Webcam catches tourists walking on Old Faithful

Yellowstone National Park rangers say they’ve handed out $US125 tickets to three people after someone watching by webcam saw tourists walking dangerously close to the iconic Old Faithful geyser.

Someone from Wisconsin called rangers to report the errant tourists. A park ranger found about 30 people standing around the geyser’s cone taking pictures.

Venturing off boardwalks in Yellowstone is extremely dangerous. Only a thin crust of soil covers boiling-hot water in places. Hot water has severely burned several people in Yellowstone over the years.

Standing near Old Faithful is doubly dangerous. Old Faithful erupts with scalding blasts of 96 Celsius water. The eruptions occur every hour or two less predictable than the geyser’s name suggests. Rangers cited the tour group leader, bus driver and a tour member.

Your computer may be watching you

Is your computer watching you?

Most new computers and laptops now have webcams. But, how do you know if it’s activated?

One couple found out they were being watched through the webcam of a laptop they rented. In depth:  how your electronics can turn against you.

Matt Bauerband, computer whiz with a local company called Computer Answers, shows how your webcam can watch you.“As soon as I move my finger, it should kick on, and there we go.”Bauerband downloaded a program that activates the computer’s webcam as soon as it detects any motion or noise.

First, we walked in front of the laptop to test it and then we set the laptop up in a separate room.  As soon as we walked in, the camera started recording. Bauerband says a program like this can be installed from anywhere.“Someone could easily hack into any computer, install it, and then monitor the webcam remotely.”

And the program will send the hacker updates of what the webcam has captured.“This will also email you video, pictures, sounds, whatever this captures directly to your email address.” The software is supposed to act like a security camera. For example, a Florida woman set up a webcam in her home and caught two burglars in the act. But, a Wyoming couple had a very different, and disturbing experience.

Crystal and Brian Bird leased a laptop from Aaron’s a rent to own store. They were blown away when an employee from the store showed up at their door. “I couldn’t believe it, the guy came in like he owned the place, showed me a picture of myself, it was pretty invasive.” The birds say the picture was of Brian on the couch, playing computer poker, secretly taken by the laptops webcamera.

“I’ve used it in my bra and underwear, there’s been a few times checking my grades for school getting ready to get in the shower, I’m in my bra and underwear not thinking anyone is watching me, of course.” Computer Answers owner Paul Zaichenko explains this is just a taste of what he feels is a growing problem; our electronics turning against us. “Our privacy becomes a question. At what point and where do we have it where don’t we?”

Here are some steps you can take to protect yourself from your webcam:

First – enable your firewall.

Second – make sure you have good anti-virus software, and update it regularly.

Third – install a spyware detection program as well.

Anti-virus software alone may not be enough to fight spyware.

The world in your Iphone

Do you always want to be up to date on what’s happening at your favorite places and keep an eye on nearby weather or traffic conditions? Then WebcamIphone is the perfect application for your iPhone or iPod touch. Using WebcamIphone, you can get pictures of your favorite places anytime you want. You can easily add webcams using the integrated webcam directory 123cam.

123cam.com is the largest and fastest growing webcam community in the world wide web. With WebcamIphone, you can be part of it. From over 17000 webcams around all the world, you can view the newest, most popular or even nearby webcams. The location of any webcam can be easily viewed with the Google Maps application.

You’re in your car on your way home and want to know which roads have little traffic? Adding all traffic cams from your area to WebcamIphone could help you avoiding any traffic jam. Your winter vacation will be more beautiful if the weather plays along. That’s why you should inform yourself about the latest weather conditions in your skiing region before you leave your hotel. Is the sun shining or is there a raging blizzard outside? With WebcamIphone you’ll know!

Upgraded WCU webcam now operational

Western Carolina University recently unveiled a new webcam designed to provide visitors with a “you-are-there” look at the newly redesigned central core of campus.

The new camera replaces an old unit housed at the A.K. Hinds University Center. Because the previous webcam was located behind a glass window, the image often was obscured by glare, especially during afternoon hours when it was pointed toward the setting sun. The new camera, which is located on Balsam Residence Hall, boasts an image size about 50 percent larger than the older model, said Jed Tate, WCU web services manager.

“The image has a wider aspect ratio of 16:9, so we’re able to show more of the campus than before, and the camera’s panning and zooming capabilities allowed us to position a better shot,” Tate said. “That means that instead of a small view of just the Alumni Tower, viewers can see the tower, the University Center and the new fountain.”

Color and brightness have improved as well, he said. “Daytime shots are much clearer, and nighttime shots don’t just go dark,” he said. “They can be pretty striking actually.” The webcam produces a “snapshot” of the central core area of campus, and the image is updated every 10 seconds. Visitors to the website will need to hit the Web browser’s refresh button to see the updated image.

In addition to giving visitors to the university website a look at campus, images from the WCU webcam frequently appear on local television newscasts and even nationally on networks such as The Weather Channel. Jason Boyer, chief meteorologist with WLOS-TV, the Asheville-based ABC affiliate, said he has seen a marked increase in the quality of images.

“The improvements to the Western Carolina University webcam have been wonderful,” Boyer said. “As a meteorologist, it has certainly been an integral tool, helping me see what’s happening in that area of our mountains, and I use this webcam on a daily basis for my forecasts.” The webcam can be found on the WCU website HERE.