Prepare a checklist and go through every step
Below are a few steps you should not miss in order to ensure a smooth, well-executed meeting.
Items in red are extremely important and nothing will work correctly if you don't check these and make sure they're functioning.
Items in green are strongly recommended and while everything will work, you're opening yourself up to failure if you don't follow these steps.
Black items are just recommendations that will make your life easy and comfortable.
1) Connect the base
Physically connect the receiver to your computer. Sometimes you can do it directly into the USB port, but often it is better if you extend the cord, so that you can avoid breaking either the Base Receiver, or the USB port itself if something catches on the device that's sticking out.
Extension cord is also a great way to make sure that you have a good reception.
2) Double-check all connections
It's not just the USB connection to the Base Receiver that's important. Often, you need to connect to the video output (e.g. a big-screen TV, or projector). Verify that you see the image on the monitor, and test the connection to the Base Receiver by testing the keypads (see below).
Use as few connection points as possible. The less 'points of failure' you have, the less of a chance there is that something will go wrong.
3) Tape down all connections
Use a strong Gaff tape to secure all connections, especially wherever they bend, or are exposed to people walking by and possibly disconnecting them.
Also tape down any connections that may loosen up during an event, e.g. if it's windy outside, or if they're pointing/hanging down, like the last connection between the USB cable and the Extended Base Receiver.
If using a tripod (highly recommended for large venues), tape the cables to the tripod, put a Caution Tape around the tripod legs, and tape the tripod legs down, as well.
4) Connect an A/C adapter
Power your computer with power supply that you have tested and know that it will fully charge the battery. Have a backup power supply, in case the first one fails in the middle of the event. it's easy to continue working on a laptop with a fully charged battery, but it's hard to do that for half a day or more without a power supply.
It's a good idea to bring with you a Lithium battery pack that has the standard 3-prong outlet and can provide an extra 2-4 hours of 'juice' in case of an emergency.
VERY IMPORTANT - make sure that your computer Power Settings are set to NEVER go to sleep on A/C power. No one wants their computer to go to sleep in the middle of a 20-minute debate on Article 13 or just as you're getting ready to start the next vote.
5) Prepare a backup computer
There's nothing worse than to have your primary computer fail on you. No matter whether it's a few days before the event, just as the meeting is going to start, or while having a vote open, it's a disaster.
The only way to recover semi-gracefully (especially if you were live when it happened) is to have a good, complete backup. When we say complete, we mean to the "T" - including the session content, so that you can just start the session up and continue where you left off. See more under the "Software Checklist" section below.
6) Have a backup operator
This is not really a 'hardware' part of the meeting, but we recommend that you train (or let Meridia train them) at least one more person to handle your event in case something happens to you. Hopefully that's never going to be life-threatening, but even if you are simply unable to continue because your primary computer failed and you don't have a backup, you should have a responsible person be able to jump in and continue the meeting.
7) Test keypad batteries
It is definitely less important to do this if you JUST finished an event and all keypads worked there, but if you have not used them in a year and are not sure who, how and where were they stored, you should test every single keypad and replace any dead or weak batteries in them.
Use the Software Checklist tips below on testing the clickers, and check out the Keypad Display Notifications article on how to determine if the battery is low.
8) Test keypad range/distance
When everything is plugged in and running in test mode, go around the room/venue with a few clickers and test the maximum distance that the clickers will register from. Go back to step 1) and elevate your Base Receiver, and/or extend the cable in order to reach a little bit further.
1) Activate license
Without activation, your the EZ-VOTE Connect software and all its apps will only run in Demo Mode.
This will SEVERELY LIMIT your ability to use the software and the clickers! See more on Activation here.
2) Test keypads/software connection
If using TownVOTE, you can test the keypads using an Article you create just for that purpose and make it a Participant Grid type, so you can see which keypad voted (light blue colored box) and which didn't (grey colored box).
If using the PowerPoint Plugin, open the Test Grid via EZ-VOTE (Tab) --> Tools --> Base Manager and click Test Keypads. Change the grid size to what suits you and your desired number of clickers. Then start pushing buttons on the keypads and if the vote is received, you will see "OK" on the keypad display, as well as the grid position that corresponds to the keypad number will light up green:
3) Prepare and test the entire session
Whether you're using our PowerPoint plugin and need to test your presentation, or if you're using the TownVOTE (Voting & Elections) app to conduct a business meeting, you should run through your entire 'deck' of slides, or articles and motions to become familiar, to be confident that it works and looks exactly the way you want. Sometimes the text can look good on your laptop, but might be cut off on the big screen, when projecting it out in the auditorium.
This also lets you mess things up when you're at ease and get out of that situation when no one is looking over your shoulder. When it comes to PowerPoint (plugin), you should also do the testing so that you can 'clear' the data and get familiar with that process.
When you're done, do the same exact test on the backup computer.
4) Check software settings
In order for all the clickers to work, you need to make sure that the software is configured to 'listen' to all of those you want to distribute to your Participants.
These settings are available in EZ-VOTE Connect --> Settings, as well as in the EZ-VOTE PowerPoint plugin, and we refer to them as "Keypad Range".
If a Keypad Range is set to 1 - 100, then any keypad numbered 101 and higher WILL NOT REGISTER!
The keypad will appear like the vote has gone through (it will show "OK" on the display, if the keypad supports that feature), but the software will ignore the clicker, because it's outside of the Keypad Range.
It's often a good idea to keep the Keypad Range setting higher than the Participant List (Roster) setting, so that if you need to rent more clickers from Meridia or borrow them from a neighbor to add to those you already own, you don't have to change your settings. For example, if your Keyapad Range is set to 1 - 500 all the time, and if you own clickers 1- 400 and need a 100 more, you can rent or borrow 401 - 500 and adjust only the Participant List setting (see below) to match the new 1 - 500 range.
5) Check Participant List
Similar to the Keypad Range, but functionally this is an ADDITIONAL setting that must be double-checked every time you're about to start a voting session.
Say you set up Keypad Range to 'listen' to keypad 1 - 500. However, if your Participant List is limited to just keypads 1 - 250, any keypad 251 and higher WILL NOT REGISTER!
This is just as much a security feature, since you sometimes may lose a keypad or three and need to remove them from your Participant List. Since Keypad Range doesn't let you control any ONE or any SPECIFIC keypad (only a range), you need to control your Participant List so the 'lost' keypads don't accidentally appear in the crowd without your permission.
Do you want to take this document on the go? See below the attached PDF version with working links to all the referenced articles.
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