Surveillance System Features
Homes and small businesses have just as much need for physical security as their warehouse and data center counterparts. But smaller organizations may not have the on-staff expertise or budget for a high-end security deployment. If this sounds like your situation, don’t worry. There are plenty of affordable ways to set up surveillance in your setting, and it doesn’t take a computer scientist to handle the networking. The first thing to remember is that you’ll likely have a much easier deployment, as well as more functionality for less money, if you opt for a surveillance system based on IP (Internet Protocol) networking rather than older, analog CCTV (closed circuit television) technology. CCTV still dominates in many stores, and professional security installers still opt for CCTV as a first choice because it’s where they have many years of experience. But you want digital, and we’re going to show why by examining a few security options. Computers Repair Las Vegas NV!
Elements Of A Solid Surveillance Kit
There are three basic things you want a security package to do:
- Provide remote visibility into a given area.
- Detect and record intruders.
- Alert you through multiple means when intrusion is detected.
If you’ve ever compared a Blu-ray movie to its VHS equivalent, you know what a difference higher resolution can make. The more resolution (higher pixel count) you have, the more detail you get in a given field of view. If all you care about is seeing if an intruder is in an area, even 320 x 240 resolution will be sufficient. But if you want to make out the intruder’s facial features, you’re going to need more pixels.
The quality of the lens can have a significant impact on the surveillance image you see. Unfortunately, quality is subjective, and there are no mainstream ways of grading lens quality in cameras. Still, generally speaking, a $300 camera will provide better optical quality (and thus better image clarity) than a $100 camera, all other factors being equal. The quality of the sensor recording images from those optics can also play a role in defining clarity.
A camera with an integrated microphone will let you hear what’s being said or done in the camera’s environment. Some cameras offer a port for plugging in an external microphone. This usually adds overall cost but can yield superior audio clarity. Also note that some cameras include speakers, enabling two-way conversations between you and the people being observed and/ or the playback of a recording in case an intrusion alarm is triggered.
Most low-end cameras are fixed-position. Wherever the lens points, that’s what you see. However, many mid-range cameras incorporate motorized panning (side to side) and tilting (up and down) that you can control remotely. When trying to cover a broad area with only one or two cameras, “PT” capability is extremely useful. Higher-end cameras may offer optical zooming, just like on handheld still and video cameras. This feature is most useful in environments that are being actively monitored throughout the day. Note that some cameras may try to emulate PTZ (pan-tilt-zoom) functionality digitally. This involves isolating a central part of an image, then scooting the borders of that cropped area around within the original image. You can’t see any additional detail with digital PTZ.
When triggered by an alert, some security cameras can store video straight into an inserted flash memory card (usually Secure Digital type). This enables video capture even if Internet connectivity is lost. Preferably, though, you want to store video away from the camera first, then on the camera as a backup measure. Some cameras can stream recordings straight into an FTP (File Transfer Protocol) site, but most will relay streams back to a PC running some sort of surveillance client application.
Cameras with excellent sensors may be able to capture clear images in very low light conditions, but in our experience, these are nearly useless for surveillance because shutter speeds become so slow. If the camera is only capturing two frames per second in near-dark conditions, any recorded movement is likely to look like a smear. The better approach is to use a camera with infrared lamps. Infrared is invisible to the eye, but most camera sensors treat it like regular light, so you get greenish/gray night vision footage. Even if your camera doesn’t integrate IR lamps, you can always buy a separate IR lamp and point it within the camera’s field of view.
Smart Computing | October 2011 p.71
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Windows Small Business Server
When a business is first getting off the ground, it often starts out with a handful of networked computers. As the business grows over time and more people and computers are added, it soon becomes pretty tough to keep track of where important data files are stored, who is allowed to access them, and how-or even whether-they’re being backed up. When you arrive at this point, it pays to invest in a server to give your business centralized data storage, access control, and backup. Microsoft’s Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials, which is a simplified and streamlined version of its Windows Server 2008 for large companies, provides all of these features and then some. It’s designed for small firms with 25 or fewer users, and you don’t need to be an IT guru to use it. We’ll show you how to set up an SBS 2011 Essentials server and connect your computers to it. Computer Repair Las Vegas NV
What You’ll Need
SBS 2011 Essentials has pretty modest system requirements, so it will run quite well on an entry-level, sub-$1,000 server. You can view the detailed requirements at tinyurl.com/4ux9eo. (It’s worth noting that SBS 2011 Essentials should not be confused with SBS 2011 Standard, a more powerful and expensive version for businesses with up to 75 users.) As of this writing, major server vendors aren’t yet offering products with SBS 2011 Essentials installed (though they likely will before long). An alternative to purchasing a server with SBS 2011 Essentials included is to buy one without an operating system and pick up a copy of the software separately to install yourself. A good choice for a basic server is the HP ProLiant MicroServer ($329; www.hp.com), which is small and quiet, reasonably powerful, and relatively inexpensive. You’ll find the SBS 2011 Essentials software for about $400 from a variety of online vendors. If you’d like to take SBS 2011 Essentials for a spin before buying it, download a 60-day trial version from tinyurl .com/4n63qw2.. You can extend the trial period twice for a total of 240 days visit support.microsoft .com/kb/948472 to see how) and convert the trial version to a licensed copy if you decide to keep it. (The steps outlined below apply whether you’re working with the evaluation or purchased copy.) In addition to your server computer, you’ll also want to get a UPS (uninterruptible power supply), an Internet connection via a UPnP (Universal Plug and Play)-compatible broadband router, and for backup purposes, an external hard drive (USB, eSATA, or Firewire) with storage capacity equal to or greater than your server. The computers you connect to your SBS 2011 Essentials server can be running any version of Windows 7, Vista, or WinXP, including Home and Starter editions, or Mac systems running OS X 10.5 or higher. (This article focuses on setting up Win7 systems.)
Install SBS 2011 Essentials
Before installing SBS 2011 Essentials (which we’ll just call SBS from now on) on a server, be sure it has a wired Ethernet connection to your router and is plugged into the UPS-you don’t want the server to lose power, particularly during the lengthy setup process. Also, be sure there aren’t any external hard drives attached to the server just yet because they can cause the installation to fail. To install SBS, you must boot the server directly from the operating system DVD, so turn on your server and immediately look for a boot/startup menu option (often F2, F10, or F12) that will let you do this. When the SBS setup wizard starts, choose New Installation, verify that your server’s hard drives have been detected, and then click Install. SBS will carve out a 60GB partition on the primary hard drive for the operating system, and the remaining space/ drives will be available to store your data. If the wizard doesn’t detect any or all of your server’s hard drives, you’ll need to click the Load Drivers button and provide a disc that contains the necessary drivers. At this point the wizard will start copying files, and when it’s finished, SBS configuration can begin.
Initial SBS Configuration
The SBS setup wizard will now walk you through a number of basic server configuration steps. You’ll be asked to set the server’s date and time and enter your operating system license key (if you don’t have one yet, you can skip it for now). Then the wizard will prompt you to enter your company’s name, choose an internal domain name for your network, and name your server. Next up is to create a pair of user accounts. The first is an administrator account, which will only be used to manage the server. The second is your standard user account, which you’ll use to log in to the server for normal day-to-day activities such as accessing files, etc. (We’ll tell you how to set up additional user accounts later.) Note that SBS 2011 Essentials requires the use of strong passwords by default, so it will tell you if the passwords you choose for either of your accounts don’t make the grade. After you specify your server’s automatic update options (it’s a good idea to let the server update itself so it always has the latest security patches, etc.), SBS will begin configuring itself in a process that can take 30 minutes or longer and will involve several automatic reboots. When the wizard is complete, your server will greet you with the Windows Desktop sporting wallpaper that warns against using the system as a general purpose workstation. In fact, you generally won’t need to touch the server at all, because SBS is designed to be remotely managed from a PC via a Dashboard app. Log off the server now; it’s time to connect your first computer to the server, after which we’ll be able to continue with server configuration.
Connect Your First Computer
Apple iCloud Online Service
Cloud computing is more than just a virtual playground for developers, now that Apple has announced the launch of iCloud (www.icloud.com), the company’s new wireless syncing platform and successor to the MobileMe (www .me.com) subscription-based service. Originally dubbed iTools about a decade ago and then renamed .Mac, MobileMe was released in 2008. Although support for MobileMe is slated to expire on June 30, 2012 for subscribers with accounts activated prior to June 6, 2011, Apple discontinued MobileMe availability in retail stores on Feb. 24 this year. The transition to iCloud will incorporate some features from MobileMe in addition to new cloud-based offerings. Moreover, iCloud will be offered at no charge for iOS 5 and OS X Lion users. At this time, MobileMe users can access data on certain programs, such as MobileMe Mail and Mac OS X Mail; Contacts and Bookmarks; iCal; and the multimedia created in iPhoto, iMovie, and iWeb, on multiple Apple devices. For instance, if you have an @me.com or @mac.com (f m the .Mac phase) email address, you can sync your Address Book, calendar events, and photos on your PC, MacBook, iPod touch, iPhone, and iPad. Basic storage in MobileMe costs$99 per year for 20GB (or $149 a year for the Family Pack with a 20GB primary account and 5GB sub-accounts), whereas iCloud offers 5GB of free storage, unless you decide to buy a storage upgrade. Another $20 each year will get you 10GB of iCloudstorage. For $40, you’ll receive 20GB. And for $100, you have access to 50GB of space. Any purchased music, apps, books, TV shows, as well as the photos in Photo Stream (we’ll explain this later), “don’t count against your free storage,” Apple says. Although we could continue making MobileMe and iCloud comparisons, we’ll get right to it and cover the must-know info about iCloud in its beta stage, including current and upcoming features.
iCloud Raining Features
Mac Computer Repair – At press time, only the developer community could access iCloud. Apple will release iCloud as part of iOS 5, the next generation of its mobile operating system. iOS 5 is compatible with the following devices: iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPod touch third generation, iPod touch fourth generation, iPad, and iPad 2. Essentially, iCloud will function as an online service that lets you access almost all the content on the aforementioned devices (plus on a Mac or PC) whenever you like. By wirelessly pushing app content and multimedia to your devices, you don’t have to sync your mobile gadgets to your home computer, such as when you connect your iPod touch to your MacBook Pro in order to back up apps and music.
In iCloud, you can purchase new music, TV shows, and movies via iTunes, and iCloud will push the song, episode, or film to the rest of your devices, regardless of which one you use to download the media. When you use this Automatic Downloads feature, you must have a broadband or mobile broadband connection for iCloud to sync content. iTunes tracks your purchase history, making it possible to get to previously purchased items on each of your devices. While both of these features are currently available as beta versions for the general public, an additional feature called iTunes Match will come with the official release. For $24.99 per year, iTunes Match will search your iTunes music collection for songs ripped from CDs or albums you’ve bought from other Web sites and back them up to iCloud.
Browser Security Safari 5.1
Many of the default settings in Safari are activated to protect you as soon as you open the browser, while others may require some modification depending on your preferences.
Safari is designed to filter the data that outside parties can access as you surf the Web. Certain Web sites that you visit use your stored data to track where you browse, but you don’t have to let sites retain that information. Additionally, you can personalize your cookies (small files that Web sites store on your PC) and limit how often Web sites can request your physical location. To customize these settings, open Safari and click the drop-down arrow next to the Settings “cog” icon. Select Preferences and click Privacy. Under the Remove All Website Data button, you’ll see a number listed next to Websites Stored Cookies Or Other Data. To view these sites, click Details. Y can delete individual Web sites or all sites to reduce browser tracking. Select a site and click Remove to get rid of one site at a time; click Remove All to clear the entire list (alternatively, you can just click Remove All Website Data in the Privacy pane). In the same dialog box, there are three options to block cookies: From Third Parties And Advertisers, Always, and Never. Click the option you prefer. If you want to limit Web sites’ access to retrieve your location, click Prompt For Each Website Once Each Day, Prompt For Each Website One Time Only, or Deny Without Prompting. The Private AutoFill feature doesn’t automatically fill out online forms, unless you allow it to. But, this is a good thing. When you start typing your information in a Web form, Safari displays a drop-down field, giving you the choice to allow Private AutoFill to complete the form (using your personal information from Outlook or Windows Address Book) or fill it out one box at a time. You can configure your AutoFill Web forms by selecting the AutoFill pane in Preferences (via Settings). Safari will automatically fill forms using information from your address book card if you select the associated box. And when you select the boxes next to User Names And Passwords and Other Forms, Safari remembers your saved user names and passwords, as well as any Web sites that have stored your AutoFill data. Click the Edit button next to either option to remove the aforementioned information from each preference. Safari includes a third concealment feature called Private Browsing. If you’re using a public computer in a public workplace, and you prefer not to expose sensitive information to people who use the computer after you, the Private Browsing feature will protect your browsing history. (It won’t prevent Web sites that you visit from gathering information.) Safari will not keep track of Web sites visited, search history, or AutoFill data. To switch to this browsing mode, click the Settings icon and choose Private Browsing. Click OK in the Do You Want To Turn On Private Browsing? dialog box. Click OK. For the duration of your Private Browsing session, the Private icon appears in the Smart Address Field (the Address bar). To turn off Private Browsing, simply click the Private icon and click OK when Safari asks Are You Sure You Want To Turn Off Private Browsing?
Some Web sites choose to add extra security (encryption or third-party verification) to their sites in order to protect against Internet fraud. For instance, financial institutions and other businesses want to ensure that customers who navigate to their sites will feel safe when entering sensitive data. The Safari browser supports EV (Extended Validation) certificates, so you can quickly recognize a legitimate Web site. To know if you’re at a site that’s been authenticated, look for the name of the Web site displayed in green on the right side of the Address bar. Click the name and the Certificate dialog box will open. The Certificate Information listed should include what the certificate is intended for, which site it’s issued to, which organization verified it (such as VeriSign), and how long the certificate is valid.
Reset & Empty
You can refresh Safari by actuating two settings: Reset Safari and Empty Cache. Reset Safari lets you erase particular items associated with your browsing patterns, whereas Empty Cache will clear memory (visited Web pages, images, etc.) if you want to remove the content Safari has saved. To locate both of these settings, click Edit in the Menu Bar. Select Reset Safari and the browser will ask you if you want to reset. You should see a checklist of items to reset; by default all of the items will be checked. Uncheck any you don’t intend to reset and click the Reset button. If you click Empty Cache in the Edit menu, Safari will prompt you to click Empty or Cancel.
Configure The Security Pane
Mobile Broadband Steps On The Gas
There’s good reason why many phones, tablets, and other mobile devices these days support a very non-mobile technology: Wi-Fi. In many parts of the U.S., as in many parts of the world, the 802.11b/g/n wireless networking standards simply offer better performance than nearby cell towers. Using Wi-Fi to tap into a business’s or home’s broadband Internet connection accelerates the downloads, uploads, streaming, and VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) that smartphones and tablets can do so well-as long as they’re not constrained by outdated, congested 3G technology. Of course, the problem with Wi-Fi is the fact that your fast, local connection drops back to your wireless broadband plan as soon as you leave your company’s parking lot. If you’re still using 3G wireless broadband, you’re missing out on a lot of the capabilities that current mobile devices have to offer, such as video phoning. Looked at another way, there are resources being underused, and that could mean missed opportunities for your business. The placement for 3G is, as you might guess, 4G. Short for fourth generation, 4G is the name of a collection of faster wireless standards for mobile broadband. It’s also a catchier name than IMT-Advanced (International Mobile Telecommunications-Advanced), which is the global network concept being developed by the ITU-R (International Telecommunication Union-Radiocommunication; www.itu.int). IMT-Advanced/4G involves a variety of technologies meant to speed up data transmissions and make them more reliable, including MIMO (multiple input/ multiple output antennas), IP packet switching, and dynamic resource usage. There’s also support for IPv6 Internet addresses, as well as for seamless coverage as the user travels between different types of cell networks.
Today, the major carriers advertise several wireless broadband technologies as “4G.” Depending on who’s doing the talking, 4G may be LTE (Long Term Evolution), WiMAX (Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access; 802.16), and/or HSPA+ (Evolved High-Speed Packet Access). Data rates average in the Mbps single digits, for the most part. Specifically, AT&T says that its HSPA+, an improvement on the 3G-era HSPA network technology, reaches 6Mbps. Sprint says that its WiMAX 4G system offers 3 to 6Mbps (megabits per second) speeds, while Verizon claims 5 to 12Mbps for its 4G LTE network. Finally, T-Mobile says that its 4G HSPA+ offering averages almost 10Mbps in download speeds with a 21Mbps peak transfer rate. Footnotes on the company’s site furthermore mention an augmented HSPA+ network with 42Mbps peak speeds in limited areas. These numbers are a far cry from the ITU-R’s initial goals for 4G, let alone the 128Mbps and 100Mbps theoretical maximums of current WiMAX and LTE technologies, respectively. Still, they’re definite improvements over the aging 3G, providing more speed and less latency. (Note that network speeds will drop when you’re moving quickly, such as in a car or on mass transit.)
Clear Store Las Vegas – In order to get 4G, you’ll need a phone, tablet, or other device that supports it. If your current phone or device is capable of using the 4G network of your current carrier, upgrading may be as easy as turning on the 4G radio in your phone’s settings. You might also have to run an update on your device for full compatibility. If your tablet, phone, or other device isn’t compatible with 4G—or at least the type of 4G offered in your area— you’ll need to change to a new mobile device. The easiest path here is to make the move to the one or device offered by your local 4G carrier of choice.
Future plans for 4G technology include a 1Gbps (gigabits per second) evolution of LTE called LTE Advanced, as well as a 1Gbps version of WiMAX called WirelessMAN-Advanced or 802.16m (WiMAX 2). For perspective, those are faster than the wired networks in many homes and businesses. It truly is an exciting time in mobile gadgetry.
Smart Computing | October 2011 p.27
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