by Dave Cross
Chapter 2. The Webcam
In which equipment is arranged
Pip: do I have what? Magwitch: a webcam. one of those little cameras that attach to a pc Pip: er... no. why? Magwitch: coz then you wouldn't have to describe stuff in words. Magwitch: you could just show me Pip: um, yeah. i guess. let me see what i can do
I was rather thrown by by the question, but I quickly realised that it made perfect sense. It would save a lot of time if I could just show him the changes that were taking place rather than having to describe them in words. He also managed to persuade me that it would be interesting to have a photographic record to look back on in later life. I was sold on the the idea. We had to get a webcam. Soon.
Of course, these days you get webcams free with just about every PC you buy, but back then they were rare. And expensive. There was no way that I could just go out and buy one with my pocket money. I have to persuade my sister or Joe that buying one would be a good idea. Which basically meant working out a way that they could make money out of owning one.
There was another problem too. The PC sat on a desk in the corner of the living room. No-one ever took any notice of what I was doing when I was typing away in the corner, but I felt sure that someone would notice if I started waving my willy about in front of a camera. But that problem could wait until we had a webcam. The more immediate problem was getting a webcam into the house.
I gave the matter some serious thought as I walked home from school. I decided that I'd try to persuade them to buy a webcam but that if I failed then I'd be prepared to borrow one of Joe's credit cards and use it to buy one over the internet. Sure they'd realise what had happened when the credit card statement arrived, but by then I felt sure that I'd be able to persuade then what a useful and fun tool it was.
I stuck my key in the keyhole and opened the front door. Joe was the first person I saw. He was sitting in front of the television watching Countdown. He always said he enjoyed trying to beat the contestants but I can't remember ever hearing him suggest an answer. I think he was just waiting for the random letters to spell "wankers" or something like that. Anyway, there was no point in waiting.
"Joe," I said, "have you ever thought about buying a webcam for the PC?" He waited until Carol Vorderman had finished pulling out the letters "fuckinq" before turning to me.
"So close," he sighed, disappointed, "Sorry, what did you say?"
"A webcam," I repeated, "For the computer. Have you ever thought of buying one?"
"What's one of those then?" he looked confused, "What's it for?"
I explained that it was a camera that plugged into the computer and that it would mean that we could send photos to people across the internet. At that point my sister walked in from the kitchen carrying a two cans of beer. She gave one to Joe and sat down next to him on the sofa. Joe asked her if she had heard of a webcam, she said she hadn't so I went through my explaination again in greater detail.
My sister picked up on the idea far more quickly than Joe,. To be honest, she picked up on most ideas more quickly than Joe. Almost immediately she started asking detailed questions. She wanted to know how much it would cost and I eagerly showed her the adverts in the copy of Personal Computer World that I had bought on the way home for just that purpose.
"So with one of these we can sent photos over the internet," she said, "But what about video? Can it handle moving images?"
"Well, that one can't," I flicked through a few pages and found another advert, "but this one can. It's a bit more expensive though." I was amazed. It looked like this was going to be easier than I had expected.
"Sounds like fun," she looked at Joe, "tell you what, Joe and I will talk about it tonight and let you know what we think in the morning."
At that point I was pretty sure that I'd got my way and this was confirmed over breakfast the next morning. I marked the adverts for the models I recommended and Joe took the magazine with him when he went into town at lunchtime. It was a frustrating afternoon at school knowing that the camera was waiting for me at home. My only consolation was knowing that no-one else would plug the camera into the computer. Installing new hardware was my job.
When I got home things were better than I could have possibly hoped for. On the table in the lounge sat the box containing the webcam, but next to it was a note. Joe and my sister had gone out for the evening. Dinner was in the microwave. They'd be late home. Don't wait up.
I would be alone in the house for the rest of the evening. Magwitch normally came online at about 6:30, that gave me an hour and a half to get everything up and running. I ripped open the box and eagerly started to work my way through the plugs and wires that it contained.
Within twenty minutes I had the camera plugged in and the software installed. Joe had bought the more expensive model which supported video and I had a window open on the desktop which contained my face gurning and grimacing out at me. I was very happy with myself and celebrated by finding a couple of packets of crisps in the kitchen which I ate greedily. Then I remembered the dinner that was waiting for me in the microwave which turned out to be some kind of ratatouille. I carefully transferred it from the microwave to the dustbin and then ate two more packets of crisps to compensate.
It was just after six. Magwitch would probably appear online at some point in the next half an hour. I fiddled with the settings on the camera software to improve the picture quality. Then I adjusted the desktop light for a while which meant that I had to re-adjust the picture settings. Thoughtout all of these adjustments I have been concentrating on my face, but I eventually realised that it would make more sense to try focussing on what I'd actually be pointing the camera at.
Then, for the first time ever in my life, thoughts of personal hygiene popped into my head. If I was going to be showing off my willy then it should probably be as clean as possible. I ran upstairs to the bathroom, whipped it out and washed it far more thoroughly than I ever had before. Two minutes later it was the cleanest it had ever been but the frantic rubbing together with the thoughts of what I was about to do meant that it was also the largest it had ever been. I was completely unable to get it back into my trousers so I had my them bunched around my thighs as I walked somewhat awkwardly back down the stairs.
I sat, rather uncomfortably, at the desk and waited for Magwitch to show up.
Last Updated: Mon 03 Nov 2003, 23:06
All material © 2003, Dave Cross. All Rights Reserved.