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CS401 Learning and Progress Home Stretch

Well there is just one more class Session before the semester ends.  Unfortunately we still don’t have a fully working program.  There is a possibility that work will need to continue during the summer.  Some students who will still be around have volunteered to continue working on it.  I as well volunteered for this, although I wouldn’t be much help with the coding side (not having as much experience with it as others) I offered to continue testing and helping with any Kiosk Pro issues that come up.

The good news is that Most of the individual pieces are working well, problems left are minor and mostly just polishing.  Once everything is integrated it will need testing to make sure that process didn’t mess anything up.

On Monday the programmed was reviewed, even if in pieces by WAM, I helped to explain some of the program and each group talked and did a demo of their own part of it.  I took notes on all the changes that they wanted in case anyone needed a reminder later on.  Most of these changes were cosmetic in nature and not to difficult to do according to the teams.

So far as I can tell this week no changes have been made to the code on the server for any section.  So I was unable to do any testing.  I was able to put together a simple word document instructions for setting up the other iPads. This should make things easier for WAM and also help reset things properly if the settings are ever somehow changed or corrupted.

For Next week will do testing on Tuesday (the last day of classes before Final Exam week).  In my blog I will list any remaining problems I have found in my testing as well as any issues from WAM that have not been finished.  I will also send that list out by e-mail to the group so that if for whatever reason I am not assisting in the completion of the program, those that are will have the most up to date list of needed fixes.

CS401 Learning and Progress Further testing

The development server is back online.  Though the newest versions of slide show and coloring program are not up on it.  So I have mostly done testing on what people have in their User Directories.  Unfortunately there has been less progress these last two weeks then normal.  At least as far as testable features go.

The articles page was found to have some troubles, with the highlighted text and bottom of the page.  The team is working on these and confident the problems can be fixed.

There was some problems in the coloring app when it received fast inputs but that has been corrected now.

With the slide show there is a problem that when an image is expanded changing the image doesn’t get rid of the expanded image and just puts the new image behind it.  The team is still working on a fix for this.

Otherwise the program is responding well to testing.

I will be working on my Instruction Slide show next week.  My plan to test the local content and update has been delayed.  I have decided to make it a good test I really need to test it with the full program.  For this I need to wait till we have a fully updated copy all put together.  I am hopping that we will have this next week.  Doing the test this way will make sure that there is no trouble with the amount of data or updating a complicated program.

CS401 Learning and Progress Stress Testing

This week I tested not only the new code in the program, to include new puzzle and coloring activities, but I also did a stress test for all the current code.  This including things like rapidly pressing the given buttons and menus, quick swiping, swiping several directions at once, and similar tests to see if I could get the program to crash or stop working properly.

Overall it turned out very well, actually better then I had expected.  I found only one error that made the program unusable, and even with that the idle timer reset still worked and returned the program to the home page and worked fine.  That error like several others I encountered I was not able to duplicate despite spending significant time trying.  Such a problem will rarely if ever happen in normal use so doesn’t seem to be anything to be concerned about.

All other areas of the program worked out well and dealt with the testing well, except for the coloring program.  Testing the newest update on the server ran into trouble that even without doing the stress testing and just normal testing it was running into errors.  The menus coming up when they shouldn’t, the picture blanking out and more.  One problem found was the menus would flicker and be unable to close.  This would last several seconds and longer if the menu was clicked while it was happening.  Though I found out that this problem and most of the picture blanking was due to using the zoom feature and when testing the program with the zoom disabled it did do better.

If zooming is not needed anywhere on our program then we might want to disable it completely, some of the other errors or weaknesses I found were related to zooming as well.  This next week should be able to get some more testing in as well as start getting together my power point instruction slide.  I can’t finish it yet but I can start putting it together.  I will also find out what, if any, settings I need the WAM’s input on before they can be set.  

CS401 Learning and Progress iPad testing

I missed some blog posts, due to midterms and other distractions.  So this post will include information from the missed blogs as well as the current one this week.

First having nothing more to research for the group I joined the testing group to go over what other people were doing looking for any bugs, errors, or ideas I thought that could be useful.  My main goal was to be doing the testing on the iPad to make sure it worked, did what it was supposed to, and that there wasn’t any compatibility problems.  The first week on testing was slow, few things were ready for testing and those that had something it wasn’t complete so hard to do much.  The second week was a bit better but still not as progressive as I would like.  I came up with some suggestions but It was a question if any were viable.

This week, after a lot of delays was able to work on the iPad and make a lot of progress there.  Below is a detailed account but in short, there was some good and some not as good in my work.  The good, is the Kiosk Pro does seem to really deliver on it’s promises, also there is a lot of helpful information on the settings screen, and even links to online tutorials.  I’ll be going over some of these during the vacation break next week.  I believe that Kiosk Pro will work just fine as believed and there were some features that we might be able to use to cut down on the needed coding.

The bad, some of the features don’t work when I tested them.  Though I found out for the most part it seems to be the iPad not Kiosk pro in general, as the same errors came up when I viewed the project just in a regular browser.  The coloring and puzzle apps were the primary area this came into play (Details below).  So after finishing this blog post I’ll be sending out an e-mail to list with my findings so that people can start thinking about the new problems that have come up.  I’ll also be including a quick guide how to get into the Kiosk Pro to do the testing there.

Some questions also came up, features we may or may not use, and setting choices that will need WAM input (not a big rush on these as they don’t really need to be resolved until the iPads are ready to be set up).  As these items get resolved and I am able to get more of the settings on the iPad ready I will likely put together an easy to follow step by step guide on configuring the settings of Kiosk Pro, both in general and specifically to work with the kiosks and our program.  This way if WAM wishes to add more in the future or something needs to be changed but Tim is not around there will be an easy step by step to follow.

iPad Testing specifics

Note: I’ve split up the things I found into sections per what part they pertain to.  So if you just want to see the notes on your groups sections then you can look for it.  Also take a look at the general items as well as some may pertain to your group.  I’ll continue to use this format as I make future updates.

Overall Program: Partially Working

The ‘home’ link at the top right of the homepage, article page and slideshow does not work as a link, and on the iPad the house image shows up as a check mark instead.  This seems to be an issue with the new iPads as older ones still show the house image.

For all pages, had to use the Kiosk Pro built in back button to get back to the home page, as the pages either don’t have a working button, or none at all.

Touch control worked fine on all pages, was able to scroll and zoom without any troubles.

There is an idle timer set that will return to the home page if it is idle for 30seconds (This time is for testing purposes and can be changed later to whatever is decided would be best).  If there is a point that we don’t want the idle timer to activate, there is code for supplying a condition that will shut off the idle timer.  The code is below.

Function KioskShouldDisableTimer() {

            var shouldSkipAction = “NO”;

            if(someCondition) {

                        shouldSkipAction = “YES”;

            }

            return shouldSkipAction;

}

This is all the information it gives, but if there are problems I can help trying to figure out how to use this properly.  There is a demo on using this that I will be viewing over vacation or next week.

I looked at all the pages in both Portrait and landscape mode.  None of the pages seemed really squished in landscape, and the homepage does not work in portrait.   The messages and buttons within the boxes are not shown so you can’t navigate at all.

 

HOME PAGE: Working

The only issue currently for the homepage is that it is a bit to long, had to actually scroll down to see the entire page.  At the moment doesn’t matter as there is nothing on the navigation boxes, but as that changes it might not look good to have to scroll down to see.  I don’t know that it is possible to shrink the page, but if we just avoid using the bottom it would have the same effect.

 

Article: Working

When scrolling on the page, the images on the left don’t update until the scrolling action stops.  This isn’t a major issue and it is possible there isn’t a way to really change this as it may well be part of the iPad programming.

When I used the zoom feature to look at the text closer, the image box stayed partially on the screen blocking some of the text that the customer would be trying to read.  I’m not sure on a solution for this.

Besides the issues up above, all the buttons worked and the image box did change with that section reached the top of the screen.  I had no trouble scrolling through the images in the box on the left, or using the buttons in the text section.

 

Slideshow: Not working

The issues here I believe are all ones that are just in the works and not to do with the iPad in specific.

When the pictures are clicked get a blank page with ‘undefined’ at the top left.

have thumbnails of the pictures at the bottom which can be scrolled through, but top of the screen is blank so far.

 

Puzzle App: Not working – error

While it works on other systems, on the iPad (through kiosk pro or directly in browser) can’t select the puzzle pieces at all.  The shuffle button works find and the pieces are the correct puzzle shaped pieces but can’t move them around.

The example image takes up only a small portion of the screen at the top left, with the pieces scattered across the top half of the screen.  they actually go to the right enough that scrolling is needed to see all of them.  The bottom portion of the screen is completely unused.  Not major issues but something that right now gives a poor look to the app.

 

Coloring: Not working – error

Like the puzzle app there is a problem on the iPad (in kiosk pro or just in browser) that you can’t actually color the picture.  all other buttons and scrolling works just the coloring action doesn’t work.

When I go into the color select menu and select a color it closes the menu automatically, this is good I think.  However, the brush size menu, when a brush size is picked the menu doesn’t close, you have to click on the brush size menu button again to get it to close.

 

Screensaver: Not implemented yet

Some information, if we decided to use the built in video screensaver.

The iPad screen is a 4:3 aspect ratio, so to be true full screen the video will need to be the same.  If not Kiosk Pro will get it as close as possible and should fill in the rest of the screen not used with black.

It supports .mp4 and .mov as well as remote streaming video (.m3u8 format)

 

These are all my notes for the groups so far.  If there are any questions let me know and if any of the teams have something specific they want me to test for or want/need help in testing their stuff let me know.

 

General Questions

Kiosk Pro has it’s own navigation bar that can be customized, this might be usable but likely we will want to disable this once we have our own added.  As if we used this feature, and WAM released the program openly after the display of the statues, there would be no navigation buttons.

WAM needs to get screen protectors for the iPads, for now I’m going to bring in one of my touch screen cleaning cloths to keep it looking good while we have it.

I will be looking more into the local file information to make sure there will be no trouble backing up our program locally on the iPad to be used when there is no internet connection

I will also be looking into the Remote Monitoring features to be able to give a good explanation of how they work to WAM.

While I’ll be doing some things over the vacation time I likely will not make a blog post, so what I get done will be on the next week’s blog post.

CS401 Learning and Progress Second Task cont.

This week I continued to try and get more information on Guided Access and Kiosk Pro. Contact people at Apple and other places that use iPad kiosks.  Unfortunately for the most part all I learned is that there is a lot more unhelpful and/or computer illiterate people out there then I had thought.

All in all I did not get any useful information.  The people at apple could not give any useful advice, if I asked them about the product they pretty much just read me to advertisement or online summery of the program verbatim.  and when asking for opinion I got either no answer or just directed to look at their online site and pick what would work best for me.

Talking with places with kiosks did little good.  I found most either uninterested in answering my questions or they simple didn’t know the answer.  Seems one common approach is to hire someone else to set them up and never ask how they work or look at them again unless they shut down.. and then they just go out and hire people to get them working again.  So without any good reactions or suggestions from else where it is left up to WAM on if they want the free option of guided access or the features that kiosk pro provides.

Assuming that this snow storm doesn’t get any worse and we do have class tomorrow I am hoping that we might be able to get an answer to this question in class.  If class is canceled I will ask the professor if I should ask our contact at WAM which would be preferred or if we should put the question off till later.  I don’t think it will greatly effect our project at this time which is decided.  Not till the later stages should it have a big effect, though it would be nice to start testing out whichever method is chosen.

CS401 Learning and Progress Second Task

My post is late this week due to several unfortunate circumstances and some poor timing on my own part.  This also prevented me from joining in at the irc chat meeting this week on Monday.

For my research, first found that there is no issue with the sleep mode on iPad as it can be disabled through normal settings.  So my time this week was spent searching for alternatives to kiosk pro that would allow us to make our program into an app instead of leaving it as a website.  I found that the only free and effective alternative is actually already built into ios6.  It’s called Guided Access.

It was designed more to help those with learning disabilities stay focused on task but it will work for what we need if very minimally.  It doesn’t disabled the hardware buttons as well as Kiosk Pro but with a kiosk enclosure that is not an issue.  It will keep the currently running app from being closed, and it can be used to disable certain parts of the touch screen.  So if menus or address bar can’t be removed they can be made unusable.

The down part is that this is all that guided access does.  It has no other functionality to it.  It is really just additional settings on the iPad itself.  So on the good side is that it will give us the minimum of what we need to have the kiosk stations and it allows us to use our program as an app.

The downside from a customer point is that it does not revert to the main page if idle, so new customers will find the app at where ever the last person left it.  I am unsure if this can be resolved through our own code or not.  From the clients view it doesn’t have any of the convenience functions.  The settings can’t be changed remotely, updates will have to be done to each iPad individually.  And the guided access doesn’t save settings so each time it is turned off or closed down, the settings will have to be redone.  There is no power saving options so they will have to keep them on all the time or shut them down manually each night and set them back up in the morning.

So Guided access will work but it will also be more work to run.  Depending on WAM’s plans on how to use it these drawbacks may be minor and acceptable.  Still while I could not find anything else that looked good for what we need I’m not ready to say these are the only two options.  I plan this week to find and call up some other museums and similar locations that have iPad kiosks and ask what they have used and any problems they have run into.  I will also contact people at Apple to ask them for better information on Guided Access and if they have suggestions on alternatives.

CS401 Learning and Progress First Task

This week’s meeting had us learning more specifics about the design and requirements for the project.  Also discussion on several issues.  It was decided that we will from the start plan on having this program be reusable for the museum.  It will be much easier to switch away from such a design if it is found unusable than trying to modify a one use program into reusable after all the code has been done.

We came up with a list of tasks and teams were chosen to work on each one.  The code we are doing now is more to get a feel for what is possible and not code to go into the final project.  So all the groups more or less testing the waters right now and seeing what we can do and hopefully some concept on how long things will take.

My task for this week was to do some research into two programs that we planned to use in this project.  The first being kiosk pro and the second being phonegap.  To see what their features are, what if any limitations they have, and finally if there was any cost or licensing issues with them.  I also spent time looking into possible alternatives for each if needed.

Kiosk Pro, I found that this program had all the functionality needed for the museum.  It is designed to work with HTML, CSS, and Javascript coding.  After a set idle time it will go back to it’s set homepage, it blocks all internet sites except for allowed domains (so even if they got to and address bar they wouldn’t be able to get anywhere), blocks use of hardware options(the home button), toggle off sleep/auto lock mode, show or hide address bar, navigation bar, and status bar.  This can all be done by their free version.

There is however two levels of paid versions.  The first at just $5 per iPad gives the likely needed capability to store files locally that it can seamlessly shift to if there is a loss of internet.  Also allows for settings of the program to be changed remotely and the app will send an e-mail if the kiosk looses connection to it’s power source and starts using battery power.  For the local files I would say this is likely the minimal needed for the project.

The third option is their Kiosk Pro Plus, at $40 per iPad it is significantly more expensive but does add some nice features to the app.  First it has power saving options, such as dimming on the home screen and the ability to have set times for the iPad to sleep and wake.  This would avoid the need to go in and turn on/off the iPads every day. as they can be set to not be active when the museum is closed.  Also this version has the ability to update and change of local content.  This means with this version once set the museum would have no real need to remove the iPads from their kiosk inclosures unless they needed actual maintenance or repair.

The negatives about Kiosk pro I don’t believe are very high but some that may or may not cause problems.  One is that for best usage it will require some money, though cost is minimal and a one time purchase cost.  Also I found that the program does not work with Flash, so we would have to avoid using Flash in any of the activities.  Finally, is that it can’t run other apps of any kind.  So we would not be using Phonegap to convert our coding.  This app is designed to work with websites.

Searching for alternatives to Kiosk Pro took a lot of time, mostly because there aren’t any.  There are other kiosk apps yes, but they either do not have near the functionality or they cost considerably more.  Most opinion online is that this is the best program, especially at our level of need.  If one of the drawbacks can’t be tolerated more research will need to be done to see which of these will give us at least basic functionality.

I did research on Phonegap still though not as extensive.  I found that it is free to use and there should be no licensing issues for our project.  Consensus seems to be this is the superior free program for what we need.  There were some worries about fees or limitations but I found these only applied to the version of phonegap that works with the Cloud.  If we were to do a conversion this does seem to be the program to go with.

My personal suggestion would be to use the Kiosk pro and leave the code as website.  The cost is minimal and purchase not monthly, and the functionality with the kiosk program is needed for what the museum wants.  I would also think that at least once we start working on definite code we will want at least one iPad to be loaded with the program so that the code can be tested as we go.  While I did not find any indications official or through comments of other restrictions, it would be best to test as we go instead of risking a large chunk of code being found unusable at the end of the project.

Unfortunately due to blizzard conditions the college will not be open for class tomorrow, and the following monday is a holiday.  The class will try to meet tomorrow through irc, hopefully this will lesson the impact this delay will have on our time table.