Free HTPC Software : Digital Home Server

Discussion in 'Home Theater PCs' started by soitjes, May 4, 2011.

  1. soitjes

    soitjes Extra

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    I'm happy to announce the new version of my "Digital Home Server", which is a free HTPC application which I wrote as part of my hobby. I announced the first version also on this forum about a year ago. It used to be a graphical interface for my 7" USB monitor, but now I completely rewrote the whole application. Website is http://www.digitalhomeserver.net
    It should become a mix between Home Automation and Multimedia. Until now, a lot of focus has been on the multimedia part, but I'm getting more and more into home automation. I like to think that DHS has some unique features, notably that it's fully multi-monitor, and it can handle any size (from 7" up to whatever). Screens are specially designed for touchscreens.
    The application itself uses Widgets (small apps you can drag and resize) and modules (full screen applications). This is what I currently have released :
    Widgets
    - BE and NL railway delay (special widgets for specific audience)
    - weather forecast
    - rain radar (shows where rain is falling)
    - MP3 remote control
    - Time & date
    Modules
    - MP3 player
    - Internet radio player (with radio station database)
    - Photo slideshow (you can choose any monitor to send the slideshow to)
    - Podcast player
    - Shoppinglist (and use your iPhone to consult the list when shopping)
    - Timer
    - Video player (play anything for which a codec is installed, including HD and subtitles)
    - Calendar (uses Google Calendar as backend)
    In progress
    - analog clock (will be released in a few weeks)
    - dvd player
    - equalizer and spectrum analyzer for MP3, Radio and Podcast
    Still in "idea" phase
    - too much to write down
    I use this application myself at home, but I make it available to everyone. It's free, no nag screen, no spyware, ... The only constraint is that you can not use it for commercial purposes.
    Hope you like it.
    Soitjes.


    PS I asked and received permission from the forum admin to publish this message.
     
  2. Sam Posten

    Sam Posten Moderator
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    Congrats Soitjes! We've been following your progress, cool to see you launch!

    http://www.hometheaterforum.com/forum/thread/300217/project-digital-home-server-touchscreen-controlled#post_3687063
     
  3. soitjes

    soitjes Extra

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    Release 2.0.2.0 is now available. A new widget : analog clock.

    [​IMG]

    On request I implemented the option to specify on which monitor DHS should be displayed (previous default was to open DHS on all connected monitors).

    Soitjes.
     
  4. soitjes

    soitjes Extra

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    I just released version 2.0.3.1. New is the DVD Player. It can play DVDs from the optical reader, but also DVDR which are copied on the hard disk.
    [​IMG]
    Just like the video player, the DVD supports multiple monitors. So you can control the DVD which is displayed on one monitor from another monitor.
    Soitjes.
     
  5. soitjes

    soitjes Extra

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    Version 2.0.4.1 is now released. New is the Scribble Pad, a small drawing program, mainly to be used to leave messages behind for the other family members.
    [​IMG]
    And a lot of work behind the scenes, but the result of that will only be visible in the next releases !
    Soitjes.
     
  6. soitjes

    soitjes Extra

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    Version 2.0.5.4 is now released. A new module : the wakeup module. I tried to imitate a flipclock, and a few minutes before you have to get up music can be played.
    [​IMG]
    A few other small updates have been implemented :
    - the calendar now shows the number of meetings per day
    - radio info is scaled and scrolls over the screen
    Next module will probably be a slideshow module for Picasa albums (still discussing with myself), and I work very hard on xPL integration (worth a Google if you don't know what it is).
    Soitjes.
     
  7. soitjes

    soitjes Extra

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    Just released version 2.0.6.0. New is the Picasa slideshow module, which allows to make a photo slideshow with your Picasa Web albums.
    [​IMG]
    The module is very simple, because all content management is done in Google Picasa. You only need to enter your Google account and you're ready to watch the slideshows.
    As usual, multi-monitor is supported and you send the slideshow to any monitor connected to your system.
    The next modules will be "paperless home" (scan and archive documents, track unpaid invoices) and "Notify My Android" (send messages from the Digital Home Server to your Android smartphone).
    Soitjes.
     
  8. soitjes

    soitjes Extra

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    Release 2.0.6.5 is now available. New is the "Notify My Android" module, which allows you to send free notifications to your Android smartphone.
    [​IMG]
    You can set up multiple accounts or share accounts between smartphones (so that all smartphones get the same message), and sent messages are saved so it's easy to resend them quickly.
    Soitjes.
     
  9. soitjes

    soitjes Extra

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    Release 2.0.7.0 is now available. It took me a lot of time, and development was interrupted several times for other things, but I finally was able to release my “Scanning and Archiving” module. I developed a solution that would allow me to scan all documents that come in by post directly in DHS. The basic idea is simple : you create categories (water, gas, electricity, …) and then create a document in a category. Then you can create pages, which you can do by scanning a paper document, or to import a file from disk.
    [​IMG]
    You can then zoom in the page, print or export it and change the order of the pages.
    One feature I wanted as well is the “unpaid invoice” tracking. When you create a document you can specify whether it’s an invoice, and whether it’s already paid or not. The number of unpaid invoices for each category can be followed using the widget, which you can place on your desktop.
    [​IMG]
    All scanned pages can be accessed via the browser, because I do my online payments from a laptop, not on my main DHS server. So I need access to the invoices from other PCs as well.
    The only real feature that is missing is OCR, especially because the database engine I use has a text search feature, so it would work great, but I simply couldn’t find a free OCR library, and I don’t need it urgently enough to justify the cost.
    What’s next ? I have foreseen a general maintenance release with plenty of little enhancements that I wrote down the past year. Then a Home Automation prototype (development is ongoing) will be integrated in DHS. At that point I have home automation and multimedia together in one application, and plenty of ideas. Controlling audio in multiple rooms is very high on my list, as well as radiator control in rooms.
    Have fun,
    Soitjes.
     
  10. soitjes

    soitjes Extra

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    It's been a while since I posted an update on my application. I’m very proud to announce the availability of release 2.1.3.0 of my Digital Home Server. New is the multi-room audio feature, allowing to manage audio streams to multiple rooms.

    Sending audio to multiple rooms has a few specific challenges. Imagine that you walk through your house, and every time you leave/enter a room you hear different music. Or you could have a PC in every room, listening to the same Internet Radio station. You would have a little delay between the different audio streams, which is very annoying.

    In DHS if you choose to hear the same music in multiple rooms the audio stream will be cloned, so that you hear exactly the same audio in all rooms.

    DHS uses the approach of one sound card per room, as illustrated below

    [​IMG]

    Those audio cards are very cheap, and you can find plenty on eBay or DealExtreme. Every audio card is then connected to speakers in every room. Of course, this assumes you have audio cables to all the rooms in your house !

    Once you have those sound cards you can create as many audio streams as you like, and send them to one or more rooms.

    [​IMG]

    In the above example you have two audio streams, where the second one is being sent to the Living Room and Kitchen.

    At this moment, only the MP3 and Internet Radio modules are adapted for multi-room audio. The other modules will simply use the default sound card.

    A more detailed guide is available : http://www.digitalhomeserver.net/using-multi-room-audio-in-dhs/

    Next module will be “Where Is Wally”, another request from my wife. But you will have to wait for the release to find out what it is… [​IMG]

    Soitjes.
     
  11. Audioseduction

    Audioseduction Auditioning

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