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Over the last several years I've been dealing with various stages of disability thanks to ALS. My goal is to share solutions and review various products/tools/devices that I have found particularly helpful.

Friday, 6 December 2013

Remote PC Start up Tools & Siri proxy

This is a little project that is kept me occupied for some time now, partly to do with a few difficulties in implementation. But the idea is to allow me to remotely start my computer without having to find my way to the basement to do so.

So why would someone want to remotely start the computer? Well I download quite a bit of media which is stored on the hard drive of my desktop and I use media streaming to send this content to one of my gaming consoles so I can watch it in the comfort of my family room which is on the ground floor. My desktop PC is in the basement separated by a flight of stairs with big nasty scary teeth and with mobility issues, I don't always feel like taking the chance. Especially when the lighting conditions are a little dark. For some reason this really messes with my balance, making stairs downright hazardous at times.


I tried a couple different apps, and hit a few speed bumps on the way that were not expected. Here's what I found.

First off, the speed bumps

Every motherboard on your computer nowadays will have a wired network connection. If you go through the BIOS is just about guaranteed that it will support some sort of wake on LAN functionality. Simply enable it, and you should be good to go right?

Well, not so much.

I have an older Asus motherboard that those sales for wake on LAN. I figured this should be enough. Enabled it, set the magic package and would only work immediately after shutdown. The motherboard power savings would shut down the network connection is well after a period of time. This caused quite a bit of annoyance.

So for about $10, about it PCI express network card. This solves the problems. Once the BIOS was set, the PCI express port maintained power, even after the PC shutdown.


Secondly, not all routers will support away, and set up. In particular Linksys routers (which is what I have) don't allow you to set the subnet mask 255.255.255.255 which is required to forward the magic packet the subnet mask needs to be set to 255.255.255.128. Contact Linksys cares technical support via twitter. They were very helpful with me for sorting this out.

How does it work?

Very simply, we will be using a computer or a smart phone to send what's called a magic packet over your local area network to the desired (powered down) computer. Once you BIOSes appropriately set up, your network card essentially never sleeps and monitors the network for the appropriate magic package.

There are a couple ways to send this.

iShutdown Is probably about the easiest way to go. Simply install the app on your smart phone and then from the link here, install the service on your desired desktop. Once everything is installed, with your PC running simply search for the server via the smart phone app. It should detect it right away. This will allow you to remotely start and stop your computer and has a very nice interface. It's also very easy to monitor several computers if you so choose.

This simplicity makes it well worth the $2

Your next the best option would be to try send a magic packets with depicus.com. This is also a very good app. Works flawlessly, but is a little bit more technical as it exposes you to more of the raw details. It however also has the scanning function to find computers on your network. But what is very interesting, is that also offer a free wake on LAN packet sniffer which will allow you to view magic packets that are being sent and received by your PC. Very useful when you're setting things up to make sure things are going to the right places

This is also $2 on the App Store.

Then there is the Siri proxy… My personal favorite!

If you've already figured out how to get Siri proxy running on raspberry pie, this edition is actually really quite easy, and it's free! If you are running Debian like me. Go here for information on the install
  • open terminal and type
    aptitude install wakeonlan 
  • test the install
Once you are sending and receiving magic packets from your raspberry pie to your PC via terminal, is just a simple matter of adding the recognition block into your Siri proxy script, editing your Mac address, rebundling and restarting your Siri proxy.
#wake on LAN-------------------------------------------------
   listen_for /wake up my (computer|PC|desktop)/i do
     
    say "waking up your computer"
    system 'wakeonlan -p 7 YOUR_MAC_ADDRESS'

    request_completed #always complete your request! Otherwise the phone will "spin" at the user!
  end
And this should be enough to get your serial proxy sending magic packet.

But having set this up, if I decide to watch a movie I simply voice activate my iPhone, tell her to wake up my computer and within a minute or so the media servers visible on the network.

Very convenient, very fun. :-)

If you're looking to set up a wake on LAN, I hope this helps you set one up.

8 comments:

  1. hey nice post mehn. I love your style of blogging here. The way you writes reminds me of an equally interesting post that I read some time ago on Daniel Uyi's blog titled How I Was Able To Control The Feeling Of Restlessness .
    keep up the good work.

    Regards

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