AccessGrid.org

AG Assist

AG ASSIST V1.1

ACCESS GRID TOOLKIT MANAGEMENT

AG Assist is a small program designed to facilitate the running of an Access Grid session. It interfaces with the AG Toolkit software (Venue Client, VIC, RAT, Shared Presentation Controller, etc) and other aspects of the AG session to provide a more user-friendly, polished and consistent AG experience. Any problems, questions or feedback please email lico.deridder@vuw.ac.nz

 

KEY FEATURES

AG Assist runs in the background (accessible from the system tray when ‘Launch on Startup’ is enabled) but kicks into action as soon as the Venue Client is started. When a virtual room is entered and as the various components of the AG Toolkit (VIC, RAT, Shared Presentation, etc) become available - additional AG Assist features are activated. Some run in the background, others are accessible from the Main Panel.
Key features include:

  • Automatic arrangement of AG Toolkit components
  • Cropped video-feed windows with node-name title bars
  • Click anywhere (hold down <ctrl>) dragging of video-feed windows
  • Snapping of video-feed windows to other video-feed windows and projection boundaries
  • On-screen image to indicate RAT Talk (live/mute) status
  • Screengrab button to create date/time-stamped image captures of projection displays
  • Clickable Help balloons and responsive Help for total newcomers

Other features include – a really big Talk (live/mute) button, Shared Presentation assistance and display selection, one-click VPCScreenCapture, a video-feed window layout store/restore function, a NZ AG Bookings Calendar panel, a basic AG Toolkit Help panel, an automatic Shutdown timer, the ability to set VIC CPU affinity, an analog clock, and much more.

A set of Mic Live/Mute images are shown on the projection display to indicate the Talk status of RAT. Please note that this doesn’t reflect the live/mute status of ClearOne devices. A wireless keyboard (and the F2 key) can be an effective way to give participants microphone control when other methods aren’t available. The positioning of the Mic Live/Mute images is set on the Configuration panel.

The Help button (or the F1 key) brings up bright yellow Help balloons to (hopefully) assist AG newcomers with the most essential AG Toolkit functions. The balloons can be clicked on for further responsive help with yet more hyperlinks.

To install - copy the ‘AG Assist v1.1.exe’ file into an appropriately named folder somewhere on the hard-drive and run it. An AG Assist shortcut (.lnk) file is copied into your Windows Startup folder.

 

CONFIGURATION

When the ‘AG Assist v1.1.exe’ file is first executed a number of program files are created and the AG Assist Configuration panel is displayed so appropriate configuration changes can be made and saved. All AG Assist configuration settings are stored in the ‘agconfig.ini’ file which can be opened (from the same program directory) and edited in any text editor.

AG Assist v1.1 is able to inspect AG configuration files to determine a number of AG settings. It’s important however to check that the ‘Computer’s AG Function’ is set correctly as this affects the behavior of AG Assist. The ‘Local Video Feed Window Titles’ are also detected and allow AG Assist to identify and position the nodes’ local video feed windows in the lower left corner of the projection display. Leave these fields blank to disable this feature.

The ‘VIC CPU affinity’ settings allow you to selectively run the VIC tool on specific (some or all) CPU’s on a computer with multiple CPU’s/CPU-cores (up to four). The ‘Auto Power Off’ function exits out of the AG Toolkit safely and powers down the computer after displaying a system-tray notification and a 30-second countdown timer. Most computers have an Auto Power On feature in their BIOS Setup to allow computers to automatically power up in the morning.

Other settings, such as the default AG Google Calendar address, graphics button options, analog clock size, etc are all set in the agconfig.ini file.

Author: Lico de Ridder, AV Services, ITS, Victoria University of Wellington
Platform: Windows XP - AutoHotkey v104703 - Access Grid Toolkit 2.4 & 3.2

AG Assist started of as a small script to automate some of the more repetitive actions of the AG session. Over time it evolved to include shortcut-keys, on-screen graphics and new routines to further address AG Toolkit shortcomings and enhance the overall AG experience.

AG Assist was developed specifically for VUW Access Grid nodes which each consist of a separate capture & display computer and 4 output displays (3 of which are 1024x768 projections). The program does however detect available output displays and accommodates for different screen resolutions and display/capture arrangements. If you do experience problems please email: lico.de.ridder@vuw.ac.nz. I may or may not reply.

 

FUTURE RELEASES

There probably won’t be future releases of AG Assist except to fix minor bugs. The program does not interface directly with the AG Toolkit in the way a Python scripts might and as such has probably about reached its limits.

KNOWN ISSUES

  • Some video-feed window title-bar issues such as titles sticking after AG has exited the virtual room, incorrect title-bar placement after video-feed window resize, flickering title-bars, etc.
  • Video-feed window title-bars currently cannot be switched on/off for individual video-feed windows.
  • Unavailable CPU Cores are currently not greyed out.
  • Presenter (radio) remotes currently aren’t supported.

VERSION HISTORY

Version 1.1 (summarized list only)

  • Additional mic live/mute graphics, an option to position graphics to other corners of the projection display.
  • Integration of NZ AG Google Calendar (embedded web-browser) accessible from the Main Panel.
  • Addition of graphic buttons to the Main Panel.
  • Detection routines for local video-feeds and VIC window (on ‘AG Capture’ setting).
  • Left/right controls for adjusting number of VIC thumbnail columns.
  • An analog clock accessible from the Main Panel.
  • Display node name (e.g. ‘VUW Kelburn’) in AG Assist window title (from AG profile .ini file).
  • StatusBar to show various updates such as “a Virtual Room was entered”, “RAT was disabled”, etc.
  • Fixed bug with sticky mouse-button when dragging the AG Assist window around.
  • Fixed issue with Shared Presentation window-crop occasionally hiding entire PPT window.
  • Fixed issue with VPCScreenCapture detection routines.
  • Fixed code to ensure mic mute/live pics stay on top of video-feed windows.
  • For consistency have swapped Main Panel mic mute/live button graphic around.
  • Fixed code to resolve problem dragging video-feed windows on first attempt (~LButton routine).

 

Releases

AttachmentSize
AG Assist v1.1 - Overview.pdf561.13 KB
AG Assist v1.1.zip1.76 MB