Shut Up, Shut Up, Shut Up!

So, as I mentioned last night I got my Mac Mini installed in my car. Voice control works, usually. I need a much better microphone, and I need it mounted and I need some noise cancelling stuff but it works. I can definitely select music.

To go back a bit, before I started this project, what I really wanted to do was build something so that I could hook my iPod to my car and be able to browse/play/control it from the head unit. To do that I was going to need to figure out the protocols and such for displaying text on the console of the car and so far no one else has done that. I was also probably going to need to buy a Mini Disc player for the car (to reverse engineer) and have my radio pulled for a few weeks while I figured it out.

So, with that sounding like a bummer I remembered one day (after a bit of prompting from Jono) how great the voice recognition is in OS X. That day I decided I would buy a Mac Mini, write some voice control software and do music that way. So that’s how I got to today.

Well, yesterday I found out that the same guys that made the little module I use to get audio into my car will be releasing a new module in January with full Car PC support. It has a serial port and sends all commands it gets from the head unit (next, previous, random, repeat, etc.) to the serial port as well as letting you set text on the console! So, once that is released I’ll really be able to integrate my Mac and I don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars and hundreds of hours of time reverse engineering it. I do have to wait a month and a half though, which is almost as bad in my book.

So anyway, it’s installed and working. When I start my car the Mac wakes up and iTunes starts playing where it left off. It takes about 5 seconds. About the same as my CD player did, so it’s pretty seamless. When I turn the car off the Mac goes to sleep. Draws about 100ma while sleeping which isn’t bad at all.

Right now I have just strung a microphone up to the driver side visor until I decide what mic I am going to use and where to permanently mount it but with that microphone I can browse my entire iTunes library and pick any artist, album or song to play. I don’t have next/previous support yet, which sucks, but it’s just a matter of writing the software.

The coolest thing so far though is that I installed MacStumbler (on Adam’s prompting) last night and turned on it’s option to speak the names of access points it finds. So sitting in my driveway I hear:
Found access point
Found access point netGEAR

Driving down my street I heard two more netGEARs and a few Linksys. Driving to work this morning I heard no less than 30 access points and for anyone keeping track, Linksys seems to be the most common one.

MacStumbler supports keeping a log of open access points with GPS coordinates if you hook one up, so that’s what I’ll do tonight. With that log and a day of driving I could easily make a map of open access points in Kansas City. Mmmmm.

In the near future I want to install an iSight and bury it somewhere in the front of the car so I can make videos of my driving like an idiot on the highways of Kansas. Plus once I get all the access point stuff figured out I’ll be able to see where my car is parked if it gets stolen! Hooray!

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