Test your Polycom and Tandberg video conference hardware is working from your desktop using Polycom PVX

I needed to test that our (fairly ancient) Tandberg 6000 video conferencing system was working but our portable Polycom unit typically used for this purpose had failed. Trying to find a software alternative to do this is like pulling teeth as Polycom have discontinued their PVX software and replaced it with RealPresence Desktop and a suite of other software with no trial or free edition. The Polycom PVX software is the easiest way of testing our video conferencing hardware using software on the desktop but has not been updated since 2007.

Polycom PVX does still exist out there and a trial version can be downloaded from Polycom themselves (from their support site). You can also find the software to download from a few other sites such as Software Informer. With this trial edition you only get 5 minutes of video but it is enough to connect to your hardware and check everything is working. The interface is awful but it does work and the software connected to our Tandberg system fine using my computer’s webcam and mic etc.

Easily add multiple lightbox style popup videos to your page using Flowplayer and jQuery Tools Overlay

Adding a video to your page is easy enough by embedding directly or by using something like flashembed to embed Flash. What we needed to do was have multiple links on a page that would each open specific videos, whilst still keep the same generic JavaScript somewhere in a separate page template file. The accompanying CSS also had to stay in a separate CSS file and also needed to be generic. Our videos were all in .FLV format and needed to pop over the content in a nice overlay so as not to disturb the flow of the page.

Blacktrash have a nice demo of the kind of functionality we needed but it wasn’t quite generic enough to manage our very different sized videos. The code below, based on this example using Flowplayer and jQuery Tools Overlay, is simple enough that you can easily add multiple videos to a page. The size of the video player is determined by the html5 style attributes “data-width” and “data-height” on each “a” link which are picked up by jQuery and used to resize the player. If you do not specify these then the default is used, as given by the CSS.


<html>
<head>
<!-- include the flowplayer, jQuery and jQuery Tools libraries -->
<script src="http://releases.flowplayer.org/js/flowplayer-3.2.11.min.js"></script>
<script src="http://ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/libs/jquery/1.7/jquery.js" type="text/javascript" charset="utf-8"></script>
<script src="http://cdn.jquerytools.org/1.2.6/all/jquery.tools.min.js" type="text/javascript" charset="utf-8"></script>

<!-- set up the flowplayer to play videos in an overlay using jQuery Tools Overlay -->
<script type="text/javascript">
  $(function () {
    var player;
    $("a[rel]").overlay({
      mask: {
        color: '#000',
        opacity: 0.2
      },
      onLoad: function () {
		// create player object and load in the href of the link clicked as the source of the video
	    player = $f("player", "http://releases.flowplayer.org/swf/flowplayer-3.2.15.swf",this.getTrigger().attr("href"));
		player.load();
		// set the height and width based on data-height and data-width
		$("#player").height(this.getTrigger().attr("data-height"));
		$("#player").width(this.getTrigger().attr("data-width"));
      },
      onClose: function () {
        player.unload();
      }
    });
  });
</script>

<!-- set up the CSS to hide the overlay by default and set up default height and width for the player -->
<style>
#overlay {
      display: none;
      padding: 40px;
    }
    .close {
      background:url(http://flowplayer.org/media/img/overlay/close.png) no-repeat;
      position:absolute;
      top:2px;
      right:5px;
      display:block;
      width:35px;
      height:35px;
      cursor:pointer;
    }
    #player {
      display: block;
      width: 600px;
      height: 300px;
      margin: 0;
    }
    #player *:focus {
      outline-style: none;
    }
</style>
</head>
<body>

<!-- each link contains a reference to the video to be played in flowplayer, the JavaScript above ensures they are played in an overlay -->
<a rel="#overlay" href="http://www.sitename.com/video/video1.flv">Video 1</a>
<a rel="#overlay" href="http://www.sitename.com/video/video800x600.flv" data-height="600" data-width="800">800x600 Video</a>

<!-- the overlay <div> itself is empty apart from a &amp;nbsp; and hidden using CSS to make sure it isn't shown on screen -->
<div id="overlay"><a class="close"></a><div id="player">&amp;nbsp;</div></div>

</body>
</html>

You can do a lot more with flowplayer and overlays so this is just a starting point but the approach is generic enough that any of the web team can add nice popup videos to a page just by adding a simple “a” link.