It’s time to move another step into the digital age.

I’ve worked for years on my HangTheDJ mp3 player, and it’s provided me with countless hours of pure bliss, playing a constant stream of mp3’s just right for the mood I happen to be in. But it’s time for a reassessment.

The problem: information organization. In the digital age, get organized or drown. The only practical solution to getting organized is to store all digital media in a central location. Then stream what you need from the central store to where you are.

Bandwidth limitation is the first concern. But bandwidth limitations don’t change the solution – it’s still required if one is to remain organized. If you don’t have enough bandwidth to stream that HDTV movie to Grandma’s house, you still keep the movies centralized, you just have to go through the extra step of burning to a rewritable DVD before heading over.

HangTheDJ may someday stream from the central store. But for now, I need to look at solutions that are already there. I’ve found that nothing is ALL the way there, so my plan is to find what’s closest, and try to move it closer to what I need.

The first piece: stream music. Cruise the [Multimedia :: Sound/Audio :: Players :: MP3] category on freshmeat, and you’ll find tons of web-based solutions. I installed a handful before realizing that they ALL seem to share two rather large flaws, from the perspective of my expectations:

      They don’t have embedded players; instead they dump .m3u or XSPF files on you.
      The autoplay features suck, compared to HangTheDJ.

These flaws are HUGE to me! But ampache looks like the current best of breed, and it’s in fairly active development.

It’s one of those beautiful PHP apps that has a web-based installer built-in, so you shouldn’t have any trouble dropping it in to your apache installation. If you get the latest version, you should be able to use the XSPF player so the client machine automatically handles playing mp3’s (you won’t need to pipe m3u’s to WinAmp or whatever).

My one snag: my media store is behind my main server, so I use a non-standard port for the browser on my media store, port-forwarded through my main server. If you use a non-standard port for your ampache install, make sure you change the following:

Admin->Config->System->Forces Http play regardless of port: DISABLE
Admin->Config->System->Non-Standard Http Port: [your port]

I don’t know when the default values would make sense, but anyway, update them and you will be streaming away.

UPDATE: It was very nice to be able to take the laptop into the garage and stream my music away while I broke down all the cardboard boxes that have been piling up. Mobile access to everything is good!

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