Auto-update a slideshow with pictures sent in by e-mail

Craig Sayers (the genius behind the power point counter hack) created a novel way of sharing photos at his wedding. Friends and family could send photos they’d taken to an e-mail address that automatically added the photo to a slide show which was being projected onto a wall at the wedding. You can imagine the fun that ensued as the evening progressed.

The geek that I am realised this has an application in Medical Education; particularly in workshops and conferences.  You can get delegates to respond to questions by getting them to take a picture of answers or comments they have written down and display them for everyone to see.

I thought it would be useful to share this process. There will clearly be other ways of doing this but I think even the most novice of computer users should be able to put this together!

  1. Create a dropbox account. You will need to install dropbox onto your operating system as well.
  2. Create a send-to-dropbox account and link this to your drop box account (don’t worry about the funny looking e-mail address you may be given at this stage)
  3. Download photolive (links to windows/mac downloads are at the bottom of the screen) onto your operating system
  4. When you open photolive click ‘choose a folder’ and select the dropbox folder “Attachments”. You will find this in the folder “Apps’ in the dropbox folder (which should be installed in your operating system during part [1])Screen Shot 2016-03-18 at 14.44.32
  5. You are given the opportunity to change the display time of the slideshow and the transition effects.
  6. Send a picture to the e-mail address you set up in 2. You need to send a picture file (rather than a pdf etc.) and then press ‘play’ on photolive
  7. If the system works you should see the photo you sent yourself appear in the photolive display. Sending yourself another photo should add this photo to the slideshow.
  8. If the above doesn’t work check you have pictures in the Attachments folder in dropbox. If you don’t it means they are not being sent there (review the send to dropbox e-mail if this is the case). Put some photos directly in the folder and see what happens to the photolive display. If this doesn’t change you may have selected the wrong folder so review this. 
  9. If you don’t want to hand out an odd looking e-mail to your delegates you can create a gmail account with a specific e-mail address (I created for the test I performed at the BASIS course). Click on settings when logged in (often found via the cogwheel symbol) and then click on forwarding and POP/IMAP. Insert your send to dropbox e-mail here.You then have to confirm to dropbox that you do own the “send-to-drop box” e-mail. You will need to go back to the “send-to-dropbox e-mail” page and in the options tab select “include HTML body” and “plain text body“. This means the e-mail gmail sends to confirm will appear in the attachments folder in dropbox. You can find the confirmation hyperlink and click on it (or copy and paster it into a web-browser) to confirm. These FAQs have further information.

If you have completed 1-9 hopefully when you press play on the photolive programme (and it is linked to the attachments dropbox folder) any e-mail with a photo you have given to the audience that links to your “send-to-dropbox” e-mail should start appearing in the slideshow!

Sadly I haven’t found a work-a-round for embedding in powerpoint or keynote . Therefore you will need to stop and open photolive if this is part of a formal presentation

I’d love to know if these instructions help or if you have a quicker way to hack this…

This work would not have been possible without Dr. Craig Sayers insight so a big thanks to him!

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