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Sunday, January 28, 2007

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Ground control to Major Tom

My mom sent us a webcam this week. I set it up Friday night, and we spent most of yesterday standing around it like it was the very first television. Only, the first television probably had better image quality. Patrick and I both live off Macs, and the cam is for PCs, so the only place to run it is off the old desktop we keep around for the kids.

First I configured it to run with MSN messenger, but couldn't get the audio activated. My mom hasn't figured that part out yet either. For the first half of the day we watched each other looking down at our keyboards, typing. Every so often, one of the kids would wander by and stick his face in the camera (in the baby's case, his naked bum) and my mother would mutely and frantically wave like she was on Super 8.

I managed to send mute video to my cousin Erika, who was snowed in, and typed plaintiffly that she felt like we were visiting through plexigas, in prison.
erika says:
I can see you.

erika says:
I can't touch you or hear you.

erika says:
but I love you.

I imagined her pressing her palm to the screen.

Later in the day, I figured out how to get Skype up and running. Sorry to be such a geek, but Skype has to be one of the seven wonders of the modern world. Unfortunately, being a geek does not necessarily mean one is technically proficient. So it took a while for my mother and I to get sound and vision working together. We spent the evening having a long conversation that went like this:

"Can you see me? Are you there?

"I can see you. Can you see me?"

"What? I can't hear you. Are you there? Wait, you froze."

It was like talking to someone on the space station. My girlfriend Heather came by, to drop her son off at my eight year-old's birthday slumber party (more on that later). I made her sit down and talk to my mother while I poured us a glass of wine (more on that, over here).

"How are you?" she said to my mother, "You look great. Are you still doing the Buddhist retreats?"

"What? Are you there, Heather? Can you see me?"

"How's retirement?"

"What? Can you hear me? Hi, Heather!"

I stepped in to help. "No, no, not like that. You can't have an actual conversation. Just smile and wave."

Finally, this morning, we downloaded Skype onto Patrick's mac, with its built-in iSight camera. He and my mother have been chatting for the last 45 minutes. We have paraded every child in the house in front of her, including the four that don't live here. It should be interesting when they mention to their parents that we made them talk to some strange lady in Canada on the computer.

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Blogger Mocha said...

The absolute funniest conversations via webcam should be recorded, because every time I have one, it's hilarious and I want everyone to see it. Why doesn't YouTube have a section for that?

Soon enough, though. Soon enough.

2:33 PM  
Blogger Kyran said...

i know. I really meant to save my subsequent conversation with my cousin so I could post it verbatim. I got up to make some tea, and she said it felt like she lived in a box. thereafter, I referred to her as my Indian in the cupboard. :)

4:53 PM  
Blogger Jen said...

How cute!

Bryan travels a lot for work and we stay connected through our web cam. In fact, whenever Thomas (age 2) hears sound coming out of my laptop he runs over to it, yelling, 'Hi daddy! Hi daddy!'

As a side note, we had a lot of problems with our connection through Skype. If you run into a problem, you should check out Sight Speed. We've been very happy with it.

1:29 AM  

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