Geeky Christmas Things

By | Wednesday, December 24, 2014 at 8:19 am

For the Christmas season, I’ve been playing with my options for using the living room TV for background entertainment when we don’t want to watch actual TV.  Here’s what I’ve settling on using.  Since I have a laptop (Windows 7) connected to the TV (LG 55″) via HDMI, I set it to having the TV as its main display.  I use Google Plus Images to download my albums “Christmas 2008”, 2009, etc., up to 2013.  This is extremely easy on G+, but next to impossible on Flickr.  Once those were downloaded, I renamed each photo (an entire folder at a time) to “Christmas 2013 – Photo xxx” (it auto-numbers them).  Then I created an executable slideshow using Slide Show Builder in FastStone Image Viewer, adding all of the photos from each year, set the transitions, and added caption text to the bottom left corner, which I set to include the photo’s filename and timestamp.  I set each photo for 15 seconds, and built the exe file.  There were a total of just over 600 photos.  I can optionally add music to the slideshow as well, but I left this out, since I prefer to just play an Amazon Music Station or my own music instead.  This turned out really nice.  Amazon has several different “Christmas” channels to choose from, as well as many other channels for whatever type of music I’m in the mood for, or I can easily play any of my own music, which Amazon has stored for me.  Amazon with hold up to 200,000 songs, I believe, which is certainly plenty for me.  And with Amazon Prime, all of the free music and stations is just a bonus.

I must say, it did take most of this month’s spare time (when I wasn’t playing Ingress) to find the best options for each of these tasks.  For example, I had no easy way of controlling the mouse and starting the music and slideshow without standing 6 inches from the TV until I found a decent “air remote” to use.  I needed an easy way to start and stop the slideshow and music on the computer in the living room. Eventually I found this. It has some great reviews and sounded perfect, so I went with it. It works great, exactly what I needed.

I also tried to find all my Christmas photos on Flickr and download them, which is ridiculously difficult to do, for some reason.  I tried using DisplayFusion first to simply randomly show Christmas photos straight from the web (using either G+ photos or Flickr), but as it turns out, there’s a limit to how many photos you can stream in an hour.  If I set it to only switch photos every minute, it works ok, but the other problem (with both photo services) is they both only seem to go back a couple hundred photos or so in my photostream.  This results in only being able to view recent photos, pretty much showing only this year’s photos and a few of last year’s.  This is when I decided to do everything local and just download exactly which photos I wanted to display.

So there you have it, my geeky Christmas slideshow.  We’re enjoying all of the old memories now, and look forward to this year’s festivities, which are starting today.  Now on with the holidaze!

Leave a Reply