Wednesday, May 26, 2004
To Zoom or Not to Zoom, That is the Question?
Well quite the brew haha has developed over the ability to zoom the webcam at the Maui Mana Kai. The question is “should I allow anyone to zoom the webcam?” Or should I turn it off?
First a bit of history and background. In early March several factors converged:
1. Visits to the web site soared by 50% over the previous months average of about 30,000 visitors to nearly 46,000 so the number of people to say thanks for the webcam or complain increased dramatically.
2. The beach where folks normally hang out was taken out to sea to be “washed by the Gods” so the folks convened in their beach going atire mostly on the State property lawn
3. The angle of the Sun was such that people were lining up at right angles to the camera when during other months they tend to be pointed more with their head toward the camera and feet towards the beach
4. Sometimes the camera was zoomed in on Molokiui, the rocks on the beach, the flowers, surf and people: old people, fat people, skinny people, young people, men, and least we not forget…women.
Over a period of about a week, I got 3 email complaints in contrast to dozens of thanks for the camera. They were offended that “body parts of young women were being zoomed in on and I better do something about it. I responded to each complaint and made these postings to the webcam page:
March 18…Third complaint today about “body parts”. So if you find zooming and other controls “locked” it is because I disabled that function until the body part goes away or the inconsiderate viewer gets frustrated and leaves. If I am not around to lock ‘em out, feel free to move the camera yourself via the full motion controls. Instructions are on the webcam page.
March 12…I have received complaints today about the constant focus on “body parts”. Please, people have a little respect. The purpose of the camera is to share the environmental beauty of Hawaii. I am looking for some software to manage how long folks can control the camera and block abusers.
I got two more complaints about female body parts and lots of thanks for the webcam. I did turn off the zoom when I moved the camera off a constant focus on one individual only to see the camera zoom back. The next day I turned it back on. And then, no more complaints until I get a letter from the Secretary of the Board of the Association dated May 19, 2004 which says “The ability of the camera to focus on individuals on the lawn and the beach is disturbing”. He continues. “What we, your Board, suggests is that you limit the focus of your camera and disable its ability to zoom in on individuals…The Board must take action.” He goes on and gives me 20 days to report “what details of what you have done… or …it will be necessary to contact our staff lawyer”.
Hum…lets see. Is it good enough that I took action about 70 days before he wrote the snail mail letter? I don”t know. I emailed him on May 25th to call me so we can discuss it. I would call him, but I don’t have his phone number. It wasn’t on the letter.
Oops…perhaps you need a bit of background. The condos at the Mana Kai are individually owned. The “Board” is elected by the owners. Some units are rented out directly by their owners. Some are rented out by property managers. Mine is rented by AAOceanfront property management. They handle about 20 units in the building. The largest block, about 50 units, is sometimes referred to as the “hotel pool” of rooms. They are handled by Condominium Rentals Hawaii (CRH) property management, a competitor of mine and other rental property managers.
Just before the above mentioned letter was penned, the president of CRH called AAOceanfront. He said “something has to be done about this”. AAOceanfront recommended he call me. He didn’t. So I will track down his phone number and call him today.
Attached to the Board Secretary’s letter was an email dated April 23 and copies sent to a bunch of people I don’t even know. She said “I just received my monthly newsletter…I am outraged about this!…I feel my privacy…has been violated…I went to the web site…the focus was on two women…I printed out these photos as proof for the Board…I urge the Board to ban these things…
Hum…didn’t these people bother to read the above quoted postings which were on the same page as the “offending” picture? Why didn’t they bother to contact me first before getting “outraged”.
The newsletter (I did not know about it or see until May 26 and it was approved by CRH) reiterated the phone call from “a lady in California.” She had expressed concern about “looking at body parts and young children’s crotches…she further stated that she would not be returning to the Mana Kai until the feature of controlling the camera was disabled.” (I’ll make a deal with you, lady, rent from me and not my competitors and I will turn the camera off during your stay! Just kidding.)
By the way, I know the lady. She wrote me several times before March thanking me for the camera. I wrote her with my comments about this situation that you see elsewhere on this page. And the newsletter said that the issue was going to be on the next Board agenda. But nobody told me or asked about “the rest of the story”. So here is the article I have asked CRH to print in their next newsletter.
Webcam: The Rest of the Story
I am the owner of 215 and the controversial web cam. The web cam has been operating from there for three years and in early March I received the first complaint. I have gotten five total complaints, all in March, and none since then. In March, nearly 46,000 visits were made to the web cam which was up from my usual traffic of giving the Mana Kai over 30,000 additional monthly visitors. I have received dozens of thanks for the web cam over the years. In response to the complaints, I made these two posting to the web cam page: On March 12…I have received complaints today about the constant focus on “body parts”. Please, people have a little respect. The purpose of the camera is to share the environmental beauty of Hawaii. I am looking for some software to manage how long folks can control the camera and block abusers. And again on March 18…Third complaint today about “body parts”. So if you find zooming and other controls “locked” it is because I disabled that function until the body part goes away or the inconsiderate viewer gets frustrated and leaves. If I am not around to lock ‘em out, feel free to move the camera yourself via the full motion controls. Instructions are on the webcam page”.
And the rest of the rest of the story.
Meanwhile, in late March I get an entry for the photo contest. The writer says “Hello! Thanks so much for the ability to be able to look into the world of Maui from Canada. I am leaving in three days to come to the Mana Kai! Here is a captured picture from the web cam for the Photo Contest. I called it ‘Tranquility’ for it looks so peaceful and calm.” Attached to the email is a screen grab of a young lady asleep on a lawn chair. Oh…no, I thought another “peeper” And the submission ends with Thanks so much!! -Christy :). According to her public “chat room” profile, Christy is 16! So let’s see…some people see such pictures and see porn. Others see “tranquility” Humm
Why haven’t I received any complaints about the close ups of fat people, old people, old fat men? (To save the expense of a broken lens, I have installed special software that prevents zooming in on me. Just kidding!) Or of people hanging out on the lawn with cell phones dangling from their ears and waving at the camera? Or the people that have asked me to lock the camera down so their wedding could be broadcast to their friends. Is it possible that some of the close ups are being orchestrated by the person themselves or a friend that gets a kick out of seeing them?
In fact, one day when I killed the zoom, within minutes the on site property manager at the Mana Kai got a call to release the zoom so this individual could see his kids! Oh yes, you should know that one person who uses the camera as his screen saver is a Irish policeman. If anything is improper…I hear from him! And you don’t want to hear from an Irish policeman!
The camera is on private property looking at public property. Is that any different from people peeping from the other 98 condos at others on the public property? I don’t know? Just a thought. Last time I looked, there are over 25,000 such web cams in the world. Including Times Square! Oh my God! I go out in public and someone might see me?
What do you think? To Zoom or Not to Zoom, That is the Question? Click on the “Comments” link below and add your thoughts. Where is Andy Rooney or Lewis Black when you need them? I’m going to go duck.
PS. May 27, 2004
Danger Will Robinson, Danger!
In interest of fairness, I must report that Eden the top guy of Mana Kai rental competitor of mine CRH, returned my call on May 27, 2004 as reported earlier in this Blog.
He said he did not read the request to “To
Zoom or Not Zoom” repeated elsewhere in this Blog and was told that the camera was looking inside. I told him that was nonsense and the camera looks outside. Then he raised a point that I had not thought of before. He said that some married people come to Hawaii with someone other than their spouses. Hence the camera looking outside might reveal an affair! So if you are having an affair at the Mana Kai, please let me know and I will turn the camera off and post a note saying “This web cam transmission is interrupted by an affair. Broadcast to resume on (date)”. Meanwhile, if you are having an affair, don’t even think of going to the poolside of the Manela Bay Hotel on Lana’i, the Sheraton Kauai Beach Resort, the Duke Kahanamoku statue or Kuhio Beach in Waikiki, Honolulu’s Chinatown, Maunalua Bay or Waikiki Beach. They all have web cams! And that is from just the first Google listing of 113,000 “Hawaii web cams”.
He closed the conversation by saying that he is against the web cam, hopes I have consulted my attorney and good luck with the “Board”. How does “Maui Mana Kai #215 Web Cam Legal Defense Fund” sound? Kinda of has a patriotic ring to it? Hmmm