Tuesday, January 29, 2008

New GPS receiver

My old handheld GPS, a Garmin Geko 101, stopped working (okay, so I left it in my pocket and it got washed, but the point is it stopped working). So, I spent some of my saved up Christmas money and bought a new one: a Garmin eTrex Summit. I bought it from Wal-Mart.com for $175 or so.

I'll be able to do all kinds of wacky stuff with it, since it has connectivity that my old one never did - I should be able to download routes, maps, and all kinds of wacky fun stuff from www.geocaching.com (if you don't know about geocaching, check it out - it's way fun!)

Skype is the future!

So our microphone arrived for our home PC and the wife got it hooked up yesterday. So this morning, instead of our usual phone call, I got a ring on my work computer - and I got to wish the family a good morning face to face! Easy! And it's very fun when folks walk by my office - "oops, sorry, didn't realize you were on the ph- What!? Are you doing video chat? Wow, that is awesome."

Saturday, January 19, 2008

More Skype

So I've installed Skype on my PC here at work and it's working like a charm. Trouble is, I can't run my webcam on ericbolstridge.com at the same time as I'm doing video chat with Skype. You'd think that software would be smart enough to split the signal or whatever. So, I think this will create a problem of some sort, since I will be using the webcam more for Skype now and the website won't have a feed. I think I might change the "webcam" page of ericbolstridge.com to a simple invitation for folks to call me on Skype... but that's not really the same as the anonymous looking that a webcam allows...

Anyway, Skype works great, and I even got a microphone working, too. So now I can video chat with my friend down the hall (who is in reality so close I could simply shout, but that's not the point!).

My wife also downloaded Skype and installed it on our home PC. Her webcam is working, too, so now we can see each other with a much much better frame rate then we could using Yahoo! Messenger. I need to get a microphone hooked up at home, still, though. It's a little cumbersome to use, but overall, I say "Yay, Skype!"

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Skype & video chat

Back when we were doing our podcast and we were taking calls through the phone, we would make fun of other podcasts that were using Skype to conduct their on-air interviews because of the marked difference in audio quality. But, at the same time, I had never myself tried Skype, so in a way, we were using "old" tech on our show, since our production process was more from what we know - traditional on-air radio. In fact, we didn't even record the show on a computer - we recorded it directly to CD and then uploaded it.

Anyway, my buddy at work is from Great Britain and his friend over in England has turned him on to Skype as a fun and free way to keep in touch with his ol' mates back home. He was telling me about it and explaining how one of his more 'net-savvy pals was even doing video chat. We went into his office, and there his friend was, chatting away like Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins, in alarmingly clear and quick video. It looked way better then my webcam can produce over Yahoo! Messenger.

So of course, I realized that here was another thing to try to tackle. Together, we set to work trying to get a camera hooked up on my co-worker's PC so we could video-phone back to his friend. We played around with trying to get a Canon digital still camera and a small DVCam to perform as a webcam for a half-hour or so before giving up.

But I was truly impressed with the frame-rate of Skype's video chat... Much better then what I've seen using AIM or Messenger... Maybe it's time for me to switch...