I am back in the office after a 10 day ethnographic research trip. The schedule was crazy! To fully understand the “24 hour freight life-cycle”, I had to observe shifts around the clock. When I was in my 20s I worked as a casual for the IATSE Local 578 loading in, running, and loading out rock and roll shows in the WVU coliseum. That, too, was a 24 hour circle of life — but I was in my thirties!
1. Flip Video Camera: I love my Flip better than any spendy camera I have used. It’s small and unbreakable : I’ve dropped it twenty times on concrete and it still keeps on going. It’s is also plug and play. I keep a private YouTube account where I immediately upload and make notes and can share those videos back with my team.
The main thing I love about this camera, is that it is so unobtrusive; people forget they are being filmed. It’s just point and click. I can hold it casually in my hands or set it on a counter and we are good to go.
2. Pulse Smart Pen: This pen is freaking magic! I don’t even know what I ever did without this thing. I have a small little black notebook that looks like a moleskine — but it has teeny magic dots that are read by a camera in the pen. I can record all of my notes digitally, plus get voice recording along with what I write — I got really creative about using symbols to capture notes, so I could make eye-contact and do better prompting during interviews. I didn’t have to bury my face in my notebook. As a practice, after every shift, I would upload my pen notes to my Mac and turn them into text that I’d augment while listening to the recorded voice transcript. I emailed those notes to myself and back to my team periodically. This is a lifesaver now as I am needing to start reporting out.
I also used the pen to do participatory UI sketching with users. This will be a whole ‘nother post. IT ROCKED!!
3. Blackberry Curve: I love my Blackberry. I took pictures and emailed them to my gmail account. Every time I collected a paper artifact, I’d snap a picture and MMS it with a reference note to myself. Now that I am combing through a pile of paperwork trying to figure out where everything has come from I have help. I also kept my gmail account hopping with frequent notes updated to myself when I was away from the computer. IMHO, the blackberry keyboard wins hands down of any I have used on a mobile device. That being said, my little pink curve died on the road, and I just got my new every 2 Motorola Droid from Verizon. I have to say, love the apps. HATE the keyboard so far.
5. Garmin Nuvi: Perhaps this little guy will be replaced by the fancy new Droid Google Map feature on my next trip. I have trust issues with connectivity though. My Garmin got me from Baltimore to Seaford Delaware, to Arlington, VA, to Hagerstown MD, to Allentown PA, and Newark NJ without a hitch. I love the way she talks to me.
AND a few non-gadgets of note.
6. Balsamiq Mockups: (on my MacBook) Invaluable for doing participatory sketching with users and sending back click throughs to the team. I will be demonstrating this at UX Show and Tell PDX on March 30.
7. Safety Shoes: These are not gadgets. I owe my comfort and sense of well-being to my Hytest shoes. Arch support – check. Steel Toes – check, Padding – check, Oil Resistant tread – check. And, they were slip-ons. I breezed through airport security.
I will be posting more about this trip. For an in-person report out, join me at UX Show and Tell PDX on March 30