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Candid Camera
Want the world in your living room? Webcams make it easy.

webcam - a WEB page which hosts images or live video streams served by a digital video CAMera attached to a computer.

The basic webcam setup consists of the following three components:

The hardware: This is the digital video camera that actually takes the pictures. It is usually connected to a PC, and comes in many flavours, the most popular of which is the Logitech/Connectix QuickCam.

The software: This is the component that takes the picture from the webcam and uploads it to the Web page at periodic intervals. The image is usually in JPEG format, in order to keep the size down. Needless to say, the computer must be connected to the Internet for this upload to take place.

The Web page: This is where the picture is displayed in its full glory for the rest of the planet to gawk at ;) In order to get the latest shot captured by the webcam, viewers have to reload the page periodically, unless the page owner, out of the kindness of his or her heart, adds some extra HTML code or Java applets to automatically refresh the page every few minutes.

And that's pretty much all you need to give the world an eyeful! Here's how the system works:

1. Every minute, the camera in the cheerleader's bedroom takes a snapshot of all the activities going on.

2. This image is then converted to JPEG format by the software and uploaded to a standard Web server, using the active Internet connection.

3. The eager adolescent finds his way to the Web page and ties his eyeballs up in knots trying to figure out what's what. In the meanwhile, a new picture has been transmitted from the camera to the Web server.

4. The adolescent gives up on that particular image and decides to reload the page. On doing so, he sees the latest picture, and realizes that what he had previously imagined to be a sheep was actually a pile of old newspapers. Disappointed, he returns to the Playboy site for more immediate satisfaction :)

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