Archive for May 31st, 2012


Ancient Tech – Philips SPC300NC Webcam.

Yes, I know today was supposed to be my first video blog, but it was my attempt to produce that video blog which led directly to this piece. You see it once more brings us back to my deep abiding love for Cretaceous Era technology. I’ve spoken at length about my graphics tablet, which is so old that I believe it may have been used by Nabopolassar to design the inspiration for the Tower of Babel. And I’ve given a eulogy dedicated to my beloved Asus Eeepc 701. However today it’s a very different piece of ancient electronics I wish to speak of.

Yes there it is above these words, standing in all its glory! The Philips SPC300NC webcam. A piece of technological wonder with its amazing resolution of 320×240. It’s hard to use “Still” button placed on the side, where you hand WILL cover the lens if you try to use it. It even comes mounted on a base that is almost impossible to get to sit quietly on the desk, because of how stiff it’s cable is (pauses for the moans to subside).

And yet I have been using this webcam for since 2009, and my Partner in Crime had used it for two years prior to that. I’ve maintained two long distance relationships via its pixellated eye. I experimented with animation using it with Windows Movie Maker…I don’t recommend it as anything other than an object lesson in how make things hard on yourself.

I also made my first attempt at a video blog with it. Let’s speak a little of that attempt. I’m sure most of you reading this have watched someone’s video blog on YouTube, and thought “Hey, I should do one of those!” I know I have. In fact I decided a few months ago that I needed to add a video element to this blog for several reasons. The main one being that some topics just don’t work through the written word, to have your viewpoint truly understood your audience has to hear your voice, see your face, and the emotions conveyed by both. Hence my attempt this week to record, and edit my first video blog.

My webcam is almost old enough to have been used by Cleopatra to chat up Julius Ceasar, and Marc Anthony when they were off on campaign. I can totally see her lying on a bed, cupping her breasts, and promising to share Ptolemaic Egypt with them, as she licked her nipples. I can also see the two boys (separately of course…though when it comes to those crazy Romans who knows?) watching this, and wondering what the hell they’re seeing. Because frankly unless you keep the received image TINY, you’re going to find yourself wondering why Cleo is showing you a fully grown seal, and promising you half of her kingdom.

Yes, the image from my attempt was that bad. At best I looked like I’d been drawn on a very badly damaged Atari 2600, at worst like I’d contracted leprosy, smallpox, and had been whacked in the face with every branch off of the ugly tree for good measure. Now, I’m not Charlize Theron. But I’m not a bad lookin’ bird, and so it was with utter horror that I watched the raw video of my first attempt at YouTube immortality.

“So how does this story end?”, you ask dear reader.

Well, probably with this…

Or something similar, has anyone any suggestions? (Seriously, all advice cheerfully received.) And with my old webcam being given the end it deserves, ending up in a box filled with electronic spare parts, waiting for the day when it might be called back into service…it’s how it would have wanted to go.

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