Thursday, April 2, 2009

Hold the Phone

We got a mini cam for the computer.

This was my son’s suggestion. They have a camera built into their Mac and he thought if we were similarly equipped we could have video chats with our grandson.

Seemed like a great idea, but I don’t have $1,800 right now to drop on yet another computer.

He thought I might be able to get a mini cam that would work on our Dell laptop at a reasonable cost. Sure enough, a visit to Best Buy hooked me up with a cam with a built-in microphone for under 100 bucks.

I clipped the camera to the laptop screen, loaded some softwear, turned the thing on and a wrinkled visage that was a composite of the worst of Yoda and Joba the Hut was staring back at me from the screen. Holy crap, do I really look that bad. This was a vision that would surely stunt the growth of any one year old.

The next step was to go on the Skype site and download the free software. Skype is the web site that enables you to have video conversations with anyone else who is also signed up. It is free.

This all went pretty smoothly and soon we were having very nice visits with our grandson and his family.

I am amazed by this technology and pretty pleased with myself for pulling it off. However, I am sure it has been around for awhile. Usually by the time I hear of something like this it has already peaked and is on the slippery slope to obsolescence. Given its ramifications for the phone sex industry, I’ll bet it has already been explored and developed into a multi-billion dollar industry with its own trade association. In the process I am sure it has already put out of work hundreds of ex-truck drivers who had been posing as dominatetrixes.

Still I don’t think it will replace the good old voice phone. The cordless phone was a bigger leap because it freed us to do other things while talking with friends and business associates. Who hasn’t chatted with dear old mom while seated on the crapper? This would be awkward on the video phone.

Also, one can no longer use the stress relieving hand gestures we have all grown used to. No more flipping the bird while talking soothingly to that angry client berating you on the phone, or tucking it under your chin and firing a double bird as he rants on. Who hasn’t held the phone away from their ear and executed the universal blah-blah-blah sign as Aunt Matilda wound on for another hour about the novena she had recently attended?

I read that the next generation of phones will produce a life-size 3-D image of the person with whom you are speaking right in your home or office. Excuse me, but I thought the point of talking to people on the phone was to keep them out of your home or office.

Now that annoying insurance salesman will appear sitting with his legs crossed in your favorite chair asking for a martini.

1 comment:

Mary Lois said...

My friend who lives in Switzerland emailed me about a year ago urging me to get a webcam and Skype. I couldn't think of anybody I'd use it with except for her so I never got around to it.

Then, just as suddenly and everybody enrolled on Facebook (and maybe there's a connection), all my friends had webcams and used them to talk with their grandbabies.

I broke down and bought something called the Flip, which is not a webcam and apparently does nothing but make short videos, some of which can be uploaded onto a blog. This new technology is great as long as what it can do is what you want to do.

This week I'm scheduled to be interviewed on my speakerphone, and I'm going to Flip cam the interview and see if I can email it. I think the file will be way too big and I'll end up mailing the camera to the interviewer and see if he can get the interview onto his computer.

A bit tacky to use modern technology this low-tech way, but, let's face it, even two years ago this would have been impossible.