Dad vs. the Webcam

December 16, 2006

My wife Diane and I bought a webcam several months ago, which she uses mainly to communicate with her birthmother in Michigan. While my father was in town for an extended Thanksgiving holiday visit, he had his first experience with a webcam. He used ours to speak with my birthmother-in-law, and he seemed quite impressed because “it doesn’t cost a dime” to talk. Dad also mentioned several times that he thought it was “the nuts,” which is a high compliment.

While in Oklahoma to visit my brother and sister-in-law, Diane and I bought an inexpensive webcam for Dad as an early Christmas present. If anyone needs it to remain “connected,” it’s him. He became a widower early last year, the impending long cold winter and short days in Ohio are not to his liking, and he always talks about how there’s nothing to do. (I grew up in a small rural town, and he still lives there.) His three sons are also spread throughout the country. Dad at least has some people with whom he connects in my hometown, but he complains about a good number of “idiots” who drive him crazy.

It took a while, but Dad installed his webcam this week, with some assistance from a local computer store. Unfortunately, he has contended with messages and prompts that make no sense to him. The connection also remains rudimentary, and he made an appearance on my birthmother-in-law’s webcam that apparently spooked her. I first saw Dad on the webcam a few nights ago, which made me understand what probably spooked Diane’s birthmother. With the exception of the computer monitor glow reflecting from Dad’s head, the room appeared otherwise dark. (I suggested that he turn on a lamp, just to improve the lighting.) Probably because he has dial-up, Dad’s movements looked rather choppy, and somehow the window showing movements on our end would not refresh for even longer stretches. The audio quality was horrible as well. Dad would say things that would cut off in mid-sentence, and I could hear my nasal twang reverberating in the headphones.

Fortunately, Dad ordered a high-speed Internet connection a few days ago. (When I started the “webcam campaign” with Dad a few months ago, I also mentioned the advantages of high-speed Internet.) The equipment should arrive next week, and I do hope that he can get connected in time for my birthday next Wednesday. Maybe we can have something that resembles real-time conversations soon, and he can tell “the idiots” how his webcam is “the nuts.”


One Response to “Dad vs. the Webcam”

  1. […] If you recall my entry from 16 December, I talked about some of the problems I had communicating with Dad via his webcam. Fortunately, he got DSL service last week, and our most recent conversations (Friday night and Sunday night) went rather well. The only problem was a “Max Headroom” effect with his voice, as well as hearing echoes of my voice in my headphones. Not a perfect system, but Dad is quite happy to be able to see us all from a distance… especially this time of the year. […]

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