Eyeontheplace – All Good Now!

Eyeontheplace Error SolvedJust spent an initially frustrating but ultimately rewarding hour or so sorting out an error in the eyeontheplace web application. Basically, on logging in, there was an obscure error. Of course, it was pretty urgent that it was sorted out, because it was preventing anyone from logging in and seeing the live view at the cameras, although the problem did not affect recording of images.

Anyway, it was quite a challenge to solve.  It’s not my idea of a good time, delving into program scripts that have worked quite happily for years, trying to find the problem. I narrowed it down to a line of script that was supposed to send an advisory email (an email is sent to admin whenever someone logs in or tries to log in). The attempted email sending was giving the error.

in computing, as in life, you need to understand that whatever you do has consequence, and you had better understand what they are!

In the end, it turned out that I myself had caused the problem! I had reset the password on the email account that’s used to send emails from the system, without thinking of the consequences. Once I realised what had happened, I got it sorted out in minutes!

The moral of the tale is this: when you work in computing, as in life, you need to understand that whatever you do has consequence, and you had better understand what they are!

Also, especially in computing, things don’t usually just “break” on their own. There is a cause behind a sudden error. And often that cause is something that was done very, very recently. If you lose your keys, you think “When did I last have them and where have I been since?” In computing, if you get an error, you think “When did it last work and what have I done since?”

Not too different!

All I need now is to follow my own “words of wisdom”!

Electrician? You Do the Lecky, We Do the Techie

If you’re an experienced electrician in Shropshire, Cheshire, Herefordshire etc. looking to grow your business, you’ll love eyeontheplace.com.

Double socket

We make it really easy for you to bring an exciting, in-vogue product to your customers. It’s a product that has now overtaken traditional CCTV, which will, within a few years, be dead. I’m talking about digital CCTV, also known as IP cameras or network cameras.

These cameras, unlike your dumb analogue CCTV cameras, enable people to see their property, live, from anywhere in the world, by connecting over the internet using a mobile phone, tablet or laptop. People invest a lot of hard-earned cash in their homes, holiday homes, villas etc. and this is a great way to help them stop worrying about their property when they can’t be there.


As an electrician, you are perfectly placed to bring internet CCTV to your customers – with our help. As the title says: “You do the lecky, we do the techie”! When you install an internet CCTV system from eyeontheplace.com, you do what you do best. You run cables inside or outside, fit sockets, mount cameras on the wall, make everything good. We do ALL of technology side: we program the cameras, test the system, make sure our customer knows how everything works and give full ongoing support. It’s a great partnership!

All you need to do is click the link to register with us (don’t worry, it takes seconds and costs nothing!), and we will give you a special electricians’ partner pack with information that you can give to your customers when you think they might genuinely get some peace of mind from eyeontheplace internet CCTV.

So, before leaving this page, if you’re an electrician in Shropshire, Herefordshire, Cheshire or surrounding areas, please click the link and register as a partner with eyeontheplace!

internet_cctv_axis_m1031_front

Motion Detection False Alerts Reduced by 95%

With our Intelligent Image Analysis feature, we can prevent approximately 95% of IP camera motion detection false alerts. This feature, unique to eyeontheplace.com, was designed and implemented to solve a major annoyance for our customers.

UPDATE Although now (in 2015) some of the more sophosticated IP camera applications have finally caught up with eyeontheplace 😉 and implemented their own versions, ours is unique in this price range, and the vast majority of IP cameras and IP camera applications don’t have any kind of motion detection false alerts reduction at all.

SO, most buyers of IP camera systems, especially in the small business and domestic market, will find to their inconvenience and dismay that they still suffer from a common problem when it comes to motion detection: false alerts. These false alerts are frequently caused by:

  • Falling rain or snow
  • Trees or bushes moving in the wind
  • Sudden changes in light, such as a light being switched on or a car headlight

Depending on the system and how it is configured, each alert could result in an email being sent to the contact address, and images being recorded. Without our special Intelligent Image Analysis feature, even in 24 hours it is not uncommon for a customer to receive hundreds of alert emails. With some systems (not ours) the images are even attached to the emails, resulting in a mountain of massive emails in your inbox after a windy day, for example!

Our system prevents this. When your camera detects “movement”, the images are sent to our servers as usual. At this stage, without Intelligent Image Analysis, other systems would typically record images and send an alarm email – even if the trigger was caused by a branch moving or a light coming on. In our case, Intelligent Image Analysis program gets to work, analysing the image to determine whether it contains a valid trigger such as a person or a vehicle, or a false trigger such as a light coming on or a branch moving in the breeze. Then, if it is a false alarm, no further action is taken.  As you can imagine, this is not an easy task, and to be honest even our system gets it wrong sometimes, so we’re not claiming to eliminate 100% of false alerts. We have to play safe and make sure we don’t filter out real intruders!

Because of the difficulty of this task, despite what you may read in the ads, no software can truly claim to eliminate 100% of false alerts, but we estimate that ours eliminates about 95% of them. We measured this as follows:

  1. Over a period of time, we examined images recorded from cameras with motion detection, and counted ONLY the “false” triggers caused by things such as trees moving in the breeze.
  2. Of these false triggers, we counted those that were successfully filtered out by Intelligent Image Analysis – taking this as a percentage of the total to give the accuracy level.

To maximise accuracy, our application can record data from your camera images so that we can fine-tune the settings depending on your camera’s individual location – again, this level of customisation and individual adjustment camera by camera is something unique to eyeontheplace.com.  To our knowledge, no other company has this ability.

So, if you currently have an IP camera system and false alerts are a problem, or if you’re considering a system but don’t want the irritation of hundreds of false alerts, why not come and join us? We’re a specialist company in the field of IP cameras; we’ll do our best to make you happy; we’ll give you a great (and unique) system and it won’t break the bank – click to take a look at our prices page.

 

Network Cameras on Stalks!

Cameras on Stalks!

 

Network cameras (IP cameras) have been around just slightly longer than eyeonontheplace.com and during those 10 years or so the camera itself has always consisted of a lens, image sensor and a mini-computer to process the images, manage motion detection and raise alerts.

This has been turned completely on its head by the new F-series from Axis Communications. Take a look at this:

Axis F1004 Sensor Unit
Axis F1004 Sensor Unit

 

When I first saw this picture, I thought – it’s a camera on a stalk! But actually, it’s not a “network camera” in its entirety, it’s just the lens and sensor components. So how does the camera do its processing, motion detection and alert-raising? Well, that’s where the next new product comes in – Axis has separated the “computer” part of the system and put it into a separate box:

Axis F44 main unit
Axis F44 main unit

Now, it looks like a router, doesn’t it? But it isn’t. The Axis F44 is actually the computing part of these new “network cameras” although I’m almost loathe to call them that! You can attach up to four of the lenses/sensors to this box, via network cables.

This box handles the image processing, events such as motion detection, raising alerts, serving up live images and recording images either to the built-in SD card or sending to some other secure place.

If you’re used to the usual format of network camera, this all looks a bit confusing, but the way I got my head round it was to think of the box as a “camera” and the lenses on stalks as just that, “lenses”, so in the case of the F44, you basically have ONE camera and up to four lenses.

You can access the view and functions associated with each lens by using a different URL, albeit on the same IP address and port umber, which is why I prefer to think of it as ONE camera and FOUR lenses. You could argue that it’s four IP cameras, with their “computers” housed in one box, but that’s not really correct because there is only one processor to my knowledge. Sure, you can configure each lens separately as if they really are separate devices, but there is only one “brain” and only one IP address – one networked device.

So why has Axis come up with this revolutionary multi-headed beast of a network camera system?

I think the main advantage is that you can get pretty much all of the features of four cameras for less than the price of four separate units. Also access to live images and “playback” of recordings from the SD cards located in the main box is central, so you don’t have to log in and out of four different cameras (not that this is a problem for EyeOnThePlace.com because we usually record clips to the cloud and all playback is via our own easy-to-use platform.) Another advantage is that the sensors/lenses are lightweight, small and easy to mount, and they don’t need power so you don’t need to look for mains sockets nearby. They are also a lot cheaper to replace than a complete network camera, say someone smashes one off the wall (ruddy hooligans!) Here at eyeontheplace.com we have Axis cameras that are still in use after literally 10 years of service, and hardware failures are very rare. But in all cases where we HAVE had a failure, it has been the image sensor that has failed. With this system, you can replace one of those for £65!

Lenses/sensors from about £65 each plus VAT is incredibly good value. The main unit costs from about £350 plus VAT. You’ll need some bits and pieces like housings, cables etc. but all in all it’s good value compared to four separate network cameras. There is, according to the Axis website, a kit available with four lenses/sensors, the main unit, cables and two kinds of housings for the lenses, as shown below, but I can’t find stock anywhere in the UK:

Axis F34 four camera kit
Axis F34 four camera kit

http://www.axis.com/gb/en/products/axis-f34-surveillance-system/

Are there any downsides to this revolutionary new kind of network camera? Well yes, a few:

On the downside, you have to run a network cable from the main box to each of the sensors/lenses (which powers them) and there is a limit to the distance from the main box – 15m – not a lot. So the two furthest sensor-lenses in the set-up can only be 30m apart. That’s OK for a home or a small business, but not so good for larger installations. That said, you can of course have a system with more than one of the boxes. There is also only one “computer” processing all of the incoming image streams, so quite how it copes with four lots of incoming traffic will be interesting to see.

One thing’s for sure, this is a very interesting development and another option for eyeontheplace.com customers to choose from.

 

Adding PIR Sensors to Internet CCTV

The new breed of CCTV cameras known as wireless internet CCTV cameras or IP cameras is totally digital, more like a computer than a traditional camera. This new type of camera detects changes in the digital image that its sensor “sees” to decide whether something has moved within the picture. This method of detecting movement can be improved upon by adding a passive infra-red (PIR) sensor to the camera, as this article explains… IP CCTV – adding PIR Sensors

Motion Detection Upgrade for Eyeontheplace

Great excitement in the eyeontheplace office – we’ve just rolled out the latest update to the eyeontheplace web application. Something that has been missing from your private camera viewing web pages is the ability to have motion detection off for one camera, on for a second one, and maybe a third one set to “timetabled”.

Eyeontheplace.com Motion Detection Switching
Now you can control each of your eyeontheplace CCTV cameras’ motion detection settings individually

Now, you can do just that. We’ve added functionality that enables you to switch, i.e. arm/disarm, each of your internet CCTV cameras individually.  Why would you want to do that?  Well, imagine that you have a camera in your living room and one overlooking your garden. Say you are having some work done on the outside of your house. You would probably want to disarm the exterior camera whilst at the same time still detecting movement in your living room.

Another scenario is that you have a pet in a particular room temporarily, and want to disarm the camera in that room whilst leaving the others armed.  Or maybe there is one camera that you need to be armed 24 hours a day, perhaps pointing at an area of your property that is not used much, whereas you want the other cameras to be armed according to your eyeontheplace motion detection timetable, to match your coming and going.

It’s all about making the system more closely match your needs. Hope you like it!

Woman Takes Wireless CCTV Camera to the Shops

"She took it to the shops"
“She took it to the shops”

A Cheshire man – let’s call him Jim – put a wireless CCTV camera into his elderly mother’s house, so if there was a problem of any sort, he would be alerted and would be able to take a look at the live picture on his phone or whatever.  The camera was connected wirelessly to a broadband router, and no other equipment was needed – so far, so good.

Now Jim, being security-minded, emphasised that the camera was there for his mother’s safety, and the woman, let’s call her Dolly, knowing that son Jim wanted the best for her, began to quite enjoy waving at the camera each time she passed it.  Far from being an intrusion, Dolly found that it actually gave her a sense of security.

So much so, that on leaving the house one day, Dolly unplugged the camera and tucked it into her shopping bag, leaving the zip undone so that the camera lens could peek out at her as she walked along.  That way, she reasoned, Jim would still be able to see that she was safe and well even when she was away from home.  Of course, as soon as she walked down the road, the camera lost its wireless connection to the router.  This was enough to cause the CCTV system to send an email to Jim, reporting that the camera could not be contacted.

“I thought it was wireless. I paid extra for wireless.”

Jim, on receiving the email, tried to log into the camera, in vain.  Then he tried to phone Dolly – no answer (as she was out).  Jim was about to leave his office and make an impromptu visit to his mother’s house to check that all was well, when suddenly he got another alert email – this time from the camera, which seemed to be connected again. Great, thought Jim, until he logged into the system to see what the camera was recording: people, dozens of them – well, their legs and feet anyway – apparently in some sort of public place – not the usual shot of Dolly in her living room at all.

Jim arrived at Dolly’s house just in time to see her returning from the shops, fully-laden with groceries, camera peeking out of the bag as before.  It transpired that Dolly, not being quite as technophobic as you might think, realised on the way to the shops that the camera needed power to operate – so on arrival at the supermarket she duly found a power socket, pulled the camera out of her bag, plugged it in and left it on the floor while she went round doing her shopping.  The camera had somehow managed to connect to a local WIFI network and, unfazed by its new surroundings, had proceeded to detect movement and record footage as usual!

Later, Dolly is reported to have said, “I thought it was wireless.  I paid extra for wireless. Then I thought – it can’t be wireless, it’s got a plug.  So I found a socket in the corner of the supermarket, and plugged it in.”

Jim was, apparently, not amused: “Can you believe it – she actually took it to the shops!  I’ve screwed it to the wall now. I’m thinking of doing the same with Mum!”

Reminder to installers: When installing wireless cameras in someone’s home, explain the word “wireless”.  Carefully.  Or just screw it to the wall.

Image derived from: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bolso_Artesanal.jpg

Homeplugs Can Solve Wireless CCTV Problems

Hello again.  On behalf of eyeontheplace I’ve been testing homeplugs, also known as powerline adapters – and I am seriously impressed.

If you’ve not come across these, basically they’re adapters that carry your computer network signal through the mains electricity wires in your walls, but on a different frequency to the power.  This sounds flaky, I know, but it’s actually a very exciting development for anyone who has used wireless CCTV cameras.  Please read on…

First of all, here’s a typical homeplug:

homeplugThis one is a Solwise 200mbps Homeplug AV

Basically, you need at least two of these to make a start.  For example, you can plug one into a wall socket near your router, and plug the other one into a socket near to the camera.  Then, you connect the camera to the homeplug with an ordinary network cable – as you can see, it has a socket for a network cable underneath.  You also connect the router to the other homeplug in the same way, with a network cable. Then, you follow the instructions that come with the homeplug – dead easy!

Notice how this model does not “use up” a power socket – because it has one on the front.  This means that you can plug your router or camera into the homeplug instead of the wall socket where it was plugged in before, with no change to cabling!

You may be thinking, “why bother?” if you have a wireless camera.  Well, here are a couple of important advantages:

  • Reliability: Inevitably, wireless connections go wrong now and then, because of interference, failure to recover after a power outage etc.  If you are miles away from the property where the camera is located, you will be stuck with no access to your camera, no motion detection, no recorded images etc.  There is no such issue when you use homeplugs.
  • Speed: The homeplug that I tested, which has a nominal 200Mbps maximum speed, gave noticeably faster connection speeds than the camera’s 54g wireless connection.

You can also add more homeplugs, so if, for example, you have three cameras, you could have a homeplug at each camera and one at the router – they can all be made to talk to one another very easily – for best results choose the same make for all of your plugs and check the manufacturer’s website for compatibility – basically, it’s easy.  You can of course also use wired network connections and wireless connections alongside the homeplugs with no problems.

So are there any disadvantages to using homeplugs?  Well, there is a small cost – the above model can be bought for £20 a plug.  It is also sensible to get the type that has a power socket on the front, so you don’t lose a mains socket.  Also, it is not recommended to plug a homeplug into an extension socket or a surge protector, because these items can, in theory, stop the network signal from getting through.  But, in our tests, we used an extension socket and a surge protector, individually and even TOGETHER and there was no problem at all!  Not that I would recommend this unless necessary.

In summary, I am very impressed by this technology.  Here at eyeontheplace we’re going to recommend homeplugs as an option with immediate effect, especially where wireless connectivity may be a problem.

eyeontheplace in Major Relaunch

I’m Michael from eyeontheplace and I have some exciting news!

eyeontheplace has just been relaunched with a major rebranding and upgrade of our services.

If you’re new to eyeontheplace, this is basically why we are here – to help you “keep an eye on the place for maximum peace of mind”.  We do this by using IP cameras coupled with our unique web application – “CCTV over the internet” as we call it.  Our challenge is to make sure that you get all of the benefits of the technology – with none of the technical pain!

Our relaunch illustrates a major new commitment by our parent company, HarperNicholls Limited, to drive eyeontheplace forward and give more and more people a bit of peace of mind when it comes to monitoring their holiday homes; 2nd homes; businesses; machinery; pets, elderly relatives or children.

I’m really excited about the relaunch and to be honest, if you think you might like what we do, I’d love to come and see you for a chat and to show you the system in action – if you have nice biscuits, even better!  Then, if you’ve seen my little performance and decide it’s not for you, no problem – at least you will know about eyeontheplace and maybe tell a few of your friends that they should get in touch with us.  I’m not a salesman – I’m the technical bloke – I wrote the system basically.  If I have a chat with someone, and I can see that the system’s not for them, I’ll make sure they don’t buy it.  I like to sleep at night!