I've never seen a laptop start on IR before, or even wake on it. The remote contorl is cool, but was probably designed for that purpose in mind. Lucky you :-). I'll test my top wiht a PPC. I was thinking of doing that and expanding it with an auto start off a PPC. start the car, walk over, everythins' up when i open the door, dock the PPC, transfer my notes from class.
The screen open thing uses a photocell, alteast it does on mine, but mine is a very special laptop (IBM transnote). The easiest way to do it is not to run a switch from the laptop, but run an small, thin LED to the laptop. I may do that with mine if the packet idea doesn't work.
my top standby's for 4 days. Why don't you have a switch from your inverter or power cable to it doesn't drain the battery of the car, but the battery of the top? The worse that can happen is that it hibernates.