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Squaw Valley Uber Cam

Posted by hansmuller on January 3, 2005 at 2:28 PM PST

Over the holidays was talking with a friend about the probability
of getting up to Lake Tahoe (starting from Silicon Valley) for a nice
day of skiing. It's a four or five hour drive when the weather is
accommodating however in bad weather the trip can be a bit of an
ordeal. Once you've arrived, if you're a middling skier like yours
truly, cold snowy windy conditions aren't quite as much fun
as barreling down a warm slushy hill in a light sweater. My friend
had been thinking about making the trip, and for an up to the second
real-time look at weather conditions, he recommended Squaw Valley's
"Uber Cam":
http://www.squaw.com/winter/squawubercam.html

It turns out that the Uber Cam is an applet that (over a broadband
internet connection) provides a moderately real-time view of the
resort. What's interesting about the web cam is that you can control
the pan/tilt/zoom for the auto-focus camera and there's logic for
sharing control with other people. It's pretty effective.

Here's a screenshot of the applet in action. Below the live
image, there's a simple diagram that helps you understand
which way the camera is pointed. The blue rectangle represents
the camera frame within the potential field of view.

squaw-ubercam.png src="http://weblogs.java.net/blog/hansmuller/archive/images/squaw-ubercam.png"
width="644" height="529" />

The web camera system comes from

Dotworkz Systems

and data is delivered over a 256K/second link.
The Dotworkz
folks seemed to have aimed at the security business however
they've been picked up by enterprises with less stressful missions,
like this "surf cam" for Ocean Beach in San Diego:

http://www.sundiego.com/flashset_obcam.htm
.

As for me, I watched a Squaw Valley worker trudge through a swirling
blizzard as he pushed a snow blower across the ski lodge patio. Then
I zoomed in on a group of people hustling down the patio steps towards
the slopes. They did look pretty happy to be out there even though
they appeared to be not so much walking as swimming toward
the chair lifts. Clearly these people were much braver
than I am.

I'll go skiing next week. When it stops snowing.