In Springfield, Mass., police announced that 13 people had been caught dumping household trash and furniture in a wooded area near town. The alleged illegal dumpers were recorded by hidden camera detectors placed near the area in an investigation that included aid from both state, and local officials. This, according to the Springfield Republican. Continue reading
Technology makes our lives easier, or at least it’s supposed to; yet, as our understanding improves and complicated processes, such as computer programming, become more user-friendly, some decide to use these innovations to prey upon others.
ATM skimming-devices, for instance, have evolved from clunky, obvious pieces of fake auto-bank teller equipment to sleek, undetectable theft devices that are unnoticeable to untrained eyes. As the equipment becomes better, the criminals grow in sophistication, often stealing hundreds of thousands in others’ money before being discovered. Continue reading
Going to the dentist isn’t something that we usually scrutinize to ensure our chosen practitioner has the necessary schooling and degrees that prove he’s a dentist. Usually, we opt for doctors or dentists who are recommended by our social circle, or, more likely, the ones covered by an insurance plan. Usually, the expectation is that they’re qualified; after all, masquerading as a dentist wouldn’t be the easiest scam to perpetrate.
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!
Jacob Stone was having some bad luck last week. His car was burglarized outside of a Seattle-area convenience store. The items stolen included high-end camera equipment and, of all things, his pants and a belt.
One of the store’s employees recognized the man who broke into Stone’s car as a man who had stolen items from the store previously during the week. Stone–obviously knowledgeable about photography and videography, retrieved copies of the store’s video surveillance footage and retrieved still images from the video footage.
Stone created “wanted” posters of the thief and the car he used to flee the scene and posted them around the neighborhood. Then, he went a step further and posted the flyers on Facebook. Anyone recognizing the now hunted man were given a dedicated Hotmail address so that they could submit tips.
In just a few days, he received the tip that local police used to nail the suspected shoplifter-cum-burglar. Someone in the area saw the man and emailed Stone. Stone called him back and later met with the tipster to give the man a reward of $250. Plus, he got his equipment back, although he had to remove the images that the thief had taken of random items, like scenery in Seattle, a dog, and the perpetrators messy bedroom.
Stone is thankful that his idea for using social media paid off, and appreciates everyone who helped him during the investigation. Stone will be much more careful where he leaves his car, and it’s our opinion that he should invest in some automotive security if he’s going to keep expensive equipment in his car. Just saying…
And you thought Facebook just kept tabs on your friends…
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
The DVR automatically records on motion. The problem is, with the trees blowing, cars moving etc, there is plenty of motion happening. We can screen out the unwanted motion so it does not activate the recording. The DVR will still record the entire view of the camera but the areas that are screened will not activate the camera to record. I hope that makes sense.
It stores up the video recording onto a hard drive of various sizes, depending on what you buy and the capacity of the DVR. Once your DVR reaches the storage capacity it begins recording over the oldest data. So there will be a rolling block of time that moves along. It’s hard to calculate what that total time is until the hard drive gets filled. But you can experiment by checking the DVR to see how far back you can go in time. Then you will have an idea of the amount of time you are getting before the video starts to disappear. We can increase the hard drive up to the capacity of the DVR. Some DVRs can take 2, 3 or more hard drives. But the size if each drive may be limited by the DVR specifications so you must check whatever that limit is. We have some standalone DVRs that are limited to 1 Terabyte (1000 GB) per drive.
To make a backup of an event, follow the various directions for backing up with a USB flash drive, CD-ROM, or DVD or by the Network as specified for your particular DVR. Events are usually short time periods, easily less than 30 minutes at a time. Usually 1-5 minutes. You don’t save the entire hard drive since you will be watching 99% of boring daily life around you and nothing of value. Plus the cost of hard drives will add up. If there is an incident that you wish to archive or save, you go to that date and follow the directions provided for your DVR. Then take that backup which will be on a flash drive, DVD or CD-ROM or to a computer and save it in a safe place or give it to the police or insurance company. Or play it on any computer (usually Windows) as the backup will usually contain a small player that can play the video file on any PC. Some DVRs record directly in an AVI format that can be played with a common media player such as Windows Media Player, QuickTime, Real Player or other video player If the file is recorded in that special format, you can convert the file to AVI from the player to give to police, Once it is in the AVI format, any PC or Macintosh computer will be able to play it.
I hope this makes sense. Each DVR is unique but the above is the case for most. Some cheap DVRs don’t offer the backup methods of above and require you to play the video you want to save directly to another recording source such as a DVD recorder or VCR. And remember, even the Macintosh compatible DVRs we sell will not be able to play the proprietary format of the DVR recording. You will need to convert the file to AVI with a Windows PC before viewing the backup on a Apple or Mac machine. Call or email me any questions so I can clarify. Good luck and stay secure.
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.
Adding a nanny cam, or in-home surveillance system, used to be for detecting cases of child abuse or endangerment. However, even if you don’t have any concerns over abuse, an indoor surveillance camera and DVR may provide information on your sitter’s, or children’s, accountability.
As technology’s gotten better, the price for in-home surveillance has actually leveled out, or in some cases, prices have lowered. Nanny cams provide piece of mind for parents who work long hours; often, the wireless recorders can be accessed from a work computer, allowing a parent that misses their child to remain in contact with their child’s life.
Child neglect, or abuse, can happen. Some of the warning signs include unexplained bruises or cuts and fear when the sitter, or nanny, arrives. Fussy, or abnormal outbursts are also cause for concern. A child whose disposition has changed drastically may be a child who is being neglected. If you suspect that something is going on that you are not aware of, no price is too much to pay to ensure your loved-ones safety.
Wireless surveillance, and DVR systems, are easy to set up, and are virtually undetectable. Even if you don’t expect any foul play, an in-home surveillance system is a way to ensure that your child is safe and those who are in your home while you’re away are accountable for their actions. Even if it means feeding the dog while you’re away on vacation.
In most cases, you’ll find that most people act with responsibility and have good intentions. Yet, a casual view, or review, of home activities while away may lead to behaviors that need to be rewarded or addressed. First-hand knowledge of an activity is always the best evidence, and is much more satisfying than conjecture or second-guessing.