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Slack Alternatives

Recently I was on a team that used Slack for communication. I think it serves as a postitive force in many technical and complex environments. Though just like email and every other tool including the telephone, users  and managers of said tool must be aware of misuse and allowing things to get out of hand. Productivity, focus and a balance of work and home shouldn’t suffer by adding these kinds of communications tools.

I like when open and commercial alternatives crop up, free or not. It means that a mainstay app like Slack needs to keep up, whether it be on performance, openness. And it also means that the forks of of the open source alternatives can mesh into efficient tools for teams and individuals.

So if you work on a team and don’t use a communications app like Slack and find yourself overwhelmed, at least take a look at it.  And if you already use slack or are debating so, take a look at these other alternatives.

Mattermost – http://mattermost.org

Mattermost, which reached a stable state recently, is a self-hosted solution for bringing all your team communication to one place, and making it searchable and accessible anywhere.

Zulip – http://zulip.org

Zulip is a powerful open source group chat. Feature-wise it has drag-and-drop file uploads, image pasting, group private messages, audible notifications, missed-message emails, desktop apps, and everything else you might want.

Matrix – http://matrix.org

A little less obvious, Matrix is an open standard for interoperable, decentralised, real-time communication over IP. It can be used to power Instant Messaging, VoIP/WebRTC signalling, Internet of Things communication – or anywhere you need a standard HTTP API for publishing and subscribing to data whilst tracking the conversation history. Looking at the site you find that it is less of an app and more of a collection of projects.

Glowing Bear – https://www.glowing-bear.org/ – https://github.com/glowing-bear/glowing-bear

Glowing Bear has that look of IRC, so it won’t wow you with features like Zulip or Mattermost, but it’s going to have direct communication and speed handled. From their Github page: Glowing Bear is a web frontend for the WeeChat IRC client and strives to be a modern interface. It relies on WeeChat to do all the heavy lifting and then provides some nice features on top of that, like embedding images, videos, and other content. The best part, however, is that you can use it from any modern internet device.

Thanks for taking a look. Let me know @michaelbuddy on twitter if you find these or another alternative helpful.

October 14, 2015 at 11:58 am | business, computers | No comment

Pro tip for Tax Time – download full report of items purchased from Amazon

Tax time yay!  Man, I always forget things I’ve bought that relate to work. It’s been a year for g’s sake. I’ve started scanning receipts ever since I got my little Doxie scanner. But wherever I archive those isn’t going to be the same place my online purchases are found.  But I recently found from digging for an old order of a product for warranty return that Amazon has some very nice tools for getting your purchase data archive.

You can get an archive download spreadsheet quite easily, once you log in:

Go to Your Account > Your Orders > Order History Report

Fill out the start and end date (it goes back up to 10 years too!).  After a few seconds your report will be ready to download. It will be a .CSV which can be opened in Excel or other spreadsheet software, or even a text editor.  Looking for that equipment you bought for tax deduction? Just search on the spreadsheet (Ctrl+F / Cmd + F) for “Shelving” or “Laptop” or whatever it was.  Excel will take you right to it. All the order numbers, dates pricing tons of info, all there. Screenshot below.  Now on to the tax deductions, Blech…

amazon-order-history-report

January 27, 2015 at 11:45 pm | business, computers, gadgets, interesting, media | No comment