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Using The Gyration Media Center Remote With Linux ! - 12/29/2004 10:58:34 AM   


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The Gyration Media Center Remote is a radio keyboard and mouse with 100-foot range. The mouse uses an accelerometer rather than a mouse wheel, and thus has the unique feature that you can make mouse gestures in the air. The mouse should be perfect for a public speaker who wants to move around during a speech, without giving up control of his laptop. It would also make a nifty remote for a Linux PVR user, since it has VCR controls and channel and volume buttons. But does it work with Linux? Bruce Perens tried it out...

Click here for a high resolution photo of the keyboard and remote. The unit is designed to remotely control a Windows Media Center system, but looked as if it would be useful for many different tasks if we could get the hardware to talk to Linux.

Before I purchase a hardware device, I look for Linux support listed on the box. Lacking that, I check the web. Going ahead with the purchase when that search turns up zero information is a gamble, but I took it.

Although Gyration has not provided the slightest bit of Linux support, they did implement a standards-compliant USB Human Interface Device. And the good news is that a properly-configured Linux system will work with the device. But it took me a while to figure out that my system wasn't configured properly. And a little more time to figure out how to use all of those buttons. See this page for the technical information.

With that done, I can change slides and control the mouse up to 100 feet from the laptop. With a radio mike, I can walk around the room while speaking. If I want to use the keyboard, I can leave the radio keyboard somewhere in the room and step up to it, or use the laptop keyboard. It's also useful for pair programming and co-editing situations where you want two people to have their own keyboard.

Gyration has another product called the GyroRemote. It's a similar remote to the Media Center one, but with fewer buttons and no keyboard, for the same price as the Media Center. It comes with special presentation effects software that, of course, doesn't work with Linux. Some speakers might find the fewer buttons easier to navigate by touch, but I had no problem with the Media Center remote. They also have a number of products with only 30 foot range, which are probably less useful for public speakers. Those products look very similar to the 100-foot ones, make sure you're purchasing the right box

If one had been available, I might have preferred a Bluetooth Class 1 remote, as that would have had the range, and I would not have needed the (admittedly small) Gyration receiver with Bluetooth laptop. However, all of the Bluetooth remote controls and remote mice available today are Class 3, and only have about 30 feet range.

Source : TechnoCrat

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