NOAA Science On a Sphere 4.3.1+ Release

For detailed information on using any of SOS’s features, please refer to the SOS User Manual (also located at: SOS website > Support tab > Manuals menu > Users Guide menu item).


Release Dates

    SOS 4.3.1 – Released March 17, 2015

Requirements

SOS 4.3.0+ requires Ubuntu 12.04.5 LTS.

* Do NOT upgrade your SOS computer to Ubuntu 14.04 LTS, even if prompted. The SOS software will not work.

* If your current SOS software version is less than 4.1, please read the Important Note at the top of the 4.1+ Release Notes page, as your SOS computer may require configuration by the SOS team in order to proceed further.

New Features

  • Reorganization of the SOS Data Catalog

As part of the March 2015 SOS Data Catalog reorganization, the SOS team has renamed most of the datasets to new and improved names! To help with the transition to the new names, a reference document with the old and new names of the datasets is available here.

With the new SOS Data Catalog, each NOAA-managed dataset has been categorized with a main and sub category tag and a set of consistent keywords to allow for better search and browsing functionality on the SOS Remote iPad app. A set of themes have also been defined to allow for quickly accessing datasets with a coherent theme (for example, Climate Change) on the iPad app.

  • Volume Control

There are two new additions to the SOS audio functionality.

Set the volume level of a dataset in a playlist with the new volume keyword (see the Changed/New Playlist Keywords section below). This may be especially helpful in AutoRun mode if you have a set of audio datasets in a presentation playlist whose audio levels differ. Using the volume keyword, you can set different volume levels for each dataset to get more consistent audio output across datasets.

Set or get the volume using the audio automation command (see the New Automation Control Commands section below).

  • Automated Alignment (Experimental Version)

With SOS version 4.3, we are introducing a new experimental automated alignment capability. Using four additional cameras and computer vision algorithms, this feature adds a one-step “Auto Align” button to each of the three alignment stages (Red Ball, Grid, and Vertex Tweak).

Our experience has been that under good lighting conditions, the automated alignment does an acceptable job by itself. Each step of automated alignment can be further improved through manual adjustments by an experienced person.

The new hardware requirements are as follows:

  • 4 Logitech C920 webcams (one for each SOS projector)
  • USB cables/USB extender cables to connect each webcam to a USB port on the SOS computer (for example, IOGEAR GUE2118 36 ft cables)

* For full information and requirements, please see the Automated Alignment section in the Projector Alignment for SOS Using the iPad Manual (also located at: SOS website > Support tab > Manuals menu > Alignment - iPad menu item)

  • Bluetooth

New in SOS version 4.3 is the ability to connect an iPad to the SOS computer over a Bluetooth connection. Until this time, all iPad/SOS computer connections were over Wi-Fi. This is a convenient option for sites that have Wi-Fi security restrictions, or whose Wi-Fi connection is unreliable.

* For full information on how to set up Bluetooth to connect your iPad to the SOS computer, please read the following guidelines: iPad Bluetooth Setup Instructions - Version 4.3 (also located at: SOS website > Support tab > Basic How To… section).

Enhancements

  • Diagnostic Utilities

Added two buttons that assists in the setup of iPad Control Over Bluetooth or the setup of Wii Control Over Bluetooth. Note that this functionality works in conjunction with the instructions outlined in: iPad Bluetooth Setup Instructions - Version 4.3

* For updated documentation on all functionality of the Diagnostic Utility, please see: Utilities Menu Release Notes - Version 4.3.

Changed/New Playlist Keywords

* Please see the Playlist Format Reference – Version 4.3.0+ for detailed information on all of the SOS dataset playlist keywords. (This page can also be accessed at: SOS website > Support tab > Manuals menu > Playlist Format Reference menu item)

CHANGED ITEMS

  • background = Deprecated keyword
    Replaced by layer keywords.
  • category = Deprecated keyword
    Categorization of this dataset, used to populate the SOS library on SOS Stream GUI. Replaced by majorcategory in all dataset playlists (March 2015). Retained in all NOAA-managed playlists for backward compatibility, but it is only used in SOS software (v4.3+) as a fallback value when the majorcategory keyword is missing.
  • creator = name of the creator of dataset
    The name of the person or organization who created this dataset. Removed from all NOAA-managed dataset playlists (March 2015) and used by SOS software (v4.3+) only for dataset playlists placed in the /shared/sos/media/site-custom folder.
  • keywords = comma separated list of keywords
    Keywords to aid in searching. Removed from all NOAA-managed dataset playlists (March 2015) and used by SOS software (v4.3+) only for dataset playlists placed in the /shared/sos/media/site-custom folder.
  • publisher = (Removed in SOS v4.3+)
    Previously used to indicate the name of the person or organization who published this dataset. Ignored by SOS software (v4.3+) and removed from all NOAA-managed dataset playlists (March 2015).

NEW ITEMS

  • majorcategory = main category of a NOAA-managed dataset (v4.3+)
    Main categorization of this dataset, used to populate the media library for NOAA-managed dataset playlists. Ignored by SOS software for dataset playlists placed under /shared/sos/media/site-custom, which are all assigned a major category = Site-Custom.
  • subcategory = subcategory for a site-custom dataset (v4.3+)
    Subcategorization of this dataset, used to populate the media library for dataset playlists placed in the /shared/sos/media/site-custom folder. If this keyword is missing, the SOS software will assign site-custom datasets a subcategory = Uncategorized. Ignored by SOS software for NOAA-managed playlists.
  • volume = volume level for a dataset with audio
    Mplayer volume level for a dataset that has audio. The value is an integer in the range 0-100. The default volume for the SOS video player (mplayer) is set to 75% of the current system volume. Specify the volume keyword in a dataset playlist to override the default volume level for the duration of the dataset.

New Automation Control Commands

* Please see the Automation Commands Reference – Version 4.3.0+ for detailed information on all of the SOS Automation Control commands. (This page can also be accessed at: SOS website > Support tab > Manuals menu > Automation Control Protocol menu item)

BASIC PLAYBACK COMMANDS

  • audio volume
  • audio [0-100]

PLAYLIST COMMANDS

  • playlist_delete playlist_file
  • playlist_exists playlist_file
  • playlist_read playlist_file
  • playlist_rename from_playlist_file to_playlist_file
  • playlist_write playlist_file playlist_text

MISC COMMANDS

  • get_database_date

New Specs for Custom Datasets/Site-Custom Folder

The site-custom folder, located in the /shared/sos/media/ folder on the SOS computer, is used by sites who create their own custom datasets and add them to their SOS computer. All other folders in /shared/sos/media/ are NOAA-managed datasets that get automatically updated and should not be edited.

The iPad SOS Remote app (see the SOS Remote App User Manual) now has a Data Catalog tab that allows you to quickly search and browse for datasets on the SOS computer. In order for your custom datasets to show up for search and browse on the iPad app, please follow these guidelines:

  1. You must have a folder called site-custom in the /shared/sos/media folder on your SOS computer. If you do not, log on as user sos, create the folder, and set its permissions to rwxrwxrwx.
  2. Move any custom datasets to the site-custom folder. If you have a custom folder with a different name, either move that folder into the site-custom folder or rename it to site-custom if you want those datasets to show up on the Data Catalog on the iPad.
  3. Each time you add a new dataset to your site-custom folder, as before, you must first run Update Library… (located in SOS Stream GUI’s Library menu). In addition, in order for your new datasets to show up on the iPad app’s Data Catalog tab, you must click on the Update Now button located on the iPad app’s Settings tab.
  4. Many sites will copy a NOAA-managed dataset folder (like /shared/sos/media/oceans/currents) into their site-custom folder and use that as a starting point to creating their own dataset. If you do this, you must rename the dataset's folder (with the above example, rename currents to something else, like currents_new, for example) to a unique folder name so that it shows up under the iPad's Site-Custom main category.
  5. Make sure the majorcategory keyword/value pair is NOT in your site-custom dataset. (This is a bug that will be fixed in the next release.)
  6. Make sure the catalog_url keyword/value pair is NOT in your site-custom dataset. (This is a bug that will be fixed in the next release.)

Note: If you are not concerned with your custom datasets showing up on the iPad app, they can still be accessed from SOS Stream GUI’s Library menu as before (i.e. based on the category name you gave to it) and will still show up in your playlists when you opened on the iPad.

SITE-CUSTOM PROPERTIES

  • Thumbnails

A site can now add their own custom thumbnails to a custom dataset located in the /shared/sos/media/site-custom folder. Simply create a folder called media and put it in the same folder where the dataset’s playlist.sos file is located. The media folder should contain two images in the .jpg format with the following names and resolutions:

thumbnail_small.jpg (128x128)

thumbnail_big.jpg (800x800)

  • Keywords

There are three keyword/value pairs that only datasets placed in the site-custom folder use. These keywords help populate the SOS Data Catalog on the iPad app for better searching and browsing.

  1. creator = name of the creator of dataset

    The name of the person or organization who created this dataset. Removed from all NOAA-managed dataset playlists (March 2015) and used by SOS software (v4.3+) only for dataset playlists placed in the /shared/sos/media/site-custom folder.

  2. subcategory = subcategory for a site-custom dataset (v4.3+)

    Subcategorization of this dataset, used to populate the media library for dataset playlists placed in the /shared/sos/media/site-custom folder. If this keyword is missing, the SOS software will assign site-custom datasets a subcategory = Uncategorized. Ignored by SOS software for NOAA-managed playlists.

  3. keywords = comma separated list of keywords

    Keywords to aid in searching. Removed from all NOAA-managed dataset playlists (March 2015) and used by SOS software (v4.3+) only for dataset playlists placed in the /shared/sos/media/site-custom folder.

Note: If you still want your custom datasets to show up in the SOS Stream GUI’s Library menu, you can use the category keyword. However, this is not recommended as the category keyword is deprecated. By default (without a category or majorcategory keyword) any datasets in the site-custom folder will show up in SOS Stream GUI’s Library menu as Site_Custom.

Troubleshooting: Fixing Broken Playlist Paths

In the reorganization of the NOAA data catalog, changes were made to properties of the dataset playlists and, to a lesser degree, the location of the playlists. The effect of these changes is that some of the datasets linked in your presentation playlists might break. We’re sorry for the inconvenience, but we really needed to clean up!

Though less than 5% of your datasets should be affected, before your next presentation, we recommend loading your presentation playlist and clicking through each dataset to make sure it loads as expected on the sphere.

If you use a text editor to edit your presentation playlists, you can manually change the paths as described below. Otherwise, you can use either SOS Stream GUI’s Playlist Editor or the iPad app’s Playlist Builder to remove any invalid datasets and add the correct ones to your presentation playlist.

Following are two examples if you are editing a playlist manually:

  • Jupiter - we had two very similar versions, so we archived the less popular, shorter one.

    Removed: /shared/sos/media/astronomy/jupiter/movie/playlist.sos

    New path you should use: /shared/sos/media/astronomy/jupiter/largest/playlist.sos

  • The path for the Country Borders (black) dataset was changed to be more consistent with the rest of the Overlays paths in the SOS Data Catalog directory structure.

    Bad path: /shared/sos/media/overlays/country_borders/playlist_black.sos

    New path you should use: /shared/sos/media/overlays/country_borders/black/playlist.sos

Bug Fixes

INSTALLATION

  • Disable automatic major Ubuntu updates.
  • PIP directory of images. Fixed issues with automatic downloading of PIPs in a directory at SOS sites.
  • Add a generic 1920x1080 one-card xorg projector configuration file. Added projector configuration files for generic cases and for the Gigabyte GTX970 graphics card.
  • Missing directory after installation: /shared/SOS/projector. Works with the projector control GUI icon for both sos and sosdemo users.
  • Real-Time data isn't getting deleted on backup machines. Caused disk space to fill up.

SOS STREAM CONTROL

  • A bit of audio sometimes plays immediately after a clip is cleared.

SOS DISPLAY

  • Interactive layering minor issues. Fixes made for background layer not showing up, labels from wrong layer being shown, and transparency settings for multiple layers not being used.
  • Sphere image cuts out & goes blank during use. Play events run during a fade transition caused this problem, sometimes seen while in auto-run mode and selecting a dataset using a kiosk. Solved by delaying execution of the play event until the fade finishes.
  • White screen for Images that are too big. When an image file is bad or over the maximum allowed size, then an error message is displayed on the sphere.
  • KML: Icons in KML file not showing up.
  • KML: Extra lines being drawn on dataset.
  • Enable load and display of 8K datasets. Higher resolution datasets may be loaded and displayed by altering a configuration value in the SOS configuration file.

SOS STREAM GUI

  • Optimize the Library Update when first starting SOS Stream GUI. Significantly sped up.
  • Need a layerdata error message. Now detects datasets where files assigned to layerdata do not exist.
  • Playlist PIPs (and possibly other types) whose paths contain spaces cause SOS to freeze. Fixed, but spaces are not recommended in general.

UTILITIES

  • Implement a reset script that kills all the sos processes. Also removes “lock” files left behind.
  • UsageLog.tcl causes SOS to hang when looking for IP. Sometimes SOS would hang on initial start up.

Known Bugs

  • Projector Control GUI stopped working

    For older SOS sites, the IP addresses of the projectors were hard-coded into the Projector Control GUI. New versions of this gui use entries in the /etc/hosts file to determine the IPs of the projectors. Older sites are not likely to have these entries, so we have written a script (create hyperlink to script attached in this email chain) that will attempt to create them for you. To run the script...