Chrome Blog

My experience with Google Chrome Sign Builder

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Many of my partners and customers are asking me about the Chrome Sign Builder by Google.
So, I did a quick evaluation and as for now it seems like the URL widget (also known as “web page widget”) of NoviSign combined with a scheduler.

It is better to call it, I believe, “Google Sign scheduler utility” rater than “Sign builder” or “sign platform”.

Google Chrome Sign Builder

We can say that Chrome Sign Builder by Google is a nice digital signage utility happening to push forward the signage market. With the Sign Builder, it will let you schedule web content to be displayed on Chrome OS devices (such as Chromebook, Chromebox, Chromebit and Chromebase).

See the following link to learn more about the Sign Builder by Google in the Chrome Store market:
https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/chrome-sign-builder/odjaaghiehpobimgdjjfofmablbaleem

See the NoviSign link for the NoviSign online Studio (digital signage CMS):
https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/novisign-studio-for-digit/dfdapkjlkicjglbmoebpphldabhlpgja

We’ll be happy if you share with us more by feedback to
support@novisign.com

Thanks,
Steve

7 Tips for setting a Chromebit for digital signage

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So, you got your self a brand new Chromebit (Google’s Chrome OS based dongle) in 85 USD. Now what? You’d like to establish a digital signage for your business based on the Chromebit. So, how to do it?
Google Asus Chromebit for digital signage
1. First, get your self a TV with HDMI port. Connect the TV, using the HDMI cable provided with the Chromebit to the Chromebit (if you like to use a longer cable, you’ll also need to use a small adapter). The Chromebit and TV should be plugged in to power. Now, connect a USB switch to the single USB port of the Chromebit and to that switch attach a mouse and a keyboard. You’re ready to go.

2. Now, you need to install a digital signage app to display your signage. However, since the Chromebit should run 24/7, it need to be in Kiosk mode (single app mode). Here is how to put your non-managed Chromebit in Kiosk mode and install the NoviSign software as the single app on it.

3. Google has a wonderful Device Management Console which you can use to remotely managed your Chrome OS devices (i.e. Chromebook, Chromebox, Chromebit and Chromebase). It is cheap and can come in handy. Here is how to use the Google Device Management Console and Kiosk mode on your Chromebit.

4. Once you have your Chromebit provisioned (that means it is managed by the Google Device Management Console), you can perform many actions on it by remote. Actions like: extracting log files out of it, setting its orientation to be portrait or landscape (screen rotation), take screen captures, get indication of its status, control its OS version and more.

5. Restrict the Chrome OS version (better do it using the Device Management) to 47, in order to avoid the Cryptohome bug.

6. Installing the digital signage software is easy, but what if you have many Chromebits which you have to deploy at many of your customers’? You can use Google White Glove service, which will get them to you already configured as they should be, saving you all this precious IT time.

7. Chromebit has only 2GB RAM. In most cases it’s enough, but sometimes for better performance you might need more memory (4GB) and stronger processor. In that case, you might want to use a Chromebox instead (Google’s TV box). Here is a variety of Chromeboxes you might want to consider.

May the Chrome be with you.

Nir.

Chromebase – Google’s tablet of Chrome OS

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So, that’s the last missing piece in the puzzle. After having a laptop (Chromebook), TV box (Chromebox) and a dongle (Chromebit) based on the slim operating system known as Chrome OS, the last thing to appear was a tablet called Chromebase.
AOpen Chromebase for digital signage
Like most of the other products, the Chromebase is not manufactured by Google itself, but rather than that it is manufactured by Google’s partners, such as Acer, LG and AOpen. Acer and AOpen already sell a Chromebox, so it was natural for them to move forward to the tablet. All of the Chromebase manufacturers call it “All-in-One” computer, as you have the screen + the computer in a one piece.
 

 
You know what? Maybe this is not the last piece of the puzzle of Google Chrome OS. Maybe the last piece will be a wearable watch or a smartphone based on Chrome OS. That’s my hunch, but let’s wait and see.

Now, let’s take a look at the specs:

LG ChromebaseLG Chromebase
Size (diagonal): 21.5″
Weight: 7.7 lbs
Suggested price: 350 USD
Operating system: Chrome OS
Builtin webcam: yes
Processor: Intel dual-core Celeron 2955U (1.4Ghz)
Resolution: Full HD 1080p
Virus protection: yes
Memory: 2GB RAM
Storage: 16GB SSD
Wireless: 802.11a/b/g/n, BT Combo
LAN: RJ45
USB 3.0: front
USB 2.0: x 3 rear
Headphone out / Mic in combo: yes
Chrome keyboard (wired) and regular mouse: yes

Acer ChromebaseAcer Chromebase
Size (diagonal): 21.5″
Weight: 9.7 lbs
Touch screen
Suggested price: 300 USD
Operating system: Chrome OS
Builtin webcam: yes
Processor: Nvidia Tegra K1 quad-core (2.1Ghz)
Resolution: Full HD 1080p
Memory: 4GB RAM
Storage: 16GB SSD
HDMI port: rear
Bluetooth: 4.0
Wireless: 802.11a/b/g/n
LAN: RJ45
USB 3.0: rear
USB 2.0: x 2 front
SD card slot: rear
Audio jack: rear
[Requires a keyboard and a regular mouse]

AOpen ChromebaseAOpen Chromebox (commercial grade)
Size (diagonal): 21.5″
Weight: 14.3 lbs
Touch screen: supports 10 points
Suggested price: 1,000 USD
Operating system: Chrome OS
Builtin webcam: yes
Processor: Intel N2930 quad-core (2.16Ghz)
Resolution: Full HD 1080p
Memory: 4GB RAM
Storage: 16GB SSD
HDMI port: yes
Bluetooth: 3.0 and 4.0 compatibility
Wireless: Long range A/B/G/N/AC – 2.4 and 5Ghz
LAN: RJ45
LAN: RJ50 Type RS232 x 4 powered (12v, 5v, 0v selectable)
USB 2.0: x 6
Combo audio jack: mic-in / mic-out:
yes
Chrome keyboard (wired) and regular mouse: yes

These are definitely news for the Chrome OS digital signage as now we have a Chrome OS based tablet. Welcome Chromebase digital signage!

Nir

Fonts in Chromebox and Chromebit

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Fonts in Chromebox and Chromebit are different than what we are used with Windows or Android. Also, the web is very thin with posts about this issue (more likely that you will find posts about Chromebook font issues rather than Chromebox font or Chromebit font issues), that’s why we have published this post.
Chrome OS fonts
In Windows, you just need to copy the font TTF files to the C:\Windows\Fonts folder and you can immediately start using them (here is how to add fonts in our Windows digital signage app). In Android, you also need to copy the font files to somewhere in the file system (here is how to add fonts in our Android digital signage app) to be used by a certain app or to the system font folder, if you want them to be used by the whole Android (for that, your device should be rooted).

But when it comes to Chrome OS, it’s not straight forward as one might expect it to be. The thing is that you cannot add fonts directly by copying and pasting the font files (as far as I know).
You might need extra fonts in case you use your Chrome OS device for Chromebox digital signage or Chromebit digital signage or in some other cases.
In order to add fonts to Chrome OS based device such as Chromebox or Chromebit, you have to take another turn.

Before everything, one must know that the Chrome OS uses WebFonts (which can be TrueType or OpenType fonts, like in Windows for example) or actually called “Woff” or CSS fonts. Woff is just a container with compression; Chrome OS supports all TTF, OTF and WOFF fonts as well. Another thing is that there are “system fonts” while there are just “fonts” for applications, etc. System fonts are the fonts which are being used by the Chrome OS operating system to display the operating system itself. Google has an extensive font database for that. You can change your system font settings by going to the profile icon on the bottom right corner of the screen, then choose the “Settings” and type “font” into the “Search Settings” textbox at the top of the screen.

The more interesting are the “other” non-system fonts which should be useful in apps, like Chromebox digital signage and Chromebit digital signage apps.

When it comes to Chromebox, all is based on the web as the app’s lifecycle scope is within a web browser. Even though, you install an app (as a digital signage app) that opens in the app’s window and not in a browser, still it is a local website which you watch via the Chrome browser.
Therefore, the attitude should be looking at website fonts. If you need to use a font on a website, all that matters is not that the font is on your Chromebox, but that it is in the web service or website you’re in. In digital signage app, when the app plays locally, you need to have the fonts somewhere, in the cache probably.

So, what to do? Either the app should have the extra fonts in the cache or you should install an app that adds more WebFonts to your Chrome browser. If you search for “install font” in the Chrome Web Store (https://chrome.google.com/webstore) you may find few things, but not necessarily those fonts which you are in need of. So, if you’re the app’s developer, make sure the WebFonts are already included in your app.

Nurit.

Can I use Chromecast with NoviSign?

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Chromecast is Google miracasting dongle for Chrome browser. It can show you on the TV screen connected to the Chromecast – whatever you have on your Chrome browser on your laptop or smartphone or tablet.
Maybe not ideal for digital signage, but there is a way to use it with NoviSign system.

This is the way: you need to use the link player (also called “browser player”) on the Chrome browser on your device (PC, tablet, smartphone) and transmit it to the Chromecast which is connected to the TV (this post will show you how to cast the Chrome browser to the Chromecast: https://support.google.com/chromecast/answer/2998338). This way, your Chrome browser is going to be a Chrome sign builder!
Now, how to use the link player? The link player, like its name, is a link, a URL which you type in your browser, like an internet website and surf to.
To get the full link to be pasted there, you need to enter your account in the online Studio (app.novisign.com), then go to the “Players” tab.

Chrome link playerIn the Players tab, you can do one of two:
1. Click the link in the “Player Link” column which is in the same line of the player you wish to play. Then, a new browser tab will open itself with that link. All you need to do is to copy the link from the URL line of the browser and use it in a Chrome browser in any device which will be casting to the Chromecast.
2. Check the checkbox of the player which you wish to play and then click the “Edit” button. Near the line which is called “Player Link”, you have the link (probably you won’t see it all as it is too long), press the “Copy Link” button which is in the same line and then paste the clipboard to your Chrome browser to be used immediately or just to a notepad, so you’ll be able to fully see it in order to type it in a another device.

Please notice that the Chrome browser on the device which is going to run that link player, should support Flash (possible by extension or an app), since the link player is Flash based.

The optimal solution will be either Chromebox or Chromebit.

Here is how to put your Chromebit or Chromebox in a Kiosk mode and install our digital signage app on it:
To put your non-managed Chromebit or Chromebox in Kiosk mode, click here.
To set your Chromebit or Chromebox to be managed device (provisioned) using Google Device Management Console (and in Kiosk mode as well), click here.

If you do not wish to have your Chromebit or Chromebox in a Kiosk mode (which is important for digital signage), you can use the following manual to install our digital signage software app.

Gil.

What is Google Cryptohome (“settings forgetting”) bug of Chromebox and Chromebit and how to overcome it?

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Google Chrome OS Cryptohome bug
In this post I’m going to tell you about Google’s Cryptohome bug.
The Cryptohome bug as it is called in the web is a bug that can be found either in Google’s Chromebox and Chromebit.

The bug has 2 variations that you can encounter after enrolling your Chrombox to be provisioned using Google Device Management Console (I’m talking about a case where your Chromebox is in Kiosk mode): in one variation, after enrolling it to be provisioned, the Chromebox installed the Kiosk app (we tested it on a Chromebox digital signage app) and then started playing the app. After awhile (can be minutes or hours or maybe more), when we plugged the power off (not using the on/off button, but just plugging off) and then reconnected it, the Chromebox or Chromebit booted to the screen where you need to choose the network and language, like if we never enrolled it to be provisioned; the other variation is similar, however, in that case, the Chromebit boots to the Kiosk app, but all the settings which you manually put there in the app before have disappeared. It looks like in this case, the Chromebit “remembers” it is still provisioned, but everything on the device itself was erased (and the app has just been re-installed itself).

This can be problematic and make one an embarrassment. However, searching the web for the possible cure for this bug (till Google will solve it by a new version of Chrome OS), brought us into 2 different solutions that might work here. We tried them both and so far the symptom hasn’t happened, but we cannot guarantee 100% success.

One way to overcome this “amnesia” symptom is this: after enrolling the Chromebit, let the Kiosk app on it run for few minutes. Then shut down the device using the on/off button. Then count 10 seconds and turn it on again using the on/off button. That’s it. Probably the “organized” shut down saves something to the device itself, similar to the behavior of Microsoft Windows. This solution is good for the case when your Chromebit or Chromebox is not non-managed by the Google Device Management, but not only.

Second way to overcome this “forgetting” syndrome is this: limit the the Chrome OS version of the device to 47.* (like if the Cryptohome bug is a result of higher Chrome OS versions) BEFORE enrolling the Chromebit to be provisioned. This you should do in the Device Management Console, by setting the setting called “Restrict Google Chrome version to” to at most of “47.*” in the settings of the Chrome devices (Go to “Device Management” -> “Chrome Devices” -> “Chrome Device Settings” -> “Restrict Google Chrome version to at most” should be set to 47.*). If you haven’t changed the default settings of the “Device Update Settings” block there, this should do the trick. This way is good for provisioned Chromebit.

Third way can be a combination of the 2 above mentioned ways. It’s possible only when the Chromebox/Chromebit was enrolled to the Device Management.

So, why is it called “Cryptohome”? Maybe because it’s like a crypta tunnel that takes you back to the same place where you started at.
Good luck Chrome OS users!

Eli.

How to update Chrome Web Store apps on your Chromebox and Chromebit?

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This article will explain you how to upgrade an app (also called “extension”) which was installed from the Chrome Web Store on your Chromebit or Chromebox, as the Chrome Web Store is a little bit different than the Google Play Store (market) and than Apple’s AppStore.

Before I start, you must be aware that a Chromebox or a Chromebit may be provisioned. “Provisioned” means that the Chromebox has passed the Chromebox enterprise enrollment which puts it under remote control of the Device Management Console of Google, which allows you to remotely control many aspects of it. One common usage is the Chromebox and Chromebit kiosk mode which allows the device to run a single app for 24/7 as it should, like in Chromebit digital signage app.

Update Chrome Web Store app
In case the Chromebox is provisioned and in Kiosk mode, then once the app was upgraded in the Chrome Web Store by its creator, it will take a couple of hours till the app will be auto updated in each of your enrolled Chromebit and Chromebox units (as long as they are online). This is the default behavior (unless you changed it in the Kiosk settings in the Device Management Console).

It is more challenging, when the device is not enrolled.
In order to upgrade the app, you will need to open the Chrome browser on that Chromebox. So, in case of Chromebox or Chromebit which is in a non-managed Kiosk mode, you’ll have to press the Ctrl + Alt + S while the device boots, in order to temporary exit the Kiosk mode and reach the login page.

After logging into the Chromebit, you need to take the following steps:
1. Open the Chrome browser.
2. In the URL field, type: chrome://extensions
3. Make sure that the “Developer mode” checkbox (in the top right corner of the browser) is checked. If not, check it.
4. A button called “Update Extensions Now” should be around. Click it.
5. The app will be updated and might look as disabled during the update.
6. Scroll down to find the app which you have just upgraded. Make sure it is enabled (the “Enabled” checkbox is checked). If it is not enabled, check it. A popup window might appear, asking you to confirm the app’s permissions. In that case, just click the “Re-enable” button.
7. Log out and then reboot the device.

May the signage be with you!
Nir.

Your Chromebox enters sleep mode when the screen is off. What then?

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A couple of customers asked me what to do when the Chromebox, which we use for Chromebox digital signage, “goes to sleep” or actually enters some sleep mode (or like hibernate mode in Windows OS) after I turn off or disconnect the attached screen for some time. Well, first thing to know is that it won’t enter the sleep mode immediately. It will take some time. How long? That depends in the certain Chromebox which you have (and there are several types of Chromeboxes in the market).
Caffeine and Keep Awake Chrome extensions
 

 
The first thing you can do is to put your Chromebox in Kiosk mode (if you have a Chromebit instead, consider it as Chromebit Kiosk mode). You can do it when your Chromebox is a non managed device and of course when your Chromebox was enrolled into Google’s Chrome Device Management (which gives you a lot of other remote management options, but costs you an annual license).

Usually, when it comes to Chrome OS digital signage, you will prefer the Kiosk mode as the signage player should run 24/7.

However, what if you do not put it in Kiosk mode? For that, there are 2 recommended apps which can be downloaded from the Chrome Web Store. The first one is called “Caffeine”. It’s plugin or actually an extension for the Chrome browser: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/caffeine/miadkhnklmfgdcoibbjfmdnljfkbhlng?hl=en
The second one is called Keep Awake. It is also a plugin: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/keep-awake/bijihlabcfdnabacffofojgmehjdielb?hl=en
If you have some time, you can also read this article.

May the digital signage force be with you.
Nir.

How to put your non-managed Chromebox in Kiosk mode

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This post will show you how to put your Chromebox in Kiosk mode without having to enroll it into the Google Device Management. This post might also work for Chromebase (Google’s Chrome OS tablet) and Chromebit (Google’s Chrome OS dongle which can have its Chromebit kiosk mode as well). Kiosk mode is essential compound in Chromebox digital signage (or Chromebit digital signage, if you like), as it will allow it to run 24/7. Here it is:

1. Wipe the data on the Chromebox.

2. After the wipe is completed, you will be at the welcome screen (this is the screen where you need to input your network information, but DO NOT LOGIN to the Chromebox).

3. At the login screen, press Ctrl + Alt + K and enable the Kiosk mode (this key combination works only if no one has EVER logged in to this Chromebox). If Ctrl + Alt + K does not trigger anything, it might be because you already have some data on this Chromebox and power wash data wipe doesn’t work (it doesn’t remove everything). In that case, you’ll need to do a rubuild on the Chromebox, by the following procedure:
   a) Turn off the Chromebox.
   b) Put a paperclip (or pushpin) into the recovery button hole.
   c) Press down the recovery button with a paperclip while turning on the device.
   d) Press Ctrl + D.
   e) Press the recovery button with the paperclip again. The device reboots and displays a red exclamation point.
   f) Press Ctrl + D. The Chromebox reboots and starts the transition to developer mode. This clears all local data and takes approximately 10 minutes.
Chromebox Kiosk mode
4. Login into the Chromebox.

5. Open a new tab in the Chrome browser and surf to chrome://extensions .

6. Check the checkbox next to the Developer Mode. This is the Chromebox developer mode (or Chromebit developer mode, in case of Chromebit), which will allow you to do some extra actions.

7. Click the “Manage kiosk applications…” button and enter the ID of the Kiosk App you’d like to enable (our branded digital signage app ID is: cgbmainpflhejjdmfbcnmognmlngbkfn).

8. Press the “Add” button. The app will appear above.

9. Highlight the Kiosk app and click the “Set to auto-launch” button.

10. Press the “Done” button.

11. Reboot the Chromebox and when asked (if you’re not asked, wait few minutes and then reboot it), enable app for Kiosk mode.

12. Now, the app will auto launch each time you reboot.

13. To prevent the Google “Cryptohome” bug (the device might “forget” the app’s settings), let the app start running the playlist, then turn off the Chromebox, using the on/off button, count 10 seconds and then turn it back on.

To Turn off Kiosk Mode, begin by rebooting the Chromebox. While the device is starting up, press the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + Alt + S to interrupt the process and return to the login screen.

Chromebook White Glove Service

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Chromebook White Glove Service
For those of you who do not know that, Google provides a service called “Chromebook White Glove Service“.
This service is for those of you who would like to buy Chromebooks and get them when they’re already configured with your network credentials, enrollment to Google Device Management Console, applying network configuration settings, WiFi and more.

I tried to search (yes, Google search engine) for White Glove Service for other Chrome OS devices such as Chromebox, Chromebase and Chromebit, but I have found nothing. I suppose that if they still don’t have this service for those other Chrome OS device, they will have it soon, since the Chrome Device Management Console is supposed to manage not only Chromebooks, but also Chromebox, Chromebase and Chromebit.

Once we can confirm the other Chrome OS devices, this is a great solution for big installations of Chrome OS digital signage. Something you might want to consider in such cases.

Let’s wait and see.

Yuri.