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TOPIC: Buddha Pong Beta Testers!

Buddha Pong Beta Testers! 02 Aug 2014 15:49 #94721

Hi Everyone,

I'm super excited to announce that our new social mindfulness app, Buddha Pong, is ready for beta testing. It connects two people anywhere in the world for ten minutes of ping pong noting. Download free app here:

itunes.apple.com/app/id897707690?mt=8

iPhone and iPad only for now. (Sorry Android users! We care about you but we can only test on one platform at a time.)

If you already know how to do ping pong noting, just download the app, hit the "connect" button on the home screen and start noting when someone joins you. No need to say hello or goodbye, just start noting; it seems like it would be awkward, but it turns out to feel very natural once you get the hang of it.

If you don't know how to do it yet, read about it here:

kennethfolkdharma.com/mindfullabs/buddhapong/

If you'd like me to give you a quick personal run-through so you can get comfortable with the app and the ping pong noting technique, email me and we'll get together for a free quickie lesson:

kennethfolkdharma at gmail dot com (You'll have to change my email address back to the proper format. I'm writing it this way to confuse spambots.)

Thanks in advance if you decide to try it out! Please post here with any feedback you have, positive or negative, questions or suggestions. Our team has put a lot of work into the app so far and we're dedicated to continuing to improve it. A small handful of alpha testers (including me) have been using it almost every day for a couple of months now, and we're already addicted to it. I hope you'll love it as much as I do.

With gratitude,

Kenneth
Last Edit: 02 Aug 2014 21:46 by Kenneth Folk.
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Buddha Pong Beta Testers! 02 Aug 2014 20:55 #94728

Can't wait for the Android beta!! :cheer:
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Buddha Pong Beta Testers! 05 Aug 2014 23:39 #94785

I did three sessions tonight on the app. Nice experience. It's exciting to think of the potential of it.
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Buddha Pong Beta Testers! 06 Aug 2014 00:40 #94787

Is there any way to use it on a macbook? maybe w/ the iPhone simulator somehow?
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Buddha Pong Beta Testers! 06 Aug 2014 15:56 #94792

Femtosecond wrote:
Is there any way to use it on a macbook? maybe w/ the iPhone simulator somehow?

Not knowing how it was written, so YMMV, but the microphone is active on apps in the simulator.
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Buddha Pong Beta Testers! 06 Aug 2014 17:18 #94796

On YouTube, Kenneth is taping the phone after each of his notes. What is that for?
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Buddha Pong Beta Testers! 06 Aug 2014 17:34 #94798

Sorry, I didn't mean to thank you for your question!

That's an older app, designed by Justin Chapweske, called Mind Blown. Every time Kenneth notes verbally, he taps the screen of his iPhone (i use it on an iPod touch) and a simple counter records how many notes he's made.

I just checked iTunes & it's still available for download.
Last Edit: 06 Aug 2014 18:05 by Tina.
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Buddha Pong Beta Testers! 13 Aug 2014 14:57 #94858

@jackhat1: Yes, Tina is right. The video where I tap on the touch screen of the phone to keep track of notes is demonstrating the Mind Blown app by Justin Chapweske. It's available on the App Store:

itunes.apple.com/us/app/meditation-by-mi...mer/id570108550?mt=8

The Buddha Pong app is a different concept; it pairs you up with another human for a ten-minute social mindfulness session, rather than having you interact directly with the machine as in Mind Blown. Here's the Buddha Pong link at the App Store:

itunes.apple.com/us/app/buddha-pong/id897707690?mt=8
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Buddha Pong Beta Testers! 13 Aug 2014 14:59 #94859

It's a native iOS app, coded in Objective C. I'll be interested to learn whether it can be used in the app simulator; seems like it should work fine, but I haven't tried it. Keep me posted!
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Buddha Pong Beta Testers! 13 Aug 2014 15:20 #94861

cedric reeves wrote:
I did three sessions tonight on the app. Nice experience. It's exciting to think of the potential of it.

Great to have you on the network, Cedric. Like you, I'm excited about the potential. There is something about sharing my moment by moment experience with someone that feels very healing to me. I don't get the same feeling anywhere else. I'm wondering about the potential for social noting to help with depression, since it's a low-risk and low-time-commitment way to get really connected with another human being and to feel heard without feeling judged even when you are in difficult states like despair and self-critical thought loops. Something about objectifying the experience can really take the sting out of it.

I've also been playing around with a way to reliably enter a flow state by doing a variation on the main social noting technique. This version starts with a binary note where the only options are "thinking" and "not thinking." Thinking is defined here as little or no narrative thought. Of course, there is still thinking, so we're really distinguishing two different modes of thinking. The terminology isn't precise, but once you get the hang of it, it works great. Then, as a subset of "not thinking," you introduce a third possibility, which is to note "flow." Flow is defined as being so engaged in your momentary experience that it wouldn't occur to you to want it to be other than it is. In a moment of flow, there is no aversion or reaching for anything.

My experience so far is that this exercise does reliably lead to flow states, which is cool because there is nothing that feels quite like flow; it's a highly desirable condition, and worth cultivating for its own sake. (Note that cultivating a flow state or any other state is orthogonal to what might be described as awakening or enlightenment, but is nonetheless valuable, in much the same way that concentation states, aka jhanas are highly prized in early Buddhism even though it's understood that they do not lead directly to awakening.) Since it's not uncommon for people to go to great effort and expense to access even a few seconds of flow, for example going skydiving or rock climbing, or riding a roller coaster, I think it's remarkable that there is a way to access flow through social mindfulness techniques. This is one of the things I've been really interested to explore lately, and I'm feeling optimistic about the results.
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Buddha Pong Beta Testers! 19 Aug 2014 18:28 #94928

I used it a number of times today, for the first time. Generally, it works really well although audio stuttered and distorted a couple of times. But I also found that afterwards, the audio on my phone was kind of wonky. For example, the clicks on the calculator were not clicking except for the odd time, and really loudly. Once I killed the BP app, my sound returned to normal. It looks like the app needs to release the audio session when it is done with it.

Otherwise, it was fun to use and, freakishly enough, I connected with Abre.
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Buddha Pong Beta Testers! 21 Aug 2014 17:55 #94974

Hey Kenneth,
sorry for the slow response.
Yeah, I watched a TED talk the other day about about the therapeutic value of expressing vulnerability. www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability
So, clearly the value of silent noting/vipassana meditation is present in the out loud pingpong noting. But then the pingpong noting also offers an additional therapeutic and normalizing value of giving both parties the opportunity to be vulnerable with another person. This would make for an interesting adjunct to tradition psychotherapy, especially for people dealing with shame or social anxiety, etc
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Buddha Pong Beta Testers! 23 Aug 2014 19:37 #94992

Is there a discussion group for the app, or is this it?

I would like to know how to set my location. I notice some people's locations are set, while mine remains "location not set".

And boy, does it burn through battery!
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Buddha Pong Beta Testers! 24 Aug 2014 03:11 #94994

Tom Otvos wrote:
Is there a discussion group for the app, or is this it?

I would like to know how to set my location. I notice some people's locations are set, while mine remains "location not set".

And boy, does it burn through battery!

This is it! Welcome to the discussion group! :D

For now, we have to set the location manually on the back end. Where should we say you are?

I'd love to get your input on how to make it more battery efficient, Tom, along with some of the other bugs and limitations. My latest fantasy is to post all the code on Github and make it an open source project so people can fix bugs or add features. We also have to build out some infrastructure on the back end so we don't have such high overhead. For now, we're using Parse, Firebase, and OpenTok. We'll probably continue to use OpenTok for the foreseeable future, but if we could get off of Parse and Firebase, we could save $300 to $400 a month in server fees even at the current level of usage. As we grow, that will go up, so we could save even more by doing more ourselves. I'd have to get the investors to agree to making it an open source project, so I'll see about that.
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Buddha Pong Beta Testers! 24 Aug 2014 03:14 #94995

Tom Otvos wrote:
I used it a number of times today, for the first time. Generally, it works really well although audio stuttered and distorted a couple of times. But I also found that afterwards, the audio on my phone was kind of wonky. For example, the clicks on the calculator were not clicking except for the odd time, and really loudly. Once I killed the BP app, my sound returned to normal. It looks like the app needs to release the audio session when it is done with it.

Thanks for reporting about the sound being affected on other apps. We'll check it out.

The warbling and momentary sound dropouts are due to poor connectivity on the other end. If both users have a strong signal, the sound is generally very good. I see that you hooked up with Scott in Australia today. He normally has good connectivity, but today I'm guessing his wifi was poor; I also noted with him briefly today just before you did and his sound was dropping out for me too.
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Buddha Pong Beta Testers! 24 Aug 2014 03:20 #94996

cedric reeves wrote:
Hey Kenneth,
sorry for the slow response.
Yeah, I watched a TED talk the other day about about the therapeutic value of expressing vulnerability. www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability
So, clearly the value of silent noting/vipassana meditation is present in the out loud pingpong noting. But then the pingpong noting also offers an additional therapeutic and normalizing value of giving both parties the opportunity to be vulnerable with another person. This would make for an interesting adjunct to tradition psychotherapy, especially for people dealing with shame or social anxiety, etc

Totally agree. Normalizing human behavior is incredibly valuable. When you can hear that other people also feel shame, self-loathing, fear, and all of the difficult emotions that we often don't like to admit we have, it makes all the difference in the world. Knowing that you are not alone is a breathtaking relief. And the flip side of that is vulnerability; we give other people a precious gift by being vulnerable enough to share our pain and doubt with them. (I'm a big fan of Brene Brown's Ted talk. Thanks for the link!)
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Buddha Pong Beta Testers! 24 Aug 2014 09:36 #94999

Kenneth Folk wrote:
Tom Otvos wrote:
I used it a number of times today, for the first time. Generally, it works really well although audio stuttered and distorted a couple of times. But I also found that afterwards, the audio on my phone was kind of wonky. For example, the clicks on the calculator were not clicking except for the odd time, and really loudly. Once I killed the BP app, my sound returned to normal. It looks like the app needs to release the audio session when it is done with it.

Thanks for reporting about the sound being affected on other apps. We'll check it out.

The warbling and momentary sound dropouts are due to poor connectivity on the other end. If both users have a strong signal, the sound is generally very good. I see that you hooked up with Scott in Australia today. He normally has good connectivity, but today I'm guessing his wifi was poor; I also noted with him briefly today just before you did and his sound was dropping out for me too.

Yeah, the Scott thing. Didn't mention that but our session lasted 2 minutes and then suddenly quit. At least the session quit elegantly, immediately sounding the "done" chime, but I wonder if a few retries might be in order (if you have control over that).
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Buddha Pong Beta Testers! 24 Aug 2014 09:41 #95000

Kenneth Folk wrote:
Tom Otvos wrote:
Is there a discussion group for the app, or is this it?

I would like to know how to set my location. I notice some people's locations are set, while mine remains "location not set".

And boy, does it burn through battery!

This is it! Welcome to the discussion group! :D

In that case, I have made a new category under "Group Discussions" for Buddha Pong. Ideally, new issues/questions would be individual topics so that there is some depth and ease-of-reading, as opposed to tacking everything onto this single, soon-to-be-long topic.
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Buddha Pong Beta Testers! 24 Aug 2014 09:43 #95001

Kenneth Folk wrote:
For now, we have to set the location manually on the back end. Where should we say you are?

Mississauga, Canada
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Buddha Pong Beta Testers! 24 Aug 2014 09:45 #95002

Kenneth Folk wrote:
Tom Otvos wrote:
Is there a discussion group for the app, or is this it?

I would like to know how to set my location. I notice some people's locations are set, while mine remains "location not set".

And boy, does it burn through battery!

I'd love to get your input on how to make it more battery efficient, Tom, along with some of the other bugs and limitations. My latest fantasy is to post all the code on Github and make it an open source project so people can fix bugs or add features. We also have to build out some infrastructure on the back end so we don't have such high overhead. For now, we're using Parse, Firebase, and OpenTok. We'll probably continue to use OpenTok for the foreseeable future, but if we could get off of Parse and Firebase, we could save $300 to $400 a month in server fees even at the current level of usage. As we grow, that will go up, so we could save even more by doing more ourselves. I'd have to get the investors to agree to making it an open source project, so I'll see about that.

I would be happy to review the code and see if I can offer some suggestions. Whether you put it up on GitHub or BitLocker is up to you. You ought to be able to put it up into the cloud and simply make it private, or by invitation only. I consult on another project where they do just that, even to the point of just giving me read access. We can take that discussion offline via email, if you want to pursue it.
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Buddha Pong Beta Testers! 13 Sep 2014 22:42 #95137

I would be happy to review the code and see if I can offer some suggestions. Whether you put it up on GitHub or BitLocker is up to you. You ought to be able to put it up into the cloud and simply make it private, or by invitation only. I consult on another project where they do just that, even to the point of just giving me read access. We can take that discussion offline via email, if you want to pursue it.[/quote]

Thanks, Tom, this sounds great. I'll talk to David Mojdehi about this and see if we can make it happen.

I just posted a new thread on the DhO asking for more beta testers. We got a pretty good bump of new downloads from this post on AwakeNetwork, so I'm ratcheting up the announcements to see if I can get some more. The real bottleneck right now seems to be the lack of network effect; we don't have enough users on the network yet, so newcomers are often frustrated by their inability to get a noting partner the first time they try. It's a chicken and egg problem, because it's hard to retain new users when they are frustrated. We are growing the user base, though, and the number of regular users goes up gradually, so I'm hopeful that at some point we'll have critical mass and users can open the app just about anytime and find somebody on the other end to note with. At the point where we have that kind of critical mass at any time of day or night across time zones, maybe it will start to grow more quickly and more people will stay around long enough to give it a good try and hopefully get hooked. I believe in this practice so much that I hope everybody gets hooked!
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Buddha Pong Beta Testers! 27 Oct 2014 21:17 #95775

Hey, I was at the Science and NonDuality Conference talking to a guy who was talking about how he did self-inquiry aloud with a partner. They'd commit to an hour. The one would go for about 25 mins, with an optional debriefing for 5 mins after that session and then the other would go for 25 mins.
That's seems really intriguing. Anyone on AN, let me know if interested we can do this on skype or on the phone together.
Thanks

Cedric
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Buddha Pong Beta Testers! 28 Oct 2014 06:29 #95779

I and my Skype partner have been doing self-inquiry daily for several months now. The words I use are "what" as in "what is experiencing this", "where", "looking" and sometimes :"distracted". My partner developed a program that rings a bell every 8 minutes and then announces what we are going to do that segment.. It does like this: 1. bell, 4 foundations noting. 2.bell, variation of mahamudra where the choices are "accepting" when phenomena are the foreground, "listening" when the void is the foreground and "openness" when void and phenomena are both in the foreground. 3. bell, thoughts only with qualifiers such as "not useful". 4. bell, binary noting saying "imbedded" or "not" as in "not embedded". 5. bell, self inquiry. 6. bell, binary noting with "accepting" or "aversion". Here we are trying to get at deep aversion we might miss otherwise. This whole 6 part session is not our main practice but I have found it very useful.

I would be willing to do Skype noting with you just using self-inquiry. I am on CST. We do our regular Skype noting every day at 7:00 am so that time is out. My email is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Send me an email and we will work something out if you are interested.

jack
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Buddha Pong Beta Testers! 28 Oct 2014 06:31 #95780

Cedric, I forgot to add that we ping-pong throughout. One person would not be having the floor throughout which sounds like the person's technique that you talked to.

jack
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Buddha Pong Beta Testers! 04 Nov 2014 01:28 #95904

Thanks Jack. I just emailed you.

Cedric
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