Random Hall has this wonderful thing called the Alice and Wonderland basement, lovingly referred to as AIW. It has a projector, a screen on the wall, couches, and various media equipment. Unfortunately, the receiver is out of service at the moment, which means that the nice Bose speakers are similarly incapacitated.

Zev, a Random Hall alumni, decided it would be a great idea to watch some 80s fantasy films–Labyrinth, Dark Crystal, Willow, etc. This was, I must agree, a pretty quality plan. (Bow down before the might of David Bowie’s pants!) He also really wanted to use something better than a set of laptop speakers. And here begins our tale.

Plan Alpha: use the large subwoofer that also happens to be down in AIW to run audio to the smaller set of Bose speakers.

Plan Alpha, unfortunately, was a failure for undetermined reasons.

Plan Beta: use a series of adapters to convert from 3.5mm headphone jack to RCA back to 3.5mm headphone jack to the 1/2″ audio jack the larger Bose speakers use. The result was powering and driving audio to the Bose speakers with a ThinkPad X31.

This didn’t entirely solve our problem because the X31s don’t have CD drives and the Bose speakers are in the front of the room, distant from the DVD player. We didn’t have audio cabling long enough to go from DVD player to computer. But you know what we did have enough of? Cat5.

So we got ahold of another X31, ran the audio from the DVD player, through the projector to get a 3.5mm jack output, ran that through the first laptop, streamed it over ethernet to the second laptop, and drove the audio out to the speakers.

It was truly a thing of beauty. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite work. The stream was just the raw audio data because neither I nor zev knew the correct black magic incantation to get mplayer to do it, and the audio was clipping pretty badly. It was still the most amazing hacked up solution for a stupid problem I have ever seen.