Lauren is going on a trip in a few days, and we thought that free videophoning would be nice to have while she’s on the road. She’s got a decent IBM Thinkpad X31 which has FireWire, and AIM is supposed to work with iChat A/V, so this should be possible. You can’t plug an iSight into Windows, so she got an “iBot” FireWire cam from Orange Micro. The Thinkpad has a FireWire port, but it’s a passive four-wire that doesn’t provide power, so she had to get a powered hub (this is already too much work). Then she fired up AIM and... no luck, it didn’t recognize the iBot; it did, however, let us audio chat back and forth. Windows XP saw the camera just fine and you could see the video. We checked the iBot with the Mac, it worked perfectly with iChat. First, she spent some time on the Web Site; no help, but there was a phone number. She called it, pressed the number for tech support and a recording said “for tech support send email to support@.” So she sent the email and got back an auto-responder saying “for tech support go to the Website.” Then she tried it with Yahoo Messenger, and it worked in webcam mode, incredibly slow, but then there was no audio chat. Finally we plugged in our big hand-held videocam and it also didn’t get recognized by AIM. So I’m not sure whether IBM sucks or XP sucks or AIM sucks or the iBot sucks. But it’s the iBot that’s going back to the store tomorrow. (Lauren would happily get a PowerBook except for she finds a touchpad massively unpleasant. Since it is well-known that women have generally more sensitive fingertips than men, I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s not the only one. Earth to Apple...) Sometimes I hate computers.