Welcome to the amazing fezcam at The House O' Fez

This picture was uploaded the last time someone at the house o' fez dialed in.

The fezgate must not be transmitting right now Unlike the original fishcam at netscape the fishcam at the house o' fez only updates when someone at the house 'o fez is online. If this picture looks like a broken graphic, you know that the fezgate is offline. If you see the tank, that means the fezgate is online and chugging away. When that is happening the picture is updated every 30 seconds.

If your browser doesn't support push technology (i.e. internet exploiter) click the reload button in your browser to update the picture. If your browser does support server push, the picture will update automatically every 30 seconds.

About the tank

This fish tank (and the fishcam) has lain dormant for about a year. On the right is a vintage picture from the original fezcam circa 1996.

When Paul moved in he expressed an interest in the empty (of fish) 55 gallon salt water tank I had left over from an abandoned project a few years earlier. I sold it to him and he put in the few fish barely visible in the picture. Shortly after this, he moved out again, sold me the tank and (since I wasn't enthused about the project) algae took over and this picture was taken. The fish died a day or two later.

Recently however, I have become inspired and have restarted the tank.

The marine tank at the house O' Fez is a 55 gallon tank with an under gravel filter (a mistake I wish I hadn't have gone with, but not enough to be bothered to remove it) powered by two power heads, a skilter (modified with an air pump to produce foam after I broke the little connection the air hose is supposed to connect to) and about 55 pounds of live rock. Eventually I will also probably make myself a better protein skimmer.

Eventually I hope for the tank to be rechristened the "fezreef" but for now, the only life forms are 5 blue chromis, a scooter blenny and all the little critters on the live rock. I bought the scooter blenny to eat the food that the chromis missed but it seems he doesn't like flake food so I have to squirt frozen brine shrimp at him thru a straw. The chromis happily gobble up the shrimp that he misses meaning that my school has reversed the planned relationship between them and the blenny.

About the camera

The fezcam is powered by a mac 8500 running occulus software which snaps a picture every 30 seconds and uploads it via ftp to the fezgate. The camera is a color video camera plugged into the 8500's video in port.

Every time the fezgate logs onto my ISP, it copies the latest picture uploaded by occulus and copies it to the first picture on this page. This way there is always a picture up even after the fezgate disconnects.

Next, the fezgate looks up it's IP address and uses it to modify this page to point the second image to a cgi perl program that lives on Fezgate's own web server. This CGI pushes the latest copy of the image to complient browsers. Crappy browsers just see one picture. As long as Fezgate is online, people from the outside can see the latest image.

If you are into that sort of thing, you can see the code for the cgi here.

The advantage of this scheme is that I don't generate a constant stream of traffic to my ISP to upload the latest picture. The pictures are only pulled from the server when someone wants to see them. The down side is the sporadic nature of the link, but given the low cost ($0) of this method I'm willing to live with it.

The original Fezcam involved an applescript that snapped a picture with Photoshop and uploaded it to my ISP. It lasted about a week before I turned it off due to the annoyance of always having to have a 30meg application running.

About the fezgate

The House O' Fez's intranet (feznet) has as it root the Fezgate. The fezgate is a 486/20 with 16meg of ram mounted in a cool 4 foot case that once was a Netframe server. Fezgate has a small 250 meg IDE hard drive loaded with Red Hat Linux 5.0. The netframe came with 3 HUGE (physically) hard drives that total between them 2 gig of space but I was unable to get them to autoboot, hence the IDE drive. They take about 3 minutes to spin up and are very slow and loud. Two powerful fans cool them (they get very hot) and between the drives and the fans I was forced to banish the fezgate to the laundry room where is strives to out-yell the furnace.

All the other machine on feznet's ethernet are set to use fezgate as their router and are assigned private IP addresses. Fezgate intercepts all traffic bound for the internet and using masquerading, fools the outside world into thinking all packets are coming and going from it. If a modem connection is not up when internet traffic is requested, Fezgate picks up the modem and dials my ISP.

Fezgate listens to the phone line and if it rings the right amount of times it will initiate a connection on its own allowing me to bring it up remotely. In addition to it's router duties, fezgate also acts as a file server for the rest of feznet. Using samba it serves up a shared directory to the 95 machines and using Netatalk it serves the same directory as an appleshare volume for the macs. This directory is also the base for the FTP site so I can connect if I'm elsewhere.

Just so it won't feel under worked this server also acts as a web server (running apache) and hosts the lamest mud ever.

I doubt you could make this little 486 do a fraction of these things using a microsoft OS. Linux rocks! Before anyone accuses me of turning my back on the one true faith, the mac OS rocks too.

To the House O' Fez