WebCams Pros and Cons

First Trax

First, THE PROS – Several years ago we began implementing cameras in the region before ANY other company, resort, etc. Our first camera was one that shot out the back window of my home and still runs as "The Seven Devils Cam".

We were the first to aim a camera at a ski resort in the Southeast. That camera was up at a rental house at the top of Ski Beech and it was aimed at the top lift house area. Then Ski Beech teamed up with shortly after on a "professional cam" that was top of the line. The next season Ski Beech switched back to us and we partnered on a pan, tilt and zoom camera (again the first in the region) that Ski Beech and SkiNC could control to bring camera updates every few seconds. Shortly after we started and we have continued to grow our offerings to over (19) camera views of the High Country, including many of the ski areas. Several of those cameras are state-of-the-art, pan, tilt and zoom cameras.

These camera views have been invaluable to millions of visitors. In just the last three years has pulled over 20 Million Visitors. We have linked up many of those cams to view on and to show live shots of the ski areas and live shots of road conditions.

THE CONS – Like any other computer related product, these cameras have a small server in them that DOES occasionally have issues. There are also glitches with the companies that provide the DSL service (BellSouth, Skyline Telephone, and Charter Cable) wherein the DSL is either out, glitchy or the DSL modems have to be rebooted. Then there is the issue of the server that is hosting all of the camera images. That server, like all servers, ocassionally have to be rebooted.

These issues cause SOME downtime. However nine times out of ten more of the cameras are running than not…and often all of the cameras are running. As an example, right now (14) of (16) cameras that we have in operation today are running just fine. The ones that are not are:

The Hawksnest Camera – (They are having network issues up there), and the Sunset Drive, Blowing Rock camera (Charter Cable is out in Blowing Rock.)

The New Sugar Mountain Ski Cam We have received a few emails and there have been some messageboard comments about how cool the new Sugar Mountain camera is. We are referring to the camera ON This is NOT one of ours…and YES it is very cool.

They are paying to host this camera and while it IS cool, it won’t handle the kind of traffic that our website gets for the $250 a month that Earthcam charges. During a huge snowfall last season one of our cameras had over 2800 people viewing that ONE camera at once. If that were to happen on Earthcam’s streaming feed it would break a bank. It is our guess that bandwidth on the Sugar came will become an issue and changes will be forthcoming. In the meantime it is cool! We used that technology over a year or so ago and while it IS cool, it just won’t work when you have as many visitors as we do! Problem is only a limited number of people can view that at one time…before it will buffer out all others.

Using the cameras FOR the Visitors It has LONG been our goal to show you guys the conditions good or bad. That has been a fight that we have fought throughout. Some resorts in the past ONLY wanted cameras running when conditions were pristine. Some still fight it. The truth is conditions ARE beautiful 95% of the time. Showing off our mountain for the past two seasons has been easy as we’ve had GREAT conditions. This season MAY be a real test as to which resorts have come around to our way of thinking.

So enjoy the cameras and don’t complain too much when they are down. Remember, they don’t cost you a dime…IN FACT, THEY SAVE YOU TONS OF MONEY since they help you make good decisions about when to visit!

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Dave McConnell took this great shot at Ober Gatlinburg on January 1st.
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