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June 22, 2004 20:24
The bear and the puppy have fresh batteries again, so play away. They're in the garage in case you can't find them.
For those of you running cams, you are allowed ONE line for captions. Filling the entire image up with content that is available on the site is kinda pointless. Also, if you insist on leaving your cam on 24/7 and your cam has the ability to die and give us the blue screen, please take off any text captions that are dynamic (like the time). The system will automatically deactivate any cams that don't change for a period of time, but a changing caption will screw that up. In case you're confused, things you don't need on your cam are the following: The cam name (it's already specified on the page), the time (I plan to display the local time for the cam at the top of the page, making it redundant on the image), any other information that's already available on the site. Since I know some cams are duplicated on other sites, I'll let you use one line for anything you wish, but lets cut down on the clutter people!
For those of you who don't have any cams on the site and want to, go Here.
Also, for the 5 of you who weren't already aware, I love Gertie.
June 14, 2004 23:47
Starting at midnight on June 15, you're supposed to spend the whole day dissing Dez. And don't blame me, it was all HER idea. She's the one that brought it up. Yeah.
But don't be too harsh.. I kinda like having her around. :)
June 10, 2004 17:29
You always know when you live in a good neighborhood. A good neighborhood is one where the police have the time and manpower to investigate parked cars in public parking lots for no reason other than the fact that they are parked there.
So me and a certain important female acquaintance in my life were parked, for all intents and purposes, in a parking lot, next to a park, across from a fire station, at the corner of two moderately busy streets. In fact, there were multiple cars parked in this parking lot, although for all I can determine, they were unoccupied. So we were sitting in the back seat talking, as we've been known to do once or twice in our relationship, when a police car pulls up and proceeds to bathe the van in a glaring spotlight. The police officer cautiously walks up to the side door, which I proceed to open for him and he glances in. The best description of his facial expression would be bewildered.
I'm not entirely sure what he was expecting to find in a parked van in a public parking lot in a moderately busy area, but apparently, we weren't it. I suspect he thought he hit the jackpot. Maybe a couple of teenagers, who snuck out late at night with mom's van, possibly to imbibe some adult beverages and get in some acting practice for some future steamy romance movie. He would be able to drag them out. Give them a stern lecture, run them in, have the parents come in and claim them. Witness the debachary that would ensue. That would likely be an exciting night for him. But sadly, whatever fleeting glimpses he might have had of being the crimefighting hero of The Colony for the 21st century, those dreams did not come to fruition.
Instead of some teenagers in mom's van, he found Mom. In Mom's van. And me, of course. Two 30 somethings. Both fully clothed. Both clearly sobre. No evidence of prior alochol consumption, or smoking of any kind. Evidence abound of the recent presense of children. And of course, upon our discovery, we're both fully enjoying the experience. He asks for ID, which doesn't make a whole lot of sense except to prove that we actually have some. So we provide it. Naturally, neither of our drivers licenses have our correct addresses, but that's hardly a problem, because we proceed to regale him with the story of our lives for the past year. I tell him about my current roommate issues which lead us to having clandestine conversations in not so remote parking lots, and she tells him about her plight of moving from Greenville to Jacksonville.
The whole while, he stands there, staring at the licenses, looking at us, minute by minute you can see that he realizes that he's wasting his time. We, of course, offer to move, if our parking there is a problem, but he can't seem to come up with any reason why we shouldn't be there. He claims that our presence there was suspicious, but beyond that, he really can't say a whole lot. He hands us back our licenses, tells us to be careful (as sitting in parked cars in a parking lot tends to be a hazarous activity), and bids us farewell.
So that my story of getting busted for parking. Sorta. At least he was nice about it. :)
June 08, 2004 19:13
A lot has happened in the last month, although not all of it I'm ready to talk about yet. Mostly, I've just been working. In the (hopefully) near future, some rather dramatic changes will take place, and the site will then return to its former glory, and then some. So please stay tuned and thank you for your patience.
May 01, 2004 17:20
Due to privacy issues with my roommates and my current lack of available equipment, I've removed the living room, hallway, and pool cams and I'll be either setting them up in other locations, or utilizing the capture cards for other purposes. I'll have something up to replace those in the near future.
April 20, 2004 17:58
The phone tap is now working. If I'm on the phone, and I'm actually interested in broadcasting it, you'll be able to listen in on it via the telephone link on my cam. I will eventually rig it so it only shows up if I'm on the phone. I also need to dedicate a sound card to the project so it doesn't share with the voices,, but all in due time. It was a challenge getting it functional. It required me to rewire my phone. Apparently the inside wiring had some shorts which both prevented the tap from working AND had crosstalk over the other line in the house. I co-opted one of the many runs of cat5 I have in the attic to substitute as a phone cable, and everything is perfect now.
I've got the bear wired up again in the garage and I've bought another dancing toy to keep the bear company. I'll have it wired up in the next few days. The bear is now functioning properly, however it will only work if the plasma ball is off. I'm not exactly sure why it interferes, but it clearly does. One of the two will probably have to move elsewhere in the house.
I changed out the cam in the garage to use one of the camcorders, and I zoomed it in closer to the table so you're better able to see the stuff there. Since I'm now using a capture card instead of the crappy usb cam, the cam doesn't lock up anymore and therefore I don't need to reboot the computer. THEREFORE, I'll be able to set up the barcode scanner again and use it frequently. My Dr. Pepper consumption rate will no longer be a mystery to the world.
April 11, 2004 21:02
Captured pics can now be rated between 0 and 10 and will then show the current rating as well as post it on the ratings page, linked from the captures pages. This way, the best captures will be easily visible for all to see.
For Easter I got two candle lamps which I will have internet controllable in the immediate future.
April 09, 2004 01:34
Accomplishments in the last month have been somewhat sparse. Most of my efforts have been transparent at best, mostly hardening the site against abuse, of which I seem to have attracted a significant quantity of. I'm therefore taking a rather zero tolerance attitude toward otherwise borderline behavior. Some features that I had previously disabled because people thought they were too extreme have now been reactivated. People are more than welcome to enjoy the site, but if they can't do so in a civilized manner, they will be removed immediately, and most of the process is automated. If your command of the english language has a tendancy to be garnished with colorful 4 letter words, you might wish to restrain yourself while sending messages or leaving comments. There won't be a warning, and I won't accept excuses after the fact.
I've rearranged things in the garage a bit to get several controllable objects on a single cam. Tomorrow I intend to reactivate the bear and smiley face, and to start working on a TV interface. At first, the interface will likely just give you the ability to turn on/off a VCR and change channels. I'm intentionally going to use a broken VCR at first, primarily because it's not doing anything else and I've saved it all these years for SOME godawful reason. It just won't be playing any tapes.
I've started rewriting the howto pages so they look more professional and possibly even more useful. My efforts, in progress, can be viewed here. No, all the links don't work. Comment on it later. Now, you can not only see how many people are watching a specific cam, but you can also see who. Just click on the # of people watching link and it will pop up a window with a list of names. Stalk a stalker today.
If you want your cam on the site, you can add it by going here. The adding process is rather straightforward, but might require at least a little bit of understanding of what you're doing. If you need assistance, there are instructions, and people in the chatroom can help. I'll eventually write a wizard to make adding the cams easier, including detailed instructions on how to work around firewalls and routers, which at the present time I assume the user knows how to do.
Tomorrow I'm sending off to get one of the capture cards Shiznet pointed out to me a while back. If after I get it and confirm it works well under linux, I'll be purchasing 5 more, each of which has a video source awaiting it. Over the next month, expect me to add three more cams, interface a controllable TV/VCR with streaming video output, interface a game console of some type, allowing you to view and play games remotely, and to set up the sprinkler somewhere visible from a cam. And of course, get the doorbell interfaced to the computer. No, you still won't be able to ring it.
Some other minor projects I intend to invest some time on in the near future are to get audio feeds working on all the cams and other video sources, set up temperature sensors in and around the house, and polish off the server software so it's in a releaseable state. I also want to make a more proactive use of my grocery scanner. There's at least one local grocery store that has an online order and delivery system, so I might look at interfacing that again.
March 15, 2004 01:49
First off, the party was canceled, not that it really made much difference, the site was so packed with people who had no idea anyway....
Managed to match the visitor count of last month within the first half of this month, mostly in the last 5 days. It started with a post on i-am-bored.com and cascaded from there. Collegehumor.com brought me over 25000 visits alone. Things were a bit flaky for a while.
The good news is, I needed a nice trial run of the new software changes to Lampmaster. A lot of last minute tweaking was needed, but I think I've finally got it all ironed out. I have now implemented socket queues. The old way would involve receiving a request, processing it and closing the socket all in the same iteration. This works pretty well normally, but on rare occasions the server will accept a connection but get no data from the client. There are any number of reasons why this might happen, and I had it set to automatically drop any connection after 2 seconds, but in 2 seconds, the Lampserver can receive over 100 requests, and each of those requests represent a process on the webserver that is not able to terminate. You can see how this could very quickly get out of hand if even a small number of connections lagged out for some reason.
The new change now involves the server accepting the request and adding the socket handle to a queue. Every iteration through the loop, the socket queue is scanned through looking for a socket that has waiting data. Typically this will occur in less than a millisecond as I'm on the same network, but it might vary. No need to worry now. If there are 50 open sockets and only 1 has data waiting, that one will get serviced and the others will idle waiting, and if no data comes within 10 seconds, they'll get closed out. This has vastly improved the performace of the Lampserver program, and I have yet to have the webserver lock up since. I still have 2 other server programs I'll need to add similar functionality to as they get called almost as frequently. Once this is complete, most of the bottlenecks should be removed. The primary server is an ancient beast, but it doesn't really do a lot of work, even when under heavy load. It can easy handle several times the incoming requests I'm getting now (although my bandwidth probably wouldn't).
Although not really site related, I've made some cosmetic modifications to the house I'm living in. My desk has now been modified so the computer is sitting in the well where I had three of the desk drawers. I drilled a hole in the top of the desk and a hole in the back for all the cables and all that remains now is to make a fake front and add some ventilation. Ventilation at the moment seems reasonable as it's only 2 degrees above room temperature in the back of the cubbyhole now. I've also cleaned up the garage a bit (although more work is still needed). Once that's all done I'll have more space to set up and work on other projects. Once I get the countertops cleaned off, I'll set up a whole hoarde of lamps and other gizmos to play with.
I am still searching for a toy tank that I can modify. Required specifications are that it's slow (less than 1 ft per second), large enough to clear a 4 inch step and also large enough to carry 10 pounds of weight. It obviously also needs to be radio controllable. If you locate any potentially suitable subjects, let me know.
March 01, 2004 11:00
Like the visitors page before it, you can now add your cam to the site without any intervention from me, although it's a tad more complicated. Go here and try it out if you want to add your cam to the site. I'll eventually try to add more consise instructions, especially with regards to configuring the programs and configuring routers. For those who know how, if anyone is interested in documenting a configuration routine, complete with screenshots, for those using various webcam programs, feel free and I'll add it to the instructions. Same with routers. Port forwarding and firewall configuration are the biggest holdups people are going to have. I also know there's a lot more webcam software out there than the two examples I'm listing, so gimme some names.
With the debut of my live screen capture on the site, suddenly everyone wanted to do it, so now desktop displays are a refresh option on the cam pages. If someone's desktop is available (and about half of them are now) it will be listed as Desktop in the refresh options and also a link under the cam image.