March 17, 2009
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Dashboard: Thing of the Day

Dashboard: Thing of the Day

One of the panels in our first “dashboard” example displays a “word of the day,” chosen from a list of interesting words. Each morning, you’d glance at the dashboard and see a fresh word that you might use as a writing exercise, or a contemplation trigger, or just a reminder.

The same technique could work with all sorts of things. New Year’s Resolutions. Cleaning chores. Vocabulary prep for your next trip abroad. Research reports you’ve been meaning to read. Customer relations reminders to follow up with your best customers. Oblique strategies.

It's easy to do. First, we’ll assume you have a container called Words, and that you've added a bunch of words to the container. Words like “funicular”, “flemished”, and “flambée”.

In our dashboard, we make a note and use the prototype Dash that gives us a nice, big, green map body text. (The prototype is just a convenient place to hold cosmetic settings like font color.) The dashboard note picks a random word:

Rule: $Text=$Name(randomChild(/Words)

But this would choose a new word every time the rule runs. To limit ourselves to one word for the day, we add a user attribute $Date, and get a new word only if the date has changed since the last time we picked on.

Rule: if($Date!="today") {

(This requires Tinderbox 4.6.1, though you can contrive slightly less convenient approaches to do the same thing in older Tinderbox releases.)

Some extensions are pleasant exercises left to the reader.