Dan Mackey On ColdFusion Development

ColdFusion, Java, .NET, AJAX, DHTML development and general programming. Daniel is owner and Administrator of CFTagStore.com and works for an Application Development Company in Ireland called Digital Crew. His interests cover all areas of programming in multiple languages with a particular interest in Internet Technologies.

All Articles tagged : Pandoras Box
2007-09-18 11:14:00.0

Pandoras Box Running In Ireland Again!

Its been a while looking at Pandoras Box seeing as access to Ireland (and Europe) was cut off.

I have got a shed load of emails from people but there was nothing I could do. This really bugged me and I have had to listen to FineTune which while good was never my favourite and the repeats made me want to shoot myself in the head. The player is cool though : Using Adobe AIR. Kudos to the programmer who actually contacted me recently!

Now European Pandora fans can get access to the service again using the steps below:

Unfortunately a normal proxy wont do. It will work for the Pandora page and the player will load but then the Flash Object doesnt use this proxy so your rolloxed.

I finally got it working last night using the rather excellent Tor. http://tor.eff.org/dist/win32/tor-0.1.2.14-win32.exe

  1. Install Tor using the link above - but dont run it yet
  2. Open torrc file from Start->Programs->Tor and add paste at the bottom
    StrictExitNodes 1
    exitnodes desync,whistlersmother,lefkada,bettyboop,croeso,
    TorLuwakOrg,nixnix,inap1,redpineapple,cronic,sasquatch,slowturtle2
  3. Create an automatic proxy script.
    Easiest thing to do is create a blank text file and copy the following into it.

    Rename the file to pandora.pac

    function FindProxyForURL(url, host)
    {
    if (shExpMatch(host, "www.pandora.com")) return "SOCKS 127.0.0.1:9050";
    return "DIRECT";
    }
  4. Set pandora.pac to be used for automatic configuration in Internet Explorer.

    Open Internet Explorer. Go to Tools->Internet Options.
    Select Connections tab.
    Open Lan Settings by pressing the button.
    Check/Select 'Use automatic configuration script'.
    Type in : "file://" following the pandora.pac file name with full path. Mine is: file://c:\pandora.pac cause I saved the file in the c:\ drive.
  5. Run Tor - from Start->Programs->Tor->Tor and launch Pandoras Box. It may take a moment at first but have patience.
  6. Be careful not to close the Tor application or the music stops ;-)

Another thing of note. I did all the above on a spanking new Alienware Laptop that was a virgin to Pandora and Pandoras Box and every thing ran perfectly.

There are some issues that were introduced since my lock out of Pandora Access but in the coming weeks I will be fixing these hopefully. Most notably the lack of access to stations from the tray.

A few people say they are getting script errors so all I can do at the moment is recommend you delete your Internet Temporary Files and launch the app again. As I said, using Tor on a brand new PC everything worked for me so I am guessing a chaching of old files is causing some people problems.

Tags: Pandoras Box
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2007-05-08 12:19:00.0

Initial thoughts on Apollo

Just back from Edinbourgh and a load of emails and blog comments to catch up on tonight but something that sprung up out of necessity was Adobe Apollo, specifically FineTune Desktop Player.

Since Pandora no longer allows access to listeners outside of the US, I was tipped off to another similar service called FineTunes. Its quite different to say the least and I am still getting used to it. I kinda preferred Pandora with the rating and interface but I thought I'd give it a whirl!

The important thing, and the reason for this blog post is that the desktop player uses Apollo. When Apollo was first released, I was excited and downloaded the sample apps and was impressed. Specifically, I downloaded the RSS reader. Bit sluggish on the menu items but overall great potential.

Onto FineTune Desktop.

Now, I realise Apollo is Alpha so I will only focus on what I think is required to truley make a desktop app in this environment plausable.

Installing the app was fast an straight forward. The interface was nice. It worked first time.

Then some strange things happened. All of a sudden, Apollo crashed with out warning. No biggie, its alpha. Loaded it up again. After about 5 mins of having FineTune open, I instinctively right-clicked and got the god-damn flash context menu. Again, Adobe has restricted using this functionality. This is annoying. Desktop apps should have access to a context-menu.

Then I opened the help window and a child-window spawned. Everything was fine until I closed that window and a debug window popped up telling me that the parent window could not be written too because a child-window blocked focus. The FineTune program was no longer accessible from the taskbar or alt-tab but the music was still playing. I had to end it in processes of task manager. Small glitch that was annoying but acceptable seeing that Apollo is alpha and maybe it will be sorted soon.

Now, Pandoras Box was something I wrote because I wanted music playing without a closeable window on my taskbar. I instinctively clicked the closed button on the FineTune player only to have the whole thing close. Damn I thought, there must be no way for Apollo to run in the task-tray.

This is something that needs to be available to developers wanting to use Apollo. Most little apps I want to write using Apollo would need this functionality. If I want to use the RSS reader, I would expect this. If I wrote an IM app, I would expect this. If I have a music player, I would expect this.

So, I have decided I am going to have a lash at making FineTunes Box. I will take the flash player and use some of the existing code I have from Pandoras Box and make a player I can minimise to the tray. Apollo is a great concept and from poking around, its basically a web browser in desktop app, very much like Pandoras Box with the fantastic advantage of being cross-platform.

Apollo has a great advantage over something like Microsoft ClickOnce in that it is cross-platform but .NET is so much more flexible and has a great supporting IDE for developers. It does though have a huge foot print in the .NET runtime. I was impressed with the Apollos small download.

To sum up, Apollo (I think) needs:

  • Proper access to useful libraries to manipulate the host computer. i.e: Access to the file system, devices etc
  • An option to have the Apollo host run in the task tray and attach a context menu to the icon
  • Access to a context-menu in the Apollo application running
  • Simplified ways of accepting global hot-keys

I would love to hear other peoples ideas on the above and maybe some insight from developers who know more about the Apollo platform than me. Maybe these things are available or in the pipeline? Anyone else want to see a FineTunes Box application?

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2007-05-03 16:45:00.0

Pandora Shuts Its Doors To Non-US listeners

I was guessing the day would come when I would no longer be able to enjoy www.pandora.com

I dont know how this is going to affect development of Pandoras Box but hopefully the service will resume for listeners outside of the US in a couple of months.

I dont know what I am going to do for finding new music while programming now :-(

More information can be found here :

http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/05/02/pandora-to-shut-out-non-us-users-thursday-evening/

As of 16.45pm GMT I can access the service but I expect once I get back from Edinburgh on Sunday I will be locked out.

Pandoras Box will still work for US residents but unfortunately, I doubt I will be able to enhance it anymore.

Tags: Pandoras Box
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2006-10-31 12:45:00.0

Pandora's Box Update

Of all the features, updates and additions I added to Pandora's Box, the most frequent request from people was to add an apostrophe to the name :-) I have relented and added it to the latest version Version 1.3.8.

DOWNLOAD VERSION 1.3.8

Alot of people were also getting the infamous Runtime Error 91 message in Pandora's Box and for ages I couldnt recreate it. Tim from Pandora Stations helped me solve this and it boiled down to the station xml file. Apparently the fields in this XML file are not consistant and I wasnt catching this.

This is now fixed in the latest version of Pandora's Box.

The apostrophes is especially for Stephanie who also sent a very kind and substantial donation! Thanks Steph!

And a big Thank You to all people who donated so far to the Pandora's Box project. I have spent it on :

  • Beer - Had to be done :-)
  • A brilliant C# Book
  • Gordon Ramsays Kitchen Nightmares Revisited DVD set (which is brilliant!)
  • The Royal Family : Queen of Sheba DVD (I cried watching this....reminded my of my Nana)
  • The Godfathers Revenge Book (Mario Puzo) Next chapter of my favourite story!

I am also working on a dedicated site for Pandora's Box which will be up soon and moving it off my blog. The new site will also see Pandora's Box being opened up in some shape or form as an Open Source Project. I am thinking of developing it further in C# and have already got the basics running as a .NET 2.0 C# application.

Thank you to everyone who contributed comments, suggestions and encouragement. As always donated beer money goes along way to encourage development so if you like and use Pandora's Box, please consider clicking the donate button :-)

Tags: Pandoras Box
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2006-10-13 11:59:00.0

Pandoras Box Updated - Pandora API 2 Supported

Sometime in the wee hours of this morning, Pandora released a new version of the player which added a number of new features.

One of these features was the new Pandora Events API Version 2. This broke the way Pandoras Box retrieved the current song and artist. This is now resolved.

Also the Station Quick Mix is now supported.

I also took this release to add Pandoralicious Station Browsing facilities.

You also have the option of logging all songs you like to a text file to explore later.

There is one more nice fature in there but I'll post on this later.

If you are upgrading to a the latest version, I would recommend un-installing the last version completely before installing this version. If your lazy and you dont un-install you probably wont have any issues :-)

Thanks to all who donated to the PayPal beer fund. Very much appreciated! I you havent done so yet and you appreciate the application there is no time like the present ;-)

DOWNLOAD LATEST VERSION - V1.3.3

You can find out all about Pandoras Box and read about the initial version here :

Pandoras Box - System Tray Wrapper Application For Pandora

Thank you to everyone who contributed comments, suggestions and encouragement. As always donated beer money goes along way to encourage development so if you like and use Pandoras Box, please consider clicking the donate button :-)

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2006-09-27 12:02:00.0

Pandoras Box V1.3.0 Released

I was going to hold off on this release to add a few extra features but after so many emails for the features I had complete I said I would delpoy it while I finish the other items.

This version contains:

  • Popup notifications on song/artist change
  • Setting to enable/disable notifications
  • Copy-To-Clipboard functionality
  • New menu system for right-click
  • Fixes flicker issue on dual-monitor setups
  • Option to show/hide in taskbar.
  • If shown in taskbar, it now shows in the ALT+TAB list

If you are upgrading to a the latest version, I would recommend un-installing the last version completely before installing this version. If your lazy and you dont un-install you probably wont have any issues :-)

I'll be working on the new features shortly. Your going to like them!!

Thanks to all who donated to the PayPal beer fund. Very much appreciated! I you havent done so yet and you appreciate the application there is no time like the present ;-)

DOWNLOAD LATEST VERSION - V1.2.9

You can find out all about Pandoras Box and read about the initial version here :

Pandoras Box - System Tray Wrapper Application For Pandora

Thank you to everyone who contributed comments, suggestions and encouragement. As always donated beer money goes along way to encourage development so if you like and use Pandoras Box, please consider clicking the donate button :-)

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2006-09-18 23:15:00.0

Pandoras Box - Updates

Just a quick note on the latest additions to Pandoras Box

  • Now posts to Windows Messenger to show the currently playing song
  • Control Pandora from the menu by right-clicking on the taskTray icon
  • New lyrics window to pull lyrics for the currently playing song
  • Support for global keyboard media keys - Pause/Play, Vote Dislike, Vote Like, Next Song
  • Single Click SHOW/HIDE
  • Does not show in taskbar
  • Check to see if you have the latest version
  • Additional access to menu items via right-click on tray icon
  • Ability to change Stations from the right-click menu on the tray icon. See the comments of this post for more info...

(Read More on development)

DOWNLOAD LATEST VERSION - V1.2.9

You can find out all about Pandoras Box and read about the initial version here :

Pandoras Box - System Tray Wrapper Application For Pandora

Thank you to everyone who contributed comments, suggestions and encouragement. As always donated beer money goes along way to encourage development so if you like and use Pandoras Box, please consider clicking the donate button :-)

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2006-08-12 19:07:00.0

Wow - Pandoras Box Got The DIGG Effect!

I never really got into DIGG but when I saw the effect it had on my blog and all the spin off effects, I was addicted! 4500 people visited my blog on Friday - This is an average increase of 4450 people over normal days! Then people started linking to it from their own blogs - More traffic!! People posted the link to del.icio.us and I made the front page of that too!

I am literally over-the-moon with the effect Pandoras Box on Digg has had but with over 70 emails and a shed-load of comments, I had my work cut out today!

I made the app for my own use and decided I might aswell chuck it on my blog to download and got a bit lazy with the features. Lots of people love it for its simplicity but alot more asked for some extra features. I literally spent hours upon hours researching Javascrip and Flash integration, reading hundreds of pages on Windows APIs, Web Browser control, various DOMs and the official Pandora Event Notification Object.

There were 3 main things I wanted to fix, add :

  • Some people got an annoying "Object Required" popup. This was my bloody fault and I missed a debug setting when I packaged it up. This has been resolved!
  • The current playing song and artist is now displayed on the form caption and the tray control tooltip. This took a while and required a nice hack :-)
  • I wanted voting from the tasktray icon. I tried everything. If you saw the hacks I tried to implement to get this functionality, you would laugh! - I have not been successful so far!

Lots of people wanted the source code for the application and a technical overview on how it works. I am going to post both these soon.

The main problem with the voting from the tasktray icon is that I really have ZERO control over Pandoras flash object. They dont expose any functions I can hook into so everything is done with a hack. I got so far at one stage. I found out there are 2 keyboard shortcuts in Pandora itself PLUS and MINUS to vote Positive and Negative respectively. My idea was to focus the WebBrowser control and then use the Windows API or SendKeys function to simulate a keyPress on the focused flash object. No matter what I did I couldnt get it to hook and this also required the window to be focused so the tray hiding was making this null and void. Ah well, hopefully Pandora will release some sort of API and I will work my bollox off to include everything everyone asked for!

Anyway, enough with the waffle, I have uploaded the latest setup.exe file which has the improvements in it.

Click To Download

Upgrading Old Version
To be safe, I would recommend you uninstall the old version before installing the updated app. Also, make sure you close the old app before you uninstall/re-install :-) If your in a rush, belt ahead and install over the old app and click IGNORE on the install screen for any alerts....

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2006-08-09 22:35:00.0

Wrapper Application For Pandora Running In Task Tray

I love listening to music while programming, sometimes I'm in the mood for Faithless, then some Prodigy and lately a bit of Johnny Cash. The problem is I have exhausted my supply of tracks so rely on Pandora - Genome Music Project to find me similar music I may never pick up in the shops!

The problem I found with Pandora is that even with a minimal window, it meant there was another Internet Explorer / Firefox window open cluttering up my screen and I accidently either close the browser or refresh the window! I always thought it would be cool to have it run in the tasktray like Winamp and so took an hour off this evening to develop what I am calling Pandoras Box



The basics are a WebBrowser Control hosted in an application with the ability to minimise to the system tray. You can double click the tray icon to bring the app back up. Additional features include an always-on-top option, sub-classing of the main app so only one instance launches, and the removal of junk around the player window.

 

DOWNLOAD VERSION 1 NOW

 

Anyway, as this is not endorsed by Pandora but may be useful to people and may attract more people to support Pandora, I better put some little disclaimer, so here goes :

Pandoras box is NOT endorsed, developed, supported etc by Pandora Genome Music Project. They probably wont even know about it or want to. I will answer suggestions and bug reports and will fix them in my own time but I do not claim responsibility for misuse of this application etc etc

Requirements:
This will run on most Windows machines and was explicitly tested and developed on WindowsXP with IE6.

You can find out all about the latest updates to Pandora's Box here :

Pandoras Box Updates - September 19th 2006

Thank you to everyone who contributed comments, suggestions and encouragement. As always donated beer money goes along way to encourage development so if you like and use Pandoras Box, please consider clicking the donate button :-)

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