Scott Hanselman

Optimus Mini Three Keyboard and Windows Vista SideShow

January 18, 2007 Comment on this post [5] Posted in Tools
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Golly, it sure seems to me that the Optimus Mini Three Keyboard (ThinkGeek - ORDERED) would really suit Windows Vista SideShow very nicely. SideShow is Vista direct support for "helper displays." That might be three lines of LCD text on the back of a laptop on standby, or it might be a 320x240 color screen on your wall talking bluetooth. It'll certainly make Continuous Integration build monitors fun to write. :)

Of course McLaws is already over the general SideShow idea, and the the list is obvious. As SideShow APIs are fairly clear (MSDN) and the SideShow blog is very active, so I predict a LOT of motion in this direction soon.

Here's some ideas on what needs to be written:

  • SideShow adapters for Ceiva picture frames. Actually, this is a great idea. I think I'll start with this guy's Serial Port adapter for Ceiva, and flash my old picture frame with Linux, then write the SideShow stuff in C#.
  • SideShow using your PocketPC or SmartPhone as the display, over Bluetooth or WiFi.
  • A user-written XNA game for 360, where the XBox360 itself is the SideShow display.
  • Making a CrystalFontz LCD work with SideShow. Hm...I've got one of these lying around. I don't think there's a minimum device standard.
  • SideShow for the Optimus Mini-Three...this would ROCK. That'll be worked on this weekend...
  • I wonder if I can control the LCD on my Canon Pixma m550 Printer?
  • How long until Logitech updates the G15? They're obviously working on it - they'd be incredibly short sighted not to - it's too bad they haven't jumped in earlier with beta stuff.
  • There will be better Remotes that'll do it, but too bad my Harmony 880 Remote isn't wireless...

If your a company and you've got a cool device, email me, and let's talk about getting SideShow to talk to it, and I'll do a Coding4Fun article on SideShow. If you're the SideShow team, let me know what device isn't done yet, and I'll do it.

One very lovely thing to note about SideShow that will enable all sorts of crazy nonsense - from the docs:

The Sideshow platform is connection agnostic. It doesn’t matter whether an auxiliary display is connected through USB, Bluetooth, TCP/IP, or other future protocols, as long as the appropriate user mode Sideshow transport driver is present. is starting to collect news on all things SideShowy. Any other ideas on crazy SideShow stuff?

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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January 18, 2007 15:03
It would be really great to make a sideshow with the optimus and make it a context sensitive shortcut panel.

So when I'm in visual studio i have "Build", "Debug" and "run".
And when I'm in some other program i get new shortcut keys for that program....
January 18, 2007 16:19
Currently, it is impossible to write an XNA application that uses the Sideshow on the Xbox 360. You currently can not deploy any other assemblies to the 360 except the project files.
January 19, 2007 9:32
January 23, 2007 12:31
Klaus, you don't need Sideshow to get that feature working with the Optimus. It's drivers already support application specific shortcuts and you can bind them to keystrokes.

I have had one of these since October 2006 and it is sure a fun accessory to play with. The version 1 keypads have a little squeal when you crank up the brightness, but it is tolerable. The manufacturer has several starting projects (even for .net) that you can start writing plug-ins with or a template to access the device through the serial drivers.
January 24, 2007 0:58
Hey Scott,

I just got mine from ThinkGeek but it seems it doesn't work with Windows Vista? I was hoping to write a SideShow app for it based on your post, but that will be difficult if you can't connect it to Vista. :)

Do you know of a workaround? Otherwise I think I'll be returning this.


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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.