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Unity

April 25th, 2002 · No Comments · Uncategorized

One problem with all the new A/V gear at Chez Nosuch is the proliferation of remote controls. The television has a remote, the TiVo has a remote, the DVD player has a remote, and the stereo has a remote. To switch from watching the TiVo to the DVD involves three remotes: switch the television input from video to composite, switch the stereo from the TiVo to the DVD, start the movie with the DVD remote.

Insane.

Each of the remotes has some capacity to learn another remote, but none of them are really designed with enough buttons to provide critical functions on the other devices. It’s a mess.

Being extremely anal when it comes to usability, I knew the only way I’d be satisfied would be to design my own remote control. Of course, I’m not going to build one, I’m much too much of a nitwit to do that. But instead I went out and got a Pronto remote control, which is basically a Palm pilot merged with a remote control. The entire interface, including the looks of the buttons on the touch screen, can be programmed with software. The editor is even graphical, and allows macros to be created, allowing functional buttons to be made: “Watch TiVo” or “Watch DVD” or “Listen to Music”.

With all this flexibility and power, though, comes a bit of upfront complexity. It takes time to set this things up. And just because you can make your own remote doesn’t mean it’s easy to make a good remote. But in about an hour, I managed to make my “alpha” remote, and >Conny gets to be my tester. I figure in a week or two, we’ll have a nice, easy to use design.

And blessedly, only one remote sitting out, instead of four.

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