Updates from May, 2008

  • Having Openoffice.org Impress not change slides when clicked

    May 27th, 2008

    I am currently designing semifunctional prototypes using OOo Impress, and found myself in with the challenge that while in full screen (in a slide show), I need Impress to react to only mouse clicks that hit a button or some other element.

    The normal behaviour, which is taken for granted of course is that when you click on a slide you go to the next one. There is no setting for this that I could find, but it is possible. I am using Impress 2.4:

    1. Draw a rectangle around the slide, covering all of the slide
    2. Right-click the rectangle, select Arrange => Send to back
    3. Right-click the rectangle, select Interaction…
    4. Select Action at mouse click: “Run program” and type /bin/ls for example, though this might only work on Linux “Go to page or object”  (no, “No action” won’t work), Select the current slide from the list (Update 2008-06-02: Having here something that can be the same for every slide allows you to paste the magic rectangle on all of the slides without having to change the action of the slide.)
    5. Type the name of something that will run but will not show or use much processor power, such as /bin/ls on linux.
    6. Click OK
    7. Set the background fill for the rectangle to “invisible”
    8. Done!

    I do admit this is an overkill, and OOo really should have the feature to just disable advancing the slide show for the entire show at once. However, it works. Do report to me if it doesn’t work for you, please. :)

    P.S. Once I get the prototype tested, I will publish it here next week, along with the test questions. It is, however, in Finnish (since my test persons are Finnish).

  • Interviews

    May 16th, 2008

    This was written May 16, 2008 but I am publishing here today, November 25th, 2008, for archival purposes even though it is desperately late.

    At first, I planned to have four contextual inquiries. Turns out though that since I am just starting, just having preliminary interviews might work better. Anyway, I had only reserved an hour per interviewee.

    Putting it all together was kind of scary, I haven’t done actual interviews before. luckily I had a “training interview” with Saila Ovaska, who also told me a lot about what to take into accoung (note taking facilities, audio recording).

    I am pretty much satisfied with the 4 interviews I had yesterday. They were not formal and the perceptions were quite general and probably incomplete, but nevertheless each of them gave me precious insight about the lifetime of a quiz and/or what electronic exams are about for different teachers. I recorded each of the one-hour sessions and it seems now that I will need to listen them through to at least keep my thinking process going.

    next, I will proceed with gathering all my current perceptions into another prototype just to keep things concrete. But the perceptions also need to be documented as such. For this I am using a document template, will need to make sure the one I have doesnt have a retricting licence. Why does this has to be a template, why can we not have all the info built as an app that would also work out all of the references?

  • Open source usability

    May 14th, 2008

    Someone working with KDE has a great open source usability blog, one of the things found was this bit about use cases and scenarios. Incidentally, this is just what I am currently working on.

    Also there: The #1 Problem in OSS Usability and What I’m Going to Do About It, which Antti Kaijanmäki, another Kesäkoder, told me about some weeks ago. Though it is sad, seeing that other open source projects suffer similar problems helps keep me from going nuts :). Slowly I am becoming convinced about the critical need we have for clearly documented knowledge about our users.

    Still, I guess the greatest challenge is to actually get the community thinking about users also from some other point of view than “I am the user so you should be listening to me about feature X”.

  • Plan & design

    May 2nd, 2008

    The discussion about the upcoming second prototype is heating up in the forums (alright alright, not that much yet :D). Otherwise, I have been contacting teachers, currently mostly from Haaga-Helia since they have been the most active, and trying to determine what to ask them once we get there next week.

    Yes, the first interviews have been scheduled plus a usability teacher from my university, Saila Ovaska, agreed to review my plans before that. Last week’s chat with Ivar Ekman, a fellow CS student at the uni, has proved fruitful, opening my eyes to a set of issues I will still need to address.

    I will probably post a new project plan at some point soon, too, taking into account that I have begun working on this already, contrary to the original plans.

    Somehow I wish the process was even more transparent than it is now. I am not sure how to do that. I was inspired by Nielsen’s Guerilla HCI. How low could we take the barrier to usability work?

    I feel that for me, learning about what to do in a project like this has been hard enough and I am still trying to learn more: having a concrete example about how a project like this should proceed, I dream, might help others to get a grip of practical open source usability. I would like to publish the interview material here, but the problem is that if my interviewees see the material beforehand, will it affect the actual interviews?

    UPDATE: I am excited about the other discussion I found just now that is gaining momentum in the forums! This will be good :).

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