I received a project providing a system that will do the following things automatically:

  • Switch on every day at 9AM
  • Run a selected application such as video or Microsoft PowerPoint Slide
  • A remote administration can access the PC using web-based application to re-schedule running applications or upload new files
  • Shutdown at 10PM every night

As you probably already guessed, it’s a system that will eventually locate in Shopping Malls to display digital signage. Although currently on the market there are already existents of such solutions, I was advised that the project owner wanted it to be simple. The selling software out there is just too expensive but very detailed.

Here is the technical idea on how I’m gonna do the steps:

  • I will configure a server Linux server to host as a Torrent Tracker. This will balance load the host server when transferring Video files across the network of clients.
  • On client side I will host it using Windows XP Home. This would be fairly easy for their admin to play around.
  • I will use PHP on Windows to execute schtasks.exe for scheduling. However, schtasks.exe is not available on Windows XP Home. Therefore, I just copied the file from XP Pro and pasted into XP Home System32 folder.
  • I will install Another Bittorrent Client (ABC) at client side for files receiving.

This project is almost complete after couple weeks of testing. During the test period, I had major problem with auto login and running the Schtasks.exe on client windows. I will explain what had happened.

SCHTASKS.EXE

Schtasks.exe is a scheduling program that can be executed using ‘CMD’ command line. See it here for more information and usage example. This program comes along during Windows XP Pro installation. You can find it under windows/system32 folder.

In order for this program to work, when a scheduling is being placed, it will ask for the login password otherwise it will say ‘Could Not Start’. You can do scheduling with ‘SYSTEM’ option, but that will not execute any interactive application such as Video app or MS Power Point.

Therefore, I’ve taken the following steps to solve this issue.

Windows XP automatically logon
First I created a normal user on the client side and assigned a password to that account. Next, I will open ‘User Account’ window. To have the window do this: Click at Start -> Run and fill in this command ‘control userpasswords2’.

CMD control userpasswords2

At the ‘User Account’ windows I make sure to UNCHECK the “Users must enter the user name and password to use this computer”. Click ‘OK’ and a new window will pop-up to ask the default login account. I put the username and password I’ve created earlier on.

User Account Window

Put in the detail

That’s all to it. Now the client PC can be automatically login with the specific user account. Next thing, I would run the schtasks.exe with username and password of the logon account so that interactive applications can run properly.

schtasks.exe /create /SC ONCE /TN vid1 /TR “cmd /c \”C:\vlc\vlc.exe\” c:\travelkiosk.avi” /ST 17:53:00 /SD 04/25/2007 /RU “Fendy Ahmad” /RP password

I learned it. ;)

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