Bits and Bytes

No longer a video virgin

I made my first video phone call today! Well..actually, it was my first bi-directional video call. The other day my friend from Yellowknife was visiting her sister in BC and they Skyped me as they were figuring out how to make things work but it was only one-way. They didn’t have a webcam.

My Mum and Dad have been using Skype since last Christmas when I visited them and installed it on their computer. It’s a nice, direct way to talk sometimes. In the Skype. I’ve been using it for almost two years talking to my friends in Europe and using it for work. And since, I’ve had so many interesting conversations in the Skype. It is certainly a different level of communication–that’s another blog entry for sure. BUT RIGHT NOW..it’s all about video.

This Christmas, my sister Redd is in the Yukon and even though I called four or five times on Thursday, I still missed being home. I asked her yesterday if she could buy a webcam for my parents and help them install it. And that she did. THANK YOU REDD.

THANK YOU.

The first thing I did is stick out my tongue. PPPPPBBBTTTTT. Of course. Good job there wasn’t a spare box lying around, I probably would have put it on my head.

When the video arrived on my computer, I could see my sister sitting in front of her computer. We futzed around a bit trying to make it better, but I was too excited: “Get Mum and Dad!” I was so excited, I repeated myself like Jacob Two Two: “Get Mum and Dad. Get Mum and Dad!”

She called them and they came tramping upstairs. And we tried to figure out the level of detail I could see in their house. NOBODY was in front of the webcam, they were all standing around the computer. But I could see my Mum’s quilted wall hangings on the opposite wall (about 10 feet away). So I said so. “I can see your wall hangings Mum.”

She literally scurried over to the other wall and took them down and brought them back back to the webcam. “Can you see what they are Jennie? Can you see what they are?”

My video reception was grainy–I’m calling it pixelated. But I could make out they looked distinctly like the California Coast line. I loved it. I loved that I could see my parents and talk to them. I loved that I could see my Mum scurry over to the wall and bring back her wall hangings to show me. I LOVED that it was a quilted version of the California Coast from when they visited in 2005. (OH…I really have to do an entry on my Mum’s passion — quilting. She’s an artist herself in the material medium–and pretty damn good if I do say so myself). DAMN GOOD if I could recognize her hanging picture through the pixelated video.

Now, in the middle of all this, as my Mum was retrieving her wall hangings, I talked to my sister and told her other things I could see in the room. And she panned the camera. I laughed out loud because I COULD SEE the door to the upstairs toilet. “Don’t leave the webcam on Mum–and go to the loo–and leave the door open.” Because I know it’s just her upstairs sometimes working away on her quilting projects.

So, after my Mum stepped away from the webcam to answer the phone…I COULD SEE MY DAD standing in the bathroom WITH THE DOOR OPEN! Cheeky bugger. We all laughed.

We had few stops and starts as we figured out how to use the video and make it work, but all-in-all THUMBS UP. Thumbs up. Toes up. Shoulders. UP. For Skype video. And my parents in the Yukon. And my sister for helping them install it. And to Deborah and Paula for calling me the other day to get the ball rolling.

Mum, we are going to have that virtual tea and chat yet! (Explanation of virtual tea: circa 1997. Nortel Networks. Greg Skaret, Komei, Mudjat, and a few of my Nortel crowd were brainstorming the next electric spoon. I said that I wanted to be able to have tea in the kitchen with my mum –like the Holodeck on the Enterprise. I wanted to be able to appear in her kitchen and have a cup of tea and chat — from wherever I was in the world. With video chat…well-it’s a start.)

PS: I bought a dress yesterday for my New Year’s party. It says: sassy, classy, and single. It is also a conscious effort to address the nookey deficit (below). Well. It’s a start anyway.

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Comments (3)

  1. Several years ago I bought a par of webcams and sent one to my daughter in Calgary. I understand your excitement about video phone calls, because we (and my twin grand-daughters) enjoyed the technology immensely for a couple of years. I don’t whether the novelty wore off or whether we’re just too busy now but it’s been a few years since we did it.