FrameChannel shutting down — time to break out WireShark!

And it was going to be such a nice day…

I received this rather sad message this morning:

FrameChannel Users –

Due to challenges with the economy and our company’s financial situation we’ve been forced to make a tough decision and will be shutting down the FrameChannel service this month.

We have provided a mechanism for you to download any of your photos that are hosted with us in the My Photos channel or that have been emailed to your device via the My Friend’s Photos feature.

You may log into your account at www.framechannel.com to download your photos, but the service will soon stop delivering content to your devices. To download your photos, log into your FrameChannel account, click the Download My Photos tab, and follow the instructions there.

For those of you using your devices for commercial applications, you may wish to take a look at the SignChannel service. That service is owned an operated by Scala, Inc., a worldwide leader in digital signage. For more information, please visit www.signchannel.com or email info@signchannel.com

We thank you for your support of the FrameChannel service.

-The FrameChannel Team

FrameChannel logoI’m the proud owner of a Kodak EasyShare W820 WiFi enabled digital photo frame for several years. One of it’s most compelling features was the intergration with FrameChannel. FrameChannel is (was) an online service that allows(ed) you to manage what was displayed on the photoframe. It provided several pre-packaged feeds for weather displays, stock information, news, traffic conditions, Facebook photos, Twitter and most importantly for me, Flickr integration.

My frame would automatically download the latest additions to my Flickr photostream and display them. This was a GREAT feature and very popular among my family and house guests.

It has always been a free service (albeit with the occasional ad for FrameChannel services on other platforms); I assumed that Kodak had paid them a fee per frame to operate the service. I could make a lot of guesses about the terms of such an agreement but I’ll leave that for another day.

One thing I don’t yet grasp is why I wasn’t offered the option to pay for the service? Is shutdown the only option?

I’m searching for a contact within Thinking Screen Media (operators of FrameChannel) to propose that they open-source the software that runs the service. This would allow other to build/operate replacements so that their frames will not go dark. If you, dear read, should know anyone within the company, please drop me a line.

In the meantime… Break out WireShark!
As some of you will know WireShark is a fantastic tool for analyzing network (LAN) data. It will capture and decode the data as it flies by allow one to see exactly what is going on. In this case, it is useful for determining the protocol used by the frame to communicate with FrameChannel. With this information in hand it should be possible to create a work-alike backend so that I may continue to enjoy my WiFi enabled photo frame.

I’ll post what I discover along the way.