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In my office we have multiple TV's controlled by computers that display a slideshow of what is going on with the company. We also have music played on them and it is changed everyday by the receptionist remoting into each one. She closes out the slideshow, changes the pandora station, and will sometimes forget to open the slideshow again. Does anyone know a way that the receptionist can change the music on these machines without interfering with what the local account is doing?

All these machines are dell thin clients with windows 7 home premium, I'm thinking about installing enterprise on them all.

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Have you thought about doing a digital signage solution instead? There are a few open-source ones out there that you can test out to see if that concept would work better than manually managing a number of Windows 7 Home workstations. A couple of examples of open-source digital sign packages are concerto-signage.org and xibo.org.uk. NOTE: I have not used either one of these. –  smassey Mar 8 '12 at 18:16
    
Does it have to be done interactively? Or could the music be changed by a command or script? –  Yanick Girouard Mar 8 '12 at 18:17
    
I have never heard of a digital signage solution, I will have to look into that. Yes it can be a script or command. –  poconnor Mar 8 '12 at 18:29
    
Not that it is related to your question, but are you sure the Pandora TOS allows this usage? I suspect you may be asking for trouble. –  Zoredache Mar 8 '12 at 19:29

2 Answers 2

I see two options here:

  1. VNC. There's lots of different vnc options out there for windows, and any of them should be able to handle this.
  2. Remote Assistance. This is a feature that is built into windows. Have her open the start menu, type "assistance" into the search box, and press enter the next time she connects to the machine. This will start a wizard that will let her send a remote assistance request to, well, herself. One of the option is to send the request via e-mail. The requests only last so long, so she should add this to her normal routine when connecting to the machine. Now she will receive an e-mail that will let her connect to the machine without interrupting anything in progress.

Sadly, making these easier for administrators is something where Microsoft really missed the boat. As an administrator, I would love to be able to initiate an assistance session from my end without needing to walk a user through the procedure. They already have all the pieces in place: the rdp protocol, including session sharing in remote assistance, and the security framework in active directory (just require membership in a group like "Domain Admins" to be able to initiate an uninvited connection). The current "offer remote assistance" process is way more cumbersome than it needs to be.

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As I see it, the problem is not getting access to the machine.

The real problem is making sure the slideshow (Powerpoint ?) is re-activated after she disconnects.

That's easy: Just write a small script (in AutoIt, power-shell, whatever floats your boat) that acts as a watchdog and restarts the slideshow as needed.

Something like:

check for the presence of the slideshow application.
If it ain't there start it
else wait 2 minutes
go back to start of the script

Have the script run automatically from the Startup group or the Run registry key and call it a day.

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