The story so far

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Technology and gadgets

I'm a bit of gadget freak and going to Austalia gives me the excuse to research and trial all sorts of new gadgets.  What I'm planning to do is keep this article up to date each time I find something new.  Like how does my Xbox work in Australia?  I need a new TV, what will I do?  I'm sure the suspense is killing anyone reading this!

Wireless Digital Photo Frames

If you are going to be travelling or spending time away from loved ones and have an internet camera phone or a camera and PC, you could provide a feed of photos direct to a frame in their living room.  If this interests, read on.

Since I could see mum and dad getting more uncertain about not seeing the children grow up, I did the obvious and installed skype on their computer.  This machine sounds like it is infested with crickets, you know what I mean, it clicks and wheezes like a geiger counter when you fire it up.  Skype seems to work but the ancient webcam I gave them definately needs upgrading.

I thought it would be nice to get them something more dedicated on which to view the kids and a digital photo frame was the perfect answer.  The only issue I have with them is that you need to keep transferring photos from the computer to the camera and it is quite a hassel.  That got me thinking that it would be good if a frame existed with a wireless connection to allow photos to be transmittred over the air.

I did some research and surprisingly these gadgets seem very few and far between.  Its a new and emerging technology and very few models exist on the market.  After some reasonable research, I found this model on Amazon and took a risk and bought it:

When it arrived, I had to set-it up to use mum and dad's wireless network and then install some software on their PC to set it up.  It comes with a USB cable to perform this installation.

The photoframe supports photo feeds from Picasa, Flickr or Framechannel.  I first set up a Picasa feed.  This involves putting the photos you want to display into a Picasa web album and making that album public.  You then type in your google (picasa) username into the photoframe set-up software and a list of public albums is displayed.  You select the desired album and end the set-up.

Next time I turned on the photoframe, I selected Picasa as the source and the photos in my web albumn started to display.  I tried adding more photos, but these did not turn up on the photoframe.  Rather than try any fancy configuration options (of which there seemed to be none) I tried using Framechannel instead.

Framechannel is an online service designed for delivering content to photoframes.  A framechannel account can be set up for free here and oce in, you can subscribe to publicly available content of all types.  This includes news, weather, sport and of course photos.  I set it up to subscribe to the same picasa web albumn and calendar and weather for good measure.

At this point, you again need to plug the frame into the computer and set up the framechannel feed.  This takes two minutes and once again, the results were instant.  I again added new photos to the album and again, these did not show up.  I tried lots of things and eventiually stumbled on the fact that you need to log into the framechannel account to cause an update.  You don't need to do anything to the frame, just add the photo to the picasa web album, log onto the framechannel account and display your photo feed.

I suspect this kind of update would happen every 24 hours or each time you turn the frame on and off, but I am too impatient to try these.  Anyway, I've done some experiments and can now do the following all out and about using an iPhone:

1. Take a photo on my iPhone
2. Email the photo to the public picasa web album
3. Log into the Framechannel account
4. Display the picasa feed
5. Watch the photo slot into the feed on the digital photo frame.

Technology is great, isn't it?

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