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Mindfulness at the Computer: Alpha 4 Release

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#37

@Aminah

In my own case, I stumbled onto the notion as a result of mulling over what exactly ethics-based gladness might be (as per something along the lines of eg. SN9.11 & AN11.11), but perhaps it could be turned to eg. the 5 themes for frequent reflection or whatever else. Now, I have to admit I haven’t actually looked to see if yours is specifically a Buddhist oriented app (or positions itself in a more secular patch) but should it be, I think such contemplations might rightly be considered a good place to rest! :wink:

I and the other main developer (Marieke) in this project are both Buddhist practitioners, tough the application itself is secular, i’ve written a bit about the underlying theory here

Marieke had the idea for a features: To set an intention in the application that the user can then follow up on or remember (it wasn’t worked out in detail). We decided to not use this idea in the application because we want to go for simplicity, but i liked the idea so much that i asked her if we could maybe create another application for this, and she and i are in a discussion about that now. I can notify you if you are interested in this if you like? The five contemplations would be a nice to have in such an application for example

I haven’t looked at the first two Sutras yet but hope to do so later on today. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and ideas, it’s valuable and encouraging for me to read! I am trained in computer science/engineering but have been out of work for a long time because of some mental health issues and honestly because i don’t want to work with weapon systems. Now i instead work with free open source software to try to improve mental well-being for people. You can see some projects and ideas over here: Free Software for Well-Being


#38

Ooooh! Right! Cool. I have to admit, I don’t use the breathing dialogue. I think it’s a good idea, but just for me personally the mouse over just feels a bit cumbersome so I just ignore it.

Yes, I think that helps make it much clearer!

Seems like a reasonable idea to me, but I do think the heading you added already helps a lot to know what that space is for.

Good point. In fact, I might encourage ramping up that encouragement even more as I guess all too open I ‘cheat’ and do whatever can be done still at my desk.

An excellent principle, very evident in the app. I think one of the things I was thinking is that there’s the really tricky point of the right suggestion to motivate the right person. So, it’s pathetic, but before I was sensible enough to remove it I was always alarmed to see the “make tea” prompt, concerned that it may end up killing me :grinning: - I’m addicted to tea, but my body doesn’t handle caffeine well (yeah, sure, sure, there are all those effusion alternatives, but they’re not bloomin’ proper tea! - gosh, I need to go to rehab :laughing:). Some eg. qi-gong options seem much, much safer! But, again I think it’s that difficult thing of right for whom, and both keeping things to a minimum and putting enough suggestions in that one might connect both have valid arguments. More than anything, I’d probably suggest letting the point go.

Not at all. Please feel free. :slight_smile:

I have to run out now, but will pick up any questions I missed later.


#39

@Aminah

Ooooh! Right! Cool. I have to admit, I don’t use the breathing dialogue. I think it’s a good idea, but just for me personally the mouse over just feels a bit cumbersome so I just ignore it.

Is there anything we can do to make it easier? This is the most important part of the application from my perspective, and compared with other applications which allow the user to follow the breath, this is the only one i know that allows for mindful breathing rather than controlled breathing: The user is setting the pace of the breathing as the takes each breath

We have already (though it’s not documented inside the application) another way of breathing: By using the shift key. You can press and hold the shift key while breathing in and release the shift key when starting to breathe out. Can you try this and see if it is better for you?

(We’ve also had an idea of using the mouse buttons)

Good point. In fact, I might encourage ramping up that encouragement even more as I guess all too open I ‘cheat’ and do whatever can be done still at my desk.

In the latest (“development”) version of the application (which will eventually become alpha 5) we have now increased the size of the text “Please move and walk mindfully when leaving the computer”:

Will this help? Other ideas on what we can do?

I think one of the things I was thinking is that there’s the really tricky point of the right suggestion to motivate the right person

Yes, for the breathing phrases we have put some effort into choosing things that will work for everyone, but we haven’t thought as much about the rest actions. Maybe we could remove a few of them? About the tea i am also a tea addict but i always drink green/herbal tea, my system cannot handle caffine even in small amounts. Maybe we can just add “green” in there so the user doesn’t go on a caffine spree? :slight_smile:

Thanks so much for your feedback! We haven’t gotten much feedback yet from users so your thoughts are very valuable to us


#40

Hi @sunyata_zero,

I just downloaded your application, but now I don’t know how to proceed with the file I’ve got. It’s a folder called ‘mindfulness-at-the-computer_alpha4_linux64_build1.tar.gz’—what do I have to do with it?

Sorry if this is a silly question. I just need an instruction beginning from zero…


#41

Round two! :wink:

I’ve never used the app in full screen mode and probably won’t start to. :smiley: Further, by “ignorability” I guess I more meant, swiftly dismissing them rather than literally not seeing them.

To my own tastes I like the notifications as they are - a little softer, and less prodding, and in turn, for myself, more effective. Saying that, I don’t even always read them, the pop up box is enough of a cue.

Again, a principle I’m very fond of! And I think you pull it off very well. That said,

For my two pennies, I think establishing a firm intention can be an invaluable support for commitment / following through with action and such. I’d personally probably encourage revisiting the idea and seeing if it can be written in, in such a way that is in keeping with the simple design aspiration. Again, however, I really must stress that I was inclined to chalk up my own comments in this area for 2.0 territory.

Sadhu, sadhu, sadhu!

For myself, I just don’t want to use my hands. I guess that leaves you voice recognition, air-wave sensors or telepathy! :wink:

You’ll perhaps notice that I keeping using “for me, personally, etc.” Please don’t let my feedback distract you too much: I use stuff how I use stuff, and I’m sure it just doesn’t speak to other users in many / most cases.

Also, maybe it helps to think of the app as a grown child venturing out into the world and doing all sorts of unexpected things. I completely appreciate that this is your centre piece, but in my own case, at least for now, it is the regular (gentle) invitations to break out of bad habits that are most valuable.

From my POV, I’d wind back a step or two. It’s only in my conversation with you that I (very happily) really registered the point about actually leaving my computer. “When” to my ears makes it optional.

My 5min thought would go something more along the lines of:

MatC-01

How’s that for one simple message (although the text itself is a big clunky - I did say 5mins)! A follow on might be a full list or perhaps something like:

MatC-02

I don’t want to alarm either your or your system, but green tea does actually have caffeine in it (in much lower amounts than black tea, although I am in possession of one particular green tea that really has some kick).

Not at all, I know full well that when you’ve been working on something engagement from the outside world can be useful, so I strove to engage. Just don’t let my feedback sidetrack you too much. As I’ve said all along, it’s a lovely app and also, I’m by no means representative.

Happy development. :slight_smile:


#42

@sabbamitta Hi and thank you for your interest in our application, and for your honesty about the problem you are having

To run the application you first need to extract the files from the tar.gz archive file that you have downloaded. You can do this in several ways but maybe the easiest is if you have a file manager of some kind and can right-click on the file there and choose extract/unzip (or something like this). On my system i have an option called “extract here”

image

After you have extracted the files you can find the executable file among the other files inside the mindfulness-at-the-computer directory, you will probably need to scroll because there are many other files (we will try to make this easier in the future):

image

Now you can just open this file from your file manager and the application will hopefully start!

Hope this helps!
Kind Regards, Tord

PS: By the way are you using Ubuntu as your operating system? Something else? If there are more problems it helps me to know the system, i can help you more easily then /Tord


#43

Thanks, that’s really easy! I did already extract the files—but then didn’t know what to do with all these files, or which one might be the executable file!

Will try it now and have some experience. :heartpulse:

Yes, my OS is Ubuntu.


#44

@Aminah

I’ve never used the app in full screen mode and probably won’t start to. :smiley: Further, by “ignorability” I guess I more meant, swiftly dismissing them rather than literally not seeing them.

Okay, i’m unsure if we are talking about the same thing, i was thinking about the rest window that has a black background and that you (so beautifully) have experimented with the design of

In any case i understand you are more concerned that the user can very easily dismiss dialogs, like for example this one by clickin “skip”:

image

Is this what you are thinking about? Something else?

For my two pennies, I think establishing a firm intention can be an invaluable support for commitment / following through with action and such. I’d personally probably encourage revisiting the idea and seeing if it can be written in, in such a way that is in keeping with the simple design aspiration. Again, however, I really must stress that I was inclined to chalk up my own comments in this area for 2.0 territory.

I actually discovered a hidden feature that we have in the application: It’s possible to set a breathing phrase but with a single text, which might be a metta practice phrase (“may i be happy”), and this will then (as with all breathing phrases) show up in both the breathing dialog and the breathing notifications

image

image

image

image

Is this something that you can use do you think for the same purpose? (Also i’ve brought up the idea again with Marieke to see what she thinks)

For myself, I just don’t want to use my hands. I guess that leaves you voice recognition, air-wave sensors or telepathy! :wink:

:smiley: I was thinking about some other system also, but the easiest i could come up with was moving the mouse slightly

Also, maybe it helps to think of the app as a grown child venturing out into the world and doing all sorts of unexpected things

I love this image, yes this is a good mental attitude for us right now, things will change!

I completely appreciate that this is your centre piece, but in my own case, at least for now, it is the regular (gentle) invitations to break out of bad habits that are most valuable.

Of course i am glad you are using our application but there are other applications out there that you may also be interested in like workrave If you think it’s better for you i’d be grateful for this feedback actually, maybe there is something that we can learn from them

From my POV, I’d wind back a step or two. It’s only in my conversation with you that I (very happily) really registered the point about actually leaving my computer. “When” to my ears makes it optional.

Oh, okay this is good for us to know! I really like the design you have done here, would you be interested in joining our project as a designer? :slight_smile: Otherwise i am very happy with our interaction so far :slight_smile:

I think the design you have here is very elegant and in that way i prefer it over our current design

We have also been thinking about setting a “minimum rest timer”. We didn’t want to do like the “pomodoro technique” and have an exact time specified because in my experience that can stress me

I will bring up the text suggestion with the others to see what they say. We want to use gentle language but at the same time it’s important that the user leaves the computer

I like the idea of hiding the rest actions behind a button, from a design perspective it looks nicer i think, and also the centering of the text looks good. I’ll think about this some more, maybe centering everything including the rest actions would be one option?


Thanks again for all your feedback! Btw can i ask if you know anyone else who might be interested in trying the application? (Maybe for alpha.5) We really need user feedback, and i’ve read in a book that it’s best to have about five users, now we have you but not many other’s giving us feedback

Also just want to say that i’m a bit concerned because i know you have much to do and i’m writing these long texts, so please only write and help us “with the joy of a small child feeding a hungry duck” :slight_smile:

Kind Regards, Tord


Contributing your language skills (French & Dutch)
#45

Sort of, but not quite. Again, one of the things that I really like about the app is that it’s got the balance of ‘intrusion’ about right (for my tastes anyway). In my opinion it is good that it is easy to skip the reminders, because that’s just how it is sometimes (maybe not too helpful to add a frustration layer at that point).

In turn, my comments were more oriented towards thinking about what tiny things might be done to engages/‘entice’ users so that, by happy volition (rather than technical coercion), they are less likely to want to skip. Once more, it’s more casual thought floating, if it’s relevance isn’t readily apparent I’d really strongly encourage letting it go.

No reason not to play with it! :slight_smile:

Of course, again, please don’t get side tracked by my particular use report; it’s just how it is for me, and also, who’s to say I won’t use the app in a different way later.

I’m perfectly happy with yours, thanks. :slight_smile:

That is so touching, but humbly, I’ve already enough invitations to do things I don’t really have the skill sets for! There’s a reason I need your app! :wink:

Eeeerm… :thinking: … maybe the folks ‘@ed’ above? :grin:

That’s so wonderful, and precisely my feelings about how work should work! :pray:

Easily enough forgotten though, so yet again, I’ve cause to offer thanks for giving an excellent, timely reminder… I’ll expect the full Joyous Duck app forthwith :wink: ! Jokes aside, it really put a big smile on my face (a little against the odds); much thanks.


#46

Hullo again,

One more, hopefully straightforward, suggestion:

Though I still haven’t really come round to using it (yet :wink: ), as it just popped up I figured I’d mention it might be good to make the following dialogue box movable rather than fixed to the bottom of the screen (although I can understand there may be reasons why you decided to fix its location):


#47

One last point…

I think one contributing factor to this message not quite getting through to me, is that in a way the app can give mixed prompts. At the rest intervals (obviously, this will depend on users specific time settings), two items will pop up at the same time.

In a way these are competing messages: one kind of says go away from the computer, the other says stay at the computer and use this app.


#48

@Aminah

so that, by happy volition (rather than technical coercion), they are less likely to want to skip

I like your thinking here!

Eeeerm… :thinking: … maybe the folks ‘@ed’ above? :grin:

I’m feeling confused, what does @ed mean?

I’ll expect the full Joyous Duck app forthwith

Hey i like this idea! :slight_smile: I got the quote from Marshall Rosenberg in Nonviolent Communication who also talked about how he printed a small card that he gave to people each time he asked them to do something:

Please do as I requested, only if you can do so with the joy of a little child feeding a hungry duck. Please do not do as I request if there is any taint of fear of punishment if you don’t. Please do not do as I request to buy my love, that, is hoping that I will love you more if you do. Please do not do as I request if you will feel guilty if you don’t. Please do not do as I request if you will feel shameful. And certainly do not do as I request out of any sense of duty or obligation.

make the following dialogue box movable

Okay, i will note this and bring it up with the developers. I think there is a “trick” you can use on my system at least (Lubuntu): If you hold down alt and click and drag, does this work for you also?

I think one contributing factor to this message not quite getting through to me, is that in a way the app can give mixed prompts. At the rest intervals (obviously, this will depend on users specific time settings), two items will pop up at the same time.
In a way these are competing messages: one kind of says go away from the computer, the other says stay at the computer and use this app.

Good point! Thanks for bringing this up. I don’t see an easy solution now but will consider it


#49

@Aminah Just wanted to say that i finally read the texts that you linked to, and i love these things, i think it would be wonderful to have support in our thinking and attention like this. It’s very much the kind of thing that i’m interested in doing with software projects, i’d love to talk to you more about this, and may send you a PM in the future

Also on a personal level i have started to practice thinking about these things brought up in the texts, very helpful for me, my mind is more positive, and also it gives me something to switch to when i have negative thoughts. So thank you very much! <3


#50

Ooops, sorry, the perils of inventing my own shorthand :face_with_raised_eyebrow: … I meant people mentioned using the ‘@’ symbol.

Yes, indeed, it does! Thanks.

This really is so extraordinarily wonderful and encouraging to hear. Much thanks for sharing this report, it’s a great boost to the spirits and also a good reminder that maybe I’d do well to revisit these things, too!

Naturally, you’re most welcome, any time. :slightly_smiling_face:


#51

@sabbamitta Hi, just wanted to check with you if you’ve tried the application and what you think about it? Extra grateful if you can point out places of improvement but all feedback is welcome!
Kind Regards, Tord


#52

Hi @sunyata_zero,

thanks for asking. Yes, I am using the app for a while now and also would like to give you some feedback—but I feel it deserves a bit more time and effort, and I always postpone it to “tomorrow”… so far, tomorrow has not yet happened. Maybe it still will— I hope! :grin:


#53

Dear @sunyata_zero,

Probably I should finally take the time to say something—otherwise it’s never going to happen:

  • First of all, I like the app! I like the simplicity of the design; and I’d also very much appreciate @Aminah’s suggestion for the design of the rest message.
  • And I agree with her about the very un-intrusive way of working of the app.
  • The breathing exercise itself I find also difficult, similar to what @Aminah said. When I have to move my hand while watching the breath my attention is rather with my hand, not so much with the breath; or more accurately, I am concerned with whether my hand manages to get the rhythm right, that it is not too early or too late to match the end of an in- or out-breath and the beginning of the next one. And this also leads to controlling my breath in order to get the match right. So my mindfulness is not really with the breath itself.
  • And I don’t see an easy solution for that, unless you manage to incorporate telepathy into your app, as Aminah already suggested. :laughing:
  • To say something about the effect it has on me: First of all it started making me aware of all my bad habits… :scream: Then considering what Aminah had already said about this, and well aware of my tendency to buy into this good old ‘guilt’ pattern, I tried to approach this from a different angle. I decided to look upon this app as a soft reminder to change my habits, combined with the expectation that this will not and can not happen within half a day!
  • The notification makes me smile each time I see it, so this is nice even if I’m not doing the breathing exercise. But I take this notification as a reminder to move my eyes away from the computer and have a look out of the window, even if just for a few moments.
  • As for the rest periods, at first it felt to me like an unwanted interruption. "Now I have to interrupt what I am just about to do, it will make me lose my thread… etc."But then I said to myself "it doesn’t have to be a long break… ", and this helps me to actually make a break. Better a short break than no break!
  • For the rest actions the first thing I usually do is changing my glasses, taking off my working glasses and putting on the normal ones which allow me a better view in far distance. Then I go to the window and open it (depending on the weather—right now it is already open anyway almost all day) and have a look outside, over the gardens, trees, the sky… just see something else but a screen. Stretch myself a bit. And then it depends… either I go back to my work and continue, or I am taking a longer break and still do something else.
  • One thing I noticed that might be a bug: In the settings there are options to be notified by “visual”, “audio”, or “both”, both for the small mindfulness notification and for the rest notification. And then there are different audios to select from. And for the small mindfulness notifications this works very well, but for the rest notification I cannot make the “audio” notification work. Not that I am particularly keen on audio notifications—really, I have disabled any kinds of sounds my computer would display to me in all kinds of settings (except probably for listening to talks and making Skype calls). But the app should be able to display a sound for this purpose if a user wishes; or else I just missed something in the settings which I wouldn’t exclude either…
  • Another suggestion: I would appreciate if on starting the computer the mindfulness app would automatically start, so that I would have to take action if I do not want it in this session, and not the other way around. The way it is now I have to take action if I do want the app to run.

To sum it up, I’d like to thank you very much, @sunyata_zero, for developing this nice app! I do indeed benefit from using it. I definitely look more out of the window and do appreciate more of nature outside, the birds’ songs etc. than I did before! :grin: :deciduous_tree: :bird: :heartpulse:


#54

First of all, I like the app! I like the simplicity of the design

I’m glad to hear it and happy that you like the simplity as well, we have recently been trying to simplify it even more in the settings

and I’d also very much appreciate @Aminah’s suggestion for the design of the rest message.

Okay, you mean changing the text to encourage the user to leave the computer? Or the positioning of the text message and list? Something else?

And I agree with her about the very un-intrusive way of working of the app.

Good to know! I’m glad you share this experience with us, i’m feeling encouraged to hear it because it’s important for the application

I am concerned with whether my hand manages to get the rhythm right, that it is not too early or too late to match the end of an in- or out-breath and the beginning of the next one. And this also leads to controlling my breath in order to get the match right. So my mindfulness is not really with the breath itself.

Thank you for this feedback, very good for us to know. I’ll bring this up with the team and see if we can think of something that helps the user be less concerned about this matching (i know what you mean, i have a little bit of the same problem)

I think though that compared with other applications where there is breathing visualisation we have more mindfulness because we allow the user to set the pace rather than the other way around. Do you agree or disagree with this? Grateful for any insights you can give us!

Another suggestion: I would appreciate if on starting the computer the mindfulness app would automatically start, so that I would have to take action if I do not want it in this session, and not the other way around. The way it is now I have to take action if I do want the app to run.

Yes, we are working on this now, it may take some time to do this but hopefully will be available in the future

Audio notification bug: I’m not having this problem myself but i saw another problem with the same setting, so thank you for bringing this up. Hopefully your problem will be fixed in the next alpha version (alpha.5) which we hope to release within a week!

To sum it up, I’d like to thank you very much, @sunyata_zero, for developing this nice app! I do indeed benefit from using it. I definitely look more out of the window and do appreciate more of nature outside, the birds’ songs etc. than I did before! :grin: :deciduous_tree: :bird: :heartpulse:

Oh, nice to hear this! I’m glad you enjoy it and thanks so much for your feedback, it’s very valuable for us!


#55

I am talking about the suggestions made in this post: Mindfulness at the Computer: Alpha 4 Release

I fully agree with this. Your app is certainly much better than anything imposing a rhythm on the user. It’s probably just me, I find it still too disturbing.

Sounds great! :sparkling_heart:

You are most welcome!


#56

Good news everyone! There is a new release of the application out now, i’ve added a new post here: Mindfulness at the Computer: Alpha 5 Release

I’m grateful for any feedback you can give in this new post for our alpha 5 release

New in alpha 5

  • Breathing phrase settings simplified
  • New feature: User can now suspend the application for a selected amount of time
  • New feature: User can now choose that a random breathing phrase is selected
  • New feature: Preparatory notification before the breathing dialog is shown