Weekly Wire
Weekly Alibi Through the Looking Glass

By David O. Dabney

JULY 28, 1997:  Don't have enough money to travel to Mars? Well, NASA does, and they take lots of pictures. Add this to a bunch of people who have nothing better to do than to train a camera on their cat and upload those images to the Internet and you end up with some of the better starting points when it comes to live and semi-live images on the Internet.

Space 1997: Unless you just crawled out from under a rock, you probably know that NASA has just landed a vehicle on Mars. You'd have a head like a rock not to want to take a look at what has to be the ultimate WebCam: the one mounted on the front of Pathfinder. This site (www.jpl.nasa.gov) has become so popular that NASA has been forced to mirror the site on more than 20 other sites around the world! The site has all kinds of cool photos taken from the rover, including that amazing 360 degree panorama that CNN and others keep showing. Incidentally, don't go to www.nasa.com thinking its the actual NASA site. In true Internet fashion, someone, seeing how many hits any Web page with the name NASA was getting because of Pathfinder, went out and registered nasa.com hoping to cash in on some free publicity at the expense of people who mistakenly type that address instead of nasa.gov. All the page has is a banner ad for a dirty picture site and a bad Mike Tyson joke.

Another good starting point for any sort of WebCam information concerning the space program is the Ambit NASA Live Cam site. This page can be really annoying since it's a very graphics intensive one that reloads every four minutes to refresh the images. It seems to be geared towards the Space Shuttle and the other aspects of the space program since I couldn't find any reference to Pathfinder on it. (www.geocities.com/SiliconValley/1080/nasacams.html)

Random Cam: Sometimes you're in the mood to let someone else do the driving for once. That's where Bill's Random Internet Camera comes in. It's located at www.xmission.com/~bill/randcamera.html, and all you have to do is click on the big button to be transported to a random Internet camera anywhere in the world. One of the cooler features is the "remote control" feature. It allows you to have the Randomizer button in one window while your random NetCam comes up in another window. Essentially it obviates the necessity of always having to hit the "back" button to return to the Random Internet Camera site. If you don't go in for that random stuff, you can also access the list from which the Random Camera chooses.

Reach Out and ...: Thingies on the Net is a very well-organized page with lots and lots of links to indoor and outdoor cameras as well as other Internet accessible devices like pagers, telescopes and VCRs. On the whole though, the site would be a lot better if there were some rudimentary descriptions of each location so you have an idea what you're going to see. Sometimes the site name itself is enough, like the case of Live FerretCam, but some names like "t@p-j@m-c@m1" are downright obtuse. Incidentally, after accessing the site, I'm still not sure about "t@p-j@m-c@m1." I think it's a bar.

And the Winner Is ...: Until I started researching this article, I had never heard of the Internet NetCam Committee. Apparently they watch over and rate WebCams. Apparently nobody else has really heard of them either since none of the other WebCam sites I saw even mentioned them. Anyway, they host a list of the current top five WebCam sites (although they never say what it takes to get on the list) as well as a good list of other interesting WebCams. They have a link to the camera poised on the top of the Polo Towers in Las Vegas (ranked number four in the list) that has an amazing view of the city. (www.jas.com/jasbits/netcams.html)







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