DIY Home Security Part 2 – Configuring Motion Alerts

Posted Posted in Connected Home, Home Security, Networking

The heart of my home security system is motion detection and alerts. As I mentioned in the first post, I selected Blue Iris software as a desktop controller. It more than compensates for the shortcomings of the surveillance alert features that are missing from the D-Link camera and for the poor D-Link (free) Windows software supplied with the cameras (D-Cam View). For reasons I don’t understand, the more expensive DCS-942L camera does not have an email motion alert function. The less expensive DCS-932L does, but it is pretty limited.

 

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The image above show the D-Link email setup.

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DIY Home Security

Posted Posted in Connected Home, Home Security, Networking

Late last year, I decided that paying ADT $40 a month wasn’t worth it. I had 10 year old security equipment and they wanted a lot of money to upgrade to the latest and greatest systems.* I looked around and it became obvious that do it yourself home automation and home surveillance was something I would need to research. There weren’t any "kits" and local retail stores didn’t carry any electronics that I would want.

My first decision was on what kind of technology to use. My first step was video surveillance that included motion sensing and alerts. Looking around, there wasn’t much of a choice for configurable, functioning equipment. The only affordable player that qualified was d-Link. So, I picked up a few D-Link IP cameras. Two DCS-932L’s and two DCS-942L’s. In retrospect, I could have gone with all 932L’s. These are easy to setup if you just want to view them from within your own home and if you have no advanced needs. I will detail what I learned in another posting. Setting up to fulfill home surveillance needs was not trivial. That process alone will be a separate blog post. I can also tell you that while D-Link offers a free web based viewer for web browsers and a free app for the iPhone, you won’t want to use these. D-Link includes D-Cam Viewer software for Windows on their CD’s which is a real joke as it requires you to turn of UAC.

I settled on desktop controller from Blue Iris software that, while costing $50, does everything I could ask, including scheduling triggered alerts via email or SMS, etc., and it is viewable over the Internet with authentication protection. And there is a free iPad as well as an iPhone app that works beautifully with these cameras.

After setting up my cameras, etc., here is what I can see via a web browser accessing the Blue Iris controller remotely:

 

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Each camera can be put on a schedule for triggered alerts. If one of the motion sensors is triggered, an email and/or SMS can be sent. I am quite happy with the video surveillance system.

*Note: I left the local ADT alarms intact, and shut off the monitoring service that cost $40/month, so if someone tries to come in through doors and windows when I have armed the ADT system, an ear-splitting alarm is set off.

WX Channel iPad App Interacts with TV While You Watch

Posted Posted in Connected Home, Networking, Touchsmart

I’ve just had a game changing entertainment experience. I love watching shows in HD about nature, geography, especially those that feature striking photography that adds to my knowledge of the physical world around me. The Weather Channel has launched a show called From the Edge with Peter Lik and it is available both in HD and SD. And  WX has simultaneously launched a companion iPad app (FREE) that, like some of the music apps previously available that can listen to music that is playing and identify it, listens to each show as you watch it (Live/Recorded/On Demand) and then download and displays related content to augment the viewing experience.

 

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Tuned in and watching the first recorded episode of this show on my TV.

 

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Is that router you want for the holidays ready for IPv6?

Posted Posted in Connected Home, IPv6, Networking

Some of you might be saying, “huh?” and wondering what I’m talking about.  If you are a geek, you probably know that the IPv4 universe of addresses is shrinking and latest estimates are that the IPcalypse will occur in about 3 months. You can follow this on Facebook.

What does this mean? At some point in time, a new web site you want to visit or new web service you want to use may not have an assigned IPv4 address and be reachable over IPv6 only.

Is your ISP working towards insuring that  you can connect to these sites? Mine sure is. Comcast has been working on this for a long time. Of the available technologies, 6 to 4 and native dual stack seem to me to be the most robust. But the catch is that in your home, you need equipment that has implemented one of these technologies, starting with the router at the edge of your network.

I look around and I see a sorry state of affairs for the home user, where there are so few capable devices (let alone firmware upgrades for top of the line dual band wireless routers) that it would appear that the router vendors are planning on forcing consumers to buy entirely new products, most likely to be announced at CES2011.

  • Apple’s Dual Band N Airport Extreme seems the farthest along in out of the box features with firmware 7.5.1,and it is a great performer, provided you are willing to forego things like MAC address cloning, and can limit yourself to 50 clients and not being able to manage via a web browser.
  • D-Link’s flagship DIR-855 has no apparent support for configuring IPv6 features (although their DIR-825 B2 hardware is rumored to have some IPv6 support,but I’ve ordered and returned 4 of them,having received the initial hardware version each time). Of all the top of the line routers, IMO, the DIR-855 has the best and largest set of features and options, and I’m disappointed at the lack of IPv6 features, to say the least.
  • Netgear’s flagship WNDR3700 (I believe it has recently been rebadged with a new product number)  also shows no sign of IPv6 support.
  • Linksys’s  E3000 (rebadged WRT610N) also shows no signs of official IPv6 support (and it is the worst performer of the bunch).

So, yes, there is open source firmware for some router lines, but the typical home user shouldn’t have to deal with a geeky upgrade and the quirks.

My advice if you are in the market for a new router? Don’t be pulled in by those door buster holiday specials.. You are going to need to purchase a new router in the next 18 months or so unless the vendors ante up and do the right thing.