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OSX screen saver as message board

Thursday, July 21st, 2005

I’ve just finished the initial setup of a new message board system for the building in which I work. I used Quartz Composer to create a new RSS-based screen saver and subscribed to a weblog (created in WordPress) that was created solely for this purpose.

We purchased two relatively inexpensive LCD displays and our handy classroom tech team mounted them in the entrance area.

One of the initial problems we had was the fact that the screen saver doesn’t refresh the content until it is re-launched. I initially tried to put a refresh command into the Quartz document itself, but I’m not a programmer and couldn’t figure out how to do it. I discovered that if you stop and start the screen saver, it immediately refreshes the content. I should probably note that the content is actually updated in the background every 30 minutes (or by whatever schedule you’ve set up in Safari’s RSS preferences). Therefore, I created an Automator script that kills the screen saver process, relaunches it, waits another 30 min, then runs again.

Now it refreshes, but the screen flickers when the screen saver starts again.

I ended up going down a totally different path:

  • created AppleScript that quits the screen saver app, waits 2 seconds, then launches the screen saver app again
  • created a crontab entry to launch the AppleScript every 31 minutes

This is still an ugly hack. Does anyone have an idea of how to refresh the screen saver more elegantly?

(BTW, if anyone is interested, I can post pictures of the setup and any of the files that would be helpful.)


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