Jamie Thomson

Thoughts, words and deeds

Windows Live FrameIt and RSS powered Windows 7 desktop slideshows

with 7 comments

Earlier today Long Zheng published a blog entry called RSS-powered Windows 7 desktop slideshows where he shows how in Windows 7 it is possible to create RSS powered slideshows for your desktop using Windows 7 Themes. He provided 3 examples, each of which took an RSS feed of photos from Flickr and displayed those photos at 30 minute intervals on the Windows 7 desktop.

Pretty cool stuff, but I figured I could use Windows Live FrameIt to do something a lot more useful than just show photos. For those that don’t know, Windows Live FrameIt enables you to display photos from the internet on a digital photo frame in your home although at its core all it does is output an RSS feed of visual content so there’s no reason why it can’t be used in other places as well.

I live near London so I have created a London themed FrameIt collection which you can see at http://london-info.frameit.com/; it currently incorporates up-to-date Weather information and a BBC London news feed (I’ll be adding more later I’m sure) and this results in a collection of pictures showing London-related information.

Once you have your RSS feed the trick is to incorporate it into a Windows 7 theme. This is done by building a .theme file (instructions are here for the tech savvy people that can be bothered to read it) and including the following section within it:

image

The interval is measured in milliseconds; here I’ve set it to be 60000ms which means the image on your desktop will change every 60 seconds. “Shuffle=1” means it will pick an image at random and the RSSFeed property points to the URL of my Windows Live FrameIt feed. For those that are interested in seeing London-related information on their desktop I have made the .theme file available on my Skydrive at http://cid-550f681dad532637.skydrive.live.com/self.aspx/Public/BlogShare/20090125/london%20info.theme

Download that file and double-click on it to install the theme. Bear in mind what Long says at this point:

The first time you double click to install the theme files you might find yourself enjoying nothing more than the default “beta fish” wallpaper, this is due to a number of bugs related to this feature. First of all, this feature utilizes the Windows RSS Platform which automatically refreshes and download feed enclosures in the background. Because this is a background process, it will take considerable time to download the high-resolution photos within the feed. But once the photos are downloaded, the theme does not automatically refresh to queue the new photos in the slideshow. A logout/login should be sufficient, but more simply you could open the theme control panel and toggle between two themes to force a manual refresh.

Once you’ve done all of that then, voila, you’ll have the latest BBC London news and the local up-to-date weather displayed on your desktop:

windows 7 desktop windows live frameit Yes, that IS a Windows 7 desktop

If you want to use a different Windows Live FrameIt feed in there all you have to do is open the .theme file in Notepad and edit the RSSFeed property as appropriate – you’ll probably want to change the DisplayName property to something more appropriate as well.

The really cool part about this is that if I want to go and see something different on my various desktops I don’t have to go and change the theme on each machine, I just have to head to http://frameit.live.com to make the change and it will automatically flow to all of my devices. Software plus services in full effect!

Now, just think of the possibilities here – literally anything that is available as an RSS feed (currently with a few caveats – as pointed out by Long) can now be displayed on your Windows Desktop. I’m not even leveraging the full power of Windows Live FrameIt either which is far more feature-rich than I’ve talked about here. Talk about bringing the information to you! I’d love to see this available on Windows Mobile as well!

Do you think this as cool as I do? Let me know if you create your own FrameIt feeds for your desktop and share some screenshots on your own blog as well if you have one.

Also, can you think of any more information I could include at http://london-info.frameit.com? I was thinking about an events feed from http://upcoming.org for starters. Watch this space!

-Jamie

UPDATE: I’ve added London traffic updates to http://london-info.frameit.com!

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Written by Jamiet

January 25, 2009 at 7:31 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

7 Responses

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  1. Nice article, good job and thanks. Gonna give it a go.

    George

    January 25, 2009 at 10:36 pm

  2. This is my wish list four windows live frameitTune into one of our many internet radio options. Pandora Radio builds personalized music playlists based on artists or songs you like. SHOUTcast streams thousands of free online radios stations from around the world. The New York Times, CBS, and Mediafly offer podcasts on a ton of topics, like news, sports, comedy, fitness, science, travel, languages, entertainment, and much more. Radio Free windows live has a dozen stations you can quickly tune into. Own a Squeezebox device? You can stream your music collection over the windows live. Want even more Internet radio options? You can enter a URL for any stream in MP3, M3U, OGG or PLS formats.You can also listen to any MP3, M4A, AIFF and WAV files on your zune or ipod through the two stereo speakers while recharging it*. The windows live will also play music from USB storage devices that are in MP3, OGG, WAV, FLAC or M4A formats.Play classic games like Blackjack, Reversi, and Sudoku, as well as offbeat originals. Select a two-player game to play with a friend who has a windows live. Take advantage of the windows live motion sensor and play great new games like Chumball. Check out all of our widgets in the Games category.View and share popular video clips, off-beat animations, anime, vintage cartoons and media mashups from MSN Video,YouTube,VH1,CBS, and more. Enjoy videos from sites like YouTube and VH1, or build your own using the Animoto widget. Check out all of our widgets in the Video category.Windows live is perfect for the sports fanatic. Get the latest scores right on your chumby, or keep track of headlines through sources like CBS Sports and ESPN News Wire. You can even customize the information to only give you the scoop on the teams you care about. Check out all of our widgets in the Sports category.Tracking the progress on any eBay auction is as simple as entering the item number. Got an eBay account? Your windows live makes it easy to keep tabs on the items you’ve placed in your Watch List. If you’re a craigslist follower, you can check local classifieds and forums for 450 cities worldwide. Select your location, category, and search terms and see the results on your windows live. Or, enter a URL on the Advanced customization screen to include any location or search term. Email search results to yourself straight from your windows live! Check out all of our widgets in the Shopping category.With a windows live, wake up exactly when and how you’d like: to the adrenaline rush of rock music, The New York Times headlines, weather, sports, stock updates—any audio or visual content you choose.You can set a quick alarm, or customize alarms for sleeping later on weekends or reminding you of special events. Any type of windows live content can be selected to play at a particular time. Visit the Alarms page to learn about its features, or check out how easy it is to create a custom alarm that wakes you up to the internet radio station of your choice.Waiting for an email message? Use the Email Notifier to see the latest messages in any POP or Gmail account. Or use the Flashcan ecard tool to create a unique message to send to a friend’s real or virtual windows live. Check out all of our widgets in the Communications category or try out the Flashcan ecard builder.I sould bee able do all of the above on all digital photo frames.And windows live frameit with zune and xbox 360.

    Joseph

    January 26, 2009 at 12:48 pm

  3. Joseph,You haven’t really understood have you? FrameIt displays static visual content. It doesn’t play sounds. You can’t play games on it. What does "And windows live frameit with zune and xbox 360." mean?If you write nonsensical crap like this again I’m just going to delete it.-Jamie

    Jamie

    January 26, 2009 at 1:04 pm

  4. The sould bee a way stream photo from windows live frameit or windows live spaces two the xbox 360 and and the zune.I wood bee able share my photo in other way.Some of my friends do not digital photo frame thay have and xbox 360 this why iam asking windows use with the xbox 360.

    Joseph

    January 26, 2009 at 7:18 pm

  5. @Joseph: sounds like you took the description for a Chumby and replaced every instance of "Chumby" with "Windows Live." "Chumball" is a dead giveaway.@Jamie, I think this is brilliant. I’ll be giving it a go on my laptop, thanks.

    Matthew

    January 28, 2009 at 1:22 pm

  6. Has any tried two get there xbox game card work on windows live frameit can any help me this is bill if can help with this.

    bill

    January 31, 2009 at 8:07 pm

  7. Great post Jamie! Thanks :)

    Alex

    April 2, 2009 at 4:09 pm


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