How to set the live video feed from the ISS as the desktop background

desktop-customization

NASA have recently started doing a live broadcast of the view from the ISS (if it's black, the ISS is over the night side of the Earth). http://eol.jsc.nasa.gov/HDEV/

How can I set this broadcast (or better, somehow obtain a periodic screen-cap of the feed) to become my desktop background? So that everyone benefits, solutions for Mac OS X, Linux, and Windows are desired.

Best Answer

VLC has a wallpaper mode that allows to set any media it's currently playing as a wallpaper - the documentation mentions "DirectX" but I'm pretty sure that option exists on all platforms.

Now you need a way to open the stream directly inside VLC, unfortunately nothing is that easy and every streaming platform will do whatever they can to use their awful Flash-based solution.

However, they also need to provide streams for mobile devices that don't support Flash, and here's what this undocumented URL is for : http://iphone-streaming.ustream.tv/uhls/17074538/streams/live/iphone/playlist.m3u8.

Once you have the URL, you just need to put the VLC command line (with the wallpaper option) inside a shortcut in the Startup folder of your start menu.

Here's a preliminary command line I came up with, however it has several issues like not being fullscreen, so you'll have to tinker with the --zoom parameter (--width and --height have no effect unfortunately).

vlc --video-wallpaper --zoom 2 --no-osd --qt-start-minimized --qt-notification 0 --qt-system-tray http://iphone-streaming.ustream.tv/uhls/17074538/streams/live/iphone/playlist.m3u8

Open your Startup folder, you can just use copy/paste this path directly in your start menu to open it : %AppData%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Startup.

Create a new shortcut in that folder, it should point to vlc.exe, the path itself should be quoted and the options should be appended after the quoted path, like this :

"C:\Program Files\VideoLAN\VLC\vlc.exe" --video-wallpaper --zoom 2 --no-osd --qt-start-minimized --qt-notification 0 --qt-system-tray http://iphone-streaming.ustream.tv/uhls/17074538/streams/live/iphone/playlist.m3u8

Finally you can test your changes by clicking on the new entry you just created in your start menu (it's in the Startup folder), or log out and log back in.

Note that you have to enable display of the desktop icons, otherwise it won't work, not sure why.