Celebrating 25 years of NDS with Daniel Calder – Support Engineer

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Celebrating 25 years of NDS with Daniel Calder - Support Engineer

To be one of our PADS4 experts, you don’t need to be with us from the very beginning. Daniel proves that! He’s only been with us since this year, but he brought a lot of experience from working with PADS4 himself. What better way there is to give us a different perspective.

Q: Hi Daniel, when did you start at NDS and what do you do?

I started working for NDS somewhere in the middle of June, and I am lucky to have been given the title of Support Engineer. I assist our partners with any issues they might have regarding the technical functionality of PADS4, and analyze Blackboxes, Windows Event Viewer Application logs & many more.

Q: You used to work with PADS4 yourself, what did you use it for?

At my previous employer, I was involved with the company-wide rollout of an entire digital signage ecosystem. Together with our Dutch partner BIS | Econocom, we created a 14 page PADS4 presentation that consisted of videos, company information, product announcements, RSS news feeds, livestreams of internal camera’s with RTSP, and any information regarding events. We also had a grand entrance screen, and could easily upload all the customer’s logos who were visiting that day. This was easily configured and scheduled using the PADS4 Clients applications.

Q: Why did your former company select PADS4?

I remember distinctively being recommended the PADS4 solution, for its broadness in approach of third-party databases and applications, integrations with Microsoft Exchange, data and the seamless adding of videos and other content. They showcased a certain customer case, something with internal communications inside a soccer stadium for B2B events, meetings and match day wayfinding, I was impressed with the diversity of content that could be displayed with one digital signage software package.

Q: Since you've been using PADS4 yourself, how easy is it as a user?

My first-hand experience was with PADS4 Designer, and to me it felt like a mix of a technical PowerPoint simulator with basic Photoshop elements. I thought it was pretty easy to setup simple Data Provider connections with an XML file, or creating a data-scrolling company Instagram feed with images and text. I did however had to learn more about how data is fetched and searched from JSON, Microsoft SQL and other Data Providers before I was able to make some more interesting data and context-driven presentations.

Q: If you had to name your five favorite PADS4 functionalities, what would they be?
  • The F1 or Help! button: I still often have to look at the manuals when searching for certain functionalities of elements or options configuring a setup concerning Data Providers. When I am working in one of the PADS4 applications, I can always call upon the trusty F1 button, and the manual will showcase me what all the options are meant to trigger and any important notifications.
  • Blackboxes: The Blackboxes are an important source of information, making them a goldmine of information for us regarding any Viewer or server PC with running PADS4 software on it.
  • The Video/Sound element: Creating presentations with video content is my favorite. We have seen so many colorful and creative PADS4 presentations with awesome video files & streams.
  • Web Element: We know many partners love a good old kiosk mode setting with certain screens, and with the Web Element, it is easy to setup a confined company/corporate website that users can scroll through with touch.
  • Data Providers: For me, even the overview of all the possible Data Provider connections with PADS4 is insane. I can create presentations with data from a weather station, Google calendars, Twitter feeds, Zendesk tickets, and most of the Microsoft Office kit.
Q: What do you think is the strongest feature of PADS4?

I love that PADS4 is setup as an enterprise module for configuring a whole digital signage system. When working with simple Media Players at my previous company, I remember being continuously frustrated about rendering new PowerPoints as videos, or constantly adding new content to the full frame render of communication. And then having to upload these individually everywhere. I can now synchronize content automatically, and change schedules/content with a few clicks. I am still impressed by the whole idea of PADS4.

Q: Now you're working on the other side. How has that been for you? Did it influence your outlook on PADS4?

My perception of how versatile this software is in actuality had definitely changed. Before working here, I was not in the possibility to view and test the HTML5 viewer System on Chip options with Samsung, LG and other manufacturers. As a customer, I had never seen the PADS4 System Management or Agent tool, which are essential for setting up user/group policies for content and viewer restrictions. Now I am able to see the full scale of PADS4.

Q: You haven't been with NDS very long, but have you already noticed developments that affected your position as Support Engineer?

The introduction of PADS4 CTRL Center will definitely positively impact a lot of users. A web-based interface with a nice overview of your viewers, Content Library, schedule, licenses. This will come in handy for quick analysis of your environment, and is a great tool for monitoring your existing networks/setups.

Q: How do you see the future of PADS4?

When looking at the new architecture, and the way the software has evolved even in the last few versions: I can see a bright future in scalability and hosting entire enterprise digital signage systems within Azure, and easy implementation of templates, viewers and much more. I see a lot of creativity already here over at NDS, and I think our partners and users will only make more interesting & creative presentations all over the world.

A big thanks to Daniel for the different perspective on PADS4! Next week we continue our expert interviews. Stay tuned for more information on all you need to know about PADS4.