I Should Have Been Proactive…

So, two weeks ago one of my worst fears as a homeowner happened. My house was burglarized. The one place someone should feel safe, I no longer felt safe in. At some point during the middle of the day, in broad daylight, one or more persons broke into my home and made off with some of MY possessions.  The thief (or thieves) got away with a PS3, my 20 gauge double-barrel shotgun, my .38 revolver, a 3 gallon gas can, and a 5 gallon bucket. Yes, they actually took an empty plastic bucket. Words cannot even begin to describe how violated I now feel. Since then, I have made a number of major changes to my house and lifestyle, some that haven’t come cheap. What’s worse, is that if I had made these changes back before everything happened, I could have prevented it from even happening and even caught the person in their attempt.

Since the burglary, I have dumped a lot of money into a new security system for my house, complete with a smartphone app and multimedia communication. I already had an Onyx DVR with 2 surveillance cameras on the front of my house looking at each door and the carport. I am adding more cameras to cover the perimeter of my house, since the buglers came through my backyard and back bedroom window.

Unfortunately for me, all of my money spent and hard work will probably be all-for-naught. The police didn’t have any leads, and the finger prints that were lifted didn’t even help. Sure, statistics show that many burglars do actually return to the scene of a crime they already committed. These guys were smarter than that, though. They completely avoided the front of my house, knowing that I had security cameras there. They didn’t open the back window or break the glass. They removed the pane from the window frame! Even the security company guys had never thought of that! As much as I hate to admit it: These thieves were geniuses.

Everything I’ve done has been a reaction to my house being broken-in to. It’s the security equivalent to buying full coverage insurance after being hit by an uninsured motorist. I should have been proactive.

A security system should have been the first thing I got set up when I moved into the house. Surveillance would have been the primary evidence in any case I might have had. If you’re going to cover one area of your home, you should definitely cover other areas that are prone to visits from unwanted guests. If I had JUST ONE more security camera on my backyard I would have seen the thieves make their way to my house. Had I been proactive instead of reactive, I wouldn’t even be writing this blog entry. I wouldn’t have ‘needed to’.

Besides keeping an electronic eye on your property when you can’t, there are other things you should note that would prevent your personal property from being stolen. If you have a personal firearm, do yourself a favor and take it out of your nightstand. That’s where almost every 2nd Amendment loving, gun-owning American keeps their sidearm. That’s also one of the first places thieves will check for things to nab. If you have any shotguns or rifles keep them in a locking chest. If you have expensive jewelry, keep it a locking jewelry box without windows. Most thieves would rather not work harder than they have to and waste precious time on something if they aren’t sure if the payoff is worth it. Without getting overly explanative, it’s all pretty simple. Think like a thief. You want to be close to the point to impractical when it comes to storing your stuff. Make it as hard as possible for somebody to get in, grab whatever, and get out scott free. It’s ALWAYS better to be proactive, instead of reactive.

– Dawn Horn-Jenkins

Advertisements

Applications for Remote Viewing

Cameras are steadily becoming a part of our regular everyday lives. They’re everywhere!  Some of us are even replacing the peephole of our front door with a camera so we can see more than just the old awkward looking fisheye view of what’s on the outside of the door. At home, we plug them up to multiple monitors and even our big screen TVs, so while we’re home, we can see everything going on regardless of where we are in the house.

But what if we’re not home? Can I still keep an eye on my place? Of course!

We’re living in an age where we have access to just about anything, anytime, anywhere, including our home and office security cameras. Most digital CCTV systems have remote accessibility over the web through your computer’s web browser. Just typing your IP address or domain name in your web browser and you’re brought to a web based software for accessing, viewing, and controlling your surveillance system.   But what if I don’t have access to a computer with an internet connection? No problem!

Along with the ability to access your DVR from an offsite location with a computer, more and more DVR models have the ability to be accessed from your smartphone. After a simple download to your phone, you can log in to your camera system at home then watch, control, and review footage from your DVR on your phone, PDA, or tablet from anywhere (this is, of course, assuming you’ve got a decent data signal). There are 100’s of apps that have the ability to access your CCTV system. Some DVR manufacturers have created mobile apps specifically for their DVR. You can find those by simply searching for the brand name in your phone’s app manager. Other DVR’s are open source, and can be accessed by any of the many CCTV apps that you can download for free from your phone’s app manager.

Having access to your cameras while on the road not only gives you that “Dick Tracy’s Video Watch” feeling, but more importantly, gives you that extra piece of mind that your CCTV system already provides. Irregardless of where you are, there are many qualified companies that can provide security camera installations for affordable pricing.

Can Security Cameras Deter Crime?

Most people wish they could reduce their potential to become victims of crime. This is certainly an understandable goal from a self-protection perspective. No one would like to suffer from violent crime. No one wants to suffer from property crime such as theft or burglary either. This is why they may seek to have security cameras installed in their business or residence.

But, the question that obviously arises is do security cameras truly deliver on the ability to prevent crime from occurring?

The answer here is that nothing can guarantee a crime will never occur. There are quite a few variables at work when it comes to criminal acts. However, it is safe to say there are ways to lesson your potential to be a victim of crime. One way would be to make things difficult for the predatory criminal. Criminals, no matter how dangerous, do not want to get caught. They also do not want to work all that hard at getting what they are after. The presence of a security camera creates the potential to undermine the criminal in both these areas.

How so? A camera system with live monitored images can alert security personnel of the presence of a potential intruder. A criminal probably does not assume you have real-time monitoring but may not wish to take any chances. Also, if the camera is recording breaches to the perimeter of the premises then the intruder might be identified on the video. Certainly, the criminal would not want to have such proof presented in court. Now, there are ways that a savvy thief can overcome and circumvent a security camera. That said, the criminal likely will not want to. The reason for this is very simple. There are other homes and businesses which have not invested in a security camera system and they make the perfect venue in which to break into.

When presented with a property that is protected by security cameras and one that isn’t, barring very unusual circumstances, a criminal will be more inclined to steal from the unmonitored property. Again, the criminal does not want to risk being apprehended or identified. A criminal would need easy entry and easy exit from the premises. Anything else could prove disastrous. For those that may be a bit skeptical about such information, here is an interesting fact. There have been law enforcement agencies which have installed monitoring cameras in areas known for crime and have seen a sharp reduction in violations. Why is this? Once again, cameras act as a deterrent to crime. No criminal wants to get caught. A security camera increases the chances of being caught.

The subject of the quality of the camera does need to addressed. While the presence of “any” camera can be a help, you do not want to install an unreliable model. This could prove to be self-defeating. Rather than do this, it would be much wiser to have a quality camera setup installed since this will enhance your security immensely.

The Benefits of Security Cameras For The Home

Security cameras are becoming more and more popular and with good reason. In these uncertain times, home security is getting more and more important. We want to protect our valuables, our families, and many turn to home security systems instead of having to have fire arms in the home. Here are some benefits of using security cameras for the home.

Let’s start with the exterior of your home. Having a few outdoor cameras around your perimeter have a number of benefits. For one, if someone comes to your door, with a security camera you will see them without them seeing you. Many cameras are wireless, and tie into your existing security system. An intruder can be spotted and reported before they even get to your front door.

Do you really know your babysitter, in home care giver, or cleaning person? So many people come into your home on a regular basis, and you need to see what these people are doing when you are away. With security cameras in your home, you can monitor these people. There are a number of different options available, including models that are hidden in clocks and stuffed animals. Now you can see if you are getting robbed, or to make sure you children or invalid family members are being taken care of properly.

In addition, security cameras in the home can be beneficial when it comes to checking in on your kids. These days with many parents both working, sometimes children come home from school to an empty house. Having a few cameras can help you keep an eye on them. You will know if they are having company over when you aren’t there. Having an outside camera you can see if someone is coming up to your home when you’re gone.

With today’s technology, there are many different options when it comes to security cameras for the home. Many of these cameras are completely wireless, and self-contained without any wiring or cables. This means they can be mounted just about anywhere. These cameras can be connected into your existing home security systems with little or no difficulty.

One of the major bonuses of having security cameras for the home is that they can be connected to your computer, and through the internet you can see through these cameras from just about anywhere. Whether it is at the office, on the road, camping, you can have instant access to your home’s surveillance system. In addition, your security company also has access, and can send help immediately.

There are a number of different resources when it comes to home security cameras. While you may be able to find some local retailers, your best bet is to start with online retailers. There are many to choose from, so it is a good idea to shop around, comparing prices and features with many models. It is important that you get the best equipment at a price you can afford. It is also a good idea to avoid cheap equipment, spending a little more now will save you money in the long run.

FBI’s Best Practices for CCTV

Safety, it’s a big part of what makes up our country and our culture, especially after the terrorism we have witnessed over the years both in other countries and here at home in the United States. There has been no better time in our history to protect ourselves and be ready to fight those who mean to do us harm as individuals and as a country. CCTV or closed circuit television has been supported by the FBI for its abilities of helping the country fight terrorist attacks and general criminal activity, happening right here in our streets. The FBI has been backing up the CCTV systems that can easily be installed and maintained for the best effect, not only for businesses but for any law enforcement service as well. Everything from convenience stores, banks, gas stations, basically any business or organization, can benefit from a CCTV system. They make it easier to catch criminals, providing solid evidence by recording the crime in progress, the perfect evidence that can be used if and when the case goes to court.

It has been said that most often, in the cases where a store is robbed with nothing but one eyewitness there, CCTV delivers a priceless advantage. While eyewitnesses are great in court having only one there, which happens often as people will tend to rob stores with only one employee working, a CCTV system can be a real lifesaver. The FBI strongly suggests that as a owner of an business, you have a CCTV system put in place. They will provide you with a crystal clear video, ideal for security purposes. These videos will almost always hold up in court and can be critical in apprehending a fugitive.

The FBI believes so strongly in the benefits that can come with a CCTV system, for both business owners and the law enforcement, that they made their video “Caught on Camera” to show just why CCTV is the ideal solution for recording crimes in progress. The video also shows you how to set up the cameras to avoid typical problems such as inefficient places to avoid, bad lighting, what kind of cameras provide the clearest images, and how to solve line of sight issues. The video is professionally made and serves as a strong “what if” video to motivate those who are interested in investing in CCTV. They even have one of the actors from the hit TV series 24 who plays a bit part in it the video, a testament to the effort that went into making it and how serious the FBI takes security. The video depicts terrorist shopping for bomb making materials at a local home improvement store. He buys backpacks to transport the bombs at a pharmacy, and various other things to transport the weapons. Sadly most of the stores have poor surveillance equipment, and as we know some terrorists slip through the cracks. In the world today, every business should have a CCTV system for the security of our businesses and employees and our nation.

The video, Caught on Camera is also available free of charge in DVD format to members of the law enforcement community, business owners, CCTV vendors, suppliers, contractors, and educators. To request a copy, send an e-mail to cctvdvd@leo.gov. Please include your name, position, agency, street address (no post office boxes), and telephone number.

 

However, if you would just like to watch the video, you may do so right here!

 

Video Part 1:

Video Part 2:

 

Problems with Counterfeit or Fake DVR Cards

The growing problems that arise with fake or counterfeit dvr cards seems to be mainly pointed at the Geovision dvr card line. Over the past several years those of us in the security industry have seen the prolific growth and emergence of counterfeit security products. With the emergence of these counterfeit products comes the problems that are typically associated with any non-genuine product knock off.

Just like the saying goes, “If it’s too good to be true then it probably is…” and this saying applies to security products as well. One quick search on the internet will reveal a multitude of security product dealers displaying their goods and services, however when it comes to counterfeit products or in this case DVR Cards one internet venue seems to be unwittingly involved in its sales. This is where the Internets larges auction site, Ebay comes into play. Ebay has many warnings on their website when it comes to buying products.

We hear reports of customers going to Ebay to find a GV-800 16 channel DVR Card advertised new in the box for a mere $99 dollars. We oftentimes have prospective customers call our sales team to try to haggle on price because they saw what they believed to be a genuine Geovision DVR Card product for under $100 bucks. This is where it begs to discuss why there is a problem with counterfeit DVR Cards. I mean, what is the big deal, right? Isn’t it manufacturer from the same place in China??

Since we are in the security products business, we build dozens of custom Geovision surveillance servers for our customers every month. From time to time, we will get a surveillance server shipped to us that needs to be repaired from some fly by night company that sold it to their customer. When we get the surveillance system we sometimes discover the main problem being a fake geovision dvr card. What we have learned from this is that these fake dvr cards usually do not last more than 8-12 months after being put into use. This usually comes to a surprise to the customer since they payed full retail price for a $38 dollar counterfeit product.

The bottom line with these counterfeit DVR cards is that they are simply not built to last. They are however built to be sold to innocent buyers for a profit while not offering any kind of support or assistance. To answer the common question about the source of the fake dvr cards is to answer, No – they are not manufacturer by the same company. GeoVision is a Taiwan based company while the counterfeit Geovision DVR Cards are based in Shenzhen China. The original DVR Cards are assembled from electronic components that are substantially more reliable and consequently more expensive to produce than their counterparts.

We do not condone the manufacture or sale of any counterfeit product since that is illegal and is just bad business. Ebay is a awesome venue for some really great deals, but we recommend that you use some common sense when shopping for a high price items. I mean really, nobody is going to sell a brand new $500+ item for under $60 bucks, and if they do they probably need their head checked. If you are going to buy something with your hard earned money, its a good idea to do it right and really checkout what you are purchasing. Don’t be afraid to ask questions before the purchase.

Here is an interesting video that someone posted on YouTube. It is a Geovision GV-800 dvr card that was bought on ebay for about $90 bucks. This is not our video and we do not know the person responsible for making it. We watched it and immediately could tell it was a knock-off. When watching the video there are several things that tell you that the card is not a genuine geovision product.

Take notice to these things when watching this video:

  1. The manufacturer will never put packing peanuts inside the dvr box.
  2. The box is WAY to glossy and shiny. It looks like someone waxed the box with a high shine gloss wax…too funny. Original Geovision boxes are stacked and shipped in these boxes so that when they are finally received, they are usually always scratched and dull.
  3. You will never find (2) CD’s or DVD’s containing the software for the DVR Card. First of all it will never be a CD, just a DVD.
  4. The manual displays Version 8.2 – this is too old and is a excellent indication that its counterfeit. If the seller tells you that they bought it a few years ago and they just never used it, they are lying to you.
  5. The version of the software will be the latest version or at the very least, it will be just 1 version behind the current release. Right now as of this writing, the most current version is 8.5
  6. Neither the manufacturer or the re-seller will put a software version label on the paper DVD sleeve displaying the software version.
  7. On the back of the static bag, you will find a small white piece of paper that will contain 2 or 3 small stickers that have the dvr card serial number printed on them along with the bar code.
  8. If you look on the dvr card there is a silver looking box to the left, it is an electronic circuit called a crystal oscillator. This kind of electronic component is no longer used by Geovision and looks nothing like this. The original component looks like a small grey square with a circle and the number “330”. Please see dvrkits.com for some close-up pictures.
  9. On the front of the DVR Card near the circuits, you do not see any white circuit number identifying each component. The counterfeit dvr cards will  have just a blue colored PCB with very little to no markings on it. On the original Geovision DVR Cards you will find a little white number by each and every component.
  10. The holographic decal will appear on the front of the DVR Card. The letters will separate to the right when you move the card side to side. However on the counterfeit dvr card when you move it from side to side the letters will not separate.
  11. Lastly, the blue color on the DVD is too bright. You would not know this if you weren’t already familiar with the originals, we just thought we would point it out.
*** Please notice that we are NOT  the owner of this video posted on YouTube.

Affordable Home Security Options: Avermedia vs. Geovision

For those of us that are thinking about investing in a good video surveillance system for your home or small business, one of the most important pieces in designing the surveillance system is the DVR, or in this case, the DVR Card. Almost anyone can go on the internet and find a literal army of dvr card products – so much so that it is very difficult to make the decision on which one to choose. Who says that more is better, right? When you are conducting this search and trying to make your decision on which dvr card to choose you will likely run into two major brands in which both make the boastful claims that their product is the best.

Don’t they all do that? Wouldn’t it be nice if the manufacturers were actually honest in their claims of how great or awesome their products are? Well, this is clearly not the case. So with all of this in mind, we are going to help you make the decision on which brand would be better for you. In this case we will pick on the two leading brands which are Geovision and Avermedia. We will give you our honest, no-frills opinion on both brands.

Avermedia

Avermedia is one of the oldest companies to be around that still make DVR Cards. It is rumored that they were actually partners with Geovision back in 1998. However, they make some really good dvr card products. One of the most notable points about the Avermedia DVR Card product line is that they are very stable and are not prone to crashing. The dvr cards work well and are a good deal for the price. What I just said Is about the only positive things about Avermedia DVR Cards. The downside is that the documentation is horrible – very little information. Also they do not give frequent software updates and add features when compared to the other brands of dvr cards. Aside from the lack of documented details it really doesn’t take a lot of brain power to install the card in your PC and install the software. This is one of those things that the                     manufacturer assumes that you can handle without any real complications.

Geovision

Geovision is quite possibly the oldest and most established dvr card manufacturer. They have been in the video surveillance game back with VCR’s were still in use and everyone was making the switch to digital. The dvr cards they make are well designed and are somewhat complicated. This doesn’t mean that they are hard to use. Basically the company keeps making software upgrades which in turn, keep adding more functionality and features to the dvr card system. If you want to have thousands of features then this is your surveillance system. The manual and documentation is very good and easy to follow. You can tell that they sunk a lot of money in its design and documentation. The primary reason for the attention to detail as well as having all of their design bases covered so to speak, is the result of the success of the company over the past 10 years. Geovision has had along time to implement most of the customers recommendations throughout the life of the company.

 

Conclusion

Here’s the deal… If you want a basic video surveillance system for your home and you don’t want to be bothered with all of the complicated bells and whistles, then the Avermedia DVR Card system just might be for you. It is cheap and does its job well for the price you pay. However if you want to do some really cool things such as email and SMS alerts, POS integration or centralized video monitoring management then the Geovision DVR Card product line would be your best bet. I would recommend the Geovision dvr card line to anyone or any company that needs a extensive video surveillance system that has the ability to integrate with almost anything that a business owner would need. Even if you are not going to use it for business, but instead use it for your home it works equally as well providing top-notch service and stability. If you are concerned about the technical support aspect then you have to give credit to the Geovision DVR Card line since you will literally find a multitude of questions and answers sprawled all over the internet. Not to mention that the seller of the Geovision dvr card line is obligated to provide you with direct level technical support. Likewise you can contact the Geovision technical support team by using their Live Chat feature – however you cannot call them for phone based technical support. With Avermedia you must either contact the seller of the product or contact the Avermedia technical support by way of their forum-based technical support ticket system.

When making the choice to protect your home or business there are many things to consider and we hope to have helped you make the right decision. If you need more guidance or have some really specific application questions, feel free to give the Esentia Security Consultants a call at 800-390-7090 free of charge!