Right justified

March 18 2007

In preparing for my visit to Israel, I had a meeting last week with John Beck, the program director for Notes/Domino release management.  I asked John to give me the short course in localization issues for the Israeli market.  We talked about Hebrew translations and "bi-di" (bi-directional) language support.  The talk and follow-up with John was immensely helpful, but I missed something.  Until I walked into the conference room during a customer visit in Jerusalem today, I had never seen the Hebrew version of Notes.  And while I've known for most of my life that Hebrew is read from right to left, it still was a cognitive dissonance moment when presented with a mirror image Notes 7 client.  The folders were on the right side, the tabs ran from right to left...even the "X" to close window tabs was on the left.

I can't find a screen shot online today, but I'll be sure to grab one tomorrow.  Still, you probably get the idea.

The other thing that threw me off -- during what was a very very cool demonstration of a major in-house Notes application -- was that I found myself searching for the familiar.  The interface was 99% in Hebrew, but it was "my" product...I was just having a hard time recognizing things.  Did I mention that I can't read Hebrew without the vowel marks?  About the only word I actually recognized, other than proper names, was ספר,  (Sefer) the Hebrew word for "book" -- as in "name and address book".  Even that threw me off, since my most frequent encounter with <<ספר>> over the last many years is in the context of ספר תורה , or "book of the Torah".  So seeing it in the everyday usage was new to me.

Other notes from today:
  • Lunch was a fantastic mix of everything Middle Eastern at an Arab restaurant called "Abu Ghosh".  The hummus was, as promised, excellent.  It was finished off with the traditional Arab mint tea, too, which was quite refreshing.  The linked article, by the way, answers many of the questions I had during this lunch -- Arabs living in Israel, speaking Hebrew and welcoming all?  I knew there were Arab areas within Israel, but wanted to know much more.
  • Driving to Jerusalem, we passed a beautiful town called Modi'in, built in the rolling hills.  Modi'in is one of the few Israeli towns that has all utilities buried underground -- a contrast from the older areas of Tel Aviv I saw yesterday.
  • Israel used to be the only country in the world where IBM was written in the local language (as יבם).  However, last year, IBM Israel began using the familiar eight-bar logo.
  • It would be really, really really dangerous for my waistline if Max Brenner comes to Chicago.  So far, their only US presence is in New York.  Max, please keep it that way.  Between last year's trip to Australia and tonight's dinner, wow -- the best.

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