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Ask Slashdot: Skype Setup For Toddler's Room? 302

Posted by timothy
from the long-distance-day-care dept.
New submitter mmmmdave writes "My parents love to Skype with my kid. My kid loves to mash laptop buttons and drool on the screen. And because we don't want to spend forty minutes every night holding the laptop outside of baby arms' length, we're looking to build some sort of wall-mounted monitor + webcam thingy. I'm sure there's a much cheaper option than sticking an iPad on the wall; what's more, non-touchscreen is probably better, so my daughter can't hang up the calls. Any ideas?"
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Ask Slashdot: Skype Setup For Toddler's Room?

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Did you name your kid Winston, by any chance?

    Bad idea, dude, bad idea.

    • hehe I thought it was funny.

  • by polar red (215081) on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @11:14AM (#40006317)

    Can't you protect the laptop/baby with plexiglass?

    • by Zero__Kelvin (151819) on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @11:21AM (#40006411) Homepage
      We tried protecting a baby with plexiglass once, but it was a disaster. We were thinking of getting Baby 2.0 to see if the problem has been fixed, but the delivery time is outrageous!
      • by vlm (69642) on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @11:34AM (#40006613)

        We were thinking of getting Baby 2.0 to see if the problem has been fixed, but the delivery time is outrageous!

        Instead of having one employee work on it, just assign nine, and guaranteed it'll be done nine times faster; maybe even faster with synergy. Don't they teach anything at MBA school anymore?

        • by idontgno (624372) on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @11:48AM (#40006799) Journal

          Where did you get your MBA, Bob Jones University?

          The obvious answer is to rightsource the job. You can get 18 contract wombs in India for the price of just one here. So, you can have Baby 2.0 delivered within three* weeks of specification.

          *Yeah, within three. Fabrication requires two weeks, but unless you're paying for teleportation technology, the fastest you'll get the baby delivered is a few days after completion of manufacturing.

  • Doomed (Score:5, Informative)

    by clang_jangle (975789) on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @11:16AM (#40006331) Journal
    Sounds like you're seriously underestimating a toddler's resourcefulness, frankly...
    • no shit. skype in the crib? i'll expect the little guy to touch type by 2 years old.
    • Re:Doomed (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @11:32AM (#40006585)
      See Molly-guard [wiktionary.org].
    • by idontgno (624372)

      No kidding.

      I swear I have seen my 13-month-old get a "challenge accepted" look on her face when I try to put something she wants out of her reach. She's basically fearless (too young to have learned fear, I guess) and a scarily-good climber, so we have to watch her quite closely when this happens, because otherwise I know we'll find her on top of the entertainment center or the dining table or trying to push the sliding door open.

      Ah, parenthood.

      • by tibit (1762298)

        Same here. If it has a surface one can climb onto, he'll get there. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but by next week you forget about it, but he doesn't. So you find him places and you go "how the heck did you...". 17 months old, no broken bones yet -- none that would be externally visible, at least.

  • TVs with skype (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @11:16AM (#40006337)

    You can try LCD/LED TVs which have Skype app integrated into TVs
    Ex Panasonic, Samsung

  • Funny (Score:5, Funny)

    by AshFan (879808) on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @11:16AM (#40006339)
    That's funny, because it's my parents, not my kids, who like to mash on laptop buttons and drool on the keyboard.
    • Re:Funny (Score:5, Funny)

      by NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @11:38AM (#40006675)
      Oh, I don't know. Reading the summary and wondering how the fuck this question made it to Slashdot's front page made me drool and bash my head on the keyboard.
      • by g0bshiTe (596213)
        If I currently had mod points you would get them all.
      • Re:Funny (Score:5, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @11:49AM (#40006805)

        Ask Slashdot

        Hi, slashdot, I want to hook up a mouse to my computer. I already have a mouse, it's in a box on the sofa, and my computers across the room at the desk. I don't think the cord will reach that far, and I really don't want to use it from the couch anyway (my keyboard's at the desk, so I'd be walking back and forth a lot). Any ideas?

        -- AC

        • by DeanCubed (814869)

          Ask Slashdot

          Hi, slashdot, I want to hook up a mouse to my computer. I already have a mouse, it's in a box on the sofa, and my computers across the room at the desk. I don't think the cord will reach that far, and I really don't want to use it from the couch anyway (my keyboard's at the desk, so I'd be walking back and forth a lot). Any ideas?

          -- AC

          Sure, just mount a webcam-enabled tablet behind some plexi-glass, near the mouse. That way the computer and keyboard can see the mouse all the time without having to move themselves, or have you move the baby^H^H^H^H^H^H^Hmouse for a visit.

  • by American AC in Paris (230456) on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @11:18AM (#40006357) Homepage
    Build a simple, flat wooden box with an opening at the back that you can slide the laptop keyboard into. Add vent holes if necessary. Affix a cheap keyboard to the top if your kid tries to take off the box to get at the laptop keyboard.
  • Any laptop.with an internal.webcam or a $10 usb webcam should be fine. However a simpler solution is a $200 Samsung Galaxy Tab or other cheapo Android tablet.
  • what......? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Aryden (1872756) on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @11:18AM (#40006369)
    40 minutes of your parents talking to your baby daughter every night? I can't imagine that. Is your last name Focker?
  • by xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @11:19AM (#40006381)

    Why do you want to torture your kids with 40 minutes of grandparent gooing on the screen?

    • by garcia (6573) on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @11:30AM (#40006551)

      My son (a little over 2 years old) LOVES to Skype with his grandparents. In fact when I am on the laptop and he's in the room he's usually begging me to see "Nana and Pop-pop".

      To answer the OP; we generally do it while he's eating in his high chair. I can keep the laptop on the table, out of his reach and since he's locked in place he can't reach the keys.

      While ripping keys off the keyboard was a problem in the past, he's to the point at two+ that he can listen to instruction and know consequences (time out). He basically just talks to them, shows them his latest favorite toy, and/or tells them whatever it is that's going through his mind at the time.

      They're happy. he's happy and my MacBook is safe. That said, if he's not in his chair I don't leave him alone with it and/or use it as a babysitter. In between his ramblings I chat with them until he comes back to say hi again.

      I think that you need to find what works best for your family and your child. While I don't think putting it on the wall or leaving the kid unattended with Skype open is a good idea, perhaps it's best for you.

      YMMV.

      • In fact when I am on the laptop and he's in the room he's usually begging me to see "Nana and Pop-pop".

        Do you put on Ice Climber [ssbwiki.com] on an emulator?

      • by houghi (78078)

        Eating time is for eating. Not for watching things on a screen.
        And just because he loves it does not mean that you must allow it.

    • by McGruber (1417641)

      Why do you want to torture your kids with 40 minutes of grandparent gooing on the screen?

      Because Grandpa is more entertaining than the teletubbies.

      • by idontgno (624372)

        For appropriate values of "Grandpa", Grandpa has always been more entertaining than the teletubbies. This speaks well of the entertainment value of certain Grandpas, and poorly (but accurately) of the entertainment value of preschoolers' edutainment television programming.

  • lame (Score:5, Insightful)

    by vlm (69642) on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @11:20AM (#40006391)

    this must be the lamest ask /. I've ever seen.

    If only you could buy a box, that when plugged into a computer and peripherals, was just like a laptop, except it didn't use batteries and wasn't portable and was cheap. Why, I bet you could place a technological marvel like that on a desk, instead of on a lap like a laptop. I'm sure marketing can come up with a good name like the ideskbook or the desk-ster or the e-mini-desk or the deskr or maybe the socialdesk or something like that. Hmm like a laptop but instead of sitting on a lap it sits on a desk... what could that be called... Naw I got nothin' Sorry. Good luck dude!

    • How About the "Autocompumodualstation" ACMS for short.

      • by vlm (69642)

        How bout AutoComputerMultimediaExtension? ACME? like the roadrunner cartoons?

        No, the more I think about it, the "laptop that sits on a desk instead of a lap" should probably just be called "laptop 2.0" You know, for new trendy social media apps rather than the old laptop 1.0 paradigm. I'm thinking I could become a "laptop 2.0" social media consultant and help companies integrate this new hardware technology to replace their legacy tablet computing infrastructures. I know this was initially a solution fo

    • I agree, it's totally lame. But to geek-ify it a little, try to do something like this: Portal-style videoconference [zdnet.com.au].

      And then slave this [slashdot.org] to the webcam, under the control of the grandparents for "corrective" actions.

  • by wbav (223901)
    It is nice that the grandparents want to be involved, but let me say technology and kids do not mix. I'm living proof of that

    PB&J sandwich in the VCR at the top of an 8' book case. I'm not saying how I did it.

    Plexiglass case + tablet is your best bet.
  • E*TRADE (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @11:25AM (#40006473)

    whatever you do, don't install E*TRADE on said laptop

    • by vlm (69642)

      yeah that's what happened to JP Morgan. Oh no wait you're talking about that old commercial. Same difference.

  • by fermion (181285)
    My first thought was to set up an iPad perhaps with some speakers. I have done Skype on iPad and it works really well. If you have an HDMI TV, the iPad could be hooked to the TV, with iPad set up for outgoing video, and all the interaction could be on the TV. That way the baby can drool on the screen as much as it wants.
  • There are a number of TV's and Blue-Ray players that have Skype clients [skype.com].

    The Tely-HD [skype.com] is a stand alone solution that does the same thing.

    It's easy to find wall mount units for a TV, I suggest using Monoprice [monoprice.com].

    Setting the grand parents up with one of these units so they can sit in their living room and use the TV, along with some sort of unit in the kids room is the way to go. The TV can always be easily repurposed later. If you already have a TV adding a Blue-Ray with the capability is a nice way to get Skyp

    • by berashith (222128)

      Blu ray is a horrible way to show movies to kids. Do you realise that a 2 year old has the attention span of a gnat on speed? They want a movie NOW. Any time spent between asking for the movie and the damn thing playing is time spent hearing a kid lose their mind. Or dad losing his mind due to the kid freaking out because they want the movie. Media destruction take a distant second place to the reason that I rip content.

      • by i.r.id10t (595143)

        During the last hurricane induced power outage (a few months before katrina) we had no power for 8 days. Had a 3 year old... imagine her whining "daddy, i want to watch finding nemo"... cute huh? Now imagine daddy sighing and saying "i want you to watch finding nemo too sweetie....". Depressing huh?

        No generators to be had. A few weeks later, second long term power outage due to another 'cane. Daddy went and got a 400w inverter from a car audio place (still no generators to be found no matter the money)

  • Skype enabled TV (Score:4, Informative)

    by theNetImp (190602) on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @11:28AM (#40006513)

    Get a TV Then go here.

    http://www.skype.com/intl/en-us/get-skype/on-your-tv/ [skype.com]

    Look it's 2012!

  • by HockeyPuck (141947) on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @11:29AM (#40006529)

    wall-mounted monitor + webcam

    Mount a LCD monitor on the wall or put it out of arms reach of the kid on a dresser with a webcam and some cheap PC speakers. Put the computer farther away using a 10ft VGA/HDMI cable.

    Why make it so complex, does your toddler really need to touch the screen?

    Also, nothing like exposing your kids to the benefits of watching TV when they're still in the crib. Instead of TV being the "new babysitter", it'll be skype.

  • Errr... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheSpoom (715771) <slashdot@NOSpAM.uberm00.net> on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @11:29AM (#40006537) Homepage Journal

    we're looking to build some sort of wall-mounted monitor + webcam thingy

    So, um, grab a monitor and a webcam, and mount them to the wall...

    • we're looking to build some sort of wall-mounted monitor + webcam thingy

      So, um, grab a monitor and a webcam, and mount them to the wall...

      Better still, a monitor with a webcam built in.

      • we're looking to build some sort of wall-mounted monitor + webcam thingy

        So, um, grab a monitor and a webcam, and mount them to the wall...

        Better still, a monitor with a webcam built in.

        Oh, and with speaker + microphone if possible. Sorry for responding to my own post.

  • Toddlers grow fast, better mount it on the ceiling.

  • get a program to disable the keyboard.
    For example:
    http://www.howtogeek.com/howto/11570/disable-the-keyboard-with-a-keyboard-shortcut-in-windows/

    It won't solve problem of her hitting the power button - but depending on the model, you may be able to disable the functionality of the power button in a separate program.

    So as long as she is just mashing keys, not popping keys off the keyboard, that should solve your problem.

    If you really want a separate machine, so you can read a recipe for dinner on your laptop

  • by CMYKjunkie (1594319) on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @11:31AM (#40006569)
    I can think of no better example of a first world problem than this!!
  • Poor kid.
  • just wallpaper the room in oled screens. then grandpa can dress up as a scary clown and come out of the walls at night.

    http://e-gadgetsinfo.blogspot.com/2012/04/future-is-almost-here-oled-wallpaper.html [blogspot.com]
  • by American AC in Paris (230456) on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @11:40AM (#40006699) Homepage

    There are a lot of 1984/Truman Show/No Real Parent posts on this thread. Folks, understand that for some families, grandma and grandpa are a time zone away at best, and a grandkid is lucky to see her grandparents in person once a year, if that. Skype/videophone is a fantastic way to help bridge that gap. My parents can read our daughter stories. My wife's parents can sing songs with our daughter. They can see each other and interact in ways that you just can't do over the phone or with text.

    Our kid is lucky--she gets to see each set of grandparents in person about twice a year. For the stretches between those times, though, she can still visit with them over Skype. It's far from perfect, but it's a huge leap ahead of a phone call, and helps all sides of the family feel closer.

    You wouldn't mock people for calling their parents to let their kid talk to grandma and grandpa over the phone. Why the special hate for the extra level of closeness?

    • by houghi (78078)

      You wouldn't mock people for calling their parents to let their kid talk to grandma and grandpa over the phone.

      Yes I would, if they do it for 40 minutes each day.
      If the grandparents are supposed to be such an important part in their lives: move.
      If you say that it is not possible, it is because you have other priorities and being near the grandparents is a lower priority.

      What you are looking at is a technical solution for a social problem.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        What is wrong with a technical solution to a social problem? Skype works great for people who can't move _and_ view grandparents are important. Next you are going to tell me to stop spending nights in my backyard with a telescope because "if stars and planets are supposed to be such an important part of your life: move".

        See how stupid it sounds?

        Stop telling people how to live their lives based on your own priorities.

      • by American AC in Paris (230456) on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @01:22PM (#40007983) Homepage

        You wouldn't mock people for calling their parents to let their kid talk to grandma and grandpa over the phone.

        Yes I would, if they do it for 40 minutes each day. If the grandparents are supposed to be such an important part in their lives: move. If you say that it is not possible, it is because you have other priorities and being near the grandparents is a lower priority.

        What you are looking at is a technical solution for a social problem.

        One set of grandparents live in Washington State. Another set of grandparents live in Iowa. Even if we were able to pack up and move, we can't live in two states at once.

        I agree with you very earnestly on one point: there are all sorts of things that responsible adults need to balance in their lives, and living close to family is one of those things. My wife and I have other priorities in life that we work to balance against, with one in particular being of note: my wife just spent seven years working her fingers off to earn a Ph.D. in biochemical, molecular and cellular biology. As wonderful as it would be to live close to either set of grandparents, neither set lives in an area with a strong presence in the biological sciences. Thus, to move closer to one set of grandparents, my wife would need to essentially abandon a decade's worth of highly specialized, extremely valuable learning. This would be an enormous waste of time, money, work, and talent, and it isn't something we're eager to do. Even if we did decide to abandon her career, though, we'd still be stuck half a continent from the other set of grandparents.

        So yes, we Skype as a family with grandma and grandpa for long periods, several times a week. It's a suboptimal solution to a problem with no optimal solution; no matter what we do, we're not going to be able to avoid having to Skype with the grandparents. You are, of course, free to judge us for the decisions we've made, as is your right. For my part, I'll probably continue to call you out as a sanctimonious, simple-minded ass who would rather denigrate the lives and choices of others than grant other grown adults the benefit of the doubt and start from the premise that they're not whiny, spoiled idiots.

        As is my right.

    • You wouldn't mock people for calling their parents to let their kid talk to grandma and grandpa over the phone. Why the special hate for the extra level of closeness?

      Actually, the more comments I read here, the more I think they might do just that.

  • Jesus.. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gallondr00nk (868673) on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @11:41AM (#40006711)

    Is this what passes for Ask Slashdot submissions these days?

    Buy a cheapo TFT new or second hand and mount it on the wall if you want. Buy a $10 webcam, do likewise. If you can't manage that, what the hell are you even doing here?

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      Is this what passes for Ask Slashdot submissions these days?

      Buy a cheapo TFT new or second hand and mount it on the wall if you want. Buy a $10 webcam, do likewise. If you can't manage that, what the hell are you even doing here?

      bragging that he has a wife and a baby?

  • Bambino Wireless Internet Baby Monitor w/iPhone, Android, and Web Viewing (Windows PC required)

    You get what you pay for. Costs $88, connects via a wireless USB dongle to a PC. PC sends it to the internet if you want.

    Google it or similar 'wireless baby monitor internet'.

  • by vlm (69642) on Tuesday May 15, 2012 @11:43AM (#40006743)

    no chatroulette jokes? no rickroll jokes? /. going downhill.

  • Just buy a dropcam; WiFi, 2 way audio, powered via supplied microUSB cable and wall wart, and even lets you use it as a security camera and such the rest of the time. I don't work for them, etc but I own a couple and they work.

  • Whatever solution you end up with, make sure the screen can withstand a direct hit from the child's heaviest toy.
  • I had an old HTC Touch Pro 2 that I wasn't using anymore, but it had a good camera on it. So I installed a webcam software that allowed me to broadcast over the web or to an iPad/Android tablet. I just used a basic car mount and placed on the dresser, worked like a charm. https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.pas.webcam&hl=en [google.com]
  • Wife's parents are in Japan. MacBooks on both ends. We ended up just using an end-table and placed the laptop on the top. When they can't move... it is easy to just point the screen at the baby. Those early years are more for the grandparents anyways. As they start to move, we kept the same setup and just used it as a lesson for the kid. "We don't push the buttons, we talk to grandma". It has been a challenge, but he quickly learned that that laptop doesn't yield anything useful.

    Bonus: The laptop
  • Take the good suggestions and put them to use.

    Skype is marvelous for my 3yr old to talk to not just her grandparents, but to mom and dad as well. She enjoys the face to face interaction more than the phone calls.
    Skype is not a substitute for parenting and I don't believe you are hoping that it will be. Personally, ay always on camera in my house is a no-go.

  • I expect they are even cheaper now (under $100?), but I found a cheap netbook a couple of years ago in the $150 range that I put Ubuntu and Skype on for traveling. It's pretty sturdy and has good battery life, and it has been since used by many people as a Skype appliance, including some who don't yet have much coordination. If I lost it traveling or it took a hard fall to the floor from kid use, it wouldn't break my heart and I didn't spend much time sorting it out.

  • I wont even let my 9yr old daughter have webcam access unsupervised, and I'd never leave the webcam in the room unattended. With the vast proliferation of malware, trojans, and ever other botnet tool out there, you'd have to be pretty naive to think there aren't ones that activate webcams in the hope of spying on children/adults undressing. I would do what other members have suggested and run your cam in the living/family room off your Xbox/PS3 so that at least there's less chance you one day discover you

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