Using a Tablet

VGS can be used on any desktop/laptop computer with a Windows operating system but is most commonly used on tablet PC computers. Here are some tips for using VGS on a tablet PC:

  • Using a stylus with VGS is more accurate and preferable to touch. Be careful not to tip the stylus too much on its side, else Windows may not recognize a tap or selection.

  • Although the risk of losing a stylus is increased, remove stylus tethers that may come with your tablet. A tethered stylus is usually more cumbersome to use. Tying a brightly colored ribbon or applying a bright piece of tape to your stylus will help prevent losing it.

  • Always have an extra stylus available in case the stylus is lost or quits working.

  • A right-click mouse action is generated on a Windows tablet by pressing and holding the stylus down. As soon as the circular graphic appears around the stylus screen location, releasing the stylus will bring up the right-click menu if applicable. Many styluses have a button on the side which, when pressed and held while clicking, will also trigger a right-click.

  • For best visibility in sunlight:

    • Set the desktop and on-screen keyboard background to a plain, light color. Especially avoid a busy pattern or photo for the background.

    • Use a theme with light colors. The "Windows Classic" theme is a good choice.

    • Setting the tablet screen as bright as possible is helpful in direct sunlight, but be aware that screen brightness affects battery life.

    • Enlarge the on-screen keyboard to a favored size using the stylus or a mouse. You can experiment with other keyboard settings by clicking the "Options" key.

  • Periodically follow the instructions for your tablet to "calibrate" the stylus. Calibrating the stylus helps keep the screen pointer aligned with the stylus. Calibration may also be necessary when changing users, especially between right- and left-handed users.

  • When using a stylus, watch the screen pointer, not the end of the stylus, since the two may vary based on whether or not the stylus has been calibrated to the tablet. The position of the screen pointer determines where a mouse-click will occur.

  • Turn the sound on for the tablet. VGS uses sound to indicate selections and steps during sampling. This is helpful to the recorder to know that a stylus or touch selection was received and to the observer by making them aware when the recorder is ready to receive more information. (For example, knowing when the recorder has navigated to the next quadrat or sampling point). Also, depending on the options selected, the on-screen keyboard uses sound for key-clicks.

  • VGS saves data on every navigation between samples and at each data entry step where sampling navigation does not apply. This minimizes the opportunity for data loss should a battery become exhausted or should the tablet crash while collecting data in the field.

  • Always backup the VGS database when moving between locations and before leaving the field.

  • Consider keeping all your backups rather than overwriting older backups. Depending on the type of data and circumstances, sometimes the only way to recover lost data is to go back to the original field data.

  • Always carry extra batteries.

  • Recharge the tablet whenever possible during a field day.

See also

Data Backup

© Arizona Cooperative Rangeland Monitoring Program, 2018 • Updated: 10/18/17