Little Smoky Virtual Pubs

Interesting developments with SmokyDrinky.

The main missing element when I launched it on Monday was somewhere where people could meet up to smoke and drink and chat on Skype or Facebook, and make subversive videos of them doing that.

But in the last couple of days my attention has been drawn to, which is a website that allows people to book virtual “rooms”, and invite people to come visit them in their room.

Last night Emily got hold of one of the rooms, decorated it with the interior of a bar, and invited GaryK and me to visit. We sat smoking and drinking and chatting for an hour or more. It was a real social occasion, in a virtual sort of way. I was actually in the UK, Emily was in Massachusetts, and Gary was in Illinois.

Once you’ve created a new room, you can keep it. And Emily has kept hers. I went back there this morning and sat in it (on my own). Here’s me in Emily’s bar:

Last night me and Emily and Gary were in a line together in the middle of the screen. Up to 8 people can be on screen at the same time (in the free version). And it doesn’t need any special software installed – although it apparently only works with some browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and another).

It’s a little virtual pub! And it’s open all day – as I found out this morning when I went back there. And you can smoke and drink and chat in this virtual pub.

I won’t tell anyone where Emily’s bar is, because it’s hers. But I’ll be opening my own one later today. Just not sure how to decorate it.

I can well imagine lots and lots of these little virtual pubs appearing. And if you can’t get into one (because it’s full, just like real pubs used to be), you can always try another. And that way you’ll probably get to meet new people, just like in real pubs.

The antis will hate it, of course. And they’ll probably invent new forms of secondhand smoke to ban. Twenty-seventh-hand smoke will be the smoke in virtual online pubs that pours out of the screen and onto the chiiiiildren, killing them instantly.

And they’ll probably start trying to get into the pubs and put up No Smoking signs, and lecturing people about how Smoking Kills You Dead. And you’ll have to flee to some other virtual pub to escape them.

While on the topic of smoky pubs, H/T Rose for this article from the Scotsman in 2006:

Pubs find effects of ban not all heaven scent
2006 Scotland

“THE smoke has cleared but now we know what pubs really smell like. Bars across Scotland have installed air fresheners and improved ventilation since the smoking ban was introduced, Scotland on Sunday can reveal.

Publicans have been besieged with complaints about unpleasant smells in their establishments since the ban on smoking in public places was introduced last month.

They claim odours from sweating drinkers, strong perfume and stench from toilets were previously masked by the cigarette fumes.

A straw poll of 82 bars in five Scottish cities, conducted by this newspaper, found nearly three-quarters had experienced problems with unpleasant odours since the ban was introduced at the end of March.

In Edinburgh, bosses at the City Caf said they had been forced to burn incense and install fans to deal with the smell. And at the Abbey in the city’s Newington area, staff have had to open windows and doors to let in fresh air. The Standard Bar in Glasgow has invested in air fresheners, while the city’s Doublet bar has had to keep its ventilation system turned on full to dispel the stench.”

Erm,… if  “publicans have been besieged with complaints about unpleasant smells in their establishments since the ban on smoking in public places was introduced”, doesn’t that mean that nobody was complaining about smoke before it was banned?

About Frank Davis

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32 Responses to Little Smoky Virtual Pubs

  1. garyk30 says:

    Was very nice to see and chat with you and Emily yesterday.

    Was, indeed, like being in a pub: but, with less expensive drinks and much cleaner toilets.

    I look forward to chatting with you again soon.

    • Emily Wieja says:

      It was amazingly like being in a bar! Everyone should try this out. It was great to meet you, Gary!

      I’d be happy to share the name of my “bar” once we do some more testing today. Then people can pop in whenever they like and maybe we could even have some preset times set up at the various virtual bars when they will open with at least a few people there.

      • beobrigitte says:

        I’d be happy to share the name of my “bar” once we do some more testing today. Then people can pop in whenever they like and maybe we could even have some preset times set up at the various virtual bars when they will open with at least a few people there.
        Looking forward to the bar and pub(s) and meeting fellow smokers there 24/7. Some of us will be starting the day with a cup of coffee and a cigarette, others will wind the day down with a beer/wine etc. and a cigarette.

        Sounds wonderful to me!

    • Frank Davis says:

      I’ve just (accidentally) had a chat with Kevin (in Greece) and Richard (in Ireland). It worked fine with just two people, but not with three. It got very slow and disjointed with three people. No idea why.

      • Emily Wieja says:

        Oh no, that’s too bad. With the three of us it worked fine last night. I guess it depends on all the individual computer connections/speeds?

        • nisakiman says:

          As far as I know, I’m the only one of the trio with slow speeds. Richard is on fibre-optics, and gets lightening speeds. Not sure about Frank, but I’m sure his speeds are a lot better than mine.

  2. buckothemoose says:

    “Just not sure how to decorate it.”

    How about some nice old ‘orse brasses?

    • Frank Davis says:

      I’m thinking I might draw my own pub interior, complete with large No Antismoking signs.

      • nisakiman says:

        Or perhaps we should design a ‘Smoking Mandatory’ sign! :)

        • Rose says:

          A cafe I still visit when I passing through has a sign saying “Smoking Encouraged” on a notice inside the window behind the tables and chairs.
          I’m surprised I haven’t seen more welcoming signs over the past ten years, but I suppose most cafe owners think that ashtrays on the outdoor tables is sufficient.

      • buckothemoose says:

        “Antis will be shot!”

      • beobrigitte says:

        I’m thinking I might draw my own pub interior, complete with large No Antismoking signs.
        Not too big; small signs next to huge ashtrays with a number of butts in them speaks for itself.

        Anti-smokers will be too scared, anyway, to go near the pub. They do believe cigarette smoke travels through walls, phone cables and perhaps the internet, too.

  3. Some other Tom says:

    That is sooooo cool!

  4. RdM says:

    Synchronicity… !
    I discovered on my own yesterday, thinking of that same problem, was going to post here soon or later, have been overwhelmed with other things… behind on emails too, sorry!

    From the Faq though…

    What is the minimum network speed for using

    In general, the faster the network and the higher quality the network connection, the better the call will be.

    With using peer to peer connection and MESH networking, it means that each person on the call is sending a video and audio stream to every other person in the call. Because of this, the amount of bandwidth needed increases as you have more and more people on the call, and is dependent on on the network quality of each person on the call. We do not currently have a way to measure exactly what the quality of the connection is between each of the callers.

    If you are frequently having video conferences with a large group of people and some user’s speeds aren’t the best, we recommend giving our premium version a spin and let our server boost do the heavy lifting.

    How many people can be in a room at the same time?

    You can have up to 8 people in the room at the same time. We do not support more connections because of browser and bandwidth limitations which would cause the browser to crash. If you need support for larger calls, you can upgrade any room to our premium version which is currently in Beta and supports up to 12 participants! is currently a peer-to-peer service. This means that participants send audio and video directly to each other, and in call with many participants, this quickly requires a lot of bandwidth and CPU. People with poor network or old computers or mobile devices may experience problems in calls with many participants.

    Check out these quick tips or visit our Troubleshooting section of the FAQ:

    Plug in a network cable for a more stable network connection
    Turn off your video if your connection is poor or audio is breaking up

    One obvious point there is that if you’re using a laptop with a wireless connection, plug in a wired ethernet cable instead, if you can.

    Another (quite technical) resource tip I found was here:

    Second might be to reduce the pixel resolution of what you’re sending from your camera.

    I’ve been looking at that and also SplitCam, as well as other related & recording programs…

    There are calculations as to your upload speed (or 80% of it, allowing for overheads), and the framerate & resolution of your video stream output… obviously having an HD camera or even streaming at 720p is going to use up a lot of bandwidth quickly, maybe 480p or less is better.

    You might find that even 3 starts to get slow, let alone 5 or their 8 max, but looking at some of the technical questions & solutions might help that. And having a fast computer! (Hmm…)

    Good lighting and being reasonably close up is likely going to help as well, with a small screen.

    As is my wont, I’m researching & preparing before I’m ready to go live…
    I’ve just tried out a camera built into a tiny 12″ sub-notebook, albeit widescreen 1080p! – the picture is so small & grainy, perhaps low light at the time, I’m not that happy with it yet!

    But cheers for now… I’ll be looking forward to furnishing a room and hopefully both meeting and inviting, & being invited to others, soon too!

    • Rose says:

      Is Chinese Incense Smoke Hazardous to Respiratory Health?

      “Incense is a common source of indoor air pollution, especially in Asian homes where it is burned for religious reasons. In previous studies in Hong Kong, it was found to be the major source of airborne carcinogens in the home, and a significant contributor to personal exposures to nitrogen dioxide among women.”

      “To evaluate its effects on respiratory health, data from an air pollution cross-sectional study of 346 primary school children and their 293 non-smoking mothers, and a lung cancer case-control study of 189 female patients and 197 district matched controls who had ever been married were analysed.

      No association was found between exposure to incense burning and respiratory symptoms like chronic cough, chronic sputum, chronic bronchitis, runny nose, wheezing, asthma, allergic rhinitis, or pneumonia among the three populations studied: i.e. primary school children, their non-smoking mothers, or a group of older non-smoking female controls.

      Incense burning did not affect lung cancer risk among non-smokers, but it significantly reduced risk among smokers, even after adjusting for lifetime smoking amount.
      A possible explanation for this unexpected finding is that incense burning was associated with certain dietary habits, i.e. more fresh fish, more retinol, and less alcohol, which have been associated with lower lung cancer risk in this population. These results indicate that diet can be a significant confounder of epidemiological studies on air pollution and respiratory health.

  5. Mark Jarratt, Canberra, Australia says:

    Inspired! Innovative! Necessity is the mother of invention. Wryly amusing yet probably true about 27th hand smoke panic down the Wide Wide World of Web. Your virtual pub should have anti smoking zealots prohibited signs, and ideally be a treehouse.

  6. nisakiman says:

    Off topic (again – sorry) but I just came across this:

    A leading rights group has condemned the imprisonment of a man in Tunisia for smoking a cigarette in public during the dawn-to-dusk Muslim fast.

    A court in north-western Bizerte town sentenced the man to one month in jail for “public indecency”.

    Those ‘Human Rights’ groups condemning this must be doing so through gritted teeth! Ha, the irony of defending this guy’s ‘right’ to smoke during Ramadan must surely give them palpitations! It’s quite delicious really. :)

  7. Would you talk to vapers who think like smokers?

    • Frank Davis says:

      Why not? There might even be a few non-smokers at times. No antismokers though!

      • nisakiman says:

        I would say that any vaper who doesn’t evangelise about trying to get all smokers to switch and save a billion lives should be welcome. I interact with lots of vapers who identify as smokers who prefer vaping. I have no problem with them.

        It’s only the ones who have made the switch and think, for some unknown reason, that they now hold the moral high ground that piss me off. They are the ones who use smokers as the fulcrum to lever their newfound healthist message. They can fuck off, as far as I’m concerned.

    • beobrigitte says:

      Of course I talk to vapers who think like smokers and fight against smoking bans. I also do have non-smoking friends who don’t like the ban, either, and have smoking rooms (in which we all sit when I visit).

      But I do have one friend who switched from smoking to vaping and is full of the anti-smokers’ bull sh*t. Needless to say, I haven’t seen her for a while. Quite a while.

  8. Smoking Lamp says:

    Well, bars and pubs in Prague are starting to close after the Czech Republic’s new smoking ban. Of course antismoking activists routinely claim businesses aren’t hurt by bans and deny the economic side effects of their incremental prohibition. See The Smoking Ban Is Causing Bars to Close”

  9. garyk30 says:’s-place

    Open for the next 45 minutes as a test

    • beobrigitte says:

      It was a pleasure talking to you! Since the PC I’m on right now has no cam (I need to search for the USB cam to try on here) I thought I’d try it on the phone. It does work wonderfully with a very clear picture! I guess, I need to finally look for a system update for my phone as your picture was frozen the last 5 minutes of our quick talk.

      I’ll be using my linuxed up Mac next time for a smoky-drinky pub meeting.

      (Sorry about the mess in my house; since last Friday I have re-plastered my kitchen wall, papered it and secured the water piping and ripped up half the floor of it’s wet cover, dried the floor and put down half of the new floor. Tomorrow it’s the hard bit; extending the water pipes to the sink’s new location. House work will have to wait until the kitchen is in use again.)

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