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WebCam Woes and More

I want to start out by thanking wickenburg-az.com supporters, including, most recently, Stephen Murphy, who donated $100 toward a new WebCam.

Those of you who enjoy the WebCam feature on wickenburg-az.com have probably noticed that our wireless WebCam, which was less than a year old, died. It simply stopped sending signals to the wireless base station and Internet. This is the second time one of these cameras failed—the first time, the camera was only a week old, so I had it replaced for free—and it’s pretty safe to assume that I won’t be throwing away money on another one.

Meanwhile, the image on the Logitech QuickCam that had been our faithful WebCam for over a year was deteriorating terribly. I had an Apple iSight camera, which is a much better (and more expensive!) camera and was loathe to sacrifice it to the Web site. You see, keeping a camera’s lens open all day to take photos (which is how a WebCam works) subjects the camera’s lens to the bright sunlight Arizona’s residents enjoy. That’s what killed the QuickCam’s lens. I didn’t want to kill the iSight’s lens.

Apple to the rescue! I’ve been doing appearances at Apple Stores throughout the Southwest to promote my recently published Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger: Visual QuickStart Guide book. To show its appreciation for these unpaid appearances, Apple offered to give me a Mac Mini—Apple’s new, low-cost computer. The last thing in the world that I need is another computer—my office is full of them!—so I turned it down. But I told them I wouldn’t mind getting a new iSight camera. Done!

SaguaroCam2I replaced the Web site’s QuickCam with my old iSight. That’s the image you see now. Unfortunately, it needs some tweaking and that’s a whole other struggle; the WebCam software has been giving me some problems. So although the current image is better than the old one, it still isn’t as good as it can be. I hope to fix it when I’m back in Wickenburg next week.

The biggest complaint—if I can use such a strong word—that I get from site visitors is that the WebCam’s image isn’t very interesting. I agree—to a point. Seeing the sky and distant mountains gives a pretty good idea of what the weather is, and that can be interesting, especially during monsoon season, which is now upon us. I’d like to add a few more WebCams that show images of downtown, inside shops or restaurants, or the airport. Although I’ve tried several times to get local businesses interested in hosting a WebCam, none have responded. Seems to me that a local business should be eager to get free publicity for their business on the Home page of one of the town’s most popular local information sites. I’m not even asking them to buy the camera or software; site supporters have provided the funds. All I need is a computer with an always-on connection to the Internet. I’ll install the software and camera and configure it. Heck, they can even change the camera’s view to have it point wherever they like. What’s the problem? Can’t local business people think outside the box?

Of course, the offer is open to non-businesses, too. Local computer users can show off the view out their windows. And if they already have a WebCam in place, it doesn’t take much additional effort—and no additional money—to have the updated image sent to wickenburg-az.com for publication on the site.

So that’s where we stand. I have $100 to spend on a new WebCam, but no one to host it. If you’re interested in hosting a WebCam at your home or business, visit the SaguaroCam page for details.

Please bear with me as I rework the WebCam feature to make it more interesting. And thanks again to site supporters for their contributions for this feature.

Last 5 posts by Maria Langer

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