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How to Fall in Love with Your iSight, Again

by Nitrozac and Snaggy, authors of The Best of The Joy of Tech

Editor's note: Snaggy and Nitrozac weave humor and tech talk in this article on romancing your video cam. Why not have a few chuckles while you learn how to extend iSight's capabilities with some nifty programs, add-ons, and apps? Enhance your relationship with your iSight -- that's what S and N are here to help you do. ; )

How many times do you do it a month? Oh I know, I know, it used to be every day; sometimes even two or three times a night! Alas, those passionate feelings have probably faded a little with time, and that feverish desire you once felt has moved into the comfortable blahs, or worse, you barely think of each other with techno-lust anymore.

Admit it. You are completely bored with your iSight. Your impulsive, giddy love affair has all but dried up, now that the reality of video chatting has settled in. To paraphrase the band Talking Heads, you may find yourself in front of a beautiful geekosphere, and you may find yourself on some beautiful bandwidth, but you may ask yourself: where is my useful device? Is this my beautiful iSight? How did I get here? My God! What have I done?

You're having a mid-shelf-life crisis.

Here's where we can help. Consider us your personal tech-therapists, willing to help you rekindle that passion, to bring you and your gorgeous hardware back together, to show you some new positions, wild variations, and maybe even how to swing a little with a three-way.

Shocked? Skeptical? Good! Let's get right to the action.

Warming Up the Software

The first thing you'll want to do is spice up good ol' iChatAV. Nothing heats up a love affair like good communication, so how about getting a little creative with your status messages?

You probably already know you can add custom messages to your iChat status by selecting Custom... and then typing in your desired text. And you also may know that if you type in certain emoticons, they will translate into iChat smilies on your Buddy's end of things. For instance, if I typed in "Feeling illogical :-P" into my Status message, my Buddies would see:

You can see the emoticons that correspond with the iChatAV smiles by mousing over the individual smiles in an iChatAV message window. (You can see the emoticons that correspond with the iChatAV smiles by mousing over the individual smiles in an iChatAV message window.)

OK, so that's kind of cool, but honestly, in this busy, stressed-out world, who has time for manually inputting data? What I think you're looking for is an automated assistant to change that message for you.

iChatStatus is a neat little program that dynamically updates your iChat status messages. The default script displays the song you are currently playing in iTunes, but because iChatStatus uses AppleScript or simple command-line applications to configure the status message, many people have written their own scripts and added them to the package. There are many fun and funky scripts, including those that display how many emails you have waiting to read, current system uptime, Apple's stock price, or if you feel like living dangerously, the text contents of your clipboard!

Even more scripts can be found in the iChat Script Collection, which includes one little gem called iTunesWithArtwork. Besides setting the iChat status message to the song and artist of the current iTunes track, this script also sets your icon to the album artwork, if it's available. Now, if only you could add a link to the iTunes music store, you'd have the makings of a great affiliate program.

Of course, I must warn you to use these programs with discretion. You never know if your boss is watching his "Big Buddy List," keeping track of the number of times you've listened to Hillary Duff, or the number of hours your current app has been Leisure Suit Larry instead of CodeWarrior.

Of course, it probably wouldn't take you too long to code a workaround, something along the lines of


if applicationName is equal to MySlackerApp then

set StatusMessage to MyFakeStatusAppMessage

Keep Your Secrets

While typing sweet nothings to your favorite bosom Buddy, the last thing you want is someone else reading them! Keep your secrets safe from packet sniffers with Intego's ChatBarrier X3. It adds two-way, real-time encryption of text chats using military-grade, 512-bit encryption. Only a user who also has ChatBarrier installed, and to whom you send a message, will be able to decrypt your confidential trysts of text. After 30 days, the demo version can still be used for free to decrypt messages, so if you're in a one-way relationship, and your Buddy doesn't pony up for the registration fee, at least your secrets will still be safe.

Smilies Are Sexy

By default, iChatAV comes with sixteen smilies that you can use to accent your text, and while these are fun, you're probably looking for more ways to illustrate your true feelings. iChat Smileys 2.1 provides just that, adding 72 extra smilies to your arsenal!

The only downside is that your correspondents must also have the pack installed in order to see the new smilies, or you're just smiling at yourself. There's also a separate un-installer, in case you suddenly find yourself suffering from a smilie overdose.

Feeling creative? Make your own smilies! iChat Emotimaker is a free program that allows you to add custom smilies to iChat, something that normally isn't possible without modifying system files. It provides a relatively simple interface for creating and editing collections of smilies called "smileypacks." You can choose the name, the ASCII representation, and the image for an unlimited number of smilies in each smileypack. Once you're finished perfecting your smilies, you can install them into iChat with just a click. Again, the downside to all of this creative expression is that unless you share your smileypacks and train your Buddies to install them, the fact that you are a Smilie Genius will go unnoticed.

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