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Response to PowerFile enquiry  
Wednesday, 16 February 2005

In a previous post I mentioned the PowerFile jukebox, and an anonymous guest commented:

I'm looking to do something similar. Having not purchased the jukebox yet, what challenges did you have in writing the software? How does the OS (XP or W2K) see the jukebox?

This person must new around here because, of course, I programmed this under GNU/Linux, not a Microsoft platform ;-) The jukebox is connected by FireWire (only) and shows up as multiple SCSI devices. Unfortunately, I lost an early version of the software that used an XML file between sessions to save the state of the jukebox. I was employed by 1 Control to write this software, so I was not exactly at sole liberty to share it. However, it now may be offered through some open source license.

The latest version of software I have uses a MySQL database for storing the jukebox state and the labels of audio and video discs. The database schema is an extension of the OpenDB disc library web application. It was pretty cool stuff to work on. It would automatically read the DVD Video volume name or use FreeDb to get the title and tracks of an audio disc. Since the jukebox has two drives, the software could manage parallel, independent tasks on the drives. It used the abcde shell script and its dependent utilites to rip CD audio into MP3, Ogg Vorbis, or Ogg FLAC. We did not rip DVD Videos, but could have using something like dvdbackup.

The coolest application running atop this however, was DVD Video playback to a diskless media console running Xine media player all controlled through a wireless PDA, tablet or smartphone. Basically, the controller contains an interface to browse the disc library. Selecting a disc tells the jukebox to load a disc, the disc starts playing through a client/server layer over libdvdcss, RPC commands tell the home entertainment system to turn on and the media console to start playing. When DVD menus come up, the images are sent to the wireless controller where you can click on the menu items!

Heh, pretty funny that I worked on this in 2003, I have a PowerFile in my possession now, but I do not have all of this running at home. I am just time and patience constrained, not to mention not exactly having a proliferation of equipment or money. The machine I could use for a media console really needs to become the new web and e-mail server because this one is just getting too slow.