Ragingly successful remote Home Theater control

Discussion in 'Computers' started by Vivek_IVB, Jul 9, 2006.

  1. Vivek_IVB

    Vivek_IVB Stunt Coordinator

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    I have a Cingular 8125 PDA cellphone that I got primarily for work purposes, but secondarily to control/monitor the house while I'm away. Had some RAGING success yesterday, thought I'd share.

    Wife & I had a last minute out-of-town trip to Napa Valley as wife's folks were willing to watch kids. I already had Security & HVAC control setup via the PDA [monitor motion sensors, check security system, adjust HVAC while we're not in the house]. I added some A/V screens so I could control the A/V equipment and start DVDs from anywhere I get cellphone service, as they constantly struggle with anything remotely technical, especially if they're trying to watch the kids at the same time.

    Here's the latest set of interfaces I made for it, had some pretty good luck with them. That said, I'm going to create a high-bandwidth set and low-bandwidth set and create a new top-level menu having you pick one or the other, as I only got 5-10kbps over Cingular's EDGE network while in Napa yesterday, and some of these are nearly 200K. They were fine from the coffee shops with free wifi, but about 40 seconds per page load time from the movie theater. I kicked off a DVD for the inlaws so they didn't have to deal with anything other than turning TV on. Considering that I won't use this that often, 20 seconds is "ok", but i'd like to see if I can at least create security ones that load within 5-7 seconds.

    Obviously these need some serious GUI work - the napa trip was a total last minute thing, so the A/V ones are what I whipped together in
     
  2. Christ Reynolds

    Christ Reynolds Producer

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    you trying to make it so you never have to leave your chair? [​IMG] your posts are pretty cool, i plan to do some level of monitoring and control in our new house.

    CJ
     
  3. Vivek_IVB

    Vivek_IVB Stunt Coordinator

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    Actually, with that PDA and the Cingular network, I don't have to be anywhere close to the chair. I kicked off a DVD for the kids from a movie theater 100 miles away. Plus, I had the opportunity to monitor which room they were in via the motion sensors. (They're 4 & 2, and were at home being watched by the wife's parents who are technically challenged especially when trying to watch our kids.)

    If you want to do any monitoring and decide that the Elk & CQC are right for you, I can give you my templates. It'll still require elbow grease for you to get working for you, but at least you know you can have the same fxnlty eventually. They're both pretty inexpensive especially considering they're best-in-class, definitely the way to go for any serious HomeTheaterAutomation/ HomeAutomation.
     
  4. Mike Fassler

    Mike Fassler Supporting Actor

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    Dude! that is totally killer! I want too do that one day, after our new little one is born. wonder how well this would work with verizon.
     
  5. Vivek_IVB

    Vivek_IVB Stunt Coordinator

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    Actually I hear that Verizon's network is much faster than Cingular. Can't be worse - i'm only getting 5-10kbps over EDGE.

    Get a PDA with the right OS, stay the heck away from webserver access or logmein - too insecure for my preferences.
     
  6. Vivek_IVB

    Vivek_IVB Stunt Coordinator

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    Holy cow! I worked with Mark Stega [CQC guy who wrote the DotNetViewer, i *think* he's the CEO] to optimize this. He sent me a new build, screw going down to text-based stuff, he optimized the DotNetViewer (pda viewer app, aka DNV) to allow the user to specify the timeperiod that it uses to not redownload an image if it's already gotten it. My image-laden screens are now quite zippy!

    Now, the menu art screen which was taking 17 seconds, now loads in 8 seconds the first time, and GET THIS: 2.5 seconds every other time. [it's already downloaded the button image]

    The motion screen, which was taking 79 seconds with art, and 11 seconds without art, takes 19 seconds the first time, 8 seconds the 2nd time and on!

    Woohoo, no more text based screens! I'm still doing some more sample runs, that was just the first run. Very very exciting stuff!

    Also to set expectations: If you try to use a web server or logmein, there's zero chance you'll ever have remotely the same performance as it'll be forced to redownload the whole page. There's no intelligence a la the DotNetViewer which can do optimizations such as this. Hence, if you're serious about using a PDA cellphone to do remote access to your server, and if you've got anything but a wifi connection, either use the DNV, use entirely text-based screens, or be willing to have it perform slowly.

    Also, if you're using non-Cingular, you'll have even better performance than me as Cingular is still rolling out their high speed network. Hopefully in 6-ish months, i'll be as zippy as the rest of you.
     

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