Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Waste your cell phone minutes on AM radio!

Today's ghetto hack is probably one of the more ghetto hacks you'll find. It combines both the poor audio of AM radio along with the sometimes shotty quality of cell phones.
with a little bit of planning and some pretty standard free stuff we're going to use our cell phone to text our computer and have it call us back with our favorite radio station.

So you might be asking yourself why would I want to do this (like my friend Sylvia did tonight when I explained this set up to her) for me there are two very simple explanations. 1. my company pays for my cell phone and 2. sometimes I get tricked into going to the mall with my wife and I don't have my IPOD or any other means of keeping myself entertained.

What you'll need

An Email program that supports 'call application' function, I use Eudora since I have this set up on my server
command line plug in for winamp I use CLEveR
the url of a radio station you want to hear, talk radio probably sounds best Mike's World Radio is a good resource

once you have all of the necessary software installed on your machine, I bet you probably had at least two of them already, we'll just need to do a little tweaking.
The basic premise of the hack is that we will send a predetermined message to our mail client , it will run a batch file which will run Skype and winamp. Here is how we'll set it up.

Because it takes Winamp a second to open and connect to a url we'll have it start first, this way it has a head start before Skype calls us. The command we'll use for Winamp, via CLEveR is
C:\Program Files\winamp\winamp.exe play you'll insert your url after the play command
It turns out that Skype can run via a command line or at least it can dial via a command line so we'll want to include this function in a batch file. The command is
C:\Program Files\skype\phone\skype.exe /callto:+14085551234 obviously you'll insert your cell phone number after the callto:+

so mix them together and it looks like this

@echo off
CD C:\Program Files
Skype\Phone\Skype.exe /callto:+16502698236

CD C:\Program Files
winamp\winamp.exe play

Again remember these are ghetto hacks, I have no programming knowledge so this little bit of batchery might be ugly to someone who knows that they're doing!
copy the text above and paste it into notepad, then save the file as a .bat file and put it somewhere you can find it later.

Next we'll want to set up a rule so our email client will recognize the command and run our batch file for us. The command I use is "Run KFI" since the url I have listed is for LA talk station KFI. Anytime the phrase appears in the subject line from my cell phone it will run our batch file.

Lastly and most ghetto, we need a way to get the audio out of winamp and into Skype. I used a male male headphone cable I had lying around. I simply ran one end of the cable from the headphone jack out on the sound card into the microphone in. You may want to tweak the EQ and audio level a little. I've found talk radio sounds best, but of course you could have any station you want. As a matter of fact you could set up as many stations as you want each with a different subject line and batch script.

Now we can text send the command to our email client, it will run the batch script, open winamp, play our url then open Skype and call our cellphone. It usually takes a minute or so for the call back, of course my computer is about 10 years old so you may get the call quicker than that.

Another maybe more practical use of this set up is to not use Winamp at all but set up a microphone instead, this way you could have your PC call you silently and basically bug your house.


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