Older blog entries for pycage (starting at number 97)

27 Jun 2010 (updated 27 Jun 2010 at 17:09 UTC) »

A New Version of MediaBox for N900, N800, and N810

There is now a new version 2010.06.26 of MediaBox Media Center available in extras-testing for N900 and extras for N800 and N810.

It's somewhat a small premiere. :)
As far as I know, MediaBox is the first 3rd party media player on the N900 to support the Maemo MAFW framework for media playback.
MediaBox is also the first media player written in Python to use MAFW for playback. Of course my code for using MAFW is open for anyone to use in their Python programs.

Using MAFW on the N900 has some benefits. For instance, audio will play in silent mode and doesn't stutter while locking the screen. And you are able to control the volume with the hardware keys while the screen is locked (this requires Maemo5 PR 1.2).

In case you prefer mplayer over MAFW, and have mplayer installed on your device, you can use it as media backend as well. Or just use plain GStreamer as before. The backend to use is configurable per media type.
On the N8x0, the available backends are OSSO Media Server (the predecessor of MAFW), mplayer, and GStreamer.

How do you normally get music onto your device? Now you can browse your UPnP media shares and download whole folders with their media contents onto the device. YouTube videos can be copied to the device, too, and MediaBox manages all this with the new download manager component.

There have also been made some (a lot) performance improvements in the new version, and the handy sleep timer from the 0.96.x series of MediaBox is back.

Enjoy, and please don't forget to vote for the package if you're using it from extras-testing on the N900!

Syndicated 2010-06-27 12:59:00 (Updated 2010-06-27 16:22:50) from Martin Grimme

FM Radio for the N800

The Nokia N800, introduced in January 2007, was the first internet tablet from Nokia that featured a FM tuner chip (without RDS unfortunately).

And now the popular FM Radio application from the N900 is coming to the N800 real soon! I'm currently working on N800 support in the application so that both devices will be sharing a common code-base.

See FM Radio on the N800 in action:

Syndicated 2010-01-31 13:21:00 (Updated 2010-01-31 13:25:31) from Martin Grimme

Isn't the Maemo community awesome? :)

First we get a proof-of-concept for MMS, and now we can send USSD codes, such as *135# or *100# for checking your balance.

It's still very early, but here's a screenshot of a working app.

Syndicated 2010-01-05 23:25:00 (Updated 2010-01-05 23:31:44) from Martin Grimme

MediaBox Media Center for N900

If you have been waiting for MediaBox Media Center on the N900, then I have good news for you.

MediaBox version 2010.01.03 is now going to extras-testing for some QA. In the meantime for you to watch, I have recorded some videos with the N900's awesome TV-out feature.

Browsing UPnP shares with MediaBox is as easy as browsing the filesystem. In this video MediaBox is used for watching a movie over WiFi on the N900.

A new feature of MediaBox is the shelf. It's the starting folder where you can always return with the press of a button. You can put shortcuts to almost anything on the shelf for quick access (songs, albums, artists, videos, photos, folders, internet radio stations, playlists, you name it).

MediaBox has a finger-friendly way of reordering playlists. Simply drag the items with your finger.

Oh yes, this video shows MediaBox in portrait mode.

The upcoming MediaBox for Diablo for N8x0 will be quite similar to this version.

Syndicated 2010-01-03 17:14:00 (Updated 2010-01-03 17:17:08) from Martin Grimme

MediaBox finally supports UPnP MediaRenderer Output

The Fremantle version of MediaBox Media Center is coming along nicely. The latest development version (2009.11.1) is now in extras-devel, so if you're brave enough to test out hot fresh unstable stuff directly from extras-devel, you're invited to give it a try (installing just MediaBox from extras-devel should be pretty safe).

The big news with the latest development version is UPnP MediaRenderer support. If you have a compatible (GUPnP-Media-Renderer has been tested to be compatible so far) UPnP MediaRenderer in your network, you can have MediaBox play on that renderer instead of your phone.

If the MediaRenderer supports it, you can even play local files from your phone on it, not only stuff hosted on another UPnP/DLNA server.

Eventually, this cool stuff will be available for N8x0 users, too, of course.

Syndicated 2009-11-01 12:17:00 (Updated 2009-11-01 12:25:44) from Martin Grimme

Update on the N900 FM Radio

Success! We can receive FM radio on the N900 now.

Controlling the FM radio in the N900 is tricky stuff. At first, the hardware is disabled for power saving reasons. Bluetooth has to be powered up, the I2C communication bus has to be powered up, and only then, the FM radio driver will actually load.

I have created a package n900-fmrx-enabler for this task. The FMRX-Enabler is a D-Bus service that takes care about enabling the FM radio hardware on request and powering it down again when no application are using it.

After the driver has been loaded by the FMRX-Enabler, the FM radio provides two interfaces for controlling. A classic Video4Linux2 interface featuring only the basic stuff such as setting the frequency and muting/unmuting it, and a sysfs interface where you can read and write into file-like objects to control the radio.

Another tricky part is getting to hear sound from the radio. Unlike the N800, the FM radio doesn't output to the speakers directly. You have to capture the sound from the PGA line and play it back. A simple GStreamer pipeline such as

gst-launch pulsesrc ! pulsesink

does the job, after enabling PGA line2 and PGA capturing in the mixer.

I have uploaded an application package fmradio for the FM radio to extras-testing. Testers are encouraged to test this, too.

One drawback with the FM radio is that due to constant capturing and replaying, the FM radio is kinda demanding on the battery. There's no safe way around that. The unsafe way around that can damage your speakers, so capturing/replaying is a must.

I'm gonna put up some developer documentation for the FM radio stuff.

Syndicated 2009-10-12 06:20:00 (Updated 2009-10-12 06:24:46) from Martin Grimme

MediaBox on the N900

The popular NIT media center MediaBox is coming to the N900. Thanks to lots of user feedback the UI has been further simplified and optmized and of course "fremantlized". :)

The upcoming release for the N900 will be the first version to provide suport for portrait and landscape orientations. Browsing your music feels great in portrait mode!

MediaBox will support playing FM radio on the N900 as well (the N900 device specs don't list the FM radio, but there is one, on the Bluetooth chip).

Media indexing is now driven by tracker, the native indexer of the Fremantle OS. And if you don't like indexing you can of course browse the file system as before.

When you start MediaBox you will see the dashboard. This is where you can access your playlists, browse the device and your UPnP/DLNA servers, and access your indexed music, videos, and pictures. You can even put shortcuts to your stuff onto the dashboard for quick access, e.g. songs or albums you like, or folders with photos. No matter how deep within folders and subfolders you are, the dashboard is only one finger-tap away.

Another new feature is the folder history where you can see the folders where you recently were and go back.

If you have Tuomas Kulve's ogg-support installed, you will also be able to play Ogg Vorbis and FLAC music.

MediaBox still uses its own lightweight UPnP subsystem instead of gupnp that comes with Fremantle. My experience shows that the UPnP subsystem of MediaBox is still more compatible with the servers out there than gupnp is right now.

MediaBox is currently in the extras-devel repository for Fremantle and it's marked as an incomplete beta version. I expect to upload the full release later this month, after which it moves on to the extras-testing repository for community Q&A. Then it should only be a matter of time until it will appear in the extras repository.
The beta version in extras-devel is now updated frequently.

The new version will also be available for Diablo after the release for Fremantle. Portrait mode will be supported on Diablo, too, if you have rotation-support installed.

Syndicated 2009-10-10 14:59:00 (Updated 2009-10-10 15:22:56) from Martin Grimme

MediaBox Media Center 0.96.5 with New Features

After several weeks of development, I have now released version 0.96.5 of MediaBox Media Center. Lots of user feedback helped shape the new version.

Most notably the user interface looks a bit different now as it has been tidied up for a more consistent look & feel and much better performance with reduced memory footprint.

Quick Scrolling and Search

The item lists have a thumbable scrollbar and a index letter display helps you find your way while quick scrolling.

Finding stuff in long lists

While searching for an item with the onscreen-keyboard or a hardware-keyboard, you can skip to the previous and next search results by pressing up or down on the D-pad.

Falling Asleep and Waking Up with Music

If you like to fall asleep with music or want to wake up with music, you will love the new sleep timer. Simply set the time when MediaBox should start or stop playing in the preferences viewer and select the media you want to have played. The sleep timer simulates PLAY and STOP actions so it can be used with virtually any media. For instance, you can have MediaBox wake you up with FM radio on the N800. With this feature, my N800 finally earned a steady place next to my bed.

The new sleep timer

Timed Karaoke Lyrics

Do you like lyrics? MediaBox displays song lyrics in LRC format. LRC lyrics files need to match the file name of the song file, e.g. "Song.mp3" and "Song.lrc".
LRC is a popular file format in China, and you can find lots of lyrics on various lyrics servers. Since LRC files are text files, you can also create them yourself.
I plan on making a LRC editor for MediaBox in the near future, too.

As always, MediaBox is available for N800 and N810 in the maemo-extras repository.
Nokia 770 users can retrieve MediaBox from the SVN repository or manually pull the
deb packages from the Chinook maemo-extras repository server.

A full list of what's new can be found in the release notes.

Syndicated 2009-06-04 18:33:00 (Updated 2009-06-04 18:58:03) from Martin Grimme

19 May 2009 (updated 20 May 2009 at 08:08 UTC) »

Mer plays videos with MediaBox

Another milestone has been reached in the Mer project on its way to eventually replace Maemo on the N8x0 devices. It will be possible to play videos with Mer 0.13. The current SVN version of MediaBox supports Mer and uses the libxine backend for video playback.

After installing libxine and MediaBox SVN version on Mer, you will need to install the D-Bus-Xine service. D-Bus-Xine is a simple D-Bus service for embedding libxine in applications. It was originally written for enabling DVD playback
with MediaBox on PCs.

A version compiled for Mer-ARMEL can be found here. If you want to compile D-Bus-Xine yourself, you can also download its source code.

I haven't built deb packages for D-Bus-Xine yet, so you'll have to manually extract the tarball in the root directory (/) on Mer.

After having started MediaBox, you should enter its preferences view
and set the media backends to Xine for all filetypes that you want to be able play.
However, there is no sound support yet in Mer 0.13, so don't expect too much.

EDIT: see the comments for how to get sound

Syndicated 2009-05-19 20:06:00 (Updated 2009-05-20 07:50:41) from Martin Grimme

MediaBox Media Center 0.96.4 released

Hilights of the new MediaBox release:

The overall performance of the user interface has been improved again and the lists now feature transition effects and remember the position where you where standing in the parent folder when you go back. This is especially handy when browsing UPnP/DLNA servers.

The mplayer backend has been optimized and mplayer now plays videos generally a lot smoother than before. Playback of higher resolution videos (e.g. 640 x 480) is now also smoother by automatic downscaling.

Media indexing has been improved and runs faster. And if you don't like indexing of ID tags, you can always browse the filesystem to play your media, of course.

Music can now also be browsed by genre, additional to browsing by artist, by album, and by folder.

MediaBox can now be told to keep the display lit while playing media. Stop playing, and the device may enter powersaving mode again.

If you use the Nokia headset that came with the device, you can now use the headset button to pause/play and skip to the next or previous track. Do this by pushing the button once, twice, or three times, respectively. Do not press the button to quickly because the headset is bad at detecting consecutive actions, though. Half a second between clicks is just right.

Syndicated 2009-03-06 21:46:00 (Updated 2009-03-06 21:48:14) from Martin Grimme

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