Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Webcam Viewers on X1000

Today I wanted to take a quick look at three webcam viewers for AmigaOS4.1 on the AmigaOne X1000 - Little Brother, Big Sister and AmiWebView 2!

First of all I shall look at Big Sister v53.3, which is written by Massimiliano Scarano and is available on os4depot.net here. This is being actively updated in 2014.

Although it is free to use, please feel free if you can to donate to support this program and ongoing AmigaOS4.1 development - after all, developers need incentives and feedback to keep developing their programs and making them even better!

Big Sister is a webcam viewer that works with webcams featuring frequently refreshed jpg images. Here is the extracted folder:

The BigSister.doc in the folder explains how to use the program:

Here is the BigSister program on first launch:

You can put in a specific webcam url you want to view by typing or pasting into the Webcam image URL field and pressing Enter. Alternatively, you can choose some of the webcams already put into the Webcam Image Name field (which can be edited from the Big Sister program Icon Information screen - more on this later).

Here are some of the inbuilt webcam URL's included to select with BigSister, which all work. Note that they run at different sizes depending on the source jpg size:

The software will auto refresh the display after the number of seconds you specify in the interface - it makes sense to check the original webcam url for the time refresh interval the website uses, and then set this figure to the same - you can then see the updates like this:

Here is one last webcam from the built in set of url's included with Big Sister:

So when you get bored looking at those, how do you add more? The answer is google to find the url's you want to view, and then add them into the Big Sister icon, right click -> Information, and then add them on the Icon Information tab as below:

Each section consists of:

NAME_X=Location of webcam

I added in Adelaide and Tokyo webcams as above. When I run Big Sister again I can now select them from the Webcam image name selection:

This program works well, and can even auto cycle through the defined URL's in the list if you want it keep changing the webcam view being shown every few seconds.

A different take on the webcam viewer is provided by the Little Brother program, made by Guillaume Boesel (zzd10h) who wanted to provide a AmigaOS4 dock functionality unlike the Big Sister program above. This is why it is called Little Brother! This is actively updated in 2014.

As with the Big Sister program, the Little Brother webcam viewer shows refreshed jpg webcam images from a specific URL.

Although it is free to use, please feel free if you can to donate to support this program and ongoing AmigaOS4.1 development - after all, developers need incentives and feedback to keep developing their programs and making them even better!

Here is the Little Brother folder once downloaded from os4depot.net here and extracted:

Please ignore the Australia and Japan folders - I created these by accident and forgot to remove them before screen grabbing....

To create multiple webcams for the dock, I then renamed the Little Brother folder to Adelaide, and then created a new (empty) Little Brother folder and moved the Adelaide folder in it. I then duplicated the Adelaide folder twice (right click, Duplicate) and renamed the resulting folders to Paris and Italy to get the folder structure below:

The reason I did this is because the Little Brother docky displays only one webcam. It is necessary to create a duplicate folder structure for each additional webcam you want to display.

For each folder as above, you then edit the LittleBrother.docky icon information tab (Right click, Information) and fill in the WEBCAM and WEBCAM_TITLE fields with the URL of the webcam, and the location of the webcam to appear underneath the webcam picture. Don't forget to set the REFRESH field with the refresh time in seconds - 120 seconds (2 minutes) by default:

Now you can drag these dockies into your main dock, but in my case it was pretty full. The author helps further by showing his settings (images in the Settings_Sample folder) to create another empty dock, which is better suited to displaying the Little Brother webcam images. This is very helpful to get a new dock created quickly that makes the most of the programs jpg views on your desktop. Here is the images and one example from the folder below:

In my case, below I show my settings for my new dock I created for LittleBrother. You can access these settings by left clicking the Amidock so it is in focus, and then right clicking on the Amidock and selecting Edit (or select Edit Preferences from the Amidock title bar menu).

Next, click Add in the Docks section to add a new Dock - I named it LittleBrother - then make sure it is highlighted as below:

Leave the Categories as default, and then fill out the other tabs as per the below:

Click on Save. This gives us a nice transparent vertical dock on our desktop.

Then drag the dockies from each folder I created earlier one by one into the new dock on your desktop and move the dock to where you want it - in my case I chose the right side of my desktop (click to expand):

Here's another view, this time with some other things running too - Odyssey and AmigaAmp:

I then added a few more Little Brother Dockies from Tokyo to fill things up even more on the right side (click to expand):

And here is Little Brother and Big Sister running side by side on the X1000 (Click to expand):

The final Webcam viewer program I am looking at on the X1000 is AmiWebView 2.

Alinea Computers sells this commercial webcam viewer for AmigaOS4, available here for EUR5,95.

Once purchased, downloaded and installed (I bought the CD version) you get the following folder:

When you run the AmiWebView 2 program for the first time,  you should see the screen below:

You can see webcams are sorted by various groups like Worldwide and Miscellaneous and then broken down into country and topic sub groups.

This structure is nice and easy to navigate, making browsing a large list of webcam URL's much simpler. When you highlight a particular webcam you want to view, simply click on connect and a window opens up with the webcam in question. You can open more than one at a time, as below (click to expand):

Due to the age of this program (most recent update in 2010), many of the included webcam url's no longer work, but they are easy to change or to add new ones.

To create your own groups, select Add Group, as below:

Call the group name what you want and press Enter. Then select Add Cam to add a webcam URL to the group you created:

Put in the descriptive Name and the URL in the Address field (you can also specify the refresh time and which HTTP protocol to use for the connection if needed). Fortunately, like Big Sister you can copy and paste the URL you want straight into the program:

After hitting connect you can see the Adelaide webcam showing on the separate webcam window in AmiWebView 2:

Don't forget to Save your updated list from the Title bar menu before closing the program!

Which program you ultimately want to use is a matter of personal preference and choice, all three offering different features.

In my case, I do like the dock option in Little Brother - it makes it easier to have multiple webcam images permanently visible on the desktop without using too much space on the desktop.

However the method in Little Brother to duplicate folders by hand to create multiple Webcam dockies is a bit clunky compared to the single icon multiple Webcam configuration method in Big Sister. In turn the GUI based configuration in AmiWebView 2 is even easier to configure.

The auto-cycle option in Big Sister means you don't need to run multiple images to see what is happening across multiple webcams. However, you can't show multiple webcam windows and you can't run the webcam images in the dock, which means the image window will be floating around the screen rather than fixed in one place. You also can't run the AmiWebView 2 windows in a dock, but it does support multiple webcam windows at the same time.

One suggestion I have for all three programs, is the facility to save the images sequentially into a folder while the program is active (I believe they all overwrite the same image each time instead). This new feature would then allow me to be able to put together all the image frames (normally 5 seconds apart) into a nice movie of each webcam's activity! I would think this would not be too hard to do but then I am not a programmer!

It is certainly nice to be spoilt for choice, and the relative merits of each program provide plenty of scope for all three programs to improve into the future!

It is certainly nice to see webcam programs that show what is happening across multiple cities all over the world in close to realtime on my X1000! Please try them out!

1 comment:

  1. Nice review thanks.
    To all users: don' t forget that a small donation to the related programmers would help and motivate them a lot!
    Massimiliano Scarano mscarano @ libero . it
    Author of BigSister