The ISO Event

dvdA couple weeks ago, Jay told me about a server application that let you stream ISOs to your PS3.  I was in awe, and had to give it a shot.  I have a lot of backup ISOs of my movies, and being able to immediately play a DVD image directly on the PS3 without having to burn a DVD would be HUGE for me!  So I tried it.  For those not familiar with what an “ISO” is, it’s an exact image of a DVD disc–it contains every single bit of the DVD–the movie, menus, extras, etc., in the exact format of the DVD, except that it’s a file instead of a disc.  There are several applications available that will then let you burn that image to an actual DVD when desired, and even some that will “mount” the image as a “virtual” DVD drive on your computer so you can play the movie on your computer without having to burn a disc.  So, as you can imagine, ISOs can be very handy on a computer, and they make great backups in case your DVDs get scratched or marked up so much they’re no longer playable (thanks, kids!).

So being able to instantly stream and play these ISOs on the TV to which my PS3 is on, is a big deal for me.  It makes all of these movies and special feature discs available at my fingertips, instead of having to go find the DVD and insert it into my PS3.  I played with the latest version of the application for a couple days, but found that the voices never synced up with the video–ISO movies always played with a too-fast video speed, and the audio was always 10-15 seconds behind the video.  There are a ton of tweaking options in this application, so I tweaked everything I could, but couldn’t get it to play ISOs properly.  It would stream every other type of video file from my PC without any problems, but ISOs were the key to my happiness.  This was very disappointing.  Meanwhile, Jay was having the same issues, so it wasn’t just me.  After some googling of the issue, I found others having the same problem–with the newest versions of the application.  A few users noted that the previous version that they had before this one would play ISOs perfectly.  Ah ha!  So I uninstalled and deleted the newest version, then installed an older (actually the oldest version online–version 1.04) and guess what?  They were right–ISOs now play perfectly!!

Just as Audible screwed up their audiobook app on me in their latest version, PS3 Media Server’s latest version messed up ISO streaming.  So right now, my ISO images are streaming perfectly, and I’m very happy with it, though it is a very old version of the application.  Hopefully someone will determine what went wrong and correct it in a future version.  I will be glad to upgrade it to the latest version, once this issue is resolved, but for now I’m perfectly happy staying right where I am.  This is awesome!  I also found out, during my googling, that this may be the ONLY application that can actually perform this function!  I’d be perfectly willing to pay for a full-blown feature-rich commercial application that did this, if I could find one!

By the way, PS3 Media Server works with more than just the PS3.  It will stream to any DLNA-compliant network device, and is available for many operating systems, including Windows, Linux and Mac.  And it’s a completely free, open-source project.  Here’s the link: http://www.ps3mediaserver.org

DSub opens my eyes

Today I discovered a weird convergence of the two big issues I posted previously.  It started when I discovered DSub, an Android Subsonic client that ROCKS!  The regular Android Subsonic client–called simply “Subsonic” was decent, but lacked some crucial features and functionality that made me lean more toward Audiogalaxy when they were both excellent streaming music server options.  DSub is (and looks a lot like) the Subsonic client on steroids!  It’s open-source, so I’m guessing it’s the same client at it’s base, just customized to be much better.  It’s like the “full version” of the Android Subsonic client!  It costs $1.99, but it’s well worth it!  Anyway, one of the big features of this app that just punched me in the face and woke me up today, is an option in its settings called “Temporary loss of focus”.  It has 4 options under it: “Always Pause”, “Pause and lower volume when requested”, “Always lower volume”, and “Do Nothing”.  I didn’t realize what this weird function was until I clicked on it and saw these 4 options…. then it hit me–THIS is the feature than an audio-heavy app needs, to know what to do when another sound plays on the Android device!

So now I was on a mission.  I set it to “Always Pause”, threw on my winter coat, and hopped in the car for a ride around the neighborhood.  I turned setup Google Navigation to take me to work, started up my DSub music, then drove around the neighborhood while Google Navigation kept interrupting my song to give me directions.  It was FLAWLESS!  DSub paused every time when the Navigation started talking, and all is right with my (Android) world again!  So next I started up an Audible book and drove around some more… Bummer.  Audible isn’t working that way, and keeps playing now, blending the two voices of the book and the navigation into something very confusing (and potentially dangerous if I were relying on actual directions while driving).  So I came back home and send a support e-mail to Audible.  They responded very quickly to another question I had previously, so I am anxiously awaiting their response to this one.  Here’s what I wrote:

I listen to my audible books heavily on my Android phone during my daily commute, along with Google Navigation. I’ve been having a problem recently, however: The audible application no longer pauses when Google Navigation speaks–they both talk at once, which can sometimes make me miss a turn or direction unless I’m constantly watching the GPS directions on the screen.

After some research on the web, and finding other apps that still work ok and pause for the navigation, I have realized that it might be something that has changed in the Audible app.

I also found this explanation on Audible regarding a slightly different issue:

“We have received reports from users of the Audible for Android application, that the Audible application pauses at random. Upon further investigation, we have found that other applications may ‘steal’ the audio focus for no apparent reason when running in the background. The Audible for Android application respects audio focus requests to pause or stop playback. At the current time, the only means of resolution is to uninstall the offending application from your phone.”

To me, it seems like the Audible application used to respect the audio focus change, but now it no longer does. Can I get this ability back? Maybe if I uninstall and reinstall the app?? Or was something actually removed in the app so that it will no longer auto-pause like it used to?

Please let me know if there’s anything I, or Audible, can do to resolve this issue. I’m afraid I would no longer be able to safely listen to audiobooks in my car (with Audible) if this can’t be fixed, and I’d have to seek another alternative.

Thank you.

That’s it.  I’m pretty sure they took this ability out of their app, but we’ll see if there might be a way to correct it’s behavior and make it work.  It worked properly ever since I first subscribed to Audible and started listening to books in the car.  I’ll post the response I get.

UPDATE: 

Wow, Audible is quick. About an hour after sending that support message to them this evening, they responded. They gave me a $10 coupon for my trouble, apologized, and said there’s an update for the app, and I need to completely uninstall, delete the Audible folder, then install the updated version. So I did all of this, but was unable to completely remove the application, since it came pre-installed on my phone. I could only uninstall the updates. So I did that much and deleted the folder. Then ran Audible, signed in and downloaded a book. I played the book, then started Google Navigation. Sure enough, it worked great by pausing the book when driving directions were spoken, then resumed the book again right after. Next I installed the latest update from the app store and did it again. Crap! It went back to having the issue again by completely ignoring the driving directions and playing the book right through them. Back to the drawing board!

This definitely proves it’s something in the updated versions though, so it helps. I e-mailed support again, as a reply, so they have the entire history of the issue. I asked that, if they don’t want to have the auto-pause feature due to a lot of users having the “random pausing issue” they talk about on their help page, why not add it as an option that the user can toggle in the app’s settings? I’ll let you know what they say.

For now though, I’m back to listening to my books in the car–I just can’t update my Audible App beyond the version that came with my phone.

Book Quandary

I just got a new credit for an audiobook at Audible.com, and I’m stuck.  I currently have 17 books on my wishlist and I can’t decide which book to get next.  I always figure each month I’ll get one of them until my wishlist is empty, then I’ll have everything I want.  Nope, it doesn’t work that way.  Throughout the month I get regular e-mails about new releases, specials, etc., and it never fails that every month there’s at least one or two books that look really good that I want to read (listen to).  So here you go.  Below is my wishlist.  If you can suggest one, perhaps that you liked yourself, I’d really appreciate your input.  Or if you can suggest something that ISN’T on my wishlist, go for it.  I can always add it to the list if it sounds good to me (which would actually defeat the purpose of this post, but what the heck–I’d hate to miss a good book).  The top one–Physics of the Future–I just added recently.  It sounds fascinating, based on the preview listen.  But then again, so do many of the others.  Help!

Audible Wishlist 03-20-2011