My Initial Impression of Slack

Although I’d heard of Slack from the NoVa Code & Coffee Meetup, I’d never had the opportunity to use it in a work environment until this past week. I thought I’d set my first impressions down in a blog post while they were still fresh in my mind.

What I dislike:

  • Opening Screen with random “Fortune Cookie” message
    Telling me “You look good today” when I first log in? Kinda weird.
  • The Slackbot
    I still haven’t figured out what this bot is used for. Anyone?
  • Desktop Notifications
    If you don’t already have ADD, you’ll feel like you do after receiving 1 billion back-to-back notifications from the chit-chat in your #random channel. Fortunately, this is adjustable (see below).
  • Giphy integration

    Captain Picard thinks Slack's Giphy integration is as ridiculous as I do.
    Who thought this was a good idea?

What I like:

  • Channels
    Makes getting the right information to the right people easier and more efficient (e.g. if you need to reboot the development server in ten minutes, putting that message in the #developers channel tells the people who need to know without “spamming” everyone.)
  • Channel-by-Channel notification settings
    Being able to pick & choose which channels can interrupt your flow with desktop notifications helps improve the signal-to-noise ratio. You can monitor the #servers channel, while squelching #random, for instance.
  • The Team Directory
    Especially since I work with a geographically distributed team, this helps me put faces to names/voices, and better understand the role(s) each team member plays.

TL; DR – Although Slack is annoying with its default configuration, it can be turned into a helpful group communications tool by tuning its settings.

Farragut Crossing

If you live in Virginia and use DC Metro to get to work in the District of Columbia, eventually you will be introduced to the mystery/hyperbole of the “Farragut Crossing.”

Basically, the DC Metro system consists of a series of color coded tracks (e.g. orange, red, etc.) which occasionally interconnect at certain stations, such as Metro Center. If you change from one line to another at a station where both lines converge, there’s no charge– but once you exit a station, you’ve paid your fare and going into a station after that point will cost you another fare.

But like every rule, there’s always an exception. In this case, that exception is called “Farragut Crossing.”

On the orange line there is a station known as Farragut West and on the red line there is a station known as Farragut North.  As you’ve probably guessed, these two stations are in close proximity to each other (they form two corners of Farragut Park) and you can walk above ground between them in well under five minutes.  This makes it a great place to “jump” between the red and orange lines, without traveling all the way through Metro Center– and in this particular case, WMATA will not charge you for going out of one station and into another. This basically gives you an incentive to try to save the time you would spend traveling between three “extra” stations (Farragut West -> McPherson Sq -> Metro Center -> Farragut North).

The question is: Does the Farragut Crossing really save time?

My girlfriend and I decided to put it to the test the other day, each of us taking different paths from Farragut West to Dupont Circle during the peak morning rush. The time difference in this case was slightly less than two minutes. During off-peak times when trains arrive less frequently, I think any time you might save will be lost waiting for the next train to arrive.

Don’t Put “formID” In Your Custom Elements (It’s Already In There)

I wanted to share an odd puzzle I ran into recently with the Comments2 element in CommonSpot’s Blog2 application, on the off chance it might help someone else.

I was writing a custom script to help identify duplicated blog comments, but couldn’t get the ADF’s getCEData function to successfully retrieve the data.

It kept telling me:

Error in custom script module.

The column name (formID) that you specified already exists in this query.

Column names must be unique.

I won’t waste your time or patience by sharing everything I tried that did NOT work.

Continue reading Don’t Put “formID” In Your Custom Elements (It’s Already In There)