route 53
  • Nagios, Cloudwatch

Tools

  • Linux console: bash, zsh ()
  • Version control: Git
  • Virtualization: Docker
  • Tools: Linux Console & code editor
  • Text editors: Vim, Sublime and VSC

Back-End

  • NGINX
  • SSL Optimisation
  • Varnish
  • NodeJS
  • Server Optimisation

Front-End

  • HTML5/CSS3
  • Media Queries
  • Responsive Design
  • Compatibility Optimisations
  • Lightroom & Photoshop

Servers


My adventure with Linux started from Ubuntu 7.10 (Gutsy Gibbon) at the end of 2007. Shortly I can sum it up: it was a passion from the very beginning. Learning curve wasn't easy though: two wrecked laptops, late nigh hours spent installing, and learning - every day learning - and that was just the beginning of a long journey to where I'm now. I've always looked for faster, better optimized and custom build lighter distributions.
Honestly, I've tested and used so many different Linux distributions since then - that it is hard just to say, that I know a thing or two. I went further and further.. main distributions, forks, simpler, leaner distr.. and finally I landed with Gentoo. On Gentoo and LFS I've learnt how to compile kernel, modify system internals ( Gentoo!), how to live without GUI - with the console only, how to work around bugs, and resolve problems I meet. All of that hard-learned experience and knowledge I fall back on on daily basis. But nowadays I lean more and more towards Funtoo due to its un-compromised stability and leaner configuration.


My choice of distribution for servers was Ubuntu (LTS) - mostly due to the 100% AWS, Docker, OpenStack compatibility, it was also faster with security updates than CentOS.
However, a while ago I set up out of curiosity a Gentoo based server (thanks to Linode). Don't get me wrong - this is just sad, because all those wise guys out there writing about 'DO NOT INSTALL GENTOO ON SERVER' bad press don't know a thing. I modified it with ease and tuned to use 1/10 of resources of what typical same size Ubuntu is using. Yes, really. I guess this is a reason why Google uses modified Gentoo for some of their projects. Plus maintenance takes 'almost' the same amount of time compared to other distributions. I don't use one server to serve all, that is why I believe I can afford to spend a bit more time working with the servers to make them faster, secure, more robust for websites and applications I host.


I try to use strictly Europe based IaaS providers to set up cloud servers I work with, but the needs be across ocean I actually have a good experience with two solid and not overpriced IaaS operators out there too.




Websites


I do websites development based only on HTML5, CSS3 & JS. If you insist that you really, really want CMS-like website - I can recommend and setup some nice ready-to-use tool to just do that.


I like to dive into modern web technology. That is why I don't do PHP, sql and things like that - I've found my way to live without those monstrosities. While I wont claim that I'm some sort of a magician that can write website code on a plain paper, I can say that I don't copy and paste code from google search either. I write all my CSS and HTML by hand or with the use of small non intrusive libraries. I rarely feel the urge to try to use any of those big javascript frameworks so popular these days - as websites I build are usually small-scale and uncomplicated. I'm not fixed on any tools though, they just represent temporary status quo – I constantly try new technologies, frameworks and if I find something that is better suited to get the job done, I will go ahead and use it. To build websites I use mostly Open Source tools. Because of that I am familiar with the newest, cutting edge technologies, systems and tools out there.


Websites I build are responsive and mobile ready by default. I like to keep design simple. My goals are to focus on the actual content and convey the message to be seen without unnecessary distractions.


I love working for people who have a mutual appreciation for good looking websites and have something to say. My customers are small businesses and creative individuals wanting to present their work online.




Photography


I grew up in the photographic studio founded by my grandfather. My entire childhood was filled with time spent observing my grandfather using photo equipment and analog films in darkrooms. I guess that how it started - as a curious kid I spent my time in a family photo studio learning all I know about photography.
As there was a lot of old, broken and unused equipment around to play with - I began my first attempts at repairing things on my own (some even successful) and I learnt how cameras & optics work.
But my true photography story started with my very own old Lubitel camera grandpa gave me. When I learnt some basics I laid my hands on the 35mm film Fujica STX1-N - and that was my main camera until I grew up. Hundreds of pictures later, during my studies at the university, I had an opportunity to change my old, beloved Fujica to Canon AE-1 Program and A-1 . The last analog camera I bought was a sweet T-90.
Around that time I dropped out from philosophical studies (yep, this is not a metaphor or a joke - I did study Philosophy) and I moved out to England, where I finally caught up with digital age using Nikon d70s (brilliant camera) and D2H. By now I have been using happily a bulky, solid D2Xs (old but gold ;-) ).


Photography for me is catching a motion in that one particular moment. I'm experimenting with multiple exposures, long shutter speed, etc.. - just to get the effects I wanted to have on a picture. Results vary and you can see them by yourself here.

I would also like to mention that I my stunning, awesome, beautiful wife and my son. Without them I wouldn't be able to pursue any of my passions. Without them there wouldn't be this website or pictures, drawing and paintings I have taken.

Without them and coffee.


That is all ;)