June 30, 2003

"Throw your computers into the eyes of children..."

The American Zen Master
by Dick Allen
from Poetry Daily

Zen also is to be found, he tried to instruct us,
in a car dealer's showroom, and in shoelaces. . . . Also, in America,
you don't sit at the feet of the Zen Master
but you have coffee with him, preferably at Starbucks,
next to one of those outsized suburban malls where everyone looks half dressed,
half dazed and half dead. "The secret of Zen," the Master said,
may come halfway through a Yankee Candle store
when you realize you can smell nothing,
or from reading Hallmark Cards backwards,
or choosing nothing from an overstuffed refrigerator. But it isn't a secret."

instead of smiting us around the shoulders with a bamboo cane,
he'd hand us little writing-intensive packets of Equal and Sweet 'N Low,
then lean back, smiling like a sushi plate. Sometimes, he'd babble:
"Tums, drive-up windows, ATM machines.
Checkout-line scanners, 1000 Megahertz,
the industrial landscapes so remarkable."
we'd catch him staring at the intricate face
of a digital wristwatch, or contemplating
a simple button-down shirt on a white shelf in a Wal-Mart.
All things. "Throw your computers into the eyes of children,"
he loved to tell us. "Work for the Federal administration,
if that's what you must.
Wear last year's fashions, re-endure the 8os.
Take the last train to Clarksville.
If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill her."
We'd come to Zen

because everything else seemed about the mystery, not of it,
and all we could think about for days was money,
Internet cable, huge pasta dishes. Our pain is real, we said.
The only words we have to describe our lives
are "Please wake us!" Our Zen Master
was patient. Our Zen Master assigned us these exercises: "Tie your shoes.
Open doors. Close them. Gaze
into the heart of a microwave. Fold a piece of paper eight times into halves.
Present yourself with the present."
Still, we puzzled.
Riding Chevrolets into the dark, we'd turn around to find
only a series of accidents strewn behind us,
our dead mothers, our dead fathers, our dead friends.
And when he'd say "Focus on what's in store windows," we could see the Obvious,
and where the Obvious came from, and beyond the Obvious,
but the Obvious eluded us. I thought it was William James,
our love of Marilyn Monroe. He said it was the Suburu of Wiltshire Boulevard
and to give it more time. He didn't care. We shouldn't care.
No one should care. One evening,
he mentioned the greatest work is not to work at all.
So difficult. So difficult to do nothing
but gaze at the Momentum. The small boats upon the Momentum. We didn't get it.
We'd spread our wings and all they'd brushed was air.
He laughed at our earnestness. Finally,
when a man in a business suit, after only one interview,
grasped "the koan of the singing microphone without a voice behind it,"
smote his forehead and burst into spacious skies,
we became jealous. "Here's your own koan," the Master whispered.
"Don't expect anything of it but itself:
'Why is the Statue of Liberty invisible as the scent of cherry blossoms?'"

then smiled his enlightened smile, and bowed off into Satori
or was that the Food Court, at the end of a path of blue tiles.

Posted by Vanderleun at June 30, 2003 06:59 AM | TrackBack

If an application is designed well, the reward for users is that they will learn it faster, accomplish their daily tasks more easily, and have fewer questions for the help desk. As a developer of a well-designed application, your returns on that investment are more upgrade revenue, reduced tech support, better reviews, less documentation, and higher customer satisfaction. The rewards of building a good-looking Aqua application are worth taking the extra time.

Posted by: Roman at January 12, 2004 08:17 PM

Clicking an application in the dock should always bring forward an active window. If the user clicks on an open app's icon in the Dock, the application is active and all unminimized windows come along with it. I have found a few problems with windows behaving independently of their application.

Posted by: Ambrose at January 12, 2004 08:17 PM

You Must Promise. To call your mother, to help old ladies cross the road, and to turn your cell phone off at the movies.

Posted by: Jerman at January 12, 2004 08:17 PM

By building an application that takes advantage of Aqua's many facets, you help ensure that your application will not only look good, but have a chance of becoming a raging success. After a new user clicks on the icon of your program, the first thing he or she sees is the application interface. I know that when I review a product, I am very critical of its visual design. I usually have a short time to learn the new software, so design and ease of use are very important. Aside from those who marvel at the beauty of the command line, most users tend to react the same way.

Posted by: Venetia at January 12, 2004 08:17 PM

Adhere to File Locations. Make sure that when your users save documents, your application knows where to put them and also gives users flexibility.

Posted by: Augustine at January 12, 2004 08:17 PM

You Must Promise. To call your mother, to help old ladies cross the road, and to turn your cell phone off at the movies.

Posted by: Isabella at January 12, 2004 08:18 PM

Due to the positioning of the Dock, remember that when you build an application, you have to be sure that new document window sizes and positions do not violate the Dock's space. Dock is temperamental and Dock loves his space. If you default to a window size that expands behind the dock, users will have a difficult time reaching the navigation and resize areas at the bottom of the screen. I can personally say that more than once I have been rather peeved that I couldn't get to an area of the window to resize because the default window settings always pop up behind the Dock. In addition, the new Dock in 10.1 will allow users to position their Dock location on either side of the screen as well.

Posted by: Rees at January 12, 2004 08:18 PM

This topic is one we will tackle later in this article, but it refers to making sure that your application and the dock aren't fighting it out for supremacy of the screen.

Posted by: Barnabas at January 12, 2004 08:19 PM

Drawers. Similar to Sheets, this is a "child" window that gives users access to items that do not always need to be present. But when do you use a drawer and when do you use a palette?

Posted by: Cornelius at January 12, 2004 08:19 PM

For my Paint application, I created a series of icons to simulate a rendering algorithm. While the application is performing this CPU-intensive task, you can always see the status of the document by the icon changing in the Dock.

Posted by: Hieronimus at January 12, 2004 08:19 PM
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