I’m as helpless as a kitten up a tree

If you’ve visited the Leoville Pix page lately you may have noticed I’ve redesigned it. There are now four cams to choose from, each displayed in its own automatically refreshing window.
The original Screen Savers cam and my home office cam are unchanged. They’re both 3COM HomeConnect USB cameras connected to desktop computers running WebCam32 from SurveyorCorp. Over the years I’ve increased the size of the pictures to 320×240 and upped the refresh rate to 10 seconds to accomodate users with faster connections. But the 3COM cams are USB and don’t do a great job especially with typical office lighting.

I just found an amazing Macintosh program that really blows away the competition. Oculus 3.1 ($20 shareware from International Web, Inc.) has every feature I’d want in a webcam and then some. It supports any cam that works with Quicktime and has a VDIG driver. I’m using it with my Canon DV camera over Firewire and the image quality is noticably better.

Oculus can also capture the computer’s screen, so I’ve added a screen capture window for the truly nosy. There are many other features, including amazing captioning capabilities. Look at my iBook cam to see the clock and weather extensions combined with a standard text caption. The weather automatically updates itself from NOAA. If the camera is off the captions are replaced by an inactive message. But here’s an example of what it looks like when it’s live:

ibookcam (26k image)

I can also use it to detect motion or sound, and to create time lapse movies. I’ll give that a try down the road. Since Oculus is written for OS X (there’s a MacOS 9 version, too) it runs in the background perfectly and undetectably. I only wish there were a Windows program as good. If you know of one let me know!

14 Replies to “I’m as helpless as a kitten up a tree”

  1. Leo..
    I like the new set up for your web cam…especially the IBOOK which tells time and temp. 55^ temp where u are at…wow. Its 10 here…..I want spring now that Christmas is over.

  2. P.S.
    It works just fine running in the background in Classic mode. Guess I’ll stick with that for now. 🙂

  3. I love that you continue to give props to the Mac. I have the same iBook as you do, and love it. I got your book for Christmas, and love the Mac/Linux tips. There is something for everyone in this book. Awesome job Leo! : )

  4. Why fight Big Bro when you can invite him into your home and tell him everything he needs to know?
    Be sure to keep us updated on the news from Eurasia, uh, I mean Afghanistan, Mr. Laporte.

  5. Leo,
    I just got back from deployment (I am in the navy) and my wife was taping the screen savers and mailing them to us while we were in Itialy and Bosnia. Just wanted to say thanks for making the 6 months go by faster and for all the computer help we got just by watching the show.

  6. Leo,
    I set up Oculus on my iBook also, but it doesn’t recognize the 3com USB cam I have…probably because the ViCam software runs in Classic mode and I’m using Oculus in OSX. I found a somewhat doable work-around for this is to use the screen capture capabilities in Oculus to capture the webcam monitor window on the desktop (using the cropping feature). This is fine unless you want to actually use the computer for something else at the same time.
    I guess I should just give in and buy a different camera. The portability with a laptop is just too cool. Now if I could just get wireless access at the beach…

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