Tag Archives: U-Spy Store

When Transformers Needs CCTV Equipment, They Call The U-Spy Store

It was Friday, July 16, 2010 at 4:45pm when we received a call at our U-Spy Store Chicago location from the production crew for the movie Transformers currently being shot in downtown Chicago. The Transformers producer knew what she wanted but didn’t exactly know what it was called. She described the product as being a larger bullet or cylindrical shaped camera that can automatically pan back and forth with a controller. But she in fact already had the described camera. All she really needed was the mount that could move the camera as well as the controller.

Quickly our team contacted several of our area vendors who are scattered all over the Chicagoland area. One by one, our vendors told us the same story. This is actually very old technology replaced by the dome shaped PTZ camera. But the producers made it clear they did not want the more modern dome shaped PTZ. They needed something that could move the large bullet camera. It’s all about the visuals and in a movie, capturing the mood and atmosphere is much more important that having the latest technology.

After about 10 calls, we finally struck gold. We found the controller and panning mechanism in one of our vendors located in the Northwest Suburban area. It was now 5:06 and we needed to get approval, payment and retrieve the equipment before the 6pm closing time. About 5:30, after a flurry of calls and emails with attachments of images showing what the mechanism looked like, we received their approval.

Now the hard part for us arrives. We needed to get to the vendor by 6 to pick up the equipment and find a willing U-Spy Store team member to personally deliver the equipment. Gabriel was heading back to the office after a long day of service calls. I called him and he agreed to delay the start of his weekend by a couple of hours by diverting his route home and stop at the vendor. He arrived minutes before close and then called me to say he couldn’t make it on time. Gabriel likes to practical joke but didn’t terrorize me too long. He said he had the equipment in hand and wanted to know what to do next.

Meanwhile, back at U-Spy headquarters, German was more than willing to drive the equipment down to the Chicago Loop area to personally deliver the goods and perhaps get that Hollywood career jump started. I made sure that German had everything they needed to make things work including power supply, wiring and connectors.

A better than average Friday afternoon rush hour helped make things run smoothly and soon German took the hand off from Gabriel and was delivering the much anticipated equipment to the movie set. At 7:57pm I received a text message indicating Operation Transformers was completed. A little more than 3 hours after the call, our U-Spy team accomplished our mission. Damn good on a Friday afternoon!

Did we save the movie? Probably! Would the movie have figured out a way to continue shooting and production without The U-Spy Store? Probably not! Is the movie going to get 4 stars, 2 thumbs up and favorable reviews because The U-Spy Store saved the day? Absolutely Yes! In fact I am personally endorsing this movie right now by stating this will be the Movie of the Year!. Any questions of payoffs should be discussed with our legal team as soon as the trail of our former governor is complete.

So the moral of this is, when you need something fast and hard to find, give The U-Spy Store call. Even when shooting a B movie, The U-Spy Store will transform that script into an Academy Award winner. Or at least a movie that was saved by The U-Spy store and not in the editing room. And remember to keep an eye out for those panning cameras and remember who saved the day? The U-Spy Store!

U.S. & Russian Spy Rings Mimic Hollywood

If you’ve been reading or watching the news lately, you undoubtedly know that the United States and Russia are in the midst of a so-called spy swap.  On June 27, the FBI arrested 10 people on charges that they were deep-cover spies working for the Russian government but living for years in the United States. Their job, according to the DOJ, was to determine U.S. “secrets by making connections to think tanks and government officials.” Continue reading

Bugnets: More Than Backyard Pests

Meetings with friends or clients. Private phone conversations. New business presentations. Financial transactions. Personal/family interactions. All items that we, as citizens of the United States, assume are private interactions, protected, and respected, by others. Continue reading

Why IP

The U-Spy Store is building a large selection of IP Cameras to choose from. For those who may think IP is a bodily function, this mailer will help you understand that IP technology is the latest and fastest growing segment of video security. IP stands for Internet Protocol but don’t let that scare you. It simply means your camera is connected by a wire to your network instead of a recorder. This allows you great advantages. First it allows you great flexibility as to where you can view the cameras and where you can record. Imagine a break in at your home and the burglar steals your DVR. All of your evidence is gone. With an IP camera setup, you can record your home cameras at work, your work cameras at home and you can even record in multiple locations. And you can do all this without a DVR! And there is more……

Not only are you getting the flexibility of off site recording and multiple site recording but now with the IP camera, you have the capability of tripling your resolution or more. A 1.3 Megapixel IP camera has about 4 times the resolution of a typical VGA or analog camera. And there is no hope of ever being able to send a better image on the original camera on RG59 or RG6 cable.

What does better resolution mean? Not just better images with ore detail. The higher resolution camera means you can use less cameras and potentially eliminate the PTZ (Pan Tilt Zoom) camera. When you record in higher resolution, you have the flexibility to enlarge or zoom into the image at a greater capacity after recording. With an analog camera, you have very limited zooming capabilities. Keep in mind that a 5 Megapixel camera is not uncommon which translates into 12 times the quality of a typical analog camera. There are 16 Megapixel cameras on the market now but at a huge price.

Another great feature of the IP camera is that you will no longer need a DVR to record. Any PC with sufficient storage or even an external hard drive will suffice to record your cameras. And remember, you can configure this recording anywhere in the world with Internet Access.

There are issues to overcome with IP cameras. One issue is network bandwidth. If you are considering more than four 1.3 Megapixel cameras in your home or work network, then you should consider a separate network for your cameras. The heavy data stream from these cameras will big down the network unless you have a sufficient capability.

Another advantage of the IP camera is that most are viewable on a Mac computer. Mac compatibility is always a plus to a Mac user like me. I want to be able to get my Mac Book and view cameras without starting up my Windows software.

Encrypted wireless transmission is another feature on some of the IP cameras. Encrypted or digital signal means you no longer need to fear that your wireless camera will be viewed by others. I am not saying it is impossible, but the chances are greatly diminished since the interceptor would need to hack into your wireless router to do it. It also means no interference from wireless networks and cordless phones. This is a huge benefit to anyone who ever tried using wireless cameras in the cluttered 2.4 bandwidth.

GPS and Video Surveillance in School Buses

In Richmond County, Georgia, the  Board of Education wants to install GPS tracking devices and video cameras in the county’s school buses in an effort to make the bus routes safe–or safer–for children.

If installed, parents will be provided with accurate times for pick-up and drop-off, which will enable families to keep better track of their children. Some parents, however, feel that GPS trackers and video cameras may result in stalking and spying. While many parents feel that this new technology is a good idea, some parents feel that video cameras and  may lead to stalking and spying. The parents’ concern is two-fold; it’s unethical to “spy” on children, and they (parents) fear that others may be able to track their children in order to abduct them.

The school district takes a different point-of-view: The buses are state property, and according to Georgia law, schools are allowed to monitor their assets.

The cost of installing a system for the district will run in the range of $40,000; money that the district will have to raise if they wish to install two video cameras and one GPS unit on every bus, and will ask the Richmond County Board of Education to purchase the equipment for 128 buses.

According to WJBF-TV in Augusta, the district’s intent is to install a camera in the aisle and one in the front of the bus, monitoring activity on the bus on a consistent basis.

GPS trackers and cameras will operate when the bus is running, and drivers won’t be able access either piece of equipment,  “but school authorities will be able to view any recorded information at their discretion. The school has attempted to reassure parents by stating that the new equipment is being installed to increase efficiency, and that the school board is not interested in spying on students.”

The umbrella benefit is that bus drivers, responsible for keeping children safe, fall under the scrutiny of the district, ensuring that bus drivers “…are conducting themselves in a professional manner.” Corporations, like UPS, have used GPS trackers to ensure employees stay within company guidelines while using corporate assets.

Police Seize More Weapons…Including Rocket Launcher

Once we worried that terrorists were able to access high-tech military equipment, often made by the United States, to use against armed forces. In the past decade, we’ve worried that criminals were better armed than the police.

The Chicago Police Department turned up a weapons cache last week that highlighted both those worries as they uncovered another large stockpile of weapons;  the third in three weeks. The first, you may remember, was confiscated after a man shot a dog from his window in a northern Chicagoland suburb. The second was the result of a raid on Chicago’s south side.

The latest took place on the west side, the Organized Crime Division recovering 13 weapons and an anti-tank weapon after searching several properties.

The man charged in the case is a allegedly a member of the 4-Corner Hustlers, one of Chicago’s many street gangs. He was charged with 11 counts of misdemeanor firearms possession and one count of  misdemeanor possession of ammunition.

The police did not elaborate as to why the crimes were no felonies. The weapons recovered included shotguns, rifles, semi-auto handguns and a disposable Light Anti-Tank Weapon (LAW), or rocket launcher.

Andre Tatum, 41, of the 800 block of North Lawler is being held on bond for the possession crimes.

Crime Does Not Discriminate: Chicago PD’s #3 Man is Burglarized

How would you like to find out via the news that the house you burgled last night happens to be that of a Chicago Police Officer? To a thief, I think that this would be rather, er, trying. In the same situation, what would you do if you found out the Police Officer was actually a CPD Official, namely Deputy Superintendent Steve Peterson, two steps down from the top position at the Chicago Police Department?

If it were me, I’d move. Forever. I understand that out of fairness, all cases should be treated with equal weight, but we are all human; thus, crime hits us harder if we, or those close to us,  are the victims. People…like our boss. Even more unfortunate for the crooks is the fact that Peterson is in-charge of the detective’s division… Do you think that they’ll be motivated to solve this case?

A note to those trafficking in stolen goods: Avoid 50-inch flat screen TVs and .357 Magnums like H1N1…they’re two items reported missing from Peterson’s home.

U-Spy Store has worked with law enforcement on numerous investigations over our twenty-plus years, and THE best lesson we’ve learned is: Crime Never Discriminates, it is an equal opportunity destroyer. Thus, we always advise our clients that it’s better to be prepared for the worst and hope for the best;  in the long-run, it saves time, money, and, at times, lives.

If you need recommendations on increasing security at your home or place of business, please do not hesitate to give us a call. We provide free-estimates and carry a variety of home/business protection equipment. Our phone number is 773-529-2779. Or, feel free to drop us an Email