Tag Archives: home-security

How to Monitor Your Home with FaceTime

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Using Apple’s FaceTime, you can chat with someone in another part of your house or a person on the other side of the world. It’s simple to use your iPod touch, iPhone or iPad as a webcam when using this built-in feature. You’ll need to create an Apple account for each computer you want to connect with and let other users know which one they should use to chat with you. There are also a number of other ways you can use FaceTime – which don’t necessarily involve other people.

I was expecting a package recently and was afraid I might not hear the doorbell. I’ve been looking forward to this delivery for a while and couldn’t spare the time to sit next to the front door waiting for mister deliveryman. Instead, I connected my iPod touch to FaceTime with a computer up in my home office. The iPod was pointed out the front window so that I could easily monitor everything going on outside the door without leaving my desk or interrupting my work flow.

This will also work when you want to keep an eye on your home while you are away, of course. You’ll need to set up your Mac to automatically accept incoming FaceTime calls in order to do this.

With this script enabled, you can call yourself from your iPhone or iPod touch and the Mac will automagically pick up the call. When you disconnect, the script will close FaceTime and continue to watch for a new call. Once you get home, you can quit the app to keep FaceTime from answering everything that comes in. This lets you quickly check up on anyone – or anything – in your home while you’re out and about. I like to use it to make sure Wicket isn’t surfing those bad doggie sites.

What other uses can you think of for Apple’s FaceTime?

Monitor Your Home Remotely

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My home is seriously secure. I know this because I have like a billion cameras pointed into every possible nook and cranny. Recently, I was going through a bout of insomnia and happened to catch some news that the security system I use – ADT – had a pretty cool new feature. I can enable or disable the entire system using an iPhone app! Hallelujah!

ADT Pulse gives you the ability to:

  • Arm and Disarm your home security system remotely.
  • Control and monitor your home’s thermostat and lights (allowing you to make your home more energy efficient).
  • Receive text message and email alerts for important events.
  • View live video of your home while you are away.

You have to be an ADT Pulse subscriber in order to use this app, which I happily paid for. I am gone out and about quite often. I love this extra peace of mind the app gives me. I can make sure doors and windows are closed with the tap of a button. I can turn the system off and on the same way, and I can spy on Wicket to make sure he isn’t getting into things he shouldn’t be.

I also started using another application within the past few days called Witness. You’ll again need to be signed up for an account. Witness turns your Mac system into a house alarm. It uses the iSight camera as a motion sensor. If any motions are detected, the app will send “mugshots” and video to your iPhone or iPad instantly. I’ve caught the dogs misbehaving more than once already.

The Witness Remote app will let you control the alarm system from a remote location using your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad. You can also use the app to check out any saved images and movies each time motion has been detected.

This application works very VERY well, and I’ve given them some ideas for future releases. Why purchase another camera for security when I already have one sitting right on my desk? Using this application adds another layer of peace to this brain of mine.

What home security solutions do you recommend?

Lorex Baby Video Monitor Review

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With Pixie so ill recently, I was happy that the folks at Lorex had passed along the Live “Snap” Video Monitor for me to review. I was able to keep an eye on her as she rested in another room. This little monitor is light and portable, and works VERY well.

The system comes with one camera but you can add up to four total cams. The unit comes with one base station and everything you need in order to keep an eye on your baby – even if that baby is a puppy. It’s compact and rechargeable and transmits wirelessly.

Store and share your video with microSD recording. It also has two-way audio, which is fantastic. I can hear what’s going on with Pixie… and she can hear me talk to her. That’s comforting for you and baby both, right? If baby (or pet!) is doing something particularly cute, you can touch one button to snap a picture.

The night vision mode works VERY well. Since Pixie’s eyes were injured, she had to be kept in low-light conditions. This camera made things much easier on us both.

Thanks again for passing along your get-well wishes for Pixie. She and I appreciate it a lot.

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Does Your Home Need a Dropcam?

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Here I am taking a video with one camera of another camera here in my home. I think I have more security cameras in my home than anyone else in all of Seattle. The people behind the Dropcam state that their product is the easiest one to set up and begin using. I have to agree with that. The quality of it is actually extremely good, as well.

A Dropcam will make a great Internet baby monitor (no computer necessary!). Use it to securely share video of your little ones with grandparents and other extended family members. Use the camera to check on your pets while you aren’t home by using any Internet browser or the free iPhone app. It also would make an excellent business security camera.

As I said, there’s a free iPhone app available. Use it to watch your dropcam video from anywhere. All cameras linked to your account are accessible in the palm of your hand using either an iPhone or iPod Touch at no extra cost! There’s no extra equipment needed, either.

Dropcam will let you see what you’re missing when you aren’t there. It also provides an Internet DVR so you can go back and review what happened, and you’ll never have to worry about losing tapes or theft.

The camera doesn’t run on battery, so needs to be plugged into a wall. It’s an excellent system and can be built up to suit your needs with additional units.

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Lorex Security System Review

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I’ve demonstrated home security systems in the past. This time, I’ve gotten my hands on a couple of different systems from Lorex. I’ll even be giving one of these products away at the end of this video review.

One of the systems allows you to “Connect. See. Hear. Protect”. You can connect the camera to any electrical outlet. It then transfers to a wireless receiver which is connected to my Slingbox software. The other allows you to record as well as watch what’s going on. So how would you like to win one of these systems?

The LW 22-series, the receiver features single view, auto switching or quad (4 camera location) view. That’s right – you can connect up to three other cameras to this so that you can keep an eye on several locations in your house at once. You can view in VGA resolution for high quality video or CIF res for real-time observation. There’s also a mic built in to provide audio.

The other system I was sent performs these same functions. However, it also comes with the ability to record. It is the fast and easy way to add video security to your home or small business. The digital wireless micro-receiver plugs directly into your surveillance monitor, DVR, or TV. Set up the security camera near the front or back doors, garage, backyard, patio, kid’s room, or any location that you would like to keep an eye on. Thanks to wireless technology, there is no need to run video cables between the cameras and the receiver!

This system is what I’m offering to you! I will send the video surveillance system recording device to one of you in our community. You may have a small business that you need to protect. I got to review a few products that I happen to like, so it’s time to pay it forward. I’ll choose a random winner from either the blog comments or YouTube comments left for this video.

I have to thank Lorex for passing these products along, and I’m very grateful for the opportunity to have tested them. I also did like the QSee Surveillance System.

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Security Camera Systems for Home

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The Vue is a wireless camera connected to my home network, thanks to the base station. The kit includes a base station and two wireless cameras. If you’re looking to add something like this to your home network, this is about easy as it gets. This was sent to me as a review unit, but I asked them how much it is for me to KEEP it. That’s how well this works!!

Essentially what I have is a personal video security network. Set up the base station, press a button on the cameras, and you’ve got the ability to see what’s going on inside your home. You can check this feed out from anywhere you are in the world, because the video can be accessed from anywhere. You can easily position Vue cameras anywhere with peel and stick magnetic mounts!

You can even share your feed if you like, by using your my.VueZone account. When you purchase the camera system, you’ll get 2 GB of storage and your first year FREE! You can even keep connecting devices to your base station… buy as many as you like, and add them anywhere in your home.

I asked the people at Avaak if there will be an iPhone App at any point, so that I can access my feeds on the go. I haven’t heard back from them yet, but I’m still holding on to hope! Having the ability to keep an eye on my home from anywhere in the world using my mobile device would be the ultimate icing on the proverbial cake.

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What Wired or Wireless Network Camera is the Best?

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If you listen closely to the beginning of this video, you’ll hear Wicket bark. I was doing a pan and scan of my living room downstairs, using a camera connected to my network remotely. I couldn’t believe he wasn’t caught lying curled up on the couch. That’s where he tends to spend most of his time when he thinks I’m not looking.

Having a camera like this gives me a better idea of what is going on around my house at any given time, without having to get up and physically walk to another area of my home. Yes – I’m lazy! If I’m busy working, I can glance at my screen and see who is where in the house, and what the dogs are up to.

The resolution is nice, and the quality is decent. I can easily change the image quality and brightness, to match the lighting in each room. This particular camera has a built-in web interface even. In fact, I could give you the link to my camera feed, and you could watch what’s going on in my house.

The Panasonic Wireless 802.11 b/g Network Camera and Pet Cam can be viewed and controlled from a standard web browser. Place cameras in your home, office, vacation home, or almost anywhere else that you’d like to keep an eye on things, with no PC required on location. They are easy to install, easy to operate and require no additional software for your viewing PC. Each camera also comes with a free web address which can track the camera automatically.

All you need is a browser. All of the software comes included with the camera. Cameras are attached using a regular outlet and router or Ethernet connection. Therefore, you don’t have to have a computer sitting there to have it connected to.

Simplify your life, and grab yourself some extra peace of mind. Grab one of these for yourself today.

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Which Wireless Security Cameras are the Best?

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If you look at this little device, you’ll see it looks like a phone. It’s not, though. It’s picking up audio and video from the wireless signal in my bedroom. I can use this tool to pick up up to four of these little wireless cameras. I picked this up from Safety First. It’s marketed as a baby monitor, but it can be used for any time of home monitoring you may need.

The Safety 1st High-Def Digital Monitor provides a 100% clear connection anytime, anywhere. Its state of the art wideband audio clarity ensures no static, no interference, and guaranteed privacy while monitoring.

The battery doesn’t last very long, so I suggest using the AC adapter whenever available. I’m likely going to get three other devices for my home, so I can flip between all four. This way, I can keep an eye on who may be at one of the doors. Basically, I can keep an eye on any place in my home that I can’t physically be in at the time. This will give me more peace of mind, and help keep me focused on my work instead of having to run around the house to see why my dogs are barking.

The features include:

  • 100% private, no static, no interference
  • Remote digital zoom and pan
  • DataLock technology means no dropped picture or sound
  • Indoor/outdoor range: 650+ ft.
  • Auto-night vision
  • Auto channel selector
  • Secure sound lights
  • Low battery/out of range indicators
  • Rechargeable parent unit with belt clip
  • Baby unit is battery operated or can be plugged in

This does not interfere with wireless networks. It has a belt clip so you can carry it around with you. If you’re looking for a wireless monitoring tool, every indication has been that Safety First has the premier setup. Don’t be fooled into thinking you have to have a baby or child in the house to buy one of these little setups for your home. If you want to feel more secure in your home, this will cover all your bases. It’s wireless, it’s affordable, and it’s expandable.

There you go – my initial review of the Safety First High-Def Digital Color Video Monitor is quite good. I am happy with my purchase of it, and I think you will be, as well.

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What Kind of Home Security Do You Have?

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Nearly a decade ago, I was on the cutting edge with a web cam. I didn’t even have broadband back then, but I had a semi-live web cam. People would watch it and save images from it. I received an email question, asking if I knew of something that would work to help him do surveillance with his computer and web cam. He’s using a Mac, and asked specifically for a Mac application. However, for you Windows users, you can check out webcamXP.

webcamXP is a powerful webcams and ip cameras management and streaming software for private and professional use. it offers unique features and unequaled ease of use to let you broadcast and manage multiple video sources on the same computer. it is the perfect tool to secure your goods.

For the Mac, I use Periscope.

Periscope is the next generation of web cam software that lets you use your iSight to capture activity in front of your Mac’s camera and then save or share that image simply and automatically.

Within seconds, you can configure Periscope to monitor a room for motion, sound or on a timer. Periscope will send real-time images to your e-mail, .Mac web page, or FTP site, and can upload to Flickr!

The configurationg of Periscope is simple. You can set it up on air, and then make the configuration selections that are right for you. Choose how and when it captures photos, and decide if you want to add timestamps or text overlays. Then you can choose from a variety of places to publish the photos, including iPhoto or your .mac account.

Periscope has the potential to be just right for your home surveillance needs. It’s only $25.00, and works very well. It doesn’t record video, but it is quite full-featured otherwise. The images from this are high quality, as well. Whatever you’re doing, Periscope is fun and functional.


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What Do You Do to Keep Your Home Secure?

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Home security is important. Crime doesn’t go away, it keeps growing. There are many things you can do to keep yourself, and your home/possessions, safe. Thanks go out to Joe for sending in some tips on how to keep your home safe.

  1. The first and the most important tip is to purchase a homeowner’s insurance. Purchasing separate insurance for your most valuable possessions is a next step. If you have the proper insurance, even if all your security measures fail, you may still be able to recoup a portion of lost valuables. Many of the insurance companies will require you to install some type of the security system before an insurance policy will be issued to you.
  2. Tip number 2 is to store the most expensive and most valuable items (including jewelry, money, etc.) in a safe deposit box in the bank. This step will definitely protect your valuables. The expensive items that are needed in the house can be kept in the safe.
  3. Tips number 3 & 4 are to install an alarm system and sign up for the alarm monitoring service. When you are installing the alarm system, make sure that the fire and smoke detectors are integrated with the system. The alarm monitoring service is also very important. Without the monitoring, you can not be sure what time will pass before someone will notice the fact that the system went off and will call the police. With the alarm monitoring system, the police department is contacted right away.
  4. Tip number 5 is to include motion detectors as a part of your alarm system. Motion detectors can be installed inside the house, near windows and doors. With motion detectors, you will become aware of any movement inside the house. The alarm system will be triggered by the detector and the monitoring company will be notified. It is also a good advice to have a motion sensor light outside your house.
  5. Tip number 6 deals with the situation when you are installing video cameras as a part of your security system. When you are installing video cameras, you should purchase the cameras that provide infrared functionality. There cameras will usually switch to the black and white mode and will turn infrared LEDs when it gets dark.
  6. Tip number 7 deals with the power down situations. You should purchase and charge the back up power supply in advance. In a case of a power down situation, a back up power supply will keep your security system up and running… and your house protected. Without a power supply, you risk a complete stop in the functionality of your security system.
  7. Tip number 8 is to go wireless. If you have wired cameras, you should probably upgrade them to wireless cameras that don’t need a wire connecting them to the VCR. Wireless cameras are easier to install, manage and hide. It will be harder for a criminal to notice a wireless camera than a wired one. If you signed up for the alarm monitoring systems, you should check if the security company has a wireless option (when the system can use cellular link to contact the company if the alarm goes off).
  8. Tip number 9 is to make sure that you lock your doors and windows every time you leave the house. Also, don’t forget to turn your alarm on before you leave and turn it off when you come back. If you don’t do these simple steps, even the most expensive security system may not be able to protect you.
  9. Tip number 10 is to join a neighborhood watch program, if there is one. This is definitely very important. If you are not at home, some of your neighbors may be. If they can keep an eye on your house, this will provide an additional level of security. Talk to your neighbors and see if you can join a program. If there is no neighborhood watch program in place, it might be a good idea to discuss the possibility of creating one with your neighbors.

The above tips, especially the first one, don’t only apply to keep yourself safe from criminals. Please, please make sure you are properly insured, even if you rent. My assistant, Kat, nearly lost her home due to fire recently. She didn’t have renter’s insurance at the time, as she thought it would be too expensive. She called the day after this near-tragedy happened, and is now fully insured. What she went through only goes to show you how quickly something can happen, when you least expect it. Ponzi and I are both very glad that Kat, her family, and her home are ok. I hope to be able to say the same about all of you in the future, as well.


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