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Papershow working pretty well!

PapershowWell, I just used Papershow for my first customer webex. So, how did it do?

Actually, pretty well! I had a couple of false starts, because I started out by plugging the USB dongle into a different USB port. That seemed to confuse it a bit with regards to the USB Mass Storage device, Bluetooth Drivers, etc, and it ended up ejecting itself (logically, not physically!). So, plug it into the same USB port as when installed, and it worked better.

Since it’s entirely USB-key based (ie. I assume you can plug into any other PC and keep going with the same pen, files, config, etc), I wasn’t sure how to start it running, since I have autoplay disabled. Running papershow.exe caused it to unplug itself again;  Running start.exe proved more reliable, and I was into the presentation.

In terms of reliability, accuracy, real-time update, etc. it was fine: I put it into fullscreen and shared it via Webex Desktop Sharing. The customer said they could see my diagram updating in real-time fine. Operationally, and psychologically, it was quite easy as well – I quickly found myself just looking at the paper and talking to the customer as if he were looking at the pad with me. A quick glance at the screen now and then showed that the digitisation was keeping up. There were a couple of missed colour changes due to my not keeping track of which colour I was on, which looked confused on the diagram – I just changed colour and re-drew over the line. I also found myself gesturing over the pad, which of course the customer can’t see, so I therefore switched to waving the mouse pointer over the screen using my trackpad for those moments.

My drawing and writing were abysmal, but I’ve said that already. I ended up not using any of the ‘assisted drawing’ features such as rectangles, circles, etc. But as a communication tool, it was great.

Oh – and after finishing my presentation, I couldn’t get out of Fullscreen Papershow! Switching to any other app was ignored; no keypress would close it. Eventually, I killed the process, and then removed and inserted the key, and opened it again. To its credit, it had autosaved a backup draft, and it asked if I wanted to open it – and there was my diagram, as if I’d never killed it. Not bad!

Papershow does force a strong link between hardware and software – closing the app will automatically dismount the USB key, even if you didn’t want to. But I can see why they’ve done this for non-computer-savvy users, and it doesn’t seem too obstructive. I still have to play with it a bit to figure out exactly how it’ll behave in certain circumstances, but I’m comfortable that it seems to be a well-finished, reliable product.

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