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View Full Version : The Audiotron Knob, Wheel Mice etc



Michaelwagner
2006-03-04, 07:49
From time to time this comes up, as it did earlier today in this thread http://forums.slimdevices.com/showthread.php?t=19369


the late, lamented 'knob'... but that's a whole 'nother story

I'd like to renew my request for this kind of interaction.

To recap, the late, lamented Audiotron was also an ethernet based music player. It had a number of (in hindsight) poor design tradeoffs, including a built-in server that was too slow and was not upgradeable (let this be a lesson for people who think the SB should have the server built in).

However, it did have one thing that I sorely miss on the SB, and so does practically everyone who ever had an audiotron ... The Knob.

The knob was basically, well, a knob, but it was tied into a pulse encoder, so when you twiddled it, it sent a stream of pulses saying "turning right" or "turning left" to the software.

Based on what mode the Audiotron was in, that meant variously "change the volume" or "scroll through a song list" or "scroll through options" or one of several other things.

It basically worked like the up and down arrows on the SB remote, except that you could send a whole bunch of them at once, the display moved, and you got immediate feedback. A lot like a wheel mouse, if you've used on --- you can use it to scroll, zoom or pan, depending on how the software choses to interpret the pulses.

It seems like such a simple thing, it was a simple thing, and yet it made short shrift of exactly all the things that iritate me about interacting with the SB through the remote.

Now you can't put a knob on a remote without turning it into a 2 hand remote, but I have seen remotes with knurled knobs that do essentially the same thing. I had a VCR with one years ago (the VCR died, so I threw out the remote, so I can't include a picture, but the remote was fine and had no "knurled-knob-life" issues).

This came up some time ago, and at the time someone (I think Michael Herger) had pictures of a USB knob he'd built for testing purposes. The interaction ease this brings needs to be experienced to be believed.

So I renew my plea for an improved remote that has this function, along with the software support to react quickly enough that the interaction works properly. I guess this will need Slimserver 7, according to the roadmap, so the server will respond to the pulses fast enough.

bklaas
2006-03-04, 10:15
Had an audiotron, hated the slow web interface, hated the window ce, hated the display, LOVED THE KNOB.

one wonders if squeezebox could support a usb to take input from this--
http://www.griffintechnology.com/products/powermate/

pie-in-the-sky I know, but I must repeat: LOVED THE KNOB

cheers
#!/ben

mherger
2006-03-04, 10:26
> one wonders if squeezebox could support a usb to take input from
> this--
> http://www.griffintechnology.com/products/powermate/

I really like to show off this over and over again :-)

http://www.herger.net/slim/powermate.avi

--

Michael

-----------------------------------------------------------
Help translate SlimServer by using the
StringEditor Plugin (http://www.herger.net/slim/)

Paul Minott
2006-03-04, 11:30
How did you do that?




On Saturday, March 04, 2006, at 12:26PM, Michael Herger <slim (AT) herger (DOT) net> wrote:

>> one wonders if squeezebox could support a usb to take input from
>> this--
>> http://www.griffintechnology.com/products/powermate/
>
>I really like to show off this over and over again :-)
>
>http://www.herger.net/slim/powermate.avi
>
>--
>
>Michael
>
>-----------------------------------------------------------
>Help translate SlimServer by using the
>StringEditor Plugin (http://www.herger.net/slim/)
>

mherger
2006-03-04, 12:16
> How did you do that?

http://forums.slimdevices.com/showpost.php?p=61788&postcount=38

But you obviously need to connect the Powermate to a computer. Not
anything you'd want to have in the living room. Plus the interface with
only one button/knob leaves a lot of room for improvement: it's quite hard
to distinguish clicks, doublclicks, long clicks and click-turns :-)

--

Michael

-----------------------------------------------------------
Help translate SlimServer by using the
StringEditor Plugin (http://www.herger.net/slim/)

Michaelwagner
2006-03-04, 12:29
hated the slow web interface
Response time was typically half a second, but could climb to 4 seconds just after a new song started ... it was horrible, because that's often when you need to adjust the volume, and that's when the web interface was totally unresponsive ...



but it was totally responsive to the knob at that time ...

Michaelwagner
2006-03-04, 12:31
But you obviously need to connect the Powermate to a computer.
If only the SB had a USB connector ...

cshaida
2006-03-04, 12:52
>
I really like to show off this over and over again :-)
)

As well you should, it really is quite lovely. It's tantalizing in a concept car sort of way. If you build one that somehow works directly with the sb, I'll buy 3(!)

The issue for me is not so much the 'remote-ness' (770+ben's skin pretty much 'solves' that problem for me) as it is the need for a control mechanism/device when I'm standing right in front of one of the sbs. It's a pretty common experience for me to be right at a sb and want to turn it on/off, change volume, or just search for new album and...have to look around and then walk somewhere to get the remote to do so. Oddly frustrating.

JJZolx
2006-03-04, 13:18
Can anyone tell me... is the renowned "geekport" of the Squeezebox an output only interface, or does it also have ability to be used for input?

Michaelwagner
2006-03-04, 13:23
AFAIK it's output only. At least, those are the advertised capabilities.

Michaelwagner
2006-03-04, 13:52
Just for amusement, I visited the good old page.
http://www.turtlebeach.com/site/products/audiotron/producthome.asp
It's still "currently unavailable" :-)

JJZolx
2006-03-04, 13:59
Just for amusement, I visited the good old page.
http://www.turtlebeach.com/site/products/audiotron/producthome.asp
It's still "currently unavailable" :-)
You gotta wonder if the Squeezebox design, with its total lack of user controls and the goofy case designs, purposely came about so that it did NOT resemble an Audiotron. Sometimes I'm amazed at the things designers will do to avoid being labeled a copycat, often at the expense of ergonomics and aesthetics.

Michaelwagner
2006-03-04, 14:14
If I understand the timeline, they co-existed in time. The minimalist approach of the SLiMP3 was probably because that was all they could do in a garage design (and it's quite impressive that they did what they did).

Why the design continued that way when the SB1 hardware did have the ability to handle limited key input and so forth is a bigger question.

The idea of a slim client is a good one ... let the stuff that is dropping in price daily (compute power, memory, disk) be left out of the design and supplied over the network. Unfortunately, such a design implies that there are other people who will build the rest of it. There are, but they're all geeks. No one has made a commercial success of (and few enough have even tried) making a Slim Server box.

The Audiotron, for all that it wasn't as audiophile, was a more complete solution and for that reason, appealing.

pfarrell
2006-03-04, 14:34
Michaelwagner wrote:
> Why the design continued that way when the SB1 hardware did have the
> ability to handle limited key input and so forth is a bigger question.

Well, the name of the company gives away the philosophy.
It is Slim Devices.

> The idea of a slim client is a good one ...

And the other approach has been taken by many folks, from Turtle Beach
to Sonos and now Microsoft and Apple.

> Unfortunately, such a design
> implies that there are other people who will build the rest of it.
> There are, but they're all geeks. No one has made a commercial success
> of (and few enough have even tried) making a Slim Server box.

I'm not at all clear on what you are saying here. Making a slimserver
is trivial. At least as long as you don't expect to put it in
the living room with the rest of your stereo. You can use
any old PC and any old operating system, whatever you want.

> The Audiotron, for all that it wasn't as audiophile, was a more
> complete solution and for that reason, appealing.

For your needs, you can claim. Please don't make
such claims for me, the attraction of the
SqueezeBox is its slimness and open code. And
its ability to put the ugly and noisy PC in the
basement, far from my serious listening positions.

I can not understand why people want controls and buttons
on the SqueezeBox. That is what remotes, laptops and PDAs
are for. My SqueezeBoxes are far away from me, putting buttons
mice, touchscreens, etc on it is more than useless, it is
counter productive and will raise the cost for zero benefit to me.

Now on to the topic, I've got a Contour Shuttle Pro
that I set up as a controller for my recording studio
software. It is completely programmable. And it was pretty
cheap, about $90. Wired with USB. Lots of buttons, fast and
slow twist, jog wheel, etc. You'd need a trivial client
application to accept the input and feed the CLI port
of the SlimServer, but that would be fairly easy to do.




--
Pat
http://www.pfarrell.com/music/slimserver/slimsoftware.html

Michaelwagner
2006-03-04, 14:54
The Audiotron, for all that it wasn't as audiophile, was a more complete solution and for that reason, appealing.

For your needs, you can claim. Please don't make
such claims for me

Pat, I think you misunderstood my point.

I'm not even making such claims for myself. I had no problem setting up a slimserver box.

But a lot of people do. Just look at how many problems we field here on the forums with setup problems. Clearly some people are finding it non-trivial.

Michael

Mark Lanctot
2006-03-04, 15:01
Now you can't put a knob on a remote without turning it into a 2 hand remote, but I have seen remotes with knurled knobs that do essentially the same thing. I had a VCR with one years ago (the VCR died, so I threw out the remote, so I can't include a picture, but the remote was fine and had no "knurled-knob-life" issues).

You mean like this?

It's too bad I don't use my VCR anymore. This is a great feature of the remote. It's got a nice tactile click/indent as you rotate it, it's raised up enough that it's easy to access yet protected enough that it isn't accidentally rotated, and you can push down on it.

The only drawback is it makes the remote VERY thick. See the second picture, sorry for the grunge!

I've also seen something like this on a model railroad controller:

http://www.plasticando.com/magazine/0309/NCE_file/clip_image004.jpg, the "SPEED" knob in the top centre. This one isn't as nice as the Panasonic, doesn't click and can't be pressed, but it doesn't make the case quite as thick.

JJZolx
2006-03-04, 15:10
> The idea of a slim client is a good one ...

And the other approach has been taken by many folks, from Turtle Beach
to Sonos and now Microsoft and Apple.
Sounds like a trend. Maybe there's a good reason.


I can not understand why people want controls and buttons
on the SqueezeBox. That is what remotes, laptops and PDAs
are for. My SqueezeBoxes are far away from me, putting buttons
mice, touchscreens, etc on it is more than useless, it is
counter productive and will raise the cost for zero benefit to me.
Why? Because it's an audio product, not some geek gadget that is cool because you can fart to make it send an email to your Aunt Edna. Leave the geekiness out of it and just give it some basic ergonomics.

I'd never buy a preamp, for instance, that only used a remote control. Imagine not being able to walk over to your stereo and turn a knob or press a button to turn the damned thing up or down. That's the Squeezebox.

pfarrell
2006-03-04, 15:31
JJZolx wrote:
> pfarrell Wrote:
>>And the other approach has been taken by many folks, from Turtle Beach
>>to Sonos and now Microsoft and Apple.
>
> Sounds like a trend. Maybe there's a good reason.

Sure its a trend. Turtle Beach's product died.
Microsoft and Apple are in bed with the content
providers, Apple will soon own Disney outright.

Perhaps having embeded DRM is acceptable to your Aunt Edna
it is not to me.

> Why? Because it's an audio product, not some geek gadget that is cool
> because you can fart to make it send an email to your Aunt Edna. Leave
> the geekiness out of it and just give it some basic ergonomics.

Then it would not be Slim.

Hey, I have zero problem if you can convince Slim Devices
to go head to head with Sony and Panasonic and all the other
Audio/Visual vendors. However, there is no mass market
for audio-only products that are not portable. Zero.

The 'audio only' market is a niche, the mass market folks
are doing iPods and home theater.

> I'd never buy a preamp, for instance, that only used a remote control.
> Imagine not being able to walk over to your stereo and turn a knob or
> press a button to turn the damned thing up or down. That's the
> Squeezebox.

I insisted on a remote for my Amp, until I got my SqueezeBox
and started controlling it with my laptop. And it is occasionally
handy to go over and turn the big volume knob down. I probably
do it once every six months. However, a big "mute" button
on the top of the SqueezeBox is all that I would ever use,
the knob twist part of the control is totally 70s 'hi-fi'
to me.

Still making the Contour Shuttle be a controller for the
laptop might be a fun hack.

--
Pat
http://www.pfarrell.com/music/slimserver/slimsoftware.html

pfarrell
2006-03-04, 15:42
Michaelwagner wrote:
> pfarrell Wrote:
>>The Audiotron, for all that it wasn't as audiophile, was a more complete
>>solution and for that reason, appealing.
>>
>>For your needs, you can claim. Please don't make
>>such claims for me
>
> Pat, I think you misunderstood my point.

Probably so.

> I'm not even making such claims for myself. I had no problem setting up
> a slimserver box.
>
> But a lot of people do. Just look at how many problems we field here on
> the forums with setup problems. Clearly some people are finding it
> non-trivial.

I don't think the traffic on the forums is a reliable statistic.
How many people who buy it, connect it, and install the
software and are happy are likely to post?

Computers are not, yet, toasters. They take some setup.

Adding features and installation wizards may be appealing to
some, but I don't have any feeling if it would be good for the
product. The classic example of features is Microsoft Word,
which no one can use more than 20% of the features, and
most people use under 5%. With the hundreds of millions of
copies sold, the engineering cost is low, but the cost to me
as a user is unacceptable. For the volumes that Slim sells
SqueezeBoxes, adding features has costs that would have
to be passed on to me. Either in direct cost, or in
extended development times which means delay before
I get cool stuff.

I just don't see a SqueezeBox ever being a mass market device
no matter what the remote looks like or how easy it is
for Slim Devices to fix broken WiFi routers.

I'd love to know how many real world customers consider the
SqueezeBox and decide against it because the setup is too hard.
And of course, how easy would it have to be to convert what
percentage of those refuseniks to customers.

--
Pat
http://www.pfarrell.com/music/slimserver/slimsoftware.html

Robin Bowes
2006-03-04, 16:46
JJZolx wrote:
> I'd never buy a preamp, for instance, that only used a remote control.
> Imagine not being able to walk over to your stereo and turn a knob or
> press a button to turn the damned thing up or down. That's the
> Squeezebox.

I agree with this - I'd like to be able to control the SB from the box
itself rather than needing to use the remote or a computer. Just simple
stuff - start, stop, maybe navigation arrows. Not the full number pad or
anything.

R.

Michaelwagner
2006-03-04, 20:41
I don't think the traffic on the forums is a reliable statistic.
A fair point.


How many people who buy it, connect it, and install the
software and are happy are likely to post?
I don't know. Does anyone know sales numbers for the SB3? We could subtract the complaints that come up here from the total and take a guess.


Computers are not, yet, toasters. They take some setup.
But we're not talking computers, we're talking Squeezeboxen.

People buy the squeezebox thinking it will just work.

I think someone said a few weeks ago ... I thought I was buying an audio product, not buying into a development project.



For the volumes that Slim sells SqueezeBoxes, adding features has costs that would have to be passed on to me. Either in direct cost, or in extended development times which means delay before I get cool stuff.
So make the install wizards modular and you don't have to run them. Run the Developer's nightly version with all the cool features that are only half checked out. But I don't think usability features have to delay cool stuff. If Slim puts the staff into better testing and QA. Which they seem inclined to do, since they just hired in that area.



I just don't see a SqueezeBox ever being a mass market device no matter what the remote looks like or how easy it is
for Slim Devices to fix broken WiFi routers.

Perhaps not, but even *somewhat* more mass market might well drop the price a hundred. That would be nice. And might get more people working on cool features faster.


I'd love to know how many real world customers consider the SqueezeBox and decide against it because the setup is too hard.
Yeah, that would be a hard thing to find out unless Slim told us the results of their internal research (which seems unlikely).

Pale Blue Ego
2006-03-04, 21:06
I'd love to know how many real world customers consider the
SqueezeBox and decide against it because the setup is too hard.


Heh, count my 77-year-old Dad as one of them. He's got XM Radio but wants to drop it at the end of his committment because he only listens to one station for a few minutes a day. I told him I'd send him a Slimp3 and he could have unlimited internet radio with no monthly fee (he has a broadband connection already).

He was pumped about it until I mentioned he'd have to get a switch/router. Completely lost him there and he bailed. This from a retired engineer who has owned 5 or 6 different computers.

Pale Blue Ego
2006-03-04, 21:08
Just simple stuff - start, stop, maybe navigation arrows. Not the full number pad or anything.


Slippery slope. Somebody would want a "favorites" button, somebody else would insist on "brightness", etc etc etc.

stinkingpig
2006-03-04, 21:34
Pat Farrell wrote:
> Michaelwagner wrote:
>
>> pfarrell Wrote:
>>
>>> The Audiotron, for all that it wasn't as audiophile, was a more complete
>>> solution and for that reason, appealing.
>>>
>>> For your needs, you can claim. Please don't make
>>> such claims for me
>>>
>> Pat, I think you misunderstood my point.
>>
>
> Probably so.
>
>
>> I'm not even making such claims for myself. I had no problem setting up
>> a slimserver box.
>>
>> But a lot of people do. Just look at how many problems we field here on
>> the forums with setup problems. Clearly some people are finding it
>> non-trivial.
>>
>
> I don't think the traffic on the forums is a reliable statistic.
> How many people who buy it, connect it, and install the
> software and are happy are likely to post?
>
> Computers are not, yet, toasters. They take some setup.
remember: http://www.monkeynoodle.org/comp/suck

>
> I'd love to know how many real world customers consider the
> SqueezeBox and decide against it because the setup is too hard.
> And of course, how easy would it have to be to convert what
> percentage of those refuseniks to customers.
>

A bright guy I work with went round and round with me about 6 months
back about how much better Sonos was, and how he was buying that
instead. He's perfectly capable of doing the home server route but
wanted to reduce the number of devices in the house. I politely
disagreed and changed the subject. Yesterday he IM'ed me with some
questions about the best Slimserver platform, as he's buying some
Squeezeboxes. Pandora pushed him over the edge. In other words, the
flexibility lost in the Sonos solution was what eventually killed that
solution for him.

Flexibility roots in and results in the issues that people complain
about here whenever they want to tell SDI how to run its business. Draw
your own conclusions.

--
Jack at Monkeynoodle dot Org: It's a Scientific Venture...
Riding the Emergency Third Rail Power Trip Since 1996

Michaelwagner
2006-03-04, 21:51
Flexibility roots in and results in the issues that people complain about here whenever they want to tell SDI how to run its business.
I don't understand this paragraph.

And I don't understand how a suggestion about a UI element turns into "telling SDI how to run it's business".

Sanchez
2006-03-24, 08:09
I recieved my SB3 as a gift -- and have loved it since day 1.

But, it's an audio appliance -- so there should be a way to contol the volume coming out of it -- with out resorting to the remote. Heck, there isn't even a power button on it. C'mon, not asking for the world here, just the basics.

Or instead of a powerbutton or volume knob, a mute button would suffice -- since it's designed to be an "always on" appliance.

jmho'

Ben Sandee
2006-03-24, 08:44
On 3/24/06, Sanchez <Sanchez.256j6n1143213002 (AT) no-mx (DOT) forums.slimdevices.com>
wrote:
>
>
> I recieved my SB3 as a gift -- and have loved it since day 1.
>
> But, it's an audio appliance -- so there should be a way to contol the
> volume coming out of it -- with out resorting to the remote. Heck,
> there isn't even a power button on it. C'mon, not asking for the world
> here, just the basics.
>
> Or instead of a powerbutton or volume knob, a mute button would suffice
> -- since it's designed to be an "always on" appliance.


You can expect those features in a future firmware update.

Kyle
2006-03-24, 08:50
On 3/24/06, Sanchez <Sanchez.256j6n1143213002 (AT) no-mx (DOT) forums.slimdevices.com>
wrote:
>
>
> I recieved my SB3 as a gift -- and have loved it since day 1.
>
> But, it's an audio appliance -- so there should be a way to contol the
> volume coming out of it -- with out resorting to the remote. Heck,
> there isn't even a power button on it. C'mon, not asking for the world
> here, just the basics.
>
> Or instead of a powerbutton or volume knob, a mute button would suffice
> -- since it's designed to be an "always on" appliance.


You can expect those features in a future firmware update.

How is a firmware update going to supply a volume or mute button on the unit itself?

bklaas
2006-03-24, 09:07
How is a firmware update going to supply a volume or mute button on the unit itself?

It won't. 'Twas a joke. And a funny one at that.

Kyle
2006-03-24, 09:18
It won't. 'Twas a joke. And a funny one at that.
Ah. I get it.

Yannzola
2006-03-24, 11:10
It won't. 'Twas a joke. And a funny one at that.

Maybe not so funny... if you can use the headphone jack to power an ir-blaster (via a firmware update + new hardware), who's to say some clever monkey couldn't put together a volume/pause/nav "pad" connected in a similiar way (via the headphone jack?) attached (velcroed?) to the top/side/rear of the squeezebox itself?

stinkingpig
2006-03-24, 13:38
Yannzola wrote:
> bklaas Wrote:
>
>> It won't. 'Twas a joke. And a funny one at that.
>>
>
> Maybe not so funny... if you can use the headphone jack to power an
> ir-blaster (via a firmware update + new hardware), who's to say some
> clever monkey couldn't put together a volume/pause/nav "pad" connected
> in a similiar way (via the headphone jack?) attached (velcroed?) to the
> top/side/rear of the squeezebox itself?
>
>
>
Probably easier to just velcro the remote to the front of the squeezebox
and press the buttons on it :)

--
Jack at Monkeynoodle dot Org: It's a Scientific Venture...
Riding the Emergency Third Rail Power Trip Since 1996

Yannzola
2006-03-24, 14:07
Probably easier to just velcro the remote to the front of the squeezebox
and press the buttons on it :)

Brilliant! :)

Michaelwagner
2006-03-24, 21:08
You mean like this?
Mark:
Wow!
That's exactly the one I had in mind.

Mark Lanctot
2006-03-24, 21:20
Mark:
Wow!
That's exactly the one I had in mind.

That's a GOOD user interface! Nice n' tactile, easy to use, multi-function. It's also lots of fun to play with, so I was worried about wearing it out, but it's lasted this long.

Too bad it's for such an obsolete device. I think I last used it 2 years ago.

Michaelwagner
2006-03-24, 21:50
So now can we find one of those wheels on someone's universal remote?

Mark Lanctot
2006-03-24, 22:03
So now can we find one of those wheels on someone's universal remote?

I'm not volunteering mine for a Slim remote transplant. :-)

Michaelwagner
2006-03-24, 22:09
LOL No, that's not what I was suggesting.

Can we find like a universal remote or some kind of aftermarket remote with a wheel on it?