Welcome to Experts Exchange

Add your voice to the tech community where 5M+ people, just like you, are talking about what matters.

  • Help others & share knowledge
  • Earn cash & points
  • Learn & ask questions

Is there a way of extracting mp3 files automatically for a blind user to be used in media player?

Posted on 2011-03-09
Last Modified: 2012-05-11
The user has a set sequence to download audio magazines but cannot add whole magazine to windows media play list - instead opens each article one by one when not extracted or unzipped.
Question by:Freshcafe
  • 12
  • 10
  • 9
LVL 18

Expert Comment

ID: 35087153
Under options there's a "RIP Music" tab, and then a "RIP CD automatically" check box?
Perhaps checking that?

I don't know what you mean by when you say, "download audio magazines but cannot add whole magazine to windows media play list"...and then, "instead opens each article one by one when not extracted or unzipped"?

So ....if he's downloading these compressed and one by one, then he'd have to implement or add them one by one once they are extracted?  right?

And if he wants to extract them into a folder....can't he add a folder to the playlist or library list?

LVL 38

Expert Comment

ID: 35096630
Hi Freshcafe

We really need some more details.

1. How large is each "magazine" worth of audio content?
2. You mention extracted and unzipped.  What file or audio format does the content download as?
3. Does the download page or link to download require a login?
4. Is there any particular software that handles the downloading or is this just from a link in a page on a subscription site?
5. Where does the user or software download the files to?
6. Are the file names consistent, ie. named by date or sequential issue number?
7. Are the URLs to the files consistent such that they could be anticipated in advance?

My thoughts are that perhaps this could be batch processed using one click, but impossible to hazard a guess without knowing more detail.

Author Comment

ID: 35101532
Thanks for the time and interest/replies.

The user goes to www.jw.org and selects any of the 3 mp3 file links. It downloads to the pc in Documents, Music, Downloads or even Recieved files on the XP system - the problem comes when it is saved and opened it opens requesting authorisation to open each Chapter individually even if I highlight all the files saved = Front cover jpeg, and each chapter mp3 and select open or press enter. It will only play 1 Chapter, I just tried it on my windows 7 system and it plays the end atricle of all the highlighted tracks. This occurs unless I extract them, then they automatically open in WMP where it appears on a playlist and you can listen to all chapters or select from it which you want (forward/next, back or previous), like on a CD, as needed.

Therefore un-extracted is sees them as files to be extracted or opened but extracted it sees them as mp3 (sounds files to be played, added to playlist, "Convert sound file" etc. I would like to have thes options (easily seen when right cliked) available as simple as possible to add as few keypresses to the users sequence of storing the download on the pc as possible. Try it yourselves if I've not explained it well and I'll try explaining again if necessary - goodnight from the UK (almost morning).
Simplifying Server Workload Migrations

This use case outlines the migration challenges that organizations face and how the Acronis AnyData Engine supports physical-to-physical (P2P), physical-to-virtual (P2V), virtual to physical (V2P), and cross-virtual (V2V) migration scenarios to address these challenges.

LVL 18

Expert Comment

ID: 35102475
Perhaps downloading them as the AAC format?  And acquiring the correct format to play them via Windows Media player?

MPEG-4 (.mp4)
MPEG-4 is an International Standards Organization (ISO) specification that covers many aspects of multimedia presentation including compression, authoring and delivery. Although video compression and file container definition are two separate and independent entities of the MPEG-4 specification, many people incorrectly believe that the two are interchangeable. You can implement only portions of the MPEG-4 specification and remain compliant with the standard.

The MPEG-4 file format, as defined by the MPEG-4 specification, contains MPEG-4 encoded video and Advanced Audio Coding (AAC)-encoded audio content. It typically uses the .mp4 extension. Windows Media Player does not support the playback of the .mp4 file format. You can play back .mp4 media files in Windows Media Player when you install DirectShow-compatible MPEG-4 decoder packs. DirectShow-compatible MPEG-4 decoder packs include the Ligos LSX-MPEG Player and the EnvivioTV.

For more information about the Ligos LSX-MPEG Player, visit the following Ligos Web site:
For more information about EnvivioTV , visit the following Envivio Web site:
Microsoft has chosen to implement the video compression portion of the MPEG-4 standard. Microsoft has currently produced the following MPEG-4-based video codecs:
Microsoft MPEG-4 v1
Microsoft MPEG-4 v2
Microsoft MPEG-4 v3
MPEG-4 video content can be encoded and stored in an .asf file container by using Windows Media Tools and Windows Media Encoder. You can then play these files in Windows Media Player. For more information about Microsoft and MPEG-4 support, visit the following Microsoft Web site:
Back to the top

Author Comment

ID: 35105774
MP4??????????????? Who's using MP4? Why is that relevant?
LVL 18

Expert Comment

ID: 35105935
Went to your link...and the files also come in "pdf, Mp3 and AAC format....
AAC Format as far as I recall is the audio used by MP4... Is it not?
The MPEG-4 file format, as defined by the MPEG-4 specification, contains MPEG-4 encoded video and Advanced Audio Coding (AAC)-encoded audio content

AAC audio is normally wrapped in a mpeg-4 container to make life easier. mpeg-4 AAC audio commonly had three types of filenames: *.m4a (used commonly by iTunes, Apple pretty much set this standard up), *.mp4 (commonly used by other, less known applications), and *.m4p (used only by Apple to show that your content was purchased from the iTunes Store). You can freely go from a *.mp4 to *.m4a by renaming your files, there is no need to convert since they are essentially the same thing.

IF he's set on using Windows Media player, then you'd need some codecs to be able to play AAC...but the AAC on the  website you linked, are not compressed (zipped)...
So the other route you can take, unless you are specifically hooked on MP3's....is to do as I suggested, or perhaps Use Itunes as the player for the AAC audio....
LVL 18

Expert Comment

ID: 35105958
And actually those files are M4B....which I believe uses the same AAC/Mp4/m4a codec.

Author Comment

ID: 35106035
Thanks - I'll check on that - That will mean having the user learn a new download and play sequence after I figure out what exact keystrokes are necessary myself instead of adding 2 to 4 key presses to the routine, or having some kind of program or bat file which does the extracting, bearing in mind the disability.
LVL 38

Accepted Solution

BillDL earned 500 total points
ID: 35106255
Hi Wakeup. Thanks for explaining the problems. I'm glad the website is available without a user login.  That's one less obstacle to consider.

You are aware that the newest Adobe Acrobat readers support the text to voice synthesis.  View Menu > Read Out Loud > Activate Read Out Loud (Shift + Ctrl + Y).  It is less than perfect and uses the native support present in whatever version of Windows is being used.  Ideally PDF files should be created in a layout that is suited to this assistive technology, or organisations should offer alternative versions with text-only layouts designed for text to voice synthesis.  From what I can see of the ones on the site they are nicely presented for sighted viewers to enjoy.  Perhaps the Worldwide Organisation for Jehovah's Witnesses or the Web Designers should be informed of this need.

It is probable that your user already has software to "read out loud", and it is also probable that listening to a real voice is much easier on the ears and packs in more content than a typed document.  The PDF alternative to MP3 files is just a thought that you may not have considered.

Actually, the web pages at http://www.jw.org do not lend themselves to navigation for people with sight impairment.  The "Mobile" view doesn't simplify it much either:
They do have options for people with hearing impairment by way of sign language though.

A page that lends itself to assistive technologies for visual impairment should really give some feedback about the selected item as a user tabs through the page.  For example, the link for one of the MP3 links on the page in question will just be read back as "Tooltip: MP3 Link" (or something similar depending on the reader being used):

<A href="http://download.jw.org/files/media_magazines/wp_E_20110501.mp3.zip">MP3</A>

Using the "Title" tag for the hyperlink as follows would be read something like "Tooltip: Watchtower Public, 1st May 2011. Click to download MP3 file"

<A title="Watchtower Public, 1st May 2011. Click to download MP3 file" href="http://download.jw.org/files/media_magazines/wp_E_20110501.mp3.zip">MP3</A>

The site doesn't use that, and adding monthly links with that type of descriptive text would be best used for a parallel "site" specifically for sight-impaired users.

So, in "Desktop View" under the "Home" tab, the site has these MP3 links:

Complete Magazine

Watchtower (Public) May  1, 2011:
Watchtower (Study) May 15, 2011:
Awake! May 2011:

Each Chapter is as a separate MP3 file, and these are separately downloadable from the "Downloads" tab.

All the content on the server is under:
and the naming conventions for the zip files is:

Watchtower (Public) = "wp_E_YYYYMMDD.mp3.zip"
Watchtower (Study) = "w_E_YYYYMMDD.mp3.zip"
Awake! = "g_E_201105.mp3.zip"

On the "Downloads" page, the links for MP3 files are actually to the MP3 files which have the same naming convention plus a numeric appendix _01, _02, etc, for each chapter.

Those are solid and consistent naming conventions that could be scripted for an automated download and unzip by running one batch file or program file, without the user even loading the web page.  For example:
- From the source code of the "Downloads" page, grab the links to the separate MP3 files
- Download and save each to a new folder with a useful name
- Creat a simple text-based *.m3u playlist (*.m3u)
- Opening Media Player with that playlist.

That was my first thought, but I would like to test this first and make suggestions only if I think the process would be easier for someone with sight impairment.

It's not clear by your statement:
"when it is saved and opened it opens requesting authorisation to open each Chapter individually"
what downloaded file you are referring to.

Activating one of the links to a Zip file on the Home page in Internet Explorer should prompt for an Open or Save choice.  The whole Zip file has to download anyway, and with Internet Explorer the download folder is usually the user's Temporary Internet Files folder, eg. on an XP system:

C:\Documents and Settings\Bill\Local Settings\Temporary Internet Files\Content.IE5\ZL7XOLJ2\wp_E_20110501.mp3[1].zip

I have WinZip installed, so the "Open" option for me opens the file from the Temporary Internet Files sub-folder in the WinZip interface to show the same separate MP3 files that are available on the links in the "Downloads" tab, plus a JPG of the magazine cover that isn't of any use to a sight-impaired person anyway.

I assume that a system without a program like WinZip, WinRAR, 7-Zip, etc, and therefore just using the native Windows zip file support would just open the zip file in a new folder.

In the end, all of this activity creates browser cache clutter that probably just gets deleted periodically using a cleanup utility, which the user hopefully has in place.

It would probably be possible to create an alternative custom action for the *.ZIP file type and make that the default action for opening one of the files that downloads. The action could be one that unpacks the files to a new sub-folder in the user's %TEMP% folder, creates a playlist from them, and then tells Media Player to open the playlist.

The default "Open" action for the native Windows XP function to open a ZIP file is:
rundll32.exe zipfldr.dll,RouteTheCall %L
where %L contains the path and name of the zip file when used from the windows shell.
This is set in the registry under:

Unfortunately all this does is OPEN the Zip file in a Windows Explorer window, bearing the full path to the zip file in the Title Bar, and display the contents.  It is still a ZIP file, ie. it has not been "extracted", and therefore you can't really "work" with the files other than using the Windows Explorer interface which has special attributes applied to it when opened this way.

There is no command I know of to use the built-in Right-Click > Extract All function from the command line, either with or without the Wizard dialog.  A 3rd-party unzipping program would be needed to automate such a process from the command line.

The command line option for Windows Media Player is simple enough to load a "Playlist" file (like a simple *.M3U file with the fully qualified path to each MP3 file):

"C:\Program Files\Windows Media Player\wmplayer.exe" /Playlist "C:\Path_To\playlist.m3u"

Getting the list of files to a playlist file from within a Zip file, and then having Media Player try to find those files that are still in a Zip file is not possible as far as I can determine.  It MUST be unzipped somewhere first, and Windows doesn't like being told to do this from the command line.

The best option I can see meantime for the user is to play the separate MP3 files from the links on the "Downloads" page on the site:

I will look at this some more, however, because it intrigues and irritates me that things are made so difficult for people with visual impairment.
LVL 38

Expert Comment

ID: 35106262
Whoops, sorry Wakeup.  I meant to use Freshcafe's name at the start of my comment.
LVL 38

Expert Comment

ID: 35106329
Incidentally, I can't test anything until I repair my Windows Media Player.  It is inexplicably screwed up right now, although it has nothing to do with my testing things from that site.

Author Comment

ID: 35107048
Greetings BillDL - you always give what seems to be your best and I love your detailed knowledgeable answers.

You are quite correct and the user uses a program from or called "Hal" / "Dolphin" and on several other points too even like the hyperlink tag "Tooltip... " which I have heard myself.

What I meant was after saving the dozen to 20 files which the magazines comprise of I taught the user to move down 1 which selects the first mp3 and then press shift and end together before opening which curiously opened the whole magazine previously (almost certain) though it played the last track first and then then rest in correct order but not doing that now -When all opened it now asks; do you want to open this file and it had this window/box for each chapter.
This select and open works as wanted if the files are extracted meaning the whole magazine is in WMP automatically without having to open each file or Media Player separately.

I am certain if they are informed of the problem or a suitable Sight Impaired suggestion is given they will comply or look into providing a Great solution for these users. It is open to all not just those thought of as members of the organisation and they do well to consider and accomodate all.

Thank you for yor suggestions - your first suggestion of scripting for automated download sounds Great but beyond my Capability. I hope your WMP is sorted soon, I'm sure you can get it done - O can suggest several options there but certain you don't need my help especially as I don't know what the actual problem is and what the cause may be.
LVL 18

Expert Comment

ID: 35107057
The AAC format is just a suggestion...
But .....
Perhaps your client, has an ipod as well?!  not sure how one who is blind would be able to use an iphone or ipod touch....
But if they have an ipod....it is possible that if your client does, he could also put these on his ipod...
Anyway...again AAC was just a suggestion to the issue at hand.
If you grab a codec for his windows media player to play m4a/m4b/mp4/aac, then you shouldn't need to implement any more keypresses?  
As it should just be as easy as playing an mp3 file?
I think?

@BillDL, no prob! :)

Author Comment

ID: 35107380
Thank you Wakeup it sounds good, as I said I'll check it out. Honestly I'd like to find out if opening them directly through some sort of script is possible but you seemed to have best solution till then. Thank for your help both of you.
LVL 18

Expert Comment

ID: 35112983
I'm no script writer...so I'll leave that to Bill! :)
Good luck...keep us informed...if I think of anything else...I'll let ya know.

Author Comment

ID: 35112993
Wakeup - I have tried the AAC download and opening it in windows media player just plays the Whole magazine but as 1 REALLY long file. I think I have to check some more and do a few changes - It says it is not recognised and do I want to search for a program and WMP says it is not recognised but may still play the file. I'll try again tomorrow - been a long day.
LVL 18

Expert Comment

ID: 35113058
Ok...ya you need the appropriate program/codec to play m4p/m4a/m4b/aac/mp4 files for Windows Media Player....
that's why it is not recognized...
Have you tried downloading some of the codecs etc that I linked above?
LVL 38

Expert Comment

ID: 35113233
Hi Freshcafe

I may have an explanation for the explanation you gave earlier:

>>> "... I taught the user to move down 1 which selects the first mp3 and then press shift and end together before opening which curiously opened the whole magazine previously (almost certain) though it played the last track first and then then rest in correct order but not doing that now.  When all opened it now asks; do you want to open this file and it had this window/box for each chapter" <<<

Beginning with XP SP2 or SP3 or perhaps it was IE7, all files copied from "another computer" have extra metadata (ADS - Alternate Data Streams) written to them in the form of embedded *.INI file syntax.  In Windows this is only supported on drives formatted as NTFS.  The embedded data is lost if copied to a FAT32 drive.  The data is used for various purposes including DRM / copyright protection info.  ADS also supports the embedding of one file inside another without increasing the file size, and so is sometimes deliberately and maliciously used to embed viruses and other nasties that can be run without even extracting the embedded file.

Articles about ADS by Frank Heyne:
and H. Carvey:

Test it yourself on this MP3 after you download it:

Run the following command:

more < w_E_20110515_01.mp3:Zone.Identifier
notepad "C:\Full-Path-To\w_E_20110515_01.mp3:Zone.Identifier"

You should see:

Zone 3 is the "Internet Zone".  Others that may be used are:
Trusted = 1
Intranet = 2
Untrusted = 4
The intention of adding this flag to downloaded files, or ones copied from another NTFS-formatted computer, is that when you double-click to open a file that is flagged with the Zone.Identifier, it usually shows a security prompt for most file types. Ticking the box voids the flag, as does opening the file's pProperties and clicking the "Unblock" button.

Strangely enough, when I open downloaded MP3 files in Windows Media Player and other media players I AM NOT prompted in the usual way even though I can see that the files are still flagged.  As far as I can determine, files contained INSIDE a ZIP file (at least the ones from the jw.org site) do not contain the Zone.Identifier ADS, but the ZIP files DO.  WinZip, however, does not prompt with a security warning.  Perhaps some versions of Windows were objecting to the separate MP3 downloads and the webmaster decided that Zipping them up might bypass this annoyance.

Anyway, that's my POSSIBLE explanation for the prompts that the user was receiving on using the multiple select method that you first showed him/her.

I don't know if there is something wrong with my Windows Media Player 11 running on this XP machine, but it will not play any of the MP3s downloaded from that site.  It loads them and displays the ID3 tags plus the embedded thumbnail image, but will not advance and play the audio content.  It is playing all my other MP3s just fine, and I know that the "Fraunhofer IIS MP3" codec the files are encoded with is enabled and working fine.  I can't figure it out, but this means that I cannot meantime test out any scripts on files from that website until I can figure out what's wrong.


Author Comment

ID: 35114299
Ok I woke a few hrs earlier than I usually do and I've gone through the first posts from you Wakeup - I checked those 3 links and mainly found more reading and links which mostly give more info not codec downloads but with (a bit of rest) some research I decided to go with the STORM codec which has Media Player Classic and the LIGO you mentioned {due to your links}. Due to it incorporating so many it's HUGE - over 23MB. I'm just saving it for now on my system, then I'll install it and test it on my own Laptop before possible requesting access to install it on the clients.

@BillDL - That I Think looks a reasonable explanation but I'll have to re-read it to make sure I understand it and that it makes sense (to me). Thanks

Author Comment

ID: 35114433
Ok been an hour or so and I loaded the Codec and even found -This file is from another computer ans may be blocked for security - with option to Unblock so I did but still it shows as one file 1hr33 or more - let me open it in WMP Classic now - NOPE, same. This will not do for the user would need to search each chapter by guessing or forwarding through the whole stream etc instead of just clicking next and reaching the start of the article needed. Thanks tho Wakeup. Maybe I'll try the PDF 1 as well sometime today - It'd be helpful to get it done before tomorrow so they can Study it for Use on Sunday.
LVL 18

Expert Comment

ID: 35115027
Sorry...was worth a shot!

LVL 38

Assisted Solution

BillDL earned 500 total points
ID: 35116481
Hi Freshcafe

I know that we are off on different tangents approaching this issue from various perspectives, but hopefully you are interested in experimenting with a variety of methods.

Wakeup's suggestion of playing the AAC-based file (*.m4b) from the site is definitely the easiest.  Strangely enough, my Windows Media Player version 11 in XP does play those *.m4b files after the usual prompt advising me it might not play.

I have quite a few different multimedia applications installed on this computer and WMP is probably using a "shared" codec that was installed by one of them.  I'm usually against deliberately installing codec packs to get something working, because they can cause problems, but if I can find out what one is being used for my playback and what installed it, then perhaps I can guide you to that software.  My suspicion is that it may be one of the codecs installed by VideoLan's VLC Player (http://www.videolan.org) which I use to play back some multimedia files due to its enhanced support for odd-ball file types.

Using GSpot (yes, I know, it's a strange choice of name) on one of the *.m4b files I can see that one of the MetaTags in it states it was created using "Audiobook Builder 1.2.5 Build 3 (www.splasm.com), QuickTime 7.6".
The program hasn't been updated enough to show the actual codec on my system used to play it, or else is unable to detail proprietory codecs.

Anyhow, I made a discovery not long after Windows XP came out that the older Win9x version of Media Player (mplayer2.exe version 6.4) is installed by default to the same folder as Windows Media Player (wmplayer.exe).  Probably it's for compatibility purposes or for use in web pages that call it by version to display as a plugin for in-page multimedia display.  Media Player 6.4 supported a few command line switches that were very useful, but were removed from the later "Windows Media Player" program:

Usage: Mplayer2.exe [switches] Drive-Path-Filename.ext

/open: Open file but do not play
/play: Open file and immediately play
/close: Close after playback (only works with /play)
/fullscreen: Start the file in full-screen mode
/new: Use a new instance of the player

It is a far more compact media player with no "skins" or "visualizations" that are useless to someone with sight-impairment, and what you show or hide can be set in the View menu > Options multi-tabbed dialog.  Set to Compact, and without the "Navigation Bar" it serves as a nice neat player for audio content.

One drawback is that for some reason it shows gobbledegook characters in the "Display" area at the bottom against the "Clip" line when I tell it to open a playlist *.m3u file with paths to locally saved MP3 files.  I assume that because of its age it can only interpret the older version of ID3 (MP3) Tags in the files.

The Playlist file is what I have been leaning towards, but was unable to test in my Media Player 11.  Some of the modern playlist files are in XML or other fancy format and contain a lot of unnecessary Tags for simple playback purposes.  A simple plain text-based format with one path to a line works just fine.  Double-quoted if the paths contain spaces.

With Media Player 6.4 I can use a playlist file populated with the direct URLs of the MP3 files as my target file rather than paths to locally saved files.  Gor example, here's my test "UrlList.m3u" playlist file:


Open in new window

When I run Media Player 6.4 with the following command:

"C:\Program Files\Windows Media Player\mplayer2.exe" /play /close "C:\MP3 Files\UrlList.m3u"

Open in new window

It very fluently downloads the files in the background and plays them as I use the previously hidden "Skip Back" and "Skip Forward" buttons.  No popup prompts to get in the way.  Additionally, the "Preview each clip in a playlist" button that was previously hidden plays back short intro clips of each separate MP3 after a brief flurry of activity.

Whether these navigation buttons and media information captions will be picked up on mouseover or tabbing to the item, and read back by accessibility software, is something that I don't know.  There are keyboard shortcuts for everything though, and these can be found in the program's help file under Contents > Accessibility > "Using Keyboard Shortcuts".  Some are fairly standard to other applications and intuitive, so perhaps wouldn't require too much re-learning.

Now, that's what I have been aiming for.  My personal challenge has been to try and capture all of the direct MP3 URLs from the Download page (http://www.jw.org/index.html?option=QBJrYBNQF) and create a playlist to launch Media Player with.  The capturing is fairly easy to do, but is a bit clunky and requires a batch file and a small 3rd-party command-line program for the way I did it.

I have experimented with the following method, but decided against it because it relies so heavily on a clunky batch file that creates VBS files on the fly and does this:

1. Creates new folders for Watchtower Public, Watchtower Study, and Awake content.
2. Saves the page's source code as a temporary text file (using a URL2File 3rd-party program).
3. Finds the hyperlink lines to .mp3 files, cleans them up to form proper URLs.
4. Separates them into Watchtower Public, Watchtower Study, and Awake URLs.
5. Finds the YYYYMMDD portions in the paths and creates a new sub-folder in each of the main folders with the Publication Date.
6. Walks through the 3 groups of links downloading and saving the MP3 files to the respective sub-folders (using the URL2File utility again).
7. Optionally run a 3rd-party "Streams.exe" program on each of the downloaded MP3s to delete the "Zone.Identifier 3" ADS OR use plain batch coding to modify the identifier to the "trusted" number being a 1.
8. Either of the following:
    (a) TYPE each MP3 (ie. open as text) and search the content for
          named ID3 Tags that store the that contain "Album Title" and
          "Title" as extractable text.  Use the URLs, and the extracted tag text
          to create a basic HTML file with hyperlinks that assist with browsing
          (discussed in a previous comment), and finally launch the new local
          web page with identifiable and clickable links to that month's MP3s.
    (b) Does a DIR listing in name sort-order of the downloaded MP3s and
         redirects to a playlist file that is then used for local playback of files.

The concept was that the user could periodically run a batch file (or it could be scheduled) and thereby check to see if the main "Download" page on the site had the latest Publications not yet listened to.  It doesn't take account of the user parhaps wanting to explore previous publications from the drop-down list on the page.

One thing did occur to me, however, and it demonstrates my lack of familiarity with problems faced by people with sight-impairment.  Perhaps actually downloading and saving the MP3s to (albeit nicely organised folders) is perhaps something a blind user would seek to avoid.  Unnecessary clutter in the "My Documents" folder might be too hard to navigate back to and find the content again, and might just be left sitting there taking up space.

I have working versions of batch files that do as described above, but I cannot imagine that a blind user double-clicking on a batch file sitting on the desktop is the best idea, but I MIGHT be able to use a "Batch to EXE" converter to wrap it up to a single EXE if I can find one that recognises the coding I used.

The other alternative, which is something I have only limited experience with, is using "automation" software such as "AutoIT3".  This type of software provides a user interface that allows you to capture and create scripts from your actions as you advance through each step of a commonly performed procedure.  It then allows you to compile it all into one EXE that will re-step through all the button clicks, menu choices, and other activities that you "recorded".


That, of course, would be a job for you to do and it could all be in vain (as would my proposed methods) if the website changed its layout.

If you want to test out my experiment with Media Player 6.4 on a Windows XP system, then feel free.  I have attached an *.M3U file which contains the URLs for Chapters 1 to 18 of the Watchtower Public MP3s.  I have also attached the batch file that opens mplayer2.exe with the *.m3u file.  For test purposes, just place them together in any folder and run the batch file.

LVL 38

Expert Comment

ID: 35116496
I should have mentioned, the MP3s are cached as normal for files retrieved from URLs to the user's Temporary Internet Files folder.
LVL 38

Expert Comment

ID: 35172131
Hi Freshcafe

I'm sorry, but I've had to throw in the towel on this as far as my "batch" approach is concerned.  I hate having to give up on anything, but there sometimes comes a time where a "solution" becomes more complex than the original problem.

Although the file names are all consistent enough to resonably foresee what next month's audio files will be named, or sufficient to know what eg. January 2011's "Awake" mp3s were named, the ID3 tagging in them is too inconsistent to rely on.

I have been trying to create an "offline" MP3 archive for the user, and a single double-click desktop shortcut that looks at the site for fresh content and downloads the audio files to keep the offline content current.  The archive would comprise one HTML file (or an "index" file linked to others with easy navigation) and containing links to each of the MP3s saved to the hard drive.  Each link would be suitably tagged so that text to speech software would provide accurate information when each header, line of text, and hyperlink was tabbed to or selected on mouseover.  I was relying on the MP3 Tags (ID3 tags) being consistent enough in all audio files to extract them and use them for those tooltips that would be applied to the HTML code.

I know that it is not exactly what was asked, and may in some ways patronise your friend who likes to remain as independent as possible in using the PC, but about the best solution would be an audio book on CD or DVD.  I would be happy to download all the current audio files on that site and burn them to DVD in some format where the user could just insert the DVD and make selections from a menu by Year, Month, and then separate categories.

That doesn't address the issue of new content though.  I would have thought that the International Organisation for Jehovah's Witnesses would probably already have had a service in place where they distributed new releases on Audio CDs with printed Braille labels.

I looked in detail at the "Contact Us" pages on the various JW sites, but all they do is allow you to Request an in-home personal visit from somebody to discuss the Bible with you.  I can't find a contact to just ask a few questions or mention the need for a "Blind-Friendly" version of the site.

As far as the "AAC" (m4b) files are concerned, it would seem that my computer uses a codec that was installed by my Roxio CD Burning software to play the content in Windows Media Player.  That file type defaults to Apple QuickTime Player on my computer, but it doesn't play because I think I previously messed a bit too much with the installed files and it will need to be reinstalled:

*.M4B file type = AAC Audio Book
One action only = Open
Open Command = C:\Program Files\QuickTime\QuickTimePlayer.exe "%1"
Application = QuickTimePlayer
Topic = System

QuickTime always opens so slowly, even if asked to play a small simple file, that I have always avoided using it.

I reassigned the *.M4B extension to VideoLan's VLC Player (http://www.videolan.org) and the AAC links on the site play in VLC Player just fine, but regardless of what program is associated with that file extension this is not "streaming" audio content.  It still needs the user to click on the "Open or Save" dialog.  The "Open" choice still needs to physically download and save the file, and it then playes from one of the sub-folders in the user's Temporary Internet Files folder, for example:

C:\Documents and Settings\Bill\Local Settings\Temporary Internet Files\Content.IE5\9JJ8TW2G\w_E_20110615[1].m4b

If only there were links on the JW pages that "streamed" the content and didn't have to download the file in its entirety first, for example using the mms:// protocol (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft_Media_Server) or better still the rtmp:// protocol (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Real_Time_Messaging_Protocol).

In the end, using what is available, I suppose you have a few options for playback by clicking the links on the pages:

1. Install Apple QuickTime and associate the M4B file type with it.
2. Install VLC Player and associate the M4B file type with it.
3. Install either or both, but associate the M4B file type with Windows Media Player and hope that it can use a suitable decoder that was installed by one of the other applications.
4. Install neither 1 nor 2, but instead install a reputable "Codec Pack" and hope that Windows Media Player can play the content using one of the pack's codecs.

I'm not really too familiar with all the "codec packs" that are around, and I generally shy away from them because I've had some bad results in the past, but on searching I see this one that may do the trick:
Direct Link (Right-Click > "Save Target As" should work):

The above is version 1.1.51 of the "aacPlus DirectShow Stream Parser" codec created by http://www.orban.com/ but their FTP site is a maze to navigate.  The actual codec installed by the setup package in the zip file from the above links comprises just one DLL file (aacpParser.dll)

All that is needed here is the DEcoder for a speciific file encoding, not the ENcoder.  It's just for playback. So installing a complete codec pack like "K-Lite Codec Pack" is overkill for the user's needs.

Personally I think that trying to circumvent the issues created by the MP3s in the Zip file is banging your head against a wall.  That format of download is presented on the site's pages to allow for easy downloading and saving of all the MP3s in one neat package for manual unzipping by a sighted person, rather than as the means to play back content.


Author Comment

ID: 35223548
BillDL - Your idea worked well and I love it lots - I had it play as I wished but if you cannot get it to automatically change the names to be downloaded I will have to find a way round it like volunteering to run your file/program weekly or fortnightly myself - in order to retrieve the latest magazines. I  hope to get your idea to the website owner/ manager to implement something along the lines of your ideas - TY _ I am not sure I fully understand all of it but the example you sent me (links) worked a treat. I hope to look into it and get it to work in the proper setting.


Author Comment

ID: 35223551
Points will follow - let me try testing this on her system this week please!
LVL 18

Expert Comment

ID: 35224920
Great....glad you were able to get something going!  BillDL good job! :)
LVL 38

Expert Comment

ID: 35224968
Hi Freshcafe

I hung off posting any other comments because I knew you would need time to digest the information, which was (as is usual for me) typically verbose and written as though I was thinking out loud :-)

Just to explain the first couple of paragraphs in my last comment so you knew why I "threw in the towel" on a batch method.

I ended up hitting a snag when it came to retrieving them for all except for the current "download" page:

To see "previous" monthly downloads there is a drop-down web form, but it does not actually load a new page, or at least reflect this in the Address Bar or the page properties.  All it appears to do is dynamically repopulate the table below it with the relevant data for the month and year chosen. The page URL remains unchanged.  I am not clever enough with web design to know exactly how this is done in order to get real page URLs, but I assume it uses JavaScript or similar.

This presented problems using a program like URL2File to download the page code for each month so that I could walk through the page code and grab the URLs for each of the months.

So, as it stands, any "batch" method will have to be restricted for your own volunteering offer and used just to get fresh links each month for your friend.

I have kept going back to this each time I thought of something else to try, and was just testing out something a couple of days ago using a little 3rd-party command line program that reads ID3 Tags from MP3 files.  My thoughts were still aiming towards creating a repository of "local" web pages that are more "blind friendly" in that they speak what the user has hung the mouse over and accurately describe the audio file's contents.  The idea was still aimed towards a "one-click" desktop shortcut to download new content and add to the repository, but in view of the problems I had, perhaps this is something YOU could do for the user and just update on a monthly basis.  I haven't finished this yet, and whether it would be reliable and usable is something I won't know until I either get something working or have to admit defeat.

This is now a "project" for me, and has departed somewhat from the original question.  My interests are now driven by a desire to make things a bit easier for a blind user, for you, and out of general curiosity and dislike of defeat.  Perhaps I could create an E-E "blog" entry to continue my experimentation and keep you updated.

Let us know if you intend installing a suitable Codec (eg. the one I suggested in my last comment) to enable playback of the AAC links to the *.M4B files, or if you really want to persevere and try to create some kind of offline audio file repository or playlists for online streaming using a "batch" solution.

LVL 38

Assisted Solution

BillDL earned 500 total points
ID: 35224985
By the way, I already downloaded and saved all the MP3s and M4B files going back as far as it allows, have lists of target URLs that can be used as Playlist files, and have separate HTML pages containing the links to the local and "online" files.  I was latterly just trying to add meaningful mouseover tooltips to the pages so that the reading software speaks the descriptions in Internet Explorer.  As I said, I was intrigued, and who knows - maybe I will be enlightened after listening to a few of them ;-)

Author Comment

ID: 35364334
Dont believe it's flown by so quickly - I was on another job for 2 weeks on nights - trying to catch up with my IT work now - Please Bill what exactly would I need to do to the batch file to download the newest files - I'd guess I'd work out the next date code for each magazine and edit the .m3u file. I'll just try the Awake magazine link by editing your m3u file today. Not got back to that system yet but when I understand this I should have remote access to the system to try it out.

Thanks -

Author Closing Comment

ID: 35364448
I marked it as complete, and easy to follow because it seems logical and the m3u list worked as described - I just have to work out the naming conventions, where to get them or at least where/how to get the future 1s to make my own list/s and create the relevant file/s to play the media just as Bill's EXCELLENT Example. When my brain recovers from lack of sleep I SHOULD be able to do this.
The 1st answer given points was marked best because it was quick and to the point and actually worked out to be demonstrated on the answer awarded most points! Every response was worth something - Thank you guys! Both!

Featured Post

Portable, direct connect server access

The ATEN CV211 connects a laptop directly to any server allowing you instant access to perform data maintenance and local operations, for quick troubleshooting, updating, service and repair.

Question has a verified solution.

If you are experiencing a similar issue, please ask a related question

Having trouble getting your hands on Dynamics 365 Field Service or Project Service trial? Worry No More!!!
The viewer will learn how to create a normally distributed random variable in Excel, use a normal distribution to simulate the return on an investment over a period of years, Create a Monte Carlo simulation using a normal random variable, and calcul…
Viewers will learn how to include realistic velocity sensitivity to their Sampler instruments. Set the Vol<Vel parameter in the Filter/Global tab to your desired setting: Gather samples of hits of various intensity, and drag/drop into Velocity zon…

840 members asked questions and received personalized solutions in the past 7 days.

Join the community of 500,000 technology professionals and ask your questions.

Join & Ask a Question