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View Full Version : The Arrival of Flash/USB Feature!



ezkcdude
2009-09-03, 09:42
From the "I told you so" department...

So, a couple of years ago there were heated discussions (of which I was a participant) about why some of us wanted flash cards/thumb drives to be added to the Squeezebox. On the other side were numerous (too many to count) and staunch responses that said this feature would require substantial re-working of the entire SC architecture. For example, see this thread from 2007:

http://forums.slimdevices.com/showthread.php?t=32922&highlight=flash+drive

Or this flamewar (I think I actually originated the request for this feature - see post #6):

http://forums.slimdevices.com/showthread.php?p=160616#post160616

So, my question is, what happened? Were the naysayers just plain wrong (which I thought at the time), or have there been substantial changes to the SC software to make this (highly desirable) new feature possible? Just curious...

radish
2009-09-03, 09:51
The device is no longer Slim :) I think that's a pretty substantial architectural change. SC hasn't gone away, we just have a device which can run it being sold as part of the player line now.

iPhone
2009-09-03, 10:02
From the "I told you so" department...

So, a couple of years ago there were heated discussions (of which I was a participant) about why some of us wanted flash cards/thumb drives to be added to the Squeezebox. On the other side were numerous (too many to count) and staunch responses that said this feature would require substantial re-working of the entire SC architecture. For example, see this thread from 2007:

http://forums.slimdevices.com/showthread.php?t=32922&highlight=flash+drive

Or this flamewar (I think I actually originated the request for this feature - see post #6):

http://forums.slimdevices.com/showthread.php?p=160616#post160616

So, my question is, what happened? Were the naysayers just plain wrong (which I thought at the time), or have there been substantial changes to the SC software to make this (highly desirable) new feature possible? Just curious...

Note: These are generalizations as I am only a Beta Tester. The employees have the actual exact facts but this is basically how I see it from using the Touch.

The new "Smart" players have a new OS for their much more powerful processors and extra memory. The Touch is a smart device instead of a dumb device like earlier Squeezeboxes. Basically a new platform for doing Squeeze that is backwards compatible with the older units (might not include Slimp3 or others, not sure but Andy or other would know for sure). So the Touch can run using SBS (Squeeze Box Server) or on a slimmed down SC running locally on itself (Beta for now).

Also remember that processing power has increased while getting smaller in size and memory capacity is larger and cheaper, making it cost effective to make this possible now.

aubuti
2009-09-03, 10:27
From the "I told you so" department...

So, a couple of years ago there were heated discussions (of which I was a participant) about why some of us wanted flash cards/thumb drives to be added to the Squeezebox. On the other side were numerous (too many to count) and staunch responses that said this feature would require substantial re-working of the entire SC architecture. For example, see this thread from 2007:

http://forums.slimdevices.com/showthread.php?t=32922&highlight=flash+drive

Or this flamewar (I think I actually originated the request for this feature - see post #6):

http://forums.slimdevices.com/showthread.php?p=160616#post160616

So, my question is, what happened? Were the naysayers just plain wrong (which I thought at the time), or have there been substantial changes to the SC software to make this (highly desirable) new feature possible? Just curious...
Right: except *we* told *you* so ;o)

The Touch will run what is being called TinySC, which is a stripped down version of SC. Specifically, TinySC has no web server (regular SC includes an httpd to serve up the web ui) and no transcoding capabilities (so if you want to play WMA Lossless you need Regular Strength SC). Both of these are fairly processor-intensive tasks.

Probably more important than the SC software change is the hardware change. The hardware platform for the Touch is completely new and includes an ARM processor. The processors in the earlier hardware (SliMP3, SB, SB2, SB3, SBR, Boom) are 49 pound weaklings by comparison. The new platform also has more memory, which was another constraint on the old platform (developers were saying that they were running out of space even for the current firmware on the older platforms).

EDIT: and while we're reviving old threads, check out post #33 in the 2nd thread you cite ;o)

Mark Lanctot
2009-09-03, 10:40
or have there been substantial changes to the SC software to make this (highly desirable) new feature possible?

Actually it's a substantial hardware change in the players - SqueezeOS, which debuted on the controller and runs on Squeezebox Radio and Squeezebox Touch. SC hasn't changed all that much.

The ARM processors in these devices are powerful enough to run Linux - a huge architectural change over the Ubicom devices, which are really terminals. The new devices are more or less self-contained computers.

qirex
2009-09-03, 10:46
I'm pretty happy about this because it makes a touch and a hard drive full of MP3s a much more self-contained system, especially for people who only own laptops.

ezkcdude
2009-09-03, 10:50
Right: except *we* told *you* so ;o)



Well, with all due respect, the feature was added - so those of us who argued for it got what we wanted. And the Logitech/Slim folks must have agreed it is a desirable feature.

Howard Passman
2009-09-03, 11:17
I wonder if the Controller will ever be upgraded to have the same capability. ***That*** would be cool.

Howard

Matt Wise
2009-09-03, 11:21
I don't believe the controller has the CPU horsepower to run TinySC...
I could see it someday getting the ability to view images from an SD
card though, that seems like its within the realm of possibilities.

Mark Lanctot
2009-09-03, 11:22
I wonder if the Controller will ever be upgraded to have the same capability. ***That*** would be cool.

Howard

Probably not - Touch has twice the memory and the processor is more than twice as fast. Even so, SC had to have features removed to run on Touch.

Memory and faster ARM processors are going to get even cheaper though, so future devices may be able to support full-fledged SC. Transcoding is still processor-intensive, especially on ARM, but think of what a device with a small x86 processor like Atom would be able to do...

Howard Passman
2009-09-03, 11:29
I drag my controller everywhere in and around the house. I have even listened to it while cutting the grass. I was just hoping :-)

Howard

aubuti
2009-09-03, 11:30
Well, with all due respect, the feature was added - so those of us who argued for it got what we wanted. And the Logitech/Slim folks must have agreed it is a desirable feature.
I was just trying to respond to your very clearly labeled question: "So, my question is, what happened? Were the naysayers just plain wrong (which I thought at the time), or have there been substantial changes to the SC software to make this (highly desirable) new feature possible? Just curious..." Whatever.

Matt Wise
2009-09-03, 11:33
2+ years is a long time to say that the naysayers must have been
"wrong". Technologies change, requirements change, market directions
change.

iPhone
2009-09-03, 11:44
Well, with all due respect, the feature was added - so those of us who argued for it got what we wanted. And the Logitech/Slim folks must have agreed it is a desirable feature.

It isn't a feature as it will not work with old devices and its wasn't added to SC. Yes the capability was added (capability not feature), which required a totally new platform/device to be designed and built using a much more powerful processor and more memory running SqueezeOS. The Touch is a "Smart" device that can stand on its own, this would have been almost impossible if not impossible to achieve on the older models.

I see your point that people were indeed asking for this, but it wasn't going to happen using the old platform. And look at this way, you asked and now you have it. And to me, more importantly, this is the start of a new platform for future development of other "Smart" Squeezebox products. I don't think we will see anymore "dumb" NMPs from Logitech.

kdf
2009-09-03, 11:58
Is there a "Thank you for adding USB suport" out there somewhere? Since
you feel the need to revive the old threads, I see a lot of insulting of
the very people who kept working hard to bring these and other features to
reality. And no, I'm not taking credit. I've had very little to do with
these recent advances.

The SC world is a very different entity from what it was when the Logitech
takeover was in its infancy. The doors are opening to new designs. What
is to come should prove to be very interesting indeed.

-k

ezkcdude
2009-09-03, 12:58
If you go back and read that thread, my suggestion now seems extremely obvious - yet it was attacked and dismissed instantly from many different folks here. Aubuti said that asking for this particular feature was analogous to asking for a pony! Another guy said it was like making cake. Well, I'm glad the Slim folks figured out how to get a pony in there, after all. I'll have to check whether cake is possible. :)

BTW, here was my response at the time:


I apologize for suggesting something that is "hard". There must be no way to do this. I didn't realize there aren't enough smart folks at Slim to figure out how to implement this. My bad.

Oh, wait, I never said that. It's you guys who are implying they can't do it. Let's just stick to candy-colored faceplates and fancy display upgrades.

kdf
2009-09-03, 13:06
>
> I'll have to check whether cake is possible. :)

Utterly impossible. You'd have to have a chilled box or risk all that
frosting gumming up the connectors ;)

blessingx
2009-09-03, 13:07
Sorry for asking a very basic question, but does the new USB connector and TinySC discussion then mean that the ST can run computerless (after setup) and pull directly off an attached USB HD?

amcluesent
2009-09-03, 13:08
> From the "I told you so" department...<

Rather another outcome of Moore's Law still driving the increase in transistor density.

technobear
2009-09-03, 13:08
Does the Touch only support SD (up to 2GB) or does it also support SDHC (4 - 32 GB)?

I suspect SD will go the way of the Dodo soon in favour of SDHC now that the latter are getting much cheaper.

Mark Lanctot
2009-09-03, 13:11
Sorry for asking a very basic question, but does the new USB connector and TinySC discussion then mean that the ST can run computerless (after setup) and pull directly off an attached USB HD?

Yes.

aubuti
2009-09-03, 13:31
If you go back and read that thread, my suggestion now seems extremely obvious - yet it was attacked and dismissed instantly from many different folks here. Aubuti said that asking for this particular feature was analogous to asking for a pony!
No no no. The pony is in the completely wireless model, that uses wireless speakers (http://www.speakerworks.net/wireless.html) and is powered by broadcast power from a Tesla coil (http://www.straightdope.com/classics/a3_274.html). But that product is still in double-secret closed beta. Dang, I wasn't supposed to say that....

funkstar
2009-09-03, 13:46
Does the Touch only support SD (up to 2GB) or does it also support SDHC (4 - 32 GB)?

I suspect SD will go the way of the Dodo soon in favour of SDHC now that the latter are getting much cheaper.
SDHC is supported. No idea if SDXC (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secure_Digital_card#SDXC) can be supported with a software update, but I wouldn't rule it out. Many devices were upgraded from SD to SDHC with a new firmware at the time.

peterw
2009-09-03, 15:37
Basically a new platform for doing Squeeze that is backwards compatible with the older units

Depends on what you mean by "backwards compatible". There are many existing SqueezeCenter plugins that rely on the display and menu/control UI of the players that feature VFD displays that do not work with Radio and Touch. And I don't think Touch will run with a SqueezeCenter 7.3 server.

If you mean Touch's built-in Squeezebox Server code ("TinySC") can control and serve the old players, then that's mostly right, though TinySC cannot run many of the existing SqueezeCenter plugins, as many (most?) existing plugins can't cope with a server like TinySC that has no Web UI.

That isn't to say Touch isn't very cool (it is), but I think it's misleading to proclaim it "backwards compatible" without saying more about what you mean.

iPhone
2009-09-03, 16:47
Depends on what you mean by "backwards compatible". There are many existing SqueezeCenter plugins that rely on the display and menu/control UI of the players that feature VFD displays that do not work with Radio and Touch. And I don't think Touch will run with a SqueezeCenter 7.3 server.

If you mean Touch's built-in Squeezebox Server code ("TinySC") can control and serve the old players, then that's mostly right, though TinySC cannot run many of the existing SqueezeCenter plugins, as many (most?) existing plugins can't cope with a server like TinySC that has no Web UI.

That isn't to say Touch isn't very cool (it is), but I think it's misleading to proclaim it "backwards compatible" without saying more about what you mean.

Good point PeterW.

When I'm saying backward compatible I mean for the main function of a NMP, playing files ripped from CDs. I didn't buy Squeezeboxes for the fancy things that the display and plugins can do. I bought mine to free my music collection and enjoy Music. The rest is a nice bonus indeed.

And just to be clear, when using local SC on the Touch, plugins will not work for now (without Geek knowledge). Not enough room and power to do everything so some things had to go (WebUI and plugins). But there is talk of having "Apps" on the Touch and some of these might replace the plugins. Also, if still using a server running SBS, I believe the plugins will only need to be retooled by their author to also use the Touch Screen. So its more of when one is using Local SC or what I call Slim SC until the official name comes out.

gorman
2009-09-04, 01:40
Is there a "Thank you for adding USB suport" out there somewhere? You get it from me. Thank you for this feature, it's really appreciated. Especially for long term implications.

BastiaanR
2009-09-04, 04:26
Can someone clear up how the SD Card / USB HD connected to the Touch works? It's automatically mounted and indexed by TinySC? Can you specify a Music Folder in TinySC?

As the Touch is networked, is the connected SD Card / USB HD also networked? I.e. is it available as a share in Windows? Can you point SC running on Windows or a NAS to a drive connected to the Touch?

autopilot
2009-09-04, 04:58
Can someone clear up how the SD Card / USB HD connected to the Touch works? It's automatically mounted and indexed by TinySC? Can you specify a Music Folder in TinySC?

It's still in development, so things may change (there is a new and faster scanner being developed with better library change detection etc), but it's automatically mounted on connection, and gets indexed/scanned when you first start "TinySC" (name will change). You can stop and start TinySC, but the drive is still mounted (for access to photos etc).



As the Touch is networked, is the connected SD Card / USB HD also networked? I.e. is it available as a share in Windows? Can you point SC running on Windows or a NAS to a drive connected to the Touch?

Yes, it runs Samba. I have copied over music, photos (and plugins) over from my laptop; very simple and no special software is needed, its pretty standard stuff - just appears as a network drive/device. Touch+HDD is basically a NAS.

http://forums.slimdevices.com/showthread.php?t=67381

autopilot
2009-09-04, 05:22
Oh and yes, i was a naysayer back then. But as others have rightly pointed out, they were very different products and the ethos has shifted - which i did not anticipate at the time. I did not anticipate a device that would have the horse power to run SC and serve other players, plus support samba etc. The devices of the day simply could not do this. Hindsight is a wonderful thing though. It's very easy to say "i told you so", but i do not remember many people advocating USB also telling us that the company will take a change in direction away from the thin client model and produce devices with SC/Samaba capabilities etc. So on that point i dont think i was 'wrong', maybe naive to the future development at worst.

For the record, I was also a naysayer to the colour touch screen, i will admit being wrong there. Very wrong. But in my defence, it did not cross my mind that it would have a distance/IR skin and IR remote, or that they would still be able to make it so relatively cheaply. I was in love (and still am) with the VFD displays :)