Goodbye Awesome Tables :(

It was all going so well… Having found Awesome Tables in 2016, the creation of tables , charts and graphs suddenly became simple and straight-forward, and made me look cool in front of my colleagues :)

Then I started checking the view stats, in November last we hit 926 views! Guess what happens when you (routinely) hit 1000 views, regardless of the number of different tables, and any within the same domain? Awesome Tables slaps a ยฃ5000 per annum fee on your usage!

My educational not-for-profit organisation was not going to stump up for that, no way, no how. I needed a solution, and alternative. I knew that Awesome used javascript and Google Visualizations / Chartsย on its back end (not forgetting the html and css), I therefore decided to apply myself to the somewhat steep learning curve of google charts/visualizations. Continue reading

Google Visualization – Gauges

This is fun, a simple couple of gauges linked together, one showing revolutions per minute (rpm) the other showing speed, based upon 5th gear in a L322 Range Rover! I guess with more time than I have got it would be possible to code for the entire gearbox ๐Ÿ˜‰


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Google Visualization – Dependent Controls / Filters

When building a chart with controls (using a dashboard), you very often want to filter, then filter again. Lets say we have a people directory, with names, locations, and countries. You create a CategoryFilter for each of these. But it would make sense to filter by country, then be left with only those in that country, before filtering by location. This is how you do it.

Set up your filters:

Set up the table

Now we need to do the binding of the controls and the table:

You can see that we bind the country to the location, then the location to the people, then the people to the table. In this way, the filters become dependent on each other. In the simple demo below, you should see how – when a country is selected only the locations for that country show in the Location drop down.

Here is a full demo of this in operation:

Demo Open in Browser

ffmpeg encode for Powerpoint Viewer 2010

You setup a powerpoint presentation on your normal work machine, the encodes you did in mp4 worked just fine in the presentation. Save out to a stick and take it to the machine (an all in one touch screen 65″ with powerpoint viewer only) and all you see is a black screen where your video should be.

Scoured the interweb and tried three different encoding solutions, all of which resulted in a black screen.

I then upgraded the powerpoint viewer on the display machine from 2007 to 2010 (or the latest one I could find on the Microsoft pages). Bingo, the video started working.

Here is the encode I used which worked best, allowing proper full screen video, no black bars, etc.


Digital Signage with Google Slides and Chromium in Kiosk Mode

Another solution to digital signage, this time using Google Slides and Chromium (or Chrome) in Kiosk mode.

I am using the base of a linux install (Crunchbang) and Chromium, but the basics transfer across to Chrome and other OS platforms with some tweaking.


  • Kiosk Syntax
  • Fullscreen
  • The Google Slides Toolbar or Transport
  • Web Page Presentation
  • Updating the Slides
  • Sharing the Slides
  • Locking Down if keyboard/touchscreen in use

Am grateful for the work done by Mark Pajak at Bristol Museums on setting up Chrome/Chromium in kiosk mode, and to Google Slides users on the google groups forums and good old StackOverflow for other snippets.

As an overview, one needs to publish the google slides presentation, then pull this into an iframe on a web page. Then call chromium in kiosk mode to load that web page. Once the slides are loaded they will not update with new content unless the call to the slides is reset (page reload) so some html/javascript is required to refresh things. This all may seem a little disjointed at first but be patient, i will put it all together at the end with a workflow and example ๐Ÿ˜‰ Continue reading

Prevent: Waiting for Network Configuration Delays on cli boot

This is a dirty hack that tidies things up a bit, depending on how your cli system is set up. I was too lazy to hand configure my wireless card, so I used wicd-curses. However, this doesn’t kick in until I am booted up. So I get the waiting for network delays of @ 1.5 minutes on the plymouth screen. To remove these, I had to edit a file:

and then comment out the two sleep commands related to these messages, and comment out the resultant message about booting with no network. The segment in question should end up looking like this:

Just remember you have done this if you decide to change your networking approach!

Automating Framebuffer Digital Photo Frame

dpf6We have seen in my previous post how I setup the DPF to work against the framebuffer. Now it was time to automate things a bit.

Task List:

  • Autologin on Startup
  • Start gnu screen on Boot
  • Uploading New Images
  • Screen On/Off Timer
  • Reboot Timer
  • Shutdown Timer
  • Unique names/shuffle for file list
  • Cycle Colour Change for Clock ?

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Digital Picture Frame & Clock on the Framebuffer!

dpfBeen wanting to have a go at this for a long time, and finally found some time to sit down and hack my way through it. Everyone else on the web seems to have used X to do this, but encouraged by all the work done on the cli and framebuffer by KMandla I felt this could be done. Now I’ve done all the hard work, I am happy to share it with you!

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Rolling Video Player

Here is a nice little bash script that will keep repeating the same video over and over. I guess with a bit more work you could have more than one. In this case I used test.mp4 as the video, and as it was only 2 minutes long set a sleep time of 90 seconds. Amend these two parameters to suit