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Windows Thread, Digital Signage - Simple approach? in Technical; I'm using what seems to be the accepted terminology here for what I think most people will think I'm trying ...
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    contink's Avatar
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    Digital Signage - Simple approach?

    I'm using what seems to be the accepted terminology here for what I think most people will think I'm trying to do but I may be wrong so hopefully the right folks see this.

    In a nutshell I've been asked by the head of a school if I could sort out a simple system that displays photos in a slideshow style display on a wall mounted screen.

    They don't want anything fancy like interactive news feeds or anything like that, just the ability to show a variety of photos from trips and possible some information about coming events..

    Now I figure the the simplest approach to this might be to use one of the really old laptops we have sitting around as a clean WinXP base, hook it up to the network and then use something like AutoIT to automate the process of selecting the contents of a protected directory (staff ALC to stop the kids getting in) and then displaying it using the built in slideshow in WinXP or one of a plethora of slideshow apps.

    It'd be nice if it could display a power point slide or similar for the text information but really the simpler the better.

    So, really the question is this.. has anyone already put something like this together and got any tips or can anyone recommend any slideshow apps that might tackle the automation better?

    Thanks in advance...

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    TechSupp's Avatar
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    Done the same at one of my primaries, but for the front entrance. Had an old laptop and got a wide screen monitor mounted on a wall brack and Bobs your uncle...or rather not if you want the laptop at the other side of the wall as you will probably have to drill a hole through the wall as I did and then make up a video cable by soldering on a new end once you have fed it through the wall. Soldering the new end on is not bad just a bit fiddly...then its Bobs your uncle. Been up and running the last couple of months now without a problem. They use Powerpoint to show the photos etc as all the kids can use it and allows them to be involved in creating the shows. If its just photos just use Window Picture and Fax viewer and set it to display a slide show. As it was a primary it had to be cheap and simple to work. No problems so far.

  3. Thanks to TechSupp from:

    contink (14th October 2008)

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    contink's Avatar
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    Thanks for that... Glad I wasn't imaging how simple it should be.

    I think we'll start with the slideshow for the all important governors meeting this week and then we can look at other options in the future.

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    Yeah, we have two funky widescreen, flat TFT TVs put into the foyer, and then they asked me to wire "something" up to it, "what for ?", I asked, "dunno" came the reply.

    So I got one of the old laptops, that won't run off battery, plugged it into a VGA>CAT5 converter, split this to two sockets, along the cable to the sockets in the foyer, and then a CAT5>VGA converter (each) to the TVs.

    Then I run either:
    a) Google Picasa on the machine, pointed towards a share with pics in, you have to tell it to slideshow.
    b) Powerpoint - but I don't tell them I can do this, as it means fiddling with it.

    I power the VGA>CAT5 converter via a timer switch, so it switches on at 8:30 and off at 16:30.
    I had to make sure the laptop didn't go into screensave.

    I wanted to replace this with a OneLan system, but we couldn't afford it this year...

  6. 2 Thanks to User3204:

    contink (14th October 2008), sparkeh (14th October 2008)

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    Little-Miss's Avatar
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    Contink, that is scary....was discussing the same thing today.

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    Use Photostory or MovieMaker for simple stuff.

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    We've got a 42" Sony LCD TV in main reception with two 19" wide LCD monitors around site.

    We use the CAT5 to VGA converters and run a PowerPoint with photos, text, info and videos (no sound... yet!) from one old desktop locked in a room.

    Works very well, we just had to fiddle the display resolution to get it working on all the displays.

    It's logged on locally, but on the network. We can update the PowerPoint from our machines, copy it the display PCs C:\ root and then VNC onto it and quickly change PowerPoints over once a week.

  10. 2 Thanks to Trapper:

    sparkeh (14th October 2008), stariq (1st February 2009)

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    WithoutMotive's Avatar
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    We use an old computer connected to an LCD screen.

    This computer has Powerpoint install plus Showpoint which is free Powerpoint addon.

    What this does is automatically check a specified directory for the latest Powerpoint show and run it. So, if you change the Powerpoint or put a new Powerpoint in that directory, Showpoint will automatically detect it and start showing it without you interrupting the display.

    Very very handy especially if you're running several displays with the same content.

  12. 2 Thanks to WithoutMotive:

    contink (14th October 2008), klawd (14th October 2008)

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    Quote Originally Posted by contink View Post
    In a nutshell I've been asked by the head of a school if I could sort out a simple system that displays photos in a slideshow style display on a wall mounted screen.
    Has anyone else noticed just how cheap LCD screens have got now? There's a 26" one advertised in the Dabs catalogue at £200. 26", for goodness sake!

    Also: has anyone else had problems with Google's slideshow screensaver? The one that does the fancy pan-and-fade effect with your photo collection? I have a computer running the slideshow screensaver pointing at a folder on a network-mapped drive, but for some reason only the one photo comes up. All the time. There's several thousand in various sub-folders in the drive. Is it a problem with the fact that it's on a network share?

    I was considering suggesting Google Screensaver as a solution to the above (nice effect, and it would be dead easy to update with a network share), but maybe the photos need to be on a local drive or something.

    --
    David Hicks

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    pooley's Avatar
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    We do as above, 42" lcd on wall, pc behind (cable run through wall), pc is networked powerpoints can be dropped onto box remotely, powerpoints saved as powerpoint shows and a shortcut to the powerpoint is placed in the programs\startup folder.

    Very simple and just works

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    Well I guess I am in the fortunate position of having 2 Onelan boxes. One is attached to a 42 in the reception area and another 37 is in the main student area. All of the kids have to walk by. It really does get the information across well. Another plus point is it really impresses parents!!

    My only gripe is that because everything is not microsoft etc (linux and squid) it will not do powerpoints easily. You need to convert them to flash.

    Nice kit, bit not cheap!!

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    contink's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Little-Miss View Post
    Contink, that is scary....was discussing the same thing today.
    I was the geeky guy sitting to your left staring into your left ear.. Amazing what stuff I could see in there... Who's Sven and what's that about the guy in the Aero advert about...


    Anyhoo... getting back on topic... My thanks to all for this little discussion. I've opted to grab Google Picasa and make that the primary base.. The Showpoint thing would be great if it wasn't for the fact that it's for 2007 and this machine is most definitely not 2007 capable.

    The stuff re: CAT5 to VGA is wishful thinking too because they put in less network points than any 1998 build should ever have had but then they didn't put in enough rooms either so it's no shock (yes, it's PFI!). Still n'all very useful intel and much appreciated.

    Cheers

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    Quote Originally Posted by Trapper View Post
    We use the CAT5 to VGA converters and run a PowerPoint with photos, text, info and videos (no sound... yet!) from one old desktop locked in a room.
    Woah woah woah! So you can just stick a converter into your PC, run a cat5 cable to your screen and another converter? And thats it?

    If so, I can tear up the expensive digital signage quote we got.

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    So is the pc left running 24/7 or does someone have to switch it on each morning?

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    Another vote for Showpoint http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/ma...CE010820981033

    I have made a template for the admin staff to add information to such as the days events, which assemblies are in which hall etc. If we wanted to show a slideshow/photostory or video etc we would simply embed it into powerpoint as you normally would.
    Showpoint is pointed to a folder which is accessible by the appropriate people so no need to access the machine directly*

    *To change the playing powerpoint you simply add a new powerpoint into the folder, give it a few seconds and then delete the old file. Ive found that if you dont give it a few seconds it will not have time to change over to the new file and you will need to VNC in to stop and start showpoint (i must script this)

    I must say this is far from a perfect setup, but for your usage it may be just right as it allows anyone who can use powerpoint to make a display and upload it all by themselves (in theory). I am currently installing this setup for a teacher, fingers crossed.

    To make it continually loop you have to go to "Slideshow Setup" in powerpoint.
    Even though the option is there i cant figure out how to get powerpoint to display in a 16:9/10 resolution. If you go the showpoint way maybe consider a 4:3 screen

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