måndag 16 mars 2009

The table is here!

Finally the table is in our hands. It was some time ago that the table arrived but I haven’t had time to write anything about it so far. The table was delivered by UPS and they deliver thru the first door of the house. After that it is you own responsibility to move it to the desired location. There is a Site Readiness Guide and I really recommend reading it carefully, specially the parts about Surface Dimensions and Weight. The shipping crate that the unit comes in is huge! I had just assumed that it would arrive on a pallet of standard size but the pallet was wider and didn’t go thru the door. So I had to unpack the Surface unit outside our office and carry it with bare hands. Well not alone since the table weights almost 90 kg.

Our setup consists of a wall mounted flat screen monitor as a primary display and a Logitech DiNovo Edge Bluetooth keyboard with integrated touchpad for input. I have also set up Live Mesh to simplify deployment of applications that don’t need an installer but more on that on another post.

Setting up the table was really easy thanks to the great video on the community site where Greg Swanson and David Nichols unpacks and installs a unit. The video can be found under Training Videos in the downloads-section and is named “Installing a Surface Unit”. When you have placed an order, make sure to ask for access to the Surface community via the Surface Business Desk!
At first I was struggling a bit to be able to set up the primary and secondary monitors correctly. I tried to use my normal plug-in-an-external-monitor-to-Windows-Vista-skills but didn’t realize that there is a shortcut to an application to set up the monitors on the desktop. With that in hand the set up was really easy.

After setting up the monitors, the administrators account, installing antivirus and hooking the unit to our domain it was time to start the Surface Shell. Excited to try our own unit for the first time I forgot to start Surface Input with the result that nothing happened when interacting with the Surface. Then I remembered Dr. Neil saying “There is nothing wrong with the table. Just start Surface Input first.” Surface Input is started by a shortcut on the desktop and starts an application that activates the cameras and makes the unit ready for input.

The last two days the unit has been placed in the reception during some events that we have had with customers and the response is massive. People love it! One thing that I have noticed is that it is really interesting to observe new users from a distance. See what they do and how they try to interact with the applications. A lot try to double click and if they don’t receive feedback on interaction right away they start to touch all over the place. One of our developers has built an application that reads image libraries from our Intranet based on SharePoint. It uses the classic folder metaphor and when a user sees a folder they have to double click! But in this application one click on a folder loads the pictures and the next click on the same folder hides the pictures. So by observing users you can learn a lot! This is of course nothing new but became really obvious when they are not only interacting with a new application but also with a new type of interface.

Now the unit is going back to the developer cave again and that feels good. It is impossible to sit in a public area and develop and test applications.

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