pcDuino Crowdsource Kiosk

Contributors: Nick Poole
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Field Testing

The kiosk was strategically placed in a high traffic area of the building: The break room. With any luck, some portion of the people who dropped in for a frosty evening beverage would also be in the mood for a chocolate treat. I found an open outlet and placed the kiosk against a wall, started up my Python script and then walked away.

I decided that a quiet launch was the way to go, just let people discover it. That turned out to be perfect because just enough people messed with it for me to discover what needed to be tweaked. First of all, the screensaver was kicking in after 5 minutes and making people think it was turned off. After correcting that issue, I started noticing that the screen would be left at the composer form. They were so close to candy, what happened? I asked around and it turned out that one of two things was happening: Either they were entering too many characters into the form, getting an error message and returning to the composer to find their work erased OR they were actually making it to the candy screen, getting their candy and being inexplicably dumped back into the composer.

It took some fiddling to figure out what was going on and, to be honest, I'm not sure I have it entirely figured out. It's amazing how far off the beaten path people can get when they don't have the same top-down view of the program flow as you do. There are failure modes that you could never come up with yourself hiding just off that path. Often, the best way to test something is to just let people play with it.

I made a few software tweaks and then set it loose again. This time, things seemed to be going well, so I sent out a group e-mail informing people that the kiosk was just waiting to hand out delicious prizes in exchange for short work. I did end up getting some ad copy out of this exercise, but I also got a lot of junk and even the evidence of some clever exploit attempts...