The FlyingHouse Webcam Software Story

When Hurricane Frances was approaching Florida in late August of 2004, CoolSoft's founder, Paul Lagassey, knew he was going to have to evacuate. He thought it would be cool to be able to see what was going on at home during the storm, but knew a conventional network camera and Internet connection would fail when the power went out. So he asked his friends at MontrealSoft to whip up a program that would use his webcam to take pictures, and upload them to his FTP. With the pictures safely on the FTP, he would be able to view what the storm was doing from anywhere; even after the power went out. One of the requirements was that the program be able to switch from a network connection to a dialup connection when the network connection was cut by the inevitable power failure. The plan was to use a notebook computer plugged in to a UPS (to keep the battery charged), and a wireless PCMCIA card to establish a dialup connection when needed. This eliminated any dependence on power and phone lines.

The crew at MontrealSoft, led by Luc Gagnon and Martin Lemieux put together this program in record time. And being the practical jokers they are, when they sent the program to Paul, they called it Flying House. This was real assuring for Paul as he hooked a notebook computer to a UPS and setup the webcam to peer through a hole in the plywood covering one of the windows in his home office.

Well, FlyingHouse worked through much of the storm, but eventually stopped taking pictures. We'll never know if it was the battery or the program that quit first. Or maybe the wireless tower was damaged or knocked down. But we do know that Paul's house didn't fly away. Click here to see what happened.

Paul used FlyingHouse again in hurricane Jeanne. That's when he decided to make it into a product to be distributed by CoolSoft. From the experience gained in the two storms, and a year of extensive development and testing to get all the bugs out, the latest build of FlyingHouse 1.0 finally meets our high standards. Try it and you'll see what we mean. Back to FlyingHouse.