Sunday, June 19, 2016

How to use Skype to spy on your cats or dogs

Be the ultimate helicopter pet parent with this easy solution.

Keep your cat company no matter where you are. Alina Bradford/CNET
If your pet hates to be alone -- or you just like checking in on your animals throughout the day -- you needn't buy a fancy security camera.
All you need is an inexpensive tablet and a Skype account to make a homemade video chat system.

The tablet

For the best results, your tablet needs to run a modern operating system such as Android or Windows, have 32MB of free space and at least a 1GHz processor.
Since the tablet may get some happy licks from time to time, choose an inexpensive tablet with these specs. You can typically pick up an Android or Kindle tablet on Amazon or other stores for less than $60, £40 or AU$90, or you can go on eBay and snag a used one for around half that.

Set up a Skype account

If you don't have Skype on your work computer you'll need to download it and set up an account.
Then, go to the Skype for tablets download page and choose a download for the type of operating system your tablet has, if it doesn't have Skype already. You can choose between iPad, Android, Kindle Fire HD and Windows downloads.
Once Skype is downloaded to your tablet, set up an account for your pet, since you can't call yourself using your Skype account. A cute profile pic of your pet is a must, of course.

Set up auto answer

Now you need to set up your pet's account so that it will answer when you call. Log into your pet's account and set the account to auto answer. Auto answer will allow a Skype call to be answered automatically on the tablet, since your pet doesn't have fingers to answer your call, or, you know, a solid grasp on the principles of web-based telephony.
Here's how to set it up through Windows:
  1. Open Skype
  2. Add your Skype profile to your pet's contact list
  3. On the menu bar, select Tools > Options
  4. Select Calls, then click Show advanced options
  5. Tick Answer incoming calls automatically and Start my video automatically when I am in a call
  6. Select that you only want auto answer to work when your account calls your pet
Here's how to set up auto answer on Android and Kindle Fire HD:
  1. Open Skype
  2. Add your Skype profile to your pet's contact list
  3. Click on Settings
  4. Under the Voice and Video calls settings, tick the box that says Answer calls automatically

Here's how to set up auto answer with Mac:
  1. Open Skype
  2. Add your Skype profile to your pet's contact list
  3. Click on the Skype Menu and select Preferences...
  4. Select Calls, then set Incoming calls to Answer automatically
  5. Click Configure and select Answer automatically with video


Now that you have everything setup, it's time to place your tablet. Find a place in your home that your pet frequents and that's by an outlet so that you can plug your tablet in.
Stick strips of self-adhesive Velcro to the back of your tablet and stick the other side of the Velcro on the wall. Make sure that the tablet is placed so that your pet can easily see the screen. Stick the tablet to the Velcro and turn on your tablet's screensaver. Now you're ready to interact with your pets when you're not at home.


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