Leon Mika

Some uninformed thoughts about Salesforce acquiring Slack

John Gruber raised an interesting point about the future of Slack after being purchased by Salesforce:

First, my take presupposes that the point of Slack is to be a genuinely good service and experience. […] To succeed by appealing to people who care about quality. Slack, as a public company, has been under immense pressure to do whatever it takes to make its stock price go up in the face of competition from Microsoft’s Teams.

[…]

Slack, it seems to me, has been pulled apart. What they ought to be entirely focused on is making Slack great in Slack-like ways. Perhaps Salesforce sees that Slack gives them an offering competitive to Teams, and if they just let Slack be Slack, their offering will be better — be designed for users, better integrated for developers.

When I first heard the rumour of Salesforce was buying Slack, I really had no idea why they would. The only similarity between the markets the two operate in is that they are things businesses buy, and I saw no points of synergy between the two products that would make this acquisition worth it.

I’m starting to come round to the thinking that the acquisition is not to integrate the two products, at least not to the degree I was fearing. I think Gruber’s line of thinking is the correct one: that Salesforce recognises that it’s in their interest to act as Slack’s benefactor to ensure that they can continue to build a good product. Given that Salesforce has bought Tableau and Heroku and more-or-less left them alone, there’s evidence that the company can do this.

As to what Salesforce gets out of it, Jason Calacanis raises a few good reasons in his Emergency Pod on the topic around markets and competition. Rather than attempt to explain them, I recommend that you take a listen and hear them from him.

I love the idea of events like Microblogvember to help reinforce the act of writing frequently. I will admit it was difficult at times, but I definitely find it beneficial participating in these events when they come around. #mbnov

It’s interesting how the activities that would have seen quite pedestrian before the lock-down, like going to a cafe, are quite novel after the lock-down. #mbnov

It’s surprising how quickly you can get use to a mask outside when you’re required to wear one, and then get use to not wearing one outside when you’re not. #mbnov

My dilemma for today is whether to buy a blender, and which one would work for me. Something suitable for smoothies and that is easy to clean are features that I’m looking for. I’m also considering a coffee grinder. #mbnov

Passed by what I think is a Norfolk Island Pine tree. Incidentally, Norfolk Island is one of the few places outside the US to celebrate Thanksgiving.

I’ve just setup a subscription to Climeworks, which is a startup building plants for capturing and storing CO2 underground. I could argue about the price, but I think we need to adjust our thinking about these things if we’re ever going to mitigate this climate crisis. #mbnov

Even in these Covid times when I’m home 95% of the time, deciding whether and when to go for a walk such that I’ll be home to receive a delivery is still a surprisingly tricky call to make. #mbnov

Several years ago, I had the opportunity to work at a federal government agency. There was a lot to like about the experience, but one negative was the time it took to provision a virtual machine for us to run our code. The record for longest wait was about a year. #mbnov

Sunset over the suburbs, taken 2 weeks ago. You can get some pretty nice sunsets around this time of year. It’s a shame my camera and photo-taking skills are not good enough to capture how nice the light was that evening. #mbnov

During the second coronavirus wave in Melbourne, a “ring of steel” was imposed, encircling the metropolitan in an attempt to contain the outbreak. That border dropped a few weeks ago, and today we crossed it for the first time since June. #mbnov

One feature of living in the Southern Hemisphere is that you get to see winter decorations in shopping centres twice a year. First when it’s actually winter, and the second around this time of year, with the lead up to Christmas. #mbnov

It’s getting harder to go on lunchtime walks without having to slap on sunscreen or a hat. I may need to move to evening walks, when the intensity of the sunlight starts to fade. #mbnov (Today’s was a tricky one).

After dealing with Apple Developer Certificates and Provisioning Profiles for a single app for work, I feel for all the macOS and iOS developers out there that need to deal with this on a regular basis.

I don’t know if it’s just me, but I find all these online services that push you these A.I. driven “recommendations” of things to follow, watch, read, etc. really distasteful. I wish it was possible to turn some of these off. #mbnov

Why I'm Considering Building A Blogging CMS

I’m planning to start a new blog about Go development and one of the things that I’m currently torn on is how to host it. The choice look to be either using a service like blot.im or micro.blog or some other hosting service, using a static site generation tool like Hugo, or building my own CMS for it. I know that one of the things people tell you about blogging is that building your CMS is not worth your time: I myself even described it as “second cardinal sin of programming” on my first post to micro.blog.

Nevertheless, I think at this stage I will actually do just that. Despite the effort that comes from building a CMS I see some advantages in doing so:

  1. The (theoretical) ability to blog from anywhere: This is one of the weaknesses of static site hosting that I’ve run into when trying this approach before. I tend to work on different machines throughout the week, which generally means that when I find inspiration, I don’t have the source files on hand to work on them. The source files are kept in source control and are hosted on GitHub, but I’ve find that I tend to be quite lax with making sure I have the correct version checked out and that any committed changes are pushed. This is one of the reasons why I like micro.blog: having a service with a web interface that I can just log into, and that will have all the posts there, means that I can work on them as long as I have an internet connection.
  2. Full control over the appearance and workflow: Many of the other services provide the means for adjusting the appearance of the web-page, so this is only a minor reason for taking on this effort. But one thing that I would find useful is to have some control over is the blogging workflow itself. There are some ideas that I might like to include, like displaying summaries in the main page, or sharing review links for posts prior to publishing them. Being able to easily do that in a codebase that I’m familiar with would help.
  3. Good practice of my skills: As someone who tends to work on backend systems for his day-to-day job, some of my development and operational experience are a little rusty. Building, hosting and operating a site would provide an opportunity to exercise these muscles, and may also come in handy if I were to choose to build something for others to use (something that I’ve been contemplating for a while).

Note that price is not one of these reasons. In fact it might actually cost me a little more to put together a site like this. But I think the experience and control that I hope to get out of this endeavour might be worth it.

I am also aware of some of the risks of this approach. Here is how I plan to mitigate them:

  1. Security and stability: This is something that comes for free from a blogging platform that I’ll need to take on myself. There’s always a risk with putting a new system onto the internet, and having a web site with remote administration is an invitation for others to abuse it. To me this is another area of development I believe I need to work on. Although I don’t intend to store any personal information but my own, I do have to be mindful of the risks of putting anything online, and making sure that the appropriate mitigations are in place to prevent that. I’ll also have to make sure that I’m maintaining proper backups of the content, and periodically exercising them to make sure they work. The fact that my work is at stake is a good incentive to keep on top of this.
  2. Distractions: Yeah, this is a classic problem with me: I use something that I build, I find a small problem or something that can be improved, then instead of actually finishing the task, I actually work on the code for the service. This may have to be something that only gets addressed with discipline. It may help using the CMS on a machine that doesn’t have the source code.

I will also have to be aware of the amount of time I put into this. I actually started working on a CMS several months ago so I’m not starting completely from scratch, but I’ve learnt with too many other of my personal projects that maintaining something like this is for the long term. It might be fine to occasionally tinker with it, but I cannot spend too much effort working on the system at the expense of actually writing content.

So this is what I might do. I might give myself the rest of the month to do what I need to do to get it up to scratch, then I will start measuring how much time I spend working on it, vs. the amount of time I actually use it to write content. If the time I spend working on the code base is more than 50% of time I use it to write content, then it will indicate to me that it’s a distraction and I will abandon it for an alternative setup. To keep myself honest, I’ll post the outcomes of this on my micro blog (if I remember).

A few other minor points:

  • Will this delay publishing of the blog? No. The CMS is functionally complete but there are some rough edges that I’d like to smooth out. I hope to actually start publishing this new blog very shortly.
  • Will I be moving the hosting of this blog onto the new CMS? No, far from it. The services here works great for how I want to maintain this blog, and the community aspects are fantastic. The CMS also lacks the IndiWeb features that micro.blog offers and it may be some time before they get built.

I’ll be interested if anyone has any thoughts on this so feel free to reply to this post on micro.blog.

I have to keep reminding myself, when I’m building personal software projects, the costs of adding dependence to external modules. It’s one of those balances that I struggle with, along with the perennial one of building something vs. using something off the shelf. #mbnov

There are people out there who love cars, boats and planes; but chalk me up as one who loves a good train. #mbnov

Occasionally, when I go to the ABC News site, it stirs up the memory of the mid 90’s ad campaign for the site. Being the early days of the web, I remember distinctly the announcer saying out loud each letter in the URL. I think it was the first URL that I ever saw. #mbnov

It’s meant to be a warm, windy, 33°C day today, a perfect day for washing sheets. What I’m currently seeing now is a far cry from that: dark skies and smattering of rain on the roof, with more on the way according to the radar. Why?! #mbnov

Today’s Microblogvember word is spooky. This is not something that I handle well. For example, I don’t like spooky movies. I think the last one I watch was 20 years ago, and it had an effect on me for a few months. #mbnov

I’ve switched from a Lenovo laptop back to a MacBook Pro for work, which means I no longer need this smart plug setup for extinguishing the charging LED at night. It’s not used for anything at the moment, but I guess it’s still useful. Maybe for the Christmas tree lights. #mbnov

I was asked to come into the office for the first time since the start of the pandemic. It felt strange to wear a shirt again, something that I haven’t done since March. It also means that I’ll need to relearn how to iron it. #mbnov

While I did say that I might have gone Chromebook over iPad two days ago, I must also say that the new Macs with Apple Silicon look really exciting and I look forward to hearing about how well they perform. #mbnov

We’ve had zero new Covid-19 cases for several days now so I took a risked and visited my elderly grandmother. We were both very careful, we both wore masks during the visit, and were maintaining 2 metres of distance. But it was good to see her again. #mbnov