In my last post I gave my first impressions of the BT eFrame1000 – a wifi equipped digital photo frame, and I hinted that I’d started to investigate how to exploit a feature that’s intended for streaming Flickr photo albums so that I could view information from other sites. So far, I’ve had some success at cajoling the frame into displaying pictures from sites other than Flickr, and showing news and weather updates. Here’s how…
The eFrame 1000 has a feature that can be configured (via the Windows PC software) with URLs for Flickr photo albums. Once configured, you can go to the frame and select Photos > Flickr > [Album Name] to stream the photos in that album directly from Flickr over your wireless network without needing a computer to be switched on. All references to this feature on the frame, the PC software and in the documentation specifically refer to Flickr and Flickr only (I suspect that’s because Yahoo! (who own Flickr) have a partnership with BT who make the frame and the two companies co-brand some of their broadband products). This feature works because each public album/stream/group on flickr has an RSS url that users can subscribe to in order to see the 20 most recent uploads.
A flickr RSS feed contains a link to each image (and a smaller thumbnail version). It turns out that although it’s not a documented feature, you can configure the frame to use any RSS feed that’s in the correct format and the frame won’t care that it isn’t coming from flickr.com. Be warned though, you can’t just take a regular RSS news feed, it has to be a feed where every item contains an embedded image in the same format used by Flickr e.g:
<media:content url="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3483/3290803901_527112a24e_o.jpg" type="image/jpeg" height="1920" width="2560"/> <media:thumbnail url="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3483/3290803901_9178782db5_s.jpg" height="75" width="75" />
I haven’t yet determined whether the media:thumbnail tag is used.
The best site so far has been FrameChannel.com. This is a service designed for wifi picture frames whereby a user creates their own channel by subscribing to “widgets”. It’s intended for framechannel specific frames that will make full use of their API to control slideshow speed, transitions, order etc, but they also provide an RSS feed in a format that works with the eFrame. So, if you subscribe to a weather report, you configure the widget on the frame channel website with your location and then the RSS feed for you channel will contain an image that is created by the weather widget to show your local forecast. Similarly the reuters news widget will generate an image in the feed containing a brief headline and associated picture. The RSS feed is a little hidden away so here’s how you find it: Sign in to your framechannel account. Configure your channel. Go to “My Account”. Copy the feed url that appears just below the tab bar into your browsers address bar and load the feed. Then drag the url from your address bar into the flickr feed url box in the eFrame software and click “Update” – that will download the configuration to your frame. Then in future on your frame you can go to Photos > Flickr and you’ll see an album named something like “FrameChannel content for…”.
I’ve had some success at finding other sites that work with the eFrame. I’ll keep the list below up-to-date as I find others.
|Feeds for individual albums appear to be the correct format so not sure why the PC software doesn’t accept it|
|PC software accepts the feed, but the frame hangs when I try to view it.|
|Tested with the “news” category|
I had a few issues with the PC software for the eFrame in that when I tried to load a feed that it didn’t like, it then subsequently failed to accept any other feeds (even valid ones) and just failed silently without any error message. I had to shutdown the sofware (from the system tray) and restart before it would start accepting new feeds again.
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