Thursday, January 28, 2010

Control your PC with smartphone

In this era, we have remote controls for everything. Televisions, music systems, DVD players, air conditioners, even my 5.1 channel speaker set has one. No reason then, why you shouldn't have one for your PC. I realized I was missing the remote especially because I spend so much time at my PC. Hence began my search for a PC (or laptop) remote. And guess what I found? With a couple of tricks, I can convert my mobile phone into one. Here’s how.

When I said mobile phone, I did not mean just about "any". You need a smartphone. Quite common now, are smartphones that run on Symbian Series 60-2.x with Bluetooth. Well, these would be Nokia 5320 XpressMusic, N73, E51, 5610 XpressMusic, E65, E66, E71, N95.

Here's the other doo-hickeys you need:
1. A Bluetooth dongle for your PC (latest laptops already have a Bluetooth port). This is a small USB thingy (easily available for Rs 300-500 at your local PC hardware vendor) that allows your PC to communicate with Bluetooth-based devices.
2. An application called ControlFreak available as a free download on this site
3. Winamp V2 or V5 or above. Simply, if you don't have it, download and install it.

Installing ControlFreak is really quite simple. Just double-click the .EXE file to install the application after download. You don't need to make any special configuration settings or complex registry entries. The installer will place a file called controlFreak.sis on your desktop. You need to install this file on your mobile phone. Use Bluetooth or PC Suite (for Nokia phones) to do this. Read your phone's manual to learn how to install files on it. Once installed, a new item called CtrlFreak will appear in your applications menu on your phone. Your phone is ready.

Next, you need to setup your PC (or laptop). The ControlFreak PC application will start Winamp on its own and try to configure port settings. This is where your Bluetooth dongle comes in. If Windows detects your dongle then you have nothing to do, ControlFreak will auto-configure.

If your Windows asks for software on an accompanying CD and you had to use external drivers to set it up, then you need to manually make changes. In Winamp, hit "Ctrl+F". This opens the advanced ControlFreak configurations window. Set Bluetooth driver to “Installed Other” and select the COM port you selected when installing your Bluetooth dongle. Select the Startup with Winamp checkbox if you want Winamp to activate ControlFreak every time you start Winamp.

That's it! Start the CtrlFreak application on your phone, choose "Options" and select "Connect". This will create a remote connection between your phone and PC. Here you need to enter a code to pair your phone with the PC. This is exactly like pairing two phones with Bluetooth. The default code is generally "0000". After connecting, your phone display will show Winamp. Choose Options > Computer > Desktop control (8) from the application menu. Voila! Your mobile will display exactly what you see on your PC.

All you now need is a comfy couch in front of your PC

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