Flutterby™! : Apple needs to hire Dori

Next unread comment / Catchup all unread comments User Account Info | Logout | XML/Pilot/etc versions | Long version (with comments) | Weblog archives | Site Map | | Browse Topics

Apple needs to hire Dori

2007-01-18 14:29:07.545491+00 by Dan Lyke 12 comments

Hey, Apple, hire Dori!

I have to confess that I still don't get "Dashboard", it's that annoying thing that pops up when I overshoot the delete key, and it uses resources and I haven't figured out how to turn it off, but I'm fairly sure that's just because I haven't been shown why I should care. If someone smart had more incentive to sing the praises of the product, and not just be pushing it because she thinks it's a really cool thing, I might think of it as an asset rather than a liability.

[ related topics: Apple Computer ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2007-01-18 15:52:14.959557+00 by: markd

I don't get Dashboard either. It's pretty popular with the 'end-user' crowd - our MUG leader showed us his dashboard, and he had his screen *covered* with the things. It's pretty easy to create them too - anyone who can do html + JS + CSS (which is the BASIC of the new generation) can make a widget. I've written a couple, and found them more annoying to do than regular desktop apps. But I'm also a greybeard.

On some systems I've just turned off dashboard because I'm a little sloppy on the delete key - system preferences -> Dashboard&Expose -> set Dashboard to "-"

#Comment Re: made: 2007-01-18 15:57:22.30697+00 by: Jim S

About my thoughts too, except it is that thing that flies up at me when I touch my super mouse wrong. Until this week... RPN Calculator Widget is just the thing for people who went through engineering school with an HP in their pocket and find it confusing to convert to infix to use a modern calculator. It also recognizes that you have a keyboard in front of you and doesn't bother making a lot of clutter for functions that you can just type while also showing you your stack.

I'll probably make tiny widgets for my system monitoring tasks now that DashCode is out. I already make http served graphics for them so it will be simple. After that, checking the nets and servers is just an F12 peck away, or whatever that thing is I do to my super mouse. Then for bonus niceness... if Cingular doesn't screw it up with a silly plan, and it allows widgets, the iPhone will make a nice system manager's security blanket.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-01-18 16:55:07.020237+00 by: Dori

Dan, thanks for the link!

It's pretty easy to create them too - anyone who can do html + JS + CSS (which is the BASIC of the new generation) can make a widget.

This is the part that gets me jumping up and down and (nearly) frothing at the mouth. It's the first time that the promise of "programming for non-programmers" really exists, and lets people do cool/useful things without much of a learning curve.

Someone ought to be out there evangelizing this, and it might as well be someone who gets excited about it.

the iPhone will make a nice system manager's security blanket.

I don't know that Apple gets this, and they should. If they can put a Terminal widget (or at least a server check widget!) on an iPhone, that's very cool to a lot of people -- many of whom are the early adopter target market for an iPhone. If not, well, they'll stick with the Treos and BlackBerrys that are doing the job now.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-01-18 18:51:12.229164+00 by: meuon

I still carry a Zaurus sometimes, because it does a good useful SSH Shell.. Sidekicks also do it well.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-01-18 19:59:33.552402+00 by: markd

RPN Calculator Widget

Apple's Calculator app does scientific / programmer, and RPN. Although i usually just run 'dc' when i'm in a terminal, or pull out the appropriate HP1XC if I'm doing a lot of stuff. Those are still the nicest calculators ever made in terms of functionality and feel.

It's the first time that the promise of "programming for non-programmers" really exists, and lets people do cool/useful things without much of a learning curve. Yeah! There's a couple of smart kids I know that are in that early "wow! programming is cool!", and it's javascript client-side web appy stuff they're playing with. It's pretty exciting to see.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-01-19 08:17:24.000867+00 by: Jerry Kindall

It's the first time that the promise of "programming for non-programmers" really exists, except for HyperCard, Visual BASIC, and all their spiritual descendants...

I hate to contradict Dori, but any technology that requires you to master three completely different languages, one of which is an SGML-derived markup language, another which is an object-oriented programming language with a C-derived syntax, and one of which has no real precedent syntactically, each syntax being totally different from the other two, cannot reasonably be called "programming for non-programmers." Sure, anyone who's made a Web site has a leg up, but most non-programmers have never made a Web site, and most of those who have are unused to OOP concepts, C syntax, and the like.

Not that Dashboard's not cool and all; I'm just saying.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-01-19 17:11:58.262357+00 by: markd

You'd be surprised how much you can get done with all that stuff with very little work, plus there's a *lot* you can copy and paste from. Monkey see / monkey do until the concepts filter in. A 12-year-old I know is doing some fun and cool stuff with basic webby technologies - it's generally along the same lines of stuff I was doing on the Apple ][ at that age; and doesn't seem to be put off by anything.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-01-19 23:15:26.354337+00 by: Dori

Jerry: I used to agree with you, until I started teaching JavaScript classes. I've talked to an amazing number of people who create pages and sites that use JavaScript regularly, none of whom consider themselves to be programmers (or even scripters). The learning curve is so gradual, and (as mentioned by markd) there are so many copyable examples, that it's straightforward for someone who knows zip about code to add a little JavaScript to a page.

And then they add a little more, and then a little more, and then they tweak what they've got to personalize it -- at which point, they've gone from zero to knowing a little something.

And somewhere in there, they've learned enough to build widgets, without what they'd consider any effort at all to learn "OOP concepts, C syntax, and the like." The jump from non-programmer to creating your first widget is nothing compared to the amount of trouble a non-programmer would run into trying to create their first VB project or HyperCard stack.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-01-19 23:21:04.424663+00 by: Dan Lyke

Y'all are giving me flashbacks to the time when Robert Wilson and I wrote a Huffman compression/decompression system in HyperCard...

Kids these days write a little mouse-over and think they're programming, but back when...

#Comment Re: made: 2007-01-20 05:36:14.140625+00 by: meuon [edit history]

there are so many copyable examples

There are so many -bad- examples. Functions that call functions that call functions that do what a simple, single: onClick="a.b.c.d();x.y.z();l.m.n.o.p(foo)" would do well.

and there are so many useful, but just plain WRONG things about JavaScript and the way browsers use it. Like multiple: body onLoad="q.w.e.r()" tags can be embedded anywhere in a page, and they all run, usually in order of printing them out, but in some cases, not.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-01-20 07:24:34.633984+00 by: Shawn

I see your point, Dori - and have seen it personally - but I'm afraid that I can't agree that this is a Good Thing. I spent a couple of years in a program that relied heavily on using Javascript as an entry-level language for teaching "Internet Application Development".

Due to my background and experience I wound up being a kind of teacher's aide and providing supplemental knowledge. What I saw were a lot of clueless people doing a lot of amazingly stupid/dangerous/insecure/unstable things with absolutely no interest in understanding why or how or best practices or, or, or....

#Comment Re: made: 2007-01-20 11:40:00.396683+00 by: Jerry Kindall

We already have enough software made by people who don't really understand what they're doing. Do we really need to encourage more of that sort of behavior?

Granted that there's not really much harm you can do with a widget, especially on your own machine, and granted that beginners are rarely going to produce good software regardless of what environment they're using.

But still, JavaScript syntax must be inscrutable to people who have never programmed in C or one of its relatives -- or at all.