Dear DisplayCos: Get Your Set-Up Act Together!

February 14, 2019 by guest author, Mitch Leathers

Guest Post: Luis Villafane, Maler

An Open Letter to Digital Signage Display Manufacturers:

This morning, I looked at myself in the mirror while shaving, and saw a ton of new white hair. Tons of it, sticking up from my head. So I thought I would take this depressing opportunity to bitch a little more about the industry.

Today’s turn:  Panel Manufacturers.  Personal note to Pete Bayley (former LG, who joined the Dark Side – Samsung) MALER misses you a lot!

Dear Display Manufacturers …

May I put together for you a team of field engineers, schedulers, CMS providers, programmers & COs?

I am sure we could do a nice roundtable for ALL of you to take notes on actual issues.  You can even write a few papers to help draw your next SOC & panel requirements.  This time, products based on field needs, not marketing ideas.

Like, for example, a beautiful brand new option that reads: “You MAY NOT RESET to factory defaults!” Just because the f***ing panel is installed in Denmark, and I am trying to control it from Spain, and there is no DHCP server available).

How about that one?  That suggestion is free of charge

I thought I implied it on my previous post, but I guess I was not clear enough:  You guys are pretty bad. I love all of you from the bottom of my heart, but you are really, really, really mean.

Something that should be a core basic function – simple, clear and almost lovely to implement – you have made so darn complicated that nobody (except me) seems to have the balls to really tell you: that you are doing it wrong.

Let me tell you why …

To manage all your panels (brands and models), I had to program 24 different commands just to do simple PowerOn. If it is via RS232 or via RJ45, the speed of the COM interface, the Variable IDs, some require log option, some don’t … aaargh.

To be able to power on a panel, which I used to do with my finger, now I need a PhD in literature and linguistics just to read the manual.

Are we joking? You guys are doing it on purpose and secretly laughing at us in your corporate meetings.  Ken Goldberg said on his reply to my previous post:  You need to sit down and talk to each other.

Then: PowerON is AAABBBBBBDDDCCCC, for everyone; then the standard for RS232 is:  so and so bauds … so on and so forth.   At the end of the day, you all have the same basic commands … and all we want is on, off, source.

I know that some of you may think that I am “full of it.”. So I am going to give you examples that prove that I know my shit. So, WITHOUT naming anyone – you will know who you are just by reading it:

Brand A

Logging into a panel remotely via their “nice web interface” (it is nice):

  1. Certificate Error
  2. Continue
  3. Password
  4. Enter the code
  5. I am not a robot
  6. Certificate Error
  7. Continue
  8. Finally get into the dashboard
  9. Get into the menu you want (and the menu does work).

Time Elapsed:  4 minutes.. I guess it is OK if I have 10 panels … but if I have 5,000 panels?  20,000 minutes = about 2 weeks non-stop, 24/7.

Brand B

Also to log in via web interface:

  1. You need to install latest Java… ok
  2. I do so.
  3. You now need to go into Java security settings, and enter the IP to the list of approved sites.  Then restart your browser.  I do so.
  4. I get a call from the Sys Admin asking me why I installed Java, who authorized it, that I am out of my mind, and that he will remove any rights I had as a user if I ever do that again.
  5. I remove Java
  6. I open a call to have the panel swapped.
  7. I hide in a corner, crying.

Brand C

  1. Easy log-in.  Just user and password. Fast and simple.  Love it.
  2. Web Interface for Source, it says:  DisplayPort
  3. I click on the remote control, input source:  it says HDMI 1920×1080. WTF?
  4. I check via RS232 it says its not responding.
  5. I give up and smash the panel with a rock.

Brand D

  1. Via RS232:  Status please.  It responds:  Powered ON
  2. via RS232:  Input source please.  It responds DP

-as you can see, even when I am programming I am very polite …

  1. PC status:  Powered on.
  2. Remote Player window via VNC:  I can see the content playing
  3. Intel Graphics on PC:  1 Output active, Primary 1920×1080
  4. Panel Visual Check: completely BLACK!
  5. F***!!!!

Brand E

  1. Open the interface
  2. Go into configuration and I see these three options (from many other ones just like them … meaning, I just chose these three)

[ ] Apply to Ent …

[ ] Apply to the current …

[ ] Read the number …

to Ent …  what?

current … what?  Configuration? system? panel?

… number of what?

I guess the translation from Chinese to English did not give them enough space to complete the sentences … but those phrases do seem important!!!  And no, to all of you smart-asses, passing the mouse over the phrases did not give you the end of the sentence.

Brand F

  1. two weeks after installing an app for digital signage, it says:  system needs to reset to factory settings
  2. No option to cancel, no option to do anything.  Just reset.

Brilliant. Now, let me deploy that to 10,000 SOC systems.

I think that all of you get the point.  I hope you now understand WHY I say that System On Chip “smart display” systems are not ready for corporate deployments yet.  Or why it takes us three weeks of testing to approve a single panel model for a production environment.

Seriously, all of you guys know there are issues. Please stop and think about them. Stop and talk to each other. Get standards meetings together!

Releasing new panels as if they were chocolates out of the Willy Wonka factory is not the way to do it.   At least, not for me.

Believe me, we want the SOC player and the panels, too. Nothing would give me more pleasure than not having to install a standalone media player ever again.

But unless all of you manufacturers get your shit together … you won’t get my approval for any of my clients.

Hugs and Kisses to all of you from my corner of Spain.  I know I could be mean, but you know I am really a nice guy.

  1. Ken Goldberg says:

    You are the best, Luis.

    It all reminds me of Animal House and Bluto’s famous line to Flounder after he wrecked Flounder’s father’s Cadillac on a drunken road trip:

    “Hey, you f**ked up, you trusted us.”

  2. Kevin Cosbey says:

    This is priceless. Thanks for the candid, honest, and funny write up. Sounds like display manufacturers should stick with what they’re good at…Displays. Leave the smart edge compute to quickly configurable x86 based media players. Just my 2 cents.

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