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Salling Clicker

Software transforms your Tungsten T into a Mac remote

by Shawn Barnett

Posted November 20, 2003

An unexpected innovation hit my desk recently, one of those that helps bolster my confidence in the promise of Bluetooth, the Personal Area Network we've heard so much about. It's a software application called Salling Clicker that allows a Palm Tungsten T or Sony Ericsson T68i user to remote control a Bluetooth-enabled Apple Macintosh. Seldom does an application promise a lot and deliver it so well. In fact, it even does some things better than my Mac's built-in hardware.

It was version 2.0 of Clicker that enabled the Palm Tungsten T, and it's a natural marriage. Though I have a T68i as well, which I use for mobile internet access on both my iBook and T, I haven't tried it with that; the Palm experience is so satisfying I don't know why I would. Truly, it's probably not something I'll use much, since I don't do presentations often, but for those who do it's a great tool. Powerpoint tools are basic, allowing scrolling through your slides. If your presentation has notes, as any good presentation should, they will be displayed on the handheld, so you can move around the room as you occasionally glance down at notes displayed on your remote control (in case you haven't heard, merely reading the words on your presentation slide does not make for a good impression; most audiences can read). But that's not all Clicker can help you control.

iTunes is probably its other more compelling application. You now both dance and DJ your next party from the T. Just jack your Mac into the stereo and link your T with Clicker. You can search for specific songs, albums, artists, or just set iTunes to shuffle. The current and next three songs are displayed on the Palm. You can skip songs with a tap, scroll back and forth, and raise and lower the volume all with the T's Nav disc (and it's the volume that works considerably faster than my iBook's keyboard controls). Elapsed and remaining time are counted onscreen. I can't find a scratch function, so not all DJ's will like the solution, but it's still pretty cool for impromptu parties.

Because the program can be extended by users with AppleScript, it can be used to remote control all manner of applications. Artists who use Macs in their performances will likely go completely crazy over this product.

Bundled scripts include the ability to remote control the computer's DVD player, the iPhoto app, Keynote (Apple's presentation software), and QuickTime Player. The DVD automatically pauses if you're controlling it with the T68i and a call comes in, by the way. Pretty thoughtful.

The desktop application runs as a component of the System Preferences dialog. New actions can be downloaded from the Salling Clicker website when they are available. The first one is a script that controls Indigo, an X10 controller software that will allow users to turn off the lights in their house remotely and receive messages about sensor alarms on their mobile phone, just as an example.

It's an impressive application. I was able to set it up and begin experimenting in minutes. Just another great Palm and Mac app that most Windows users will not know about (though they should look up the Pebbles PDA Project). Meanwhile Mac OS X users can have even more fun with their favorite computers for a mere US$15 (US$10 for T68i version).

-Shawn Barnett

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