Author: Dennis

  • Lessons Learned from Owning a Tesla

    In November of 2022, I picked up my 2023 Model 3 from the local Tesla Service Center. I was ecstatic to finally own an EV, and it also happened to be the first car I bought brand new. After a year and a half of ownership and upkeep, I’d like to share some lessons I’ve learned along the way. I’ll be upfront and say that while it hasn’t all been roses along the way, 99.9% of the time I’m impressed and happy with the vehicle.

    Cold Weather

    The Tesla Model 3 was not designed with PNW winter climate conditions in mind. The frameless window gets stuck when snow/ice forms at the base, and can cause damage to the door if you try to force it open. The solution is to defrost your car, which can take a while if it’s been sitting in snow for a while. Supercharging is much slower in the extreme cold, and there’s no fix outside of navigating to the charger so your car can precondition. Even then, charging is painfully slow.

    On the plus side, the heater is extremely efficient, the heated steering wheel and seats are amazing in the cold, and the car handles like a dream on ice considering it’s a RWD vehicle.

    That said, I can’t imagine the pain of owning an EV in the mid-west winters.


    I’ve brought my car in twice, once when I was forced off the road by another driver and hit the curb, and once when I noticed vibration above 65 mph. Both times, the initial estimate is a few hundred dollars, but quickly ballooned into the low 4 digit range. The first time I was without my car for a month because they were waiting on a specific part to be made for this repair, as all the parts in production were slated for new cars. The worst part of this was that they did not have a loaner vehicle for me at that time. Fortunately I still had my second car, but if I hadn’t I’d have been SOL and riding the bus. The second time, I was able to get a loaner M3, which came with Full Self Driving so that was cool.

    Tax Rebates, Price Drops

    I can’t sugar coat it, I took a massive L ordering my M3 when I did. Less than two months after taking possession of the car, the $7500 tax break was made available, but I missed the boat. Tesla also dropped the price on the M3 significantly in 2023. Nothing more to say, other than to warn potential buyers: wait for a deal. I went full retail, and I’ll never make that mistake again.

    Road Trips

    The battery percentage estimate works amazingly well on road trips (Eastern Washington to Seattle/Portland is my most common trip). I usually arrive within 1 percentage point of the estimated battery life. This is because I stay to the speed limit, or maybe 5 over on long road trips. I noticed that going more than 10 over the limit significantly reduced my range. So I’m of the opinion that most people complaining about range estimates are speeding. It would be nice to have an option in the OS to tell the car “hey, I may be travelling this much over the speed limit, please calculate my range based on that information”.

    I’ve been immensely pleased with the 10/15 minute “top off” stops at superchargers along the way. You can stay longer to pad your range, but really you don’t need to.


    I’m 6’5″ (1.95m for the rest of the world) and I fit quite well. I’m not slender by any means, and I feel very comfortable in the seats. I have lots of head room, and everything is within easy reach.

    Would I do it again?

    Aside from waiting for a price drop/tax break, I’d make the same decision again. The M3 standard is plenty fast, fun to drive, and quite entertaining thanks to the streaming services available when parked/charging. I love that Spotify and Apple’s Podcast apps are now baked in, and the autopilot is just second to none. I still won’t shell out for advanced autopilot or full self driving. In the future, I’ve got my eye on the Model X, and may splurge for FSD when I get one.

  • Don’t trust a… finance department. 3OH!3 paraphrasing aside, I recently learned a valuable lesson in documentation.

    My manager asked me to change the due date on a batch process we run from a week out to one day out. Suffice it to say, this was an easy change to implement in python, changing a “7” to a “1” for delta days. This was intended to expedite the processing and approval of the invoice, which is the product of the aforementioned batch process.

    I made the change to the code, ran the batch, and submitted the invoice with it’s new due date. I ensured that the due date was correct in our AP system, and thought nothing more of it.

    A few days later, another manager asked me why the due date for that process was still a week out. I said I changed that for sure, but went to check our AP system. Sure enough, the due date was indeed a week out! What? I went back and checked the TSV file as a sanity check, and the due date there was correct. So what gives?

    In our AP system, there is a “created at” and “last modified” field, and they didn’t match. The invoice had been modified a mere four minutes after submission. I reached out to the user who was shown to have modified it, and sure enough, they had modified the due date, assuming it was a mistake on our part.

    Fortunately for me, that’s where the trouble ended. I was able to pass this information along to both my manager and the other manager who asked about the due date. Since this work is tracked in JIRA, I now take screenshots of the invoice metadata in our AP system once they’ve been submitted, so I have an easy way to prove that I did my job correctly. I usually hate CYA work, but I sure needed it when I didn’t have it.


  • I just had my last lab today, probably for a long time. I’ve been on and off again about finishing my degree in CS for 14 years, and I’m finally buckling down to finish the work. Part of this work was the second lab in the physics series, the heat and optics lab. I enjoyed it more than I anticipated I would, and now that it’s over, I’m a little put out.


  • “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

    Steve Jobs

    2023 felt like it flew by, and while from time to time I felt as though I was at a standstill, I think I’ve made good progress. I’ve pursued fruitless avenues, professionally and personally, which served me well (we grow more from our mistakes). I’ve also pursued avenues that have yielded wonderful results. The one constant throughout 2023: I’ve been busy <evil face/>

    A Month-By-Month


    I celebrated both of my parents’ birthdays, and had a blast of a Pizza party with Kim, Mathias, and Victoria. At work, we got through broader Pulumi training for a few of our teams, enabling them to better work with IaC.


    Our development team at work had their summit, at which we were presented with the progress and new initiatives of the development team for the past year and the coming year. It was the first time I tried Wooden City food, and it’s quite good.

    Some friends and I went to Brewfest in Palouse, WA. We had a great time and I’m looking forward to it again this coming year!

    I visited Bellevue for the first time, I joined some friends who were there for an educators convention. I met up with some old friends and spent time wandering around the area. It’s a beautiful area, with excellent seafood selections and entertainment options.


    ExploitCon came to Spokane, and I gladly attended. It’s a grass roots traveling security conference, and I enjoyed it greatly. This was the second year that a few coworkers and I have attended. There was plenty of good information, we met a few new people, and even got to make DefCon style badges. We had a blast!

    March 20th also marked one year at Washington Trust Bank for me. As I write this, looking only three months ahead to the second year mark, I have to say it feels good to stay and work somewhere that I’m appreciated.


    I hosted a spring BBQ for some friends, and I recorded a presentation on using Pulumi to create a Node package that’s used by our development team for easier IaC for hub and spoke architecture.


    I went down to Portland, as a part of my team at work, in order to assist with rolling out new surface laptops to employees. It was a fill-in job, not my usual responsibility, but I jumped at the chance to get out of town and see some friends.

    Our team also did a lunch out at Manito park. I brought my drone and flew around. I didn’t bother anyone, but one cyclist waved so I followed him for a while (at a respectful and safe distance and altitude of course)


    CiscoLIVE! was an amazing trip. 5 days of non-stop walking, talking, listening, learning, eating, networking, and just plain having a blast! To round the whole conference off, Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani performed at Allegiant Stadium. I was able to get just 4 rows of people away on the floor from Blake Shelton. Tip: Split an Uber from the airport to get to your hotel, it will cost a fraction of the airport shuttle service.

    My presentation for Pulumi went live in the middle of June.

    In late June, I went camping with my brother, his wife, and some of her family. We went to Sun Lakes State Park, hiked, swam, and even dipped into Soap Lake (while I don’t regret the experience, I wouldn’t repeat it.) Soap lake is smelly.


    July was really quite tame this year, mostly just a break from the busy spring.


    The best and worst month of the year, August had me on my toes the whole time.

    I was under fire evacuation notice in Cheney for the first time in my life. The Gray Fire was close enough and the winds were high enough that all of Cheney was under at least a level 1 evacuation notice.

    On a good note, I started seeing my girlfriend, Jenelle, and things have been so amazing 😀


    I returned to EWU for 2 classes while continuing to work full time. I’m in the process of finishing my Bachelor’s of Science in Computer Science.

    This also meant the return of the EWU football tailgate hosted by Dash. One of my favorite ways to spend a Saturday!


    Jenelle, Alec, and I went to Portland to visit Anthony, attend the Portland Retro Gaming Expo, and get out of Spokane for a weekend. We had a marvelous time and got to spend time with some friends I haven’t seen for a while.


    I turned 32 this year, and got to spend some good time with friends and family for my birthday and Thanksgiving.


    A pretty tame holiday schedule this year – I’m looking forward to some time off and spending time with my loved ones.

    Thoughts on 2023

    This year flew by, I was definitely busier than in the past. Washington Trust Bank is keeping me busy at work, and I’m very happy here. Throw school and an uptick in my personal life into the mix, and I’ve rarely had a day to myself. Vacation should help with that.

    I’m over a year in having a Tesla Model 3 as my daily driver. I have no complaints, I haven’t been left stranded anywhere, and it’s completed two long road trips without any issue. I’d especially compliment the heated steering wheel and media integration. Whether I’m in motion or parked, there’s always something to keep me entertained. Full self driving occasionally makes some mistakes, and I have to put it in timeout and take manual control.

    I’ve had such a wonderful time since August having Jenelle in my life. Words can’t describe how much she makes me feel good about myself and inspires me to be a better person, for myself and others. I’m looking forward to spending my time with her in the future, and taking on life together.

    I’m once again grateful for my family and friends that have taken me back into their lives after returning from Portland. Whether it’s dinner with the folks, live music with my friends, or jam sessions with Eric and Connor. I feel at home, something that just wasn’t the case before I left for Portland.

    I hope this post has found you well, whoever you are. Enjoy the holidays, and have a happy new year! 2024, here we come!

  • I graduated high school at 18, back in 2010. I started at Eastern Washington University in the fall of 2010 without any real issues. I had a calculus professor that spoke English as a third language, and her _very_ academic lecturer not a teacher attitude made understanding her explanations of complex and new (to me) mathematics nearly unattainable. I dropped that class because I wasn’t handling it to well, as I didn’t have the time required to study math outside the classroom. I was focusing on my computer science classes, and didn’t really care about calculus at that time. Little did I know I’d have to face that course down again, and now I’m doing it in 2023.

    I’m returning to school part-time (9-10 credits/quarter) at Eastern Washington University. I dropped out in Fall 2011 after getting an internship at F5. I was learning so much more and making great money, so I didn’t see the point (at the time) of continuing with a degree that I thought was actually getting in the way of my work.

    Now, I’m fortunate enough to have a flexible work schedule, allowing me to work 7am-6pm, with a two-three hour block in the middle of the day to account for classes and transit.

    I promised that I’d treat myself with something for returning to school, so I got an iPad mini (6th Generation) w/5G Cellular, in conjunction with an Apple Pencil (2nd Generation). This has been perfect tool for the little fold out desks in lecture auditoriums. I really don’t like those desks because most favor right-handed individuals, and leave out left-handed people. I have a few friends who write with their left hands, and I heard all about it during high school and college. Anyways, the iPad mini fits perfectly on those tiny desks.

    My note taking app of choice is Notability. You can record a lectures audio in real time while you’re taking notes. The audio turns out pretty well when you consider your distance from the source.

    Handwriting digitally is a must unless you want to carry paper notebooks around, so I’m working on my penmanship so that the built in OCR can more easily translate my notes to searchable text (it’s a pretty amazing if you don’t have chicken scratch handwriting like I do). I never thought good penmanship could be an asset.

    I’ve been able to take notes for calculus and computing ethics (a degree required, specific philosophy course) with ease. Notes are dated, so everything is in sequence like it would be in a paper notebook. It’s nice, because I can group lectures by topic as well.

    I’m able to use Canvas to access everything from the iPad, but I do most homework on a MacBook Air (M1). Notability shares notes between devices, allowing me to use the desktop app to access notes I took in class on my iPad. I use a Cengage textbook and homework site for calculus studies, and that’s best on the laptop. The mobile experience is not quite as good. I’m able to have the assignment and textbook open simultaneously when I need to reference an equation.

    I use Pages on MacBook and usually export it to Word for writing assignments. I’m not a huge fan of Pages, but it’s a decent word editor. Why can’t CS teachers accept markdown files?

    All in all, the iPad mini and Pencil have been a fantastic, compact alternative to pen and paper, or a larger tablet. I have large hands and find all the devices comfortable to use. The price tag is a little steep, but seamless integration between the Apple ecosystem made it solid choice for me.


  • 2022 has been the roughest and, somehow, the best year of my life. Strange, no? I thought, for the holidays, I’d write a little timeline update from this year, discuss the trivial and important things, mostly based on how much they impacted me.


    I finally caught Covid. It was a brutal five-day hangover mixed with the Flu. I felt like garbage the whole time but came out of it ok. I did lose my sense of smell and taste, which was pretty interesting actually. I tried pretty spicy sauces to see if I could even taste it, and I couldn’t. Pretty wild.

    I was also dealing with a malfunctioning gallbladder and had been for four months at this point. That didn’t help things either.


    I had my gallbladder removed and spent a few days recuperating at my parent’s house. They were good enough to keep an eye on me while I recovered and bring my car home from the hospital as well.

    I began the interview process for DevOps Engineer at Washington Trust Bank!


    I started at Washington Trust Bank as a DevOps Engineer! It’s been a wonderful year at a fantastic company, and I’m looking forward to many more. It’s been rewarding to work for a company that invests back in the community.


    I went on the Spokane Party Trolly in late April, and we only had a little rain. It’s a ton of fun, and we got to try out a few new places as well. I never thought I’d ride on one of those, as it’s a bit of a nuisance for traffic in Spokane, but it was more fun than I’d thought it would be.


    I went on a camping trip to Lake Sullivan with my friends and brother. With the exception of Justin arriving late (he had a migraine, took a nap, and drove up after, arriving at the campsite just before 1am) with our gear, we had a great time fishing, hiking, and enjoying good company and conversation.


    I played Tenor Saxophone for the Spring Concert of the Spokane Falls Community Band, which is an open band at SFCC. It was a blast of a concert, even if I flubbed my solo a little bit.


    I, along with a couple of colleagues, went to DevOps Days in Seattle. It was a two day conference designed around automation, cloud architecture, and developers. It was a blast, and we got to meet up with one of our infrastructure as code partner, Pulumi.

    This trip to Seattle also allowed me to catch up with a good friend of mine, Bin, who now works for CrowdStrike (it’s an internet security company). We enjoyed a few beers at Optimism Brewing on their patio, making the best of the summer weather.


    I played some Golf with coworkers for our Q3 team lunch. We played 9 holes of best ball at Indian Canyon golf course, our day cut short by the possibility of fire spreading from a neighboring area. Interestingly, this was the day of my brother’s dress rehearsal and dinner for his wedding.

    I had placed my glasses in the golf bag when I put my sunglasses on. I’m like Velma, I absolutely cannot see without my glasses. It was a very sunny day out, and after we were done golfing, I didn’t even think about my normal glasses. I drove downtown to pick up some friends and bring them to another friend’s house for some food before the rehearsal.

    It wasn’t until I pulled up to our friend’s house in Garland that I reached for my normal glasses, only to realize they weren’t in the car. I almost immediately remembered they were on the diagonally opposite side of town, in a golf bag.

    I raced back to the golf course, but it was the beginning of rush hour, so I wasn’t going anywhere fast. I was able to retrieve my glasses, but ended up having to go directly to the rehearsal up North past the Wandermere area at the Commellini Estate. We had a good rehearsal and a lovely dinner at SteamPlant afterwards.


    My brother Andrew got married to Daylyn on September first, and I couldn’t be happier for them!

    The Spokane Symphony came back with a roar, starting off the Season with the Fantasique Symphony.

    EWU tailgating season also started in full swing, unfortunately it turned out to be a very bad season for EWU football.


    Washington Trust Bank partnered with No~Li Brewhouse to put on a Gonzaga Basketball watch party. Me and a few other employees were handing out $20 giftcards to No~Li, which was a ton of fun. The game was a bit rocky, but the food and beer were great.


    I turned 31, and this month also marked one year since I returned to Spokane from Portland.

    I went to Seattle to see Cory Wong in concert for my birthday, along with Andrew and Daylyn. We went to the Chihuly glass art museum, as well as the Space Needle.

    I also got my Tesla Model 3! It’s been a fantastic car, and I’m very hopeful for the future of EVs after experiencing this one.


    My brother put on his first Christmas concert at Gonzaga Prep this year! My friendgroup did a FriendsGivingMas, and my family had an early get together as well.

    It’s looking like a quiet Christmas Eve at Grandma’s house this year, and a quiet day at the folk’s for Christmas day. Andrew’s coming over to make Christmas dinner, which sounds amazing.

    As we wind down the year…

    Remember that we’re still here and, for myself, with a little more than usual to be thankful for. I’m very grateful I found my position at Washington Trust Bank, I’m thankful that my Spokane friends and family have made an effort to bring me back into the fold after being gone, and I’m thankful that I get to spend another year in good health with my parents and siblings.

    It’s easy to lose sight of what’s important, to each of us. For me, it’s family, and it took leaving my hometown to realize that. It’s the familiarity of being able to drive anywhere in the city you grew up in without using a map. It’s bumping into a friend or coworker at Atticus. It’s being part of a community, which is a difficult thing to rebuild in a new city (especially during a pandemic lockdown).

    I’m happier than I’ve been in quite a few years, and I hope you are as well.


  • It’s taken less than 2 weeks of ownership to experience a fundamental shift about personal vehicles. Electric is the way to go for most, with few excuses. I can understand making exceptions for having to tow heavy loads or needing a utility vehicle for work (using it on the job site, not simply commuting). For the typical commuter, town runabout, or even the long road trip however, I can see no reason to not utilize modern electric vehicles.

    Fuel is an expensive pollutant, requiring in most vehicles an engine with hundreds of moving parts (pistons, cams, transmission gears, pumps) to burn fuel and gain only about 20% of the potential energy stored in fuel. 80% is lost, and that doesn’t factor in the energy required to convert oil to gasoline and the energy then required to transport it from refineries to gas pumps. Electric cars have an efficiency of 80% after factoring losses to AC to DC back to tri-phase AC. This alone makes electric vehicles 4 times as efficient as internal combustion engine vehicles. Electricity can be produced in a multitude of fashions, from hydroelectric, to wind, to solar, to nuclear. Notable exceptions like Chernobyl aside, nuclear is a clean and safe way to produce electricity.

    A common detraction about electric vehicles is that they will become an untenable strain on the electric grid. This infrastructure, already in place for at home charging, is augmented by charging stations at destinations as well as Super Charger destinations along common long trip routes. Strain on the grid can be alleviated by scheduling cars at home to recharge during off-peak hours, such as between 11pm and 6am in most cities. Further alleviation can come in the form of home solar panels, such as the Tesla Solar Roof, which after seeing recently I think would be a lovely addition to any home.

    When it comes to cost, there’s no getting around it. Teslas are expensive, and even considered luxury vehicles. I’m not going to assert any differently. However, there are 6 options from the list below that fall under $30K after tax credits, with the Nissan Leaf S falling just under $21K. With the average price of a new sedan being $23K, I don’t think it’s unfair to say that a consumer looking for a new car shouldn’t consider electric.

    Credit to Inside EVs for this list

    Noise pollution is another area where EVs surge ahead of ICE vehicles. After driving an EV, already I detest hearing loud exhaust clearly designed to amplify rather than muffle. Performance vehicles can now be whisper quiet thanks to electric.

    What about road trips, you say? Thanks to an ever-growing network of Super Chargers, and L2 charging stations around the US, chances are your closest charger is only a mile or two away. Sites like Plug Share allow for travelers to find charging stations, and Tesla’s in car navigation allows for planning to charge en route. I would also encourage people to consider taking the train or flying for trips, as these options are typically less damaging to the environment.

    You will save on maintenance as well. Regular oil changes, radiator flushes, and fluid checks are a thing of the past when driving electric. In fact, Teslas only have a scheduled fluid maintenance for checking and changing the brake fluid every two years.

    I’ve lived in the Pacific Northwest my entire life. I have always traveled from point A to B in a front or rear wheel drive car, without needing all wheel drive. I’ve owned two Camaros, which I’ve managed to drive successfully in the snow and ice as well. I have owned a Tahoe, and I did not notice a huge advantage to driving a truck with 4WD over a sedan or coupe. Given EV’s superior traction control, even driving on the ice with a Tesla has been a breeze, and I have the rear wheel drive model. Get the right tires for the conditions you drive in. A rear wheel drive car with good all season tires will beat an all wheel drive vehicle with balding snow tires every time.

    I would like to offer the notion that we should re-evaluate how we perceive cars. They’re a vehicle to carry passengers from place to place, nothing more. They don’t need to be large, they don’t need to be lifted, and they certainly don’t need to have massive wheels. They’ve become a part of culture, and that makes change all the more difficult. People see cars as a part of their personality, an extension of themselves, when, pragmatically, that’s simply not the case. They’re a tool to do a job, and they should do that job as efficiently as possible.

    I look at ICE commuter vehicles as relics now, to be replaced by EVs at some point (2035 if legislators have their way). There are problems to solve, such as sourcing enough rare metals to construct current generation batteries, and how we can recycle and reuse components from those batteries for the next generation of vehicles. I’ll leave you with this perspective. ICE technology has had over 100 years to reach where it’s currently at, improvements continue to be marginal at best. EV technology is only 15 years old, and improvements over that short time have been staggering. We’re only just beginning to see what potential EVs have to offer society.

  • I turned 31 today; I wasn’t sure I would live to see this birthday a year ago due to some health complications. Fortunately for me, those are sorted out and I enjoyed another birthday.

    Last year, I set a few goals for myself. I have attained a few, and others are the reason to get out of bed in the morning and kick ass. I wanted to reflect on the amount of change that can happen in a year here, hoping that if you’re not where you’d like to be in life, you can see how relatively quickly things can turn around, if you constantly nudge yourself in the right direction.

    Goals from November ’21

    Get back to where home is

    I’d left my hometown of Spokane, WA for Portland, OR, and for a while enjoyed that life quite a bit. Hundreds of new and exciting restaurants to try, good hiking, quality entertainment, superb public transit, lovely summer bike rides along the bluff, better weather, etc. I was enjoying it all, but I’d given up being close to most of my family, and after a while that started to take its toll on me.

    I decided I was going to return home, to put up with sub freezing winters, living so close to North Idaho, limited dining options, and a small river to be with my family, and my friends that I’ve known most of my life in the area. I moved back, and I’ve been more content in my life because of it.

    Work at a company that gives back

    I had worked for a small development shop in Spokane, then for a recruitment firm in NYC, and both of them were ok to work at, but none of them contributed to the community that I lived in (Spokane or Portland). I was finally able to begin working at Washington Trust Bank as a DevOps Engineer, and I’ve been enjoying the work immensely, and the fact that they are heavily involved in the community, both events and through giving back via charities and volunteer work.

    Go Electric

    I just got a Tesla Model 3 a week ago. It runs like a dream, and I’m comfortable knowing my commute isn’t contributing to the global emissions crisis (Spokane’s Electric is all Hydro and Solar power).

    Outstanding Goals

    • Buy a house or condo
    • Get in better shape
    • Go Skiing (easily achievable this winter)
    • Sell my gas vehicle
    • Read more
    • Watch less TV
    • Eat better

    Some of these are pretty pedestrian, others provide a greater challenge for me. Here’s to another year of knocking a few more out of the park, and to adding a few more worthy goals to the list 🍻

  • Using Fix Health’s ‘The Outbreak’ is a Pain

    My employer recently started a company fitness challenge in the form of a daily steps competition. They decided to use ‘The Outbreak’, a mobile app that gamifies getting steps. Installing the application was the easiest part of interacting with the application.

    Read more: Using Fix Health’s ‘The Outbreak’ is a Pain

    The UI

    The first time you open every view, you are drowned in a deluge of “helpful” notifications, explaining how to use the app in such baby steps that even a braindead monkey could use the application. Even Clippy was not as annoying. Fix Health: Treat your users like they have at least two IQ points to rub together.

    The interface is kludgy, requiring users to click on avatars to see information instead of providing helpful team rosters. It’s as if the UI team took the “what not to do” rules, and then discarded them. Everything you’d like to know is obscured behind an unusable collection of touches and swipes.

    Manually Uploading Steps

    The unholiest of transgressions is that this fitness application requires you to log in every day to upload your steps. This lack of automation is inexcusable; any modern fitness application will automatically import your steps from your mobile device’s native health app.

    There is one, and only one, reason for this decision. By requiring users to log in and upload their steps every day (oh, and if you forget one day, you get no credit for that day’s steps), they are driving the one metric that drives modern application development. It’s all to make sure they have a captive audience of Daily Active Users.

    This application is transparently manipulative, incurring the ire of coworkers on your team if you miss an upload, regardless of if you did the work and got the steps. This is a disgusting practice, and to my mind, immediately disqualifies this application as a viable or appropriate platform for company fitness.

  • I’d like to preface this rant unbiased and fair comparison with the following: I’m a software developer, and a nit picking one at that. It was immediately apparent that Teams was trailing behind Slack. After years of enjoying Slack (despite them taking 6 years to implement a desktop dark theme), Teams felt clunky, disorganized, and disappointingly immature coming from the largest creator of professional corporate software the world has ever seen. Given that Teams comes from the tech titan that is MicroSoft, they should be all the more embarrassed by this paltry offering.

    Let’s start with the frustration of setting your status and using an emoji

    So, you open up “Edit Status Message” and you want something fun like “working remotely 🏡” or “lunch 🍕”. Both of these are out of the box included with Slack. The good people at Teams, in their infinite wisdom, couldn’t fathom making a few clickable presets, so you must type every single status you want to set. No recents, no suggestions, just type it every time. What a wonderful age of feature rich technology we live in. 

    So, accepting your fate of carpal tunnel syndrome coming in a few years earlier because of this, you type “working remotely” and use `windows key` + `.` to open the emoji popover, and type house to filter down to a few options. You choose one, hit enter, and then, you hit escape. That’s when you’re hit with one of Team’s secret treasures: escape closes _both_ the emoji popover *and* the set status message popover. Wow, stellar stuff MicroSoft!

    So, you then must repeat the above process, thinking now there’s now way you make it past 40 without reconstructive wrist surgery, and think that repeating the windows key + period combo should close the emoji popover. You know in your mind that it doesn’t, but you just can’t accept there’s no hotkey shortcut to close this popover. Must you click on the X close button every time? The answer is nay, and I will show you my secret power here.

    The solution: enter TWO emojis, then use backspace to delete one, which also closes the emoji popover. 

    If you’re thinking it’s ridiculous, that this production product surely cannot have such a flaw, you’re not alone. It’s true, and I would ask anyone who can prove me wrong to call me out. I’m not holding my breath.

    Oh, and for those of you who are wondering how this works in Slack: hitting escape successfully dismisses the emoji popover while leaving the status message modal in place. 

    Point 1 for Slack.

    Moving on, let’s touch on memory and resource consumption

    Double – from my limited ability to compare the two (a surface go laptop), Teams pulls up to 1.1 GB of RAM when channel surfing. Slack barely ever peaks for 500MB. Slack is also faster in loading new channels, and presents a smoother experience (my opinion). Teams struggles to keep up, 

    Triple – I pushed Teams up over 90% CPU utilization! I had to work harder to get Slack to push itself over 30%. 

    Teams appears to have been so poorly optimized for its own, native, home operating system (Windows). Slack works great on any OS, and certainly outclasses Teams in terms of performance on Windows. 

    Point 2 (and 3) for Slack.

    Teams, Channels, and how they sneakily collapse without asking

    Have you ever wanted to have channels that you’ve joined to just hide automatically? I haven’t, but if you have, Teams is the perfect choice for you! Let’s back up a little first. 

    The assumed team structure structure using Slack is that everyone is part of the same unit, with differentiated access channels depending on factors like role, projects, interests, etc.

    Teams scopes this out further, assuming that everyone joining is a part of an organization, but must be broken into teams, and from there you can have channels. It’s not a way of grouping channels, it’s a way of separating users. 

    I much prefer Slack’s approach here, I believe Team’s teams is too abstract to be useful. 

    The layout, then, is that channels are organized under teams, which is one of the sidebar options. If this sounds a little cluttered, that’s because it is. You can click on the team names to expand/collapse the channels underneath. Teams takes is a step further in the app though: clicking on other teams will RANDOMLY COLLAPSE another team. This is completely intolerable, as now I have to click twice to get back to that channel, if I just wanted to quickly bounce between a few channels. 

    You also cannot drag/drop or rearrange your channels like you can with Slack. Slack allows you to create group sections, and choose how the channels are organized. Teams gives you zero customization options. 

    Point 4 for Slack.

    The Layout

    No contest, Slack has it all in one view: Channels, DMs, Threads, and Activities (Mentions and Reactions) all in one view. You switch between them like you’re changing channels. It’s very simple. 

    Teams doesn’t do this. DMs (Chats) are in a completely separate tab view from Teams/Channels, same with activity. More clicking to get to the same thing. More context switching, more view loading. More inefficiency.

    Point 5 for Slack.

    The uselessness of Team’s Activities

    Imagine getting push notifications on your phone, tapping on it, but it doesn’t drop you into the app or context of that notification. It just tells you about it. That’s exactly the experience using Team’s Activity notifications. You get to see what happened but, unlike Slack’s notification which take you to the context when clicked, clicking on an Activity notification opens a milquetoast version of the message/conversation you can reply to, without the rich context of the rest of the channel. 

    Point 6 for Slack. 

    Channel Names (better get it right the first time)

    So you go to create a channel (project-thing), only to realize you didn’t make it a shared channel, or some other kind of channel. You figure, no big deal, I’ll just delete this one and recreate it the correct way, using the same name since I’ll be removing this channel.

    In a sane world, that would be the end of it. In Teams world, once a channel name has been used, it is protected in perpetuity, meaning that the handy name of project-thing must now be changed. To fix this, you actually have to rename the old channel (z-trash-1), delete it, then the name project-thing will be free to use again.

    This kind of janky fix is unintuitive, and unnecessary. Say I really wanted that channel back, I would choose to free up the name when that channel was deleted, then bring it back as project-thing-1 or project-thing-(restored) and rename from there.

    Point 7 for Slack

    Wrap up

    It’s fair to say that Teams is lacking compared to Slack. It might be even fair to say that Teams and Slack are in different echelons when it comes to collaboration tools.

    Slack and Teams go beyond being just chat clients, they are the future of work. ChatOps, the practice of setting up workflows and status updates to all be delivered via chatbots and web hooks, is the future of work. Slack does it best right now, but there’s much room for improvement. Perhaps MicroSoft will rise to the occasion to fill that void. Perhaps not. I’m not holding my breath 😉