As the Holidays approach, shutters are going to be ‘a clickin’. Being able to spread smiles digitally is truly a magical use of web technology. Grandmas and Grandpas, Aunts and Uncles can all keep track of family members’ special moments effortlessly thanks a few tools, including FrameChannel.com. Geeks have long aggregated feeds from photo sources for display using special software, such as Yahoo Pipes and Greasemonkey Scripts, but getting Grandma to run through that is not always simple. But now at least one new tool, FrameChannel allows building a photo channel from multiple web sources for distribution to various display surfaces:
- One or more RSS feeds
- emailed photos
- manual uploads to framechannel
RSS feeds are by far the most powerful. Emailed photos can be handy (e.g. after a field trip. ask parents to send photos to firstname.lastname@example.org and they’ll appear in this source.) Manual upload is slow and probably not best.
Let’s say you have a digital camera or hard-drive of photos that you’d like to distribute to friends and family members “live.” Here’s how to push the photos in a nutshell.
- Set up a Framechannel account.
- Upload your photos to Flickr or another RSS-supporting file sharing service if they aren’t there already.
Upload your photos to framechannel directly (less effective, last resort)
- Have the Family Photo Recipients set up the photo viewer. Ask Your Family Member (photo recipient) to set up one of these, depending on their platform.
- FrameChannel’s Screensaver for Mac OSX
- FrameChannel Screensaver for Windows (XP and Vista)
- Google’s Photo Screensaver (part of Google Pack.)
- Desktop Widgets (see FrameChannel’s setup page for this.)
- Photo Frames (varies, but essentially you add the framechannel RSS address to the Frame Software. It looks like they have an ever-expanding list of photo frame brands on framechannel.)
- Any other compatible RSS-enabled photo viewer/screensaver will probably work.
- Create a Channel in FrameChannel (you can use Flickr, PicassaWeb, Facebook Photos, and others.)
- Acquire the photos into the framechannel channel through one of the three options. You can “preview your frame” inside of framechannel.
- Set up the channel rules
Active: When checked, the channel will be included in your feed. You may also remove a channel from your feed by clicking the remove link but the active check box allows you to keep a channel in your list but temporarily stop any content from this channel from being included in your feed.
Maximum number of photos: This setting dictates how many images from this channel will be included in your feed at any one time. For example, you might have a channel that includes thousands of photos but you don’t wish to dominate your entire feed with these photos. In this case you might set thie Maximum number of photos to a small number so that the feed will be balanced with content from a variety of channels. If you wish to have a channel dominate your feed then set this to a higher number.
Display photos: This can be set to latest or random. When FrameChannel builds your feed (every 15 minutes), it will look in this channel and either include the most recent (latest) or a random selection of photos from the channel.
Hours available: Some channels may only make sense during certain times of day. You can use this setting to control which hours of the day this channel is available to your feed.
Days available: Similar to “hours available” you may wish to only view this channel on certain days of the week. Select the days you wish to include this channel in your feed by selecting the check box next to each weekday.
- Share the Feed from FrameChannel with friends and family.
http://www.framechannel.com/feeds/feed.php?user=xxxxxx&pin=xxxx Depending on the solution they chose above, methods to add the RSS address will vary slightly. Instructions for the screensavers/gadgets are in the links above.
Of course, the frames can display anything, so if you want you can set up news, security webcam, or other feeds to become channels. The eStarling didn’t work as well for “right now” updates, but the screen savers did. eStarling owners, here are a few shots of the RSS source field. I’m still tweaking eStarling to work properly this week.
Roxio Labs has tied up MediaTicker with framechannel. I need to check that one out.
Glenn Rivkees has put together a Google Gadget for framechannel.
Intruders.tv has an interview with cofounder Jon Finegold.
postcript: eStarling works except for one big problem. Framechannel resizes the bloody images down about 40%. They say they’re looking into it. I’m back to raw feeds for the eStarling. I hope this is fixed soon because seeframe.com (estarling) cannot deal with trusted feeds from Flickr. They require you to make your feeds public, where framechannel can work with private tags.