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Fine grained filtering

Today we launch a new filtering service filter.webconverger.com. It's an ongoing service to block any combination of ads, blasphemy, dating, file, gambling, gaming, image, malicious, pharma, piracy, porn, proxies, social media & video categories of sites. We keep the lists upto date for you, so you don't have to worry.

filter.webconverger.com competes with the OpenDNS "domain blocking" service, though at a cheaper price, typically sold as an annual subscription.

Please contact sales to get on a trial!

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Webconverger 24 release

It has been 3 months since the Webconverger 23 release which has been a fine stable release. Now it's time to upgrade for Live users for security reasons and a couple of new features mainly driven by Firefox.

What's new?

Detailed changes between 23.0 and 24.0

  • Firefox 28
  • MP4 video playing support, so you can use an MP4 video now to attract patrons to your service when idle
  • Flash security updates, though do try HTML video instead, so we can deprecate Flash
  • Linux kernel 3.12, a longterm stable kernel
  • New filter= API which complements our new filter.webconverger.com service for fine grained blacklisting (think OpenDNS, but cheaper)

For install users of 23.0, the upgrade delta is about 178M, when automatically upgrading. Github does throttle your connection or if you are on a poor internet connection, upgrading can be quite a long winded process. Do please check what version you are running by looking at about: or using the WEBCVERSION homepage expansion. Paid subscribers can quickly check the version of their machines by clicking the information icon on the control panel. If in any doubt, please do download the latest release and re-image your machines!

Notice a bug? Please email us or report the bug on Github.

Please support our work by purchasing a subscription. We are tentatively offering free trials of our central management tool, so you can see for yourself how easy it is to manage a fleet of machines accessing the Web. Thank you!

sha1sum c2283b9d4b4f9df8496825138207a4e2442aa226  webc-24.0.iso
md5sum e557925fe4c7c31f66dd2423db0e97d0  webc-24.0.iso
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New NUCs

We initially blogged about the promising Next Unit of Computing form factor back in 2012 by Intel . What's changed?

Different manufacturers offering the NUC

This should mean lower prices, with different OEMs putting together their own competitive NUC solutions. Anandtech reviews the NUC Gigabyte offerings.

They all should be plug and play with Webconverger.

The cheapest NUC?

We've heard excellent reports of the Intel DN2820FYKH.

Well made and uses a cheaper Celeron based processor. These are going for less than 200USD!

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Qualifying for PARCC

The PARCC initiative was brought to my attention by Matthew Newton at Montclair High School, a K12 school in NJ, USA.

PCs running Webconverger versus Chromebooks

The school contact raised concerns about using Chromebooks in student assessments.

The cost of acquiring physical Chromebooks and their management console to lock them down for American schools is significant.

What if you could turn an existing PC temporarily into a locked down Web kiosk for online examinations for just 10USD?

Webconverger could be just the solution schools need to roll out their PARCC testing in a timely and cost effective manner!

Pursuing a PARCC certified solution

The Web application carrying out the PARCC examinations is called TestNav and it's implemented by Pearson.

When first investigating TestNav, I was disappointed to see requirements for Java and samples that used Flash. It didn't make sense, since later guidelines indicated that Chromebooks could run the application, and Chromebooks do not have Java support.

I tested the new TestNav 8 http://www.parcconline.org/computer-based-samples in the latest Webconverger and they work just fine! Pearson's Qualification Standards for TestNav 8 are not yet publicly posted.

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Access to Information in Disasters

After surviving the boxing day Earthquake and Tsunami myself, I'm acutely aware of how important information is during a disaster. Since the Web is the information platform and Webconverger is the quickest and safest way to get onto the Web platform, I really love to see Webconverger used in these sorts of situations to everyone's benefit.

Hence I was very proud to receive this testimonial from a Church in New York:

Webconverger as serving as a reliable Web kiosk

We have been using Webconverger to offer free internet access to parishioners and visitors to our church for quite a few years, but it really came into it's own when Hurricane Sandy hit New York in 2012! Our stone church building was one of the only ones in the area to retain power and internet access, so it was truly a Godsend to be able to offer hot soup and the chance to securely check email and the news to those who weren't so lucky. We rolled out extra kiosks using donated cpus and monitors in no time at all, and they each had queues to use them almost around the clock. Afterwards we went back down to our usual, single, permanent kiosk, but we keep a few old, donated computers in a cupboard (each with a Webconverger disc) ready for the next time!

We also sponsor Crossroads:

Thank you for supplying so many Webconverger configurations to us. Webconverger has been a technology that has brought a huge difference to us and we really appreciate access to it.

To save time vetting non-profits and charities we partnered with tt-exchange to distribute Webconverger.

As a general rule, we are more than happy to provide a management console in disaster situations. For charities we discount or provide upto two configured machines free of cost.

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Webconverger 23 release

If you are new to Webconverger, welcome! Enjoy our screenshot tour of Webconverger to get a better idea if Webconverger is right for your deployment.

This 23.0 release is probably our last snapshot for 2013, one that should help turn your PCs into Web kiosks or Web digital signs. Happy holidays!

What's new?

  • Linux 3.10 kernel for increased hardware compatibility
  • Firefox 26 and Flash updates
  • A change to make installed version upgrades and downgrades more bandwidth efficient
  • BUGFIX: When using a non-English locale, Accept Language headers are properly set. So for some Web applications, pages will be automatically in your language!

Some of these changes were previously announced on the mailing list, so thanks to all who helped test this release.

Please download the latest release and we would love to hear from you!

Have a look at Github's commit view for details on the transparent changes leading upto this release.

sha1sum: b3eb16a27441c4d63af13a2a066358ed15763ae0  webc-23.0.iso
md5sum: d0273d8cf6b8c8aaeb84e181a502aeed  webc-23.0.iso
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Webconverger 22 release

Highlighting Emoji support

For those wise people who are using the automatically upgrading install version, you should have received all the benefits below.

So this new release will help keep bandwidth low for new install users, since they don't need to download upgrades upto this release from the previous 21.0 release. And as for the non-upgrading static Live users, please upgrade to keep users abreast with the latest Web technologies and security updates.

What's new?

  • grabdrag API for better touch screen support.
  • Emoji fonts! 💻 Webconverger saves you ⌚️ and 💰 giving you 📈 and your users 📰
  • Firefox 25 and Flash security updates

Roadmap

As outlined in "Avoiding the Microsoft upgrade treadmill", we are keeping a conservative outlook. We are working on a kernel update so you don't have to worry about issues like this new hardware issue effecting the current kernel 3.8 we have.

Please download the latest release and we would love to hear from you!

For the full changelog, or checkout Github's commit view:

git log --oneline --decorate 21.0..22.0
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Howto playback looping fullscreen video

Say you want to use Webconverger for Web digital signage, to playback a promotional video in fullscreen in a loop. Such a configuration would look like:

homepage=http://signage.webconverger.com
prefs=http://ppd.webconverger.com/2013/signage.js
hidecursor
noblank
chrome=neon

Notice you need to tweak http://ppd.webconverger.com/2013/signage.js "autoconfig" preferences for your particular homepage's domain in order to give fullscreen video permissions for your domain.

Components.utils.import("resource://gre/modules/Services.jsm");
Components.utils.import("resource://gre/modules/NetUtil.jsm");
Services.perms.add(NetUtil.newURI("http://YOUR_HOMEPAGE_DOMAIN.com/"), "fullscreen", 1);
pref("full-screen-api.allow-trusted-requests-only", false);

As for view-source:http://signage.webconverger.com/ it's a very simple use of HTML video:

<video id=signage autoplay loop src=demo.webm></video>
<script>
video = document.getElementById('signage');
video.mozRequestFullScreen();
</script>

You can also re-purpose this technique for a Screensaver / Attraction loop for Webconverger.

"Is this Webconverger Neon?" you may ask. Yes. Neon has converged into Webconverger in every functionality, except the realtime monitoring and the price.

Enjoy simple device management of the control panel, not just for your kiosks, but for your PC signage devices too!

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How to configure a proxy with Webconverger

As documented in the API page, http_proxy=IP:PORT is used to specify a proxy.

Ideally your organisation uses a transparent proxy where this configuration is not necessary.

In the video above I demonstrate typically how you would configure Webconverger with a proxy server. However a potential problem is if you boot from an install version your proxy might not allow direct access to https://config.webconverger.com/, meaning you won't get your proxy configuration applied.

In this case you need to hold the Alt or Shift keys to get a boot: prompt to pass the appropriate http_proxy= line, as mentioned on the debug page. Again ideally your network can be configured to always allow access to https://config.webconverger.com/, so that special network configurations like a proxy server can be retrieved successfully and applied.

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