12.3. Watching Webcams
Wondering what the
in the National Zoo are up to right now? Curious about what it's like outside in Anchorage? Open your browser window and take a look with a
. As you may have gathered from the
, a Webcam is a camera that's hooked up to the Web and transmits live pictures of whatever it's pointed at.
You may see either live video or a series of still shots updated every few seconds. Some
may require the Java plug-in (Section 10.1.1) for your browser to display the images properly.
Thousands of Webcams are set up all around the world, often pointing at city
for traffic conditions or public beaches so you can check the surfing conditions at any moment. With an inexpensive camera-and-software package like those from Veo or Logitech, you can even set up your own Webcam. From across the Internet, you can keep an eye on, say, the
' room or your vacation house in another state.
Tons of Webcams are focused on, ahem, steamier subjects than the downtown area of Banner Elk, North Carolina, if you get the
. You'll have no problem finding such things if that's what you're looking for.
Just finding Webcams can be the hardest part. The Web sites of local TV
and newspapers often have them for traffic
, as do the sites of tourist destinations like ski lodges and resorts. Luckily, there are also people who take the time to hunt down Webcams and post directories full of links for the rest of us:
. This site has a giant collection of 2,000 Webcam links, with sections devoted to City Cams, Travel Cams, and Live Cams (meaning anything from oral surgery in a dentist's office to a library in Evansville, Indiana, where a lady ghost is said to roam the stacks). Each includes a thumbnail image so you can get some idea of where each camera is aimed. (www.cincystreet.com)
. Beaming in images from Times Square to Red Square and many points in between, the cameras on the EarthCam network literally bring you a global perspective. Don't
the site's World Map page, where you can click the image of a country or
and see a list of all the cities hosting Webcams. For example, you can find a camera on the lookout for leprechauns in a field in Tipperary, Ireland and one at the base of the Osorno Volcano in Puerto Varas, Chile. (www.earthcam.com)
BBC England Webcams
. Anglophiles can see dozens of sights around England, from
scenes in the country to the surf at Watergate Bay in Cornwall. Traffic conditions around London, feeding time for the slendertailed meerkats at the Marwell Zoo, and a lovely view of Durham Cathedral are also available (www.bbc.co.uk/england/webcams; there's also a list of non-BBC Webcams at www.bbc.co.uk/webcams/wwwcams.shtml).
Webcams got a huge boost in popularity in 2005, as two black-and-white baby bears were born in U.S. zoos under the watchful eye of zookeepers and Webcams. If you need a panda break in your day, check out the National Zoo's pandacam at http://nationalzoo.si.edu/Animals/GiantPandas (Figure 12-4) or the San Diego Zoo's feed at http://www.sandiegozoo.org/zoo/ex_panda_station.html.
Figure 12-4. Spend your morning coffee break with the pandas at the National Zoo in Washington,
of a Webcam. The Zoo has about a
Webcams in operation, so when you get
of pandas, you can move on to see how the
, elephants, and naked mole rats are doing. There's a list of the zoo's Webcam offerings at http://nationalzoo.si.edu/Animals/.