Hack 13. Remote Control Windows with Bluetooth Phones and PDAs

Use your phone/PDA as a remote control for media, presentations, and other programs.

If you're a Windows user, you've probably skimmed "Remote Control Mac OS X with Bluetooth Phones and PDAs" [Hack #8] and thought, "Why can't I do that?" Well, you too can control your PC via Bluetooth, with a wide range of phones and PDAs.

1.14.1. Requirements

Most PCs, aside from some newer laptops, do not come with built-in Bluetooth. To take advantage of the programs in this hack, you'll need a Bluetooth adapter. USB-based adapters are available for as little as $20. Some of these devices are low-power Class 2 devices, transmitting up to 10 feet, while other Class 1 devices have extendable antennas and claim to cover upwards of 300 feet. If you're planning on using the device with software for presentations, the longer-range models are probably what you want.

Windows requires drivers to operate with your Bluetooth device. Windows XPcomes with built-in Bluetooth driver support, and if your USB device is recognized when you insert it, we recommend that you use the Microsoft drivers [Hack #2].

In our examples, we were not able to get our USB Bluetooth adapter to work with the third-party drivers that shipped with the unit. Uninstalling those drivers and allowing the Microsoft drivers to detect the device resolved the issues.


1.14.2. Installing PuppetMaster

This hack uses PuppetMaster software, which is available from http://www.lim.com.au/PuppetMaster. If you are in doubt about the capabilities of your Bluetooth phone, check that site for more information on device support. While PuppetMaster supports a variety of phones and PDAs, we tested using a Sony Ericsson T630. Setup and capabilities in these programs vary from phone to phone, so be sure to check to see if your phone is supported.

In addition to a Bluetooth adapter, PuppetMaster requires Windows 2000 or XP and one of the following mobile devices with Bluetooth onboard:

  • Symbian Series 60 phone (complete list at http://www.series60.com/products)
  • Symbian UIQ phone (complete list at http://www.uiq.com/uiqphones)
  • Microsoft Smartphone
  • Microsoft PocketPC 2003
  • Java Phones with Bluetooth API support
  • Sony Ericsson T68, T610, T630, K700i, or Z1010

Installation of the software is simple. Accept all of the defaults. Once PuppetMaster has been installed, run it from the Start Menu. A circular icon will appear in the taskbar, indicating the program has loaded, and you should see the status window shown in Figure 1-27.

Figure 1-27. Initial PuppetMaster status

In our testing, we did not have the Sony Ericcson T630 phone paired with our test PC. If you are using non-Microsoft Bluetooth drivers, you might need to pair your phone with your PC ahead of time. Instead, we selected the Preferences button in the dialog to open the PuppetMaster Preferences window, as shown in Figure 1-28.

Figure 1-28. Adding your phone in the Preferences window

At this point, enable Bluetooth on your phone to make it discoverable. Click the Add Device button, and PuppetMaster will scan available Bluetooth devices, or virtual COM ports if your non-Microsoft drivers support this feature. In either case, you will be presented with a list of appropriate device connections that PuppetMaster found (Figure 1-29).

Choose your phone from the list and click Add. You'll be prompted on your phone to allow the connection and enter a numeric PIN. Once you've entered the PIN on the phone, a confirmation window will appear on the PC, asking for the same PIN. Confirm the choice to add your phone to PuppetMaster. To complete the setup, click Connect in the Preferences dialog.

1.14.3. Controlling Your PC

Now that you are connected, you can control many aspects of your PC directly from your phone. Using the Sony Ericsson T630, select Connectivity images/U2192.jpg border=0> Accessories from the phone menu to display a whole list of items that can be controlled from the phone. As shown in Figure 1-30, you can add menu categories in PuppetMaster, and then add items to those categories to expand your control options.

Figure 1-29. Available Bluetooth devices

Figure 1-30. Customizing PuppetMaster menus

Out of the box, PuppetMaster supports controlling iTunes, WinAmp, and Windows Media Player. Most importantly for presentations is the ability to control PowerPoint. You can perform system commands such as shutting down, activating the screensaver, or browsing files. Another great function for presentations is Mouse Mode. On phones that have a directional control, such as the T630, you can direct the mouse cursor remotely.

One final set of abilities that PuppetMaster gives you is Events. As shown in Figure 1-31, you can set up special events to occur when the phone comes in range of the PC, when it leaves range, or when you get a call.

Figure 1-31. Adding custom events

Events are handy if you are using your phone as a media controller. You can have iTunes pause the currently playing track when your phone rings, so you can hear your caller. If your phone goes out of range of the PC, you can make it assume that you have left and activate your screensaver, set your status to Away in your IM program, and mute the speakers.

1.14.4. Hacking the Hack

PuppetMaster is an amazingly cool program that extends control of your PC to many types of Bluetooth phones and PDAs. If you use Linux, check out "Remote Control Linux with a Bluetooth Phone" [Hack #9] for a hack that lets you do the same thing. If you have a Sony Ericsson phone, definitely go on to "Control Your Bluetooth Phone with FMA" [Hack #14], which shows even more great things you can do over Bluetooth with your phone.

Bluetooth, Mobile Phones, and GPS

Network Discovery and Monitoring

Wireless Security

Hardware Hacks

Software Hacks

Do-It-Yourself Antennas

Wireless Network Design

Appendix A. Wireless Standards

Appendix B. Wireless Hardware Guide

Wireless Hacks
Wireless Hacks: Tips & Tools for Building, Extending, and Securing Your Network
ISBN: 0596101449
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2004
Pages: 178

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