Today’s Kwick Tech Kwiz

I am looking at the installation/setup instructions for a new Thing I’m testing out. Verbatim, from the section entitled “What to Expect During Setup”:

Set aside at least 30 minutes to set up [name redacted].

1. Gather the make and model of all the devices to be used with [redacted].

2. Install the software.

3. Create an account.

4. Enter device information.

5. Set up Activities.

6. Update and adjust [name redacted].

So! Is this device (a) A new cellphone with software that syncs its data with your desktop PIM software? (b) An ethernet-to-USB bridge that makes your scanners, hard drives, printers, etc. available to all users on your network? Or is it (c) A TV remote control?

It can’t be (c), right? Because that’d be silly.

21 thoughts on “Today’s Kwick Tech Kwiz

  1. Jim

    Sounds like a Harmony brand remote control to me.

    I get a free one as a prize for being the first one to guess correctly, right?

  2. Albert Deschesne

    Awwww man! I was gonna guess a Harmony remote… Oh well, glad you like our fonts, Andy! I enjoy reading and listening to you on Macbreak and TWIT as well!

  3. STrRedWolf

    I had to reply.

    A) Um, with Bluetooth prevalent, phones like this are a dime a dozen… if they were that cheap to being with. Oh my aching Nokia 6102i which now has a big black splotch of dead pixels. :( Nope.

    B) USB over IP? Been there, done that. Needs a special USB driver everywhere, and common ethernet isn’t that fast. You need GigE just to get the right speed to do things. Possible, but it hasn’t been pulled off yet.

    C) A TV remote control. This actually is more feasable, and with a USB interface for programming it much more likely. You tell it you have an old Sharp 19″ TV, a Verizon FiOS cable box, a Panasonic VCR, a Neuros OSD w/USB hard drive, and a 5.5G iPod in a specialized dock that makes accessing and playing all the music just like AppleTV or Front Row. Zap it over to the remote, and you’re done. No codes to tap into the remote, the interface is much easier…

    …damn, I want one of those. Tell us more, Uncle Andy!!! :D

  4. Ihnatko Post author

    Yes, indeed: Harmony One remote. Still isn’t working 100% right but I like its diagnostics.

    Press button for “Watch TV.” But the TV isn’t on. Press “Help” button.

    “Is the TV on?” the screen asks. I press No. Suddenly, the TV pops on.

    “Is it on now?”


    “Did that solve the problem?”


  5. Corey

    Second the Harmony Remote. Setup is a bit onerous, but once you get through it you’re set for the duration. I’m very fond of mine.

  6. Blake

    I have the Harmony remote. It took several hours to get it just right but it was SO worth it. Eliminated 5 remotes.

  7. Charlie

    It *is* the Harmony Remote. I just purchased one two weeks ago and in fact was tweaking my Apple TV settings today – getting ready for the upcoming “Rent-a-thon”. (If only I had exactly 25 hours and 37 minutes to watch my rented movies, then my life would be sweet. My pet gerbils require watering making 24 hours a non-starter.)

    BTW, thirty minutes is not enough. An entire afternoon is required. Then many updates and revisions to get it operating exactly like you want it.

  8. Kenny

    Thought that looked like a Harmony setup. Too bad the PS3 doesn’t have IR, otherwise I’d still only need one remote.

  9. Lamar

    When I returned my Harmony remote to the store from which I purchased it, they asked me why I was returning it. My response was that the thing included everything except the doctorate from MIT required to set it up.

  10. Randy

    Love the Harmony remotes. Another fine Canadian product (Logitech bought out the original manufacturer).

    It takes a while to set up the first one the first time, but it gets easier if you ever have to do it again, and the simplification is sooo worth it. Everyone in the house can now get the home theatre system working every time.

  11. Dave M.

    I love my Harmony universal remote. One button press allows me to control every device in my home entertainment system, even my MacBook which I use for Front Row. It does take a bit of fiddling to get it setup just the way you want it. ;)

  12. Rusty B

    I absolutely love my Harmony remotes (I have 2) and recommend them to everyone. I lust after that Harmony One though, it looks so sleek and sexy. Let us know how the buttons feel as with the more recent Harmony remotes have gone to a sort of “clicky” kind of button instead of the better rubbery feel of past remotes. I personally loved the older remotes and their hardened rubber buttons. The software can be a chore sometimes but this remote is the ultimate answer to complaints from the wife or girlfriend that your setup is too complicated.

  13. kevin

    I received one for Christmas and love it. I’m up to 11 devices on it. Other than my XM inno it performs as well as included remotes. Hated looking behind dusty tv’s and such, but it is nice to have all the model numbers in one place. Even though I don’t know why you would need them unless you got robbed or something.

  14. JohnO

    Harmony Remote: One of the most anticipated, then most frustrating devices ever purchased!

    The on-line database only had 30% of my components, and I felt severely restricted by the programming. I much prefer the old-school learning remotes. I returned it after giving it one week.

    Anyway, one year later, I bought another (since the concept is so wonderful) and the UI had smoothed out, and the database was better. Still, not a very Mac friendly application, as it dumped two folders in my home directory without asking.

    True remote control geeks need to high tail it over to

  15. Ihnatko Post author

    This is the brand new one announced at CES a couple of weeks ago…the one that won’t be available for another couple of weeks yet.

    Nice bit of gear. Setup is indeed a minor hassle, but it’s the first $250 remote that makes me believe it might actually earn its pay (though (a) I’ve only just begin to play with it, and (b) you’re either the sort of person who won’t blink at spending $250 on a remote, or else you’re not.

  16. RM

    The Harmony (even without the given options, or knowledge of a new release, step one would be a give-away to any owner) is a great tool for a geek’s Home theater, but it’s real and indispensable value is as a tool for a geek’s social life. My previous solution was something I had managed to work down to only two remotes. I have smart friends. I can’t think of any of them who don’t have at least one secondary level degree. They were fully stymied by my system. I made macros on the remote for them. It did not help. The harmony actually allows people to lose their intimidation about my living room, and that’s huge. And it allowed me to make a gordian knot of 13 different AV components seem like they were meant to work together.

    It seems like every AV geek I know has a spouse or parent, or somebody who they bought a Harmony for. It’s too pricy for Logitech to actually market it as a gift, but really, it explains half of its appeal. (also, their phone support is pretty darn good, which is to say, people accept it as a substitute for people calling YOU for tech support.)

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