1.Getting Started

CloudPixel Brands
cloudpixel.com and cloudpixle.com are both valid URLs owned and operated by CLOUDPIXEL, INC.

Digital Signs 101- The basic ideas and goals for using digital signage.

1.1.Why digital signage?

Digital signage is embraced for four main reasons:

  • Engagement

    Digital Signage transforms the way you reach your current and prospective customers. It facilitates the transition from the dull static traditional printed signs, to dynamic, attractive, and interactive signs. A well managed digital sign with the right content is hard to overlook. It’s not a surprise that the most visited location in the world is Times Square; the home of digital signs.
    Digital signs allow you to play not only images, but video and audio content. This allows you to engage customers at a superior level that is impossible to achieve with traditional printed signs.
    Now, imagine having 200 different types of products, it’s impossible to display them all on a printed sign. But you can do it easily with a digital sign!

  • Cost

    Traditional signs are not only expensive to print, but they also require labor and time to install and change. With a digital sign, you only install once, and drive content to the display as often as you’d like.
    Question: How many times have you noticed a mistake in your sign after it has been printed? Save time and money, and go digital.

  • Flexibility

    This is where digital signage excels the most. Digital Signage Cloud Platforms allows for central management making it much simpler and faster to manage a network of displays anywhere around the globe, from any location where internet is available.
    Push content almost immediately to your displays. There’s no need to wait days or weeks to have your signs printed, delivered and installed.
    Express yourself and your brand. Digital signs allow for different types of media content. Pick the ones that represents your brand the best. Your creativity can truly be unleashed!
    Experiment with deals and discounts. With a digital sign you can setup your pricing campaigns, adjust them as you wish to be able to measure impact.
    Found a spelling mistake after your media has been pushed to the screen? No worries, fix it on the fly… There’s no need to re-print.

  • Green

    That’s right, NO trees were ever harmed in making a digital sign.

1.2.What is digital signage?

A Digital sign is any electronic display (LCD, LED, plasma display, tablet, projector, etc..) that is used to display information, alerts, advertisement or announcements. A restaurant might use it to show a menu or meal specials while a retail store can use it to show discounts and announce new merchandise. The uses and applications of digital signage are numerous.

Have you seen one recently? They are all around us.

Digital signs are widely being deployed in both public and private environments.  The wide spread is due to their effectiveness in delivering messages to the public as well as to their cost-saving benefits. Digital signs are widely spread in retail stores, hotels, restaurants, corporate offices, government, educational institutions and outdoor billboards.

1.3.How Does Digital Signage Work?

There are three main types of digital signs:

  1. Un-managed: These are the stand-alone digital signs that are typically connected to a DVD player or a smart TV that is playing the content of a USB drive plugged into it.
  2. Managed: These are the digital signs that can be managed through the network.
  3. Cloud-based: These are the digital signs that can be managed directly through the internet.
Signs are typically easier to setup but are hard to update and manage their content. This setup is typically ideal for a single screen with almost no content change. Running a network of Unmanaged signs is typically hard, time consuming and not cost effective.
This type of setup offers more flexibility thank the un-managed setup. Some organizations host their own internal digital signage management application and run a digital signage network in-house. The main advantage of this approach is typically having full control over the application and application patching. The main disadvantage is cost. In this setup, an organization is responsible for all costs associated with running and maintaining the network and the applications.
Cloud Solutions:

CloudPixel is an example of a cloud-based solution. The advantages of utilizing Cloud-based solutions are numerous, here are some of them:

  • Cost efficiency – no need for capital investments to acquire servers or software
  • Ease of access from anywhere around the world
  • Scalable system – ability to add an unlimited number of users and an unlimited number of devices (screens)
  • Real-time backup – maximum up-time and disaster recovery built-in
  • Automatic software upgrades and updates
  • Minimal administration and maintenance cost

1.4.The 3 Components of Digital Signage

Regardless of the digital signage type, all digital signs share the same 3 components. There’s the Hardware, the application and the content.

The 3 Components

2.Setting up an CloudPixle account

There are 3 easy steps to get your first digital sign up and running:

Start by plugging in your computer (also known as device) to your TV or any other display screen. CloudPixel app is compatible with Windows, Linux and Mac OSX operating systems.
Intel Compute Sticks are widely used among our clients.

Add a digital sign device

Now you are ready to activate your device.
** Please note: although CloudPixel’s web interface constantly changes to make it better, functionality remains consistent.

Adding Media Content
Setting up Slideshows

This is the step in which you group your media content and publish to your device(s).

2.1.Running CloudPixel's Player on Linux

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Why Linux?   Linux is definitely our favorite Operating System for digital signage.  Why? Because it’s fast, because it secure, control, privacy and a huge community of users who can answer any question you have.

Did I mention customizability? you can customize anything from look to function.  All of that you can run on tiny PCs (compute sticks) that you can purchase as low as $60!!!

 

Setting up Linux Players

There’re a few steps that you will need to perform to ensure that your Linux devices will run autonomously. The goal is to have minimal to no interaction with the device/screen once installed.

The following instructions will work with most Linux distributions.

1. Update your linux distribution: Open Terminal and run the following commands:

apt-get update
apt-get upgrade

Run as root (admin) by using “sudo” before the command if you get an access error.

2.  Download and install CloudPixel’s player application.  Get the latest player from the Download page

3.  Auto login / disable login screen.  This step is to make sure that the computer doesn’t prompt for a username and password and proceeds directly into Linux.

go to Settings > User accounts, click “Unlock” and enter your password, then click the button next to “Automatic login”

4. Auto start the CloudPixel player at startup.
Open the Dash and search for “Startup Applications”. Click on Add and enter the command (location of the player). By default the player is installed in /user/local/bin/CloudPixelPlayer

5. Disable Suspend when inactive.
Settings → Power -> Suspend when inactive for : Don’t suspend

6. Disable Screen Lock and Screen Saver:
Go to Settings > Brightness & Lock
Turn screen off when inactive for: Never
Lock > OFF

7. Auto restart computer once a week. Even linux needs a restart once in awhile to free up resources. We think that once a week is more than enough but we will leave the frequency up to you. For that we will need to setup a cron job.

Open your terminal and type
Crontab -e
Add the following command to restart every sunday at 4:30 AM
30 4 * * 0 shutdown -r now

That’s all. Enjoy!!

Pre-Configured Intel Compute Stick

We have a pre-configured Intel Compute Stick to help you get started quickly with CloudPixel.

Get Started Quickly

With a pre-configured Intel Compute Stick you can be up and running in minutes. Simply plug this mini computer into your screen’s HDMI port, connect to your wireless network, enter your Display Activation Code into your CloudPixel account, and that’s it!!! You are done.

$80 - Click Me!

Looking for Content? Check out other blog posts for more content tools and tips. If you’re looking to install a digital sign, or create engaging content, we can help!

If you like this post, share it with your friends and colleagues via email or on social media, and you’ll have our sincerest gratitude!

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3.Ports

Port Requirements

CloudPixel requires internet connection only to operate. In most organizations all outbound ports are permitted by default. In certain environments where they are legally obligated to be more strict, the following port permissions need to be manually added. To allow traffic to flow between the CloudPixel Player app and the cloud servers, it’s recommended to allow traffic to *.cloudpixel.com via ports:

1. Port 80
2. Port 9090
3. Port 5004

** If wildcard subdomains are not permitted, you may open traffic to io.cloudpixel.com. Have further questions, log a support ticket.

4.Common hardware display challenges and how to fix them

So you’ve decided to deploy a new digital sign. Congratulations!!!
Although, it might be easy to roll out digital signs with CloudPixel, you may still experience a hardware related issue. We have compiled the following list of the five most common issues and how to fix them:

Problem 1: No Picture / Black Screen

Cause: This problem is commonly the result of a cabling issue.
Solution: Check if the cable is connected properly. Try using a shorter cable, if you are using a HDMI cable. If you are using a DVI display, check if the cable supports High-Bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP). Make sure the CloudPixel player device is powered up. Also, should check the input selection on your screen, make sure it’s set to the correct input.

Problem 2: White Noise

Cause: White noise is typically the result of using a display device that does not support HDCP.
Solution: Use a device that can support HDCP or switch your setup to use a HDMI cable. Test your content on a different display if you are not sure if your display supports HDCP.

Problem 3. Color Tint

Cause: This is a color encoding issue.  Often caused by using adaptors to convert from HDMI Source to a DVI display.
Solution:Try using HDMI cable (RGB color encoding) instead of component cable (YpbCr color encoding) or checking the device color and tint settings.

Problem 4: Flickering

Cause: Flickering is typically the result of of either very long cables, bad cables or radio frequency interference.
Solution: Replace your cable with a shorter certified HDMI cable.
Turn off the source of the radio interference to check if that’s the actual cause of the problem..

Problem 5: Sparkles

Cause: Typically the result of using low grade HDMI cable, or a cable that is too long.
Solution: Replace your cable with a shorter certified HDMI cable.

Happy Troubleshooting!!!

5.General Tips

Best practice techniques can help produce superior results.

5.1.The Basics: Safe & Secure Passwords

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Everyone and every company will eventually get hacked. It’s not even a question of “will we get hacked?”, but rather, “when will we get hacked?”
In 2016, some of the big name companies we trust experienced security breaches. Companies like LinkedIn, Yahoo and e-Harmony were hacked.
You are probably wondering why security breaches are on the rise. Well it’s simple, really.

It’s not a question of “will we get hacked?” But rather “when will we get hacked?”

Password cracking algorithms are getting better while our passwords are getting weaker!
Don’t make it easy for the hackers to hack your account. There are many measures you can take to make your account more secure. The simplest and easiest measure is your password… Here is what you can do:

Long password – 8 or more characters long

Include numbers and special characters (i.e. #, $, %, etc…)

Include uppercase and lowercase characters

Don’t forget to change your password often enough; every 30-90 days.

You may also consider using a password manager such as 1Password or LastPass – to auto-generate and store your passwords safely.

If you like this post, share it with your friends and colleagues via email or on social media, and you’ll have my sincerest gratitude!

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6.Billing & Pricing

The different plans offered by CloudPixel and which one is the perfect fit for your needs.

6.1.Billing

How are accounts billed?

Each account is billed between the first and the 7th day of the month based on the number of devices.   Credit card on file is automatically charged.

Do I get charged while my device is off?

Yes. All devices are billed for, even if they are off. Each device consumes server resources; CPU, RAM and disk space even when it’s not being used. To avoid getting charged for a device that is no longer needed please delete the device.

Are payments secure?

Yes, all payments are secured, and processed though Braintree, a PayPal company. All transactions are encrypted and processed with accordance to PCI standards. Braintree is a validated Level 1 PCI DSS Compliant Service Provider

What are the accepted payment types?

Credit and Debit Cards. There are more available options for enterprise customers.

If you have a billing question please contact the billing department at billing@cloudpixel.com

7.FAQ

Can I use any Windows device?

Cloudpixel player is designed to run on Windows 7 and newer versions of Windows. We love compute sticks because of their size and ease of installation.
We recommend that you enable auto login and disable windows notifications. By default CloudPixel’s application runs at startup in full screen mode.
Also you might want to check Microsoft’s article on setting up kiosk mode in Windows 10: https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/itpro/windows/manage/set-up-a-kiosk-for-windows-10-for-desktop-editions

Can I use an OSX device? How about Linux?

Yes, CloudPixel supports all MAC devices running OSX 10.9 or newer. As well as devices running Linux. We conduct most of our testing and QA on Ubuntu and Debian.

Where can I purchase the hardware from?

CloudPixel sells and manufacture customized hardware for some of its clients. However, you may purchase hardware from any of your favorite vendors. If you need help locating hardware, let us know.

What are the recommended displays?

Cloudpixel can run on any screen, TV, monitor, projector, you name it. We support different formats and resolutions, as well as vertical and horizontal screen orientations.

Can I use tablets?

Of course. A tablet is ideal for customer engagement and interaction activities, such as, searching inventory, surveying and collecting data from your customers.

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