Observing, Recording, and Sharing Usability Studies on Mobile Apps

When doing usability studies on websites or Windows or OSX applications, it’s easy to see what’s going on on-screen since you can just split the video signal to a display in another room and into some recording equipment. However, when doing usability studies on mobile apps, it can even be hard for the moderator to see what’s going on, since mobile device screens are relatively small and participants have a propensity to move them around as they perform their tasks.

For our latest mobile app project, I decided to get creative about how we record and allow remote observers for our sessions. We don’t have a big hardware or software budget for usability equipment, plus, I’m thrifty. 🙂

I put together a pretty reasonable workflow that worked really well this past week.
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Travel Tip: Food on the plane

Here’s a quick tip to have some decent food on the plane that’s not nasty. Stop by a Starbucks and get the oatmeal w/o the water. They give you everything to make it yourself on the plane. Just ask the flight attendant to add some water when they come by with the drinks cart. There’s always hot water for tea. No need to “beef up” on JetBlue.


Lark Up! – Day 1

What Is It?

Lark is a sleep monitor / alarm clock device hardware device and iPhone app combination. The hardware is a small bluetooth pod that you wear on a wristband while you sleep and a combination phone dock / Lark pod charging station. They also include a dock which holds your iPhone and has charging ports for both the the Lark and a USB port.  While there is only an iPhone app at the moment, the USB port could be used to charge any smart phone.

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Hi Lo vs Whole Foods: Fight!

So, there’s been a huge discussion going on online about the Hi Lo, a latin american-focused grocery store in Jamaica Plain, MA, closing and being replaced by a Whole Foods. Hi Lo has been in business for about 50 years and has decided to close. They’re not being forced out but are closing by choice. They’ve decided to lease their store to Whole Foods.

The basics of SageTV

If you want to use a computer you own as a DVR, there are a few things that you’ll need and a few things that you have to decide or think about. While setting up a SageTV system is complicated, it’s mostly due to the complexities of computer hardware and networking. SageTV itself is fairly easy. I describe what SageTV is and how it works, some questions to consider when planning your installation, required software and hardware, and detail out various configuration options. If you’re not very familiar with DVRs and the current crop of options, take a look at my previous article.

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DVR history and your options

Digital Video Recorders (DVR) are also called Personal Video Recorders (PVR) and the two names can be used interchangeably. I currently use SageTV Media Center which I have installed on a server computer in my basement. They are effectively digital VCRs, but can have many other features, like:

  • multi-room access
  • music, photo, and video playback
  • access to online content like Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, or Youtube
  • many hours of video recording
  • the ability to record more than one show at a time.

They’re great, and I suggest you get one.

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