Get Shift Done: Tips and Tricks
My network management and testing team has been using Slack recently for all the reasons so many other people have turned to the more grown up Slack messaging client. Among Slack’s attractive features is its ability to incorporate add-ins, and I’ve spent some time searching for bots that can help us manage the virtual machines for which we’re responsible.
Earlier, I focused on a bot called OpBot, which helps our team manage our NOC vSphere infrastructure directly from a Slack channel. It’s been quite handy. However, it’s far from the only Slack add-in that’s helped me be more productive with Slack.
In particular, there are two apps — not bots — that I’m falling in love with.
If you’re a Slack admin, you get these by clicking the “Add to Slack” button. This brings you to a Slack webpage showing the permissions the app needs and asking you to authorize the app’s use before installation.
The /shred app is a simple command addition that allows you to send one-time self-destructing message that’s encrypted and not logged in the Slack channel. It’s an out-of-band communications mechanism for sensitive materials that the group within Slack doesn’t need to know about — but accessible by Slack team members from anywhere they can load Slack.
The basic syntax is:
/shred my secret text
By default it creates a link to access this text. When someone visits the link and views the text, the link is deleted.
This is very useful for sending passwords. More advanced options permit you to password-protect the link; set the number of views, hours, minutes, or days before the link expires; and send an email when your links are accessed. Beyond the encrypted way to share information in a channel, it’s a way to ensure a private conversation, such as, “The boss didn’t shave again this morning, I wonder what that means.”
Remember that this is an out-of-channel communications, and might be inappropriate for some use cases.
Kyber is a task management app that adds new commands to Slack:
/do, /post, /ask, /meet, /show. With these commands, you can manage to-do lists, reminders, calendars, and projects, all without leaving the Slack interface and without asking the rest of the team to use an additional tool such as Asana.
Here is a brief overview of the commands:
/do lets you set a task for yourself.
/do test kyber today by noon
/post in a channel creates a project task for that channel. You can assign Slack team members to the task as well as adding files or snippets
/post research Slack apps and bots by tomorrow evening @brendan
/ask lets you ask someone to do a task directly (not related directly to a channel or project).
/ask @tom to send rough draft by Wednesday
/meet lets you set up a calendar entry within Slack. You can also import calendars on iOS; it is not possible on Android just yet.
/meet #test Meet to talk about Slack apps from 2pm to 3pm today on Skype
/show allows you to see your tasks or meetings for the day, week, or certain days, or just all
These commands add much richness to Slack’s vocabulary. While these don’t combine together, they’re examples of Slack’s increasing fluidness for users, admins, and people like me, who don’t like jumping between apps a lot.
Simple private messaging is added with /shred for those words that shouldn’t be said in public, and /kyber aids in workflow and workflow commitments, each handy and easy to train and support on usage. Both have been quite useful.
GSD: Tips and Tricks is brought to you by Xero, the cloud accounting software solution for your small business. With Xero, you can log in anytime, anywhere to get a real-time view of your cash flow and manage your books. Start your free 30-day trial today.