Hardware Mute Hack


A headphone jack with no headphones - perfect to act as a hardware mute buttonI have a lovely Dell Precision M70 as my main development machine. It's a notebook so is great for when I am travelling around and has more than enough grunt to handle a few VMWare images running at once for cross-platform demos etc. The only complaint I have about it is a common one with laptops - there is no hardware volume control. There are buttons that control the volume but these link into a software volume control (which amazingly even work in Ubuntu Linux complete with a nice screen overlay showing you the current volume setting).

At my office I will quite often have the volume up pretty loud so that I can hear incoming messages etc. This is fine until I take my laptop mobile and then decide to switch it on while sat in the audience of a quiet presentation - the windows start music always blares out before I the software loads to control the volume allowing me to mute the sound.

An advantage of travelling on transatlantic flights is that most airlines give away a pair of cheap headphones so you can watch the in-flight movie. I'd collected a couple of pairs of these headphones and so this morning I snipped the headphones off a pair to leave me with the headphone jack. Plug it into the headphone socket and the sound is muted. A simple and cheap way to add a hardware mute control to my laptop courtesy of American Airlines. If I had left the headphones attached then it would have also doubled up as a pair of headphones - but it seemed like a good idea at the time.


Yeah, I've thought of doing something like this several times for my dell. I think I have some old plugs around here somewhere. I've been getting better about remembering to mute the darn thing before leaving the office, but I still forget on occasion.

Have you misspelt the word 'collected' in this article?
I believe in the context you have used it, the word should be spelt S-T-O-L-E-N :)


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