Johnathan.org

June 2015 Archives

StackEdit

StackEdit is a in-browser markdown editor that takes on the likes of iA Writer and GitHub Pages in terms of its capability. If you’re a fan of Markdown in even the least bit, it’ll be easy for StackEdit to be your go to text editor.

The interface window features the basic text editor and styling controls like text format, linking, inserting code and images, and creating lists. In fact, it’s so easy to pick up, you really don’t need any instructions.

Screenshot 2015-06-30 15.57.20

The dual pane editor/preview layout is like that of the NodeJS-powered Ghost blog platform. Everything you type shows up in real time on the right-hand side of the screen in proper format. When you’re done, you can sync your texts to Dropbox or Google Drive, save them in the editor, and even push them to various end points including Blogger, WordPress, GitHub, Tumblr, and an SSH server if you have your own static site platform you wish to use.

What’s really cool? If you have a CouchDB instance, it’ll push straight to it. Pretty nifty.

Give StackEdit a try. I think you’ll like it.

48 Hours of Slack

Two nights ago, I convinced my team to pick up Slack. I wanted them to stop slacking on effective communication and while I can cut them some slack on being in different time zones, there’s no excuse with today’s technology.

That’s about all I have for Slack puns and euphemisms. We’ve been using Slack for about 48 hours now and we’re loving it. I think I might be loving it the most because I championed the idea.

Given its super low barrier for entry (free!) it wasn’t hard for us to pick it up and give it a go. My team is only twelve people but I think we’ve communicated more via text than we’ve communicated via Lync and email in a week.

I described it in our meeting as IRC for this decade, but it’s a lot more than that and I’m striving to find ways to expand the service for my people as much as possible.

For those who don’t know, I’m the Senior Technical Support Lead for Zephyr’s Americas support team. That puts me at second in command and makes me responsible for my teams success. One struggle I’ve seen is keeping effective lines of communication open between each staff member and creating open dialog about technical and customer-facing issues we encounter on a regular basis.

We really didn’t have any sort of real-time collaboration going on.

This is why I brought in Slack. I can see who’s available, strike up conversations with them, discuss particular issues in channels, and get notified from various other systems right away, without having to leave Slack.

I’ve found out about support requests faster through Slack than by staring at ZenDesk all day (our ticketing system). Getting notifications on all my devices at the same time about what’s happening as its happening is a boon for me and that only drives my desire to integrate more.

One thing that bothers me though is autocomplete requires some fancy service on the other end in order to work. I don’t want to sit down and write middleware to tie into Slack so I can shorthand with a /slash command. I should be able to say /ticket 12345 prints in chat http://ticket.system/12345. I don’t see what’s so hard about that.

Webhooks are super cool though and being able to touch them with 3rd party service and update my channels with relevant information is awesome. Being able to be notified in real time about anything that’s happening in another system with minimal code change is sweet. All our custom apps can push notifications, now.

Even well-known 3rd party services can integrate well. Some leave things to be desired like my ZenDesk-Slack integration, but I can’t blame Slack for that.

For a service that’s had next to no marketing done and has survived on majority word of mouth and small advertisements here and there, Slack is killing it in the real-time collaboration space.

Someone on my team suggested we look at HipChat, too… is it bad that I sort of don’t want to?

Crozdesk

I’m always looking for new places to discover great services and products. Last night Crozdesk followed me on Twitter and I couldn’t help but check them out and see what they offer. Really, I check out just about anyone that follows me on twitter. I’m by no means a superstar on the social network so I have time for things like that.

Crozdesk is a place to find a company, service, or product offering to fulfill a need you might have in various spaces, be it web design, hosting, social media, marketing, or anything relatively similar.

Their offering list is small-ish but I see it growing quickly as there’s no charge for submitting your product or service to the site. If you’re an indie developer or a small startup that has something cool, this would be the place to share it and let the community rate and offer their opinion on it.

The Great Discourse

I’ve been meaning to tinker with Discourse for a while, now. It’s used at several of my favorite sites for their communities so I found it reasonable to try it out for myself and see how it works out.

My end goal was to use it as a comment replacement.

Did I get there?

I think so…

Creativity

So I’m sitting here, pondering what to write about. I’ve been a terrible person, not sticking to the plan.

If you know me at all, you’ll know it is indeed a chaotic scene when there’s no plan and I’m involved.

Steven Pressfield is one of my new favorite authors and his book Turning Pro speaks great truths about what it takes to transition from average joe doing some crap somewhere to becoming a professional and doing what you really want to do.

There’s a small passage in Turning Pro that fits well in today’s post:

Twelve-step programs say: “One day at a time.” The professional says the same thing.

He’s right though. I could sit here and ramble about how I can’t figure out anything to write, how my creativity is available for just a moment, and how planning out a crazy level of future posts would be fruitless and a waste of time.

If I said all that, it would be true. Sitting here thinking about planning out content makes me tired and want to just watch HBO (which I plan on doing after I finish writing this, anyway). Planning isn’t going to bring creativity. Inspiration is just a trigger for creativity. I could sit and stare out my window at the street and get inspiration creative.

There’s a million ways to come up with an idea, but the best one is the one where you take it one step at a time, one day at a time.

Johnathan Lyman
Kenmore, WA,
United States
 
blogging, design, technology, software, development, gaming, photography