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Free HTPC Software - Digital Home Server

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May 31, 2011 8:17:41 PM

Hello,

For the moderators : I received permission from jpishgar to publish this message in the application and home theater subsections.

Multimedia and home automation are hobbies of mine, and for two years I've been working on my own application called the Digital Home Server. The software is freely available on http://www.digitalhomeserver.net and I stress the fact that it contains no spyware, ads, nag screens or whatever.

It used to be a graphical interface for my 7" USB monitor, but the first version which I released about a year ago was not very well written (I can admit that now ;)  ). I gave that version away for free as well, and I knew a few people who were using it, but I was no longer satisfied with it.

So I thought a bit before coding on where this application should go to, and 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 app for specific audience)
- weather forecast
- rain radar (shows where rain is falling)
- MP3 remote control
- Digital clock
- Analog clock

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 a few weeks I will release the DVD player (I worked almost a year on that DVD player, very hard piece of software I can assure you). Next will be an eBay watchlist widget. And a Yahoo stock watch widget is also in an early draft version. I actively develop new function for DHS, so I'll post the updates here as well (if nobody minds).

I have bought some Zwave devices, because I absolutely would like to have this mix between multimedia and home automation. But still a lot of work here :sarcastic: 

Still in "idea" phase
- too much to write down here, but I do have a long list...

Hope you like it. I'll be highly interested in your feedback and ideas !!

Soitjes.
August 28, 2011 10:54:19 AM

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.



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.
October 6, 2011 6:16:24 PM

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.



And a lot of work behind the scenes, but the result of that will only be visible in the next releases !

Soitjes.
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November 14, 2011 5:49:53 PM

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.



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.
January 15, 2012 4:29:18 PM

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.



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.
February 20, 2012 4:35:45 PM

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.



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.
June 7, 2012 7:22:35 PM

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.

http://www.digitalhomeserver.net/assets/images/modscane...

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.

http://www.digitalhomeserver.net/assets/images/WidgetSc...

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.
March 20, 2013 9:37:48 AM

It’s been a while since I posted an update for my application. But I just released a major update for my Digital Home Server. Until now, a lot of focus was on multimedia applications, but now I released a set of modules that allows to automate your home. So you can manage your devices, create nice charts with sensor data, execute actions based on events using rules, and schedule actions (e.g. lights on). Obviously, all existing modules remain available.



There are other screenshots available on my website : http://www.digitalhomeserver.net/screenshots/

This brings me to the mix of multimedia and home automation that I’ve been looking for from the start, and I like to result very much. And it’s not the end. I’m now working on a video surveillance module, and I’m hoping to integrate the Zwave protocol by means of the Razberry.

Regards,

Soitjes.
June 9, 2013 2:07:58 AM

I just released version 2.1.2.0 containing the Video Surveillance module. Actually a request from my wife so that we could keep an eye on our little boy when he's sleeping, and I would like to use this to show who's at the door when the doorbell rings.

The module has the following features :
- connect up to 4 ip cameras (MJPEG streams only), tested with Foscam and Axis
- record video (still image every second stored in avi format)
- detect motion and limit the detection area with zones
- record video when motion is detected
- take snapshots to local disk, or send them directly by email

I made a video tutorial that explains how to use it : http://www.digitalhomeserver.net/video-surveillance/



The video surveillance module is linked to the home automation modules, and so you can take any of the supported actions when motion is detected (e.g. turn on lights, play an mp3, etc...).

Next release will be multi-room audio !

Soitjes.
September 26, 2013 6:20:44 AM

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



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.



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...

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…

Soitjes.
!