If you do enough research with real human beings you will start to build up a collection of ‘war stories’ about things that went wrong that you can learn from. This could be anything from you forgot the spare batteries to recruiting the wrong people to speak to and anything in between.
To turn off or leave on, that was the question.
I was back in London doing a set of six usability tests on mobile for a client. The set up is quite complicated for one of these tests. We had Morae to record the screen, a visualiser to record the participants hand and mobile, a webcam to record their face, AirServer (or an Android equivalent) to show a mirror of their screen and GoToMeeting for observers who could not make it to London.
With all that going on, it is very easy for something to fail and it took me a couple of attempts to get it all working that morning.
But we had a successful morning and testing seemed to be going well.
However at lunch time I spoke to my colleague and asked the question - should I reboot to make sure it did not suddenly stop working during the afternoon or just leave it alone?
We decided to reboot, and then I spent the rest of my lunch break trying to get the set up to work again. We ended up having issues all afternoon too.
So the moral of the story, if it is not broken do not fix it!