Tuesday 1 November 2011

[HEA-4] The Power of Android

Making my smartphone the main controller
PC control (esp. with tv used as monitor):- You can make user of various applications that makes it possible to control your PC with your   Android smartphone from anywhere in the world.
I will list here a few of these android apps and you can go through their features on their app pages.
Unified Remote (power control, YouTube, spotify, keyboard and mouse)
DLNA (play media in your phone, on your telly or control how you stream media from dlna source, to your telly)
Connected media (HTC Sense dlna implementation)
Skifta (android app that lets you choose source (either your phone, computer (Media player etc), Picasa, flicker etc, etc AND choose player (either your phone or your telly) and then play the media irregardless for where you are.
There are also loads of SamGo Extensions that let you do cool things with your telly from your Android smartphone like the SamyGo Remote  as discusses in "Playing with my Samsung TV"
If you have newer TV models Samsung Remote will cut it.
Teamviewer is available on Android, and it let you control any windows PC from your Android phone with all the actions being visible on the computer screen itself. So this can be great tool for remote user support.
If you only want remote access to your computer, using your phone, then PocketCloud is a good remote deskstop app for you.
If you want to turn on (boot) your computer from anywhere in the world, you need WOL together with necessary setups on your home router connected to your computer. If you need details, can provide in upcoming series.
Imagine that you are watching a Movie and playing music video on your Telly. If the volume is very high and your phone is on the coffee table, you might miss those important calls or text messages. You wont need to worry about that if you have TVCallNotify. or SamsungTV Messenger (for samsung tvs) All the calls and msgs alerts will pop right on your big screen.
If you have home automation gear setup(X10 stuff), especially the CM15Pro (discussed in "Power of Android Part 2" you can use your Android smartphone to control the lights around your house, control garage door, gates, window blinds etc etc. The appropriate app for that would be X10Commander
If you happen to have the UK Virgin Media TV service  (V+ or Tivo) you can utilise thier offiffial app Virgin Media TV Guide to set programmes to record using your android phone even when you are abroad (provided your box is on or in standby mode)
Further more, you can use the Tivo Commander app to control your Virgin Media Tivo box using your phone. you just connect your Tivo's ethernet port to your home network. With the Tivo Commander app, you can browse shows, record, play, change channels, etc etc in the comfort of your couch, only with your android smartphone.

Other Android Apps that may be of interest are:
VLC remote / VLC Direct
WIN - Remote
Vlingo (better than iPhone's Siri)

[HEA-3] Playing with my TV

TV Evolution
Almost all TV nowadays come with some king of a software system inside that controls the TV. This is the software that interacts with the remote controls. This software is called the Firmware. TV firmwares have undergone massive changes over time. Primarily because of advancement in hardware capability, Nowadays this firmware is similar in capability to most computer operating systems that are available. This makes TVs some kind of computers in themselves. As you will realise, Actually Samsung TV run Linux as their firmware. This means most of the things that you can do with a Linux box, you can do with a sumsung TV alone (i.e. if you are a geek of course)
However, latest firmwares from Sammy have all been ring fenced and you might not have better lucky playing with them.

Playing with my Samsung TV
Inorder for me to play with my Samsung TV, I needed to gain root access to the Linux system inside. I had to install a previous version of the firmware so that I could have  ssh access enabled. If someone is not computer savvy, they can simply follow instructions given on the SamyGo project
 It is very easy to install SamyGo Extensions on your TV. One of the primary reasons I wanted to install them in this case, was that I wanted to be able to control my TV with my Android phone. I hacked my firmware and installed the following extensions.
RemoteLAN - For TV Remote control via android phone. (however, you if you have a 2010/2011 model you may not need to do all this and android market app is just sufficient to setup a smartphone remote control)
New Internet widgets
DTS audio encoders so that I can play .mkv HD Video files with dts audio
etc, etc, etc.
I also wanted to use my TV as a samba client (to mount shares on PC) so that i can easily mount my computer folder with pics, music and movies and play them on TV.
Other cool stuff  include installing a Web browser on your TV so that you can browse the Internet without the need for any computer. There is also an extension for keyboard and mouse input/output, that enables you to just connect your wireless keyboard and mouse to your TV.
All this makes your Telly a perfect computer.