It happened to all of us: you scanned your hard drive and found hundreds of gigabytes of long video files from inside your office, apparently recorded without your consciousness. Dozens or maybe hundreds of hours of footage of anything you do when you don’t think they’re watching you, and you have no idea how it got there. No? Just me?
Let’s rewind the moment and examine how we got there.
Some time ago, I bought a cheap 1080p webcam on Amazon from some Victure brand for $ 36. It mostly works as advertised, but there’s a big problem: my desk is looking out the window (it’s right behind my monitor). This would not be a problem if the Victure webcam obviously did not lack the competent ability to automatically balance the exposure level. By day I was lit up as Edward Cullen; during the night I looked like a gremlin in a cave.
This too it wouldn’t be a problem if I could figure out how to do it without third party software. After I looked everywhere, I failed find any way to reset exposure levels through windows. Brightness and contrast controls are present, but even adjustable, it still looks … disturbing.
This left me to find workarounds for manually adjusting the camera input. Most webcam software costs money, but I accidentally called a free open source partner Open Broadcaster Software Studio (OBS Studio) installed. I have to open OBS Studio every time I want to use a webcam, but from there, it’s a few clicks to fix the exposure settings and design a much less creepy Zoom Meeting Tom than the above. OBS Studio takes the feed directly from the camera and sends it to a virtual webcam, which can then be selected as a video source in any video conferencing software. Stunning, but this is what I get if I go cheap on a webcam.
This is where we come to my self-imposed version Lives of others. For some reason, OBS Studio randomly starts recording whenever I start using a virtual webcam. It is activated seemingly randomly and without any notice I am aware of, which made me very upset in early June when I discovered 442 gigabytes of footage sitting at my computer, as well as other clips of my cats and partners wandering around, piled up in F: / Recordings .
This is probably one of the less annoying or compromising things that I’m sure the webcam caught me doing at work, but I didn’t bother to check what exactly was recorded before I took all the footage from the hard drive.
At the time, I wrote it off as a coincidence – the recording was working continuously, so I had to accidentally press the record button or something like that and let it work, right? No. Bbetween June 9 and right now, approximately 240 gigabytes more images appeared in that folder, not counting the extra ones 309 gigabytes of recorded material dating to Maya, which I’m not even sure I noticed for the first time. Judging by the T-shirts I wore, the shots cover occasional time periods that last about a week.
I’m a big jerk. Fortunately, none of these surprising shots have ever come close to the internet or been seen by my colleagues, so I still consider myself much more intelligent than Zoom Dick type.
Under normal circumstances, I would be too stupid and lazy to understand what is going on here. I would just delete the clip again and move on. But given Gizmodo acting editor-in-chief,, Andrew Couts, I demanded to write about this shameful series of events, I was forced to step up. It only took me a few seconds to determine that it most likely happened that I pressed the “H” key, which is the default OBS Studio key to start recording.
In fact, I’m 100% sure that’s the case now, because OBS Studio started recording my recordings while I was typing that sentence. What’s up, jerks.
For never again it was a story poorer than the story of Tom McKay and the video from the webcam, or whatever. As I said earlier i I’ll say it again, I have not learned anything from this experience and do not plan to update this policy for the future. Long live ignorance.
Anyway, if you know how to correct the auto exposure settings on my webcam without having to go through multiple menus or pay someone money, I’m all in my ears.