- Hi Webheads--
Here's a testimonial from David Pogue, NY Times, on iSight, a video/voice
combo that I have been eyeballing.
IN THIS E-MAIL
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Basics: Impressive Toys for Children
Home Video: Classic Movies, but Depressing
Rolling Thunder: Truckers Go Online
Game Theory: A Nancy Drew Video Game
Forum: David Pogue's Columns
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THE RIGHT CAR
Read "10 Steps to Finding the Right Car for You" and learn how to calculate=
all the costs of ownership, research your options, prepare for the buying c=
and more. Learn more at autos.nytimes.com today. Thursday, December 4,
When Technology Is Heartwarming
I took last Thursday off from writing this column, and you took last Thursd=
from reading it. But I have a Thanksgiving thought to share, even though it=
about something that happened two weeks ago.
I was in London at a computer conference. I was jet lagged, on the verge of=
cold and after nearly a week away missing my wife and two young
Following a talk, I asked some stragglers in the auditorium if there was
anywhere I could get online to check my e-mail.
A young man named Tim Haigh offered to show me to a coffee shop a few
blocks away that had wireless Internet access. Tim and I paid our $8 for th=
hour, bought fizzy lemon sodas, popped open our PowerBooks and began to
surf. As we chatted, he mentioned that he often sat in this very coffee sho=
and conducted video chats with a buddy in the States, using an Apple iSight=
The iSight is a compact, tubular, high-quality video camera, about the size=
a Hostess Ho-Ho. It has a built-in microphone and lens cover. It has no pow=
cord of its own; it connects to a Macintosh with a single FireWire cable. A=
long as you both have broadband Internet connections, you and another
iSight (or camcorder) owner can conduct a videoconference.
The quality is excellent: smooth motion, full screen if you like and very l=
delay. It's absolutely nothing like the crude, jerky, stuttering, massively=
delayed video you may have tried with cheap Web cams.
In any case, I perked right up when Tim mentioned his video chats, because =
had an iSight, too, perched on my screen back home. I had no idea you could=
use it across the Atlantic.
Indeed you can, Tim said in fact, he carries his iSight around with him. =
"You mean you have it with you right now?" I exclaimed. "Can I borrow it?" =
It was about 5:30 p.m., meaning that it was 12:30 p.m. at home. On the chan=
that my wife was at her computer, I fired off an e-mail to her, suggesting =
we try out an intercontinental video call.
It took a few minutes for me to explain to her, by furious back-and-forth e=
messages, how to open iChat and start up the video link. (Most of the time =
was spent with me, a color-blind husband, imploring her to click the "orang=
camcorder icon," which turns out to be green.)
And then, suddenly, there it was: My wife Jennifer's live image and her voi=
transmitted in real time 3,500 miles across the globe instantly, crystal =
and, by the way, free. I paraded around the coffee shop with my laptop and =
the iSight, showing her the local ambiance. (Jennifer, grinning: "Hey, buy =
one of those chocolate croissants!")
Maybe I was just overtired and sentimental, but it was an almost
She rounded up the kids. They didn't seem to grasp the full scope of the
technological miracle before them, which I found tremendously reassuring; I=
could see for myself that none of the traveling dad's worst nightmares had =
We caught up for awhile; I told a silly bedtime story to the kids; we showe=
each other how it was dark out in England, but still bright at home. Finall=
after about 20 minutes, we "hung up."
There's a lot of junk in technology, a lot of hassle and frustration, a lot=
disappointment. But this moment was like a TV commercial. It was an
emotional, powerful, simple, perfect example of how technology can change a=
moment, solve a problem, and despite the gulf of time and distance, bring y=
face to face with the people you love.
Visit David Pogue on the Web at DavidPogue.com.