Webcam's for novices


Intro

I know, the page's title is a bit dry but Webcam's for Dummies is already registered:) I know you all are smarter, as you're reading here instead of buying the book, right? This page is dedicated to the newbies that would love to venture out into the webcam world but don't have a clue where to start. We're not going to say we've done it all or that we know about all of the possible programs, besides you're probably reading this in hopes of finding the most simple answers?


The most common question we're asked is: "Do we need to get a webcam to view these chat rooms?" Short answer, sometimes. OK, lets say you just want to explore and don't want to buy a cam until you've seen a few places. That's how we started, so, on that let's see what's available.



Web browser cam sites

These are almost always 'one way' for video, although some may offer two way text chat. A few install web browser add-ons that extend the video ability.

You viewing others

Most of these don't require you to install any program. Some may not work well with older versions (4.7x) of Netscape.

All the rest

There may be a few gems out there but by and large these are a moneymaker for the persons on cam and offer little swinging potential. We'll try to get together a list here if anyone cares to forward us some.



Making a private webcam web site

Web Browser Cam Allows you to 'run' your own for free! This one doesn't require a direct connection to you (good if you have a home firewall), and allows you to upload the image to a web site of your choice.



Webcam programs - no cam required

Lurkers is a term used to describe you if you are in one of the rooms and have no camera. It's said that it comes from "lurking in the shadows" as their view of you is 'dark'.


View.Net

A small community run by an old time veteran of video chat. The chat room runs as a plug-in in your web browser. With no separate program to run it makes it very easy for the PC n00bies. There are several levels of membership from free to two levels of support (and video features). A very 'couples friendly' venue, well worth checking out. You don't need a cam to join, but it's a lot more fun if you have one. They are real people and there are no paid models!   http://www.view.net/


Yahoo! IM Is a free program that is a cam enabled chat program. You can view others one at a time, others can view you in multiple if you enable it. Private conferences can be created too. This is a downloadable program that you have to install on your PC.

Besides the positives above it has four negative aspects - a) It's difficult for PC neophytes to find a chat room that's not in a web browser.[1] b) Spam bots[6]tend to get attracted to the room (and it users) once the number of people in the room grows beyond a certain point (>10-12).[4] c) Rooms are full at 40 participants (no more users can join). Users have to be invited by the person opening the room the first time it's created and they then have to 'bookmark' it to re-enter it on subsequent days. d) Users *may* be able to invite their friends into the room.[8] Chat rooms have to be created daily as they have no persistence.



Jmeeting.com - We recently found this one and find it fantastic! It's similar to number Yahoo Group's 'Chat' below but has MANY times more features WITHOUT being a hard to learn program as it runs in Internet Explorer. Multiple videos CAN be opened (up to a maximum of 3 in the free version) AND you can be in several rooms at once (Yahoo Messenger and Yahoo Group's 'Chat' CANNOT do this!). User created rooms can be easily maintained (assholes kicked/or banned). Available security measures are VERY similar to IRC.[5] Chat rooms MAY have to be created daily as they possibly could have no persistence, but can be made permanent with a small effort. We have a preliminary version of a JMeeting For Dummies page up here.



NetMeeting Has been around for a while and is available for many versions of Windows. It allows only one-to-one video chat. Video quality is very good to excellent, with audio being average to very good. Windows XP users - NetMeeting is pre installed on your computer. Mac Users - There is no version of NetMeeting for Mac. Try Ispq.com or icuii.com. Linux users also have a NetMeeting compatible H.323 client .



PalTalk There is a free version and a pay one, the pay one ($24 US Dollars) giving 3 full motion videos maximum. A six video version is available but it's very pricey. Rooms are numerous. You can create your own room, have your own room monitors and even password the room to keep unwanted folks out. Many to many in nature, preferred by the exhibitionist!



Wait around for others to appear, someone may have just been in the room and got booted out. In the beginning of a chat it's considered good form to wait, as long as 10 minutes for others to show up. Read some of your e-mails while waiting, it will be worth it eventually as others will show up on scheduled chat nights. This is very important, really!!!

I know this is a LOT of technobabble to take in one gulp. We're trying to make the explanation as understandable to as many people as possible.



Webcam programs - cam required

CU-SeeMe Is still being used by many folks, although the number of reflectors is dwindling. Many to many in nature, preferred by the exhibitionist! Video quality varies from slightly below average to very good, audio support is poor to below average. More info...



Recommended Cams

See the hardware price reviews here (starting at $18 USD). Make sure the cam works with at least NetMeeting!
Is $12.99 USD too much? If not, check here: http://www.overstock.com/




FOOTNOTES:

1) Some folks are terrified of doing ANYTHING that they feel *MIGHT* possibly break their PC's.

2) Upgrading Internet Explorer 6.x can overcome this, but many can't (or won't).[1]

3) Due to Internet Explorer's security settings, the users inexperience or both.

4) They'll send the room/IM users multiple SPAM messages, sometimes >1 per minute on busy nights. At some point the Yahoo! Messenger WILL become intolerable to both the owners and participants of the rooms. One New Jersey Y! group I'm in (as a moderator) is to that point now. They're getting about 20-30 people in chat on busy nights. One way to circumvent a part of these problems is to make the room 'Private' (Room will not appear in the list of rooms) when it's created. See http://www.hooplenhotdi.us/creatchatroom.jpg

5) Several levels of moderation security are available and rooms can be made invisible and or locked (require a key to get in). Bots (web robots) can be added to the room to enhance the security AND keep it room open 7x24x365.

6) Spam Bot - Is an internet robot use to spam. It targets users with either IM's, web links to pay sites or in some cases virii. Generally they most often make chat scroll off screen too fast for new users to follow or frustrate them with a popup window overload ("I can't see the chat for the f***in' popups!").

7) The last BIG chat room we ran had over 2,600 registered members. For a room to get that big requires a LARGE team (over 20-30) of volunteers to maintain order and listen to the never ending stream of whiners (mostly male). The amount of people banned was in the realm of several hundreds; many were kicked each night for 'expressing themselves' in rude/crude manners. See http://www.cuseemefun.com/ for more info on this.

8) An owner *MAY have NO control over this if the room was created without the Invite right being restricted to the room's creator. Restricting it makes a LOT of work for the person that opened the room; the downside of NOT doing so is you can't kick/ban anyone if things get out of hand. From our experience mixing hormonal males and naked ladies on webcam is a certainty that this *WILL* happen sooner or later.[7]



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Last updated Wednesday, August 27, 2008

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