Plugging in to a Webcam service

 

Driving the popularity of webcams are webcasting services which facilitate broadcasting, and store pictures and video free of charge. By eliminating the need for a server or website, users can simply plug a webcam into their computer and log on to a webcam service which guides them through a half an hour set-up process. There is usually a text chat feature for those who want visual communication with people without webcams.

Most services have a directory of members. Some offer password protection while others require the use of proprietary software. Other features can include instant messengers, voice chat application, wireless notification, integrated daily journals and guest books.

Adult content is a concern for those browsing webcam sites. Some services ban sexual and violent content. On others, such content is allowed but only in a designated adult section which is unavailable to general viewers and is often rated according to the nature of the material. Privacy is sometimes catered for with sites such as Spotlife.com offering password-protection, ensuring only designated people can view member's broadcasts.

Many sites encourage users to report harassing or dubious content. For example, Camarades.com has a "cyberpatrol" button which takes a snapshot of a broadcast and submits it to staff who will remove the camera from the site if it is considered offensive.

Some worldwide webcasting services:

Spotlife: www.spotlife.com Requires a Logitech QuickCam. Unsuitable content is not supported. It includes a password protection option, and supports live and recorded video.

Camarades: www.camarades.com Requires the installation of TrueTech WebCam software and has a private mode. The site includes chat rooms, discussion lists, webcam support and news.

Webcamnow: www.webcamnow.com Supports any webcam and microphone. It does not have a password option but has general and unmonitored sections.

Yellow Wood Llamas farm in southern Indiana: ywl.com/webcam.htm Feeding time usually between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m.

NY-taxi.com: www.ny-taxi.com/cabcam/live-chat-nojava.asp For a view from the seat of an Internet Cab in NY city.

Mole Cam: www.neviscam.com He's fast, dirty, rampant and on the lawn. The Shrunken Head Cam:

www.hottoads.com. Webcam of a potato, apple or equivalent shrinks into somebody famous over two weeks and visitors are encouraged to vote on their identity. Image updates every 15 minutes and site includes a Shrunken Head Cam museum.

Webcasting services closer to home: Netcall's cam of Lower Gardiner Street: www.nci.ie/ispy/

ireland.com's cam of O'Connell Bridge, updated every 10 seconds: www.ireland.com/dublin/visitor/live-view/index.htm

Crown Bar in Belfast: www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/crown/

River Lagan Lookout Tower, cam of Waterfront Hall in Belfast: www.camvista.com/ireland/index.php3