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java sound/windows media player

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It's been a while since I've needed sound but I know a bit about
The Java Sound API . Problem is, I wrote a program that does the most basic .au sound loading and playback (short clips). Not unlike what every java
programmer learns in week two. My question is:
Why does this simple process seem to disable other uses of the sound card, even when no sound is being played. E.g., I load the web page which plays the sound clips, applet loads and executes beautifully. No sound is being played however, I minimize the browser, open up WMP, load a song, and receive the following error:
Windows Media Player cannot play the file because there is a problem with your sound device.

Now, I can even go maximize my browser, go to a new page, completely leaving the applet page, and check WMP again, same result. My sound card isn't released until I actually shut down the browser. This occurs on Netscape and IE.

The code, as I said, is basic:
public void playsound(String soundeffect)
soundfile = getAudioClip(getCodeBase(),soundeffect);

if(soundfile != null)

}//end playsound

Can anyone help? Thanks, Tom
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