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Webcam action ...

Posted by Dave Bull at 2:21 AM, May 25, 2012 [Permalink]

This morning - as with most mornings - I had the Woodblock Webcam running while I worked. I usually put it on twice a day; my morning session is 'targeted' at people living in North America (their afternoon/evening), and my evening session for European viewers (their morning/afternoon).

It doesn't really draw a very large crowd of viewers; there are some 'regulars' who drop by once in a while to see what is going on, and there are a few who are in the habit of leaving it open in a corner of their computer screen while they do other work. This is possible because the view in the webcam isn't one that will tend to be very distracting. Watching me work on my prints is basically like watching paint dry ...

I use the Ustream system to broadcast the webcam view, and at my end there is a simple Control Panel that allows me to set various parameters, and which also has a feature that shows how many people are currently tuned in. This number usually sits at 2, 3, or 4, and sometimes climbs as 'high' as 5.

But as I was working this morning, I looked over at the panel at one point, and saw this:

In case you can't read what it says down in the lower left corner, it is this:

Eleven viewers! Woot!

A couple of them typed questions into the Webcam Message Board, and - although I had no idea who these people were - I of course answered as best I could (whatever I speak is clearly audible to watchers) while continuing with my carving.

But as eleven viewers at once really is quite unusual, I asked the viewers if somebody would perhaps let me know just what was happening today that had brought so many people to the Webcam all at the same time. A minute later, a posting on the message board filled me in - a collector in the US who recently joined the current Arts of Japan series was pretty enthusiastic about it, and had contacted many of her friends to 'come and watch'. And they did!

Now this was all very well, but a few minutes later, during an automatic email check, the workshop laptop gave out a fanfare ... the fanfare that lets us know that a print order has come in.

It was from one of the new viewers - a subscription for the new series. And it came with this comment:

I actually started visiting yesterday ... After watching you work and looking through the galleries of your past prints, I am completely hooked. I am a tinkerer, hacker, hobbyist and crafter in my spare time and love working with metal, wood, ink, paint, electricity and fire. It will most likely become a nightly ritual for me to tune in to your webcam to watch the progress on this series unfold. Thanks for answering my questions and generally explaining things as you go, I really enjoy it.

Later in the morning, packing assistant Yasui-san had his box all ready, and it was off to the post office later before they closed in the afternoon ...



Following comment posted by: Lana Lambert on May 26, 2012 1:19 AM

We live vicariously through you!

Following comment posted by: Tom Kristensen on May 26, 2012 12:23 PM

Perfect! I must admit I am not organised enough to schedule a webcam viewing, every time I try to look in there is nothing happening. If I had an Iphone I would be asking you for an AP to remind me when to drop by, if I had a mobile phone I would be asking for a tweet.

Following comment posted by: Dave on May 26, 2012 2:12 PM

remind me when to drop by ...

When I built the webcam pages (and the behind-the-scenes software) I included a facility to send emails whenever the webcam went online.

But I haven't ever put that part of it into action, as it kind of seems like it would be a bit 'noisy'. Do people really want to get such emails a couple of times a day? I suspect not ...

Following comment posted by: Michael Kohne on May 27, 2012 5:33 AM

No, I don't think several e-mails a day is good plan. You might want to think about an RSS feed though - that's more of a pull from the client, and there more at the client's discretion, but it lets people merge it with their other feed reading. The only downside is that of course it may need more resources on your end (some feed readers pull more often than would seem sensible).

Following comment posted by: Dave on May 27, 2012 7:34 AM

The problem with doing it through RSS is that the item stays in your RSS reader, even after I've finished and turned the camera off. It only works well if you happen to be using your reader at the time the camera came online.

RSS is great for things like blog posts, where the actual content of the post can be included in the feed, so you don't actually even need to come to the site here to read it, but I don't see that it suits the 'notification' situation - to let somebody know when something is happening 'right now'. That's either email or Twitter, I think ...

The Ustream interface is integrated with Twitter, and it would be very easy to send a "Woodblock Webcam going online now ..." tweet each time, but I dunno ...

Unless, now that I think of it, I were to set up a Twitter account specifically for such tweets. People would know in advance of 'following' such an account that it was going to bring them such notices (in pairs: 'on' a couple of times a day ... each time followed by 'off' a couple of hours later).

Following comment posted by: Deb on May 27, 2012 7:44 AM

I wouldn't mind emails when the cam went live, but I may be in the minority. I check in around 7-8pm (Atlantic Time) these days to see if there's anything going on -- yesterday I managed to catch you working on some detailed carving for the new print in the series, which was neat.

I hope you don't mind the extra viewers! I just know a bunch of people who are fascinated by this sort of work -- as I said in the comments, many of my friends and I work on computers all day so it really is interesting to watch skilled craftspeople do their work.

Thanks so much for taking the time to answer our questions!

Following comment posted by: Tom Kristensen on May 28, 2012 7:40 PM

I would like an email too

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