cam and cam: One for the eyes, one for the ears

In a rather odd twist, I have two programs entitled “cam,” one which has a visual focus, and another which has an audio purpose. Let’s start with the eyes.


And I am beginning to believe that tools that translate from standard image formats to terminal output are not so rare after all.

This cam is available in the AUR as cam-git, but to be honest, the version given there wouldn’t build for me.

However, following the instructions on the home page made a workable cam, and as you can see, it converts our old pal Smiley into its text-only version with no real effort. It also manages a fair representation of the original colors, and shades things appropriately where it can.

cam also squeezes its output to fit the current terminal dimensions, without losing the aspect ratio — something I liked in the last converter we saw, and in others from years past.

cam seems eager to take on the role of a slideshow tool as well, with options for pausing between separate image files, preset looped shows, sizing in proportion to the terminal dimensions, and eight- or nine-position alignment that overwrites the current terminal content. It’s a nifty effect.

This cam is a solid thumbs-up in terms of graphics viewing for console environments, and unless you have something specific that you need from another converter tool, it might usurp others you already know.

Here’s the other cam, which is an acronym for CPU’s Audio Mixer. I’ve looked high and low for a home page for this cam, but the only sites I can see in the source code, and the only addresses I find in the Debian packages are all dead.


Which might be a foregone conclusion, since cam’s source codes show dates as early as 1994, and I don’t expect the home page for an OSS-era audio mixer to survive 20 years until now. Not that it can’t be done, only that it doesn’t surprise me if it didn’t.

This cam seems to work well in hand with alsa-oss, but the only mixer controls I can muster are the ones you see in the screenshot.

I also can’t account for the oddball characters used in cam’s display, but I’m willing to either chalk that up to cam’s age, or to my less-than-expert setup, or using the Mint live environment. Any one or all could be a factor there.

This second cam might be a little less useful for those reasons, but it also has most of the requisites I look for in a decent console application — good use of color, onboard help and key cues, and a straightforward focus that doesn’t wander all over the map.

Still, it’s good to know it’s available, even if it’s not altogether as employable as it may have been.😦