Webcams | Computoredge | Dawn Clement

I recently came upon an article in computoredge magazine by Dawn Clement about the usefulness of webcams; it also has a lot of interesting links. The only thing that I was missing in the article was the “how to”. I was wondering how do you go about installing the webcam when I came across another article by Jack Dunning explaining just that. So I am including the first article and a link to the second just in case you are wondering about webcams yourself.

Webcams: More Useful than You Think
“From video calls to visiting outer space, have fun with Webcams.”
by Dawn Clement

A Webcam is a video-capture device connected to a computer. Originally, small cameras that attached to a computer via a cable, they have become increasingly popular. These little cameras are so ubiquitous that most modern laptops come with built-in Webcams. You may already have a Webcam and not know it! Why would you want a Webcam, you might ask? Well, they’re actually kind of fun. You can make video calls to faraway friends, play games in a whole new way, visit places you would never otherwise get to see, and create art.

There is a certain cool factor to using Webcams for video telephony. In the late 19th century, Alexander Graham Bell predicted that “the day would come when the man at the telephone would be able to see the distant person to whom he was speaking.” That prediction came true less than 100 years later. The first video telephones hit the market in the 1960s, and there are still video telephones available today. They are, however, a niche market due to their high cost. Webcams offer an inexpensive (nearly free) alternative to traditional video telephones.

Any computer with Internet access and a Webcam can be used to make video calls. All you need to do is install some software. Most messenger programs (i.e., Yahoo Messenger, AOL Instant Messenger, Windows Live Messenger, Skype, etc.) have built in support for video calling. Video calls (actually chat sessions) are easy and fun, but there are other things you can do with your Webcam.

Use your Webcam to catalog your books, CDs and DVDs. Between my husband, myself, and our three kids, we have thousands of books, hundreds of CDs, and bookshelves full of DVDs. It gets hard to keep track of everything, and we occasionally purchase an item only to realize after the fact that it’s a duplicate. There is an easy way for us (and you) to organize everything in a convenient manner. Webcams can be used to scan barcodes and create databases of books (or CDs or DVDs), which can then be used to make informed purchases. Of course, you will also need some software. Check out MediaMan and Delicious Monster.

Did you know that you can use your Webcam to play motion-controlled games online? Motion-controlled games are not new (think Wii), but the idea of using a Webcam as the control mechanism is. Who knew that simple flash games could be transformed into technological wonders? You can find free games at My Live Cam and Motion Games.

Create art with your Webcam. Performance artists the world over have adopted the Webcam as another medium to play with. For example, Noah Kalina has been taking a picture of himself with his Webcam every day since 2000. You can view all of the pictures as a slide show and see how he’s changed over the years by checking out his Web site. James Kuhn is a face painter who filmed his creations in action and posted them online. Japanese rock band Sour has created an incredible music video from Webcam clips of their fans enjoying their music. It’s definitely worth checking out. These artists’ work is truly inspiring! You can create your own art pieces with special-effects software from sites such as waves.tv and cameroid.com, or even participate in a group project at www.flickaday.com.

You can also use your Webcam for video surveillance. All you need is your computer, your Webcam and some software, such as DeskShare or Softpedia. You never know when this will come in handy. Last year in New York, when Kait Duplaga’s laptop was stolen, she used the built-in Webcam to take a picture of the thief, who was subsequently apprehended.

If you’re camera shy or don’t have a Webcam of your own, you can always watch somebody else’s. There are literally millions of Webcams out there, and some of them are actually pointed at something interesting. See active volcanoes. Watch penguins play at the Monterey Bay Aquarium or catch cute cheetahs cavorting at the National Zoo.

Visit outer space from the comfort of your own home. There are several good Webcams in space—there’s more than one on the International Space Station, there’s one on the Tate Satellite (with some great shots of the Earth) and the European Space Agency even has one on Mars.

More than likely, you’ll find certain Webcam feeds online that you want to watch regularly. To make it easy on yourself, why not consider installing a Webcam aggregator to organize your favorite feeds? Free software is available online at sites such as Ksourcerer.


Dawn Clement is a freelance writer, domestic engineer, and mother of three with a Masters of Arts in Philosophy and over nine years experience in technical support. You can find her at www.computoredge.com
And this is the link to the “how to” article by Jack Dunning: http://webserver.computoredge.com/online.mvc?article=cover&issue=2737&zone=SD&src=1 You can also do  search on their site.
“A champion is someone who gets up, even when he can’t.”  — Jack Dempsey

The Netbook Computer | Article | Dawn Clement

I just found an article that sure throws some light on the subject of netbook computers. I think you’ll find it interesting and here is an excerpt:

The Rise of the Netbook
“Small enough to fit in a purse, powerful enough for computing.”
by Dawn Clement

I’m using Google Documents to write this article on my newly acquired Acer Aspire One. These are important facts because five years ago I never would have deigned to use a computer that didn’t have an internal optical drive of some sort. These days, I’m not so sure I need an optical drive at all on a regular basis. You see, the Aspire belongs to a new class of computers called netbooks. These computers are ultra-portable laptops designed specifically for wireless communication and Internet access. They don’t need optical drives because it is assumed that the user will be accessing online services (i.e., Google Documents) instead of locally stored programs. Eliminating the optical drive and the PCMCIA slot results in a much smaller, much cheaper computer.

My Aspire has an Intel Atom N270 microprocessor with a speed of 1.6GHz, 1GB of RAM, a 160GB SATA HDD, came pre-installed with Windows XP, and cost $299. For comparison, my Dell Inspiron 9400 (yes, the same shiny new Dell that had the nasty malware problems and is now a Linux box) has an Intel Core 2 Duo processor with a speed of 2GHz, 2GB of RAM, a 120GB SATA HDD, also came pre-installed with Windows XP, and cost $1,700.

To read the whole article go to: http://webserver.computoredge.com/online.mvc?article=in1&issue=2733&zone=SD&src=1

Or go to www.computoredge.com and do a search. Enjoy!

“He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.”– Epictetus

Email Etiquette | Communication | Dawn Clement

I keep finding  excellent information that I must pass to my readers. The article below will help you to communicate better. Enjoy!

“Some Simple Rules of E-mail Etiquette” by Dawn Clement

E-mail is one of the more popular forms of modern communication. The important thing to remember here is that e-mail is, at its core, communication. If you want your e-mails to communicate for you, there are certain rules of etiquette that you should follow. Break enough rules often enough, and your e-mails will go straight into the Recycle Bin.  Since this week’s theme is e-mail, I thought it was an appropriate time to remind everyone of some simple rules of e-mail etiquette.

E-mail is not the forum for long, drawn-out prose. Reading text on a computer screen can be hard on the eyes. To get your message across, be concise and to the point. If the recipient has to scroll down, then your e-mail is probably too long. If you need to give that much detail, consider a phone call instead of e-mail. (By the same token, however, make sure you include enough detail so that your recipient knows what your message is regarding.) Also, never forget that e-mail is not private. Don’t include information in an e-mail that you do not wish to share with strangers.

An ineffective use of the “Subject” line is one of the things that annoys a lot of people. Many people sort their mail by subject line, or have messages routed to specific folders based on the subject line. Writing an appropriate subject will ensure that your e-mail is received in a timely manner. Some people even set up their mail programs to automatically delete any e-mail they receive with a blank subject line. If you’re going to go to the trouble to send someone an e-mail, make sure they receive it—use the subject line wisely!

By this point, most people know that you shouldn’t write e-mails in all capital letters because it feels like shouting. But how many realize that writing in all lower-case letters is just as bad? When you write an e-mail in all lower-case letters, you come off as uneducated or just plain lazy. Use spell checker, and read your e-mail before you send it off to check for typos and grammatical errors.  Avoid stylized fonts and colored backgrounds—they make reading an e-mail difficult, and you probably want your e-mails to actually be read.

You’ll also want to avoid sending e-mails in HTML or Rich Text format. Not everyone can view these formats, and since most spammers use HTML format, a lot of people delete those e-mails without ever opening them. Lastly, resize any pictures you are sending. Large files take up memory in people’s Inboxes, and many ISPs have e-mail size limits.

When you reply to an e-mail, try to address all issues raised. The recipient would like to know that you actually read their e-mail! If there are a lot of issues or topics covered, you can even quote the original e-mail (and edit out the full version) to carry the conversation along. This saves your reader from having to scroll up and down to find whatever you’re referring to.

Speaking of replying to e-mail—do you ever really need to hit “reply all”? Take a few seconds to edit out any addresses that don’t need to get your reply.

Did you ever stop to think that when you put multiple e-mail addresses in a message’s “To” field, you could be violating the privacy of those people? Every address in the “To” field can inadvertently be exposed to strangers who may use those addresses for their own purposes (usually spam). Be nice and use the “BCC” field instead! Put your own e-mail address in the “To” field and everyone else in the “BCC” field.

Let’s talk about forwards for a moment. I get a lot of forwarded e-mails—mostly jokes and chain letters. My least favorite type of forwarded e-mail are the chain letters that tell you to send it back to the person who sent it to you if you’re a “true friend” or some other such nonsense. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about! Most often, the recipient has to scroll down through a bunch of junk to get to the forwarded message, only to find out that they’re not interested anyway.

There are times when an e-mail really does need to be forwarded, but there are a few things to remember before you hit that “send” button. First, edit the forward; remove all other e-mail addresses, headers and commentary from any other forwarders. Next, add some sort of a personal message to the recipient telling them why you have forwarded the message. Let them know why they should bother reading the rest of the forward (especially if forwards are the majority of your communication with the recipient). Never forward an e-mail without verifying the contents first. Use a Web site such as http://www.snopes.com or http://www.urbanlegends.com to investigate any questionable e-mails you plan to send to someone else (don’t forget to edit the forward and add a personal note!).

Lastly, can we all please agree to stop forwarding  jokes and chain letters? These e-mails are a waste of time and do nothing except bog down the mail servers. Use an anonymous service like http://www.stopforwarding.us to let people know that their barrage of forwards isn’t entirely welcome.

Dawn Clementis a freelance writer, domestic engineer, and mother of three with a Masters of Arts in Philosophy and over nine years experience in technical support. She wrote this article for, Computor edge. Enjoy! http://computoredge.com

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”–Plato

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