Lana Ipsum

Screen Shot 2016-08-09 at 7.37.01 PM

This past weekend, I spun up Lana Ipsum, a lorem ipsum generator using Lana Del Rey-inspired lyrics. It talks about late capitalism and vodka a lot. A sample sentence:

Late capitalism cigarettes rock and roll lashes milkshake dreams ocean ocean.

It’s the first public-facing project I’ve done using JavaScript, and it came out of a long-ago, goofy Slack conversation with some friends coupled with the realization that somehow, no one owned lanaipsum.com.

Lana Ipsum is hosted on GitHub pages at the suggestion of Barry Clark, Trello’s VP of Engineering. If you want to know how it works, or are tempted to modify it for your own ends, the code is available here.

The code that makes the site do its thing owes a significant debt to Daniel LeCheminant, who was very patient in showing me how to make a lorem ipsum generator in JS and at who at no point asked why the thing says “late capitalism” so much.

I made it look pretty with Bootstrap and Google Fonts, re-stealing some of my own work from my Sinatra capstone project for the Ruby on Rails course from Skillcrush. In the future, I’d like to add the option to tweet out your favorite sentences it produces, and possibly add the option to copy the text it generates to the clipboard.

Case Study Video for Sprout Social

Screen Shot 2016-08-02 at 9.32.33 PM

I was recently filmed and interviewed for a case study on how Trello uses Sprout Social. Video is now available! Enjoy the video and case study at read the rest at Sprout’s site.

Additionally, check out the video and insights from a social support round table Sprout put on last month. It was super fun participating.

Explaining Webhooks Using Popcorn

Recently, I wound up in a discussion with a coworker about webhooks. (Specifically, my hope that Okta offers them. I’ve spent several hours reading this documentation and I still can’t tell.) She wasn’t familiar with them, and neither was the customer who we were looping in as part of the larger discussion. So, I wound up explaining webhooks as follows:

Think of our two services as two people: you, in the back of the office, and your coworker George who sits near the kitchen and can see the microwave. You want to know if the popcorn you just put in the microwave is done, but can’t wait around in the kitchen. (Your office is very strict about loitering.)

Continue reading

SAML 2.0 for the Quasi-Technical

I’ve recently begun the process of transitioning over to a role as a Technical Account Manager at Trello. What this means is—as with all “you’re the first person to do it” roles at startups—a little bit TBD, but for right now it involves being the point person for Single Sign On (SSO) implementation for our Enterprise customers. SSO allows our customers to set up their own login portal for all of the services that their employees use. That portal handles credentials, meaning that end users only have to remember one username and password combo (as well as providing an easier way to disable access to those services if someone leaves the company). It’s the business equivalent of using the “log in with Facebook/Google” option you’ll see on many websites.

SSO can be implemented with a few different protocols, because the internet is full of slightly-different wheels. I’m learning about Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML), which has two versions: 1.1 and 2.0. The SAML protocol provides a standard for how to format XML passed between an Identity Provider (whatever a company is using to keep track of its users and their information) and the Service Provider (Trello, in this case). Trello’s SSO implementation is (currently) Identity Provider (IdP)-initiated SAML 2.0. This stands in contrast to Service Provider (SP)-initiated SAML, and the non-SAML alternatives.

As part of moving in to the new role, I wanted to read up on SAML and get a general sense of how the protocol actually works. This was to help reduce the number of times I needed to go to engineers for communication reasons—because I didn’t know what the user was talking about when they mentioned federation and they didn’t know which cert I meant when I asked for an SSO cert.

(For the record, the cert I needed in that particular instance was a Base64-encoded X.509 cert. Hat tip to Amanda Allison for teaching me to recognize base64-encoded strings by sight/the basics of “certs, what do” and to Barry Clark for telling me the “X.509” bit.)

Unfortunately, trying to educate myself about SSO—and SAML in particular—proved very difficult. The resources that exist are mostly targeted to two audiences: end users at large corporations who need to know a bit about how their particular SSO product works (too low-level and IdP-specific for me) and developers with an interest in cryptography who are actually building SAML integrations (impenetrably dense, and way higher-level than I needed).

Continue reading

Getting All Hands Support Off The Ground At Trello

cb_6s8bw4aa0ca6-jpg-large

When the Trello support team received news that the company was going on an all-hands retreat to Puerto Rico, we were psyched. (Who wouldn’t be?)

But right after that excitement, panic set in: how were we going to manage to answer support tickets during the retreat? We didn’t want to make the Support team work when others were having fun, but we couldn’t leave our customers hanging, either.

Our solution was to create an all-hands support training crash course. If employees passed, they earned the distinct privilege of helping out the Support team whilst on vacation! (And our eternal gratitude.)

Read the rest at SupportDriven

 

 

Thoughts on Going Un-Remote

My first job out of college was an on-site support gig in my hometown. I worked 2-10pm, which was an excellent shift for that season in my life, and allowed me to avoid rush hour traffic. Then I moved to my first-and-a-half job, for my previous employer’s sister company. This meant a pay bump, a move to 9-5, and a new location in the nicer of the company’s two buildings. After a year, I was burned out on the commute, on office culture, on waking up early. I moved on to my second-ish job: working remotely for my current company, which meant no commute and also no real need to wear pants or talk to humans all that regularly.

On the one hand, it was awesome. Stretchy pants and no makeup and waking up 10 minutes before work were all enjoyable for many months. On the other hand, after about a year, I realized that I was getting to the point where I was walking maybe 200 steps a day, and that not ever brushing my hair or talking to someone who wasn’t serving me coffee may not have made for the most dignified work day. Continue reading