Wednesday, March 16, 2016

A year later ...

Wow, a whole year goes by so quickly ...well the Windows 10 international UK keyboard is no better than the Windows 8 was. Way to go MS. In fact the issue is worse because if you use a 3rd party International UK keyboard to get at diacritics you lose Cortana (yes really!). Cortana relies on a bunch of regional settings to decide whether she/it works in your region, and changing the keyboard breaks something. Still working on fixing that :D
I am now an Xbox one owner, it has some cool hardware features, but is a bit let down by the functionality provided by the operating system at the moment (as of March 2016):

  • It has IR emitters and can control things!
  • It has IR receivers for its' own remote
  • 802.11a/g wireless
  • Plays 3d blu-ray
  • Instant on mode
  • Voice commands
  • Facial recognition
  • so called "2nd screen" xbox glass as remote
Downsides unfortuately:

  • Instant on mode consumes ~10W as far as I have measured (way too much).
  • The IR controls are limited to doing what the xbox knows how to do, no macros can be recorded and played back :(
  • Facial recognition for login is fooled by change of hair cut :(
  • No wake on LAN (not sure how xbox glass turns the machine on from standby, but it's not WOL).
  • You can't change the "resume on power" action for the xbox, when the power comes back the xbox stays off, even when it was in instant on mode.
Why do you care? Well remote streaming to your PC when you share the TV with the family is a serious bonus, I game from my office while my partner and or family are watching TV; but having to interrupt everyone to turn the xbox on is not a good thing (you need to see the screen to login). Plus having the xbox emitting IR commands while you're playing remote is going to annoy the rest of the family. Plus 10W on standby !!! arrrgh!! (knock, knock, are you playing? yes. Can you stop changing the volume please!)
So my solution is evolving. I have an IR blaster from Microsoft (media centre IR extender, bought for a long defunct media PC to go under the TV). I have a PI (I will need to check how much power it uses :D) the Xbox can be turned on via IR from full off (where it consumes less than 1W). I will set the Xbox's IR output to use a TV/Cable box/Audio remote that won't affect my devices, the PI can listen for these codes and "emit" the right ones for my TV etc. Plus the PI can remotely turn on the Xbox via IR, it will know when the Xbox is on as well! (the xbox will emit the on signal for a TV). I will put a mains timer plug on the Xbox and the pi to pull the power during the night and provide a hard reset for the Xbox and the PI, (so when I am remote I only have to wait a day to get the kit hard reset).
Other thoughts: have the PI display through the in hdmi of the xbox, get the pi to record IR sequence sign in so that I don't have to have the xbox always sign in as me with no password, use a PI zero (it can be setup as a USB slave rather than as a controller and therefore be a HID, no IR at that point).
I better get cracking.