A Different Kind of Lazy

All is not as it should be with the world. When I'm on my sofa listening to Launchcast, I'm subjected to Nickelback songs. That's no way to live, and I'm willing to go to the very gates of hell and back to avoid walking 15 feet to hit the "Skip" button every time it happens.

The problem

Back when you had a TV that looked like this:

if you didn't like what was on, you just had to wait it out or get up. Wiser minds than mine realized early that this situation was untennable.

In June of 1956, the first consumer wireless remote control entered the home. It may be just coincidence that this came two months after As the World Turns was introduced on CBS.

Fastforward 50 years.

Now, an increasing amount of my entertainment content comes from my PC, not an audio component sitting with my television. When I'm listening to Yahoo Music Engine and their Launchcast station tries to pawn some Nickelback off on me, I have to get up and skip the track by hand.

This shall not stand.

My Goal

I'm going to use the same infrared remote control I use for my home entertainment system to interact with the Yahoo Music Engine on my PC. It won't be easy, and the fact is, I'll spend more time putting this system together than I would have spent walking over to the computer to skip Nickelback songs over the next year.

If you don't get why I would do this, stop reading here because it's not going to get any better.

Along the way I'll keep track of how much time and money I'm spending to get this done. At the end, I'll have a parts list and step-by-step plans to make this dream a reality in your own home.

The parts list so far

  • USB-UIRT with shipping, $53.61 from Promixis This is the hardware that is going to receive infrared signals from the remote and set events in motion.
  • Girder 4, $49.99 from Promixis This is the Windows automation software that's going to listen for the remote and take all the right actions. I have never worked with it before, so I don't know what techniques will be available for interacting with the target application. There seems to be some support in there for locating windows by title and such (maybe I can just wire it up to automatically press the "Skip" button if "Nickelback" appears in the title bar), and if mouse spoofing doesn't pan out, YME has a developer API that might be useful. We'll see.
  • One for All URC 8910 Universal Remote Control and 4 AAA batteries, $25.85 from Amazon (optional) This will command my whole array of audio/video equipment, as well as the PC. If you have any universal remote, it will work. I got this one because my old "universal" remote couldn't control my DVD player, but this one's got that sweet JP-1 port so I can program it with custom codes. Now there's no such thing as an infrared device I can't control.
  • JP-1 Cable 13.99 from DIY Gadget (optional) This is used to program the remote control. I could get by without this if I used the built-in (and super cool) modem updater, but... it's a gadget. Besides, if $14 is going to break the bank, maybe you should consider another hobby.
  • IR.exe free download from Hi-Fi Remote (optional) This will be used to write data to the remote over the JP-1 cable. You can skip this if you're not going to be buying the JP-1 cable or getting that picky about your key mapping.
  • Remote Master free download from Hi-Fi Remote (optional) This works in conjunction with IR.exe and provides a graphical interface to remap keys on the remote. Naturally, you can skip this part if you're going to skip the previous two items.
  • IrToWav free download from Hi-Fi Remote (optional) This can program an equipped OneForAll remote (like mine) without the JP-1 cable. I'm still going with the JP-1 cable because I want to be able to read programs from the remote as well as write them.


I expect to spend a little less than $150 (including shipping). I have spent 5 hours finding options and selecting all of these purchases. I expect I'll spend about 20 hours by the time this is over. I will add items to the total expenses as they arrive.

Budget update: $0.00, 5 hours