Testing in Virtual Reality (VR) is already quite challenging because VR in the mainstream is still new.
I have tested VR applications for the last two years on a number of devices. I can undoubtedly say that taking a screenshot of your issue is 10 times more effective in relaying your issue to developers than writing reproduction steps. It’s just like that old saying, “a picture is worth a 1000 words”.
Before knowing how to take screenshots within VR on devices like the HTC Vive or Oculus Rift, (or when a particular version of SteamVR just makes this function obsolete) this task wasn’t easy. I had to resort to positioning myself close enough to the machine running the application so I could press the print screen button on your keyboard. But, I also had to be in a good position and direction in VR to accurately capture the problem I was highlighting. Let me tell you, there was a lot of awkward stretching or using random office objects as props involved.
Then, another QA discovered the ability to take screenshots in VR from within the device! My life changed (no, I don’t think this is too bold a statement).
Now, while testing applications on the Vive, we were always pressing weird combinations of buttons to find bugs so that the developers could fix these issues. So, when she told me I had to hold down some buttons, I couldn’t understand why this never worked before. Then, she mentioned a key bit of information, Steam had to be open.
Since learning this, I’ve discovered ways to take screenshots in VR across all the devices I test on. And, I’d like to share this knowledge, if only to make your day-to-day testing activities in VR easier.
This guide is applicable to the following devices:
In Windows Explorer, go to C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\userdata\XXXXXX\YYY\remote\ZZZZZZ\screenshots
Taking Screenshots on an Oculus Rift
Taking a Screenshot
Open the Steam Client
Go into a VR session
Pull the trigger on the left controller
Press the Oculus button
Getting the screenshot
In Windows Explorer, go to C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\userdata\XXXXXX\YYY\remote\ZZZZZZ\screenshots
Note: Unfortunately, the location of the screenshots are a bit fiddly when using the Vive and Oculus. The screenshots seem to go to directories with random numbers assigned to them. So you’ll have to do a little trial and error to get to the correct one. I recommend once you find the correct folder, that you pin the location to File Explorer on the Taskbar.
Taking Screenshots on a Samsung Odyssey
Taking a Screenshot
Open the Steam Client
Go into a VR session
Press the Home button
Pull the trigger to select the camera icon
Pull the trigger to take a screenshot (press the Home button again to close the Screenshots mode)
Getting the screenshot
In Windows Explorer, go to C:\Users\<username>\Pictures\Camera Roll (so much easier!)
Make Your Life Easier And Take A Screenshot
The ability to take screenshots easily when testing on any platform is essential. Testing in VR is already quite challenging because it’s so new. Being able to take screenshots, knowing how to perform the action, and being able to collect your images from the device are some of the most useful things you could have when testing in VR.
This year I was asked to write the 2018 Gift Guide for Programmers. While in my day job I’m not a programmer, I do consider myself a developer, I’m pretty versed in most things tech and I’m exposed to cutting edge technology on a daily basis. Plus my main circle of friends and associates frequently discuss new waves in tech. So I thought, “Why not me”.
So here’s what I think would bring a smile to the face of that programmer or developer/tech lover in your life.
A gift for the lovers of frontend and those that are backend but are secretly love css too.
I feel that this mug brings out a marmite response in people. They will either massively agree, or be offended. This gift is perfect for those that are frontend and proud of it. And you never know, it may provide some subliminal messaging to those who aren’t too fond of CSS to eventually sway them to love it.
I’ve recently decided to go with a single monitor arm because my desk is tiny and my monitor is pretty much the same length as the table. So if I raise it off the table, at least I can utilise the space under the monitor for books and stationary. Plus I think it’ll look much more put together.
This inexpensive monitor arm is strong, easy to manipulate into your preferred position on your desk but it’s also extremely sturdy once moved.
The monitor can be tilted forward and backwards and rotated from a horizontal to a vertical position.
I’m loving my new monitor stand and I think you or your tech partner will be very happy with this.
Although written a while ago, clean choice imparts principles that everyone in a technical role should try and adhere to and utilise. The intention is to create code that is maintainable, readable and easily extendable. These principles I find are not only useful for those that consider themselves traditional programmers but also those in QA that have technical roles. The benefits of applying these principles to your code will also positivity impact those that only read the codebase too as they will find the code easier to understand and follow. A benefit to all the team.
While Clean Code was written with Java examples, I’ve found that (if you have a good understanding of the basics of programming languages) the examples are easy enough to follow.
It’s a decent sized book, and a lot of technical knowledge is impart, so it’s not a short read, but the wealth of information will last you a lifetime.
I was made aware by this piece of apparel via Instagram from the feed of Adrienne Tacke. At first I couldn’t make out the code on the skirt, it just looked like a simple small pattern. That’s what’s great about this skirt, it’s pattern is subtle and could easily become a staple to any tech female’s capsule wardrobe. Going to the site, you’ll notice that there are a lot of different designs, so if you want something with a bigger pattern that screams #ilooklikeadeveloper, I know tech or I like tech, then I’m sure you’ll find something of your liking.
I love this t-shirt! It’s one of few t-shirts describing females programmers as “women” and not “girls” or “babes”. It comes in five colours and is a nice casual or fitted fit for those “casual Fridays” in the office. And, you can even buy one for your daughter to set them on a good development path early on.
This little cup comes in a wide assortment of colours, sizes and materials.
Many branded coffee shops (and even small ones) are giving a discount to users of these cups when they use them to purchase their hot beverages. So if you want to help the environment and want a discounted great tasting drink when you need your daily dose, this is the cup for you.
I first saw this on the Instagram feed of Borombo. I like this t-shirt because of it’s simple design, it’s ability to “speak” to different people because of the language variations it’s offered in, and that it proclaims “I am a developer”.
It comes in three base colours and you can choose the language you want. Learning Japanese? Why not buy the Japanese version and flaunt your developer nature for all the world to see.
I’ve heard so much about this game from the guys at work it’s like I’ve played it myself. Red Dead 2 has got a little bit of most games the wild west, robots, gun fights, horse(pet) maintenance, good story, equipment degradation I’ve heard it all. So I think that this should appeal to a wide audience.
If Red Dead 2 isn’t your (or the programmer in your life’s) first choice of game, why not try out the latest instalment of Pokemon.
This release on Nintendo Switch is the updated version of the Kanto region and you can ride a lot more Pokemon to get around, similar to what was used in Sun and Moon. Like many of the previous Pokemon games released, there are two versions of the same game which exposes you to different Pokemon to encourage you to swap Pokemon and connect with other Pokemon players. This latest instalment comes in the Pikachu and Eevee versions.
I’m a sucker for Pokemon myself so I’ll probably end up getting this along with Zelda Breath of the Wildthis year, oh and a Nintendo Switch. An expensive Nintendo Christmas for me. How about you?
Why write code all the code when there are tools that will do the small stuff for you?
Resharper is a developer extension for Microsoft Visual Studio. It’s only available on Windows so can’t be used for Visual Studio for Mac. It can automate some of your coding routines. It finds compiler errors, runtime errors, redundancies, and code smells right as you type, and suggests intelligent corrections for them.
Since the last few major upgrades, Visual Studio in-built shortcuts have improved, but having Resharper in your toolkit will definitely improve your productivity.
Resharper is available in different subscription models to be flexible to your needs.
If you don’t use a Windows machine but use Visual Studio for Mac, you may want to get hold of a tool called Mfractor. Made by Matthew Robbins, this tool is the Resharper for Mac users. It has in built shortcuts and shortcodes and the ability to add your own to make your coding life more efficient even when using XAML.
Mfractor is available in a Lite and Professional version so you can try before you buy.
I don’t know about any of you, but I struggle to find a backpack that emulates a professional look but also can hold my laptop and everything that I could ever need on a desert island that I obviously take to work with me everyday. This bag comes quite close though.
It comes in two sizes and three colours. It’s water resistant and has a strap to secure it on top of a suitcase when being used as a carry on during your holidays.
With USB charging and so many pockets, it’s sure to be a bag to fulfil all your needs.
I really love using the Kindle and the all-new Paperwhite is a great addition to the Kindle line. It’s light, small, comes with twice the storage and is waterproof. Perfect for those days when you’re accidentally splashed while poolside relaxing with your device.
It’s battery life can now last you weeks if you’re clever with your Wifi connectivity and backlight, but even with these caveats, you’re still getting a lot of battery for one charge.
I’ve not been interested in a smartwatches before (mainly because I’m concerned that I accidentally knock my current watch into many things on a monthly basis), but after seeing the promo video of this watch on Amazon, even I have been tempted.
This sportwatch comes in a variety of styles and the face can be customised with a number of downloadable designs. It has a 1.4 Inch OLED Display, supports Android Wear 2.0, and is compatible with Android and iOS devices.
Built upon the Raspberry Pi, the Poco is a multi-functional, easy to assemble pocket computer.
Measuring approximately 8cm x 11cm, with the addition of the free emulator download, you can turn the Poco into a classic games console emulator. However, if gaming is not what you want to do, then you can also use the Poco to make a music or media player, a compact action camera or use it to teach someone coding.
How do you make your developer set up more awesome and make yourself more productive? Two words. Ultra Widescreen! You need this in your life.
The one I picked up this year is the LG 29-Inch Ultrawide IPS Monitor, the sad fact is that my current MacBook Pro (mid 2012) isn’t supported out of the box for this monitor but this shouldn’t be a problem with the new MacBook Pro’s so rest assured.
It looks like a high quality product and if you’ve not sure whether a 29 inch monitor would be big enough, let me tell you, it is. I think honestly, if you go any lower in size with a this type of monitor, you would get the width but I’ve noticed the height is significantly lower than a normal or wide monitor. And you don’t want to be put off by that sort of thing when you should be deep into your next coding project. I’d definitely recommend this product.
How cheap is storage nowadays? I only left uni in 2007 and I still have a USB stick (that I used there!) which was 128MB! I don’t even think that size is even made for smartphones anymore. Even more recently when I upgraded my Macbook Pro from a 500GB HDD to an 120GB SSD I paid about £110 for it.
This year you can pick up that size for about £20! I mean how crazy is that. Storage is cheap mainly because the photos and videos we take and software we use take up so much space now we had to be given cheap storage or no one could use all this new fantastic features. So which do I recommend? I’ll stick with Seagate. It’s the brand that I bought for my Macbook upgrade, and the brand of the external SSD I also have.
These are a surprisingly lightweight but well-built product. They have gesture control to allow you to receive announcements with one tap. They also have an awesome noise cancelling function which can even drown out the loud noises of a London tube. It also sports a 30 hour battery life, which would last a normal daily two hour commute to work for over two weeks.
This is definitely a high end gift for that very special tech guy or girl in your life this Christmas.
How cute and awesome is this lovely robot?! Anki is the tamagotchi for the children of today.
Although not being able to evolve (let’s leave that to Pokemon) it actually learns from it’s experiences so will be a different Anki for each person. It’s small enough to be taken anywhere and it also has an app tie in so you can interact with Anki with different games and activities. It’s what every little programmer and big programmer would want after a real pet.
It’s extremely important to keep up with the changes in technology. Being able to learn quickly is only a benefit if you have great resources to help you continually learn.
Pluralsight is an online video platform with a wealth of tech related information. These can range from updates to coding languages, tutorials to create features in projects or even soft skills for programmers. The platform caters to all user levels from beginners to the advanced so there is definitely something for everyone.
There are different levels to subscribe to the platform and they always have a free trial available so you can see whether you think this platform will benefit you along your development career.
While working as the QA and Release Manager at a VR company in London, I’ve been being getting daily use out of the Samsung Odyssey since about July of this year. And, while there are a few quirky features, it’s easily my favourite tethered VR headset so far. We’ve also been able to get our hands on the Samsung Odyssey+ and you get all the benefits of the original Odyssey but a higher resolution display and lighter headset. With only two cables to attach to your PC, no lighthouses or external power supplies you will be extremely happy if you want to upgrade from the original Vive or Oculus.
This latest console from Nintendo is still a major Christmas gift for anyone. With this console being both a home and portable console, it caters for those always on a commute with nothing to do but rude Epona through Hyrule fields and those who’s prefer to chill out at home blowing up rocks in the Dodongo caves.
With the release of Pokemon Let’s Go, they released a limited edition of the console ready to snap up before Christmas. Not sure what colour I’ll go for yet, but it’ll be under my tree this year for sure.
In order to run the latest games and VR tethered devices, you need to have a high-end PC. And the Vive Pro and Oculus require some pretty beefy PCs to ensure you have a smooth, and awesome VR experience.
Upgrading your PC to a 1070 graphics card will allow you get the best experience and future-proof your hardware for a few years. Bear in mind that the Vive Pro and Oculus require the high-end specs, but the Odyssey can cope just fine with this. So you can always downgrade your VR hardware if the top end devices float out of your systems spec. Just saying…
Latest release to the OnePlus family of devices is the 6T. Again, compared to the flagship devices of Samsung and Apple, this is extremely affordable for those conscious about price but still want decent phone specs for under £600. This phone also sports the new fullscreen display like it’s predecessor OnePlus 6.
It has a lot of ram to allow smooth usage between and within apps and a dual rear camera to allow your photos and videos to be on par with the new iPhone.
With it’s own version of Android, it strips back a lot of the bloatware that plagues other phone manufacturers so you’ll be able to use all that storage for what you need want to.
Now I’m not an iPhone fan but I do like the look of the displays for the new X series models. The wide screen lends itself to more content for apps so I’m very excited to get my hands on one to develop on. Despite the single rear and lower spec camera (compared to the X or XS model), the iPhone XR is one of the newer releases to the iPhone line which means that it’s more likely to be supported by Apple for about five years, so in terms of development, you’re future-proofing yourself. And the biggest seller of the XR is the price! Although only being released in late October 2018, following the XS and XS Max release, this device is actually cheaper than the XS and XS Max.
Have you seen the new Macbook Air? it’s thinner, lighter, had an updated processor and boasts a Retina display. Available in three colours, it’s all aluminum case makes it more environmentally friendly that previous versions. Apple also states that it has an all day, battery life, which if true could even give the Surface Laptop a run for its money.
The Surface family of products by Microsoft have been a major success for the company. With the flexible customisable spec you can build a product truly suited to your needs.
The Surface Laptop 2, has all the great features that the previous model did however, it also now comes in black. This sleek design and extremely light product comes with an Alcantara keyboard, and improved speed and performance.
I’ve found the touchscreen display quite useful when using certain tools like calculator where it’s super simple and quicker to just tap in your values into the screen.
Compatible with Surface pen, this device is definitely my favourite out of this price range.
Despite being labeled as a Chromebook, this device is of a higher standard and build, therefore it commands a higher price tag. But, with a 360 touch display, fast charging, Google Assistant built-in, being super thin, light, small enough to go into your bag, and having four ways to use it, it would definitely make it onto my shortlist if I were buying a new laptop.
I’m not just about my hair and nails, but if I take the time to look nice in the morning, I don’t want my efforts wasted by headsets (or any tech equipment) that I need to use everyday to perform my job.
As a woman in a development role, I’ve gotten used to the fact that I’m probably going to be the only woman within my team (and maybe the office depending on the size of the company). But to be honest, I don’t even notice things like this anymore, except when I’m actually using tech.
I enjoy the fact that I have an active role in the development and also the quality of the product that we deliver. I wholeheartedly believe that we need more females in development roles because we do think differently. And these differences will be reflected in the products that we eventually turn out.
So when I come across new innovations in tech that don’t seem to be designed with the other 50% of society in mind, it makes me slightly annoyed and disappointed.
We all know how important it is to ensure that your end user gets their hands on your product before you release, because if they only get it once it’s mass produced, it’s extremely expensive to recall and fix the problems or to teach the users how to use it.
The Tech Devices
When HTC released the Vive Pro, we were lucky enough to get hold of a first version of the upgrade. And I wondered, having used the Vive Pro and the original for about year, does HTC even test these devices with a wide range of women?
With the high price point of these devices.you would expect it to be of a pristine quality and suitable for everyone, male and female who wanted to use it.
Now don’t get me wrong, out of the all the VR devices I’ve used in the last 18 months, the Vive Pro is actually one of my favourites. Plus being one of the first companies to produce a high end VR device must be hard without prior tech to build and extend. So I say this in the hopes that HTC amend they’re testing and development workflows so that they can gain more loyal customers.
Challenge 1: It doesn’t play well with my natural hair
With the first released version of the Vive, yes it’s heavy especially if you wear it as much as I do on a daily basis, but it’s comfortable. Except for when you want to take it off. The velcro on the headset is constantly catching my hair ripping out hard-earned growth. Then we come to the fact of what my hair actually looks like after removing this headset. Let’s just say if I tried to fix my hair after every time I took the Vive off, I’d probably lose an hour of work a day!
To get around this problem, I’ve resorted to either having to wear specific hairstyles that won’t need to be redone after constantly putting on and removing the headset or just give up and deal with the fact that I won’t have a tidy head of hair on my head throughout the day.
Challenge 2: Gives me a slight pain in the head
Now with this new and “improved” headset, although it’s supposed to be lighter, I’ve found that after about ten seconds I get a pain on the side of my head. This may be because I have a weird shaped head, or a small head but when I put the headset on, I adjusted to what I thought was suitable so that I could work. And this caused me pain. Should I need to be told the best way to put on a headset or should it be intuitive? The latter right? But, this is my job, so I’m going to have to figure out why the headset doesn’t like my head.
Note: After using the Pro everyday as my sole dwarfing device for VR, I don’t get this pain anymore. I’m not sure if my head’s gotten used to the weight or I’ve found a better fit, but I’m happy this is no longer a problem.
Challenge 3: Braids don’t work either!
So as I’ve just been to Italy, I didn’t want to have to do my hair in 35°C+ heat everyday for two weeks, so the week before I got braids put in (the stickers on the back of my phone are the latest additions by my three year old daughter).
This was supposed to make life easier for me on holiday, but it didn’t at work. I don’t put my hair on any style extravagant, just up in a ponytail to keep it out of my face. But when I first tried to put the Vive Pro on I found that this wasn’t going to happen in my current style. So in order for me to test, I have to remove my hair band and put it back in when I’m finished every time. Needless to say this slows down work, but luckily it’s only temporary. But again, I’m reminded of the fact that this probably want accounted for during the design phase. I suppose the ”workaround” of taking my hair band out works, but should I have to use it this way? In 2015, 15 percent of males versus 8 percent of females had tried VR devices so to cater to the majority of users makes sense, but only at the expense of crafting a further barrier to entry for females.
Mixed Feelings with Mixed Reality
I’ve switched projects now and I’m using a Samsung Odyssey for testing. Overall, the device is nicely designed and light compared to other VR alternatives I have tried. And, I haven’t had the pain in my head when I first tried it like with the Pro so I’m happy about that. But, I still have the issue with my hair 🙁 I don’t think this is going to be a problem that’s solved anytime soon unfortunately. But I’d love to know the following things from HTC and Samsung to help me understand how they got to these design decisions:
The percentage of testers that worked on the Vive products that were women?
How many women HTC used during user testing of the Vive and Vive Pro?
Did they choose a range of ethnicities?
Did they even perform user testing?
Surely, I can’t be the only one that had these hairy (see what I did there?) issues? Maybe these issues were raised and were deemed minor or not a bug? I don’t know, which is why I need answers!
It sounds like I’m asking a lot, but for a global company like HTC and Samsung to roll out a product, you’d expect that they’d cater for the global audience. I mean, if a woman in her 70s wanted to start using her child’s or grandchild’s VR kit, why should there be a barrier for her?
I’ve used a few VR devices and they all have some accessibility issues. Making these products usable and comfortable for all users will increase the market reach, increase loyalty to the product (and possibly the brand) which would increase sales. So, why not invest more time into testing with a wide range of users to build out products that appeal to more customers?
Please consider this HTC, Oculus and Samsung. My hair and head would very much appreciate it.
I consider myself someone who embraces new technology, games consoles, smartphones, tools or software. From a young age I’ve always had an interest in tech which has followed me all through life so far. But time and time again it still happens. I come across examples that make it obvious that this product that I enjoy or spend a lot of time using was not designed for me or with me in mind.
This week, I recall a particular issue that I has when I was buying my first smartphone.
In 2010 I decided to let go of the monthly phone contracts and upgrade to a two year contract. This would allow me to get my very first smartphone. HTC Desire was the first smartphone I tried in Carphone Warehouse but I soon came across a big problem.
I liked the size and look, but typing using the touch screen keyboard was particularly difficult. The main issue I had was that my nails were preventing me from using the keyboard. This was because I was trying to tap the buttons using my fingertips.
Now you can see in the image, I don’t have particularly long nails. I’ve also never had the lengths that false nails provide. But every few weeks after they’ve been cut, my nails reach just over half a centimetre. It’s at this point I tried using the Desire and I thought “if I’m going to have this problem every few weeks, then my life is going to get more difficult, not less with this device!”.
Let’s Try This Again
Seeing my annoyance and frustration, the sales assistance presented me with another option. He then brought out a Samsung Galaxy S.
Why did he present me with another smartphone after I obviously wasn’t getting along with this first one that was, at the time, the best selling? It was because of a small piece of software pre-installed on the Samsung Galaxy S devices called Swype.
Now I guess I would’ve experienced this problem with all smartphones, but only the Galaxy S had the Swype software to remedy this problem.
After he explained how to type using this feature, I was so happy. I signed the contract straight away and went home to show my husband. He was pleased for me, but not for him because he’d already purchased HTC Desire which didn’t have this fabulous feature.
I know it seems like a small thing. But, if I never was introduced to Swype, I probably would’ve stayed a smartphone virgin for a couple more years. This small limitation excluded purple work long nails and generally that’s women. Yes, we could cut our nails, but should we have to in order to use the product?
Since the introduction of Swype, it was available on any other Android devices via Google Play. Then Google even put their own swipe feature into their Google keyboard. And, amazingly, in September 2014 following the release of iOS 8, Apple opened up it’s keyboard platform to allow developers to create custom keyboards to introduce Apple users to the magic of swiping instead of tapping keys.
We Need More Tools Like Swype
Swype had reduced the barrier to entry for me and I’m sure a lot of others with long nails. But there’s one thing I want to draw attention to. There shouldn’t have been an additional tool available by a third party company solving this solution. The phone manufacturers should’ve considered this when designing the phone and came up with their own solution. Reducing the barrier to entry for those with long nails may have introduced a lot more women into smartphones earlier than they did.
These days children have smartphones a lot earlier. Could this have been a way to change the way women and young girls thought about mobile phones. Maybe getting them into using it earlier would open their eyes into the possibility of creating with these devices?