Today’s tool is not software, although it’s all about technology – two different flavors, in fact.

Tools are meant to solve problems.  The problem you’re potentially facing is that you can’t tell if your remote control is working.  Might be a remote control for the TV, or a DVD player, but not a car.  Car remotes work on radio frequency (RF) technology.  TV remotes work on infra-red (IR).

And just as people can’t detect RF signals (except if you’re Lucy picking up a radio station through her filling), people cannot see IR radiation.  If your remote doesn’t work, there’s no easy way to tell if it’s the batteries going dead, or if the remote is in some funky mode, or what.

Until now.  Now it’s easy to tell if the batteries are good or not, by using your cell phone.

No, silly, you don’t call the remote.  You use the camera and take a picture of the business end of the remote.  You don’t even have to snap the picture.  You can just aim the remote at the camera lens and press a button on the remote.  On the camera viewfinder, the LED will light up.  It’s outside of the visible range, so you can’t see it directly, but you can watch the output from it.

Some people get fancy and test the questionable remote with a known good one to verify that the camera is working.  This is known as the “belt and suspenders” method.

Any way you want to do it, this tip will keep you from scrambling for more batteries until you know for sure that you need them.

(pix from safoocat and westy48, who is actually demonstrating that one remote works and one doesn’t.  The “belt-and-suspenders” idea is mine, and not a bad one for the very first time you try this out [if I do say so myself].)