The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Cooler weather, just not on camera

Useless fact: Today was the first time since April 6th that my walk to work was below freezing.

Not useless fact: the Inner Drive Webcam was temporarily off-line overnight, as I'm making some infrastructure changes and the computer it's attached to is being decommissioned. (It's back up now.) Apparently people noticed:

I don't do business with you because I don't need to, however, I do look at your live camera every day to see the weather and get a look at Evanston, the town in which I was born and raised. My grandfather lived in the North Shore Hotel in the '50s and I visited there often. Your bottom line may not get any bigger if you continue with the camera but there may be people like myself that will miss getting a glimpse of a portion of the city. I hope that you will not let your new infrastructure cancel out the continuation of the camera.

—John in Craddockville, Va.



I look out at Chicago Ave almost every morning that I am not home in Evanston—just to 'check in'. I think it is the only Webcam in the town. Please keep it up! I love it!

—Bernard, writing from Los Angeles

I had no idea.

The technical issue is simple. Right now the camera runs on an ancient (6-year-old) server running Windows 2000. It's essentially Inner Drive's backup server, sort of the Prince Charles of the office. All it does with its 200 watts is run the Webcam and wait for another server to die.

Here's a photo. The Webcam is hooked into the server on the bottom. (One wag called it "Paul McServer" and called the other one "Server Wonder," but in the office we call them McHenry and Bulle. Bulle is so old it reflects the obsolete naming scheme we haven't used in years.)

Well, server prices having fallen, and efficiencies having risen, and rack-mounting being generally preferable to floor-mounting, we're replacing it with a Dell 860. But the new server will have a Xeon processor, which means we'll be running the 64-bit version of Windows Server 2003, which means (finally) our Webcam software won't run on the new server.

When we get the new server running (probably the first week of December), I may take an old, decrepit laptop and hook that into the Webcam. In any event, given the outpouring of support for it, I'll do what I can to keep it running.

Really cool gadget

I want one of these:

Obviously printed photos are so last-decade. Digital photo frames allow us to go directly from shooting to displaying our photos with no messy meatspace-based printed version needed. The eStarling 2.0 Wi-Fi Photo Frame takes this concept to the next level by connecting to your local Wi-Fi network and allowing you to send photos to it via e-mail or RSS photo feed.

With full web-based access you can control exactly the photos you want on your eStarling frame at any time from anywhere in the word. E-mail photos as .jpg attachments and they appear on your frame.

I heart ThinkGeek.

Link roundup

Share and enjoy:

And also from reader MB, some bumper stickers we'd like to see:

  • Even Nixon Resigned
  • We Need a President Who's Fluent In At Least One Language
  • The Republican Party: Our Bridge to the 11th Century

Toy? Or training aid?

Here's a great idea (via AVweb): using Microsoft® Flight Simulator as a training aid:

Here's how Microsoft Flight Simulator as a Training Aid helps aviators get the most out of every hour in the air or the virtual skies:
  • Student Pilots can use the information in this book to enhance book-learning, review specific concepts and skills, and in preparing for formal flight instruction.
  • Certificated Pilots can complement real-world flying with additional hours in the virtual skies, upgrading flying skills and learning about advanced aircraft and procedures.
  • Flight Instructors will discover new ways to use Flight Simulator as a teaching tool in ground school classes and pre- and post-flight briefings.
  • Virtual Aviators (Flight Simulator hobbyists) will learn more about real-world flying and enhance their enjoyment of virtual flying.

My dad got a copy of the latest Flight Simulator version for his birthday, and even on his old clunker of a computer it looks incredible. On his computer it's a little jumpy as the display sometimes lags behind the simulation, but if you're training to do holding patterns or instrument approaches, the realistic ground display isn't helpful anyway.

Someday, when I have oodles of time, I may pick up a copy for myself.