Smile, you’re on Webcam

That’s not a golf ball you see atop some computers. That piece of plastic with the small lens is actually a tiny camera, capable of sending still pictures and choppy video via the Internet to web sites, or directly to other users through CamChat software.

Webcams are taking off in popularity as prices fall and features explode. It’s possible to pick up a webcam for less than fifty dollars now. Quality remains low for the most part, but the cheap price and simple installation makes the webcam an attractive addition to your computer toys. 

Voyeurs, traffic
Virtual voyeurs have never had it so good. At EarthCam (, you can hook into other people’s webcams, even if you don’t have one yourself. You’ll be amazed what people are watching.

One of the more handy applications of webcam technology is the traffic cam. Imagine, you are at the office and want to check the highway conditions in real-time, right from your desk. You just fire up the computer, and click into the local webcam site.

There are already dozens of such sites listed on EarthCam, with more being added eacmonth. If you can’t find one for your community enter “traffic webcam” and the name of your hometown on your favourite search engine

Virtual vacations
If you can’t get away for a holiday, you can visit nearly any part of the world through a webcam. Hundreds of travel and vacation spots listed on EarthCam have live webcams offering regular updates.

Webcam sites
There are a few people who have set up webcams to track some very odd things:

There are educational webcams:

Camera set-up
If you are thinking of setting up your own webcam to communicate with friends and family, it may be a good idea to coordinate your choice of cameras. Then you can support one another if there are any installation issues.

You can download a number of different WebCam programs from Tucows (, but it will be easier for everyone if you are all using the same equipment and software at the start.

At the WebCam Store (, you can find a wide range of options, from basic consumer models to more expensive designs that are aimed at business or security uses.

If you want to buy locally, FutureShop ( and Business Depot ( both carry a small number of low-cost consumer or home-use cams.