[mythtv-users] My wireless keyboard/mouse/remote setup

Yeechang Lee ylee at pobox.com
Sat Dec 31 23:04:49 EST 2005

Larry's Club Cars <larrysclubcars at yahoo.com> says:
> With a wireless keyboard and wireless mouse
> in the frontend, do I really need a remote control?

I too have a wireless keyboard, but still bought myself a learning
remote. A keyboard is nice for many MythTV-related tasks, and very
efficient in many ways, but it just can't replace the convenience of
sitting back on a comfortable chair navigating the frontend with one
thumb. At the same time, a remote can't replace the convenience of a
keyboard in simple things like entering letters and words. I made sure
to get an IR keyboard/mouse so I could teach the codes to my remote;
this way I haven't had to bother with lirc.

I bought an ACK-581 (<URL:http://www.directron.com/ack581.html>).

Positives include:

* The keyboard and integrated mouse thumbpad work well, and at the end
  of the day that's what counts. Two PS/2 cables snake out of the IR
  receiver, so no compatibility worries about USB keyboards under
  Linux, as the KnoppMyth people warn against (although I'm using
  Fedora Core 4).
* The black color goes well with the rest of my entertainment setup
  (although, naturally, the big-screen flat panel I've ordered only
  comes in silver). Beige is also available.
* LinEAK's xosd plugin givss me nice-looking on-screen feedback for
  the multimedia keys.

Negatives include:

* Since seemingly few have heard of this model before, it's not
  supported out-of-the-box by LinEAK. It's not hard to add support
  with some perusing of LinEAK's documentation, but still an annoyance
  considering just how many keyboards LinEAK *does* support.
* Not all the multimedia keys generate xev-visible keycodes out of the
  box; I had to write a little shell script to generate them with
  setkeycodes after figuring out the proper ones with the LinEAK
  documentation. (Mysteriously, following said steps, the Mute and
  Volume Up keys generated the same keycodes, meaning I had to
  reassign Volume Up to a vacant keycode.) Sometimes, for some reason
  I can't figure out, the new keycodes disappear and I have to rerun
  the shell script. I thus set up a cron entry to regenerate them
* If an IR signal gets cut off or garbled mid-keystroke (if, say, the
  line of sight gets interrupted while typing), the last-typed key is
  liable to continue to repeat endlessly until I push another key. I'm
  not sure if this is a quirk of this keyboard or the way the x86
  keyboard signaling architecture in general is designed.

My learning remote is the fabled URC MX-500. Its price has come down a
*lot* recently; mine was only $80 or so from Amazon.com.

Positives include:

* Enormous flexibility. I won't go into the remote's many virtues in
  detail; see the lengty review at
  <URL:http://www.remotecentral.com/mx500/> for more detail. Let's
  just say the remote can do pretty much anything you'd ever want an
  IR-based remote to do (with a couple of caveats that I'll get to),
  all with surprising ease of use, and that there's a reason it's been
  the king of super-programmable (yet still somewhat mass-market)
  remotes for years.

Negatives include:

* Size. It's big, even for a six-footer like me. Not a problem for me,
  and the remote and its keys all *feel* great, but those with small
  hands should be aware.
* I can't figure out how to get taught keys to auto-repeat. The manual
  makes some vague mention of holding down the keys you teach to it on
  the source (the keyboard, in my case) in order to get the MX-500 to
  repeat, but for me that either does nothing or results in
  endlessly-repeating keys (no doubt with an identical cause to the
  similar issue I mentioned earlier regarding the keyboard). Why URC
  didn't enable the remote's keys to repeat automatically, without
  further effort, by holding keys down (or, perhaps, some setting to
  enable or disable repeating per key) I won't ever know.
* I also can't figure out how to program keys with Shift-, Alt-, or
  Control-modifications (attempts to do so result in the modifiers
  often "sticking," again, no doubt related to the endless-repeating
  issue), although I suspect this is probably an issue with training
  any learning remote with a keyboard.

Let me close the subject of remotes and keyboards with a puzzle. With
the ATrpms MythTV packaging, I can't get the keystroke-editing
function in Mythweb to work with the global keys section; any keys I
put in there don't stick. Suggestions?

Yeechang Lee <ylee at pobox.com> | +1 650 776 7763 | San Francisco CA US

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