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Webcams for the bandwidth impoverished.

By Merekat in MLP
Fri Jan 26, 2001 at 07:38:41 PM EST
Tags: Software (all tags)

Want a webcam but you're trapped in low bandwidth territory?

Well, never fear, because here's Hasciicam to the rescue. The author says it produces live ascii video captured from a TV card with html, live ascii window or an old fashioned text tile as output.


Voxel dot net
o Managed Hosting
o VoxCAST Content Delivery
o Raw Infrastructure


Ascii webcams rule because
o they hide the blemishes 24%
o they remind me of the good old days 16%
o there is now no excuse to delay the return of RustyCam 59%

Votes: 37
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Hasciicam
o Also by Merekat

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Webcams for the bandwidth impoverished. | 15 comments (15 topical, editorial, 0 hidden)
Gah! (2.50 / 4) (#1)
by delmoi on Fri Jan 26, 2001 at 11:44:50 AM EST

I indended to vote +1 fp, but I hit -1, dump. Sorry : (
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
Cool! (4.00 / 2) (#2)
by theboz on Fri Jan 26, 2001 at 11:46:27 AM EST

I think that's really neat. Unfortunately it's only for linux but it's still a great idea. Has anyone seen something like this for windows? I could easily have the same result but not via an automated process like this.


Kuro5hin turning-point (4.33 / 3) (#3)
by slaytanic killer on Fri Jan 26, 2001 at 11:53:07 AM EST

Unfortunately it's only for linux but it's still a great idea. Has anyone seen something like this for windows?
You know, with that one post, you've demonstrated beyond all doubt that Kuro5hin is not Slashdot. Your post now belongs to the K5 canon.

[ Parent ]
Well... (5.00 / 1) (#6)
by theboz on Fri Jan 26, 2001 at 12:24:27 PM EST

I don't know whether to take that as a compliment or insult. :oD

Actually, I like linux and everything...but it belongs as a server, it is stupid for someone like me to use it as a desktop machine. On slashdot they try to make it used for everything. It's unfortunate that Windows sucks as bad as it does on the desktop, but there's nothing that sucks less. I need to be able to use my hardware with my computer, and I want there to be software other than "eyes follow the screen in X" and "change user's passwords every 7 days with this great script" and crap. I feel that I am knowledgeable enough so that if anyone else reads this and tries to make me want linux on the desktop, don't bother. I have worked as a sysadmin with solaris, aix, hp-ux, and tinkered with linux and freebsd. I currently use Solaris at work and for doing development work, it rules Windows. But for playing games and listening to music and just general websurfing I can't beat Windows. Then for PDA's, I want to use the PalmOS.

So anyways that was a side track but I just wanted to explain before some linux zealout flames me for not wanting to use their OS on my desktop.

[ Parent ]

The right tool for the right thing (4.00 / 2) (#11)
by BehTong on Fri Jan 26, 2001 at 03:01:27 PM EST

OK, this is NOT a flame directed at you, but ...

I'm a Linux user, and I use Linux exclusively for the desktop. But not because it's a "cool" thing to do; I only use Linux because I find that I work better with it. I find that I just do not like graphics-driven interfaces. Yes, they are easier to learn, yes, it looks prettier, but I find that most of the things *I* like to do are best done on the command-line.

That is not to say, of course, that everybody must dump Windows and switch the Linux, that GUI sucks and CLI rules. It's just that for me, personally, I find that I am more efficient using the CLI. But many other people prefer GUI's instead, and I don't argue with them.

My main point is, it's not really a Linux vs. Windows issue; it's more of using the right tool for the right thing. For the stuff that I do, I'm perfectly happy with a CLI with some bare minimal X interface. Some people can't grok a computer without eye-candy. It all depends on personal differences, I suppose. That's why Slashdot looks really childish when there's a Linux vs. Windows flamewar -- it's just making a mountain out of the molehill of personal differences. (Of course, I'm of the biased opinion that Windows sucks and should be replaced -- but I'm not sure that Linux will be a good replacement. Perhaps a totally new OS altogether, written with the same UI philosophy as Windows but with better implementation. I don't think shoe-horning Linux into a GUI-based environment will work.)

Beh Tong Kah Beh Si!
[ Parent ]

Linux vs. Windows (5.00 / 1) (#15)
by theboz on Sun Jan 28, 2001 at 02:48:29 PM EST

I agree that it depends on the job that you are doing. At work I mostly use a sparcstation because I can do cli stuff and mostly just use ssh, ftp, and vi. Well, I do run CDE on it as well but that is just so I can have numerous xterms open on one screen really. At home though, I need the graphics because I want to listen to music, play games, look at the web, etc. which are often graphical tasks. If I was doing a lot of web work and stuff like that at home, I probably would use linux since it is the easiest for me to use with the cli. DOS is crappy compared to ksh, tcsh, and bash.

I also like the ease of installation of things. In linux I could rarely install things because of all the requirements it had for other things. Even an RPM could be too difficult because it had dependancies on things that even freshmeat may not have. With windows, I put a CD in the CDROM and it says click here to install and does it all for me. For a game, that is all I need. I got a USB gamepad yesterday. It didn't come with any drivers. All I had to do was plug it in, and within a few seconds it detected it and had it configured correctly and I was playing games with it. I think that is what the average user needs, and I think it could be possible with linux eventually if it is forked. I think that it would be good to have linux for the desktop and linux as a server. They could still be closely related so that a lot of the same software would work on either and such. I think linux could be very successful if they made it so anyone could use it without thinking, sorta like the old macs.

[ Parent ]

Bandwidth impoverished? (4.50 / 2) (#4)
by Flavio on Fri Jan 26, 2001 at 12:06:48 PM EST

This is arguable.

A page like http://ascii.dyne.org/hasciicam001.html takes 8kb of data. One can have the same image with much better definition and color by using a higly compressed JPEG.

Anyone who's ever played ASCII quake knows that the bandwidth requirements are quite large.


More can be done... (4.00 / 1) (#7)
by WesHertlein on Fri Jan 26, 2001 at 12:29:18 PM EST

It's true that an 8K ASCII image is simlilar in size to a highly compressed JPEG.

However, that statement should be jumping out with big ugly blink tags! The ASCII image isn't compressed. By using mod_gzip to compress the text being sent over the net, bandwidth is saved.

My own humble tests with regular old gzip showed compression to 2.5K - 3K (depending on level of compression specified). This is at least a savings of 50%, which is great for people that pay for their bandwidth...


[ Parent ]
More can also be done... (none / 0) (#8)
by Flavio on Fri Jan 26, 2001 at 01:06:14 PM EST

Compress the JPEG even more. Use a better algorithm. Use some preprocessing before using JPEG compression to eliminate irrelevant features.

Is it that difficult to see that ASCII "images" look really, really bad? 8kb JPEG images without any preprocessing, on the other hand, look acceptable. And did I mention they're actually in color?


[ Parent ]
it is compression (none / 0) (#12)
by mikpos on Fri Jan 26, 2001 at 05:44:19 PM EST

Or you could look as turning bitmaps into ASCII as a form of lossy "compression". Well, at least they've got the lossy part down :)

[ Parent ]
Text is very compressible (4.00 / 1) (#10)
by BehTong on Fri Jan 26, 2001 at 02:47:24 PM EST

But text is very compressible. Most ASCII art only needs about 6 or 7 bits per character, so even just compact encoding will compress it significantly already. And then you have run-length encoding or other schemes which may be applied.

Beh Tong Kah Beh Si!
[ Parent ]

Monochrome video (4.00 / 2) (#13)
by cezarg on Fri Jan 26, 2001 at 05:56:42 PM EST

The same compression rate should be feasible with a low resolution monochrome video made up of squares of different shades of gray. Let's say you have 80 pixels by 40 with five or six bits per pixel. Then the resulting pattern will be as easy to compress using Lempel-Ziv as pure ascii.

What you see is in no more compressible than the video signal I described above. However when talking motion pictures the really powerful compression is the one used in MPEGs where you just send the difference (error) between the current and the previous frame.

[ Parent ]

Do you know what this means !!!? (none / 0) (#5)
by retinaburn on Fri Jan 26, 2001 at 12:07:31 PM EST

Return of Rusty Cam :)

I think that we are a young species that often fucks with things we don't know how to unfuck. -- Tycho

Had to +1 this one (to section) (none / 0) (#9)
by Mantrid on Fri Jan 26, 2001 at 01:47:53 PM EST

It's just too damn odd not to mod up!

::snicker:: Cool. (none / 0) (#14)
by WWWWolf on Sat Jan 27, 2001 at 11:20:51 AM EST

As others commented below, I don't think it's good for bandwidth-deprived, for couple of reasons:

  • Image->ASCII conversion needs some attention from CPU
  • the pictures as ASCII are still pretty big.

Still, I thought this one was pretty cool... I llllove to see people experimenting with weird ways to embarass themselves with real-time video over Internet and stuff like that. =)

(My own "innovation" wasn't exactly as cool as this - I added a thing for my webcam that shows what tune is being played with XMMS. For those who need it, the plugin is available from XMMS.org...)

-- Weyfour WWWWolf, a lupine technomancer from the cold north...

Webcams for the bandwidth impoverished. | 15 comments (15 topical, 0 editorial, 0 hidden)
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