Wifey Laptop Controller
In which I overengineer solutions to non-technical problems✍️ Jacob Mulquin
I have a terrible habit of needing some sort of light and sound playing as I go to sleep. If it's silent and/or too dark my brain just won't shut-off. It has been a habit I've had for many years and I fear it's far too entrenched for me to stop anytime soon.
Thankfully my lovely wife accepts this about me and is OK with me running a small Xubuntu laptop on my bedside table.
Annoyingly for her, I also have a habit of falling asleep relatively quickly. Usually after about 20 minutes the deep echoes of my snores fill the room. The pre-existing solution to this is for her to whack me awake and I shut the lid. I don't like doing this, she doesn't like doing this. Nobody likes this.
So what should I do, develop healthy sleep hygeine perhaps? A good idea, but not today.
What I do instead is develop a small web-app that she controls with her phone, and dip my toes into some Ruby.
Originally my plan was to make the web server in Ruby myself, but then I noticed Sinatra exists, so I did the lazy thing instead.
An hour or so of hacking and tinkering, I had a simple Ruby script that runs system commands to manipulate the laptop. It's quite impressive how easy it is to do things with Ruby/Sinatra.
As the laptop runs on my bedside, the brightness is set to lowest setting at all times. Sometimes even this feels too bright so I decided to implement "fake brightness" buttons using Redshift. One thing about the program that is frustrating is that it's really keen on the idea of you giving it a geographic location so it can automagically work out optimal screen temperature and brightness. If you want to use it as a one-shot change, things get a bit more complicated. I couldn't figure out how to get the brightness value after setting it with a one-shot command. To workaround it, I make use of two files in the
I'll probably add some other features to it down the track, a few I can think of:
- Displaying the vol/brightness values in the web-app interface
- Finegrained volume/brightness changes (currently pegged at 10%/0.1)
- Making the interface prettier
- Somehow stop the phone doing a zoom-in if a button is repeatedly tapped too fast
- Create a
systemdunit file so the Ruby server is always running
- File browser and ability to tell the laptop to play a particular bit of media (pipedream to be honest)
All in all, a fun little project. You can find the source code on Github at mulquin/wifey-laptop-controller. This should work with any Ubuntu flavour, but it may even work with other Debian based systems.