Review - "Mediaman" Cataloging Software
This is an archived article. Please consult the buymusic.ca blog for additional information.

Have you ever looked at your compact disc, book or DVD collection and asked yourself what you would ever do if someone broke into your home and stole it all ? Or if you were the victim of fire or flooding ? I have.

Unfortunately for me, my collection is extensive so I couldn't manage to find the time to catalog everything for my insurance company. Not as extensive as some of you guys, i'm sure. But enough to take a few tedious hours to compile, even if I had cut & paste my collection from an online database like Gracenote CDDB.

Enter Mediaman

Like Kix Software's "Music Catalog Master" with CDs and vinyl, this software searches online databases for information on the CDs, DVDs, Books, Software and Games in your collection. But unlike Music Catalog Master, you can't use your CD-Rom or DVD-Rom to catalog them - You've got to either punch in their UPC codes manually or use a webcam to scan these UPC codes into the program. And the sources for information used by these programs are different - Music Catalog Master uses Gracenote CDDB, the source used by the most popular XP media players, while Mediaman uses the Library Of Congress and the Amazon subsidiaries for information.

Mediaman's sources has its advantages and disadvantages. They're fine for most books and DVDs. And the program does import graphics from these sites into your catalog. But i've unfortunately run into some problems with some CDs that are not listed at the Library Of Congress or at the Amazon subsidiaries. The Library of Congress listings are mostly dedicated to American releases while the Amazon subsidiaries don't list products they don't or no longer sell.

Then there are the listings that contain incorrect UPC codes and entries that do not contain UPC codes, at all. This requires the user to manually search the databases via the program, using either the artist/band's name or album title. This works fine provided that the CDs you're cataloguing aren't limited editions or imports that contain extra tracks, bonus material or special artwork. I was able to catalog several foreign releases that were listed in the European and Asian Amazon subsidiary databases though.

Limitations

Other that the source limitations, i've also had problems scanning many UPC codes. Apparently some webcams aren't as compatible with the program as others. But I was able to connect a video camera to my ATI All In Wonder Radeon and trick the program to see it as a webcam :

    Mediaman - ATI All In Wonder Bypass
  • Connect video camera to video card as instructed by All In Wonder manual
  • Place camera on tripod or on stable surface
  • Turn Computer & Video Camera on, setting your video camera to camera mode
  • From the Ati Multimedia Center, activate the TV application
  • Change the television signal from television to composite, as instructed by the program's manual
  • Exit the TV application (May cause conflict with Mediaman)
  • Activate Mediaman and Scan Away

The above procedure allowed me to scan a good percentage of UPC codes - Approximately 55%. But this low result could have been caused by the low lighting conditions so you may want to improve your rooms lighting to get a better reception. And note that some cameras will automatically turn off or go to demo mode when they aren't recording. You can reduce the inconveniences associated to these functions by changing your video camera's settings.

Notable functions

Mediaman includes an export wizard that allow users to export all or some of the information they've collected in their database to several file formats, including the rich text and html file formats.

Items in a person's collection are placed within one of six categories, to which information is added within fields that can be edited and/or omitted from the resulting exported file. This allows Mediaman users to save on ink, by removing information they don't want printed.

In Conclusion

In conclusion I recommend this program to anyone that has a large CD, DVD or book collection. The menus are well designed and the programs functions are easily accessed, though users of this program should learn the proper procedures to add items to their collection. I unfortunately failed to choose the correct media format to search while using the Amazon Importing Wizard and it failed to recognise many of my CDs.

The program itself is sold online for $39.99 in American funds but this both includes updates for life and licences for use on two computers. A 30 day, fully functional demo is available from the programs official site.

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