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The story behind the iiNet #kittycam: Oh hai! I upgraded ur camz

Posted on by Sandra Lim
KittyCam

When my colleague Nick and I visited the Cat Haven last week to install a webcam, we meant it to be nothing more than a fun little project to keep ourselves and our workmates entertained. It was part of FedEx Day, where we had to start a new project from scratch and deliver it within 24 hours.

To be honest, I was dreading FedEx Day. Until a few days before, I had no idea what to do. When I finally came up with ‘some webcam idea’, it was clearly the most frivolous on the roster. But hey, I love cats, the internet loves cats – and at the very least, I’d learn how to make Internet videos.

That morning at Cat Haven

We arrived at the Haven with a bag of borrowed equipment. Lucky for us, the wireless was great, there was power nearby, and the Haven are on iiNet broadband meaning they could send the video over the iiNet Freezone without burning their quota.

#kittycam is trending

We knew this idea was full of win, but only in a tongue-in-cheek way. None of us expected it to get so much attention… it turned out we were in for a surprise.

An hour after we announced kittycam on Twitter we hit 1,000 views. An hour after that, we hit 2000 and broke the Freezone’s viewer record with over 200 people watching at the same time. #kittycam was retweeted by a couple of high-profile Aussie twelebrities and rapidly trended in both Perth and Sydney.

Cat-lovers kept kittycam open in their web browsers overnight, ready for the morning, and #kittycam continued to trend on Twitter the next day. We found mentions in Gizmodo, Daily Telegraph and Sydney Morning Herald, and even heard about a short segment on the 4:30 news.

The future of kittycam – Helping cats find homes

My Twitter feed for #kittycam is still going crazy, one week later.  The video went offline last Sunday so the Freezone guys could upgrade the hardware, and Nick and I have since been back with better equipment and more powerful camera. Kittycam is now back online and in high-def widescreen.

By far our best moment was getting to see the first kitten adoption live on video. Later, we learned that both adoptions and donations had gone up over the weekend. This says to us that underneath the squees, awws and retweets, iiNet and the Cat Haven were onto something genuinely useful that could potentially save some furry little lives.

It seems like many people and cats have gotten something out of our tiny project, so suffice to say we’re feline pretty good.

To answer the tech questions we’ve been getting:

  • The video is running at 512kbit/s, H264 codec, to our CDN Origin server in Sydney.
  • Initial setup only took about an hour; initial cost totalled $5 for a roll of duct tape from Bunnings.
  • The original Kittycam was set up with an Eee PC on loan from the IT department, a Logitech webcam (C500) stolen from one of our dev teams, plus a couple of Mobile Broadband dongles as back up for wifi.

 

6 comments

  1. This is one of the most creative blogs I’ve seen. Who can argue with the cuteness of a Kitty?

  2. Craig says:

    Awesome, now if you could do something like that for the RSPCA or dog pound then we can haz hotdogs too! (o:

  3. Sonya says:

    You’re a legend. From a Haven volunteer I cant tell you how much this means to us. So many lives can be saved with the donations this will generate. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  4. Purrdence says:

    Kittycam is the reason why my kitty family went from 2 to 4 the other day. While my two bundles of furry joy were not on kittycam themselvs, after spending the first weekend glued to kittycam, I went to the Cat Haven webiste to donate some money. While I was there I decided to look at the cats up for adoption… and it was love at first sight. Thanks Kittycam!

  5. Great work Sandy and team. Saw this open on screens around our office and all over twitter like a rash. A fantastic example of how to ‘earn’ media through innovative thinking, fast action and of course the strategic use of…..cats. Brilliant!

  6. Chelle says:

    Awesome work Sandy!! You have helped so much more than you realise with your brilliant idea. You have raised the profile of Cat Haven, helped find homes for these cats and increased donations, but you have also encouraged the people who work hard every day to rescue these animals, probably inspired other animal rescue shelters and even brightened the lonely days of sick or housebound people. Well done!!!

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