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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We're releasing version 8.0 of Media Jukebox today. It's been in beta since December.


Lots of changes have been made to improve HTPC performance. We’d like to have your help tuning them for the HTPC market.


Some of you are already aware that we publish Media Jukebox. For those who aren’t, it competes with Musicmatch, Real, and Windows Media Player. It has both a free and a shareware ($24.98) mode. Most, maybe all of the features needed for HTPC, are free.


You can see what CNET thinks of Media Jukebox here: http://www.cnet.com/software/0-32278...4-6743157.html


HTPC related features in MJ Version 8.0 are:


IRMan/Girder support (Girder Group is available)

Big screen, big menu mode

DVD playback

Support for ATI and Hauppauge tuner cards

Dscaler support? (untested)

Menu bars which can be hidden

Separate screen resolution settings for full screen mode.

Full screen display is a plug-in – SDK available

Music, tv, dvd integration

Web remote plug-in allows control from a browser (Audrey, PDA, etc.)

Removable disks are cataloged automatically.

Multiple SDK’s for those who like to code

Handles libraries up to at least 130,000 files.


In addition, Media Jukebox plays almost anything that Real, Windows Media Player, or Winamp can play. Supports uncommon formats like Ogg, MPC, and APE.


The home page is here: http://www.musicex.com/mediajukebox/index.html


[Moderator -- please note that I e-mailed for permission to post, but did not receive a reply.]
 

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One feature that would certainly make your product unique:


Be able to use media jukebox's User Interface to control a remote player.


The application:

The user would use a webpad, portable computer, or pen tablet (running media jukebox) to browse through their song collection, add songs to a playlist, and play songs on a remote player thats hooked up to their hifi. The player could be winamp on an HTPC, or it could be a turtle beach audiotron. Both machines would be hooked up to a tcp/ip LAN, the portable of course would probably be wireless.


Controlling the audiotron from your product should be relatively simple, since the audiotron has a simple web-based api.


The audiotron api is documented here . It also has a forum
 

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See I am not the only one Jim :p !!!


If you guys have recovered from the release session, how about letting me bash around some ideas with whoever wrote the web control plug in (does exactly what you are asking for Alex, but is a little rough currently) to see if we cant work something out...


Really would be cool if the HTML side of the server could be seperated from the C++ code of the plug in... This way we can do it outselves...


Alex, Put MJv8 on your 'remote machine' and run the web control plug in... Then use a webpad or whatever with a browser.. Point it to your remote machines address... and Voila dynamic lists of your media collection by artist / album / playlists / etc... Transport controls and (currenlty buggy) volume controls...


This is why I was asking about parsing of HTML lately as the design and look of the HTML server is beta... If we could get this plug in so that we can make the HTML / DHTML / XML / whatever and communicate with the server side directly (even Girder TCP/IP plug in passing the commands Jim ??) we would be in real business... Even as it is I am using my 510 to control MJ and browse / select my albums...
 

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I've tried quite a few "web based" control prog's for some different playlist managers in the past....in fact the audiotron has one as well. The problem is that the web based interfaces are always "klunky" compared to a native ui. I've also used vnc. Yes, thats works too, but klunky.


Maybe I'll download the new version and try mj's web-based interface. But somehow I doubt it will be as snappy and usable as running a native app.
 

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At the moment it is clunky... But I do belive that Jim and others at MJ are interested in being the player of choice for HTPC's but some of our requests are unusual and need that extra bit of explaining... Must of thier user base is MP3'ers who want easy catalogueing / playlists etc... We seem to want highest quality output, pretty remote controllable (by both other PC's and prontos) and network distribution abilities...


If as I suggest the HTML can be seperate you can make it as pretty as you like or can be bothered to...


Also of interest is visit the forum and get RhinoBanga's Album View plug in that allows browsing by album GFX...
 

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Web based solution could be nice too (espcially if you're using a pda as a remote control).


But I think the killer app is to be able to use the MJ User interface locally. The UI belongs where the user is (ie the webpad), the player belongs where the hifi is (ie the audiotron, the htpc, etc). Programatically, its a clean and relatively simple thing to do.
 

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Well I half agree... I think the MJ crowd found the idea of control and playing HW in 2 seperate machines as hard to get a grip on... Most MP3'ers are not using a HTPC attached to a serious soundcard and possibly linked into whole home distribution etc...


I agree in seperating local control from remote playback (even if they are both on the same machine if you understand me) but I disagree that it needs to be as full of features as the whole MJ interface... I think having one machine as the MJ 'server' is enough... Other 'media browsers' or front ends are desirable and the ability to que tracks etc would be nice for those that do this but for me full application control is not required...
 

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BTW, I realize I said webtablet when I meant to say Tablet PC's. Webpad's are overgrown PDA's that came out a year or so ago and generally failed. Tablet PC's are full grown pen-based pc's running windows xp.


More info:
http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/t...letpcqanda.asp


You can get pen-based windows tablets now (I have a fujitsu running windows 98). Microsoft is planning a big push to tablet pc's this fall.


For me, full blown functionality is a "must", since the remote PC is my primary control.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Alex,

There are a lot of ways to skin cats, and I'm not always sure I follow what people suggest.


You may know some or all of the following.


Media Jukebox can run on one PC and connect to an MJ library on another machine, by using Media Server (part of MJ).


Media Jukebox can also be controlled through an interface plugin that anyone can write. The web remote was just a "proof of concept" that we wrote using the SDK we make available on our web page (Developers section).


Part of our problem in fitting what we do to what the HTPC'ers want is that they want SO very much and it's hard to see the pattern. We need to be able to sell at least 4 or 5 of anything we do to break even ;).
 

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Jim there is a pattern... Most of the requests come from...


A) Make it prettier / front end (look at CD Lobby or APe Jukebox)...

B) Allow network control systems (I can see you are doing this already)

C) Big screen controls... EG pronto control possible and a non PC UI


Combining both A and B gives pretty web control systems :cool: !!


BTW where is the big screen big menu mode ???
 

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Hi jim


I've been skinning this cat for a while :)


What I'd like to do is sit on my couch with my laptop, use it to select songs, and play it on my hifi (which is not directly hooked up to my laptop). I have tried several approaches:


1. Set up my laptop with my favorite playlist manager and winamp, and set up shoutcast on my htpc. Use winamp to stream audio to shoutcast, set up htpc and/or audiotron (which IS hooked up to hifi) to listen to shoutcast stream.


2. Use VNC to remotely control a playlist manager/winamp session on my htpc.


3. Use web based playlist managers to control winamp session set up on my htpc


4. Use web based playlist manager to control audiotron


All the approachs above stink. The web based UI's stink. Streaming audio stinks. VNC stinks. I do it. It stinks


Ideally, i would use your great NATIVE UI on my laptop to control a winamp session OR audiotron thats hooked up to my hifi. My preference is for the audiotron.


Sure, I understand I could use some stinky web based app to control MJ. But then whats the point of having a great UI? I never get to see it.


If I understand MJ server correctly (I think I may have tried it, it is installed on my machine and I posted this question a while back) it goes the wrong way (i.e. sits on htpc, streams data back to client).
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
PhatPhreddy,

Big screen (full screen) is available in the Playing Now window. Several ways to get to it: right click on screen or left click on menu button in lower left or right click on full screen button in lower right.


Enlarged menus are under the Options for this display screen. Right click on screen or left click on menu button, then choose options/enlarge menus.


WorkPermit,


> Sure, I understand I could use some stinky web based app to control MJ. But then whats the point of having a great UI? I never get to see it.


You may be missing the point that any app could be written now to control MJ. We implemented one that is a web server, but you could hard code it in C++.


I won't get into "beauty" as it is anyone's call what that means. There are people who don't like Picasso.


For the more specialized needs, our proposed solution is to open up the control interface and let people go nuts writing apps. IE, Free SDK.
 

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Quote:
You may be missing the point that any app could be written now to control MJ. We implemented one that is a web server, but you could hard code it in C++.
I do understand that. I used to code many years ago (back then we called it c). I've got a few hundred thousand lines of code under my belt. I do have visual studio on my machine. But I just don't have the stomach anymore to code what is needed. And even if I did, would it be as nice as yours?


Of course, If i did my own UI, I wouldn't need MJ. I'd probably just set up winamp on a central server and code up a tcp/ip client/server. While I was at it, I'd make it configurable to control an audiotron.


Of course, 99.9% of the code would be a duplication of what you already have.

Quote:
I won't get into "beauty" as it is anyone's call what that means.
Your native UI is beautiful. I'm sure you must think so...thats why you wrote it. I've tried a number of web based playlist managers. To some people, they're acceptable. But are they as nice as yours? I don't think so, I doubt you do either.
 

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I think that's an excellent solution to open up. We appreciate your company's work to fulfill our never ending thirst for quality and features :) By the way not everybody share's the opinion about web interfaces, because for those of use who might be controlling over a slow connection web works better than most app to app tcp/ip control connections (not inherent, just how it tends to be)
 

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I agree with everything that is being requested here. I am setting up a multi-source, multi-room audio system and I would like a simple web based (or Java) interface that runs on the new Microsoft Mira web tablets (windows ce .net). I use a Delta 410 audio card so i need multiple copies of the software. I have found that Premise systems provides all of this software, but is rather expensive (around $900). Download the free preview from their site. It is great stuff. If MJ would have a similar version for less than $300 I would buy it right away.


The configuration I have is a multi channel amp hooked up to a matrix switcher for 6 sources (4 are mp3 streams from winamp). Any room can pick any of the 6 sources or all can play the same for party mode. Keypads in each room allow for the source selection and the Mira device allows for the play list selection. No software except Premise can support this configuration. Winamp comes close but it breaks down with remote control from webpads. Only one instance of winamp can be controlled remotely.


This basically stinks. all the hardware in place and no software to support it...
 

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I too am trying to use HTCP for whole house distributed high quality audio. For me, the Escient TuneBase or FireBall units come close to what I am looking for, but they are limited to disk size, expansion, etc., thus, my venture into HTPC..


My strong view is for whole house distribution of any music, PLAYBACK CONTROL MUST BE EASY, CONVENIENT, and NOT REQUIRE GETTING ON A COMPUTER (even if it is a HTPC based system). For this to work well, I believe two aspects of control are vital, as follows:


1) Video output of UI, which can be modulated and distributed over all TVs in the house. Clearly a jukebox selections and playback interface needs to be seen to be anything more than a CD changer. TVs are the practical viewing vehicle in a whole house setup (of course networked or web connected PCs are fine as well, but not in place of TVs for viewing playback selections/functions).


2) To be sufficiently user friendly and for family use, it must have good IR based control over music play menus e.g., a) sort and select by album, artist, etc, b) sort and select playlists, add/delete songs from playlist, c) play, pause, forward, random, etc. It is easy enough to have an IR network running throughout the house.


For me it is vital NOT to have to use a keyboard to control play functions. We should NOT have to be advanced users to be able to select and play from the Jukebox. Nor does it allow for easy and convenient enjoyment of music when one must carry around a keyboard to change the song. To a lesser degree this is true of tablet PCs, and fancy LCD controlers. We just should not have to have that level of complexity to control music.



The last point to address in whole house distributed music is multi zone, multi source capability. This is very easy to set up for non-pc based audio (just have a couple of CD changers, a couple of receivers/amps, and an IR network). As I understand it, this is much harder for HTPC based music servers/jukeboxes, because one needs separate PCs for each source. I do not know how one PC can act as two or more jukeboxes, distributing both: simultaneous distinct audio selections to two or more rooms, AND accompanying UI video to TVs (modulated to broadband as separate channels to see the music to be selected for each jukebox source). If I am wrong please tell me how this can be done.


Even assuming this cannot be done on a single PC, one can have separate PC server/jukeboxes for not too much money. However, even with two or more HTPC jukeboxes, the problem of easy playback/music selection control from anywhere in the house (over the IR network) without need for keyboard or tablet PCs continues to be the issue.


(Disclaimer: I am new at all of this HTPC stuff. If there is an easy way to use an IR based control for a PC based Jukebox, and be able to see the UI on TVs to see what is being selected, please, please, spell it out for me)


Thanks


Caleb




It IS fine to use a keyboard for more advanced functions like ripping, burning, etc.
 

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Is it possible to control Media Jukebox without a screen?

I am looking for a program that would let me access all my music using a remote and an LCD/VFD display.


Could i create a plugin that displays a UI on an LCD so that i can manage the playlist?


/Magnus
 

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Still hoping for the ability to move the full screen view to a non-primary monitor. :)


Listening to: 'Bohemian Rhapsody' from 'Rocks The West' by 'California Guitar Trio' on Media Jukebox
 

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Girder has a full MJ plug in and so transport controls all work either on local machine or (if you get clever and do this please document a howto) with TCP/IP plug in over a network... So you can have Pronto transport control...


Again with Girder McMM has updated DVDSpy to include MJv8 so you have LCD output as well... If you want to make a LCD input browsing of media feature I think you will need to work a little harder...


Any one that has C++ skills that can work the interface SDK could improve apon the web control plug in to get the playlists / album / artist stuff to an LCD... Then its a matter of getting the key input into Girder and acting on it... To me this is all doable stuff _IF_ you have the c++ skills for the interface SDK (I dont)...


All of the concerns we have of pretty big screen UI's can be done with MJ for the coders... If the web control plug in command structure could be documented a little I am guessing it would allow us more ability to reformat the output to make / flash / XML / HTML outputs to our hearts content... I dont see why with these graphical tools a web based GUI needs to 'stink' something that looks like CD Lobby Glissando or ape jukebox must be possible as a distributed front end via one of these approaches...


Once the front end looks nice and can be acessed on any PC in the house to play from my audio PC (and therefore into a whole house system with RS232 switched amping if I desire) then we would really be rocking... We are not too far from that currently I think...
 

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Would be great if MJ could be used as a front end for WinDVD 4 decoding filters. Also, support for the analog/digital inputs of a variety of soundcards would be great! And add FM tuner card support. I know I'm dreaming though....;)


Colin
 
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