I’ve been diddling with technology for over two decades now… I’ve seen the span of 4.77MHz to 4GHz in CPU speed. Hell, I can recall when I was shocked that Promise put a 286 chip on their caching IDE controller for 486-based machines. After a while, you begin to think that nothing technical will make you go “hmm” much less knock you out of your socks. Well, slippers in this case, but the effect was the same: I am simply amazed.
What knocked me on my proverbial ass? I was reading email tonight when I heard the tell tale sound of a person logging into MSN Messenger. Before I moved, I left behind three USB cameras in different houses: one for my parents, one for my sister and her bf, and one for my friends – the fourth camera of the two-double pack, I took one with me. Since having returned to the online world – via cable modem last week – I was hoping it was one of these camera enabled people on the east coast: surprisingly, it was my father’s screen name.
I popped open a messaging window and chatted with him for a while… he eventually asked me “how do I work this camera thing?” Using the commands in MSN IM, I requested to see his camera feed and then offered to send my feed. The next result is that I was able to say “click Accept” and “click Accept again” and *bam*. Within four seconds and two clicks I was seeing my parents in my old bedroom (the one that I had grew up in) 2500 miles away. And they were able to see me (and my shiny, yet tanned, fivehead) and the current rain the Redmond is sporting – which is strange too, given the weather the last few weeks. I haven’t told them yet but I know that I can eventually show them how to had voice conversations to the process, but for tonight, this was amazing enough.
Frankly, it blew me away. I mean, first the fact that video can be streamed like this, is neat and all, but blasted across the country? In real time? Being able to play “video phone” a la the Jetsons in our lifetime? And what’s more is that it all happened with two mouse clicks… I should go thank the Messenger team for making it that simple… And the real thing that floored me was that my fact that my parents were able to do all of this without a single phone call or list of detailed instructions.
“So easy your parents can use it” – I think that’s the best accolade that I could give any piece of software, and I’m giving it to the MSN IM team.
[As a side note, I’ve heard that iChat AV is simple to use too, but I’m so sick to death of hearing about how much easier iChat AV is compared to MSN IM that I refuse to even acknowledge it. Having seen how easy MSN IM’s video chat is, I can’t image that iChat AV is any easier… it’s the typical “it must be better because it’s from Apple!” argument]