Sep 232009
Authors: Glen Pfeiffer, Ryan Gibbons

We thought about not writing our column this week because of a certain event that occurred a little more than two days ago. We’re pretty sure a large portion of our readership will not be reading the paper today, but rather, working on the new Halo campaign. If you’re reading, we’ll assume you’ve beaten it. Congratulations are in order.

Despite almost losing half of our writing team to the Covenant, we are luckily still able to write –– from the front lines, it seems like. This week, we will cover some not often thought of uses for your webcam.

The following is what we believe to be the pretty accurate thought-process of someone taking into consideration getting a webcam for his or her computer.

“I’d love a webcam. It’ll be so awesome. I can chat up my friends via video, record vlogs for YouTube, maybe even participate in important business meetings overseas.” (Scenes from particular movies flash through the ol’ gray matter).

After the computer is a week old, the cam’s only use has been to chat once with the one friend who still uses AIM, which you feel friendly enough to video chat with; to set up a Skype account, in which you connect with your only two friends who use the program; and, of course, to make your own cliché PhotoBooth spread –– if you bought a Mac.

The important video conference call with Japanese investors never happened because, um, you’re a student.

Before long the cam is forgotten entirely. So without wasting further words, here are some things to do with what should still be a fun and useful device.

Webcams are great tools for anyone looking to do some sleuthing or boost their personal security. By installing programs such as Senriska for Windows or iAlertU for Mac (both free), you can have your webcam start snapping photos or videos at a preset time, when it senses motion or with some programs, remotely. It’s a great tool for catching your roommate in the act of stealing your Pokémon cards.

For those of you looking to take your webcam experience to the next level, check out They’ve created a program that turns any colorful household object into a Wii-like controller. So rather than paying $20 for that Mario Kart steering wheel, you can just use an empty soda bottle for free.

It’s a work in progress, but it’s a free download, and they say that you can use the software with any PC game. Check out the demo reel on their Web site for examples of a flight simulator, a first person shooter and more.

You can also put your webcam to work at your next social event. Programs like Webcam Timershot (Windows) or Gawker (Mac) will take pictures at preset intervals, giving you an onsite photographer at any party.

Even better yet, you can then make all those pictures into a time-lapse movie, set it to a sweet soundtrack and you’ve got one high tech memento on your hands.

There are also some awesome videocasting Web sites out there. Sites like and allow users to stream their webcam footage over a personal URL. These connections are surprisingly strong –– my instant messaging video chat connections are dropped far more often than streaming through the Web.

The possibilities for livecasting are limited only by the imagination. Last year many friends and we had a lot of fun watching another friend on Stickam who livecasted his KCSU-FM radio show from his laptop.

So put that webcam to good use. Just promise us you won’t do anything on cam that your grandmother wouldn’t approve of.

Columnists Ryan Gibbons and Glen Pfeiffer are currently busy eating dinner with 10 historic figures, living or dead, and playing Halo ODST, respectively. You can probably contact them faster through Xbox Live than through

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