As both daddy and mommy needs to work during the day, grandma is the one that takes care of WZ during weekdays. WZ usually just runs around the house, but ever since mommy showed WZ The Lion King, he started to ask to watch the movie, usually by picking up the DVD box and shoving it into the face of whoever he sees. Now here's the problem, my mother isn't computer literate, so she can't work the main computer downstairs to play the DVD, as well as various other videos that can keep WZ occupied. At first I tried creating shortcuts to the video files then assigning shortcut-keys to them ie. Ctrl-Alt-X for Lion King. Ctrl-Alt-Y for something else, but the problem was that the keys gets disabled when the video player came up, so it was hard for my mother to change to another clip while one was already playing.
So I needed a foolproof of allowing my mother to run the videos with a simple push of a button, yet doesn't conflict with anything that's currently running on the system.
The first thing I needed to search for was the buttons which my mother would push to bring up the videos. For that I got this.
The Genius Navigator 365 Laser mouse Of course if this was JUST another mouse, I wouldn't have bought it, it obviously has a nifty trick.
It opens up to be a joypad! Plenty of buttons that I can use to map to shortcuts of the video files, and also since a joystick doesn't have any real purpose in normal Windows operations, whatever shortcuts I wire to it wouldn't interfere with anything.
Of course I needed software to respond to the button presses and bring up the files. For that I turned to GlovePIE. The trusted input scripting solution already used by many many Wiimote hackers and other devices. GlovePIE basically allows you to write a script so that whatever input device you're listening in on can be used to do stuff it wasn't intended to like.. using a joystick to control the mouse, mapping key commands to joystick buttons, and of course.. executing files when certain buttons are pressed. Which is exactly what I needed, so I just quickly whipped up a script so that when a button is pressed a video plays. And everything just works!
Why didn't I create a menuing system, or rely on Windows Media Center? Because my end user is my mother that has absolutely no idea on how to work a computer. I don't want anything which I was running previously on the system to interfere with her gaining access to the controls, also she would have no idea what went wrong if it did so this solutions works the best for her.
Now when WZ is old enough to understand how to make menu choices.. that's when I'll make the menu selector! ;)