I've been hating my iSight camera for months now. It's just not designed for what I want to use it for, and it's rather overpriced for what it does do. See, I want a friggin' webcam. Before the iSight, getting a webcam to work with OSX was a bloody nightmare. After the iSight, well, it works... but the design and lack of software support heads it directly towards a single laser-focused purpose: a camera for iChat AV and nothing else.
But I've been trying to use it as a webcam, uploading images from my den every five minutes. In addition to the $150 price tag on the iSight itself, I had to spend another $20 for FTP camera software (not from Apple)... and that's a function that really ought to have been included in some way by Apple.
That was all fine if I welded the damn thing to the wall and forgot about it, but I like to move my webcam around. Point it at the cat, some new toys, out the window, that sort of thing. Positioning the iSight in any direction other than front is an impossible task, because it has a terrible range of movement and doesn't come with a fucking proper positionable camera stand. The acrylic stands that come standard are these bizarre tilted modules that require you to thread the cable inside of a central firewire cuff. So any time I wanted to move the camera, I had to fight the built-in unmovable nature of the plastic stand.
But I'm an inventive guy, sometimes, so I tried a homebrew solution. I bought a 15 foot firewire cable - which doubled the working sphere of the webcam - and I used an old Dexter's Laboratory action figure to hold the stupid thing upright. It's the one with Dex inside a big robot. The robot's claws hold up the firewire, the joints of the legs and torso let me position the camera, and the big feet give it reasonable stability. I believe it cost me $8 at Toys R Us about three years ago. Plus it looks like Dexter is holding some kind of terrible weapon, which is an aggressive stance that usually suits my mood when I'm fiddling with the iSight. Like so:
There is gloom and doom and things go boom.
So imagine my thrill when somebody finally invented the wireless webcam. Hey, I have a wireless network! I'd like a webcam! It's the two great tastes that go great together.
I checked out both the Linksys and D-Link version. One nice tidbit of the Information Age is that you can download the complete instruction manuals of just about anything, so I could fully research both cameras and not rely solely on marketing bullet points. Turns out that both cameras are pretty much designed for security use, as in they provide streaming video to any web browser with verified access. But the D-Link one also has a built-in FTP service. Sold. I would have rather bought the Linksys cam since my router is Linksys and I prefer the design, but no FTP, no JOE.
There's another reason to prefer Linksys. D-Link blows. Well, this one product is pretty lousy; I haven't used anything else they make, but I'm willing to make snap judgements. The D-Link DCS-1000W works, but it doesn't work well. (But at this stage of the game, I'm willing to take "works" over "turns me into a frothing mess.")
The whole camera is run through a web-based interface, which I'm used to from working with my Linksys router... but the D-Link interface just sucks ass. The graphics are all shittily compressed jpegs, the layout is amateurish and ugly. The navigation is unnecessarily complex. It doesn't timestamp the still image. One button promised in the manual simply doesn't exist (the "Go" button for manual upload.) And the FTP feature is woefully under-developed. It took me several days and multiple tries to get it to upload anything, since it lacks 90% of the options and tweaks I've come to expect from FTP programs. And the video image it throws is rather washed-out.
I need to figure out the streaming video part. Since that is supposed to be the camera's primary function, I might as well use it. It is a security camera, after all. It even has a "FOR INDUSTRIAL USE ONLY" sticker on the bottom of it.
But, long story short... (Cast of "Clue": "Too late.") it is working, at least in regard to periodic FTP. It won't rename files so I can't retain the ordered sequence of pictures like I have been doing. But it provides something I've always wanted to do: a roving webcam. Rhonda isn't exactly thrilled by the prospect, but now I can dump the camera anywhere in the house. And so I will.