Using the tablet as a tester


Tablet PCs are just great.  I did not ever want a notebook of any sort for work since I hate being in meetings and seeing people spend time answering email rather than paying attention to the meeting.  I never wanted to be one of “those” people.

 


True story: I had a meeting with my (former) manager once and he stopped mid sentence while talking with me to start typing and answer email. 


 


My new manager made it a point to order me a tablet when I transferred from Outlook to OneNote.  I resisted using it until he showed me that rotating the screen and folding it flat makes it more like a sheet of paper in front of me in meetings.  This clicked – now I can meet with people, they can see my screen (since it’s in my lap – they will know I’m not answering mail or anything like that) and I can stay focused on the topic at hand.


 


That was great, but only for a few months.  I still do not like carrying a laptop around, and while our “inking” is very, very good, paper is slightly easier for me to use.  So now I have a habit of taking notes in meetings on paper, and transferring to OneNote afterwards.  One advantage I discovered to this is I have more time and inclination to enter complete notes, rather than being left with only the notes I took during the meeting.  Thinking back to college, this process is similar: take a rough outline in class, and fill in the details when copying and cleaning the notes later.  I’m currently taking my tablet to about 75% of my meetings, and using paper for the rest.


 


The challenge for me as a tester is this: use my own experiences of working with a tablet in meetings, in person, while traveling, etc… to modify test plans.  An obvious example of this is getting to all the editing functionality of OneNote while in tablet mode.  I don’t want to sign off on a new feature which cannot be accessed with only keyboard shortcuts, for instance.  Pen users would be out of luck.  A less obvious case would be verification of drawing page information if the screen changes orientation while the drawing is happening.  Complicated images on a slow machine could take a long amount of time (here, “long” may be more than a quarter second), but that is long enough for a user in a meeting to rotate a screen.  


 


A secondary challenge is to figure out why a tablet won’t work in some situations, and help discover if there is something we can do in OneNote to overcome whatever barrier I encounter. 


 


Questions, comments, criticisms and concerns always welcome,


John


Comments (3)

  1. "I still do not like carrying a laptop around"

    Have you tried using a pure slate for note taking.  I would expect Microsoft could afford to let you carry one around for a while.

    What TPC are you using?  Is weight the issue?

    I started using a TPC a little over two years ago (I’m on my second one) and have thought several times that there are moments when a keyboardless pure slate TPC would be really nice.  It would be lighter and easier to tote around for those times when pen input is most convenient.

  2. JohnGuin says:

    No, it wasn’t the weight problem (up to 6 pounds is OK for me).  I just did not (and still do not) conceptually like carrying a notebook.  My thought is if I need to go to a meeting, I am needed at the meeting to pay attention to what is being said and contribute – computers typically detract people from doing that.  

    Tablets are pretty light compared to notebooks anyway, since the screen size is usually smaller and results in a lighter machine.  My Lenovo was a great size – too bad the hardware made the machine too flaky to use.   The new Gateway has a 14 inch screen (huge for tablets) but weighs more.  

    The big advantage to me of pen input occurs in face to face meetings.  It results in a more personal meeting – there is no sound of keys being pressed, it feels more like paper and lets me focus on the person instead of the computer and conceptually prevents the "wall" of a notebook screen from being erected between me and the other person.

    We have slate style tablets (and UMPCs) to use for testing.  For "dogfooding," though, we all have the convertable style of tablet so the keyboard is always available.  Not all apps are as tablet friendly as OneNote… Plus, by rotating the screen, we have all the functionality of a slate.

    John

  3. Seth says:

    I’ve seen a "digital pen" (Logitech) that stores the keystrokes as you write.  I believe you have to use their paper, though, because it tracks the handwriting with an optical sensor that looks for their dots.  You download the strokes from the pen with a dock.  Haven’t tried it myself yet, but if ON could download the saved strokes, this would give you an alternative for those "people" times.    This seems to me to be the best of both worlds.

    I would hope this technology graduates to a laser technology, like the mice, so you could write on any paper.