First of all, welcome!
We're Roger and Wilco, a husband and wife geocaching team.
Thanks for using CacheCam!
The idea for CacheCam came about when we were planning our first webcam geocache. At first, the idea of a webcam geocache sounded almost too simple and maybe not all that fun. But it occured to us that we would need some way to capture the webcam image from the web. Since we always goecache together, there wouldn't be anyone available at home to grab the image while we were at the correct coordinates and posing for the webcam.
Sure, we could call on friends or other family members, but when you're out geocaching on a Saturday morning, it's not very likely that you'll catch anyone at home in front of their computer! This raised the bar a little, making it more of a challenge.
So, for our first outing, we cobbled together a quick and dirty little computer program that continuously monitored the changing images from our intended webcam, storing each new image on disk. Off we went to the webcam geocahe, and by the time we returned home about four hours later, we had nearly 300 images clogging up our system! And the trouble didn't end there. We had to spend some time to filter through the images and find the correct one with us in it.
With that experience behind us, we had learned a little something about webcam geocaching. If only we had a way to signal the computer when we were in position so that it could get just the current image, not a whole bunch of images. We also needed to have the computer signal us that it had the image so that we could relax our pose and move to the next geocache of the day.
Well, we thought, why not use our mobile phone to signal our computer? We always have a phone with us that is capable of sending email, so we figured that it wouldn't be too hard to brew up a computer program that could be triggered with an appropriate email.
We built it and it performs beautifully! Since it works so well for us, we thought that it might be a useful tool for others doing their own webcam geocaching. This CacheCam website and backend systems are the result.
How CacheCam Works
The general process flow of CacheCam is:
- You compose an email message with the URL of the image you want and send it to CacheCam at email@example.com
- CacheCam will confirm that the URL is valid, and after an optional delay, will get a current copy of the image
- CacheCam continues to monitor the image, until the image is changed (with you in it!)
- CacheCam will immediately alert you that it has the image, optionally email the image back to you, and store it on the CacheCam website
Here are the details:
The CacheCam system is built on the internet email system. This allows access to CacheCam from any device that can generate internet email messages. We wanted to make the system as flexible as possible, so we designed CacheCam to use very simple and straightforward email messages. It is possible to use your phone or a public-access computer to get webcam images because of this simple email-based mechanism.
Each CacheCam grab request is simply the first (and maybe only) line in the body of an email message. The request is NOT in the email's Subject: line, which may contain text, but is otherwise ignored by CacheCam.
CacheCam can accomodate 'guest' (unregistered) users and registered users. The way the system behaves with any given request depends on the user's status at that time.
Registered users are able to preset their 'default grab settings', that is, set up their desired Alert-To, Reply-To and Delay defaults so that they don't need to be included in each grab request. Also, registered users are able to give a waypoint nickname to URLs that they preset in their profile. This greatly simplifies the request message that needs to be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also, when CacheCam receives a request that doesn't include the User-ID element, it will scan all user profiles trying to match the sender's email address with one found in a user profile. If a match is found, then CacheCam has found the User-ID and can proceed from there, using the user's grab defaults and waypoint settings.
For example, when a registered user sends a grab request from their mobile phone – which happens to be listed as the Alert-To or Reply-To address – then it is possible that the request be as simple as a single word, such as "WP1".
On the other hand, when a guest (unregistered) user makes a grab request, there are no user profile defaults and so the request must explicitly contain the appropriate elements.
So, each grab request to CacheCam consists of up to five elements, separated by commas and/or spaces, all given in the first line of an email message:
- URL of the image, or the page containing the image (required)
- Registered User ID (optional)
- Alternate email address for sending the grabbed image (optional)
- Delay in minutes for CacheCam to wait before starting the grab (optional)
- Email address to which you want system alerts to be sent (optional)
If the user is unregistered, or otherwise cannot be determined by CacheCam, and the third and/or fifth elements are omitted, CacheCam will use the received email's From: address to send its reply and/or alerts.
The fourth element, delay, is useful if you need some time to get into position before CacheCam starts to grab the image. When given a delay in the request, CacheCam will generate two alerts: 1) immediately letting you know that it has begun a grab delay, and 2) when the delay has finished and the grab has actually started, so that you can hold your pose.
Some example request messages for registered users are:
This request only includes a waypoint and the user ID. CacheCam will lookup the waypoint in the user's profile and immediately begin the grab. If the user's default grab settings are cleared, CacheCam will use the requesting email's From: address for the reply with the image, and any status alerts.
GC9WA7, roger, email@example.com
This request includes a waypoint, the user ID, and a reply-to email address. As before, CacheCam will lookup the waypoint in the user's profile, but will use this reply-to email address instead of one that it may find in the user's profile.
This request specifies all grab request elements: waypoint, reply-to email address, delay and alert-to email address. Though a registered user may have waypoint and default grab settings in their profile, it is possible to make a request just as a guest user would do.
Some example request messages for guest (unregistered) users are:
This request only includes an URL, specifically to the image we want. CacheCam will immediately begin the grab, and will use the requesting email's From: address for the reply with the image, and any status alerts.
This request includes an URL to the webpage that contains the image we want. CacheCam will delay for 2 minutes before it begins the grab, and will use the requesting email's From: address for the reply with the image, and any status alerts.
This request includes a complete URL to the webpage that includes the image that we want. CacheCam will start the grab immediately, and will send the grabbed image to 'firstname.lastname@example.org' and any alerts to the requesting email's From: address.
www.webcam.com/main/weather.htm email@example.com 5 firstname.lastname@example.org
This request includes an URL to the webpage that includes the image that we want. CacheCam will start the grab in 5 minutes, and will send the grabbed image to 'email@example.com' and alerts to 'firstname.lastname@example.org'.
As you use CacheCam, you will potentially provide us with two pieces of personal information: your email address, and/or your mobile phone number. (If you send a request from your mobile phone, it is likely that your phone's internet email address consists of your mobile phone number.) In addition, we may record the IP address of the computer that you use to send email or when you use the Web Grab function on this website.
We may record this information in our private files, in order to give us tools to enforce our Acceptable Use Policy. Still, we assure you that we will not share, sell, lease or otherwise make this information available to anyone not affiliated with CacheCam, except when this information is requested by proper authorities and we are lawfully required to provide it.
We may use specific information that you have provided to us when it is related to our attempts to enforce our Acceptable Use Policy. As we pursue this enforcement activity, we may share related information with anyone we choose.
Acceptable Use Policy
In the hopes of simplifying webcam goecaching for others, we've made CacheCam available to the public. We welcome your use of it, to further your enjoyment of webcam geocaching.
You may not use the CacheCam system to send images, messages, or alerts to any email address or mobile phone that you do not own, or do not have permission to use. You may not use this site to annoy anyone, or to send unwelcome messages and/or images to others. You may not use the CacheCam system to grab or store images that are lewd, pornographic, obscene, or otherwise offensive.
We are the sole and ultimate judges of what constitutes unacceptable use of the CacheCam system and this website. We may delete without notice any image or images that we find offensive, and we may block access to CacheCam and refuse to service requests from IP addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses that we deem to be unwelcome.
In other words, if you play nice, we'll play nice.
Disclaimer of Liability
The use of CacheCam is available to you for the purpose of simplifying and enhancing your enjoyment of webcam geocaching. It is provided to you free of charge.
In light of this, you should be aware that we are not liable for any malfunction or loss of availability of the system, nor are we liable for any failure to acknowledge or act on any request that you may submit, or any non-delivery of images or data, or the delivery of data or images that are corrupted or otherwise deemed unusable by you, in response to any request submitted by you.
We are not liable to you or anyone else if you make unauthorized use of mobile phones, computers, or other devices that you do not own to access and submit requests to the CacheCam system.
We are not responsible for any direct or indirect costs, fees, or charges that you incure while making use of the CacheCam system.