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Displays Toys

Interesting Uses For a USB LED Screen? 403

Posted by kdawson
from the your-messge-here dept.
Hogwash McFly writes "My boss gave me one of those USB-powered red LED scrolling displays as a Christmas gift, and while cycling the usual 'I read your emails' and 'ID10T Error' messages will be entertaining for a day or two, I was wondering if it could be put to more constructive uses. The configuration file is plaintext and supports different scroll speeds, flashing, bitmaps, and WAV sounds. The font is defined as 5x5 pixels per character, also stored in plaintext as 5 hex values, one for each vertical line of pixels. A dynamically generated message could prove useful in my day-to-day work on the helpdesk, but are there any interesting uses beyond network notifications and news feeds?"
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Interesting Uses For a USB LED Screen?

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  • Matrix (Score:5, Funny)

    by Tubal-Cain (1289912) * on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @01:58PM (#26224501) Journal
    Matrix screensaver.
    • Re:Matrix (Score:5, Funny)

      by fyngyrz (762201) * on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @03:19PM (#26225261) Homepage Journal

      Depending the the tolerance level at your job for some of these; mix and match as many as you like, just give 'em ID headers:

      • Time since last paycheck
      • Time until next paycheck
      • Salary graph tracking COL index
      • Company stock price
      • Current project status (your own little twitter)
      • Sharon: Not that I'm asking for a date, but you're totally hot. Just so you know.
      • Yes, I'd like a donut, thank you
      • Anyone know where the specification has gotten off to?
      • Can I bring my cat to work?
      • The perfume level today is STIFLING
      • Has anyone seen the TPS reports?
      • Questions? Please use email so I can timeshift: me@subnet.here.tld
      • I'm sorry, the specification is frozen.
      • Last page hit on the webserver (just "tail" the log and trivially parse it out)
      • Next upcoming cron event
      • Can I have a Mac, please?
      • I hate the toolbar
      • I hate the tabs
      • I hate... FITB
      • Time until 5pm (or quitting, whatever it is)
      • Time until lunch, then time until quitting
      • Days until vacation
      • Decades since you've been laid
      • URL of favorite website
      • Name of software you think people should try
      • Hours until your next date
      • # lines of code written today
      • # keystrokes today
      • Approximate hangover depth
      • The Software Priesthood Still Lives
      • ...
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by interploy (1387145)
      Fill it with internet memes.
  • by way2trivial (601132) on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @01:59PM (#26224513) Homepage Journal

    or look at anything done with the pertelian
    http://www.pertelian.com/joomla/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=43&Itemid=48 [pertelian.com]

  • by TeXMaster (593524) on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @02:02PM (#26224527)
    Unless you plan to put it in your car to give the finger to people honking at you in queue, the only use for LCD screens i can think of is notification. Considering the recent interest in Gnome and KDE for a centralized notification system, you could probably hook _that_ up for your LCD screen so you'd get _all_ notifications.
    • by d3ac0n (715594)

      Unless you plan to put it in your car to give the finger to people honking at you in queue

      I've always wanted to do that. Seems like it would be fun to have something I can use to give people nasty or confusing messages with.

      >:)

    • by Shakrai (717556) on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @02:05PM (#26224579) Journal

      Unless you plan to put it in your car to give the finger to people honking at you in queue

      Why give 'em the finger? You could generate messages instead:

      "If you are close enough to read this, watch out for brake checks."
      "This car protected by Smith & Wesson"
      "If I passed you on the right you are in the wrong fucking lane"
      "My kid beat up your honor student"
      "Bad cop. No donut."

      The possibilities are endless ;)

      • by mpathetiq (726625) on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @02:16PM (#26224689) Homepage

        "If I passed you on the right you are in the wrong fucking lane"

        This is the one I would use the most. Apparently Ohioans don't understand the term "passing lane".

        • by fishyfool (854019)
          Have your fellow Idahoians been moving to California? There seems to have been an increase of slow-drivers-that-won't-move-over here. Recently.
          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by mpathetiq (726625)
            I don't know any Idahoians here in Ohio, so I cannot answer your question. Well, I suppose I could answer "mu". :)
        • by bhtooefr (649901)

          Part of it is the annoying tendency of ODOT to put "THROUGH TRAFFIC KEEP LEFT" signs in cities. Good job, ODOT, now you've made everyone into a left lane hog.

          (I keep as far right as possible, myself.)

          • by mpathetiq (726625)
            In cities, I can handle it - things are messed up enough as is - but when you're on the highway, GET OVER, DOUCHEBAGS. I imagine it comes from crappy drivers' ed teachers; mine told me to always drive in the left lane so you "have more opportunities to avoid an accident." I'm not sure how that would work...
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by dzfoo (772245)

              I guess his reasoning, misguided as it may be, was that the rightmost lanes would normally have more people driving at mismatched speeds, merging onto traffic, or crossing over in order to make it out through an exit ramp. Therefore, the left lane would have less opportunity of collisions.

                      -dZ.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          That isn't half as annoying as those people who zip up and ride on my bumper when I'm already in the left lane trying to pass someone -- so fast I didn't see them coming -- and then they try to swerve over and get around me on the right side the moment I'm a car length ahead and about to pull to the right myself (and probably signaling my intentions to do so).

          Yes, I know I'm supposed to be on the right when not passing -- SO GIVE ME THE @#%#%^@! time and space to get over there safely when I'm done, prefera

          • by ObjetDart (700355) on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @06:00PM (#26226405)

            In the immortal words of George Carlin... have you ever noticed that anyone driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone driving faster than you is a MANIAC!

      • by Gothmolly (148874) on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @02:27PM (#26224793)

        I hope our far-left overlords are more benevolent than the far-right ones were.
        If you think that the incoming President is far-left and the old President was far-right, then you need a refresher course in both politics and civics.

      • "Hey baby, you're hot"

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        What you're suggesting is just duplicating the average bumper sticker. What a waste of a something that can generate dynamic messages.

        How about something like:
        "It's raining and I can barely see you. Turn your lights on."
        "You are obviously drunk. Please pull over and take a nap before you kill someone."
    • Car notifications (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Toe, The (545098) on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @02:39PM (#26224901)

      A message board in your car wouldn't necessarily have to give the finger or otherwise be witty/rude.

      There are times when a rear-pointing message board could be extremely useful. Such as:
      Your high-beams are on.
      Your headlights are off.
      Careful, the driver next to me is drunk.

      And so on.

      However, such signs very well may be illegal in some jurisdictions.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Hognoxious (631665)

        There are times when a rear-pointing message board could be extremely useful. Such as:
        Your high-beams are on.

        My favourite would be: Ever wondered why they're called fog lights, not it's-a-bit-cold-today lights?

        A bit long, sadly.

  • pong (Score:5, Funny)

    by imp7 (714746) on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @02:02PM (#26224543)
    A never ending game of pong
  • Obvious use (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @02:03PM (#26224545)

    Put it in your window at home and use it to hollah for girls that pass by.

  • Here you go (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @02:04PM (#26224555)

    porn video => avi to ascii converter => red hot LED action

  • Combine it with a motion sensor near your door, and have it warn you to duck under your desk.

  • 8=====D

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Never underestimate a technology's capacity to be used for porn.
  • Hack the firmware and make it play pong. Or a very simple version of doom.
  • Music (Score:5, Interesting)

    by CopaceticOpus (965603) on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @02:09PM (#26224607)

    Getting it to display audio level meters for your music would be kinda fun.

  • by greg_barton (5551) <<moc.oohay> <ta> <notrab_gerg>> on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @02:10PM (#26224611) Homepage Journal

    For maximum freakout potential you'll need two things:

    1) A microphone
    2) Speech recognition software

    Set the microphone up in a hidden place where it will pick up speech from folks hanging around your desk, and connect it to your computer. Set up the speech recognition software so it will spit out text to the LED display's interface.

    Viola! Instant "Have we entered the twilight zone?" machine!

  • by madmaxmedia (775327) on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @02:15PM (#26224675) Journal
    ...have it display all new comments to this thread.
  • For kids (Score:4, Interesting)

    by umoto (19193) on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @02:16PM (#26224683) Homepage

    I've been thinking it would be cool to get a sign like that and post it in a visible place at home, then use it to post announcements about my kids' accomplishments. I'd set it up so my wife could change it as well. We'd post things like "John did the dishes every day this week", "Mary aced her math test", etc.

    The intent would be to show them we care and to give them positive reinforcement.

    • Re:For kids (Score:5, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @02:19PM (#26224725)

      I've been thinking it would be cool to get a sign like that and post it in a visible place at home, then use it to post announcements about my kids' accomplishments. I'd set it up so my wife could change it as well. We'd post things like "John did the dishes every day this week", "Mary aced her math test", etc.

      The intent would be to show them we care and to give them positive reinforcement.

      The result would be that not only will your kids know you're dorks, everyone else will too.

    • Re:For kids (Score:5, Insightful)

      by NekoXP (67564) on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @02:42PM (#26224937) Homepage

      Why don't you just TELL them?

      I dread to think what you got them for Christmahannukwanzaa this year.

  • by Gothmolly (148874) on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @02:16PM (#26224687)

    The other helpdesk people are going to be focused on their tasks, not glancing around the room for the possibility of some LED screen update. If there's an actual issue they need to know about, you should already have something in place for that.

    What managers love to see are things like average call time, # calls in the queue, and # dropped calls. If you can extract that out of your call tree application and put that up there, you're one step closer to pointy hair yourself.

  • What about (Score:4, Funny)

    by gzipped_tar (1151931) on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @02:19PM (#26224717) Journal

    Game of Life?

  • Just pick a random day far in the future, And have it countdown to that day with the words, Only (insert time) until it happens! Then refuse to tell anyone what it means. It should provide interesting conversations at the water cooler.
  • Keep safe (Score:5, Funny)

    by Waffle Iron (339739) on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @02:31PM (#26224837)

    Use it as a ticker to scroll the real-time DoHS advisory status:

    ...ted >> Terrorist Threat Level: Elevated >> Terro...

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I don't know what the 'threat level' is today and I feel pretty safe.

  • by steveo777 (183629) on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @02:33PM (#26224849) Homepage Journal

    That shows stocks rising and falling at the will of its owner! Make people sell their Google stock so you can buy it slightly cheaper.

  • by devnullkac (223246) on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @02:34PM (#26224861) Homepage

    Don't just say you read his emails. Actually put them up there! Continuous scroll of everything in your boss's inbox.

    If you're slightly less daring, feed your log of all URLs (site name only, perhaps) as they're being viewed by anyone in the office. Your boss did make you keep a log, didn't he?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by barzok (26681)

      feed your log of all URLs (site name only, perhaps) as they're being viewed by anyone in the office

      This is by far the best suggestion I've seen thus far. Hours of entertainment!

  • Ebay! (Score:4, Funny)

    by Linker3000 (626634) on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @02:34PM (#26224863) Journal

    Stick it on ebay and with the money you receive go and enjoy the fast food meal of your choice!

  • Caller ID (Score:4, Interesting)

    by pjwhite (18503) on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @02:35PM (#26224873) Homepage

    Use it to display caller ID for incoming phone calls.

  • by jellomizer (103300) on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @02:36PM (#26224883)

    Say create a program that manages your logs and you get a statistically significant increase of errors report the server giving the errors. You may want to fudge the statistics a bit to give more priority to Errors and less for warnings.

    Or warn when you servers drive is near filled or something that would require manual action is near.

  • Hey Einstein, riding my ass won't make me go any faster!

    Tailgaters SUCK!

  • by frank_adrian314159 (469671) on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @02:45PM (#26224957) Homepage

    OK! Useful. Here's what you do...

    The day before you leave on your next vacation, set it up so that it loops the message "I love you!" and then set up the .wav file of Barney the dinosaur singing his "I love you, you love me" theme song. Remove the socket covers from your cube wall and attach the electrical leads that power the device directly to the power lines, covering them with two-inch thick conduit. Then epoxy encapsulate that power connection really well (if the connection happens to be through a wall wart, be sure to conduit and encapsulate those connections as well). Disable any power switch the device might have and leave. When you get back from your vacation, your co-workers will have all either quit or committed suicide and your path to the next level up the corporate chain will be cleared. Repeat as necessary until you are CEO. Take golden parachute and leave. You win!

  • Hello IT (Score:4, Funny)

    by bytesex (112972) on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @02:48PM (#26224979) Homepage

    Have you tried turning it off and on ?

  • Display Tweets (Score:3, Interesting)

    by codepunk (167897) on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @02:54PM (#26225039)

    Display tweets from twitter as the come in.

  • by __roo (86767) on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @03:02PM (#26225121) Homepage

    Take a cue from this post [slashdot.org] and write a script that uses vmstat and top to alter the scrolling speed and scroll something useful that shows the health of your box. You can cut one of the numbers pumped out by vmstat to set the scroll speed, and maybe grep, head, etc. something useful out of top to show on the screen. I'd write a little suggested script for you right here, but I have no idea what format your device wants its config file.

  • by j-turkey (187775) on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @03:05PM (#26225139) Homepage

    Here are some ideas for dynamically generated messages for use at work. (Assuming that you use a ticketing system at work.) Most of them use database backends that you can connect to using your favorite protocol. Find a useful way to display pertinent information on the display.

    For example, do you have an overdue or high-priority ticket? Program it scroll a reminder. Do you queue tickets and handle them serially? Set it up to display the number of tickets in your queue and the header for the next ticket. Smaller helpdesk where you're responsible for managing systems? Display network metrics from your monitoring system. Managing helpdesk employees? Have it display metrics about your technicians.

    Other fun stuff...if you have a swanky gaming rig at home - you could use it to monitor temperatures (ambient/case/CPU/GPU/Disk, etc). You could also pull CPU, disk, and network stats and display it as a histogram or bar.

  • some ideas (Score:5, Informative)

    by Sloppy (14984) on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @03:29PM (#26225343) Homepage Journal

    First of all, look at the kinds of things that people do with lcdproc [lcdproc.org]. One of those might inspire you. It sounds like you're talking about slightly different hardware, but I'd expect it to have similar applications.

    Second: if you are a bad sysadmin (like me) and don't check your logs or statuses very often, and once found that you had run on a degraded software-RAID for several months, then write something that occasionally looks at /proc/mdstat and then says on your display "RAID OK" or "RAID degraded." That's one of the things I use my VFD for.

  • by dlleigh (313922) on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @03:32PM (#26225387)

    Kind of like those safety signs at industrial sites that brag about the number of days without an accident.

    Program the display so that the number of seconds continuously counts up, and then resets to zero after a random interval -- say thirty or forty seconds.

  • X-Files (Score:5, Funny)

    by IronChef (164482) on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @03:38PM (#26225447) Homepage

    There was an episode of the X-Files where people started seeing messages in digital displays--microwave ovens, watches, radios, etc. I forget the story of that episode, but the messages always urged violence, and something about them made people snap and go berserk.

    If I had one of those displays, I'd have it displaying something mundane and useful like news, but periodically it would flash KILL HIM and YES YOU and KILL THEM ALL and KILL THEM BEFORE THEY KILL YOU.

    But then, I am a sicko.

  • Two words... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jinxidoru (743428) on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @04:04PM (#26225639) Homepage

    packet sniffer

  • Use the good parts (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Sparr0 (451780) <sparr0@gmail.com> on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @05:24PM (#26226183) Homepage Journal

    I would rip it open and use the LED matrices directly with a microcontroller. Vertical scrolling 5x7 text would look so much better, and non-text graphics would be cool too.

  • 12:00 (Score:5, Funny)

    by sdsichero (859332) on Wednesday December 24, 2008 @06:41PM (#26226619)
    Just have it blink 12:00 repeatedly.

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