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An Alternative to NetMeeting- critique

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    An Alternative to NetMeeting- critique

    I've been using NetMeeting to obtain a remote display from my HS system running XP. That PC's VGA output goes to the TV set as video. Because I don't want to disrupt the normal display while viewing the PC's screen with another PC's display, I cannot use RemoteDesktop in XP. Netmeeting leaves the normal desktop alone during the connection.

    Netmeeting is kind of doggy - doesn't remember login/password of last session, forces you to deselect the link to MSN, etc.

    PS: the code size is very small.

    So I happened upon
    with a program called Remote PC. $35. Free limited duration trial. I downloaded it and it was running in 3 minutes. Simple. Install the server on the target PC and the client on the PC which is controlling. Create a username/password on the server. Run the client and enter the IP address of the target. That's it.

    Runs a bit faster than Netmeeting. Mouse/keyboad seem to work fine. In Netmeeting, I noticed that when the remote pc's screen is displaying jpeg's and the like, the quality on the local PC is terrible. Not so with Remote PC.

    It uses one port and that number can be set as you wish. I think Netmeeting uses several ports.

    So, based on 2 hours of use - seems worth the $ to me. If you have the same display preservation need I have.

    How are you doing the PC to TV connection? I'd like to do something like this as well.


    I've been using NetMeeting to obtain a remote display from my HS system running XP. That PC's VGA output goes to the TV set as video. Because I don't want to disrupt the normal display while viewing the PC's screen with another PC's display, I cannot use RemoteDesktop in XP. Netmeeting leaves the normal desktop alone during the connection.


      PC to TV is a $60 (on eBay) SVGA to video converter box. "TVator" brand.

      The converter outputs composite video on an RCA plug and also S-Video. I connect to the Aux video in on my TV set via a 74 foot long coax cable.

      I run my PC at 800 x 600 pixels. I started at 640 x 480 but found that 800 x 600 worked well through the box. And my window sizes are 800 x 600. You can also run the video from the converter to a channel modulator ($70 at Channel Plus). And mix this onto the home's cable tv at an unused cable channel say 51. I prefer just pressing the AUX Video button on the TV remote.

      Many of the new Video cards for PCs have a "Video out" option - which I guess would produce a video signal so you wouldn't need the box. Not sure about 800 x 600 mode, etc.

      My software creates all displays on the PC with Aeriel Bold font at 14 pt and larger. This is as small as you can go. Un-bold is hard to see. Also have to avoid color for small-ish fonts. Black on white or vice versa. If S-VIDEO, you can use more color and smaller font than if composite video.

      My software runs on my HS PC along with HS. It creates many display types for the TV. The TV's remote is used to change what's displayed, and to scroll down on a large display. The TV Remote gets to the PC as follows. A $35 "irMan" device receives the IR from the TV remote and sends it to a serial port on the PC. My software analyzes what buttons were pressed on the remote and alters what is displayed or scrolls the display. I have a system of menus which you can view and select the desired display, using the TV remote.

      Actually - I couldn't get a serial cable from the PC to the TV due to the construction of the walls. So I used an "EzRemote" thingie which receives the IR at the TV and sends it through the AC power wires to an IR emitter near the PC. This emitter illuminates the IR receiver on the "irMan" receiver. Contorted. But it works. Someday I'll dig a trench for the wires - since the attic route is blocked. The power wiring IR extension approach is X10 compatible.

      The software is a VB program. It uses the Microsoft HTML viewer COM object - so in my 800 x 600 window I can show any HTML from any website I want. KInda like Internet Explorere without the user interface and totally controlled by my program.

      What do I display on the TV?
      TV show listings for the channels we like. The most current 3 hours are displayed. I have a program which downloads the TV listings for our favorite channels from GIST and reformats this to larger fonts, etc, and saves it as HTML. The display program then shows it when you choose it from a menu. You can scroll to see the next 3 hours.

      Other menu items are numerous Internet WebCams in places of interest to us - like Morro Bay, Paris, Venice, Moscow, and the local WebCams in San Diego's beaches. Kinda fun.

      And I have software to get and reformat for display the current and forecast weather for cities of interest.

      And other stuff.

      If anyone's interested in this huge pile of software, I can furnish it.

      here are two screen shots:

      [This message was edited by Stevech on Monday, 09 September 2002 at 12:40 AM.]
      Attached Files


        I'd be interested in the software. I have a similar set up, with a PC-TV converter. The video feed is straight into the lounge TV and I have a UHF modulator (an old VCR) sending it round the rest of the house on coax for viewing on other TVs. Using the VCR also allows me to have (mono) sound at all the TVs from the HS PC.

        Am I right in thinking that this software will allow Homevision style screens that devices and events can be run from aswell as viewed. Could it be controlled through the IR capabilities of the Ocelot? (HS can detect IR 'matches' through the Ocelot for use as event triggers).

        Only thing is my HS box is a bit archaeic. Its only a 233 with 64Mb running 98SE. The screenshots look like XP or something. Will it work on 98SE?



          Have you tried VNC (Virtual Network Connection) to connect to your HS server? It works over the network/internet, has cross platform support and is totally FREE!!!

          I use this to connect to both my firewall & Homeseer server from my main PC. Take a look at



            Ever since I got my Pronto in the HA mix I've been looking to do that same. I have a IR receiver (about 15 feet) on top of the tv plugged into an Ocelot. I got some generic codes from that were different from my Media equipment and use them for trigger ir codes. So for instance Code 1 is living room is lights on. I then have the ocelot read the IR event and turn on the light. Next step is to be able to run HS events.

            After that I was going to use a TV out hw to show the PC on the tv. Started writing the app in VB so I could control all the screens and navigation and integration with HS and the net.

            I am going to create a generic menu system on the pronto and the use a numbering system to match what functions are available on the PC/TV screen at the time. So if the app is on the Control Lights page and there is a option "Button 1 - Den Light On" then pressing Button 1 on the Pronto will select that. The Pronto is static the PC/TV is dynamic. Hope I explained that correctly.

            It would be great to see your code for ideas. Anything I complete I would gladly send back your way.

            Lots of potential and like I said the Killer app.

            - Tom


              The IR to PC link in my setup (shown above) is super simple. The $35 IR man sends a unique code to the PC's serial port for each key on the IR remote. So my software just accepts these codes and decides what to do based on what key was pushed or held down for a repeated code.

              So far, my software does not output IR commands. About the only reason I have for this is to jump the TV to the desired channel while browsing the TV guide on screen. But, this is a lot of work to avoid just seeing some channel numeber of interest in the displayed guide, then hitting that number on the remote.

              I'm not into PC controlled stereo stuff.

              So, I don't need anything more elaborate that irMan. And my program just ignores the routine TV remote IR keys - when people are channel surfing. My remote has VCR buttons on it which we don't ever really use - so these are used to control my software and the PC display. You could get fancier and share the remote's buttons based on a mode in software.

              Email me if anyone wants the source code. I will have to decide if I should clean it up before sending it out based on how many people want it. It's in VB6.

              Hardware needed to run this software:
              irMan - $35
              -Spare serial port on PC (or USB to serial)
              -For the TV guide thing - you'll need always on internet access (I have a cable modem). And the PC must be on the internet (direct or router)
              - Optional IR extender - if the irMan cannot be cabled from the TV area to the PC, as is my situation. So I use EZremote to haul the IR over the AC power line. Better choice is $50 IR extender using cable TV coax. Wireless IR extender I tried was too noisy.
              - PC SVGA to TV, either via a $70 modulator for cable/UHF channel or as I do, an SVGA to NTSC/PAL video (composite or SVHS) and a cable over to the PC.
              - I run this on a 400MHz PC. It's fine. It used to run on a 120MHz laptop - which was OK but it had only 32MB of RAM and the webcam JAVA VM overwhelmed the laptop's small memory (max'ed out)

              The main issue is that you cannot display a normal web site - the fonts are too small. That's why my program reformats things like the TV listings from GIST. I don't reformat the webcams because we don't read the text!

              You could display HomeSeer if you use, say, FrontPage to make an ASP or other HTML file to present the HomeSeer status in larger fonts. Or maybe diddle the HomeSeer cascading styles.

              My spousal unit complains loudly when this system's guide or webcam views are busted.


              [This message was edited by Stevech on Tuesday, 17 September 2002 at 11:03 PM.]


                Stevech -
                I'm interested in the code for your TV display application. Let me know where can I download it.
                Thanks -



                  Carlos - The code is grubby. I can send it to you by email. I need to write an overview of it though. You'll need:
                  DSL or Cable modem (for TV listings)
                  HomeSeer (optional)
                  Dallas 1Wire temperature sensors (Optional)
                  irMan Infrared receiver $35. TV display needs it.
                  Means to get your PC to display on a TV, such as SVGA to NTSC converter or TV-out on your PC.

                  Still with it?


                    I'm currently checking out good PC-TV devices and have my pronto all setup.

                    So I'd be interested in what you've done. Of course anything I come up with will be available to the HS public.