Video Surveillance Software For Mac

Seems like I haven’t made many posts lately. Lilliam and I have several projects going that have been consuming much of my time. Lilliam has a fairly significant remodeling project and I have been tired just watching it.

I have mentioned some of my security projects in past post. One of those security projects, is my video surveillance camera project. I had it completed and all working, but I wasn’t quite satisfied with it. I decided to design a different system using a MacMini. That is what I am going to discuss today.

When I built my previous system, I started off with a Dahua standalone NVR (network video recorder) and four Dahua 2100 ip cameras. I ordered all of the system components directly from the China distributor and had them delivered direct to David at a savings over buying the components in the US and shipping here. I could not find what I wanted in David. Continue reading

Car Dash Cams – Some thoughts

I know a lot of people are considering dash cams now by the number of emails I receive asking about mine and where they can get one.

I did not research the one I got and it is not one I would recommend because of some reasons, I will describe.

I rarely buy anything without researching it, but I did in this case. The camera I bought was bought by a friend of mine for another gringo that changed his mind and never came to pick it up. I thought a dash cam was a good idea and said I would take it without doing my research.

Most of the dash cams are made by small companies in China. The instructions they come with are generally poor. Most will work with Windows based PCs. Some will not work with Apple PCs. I have yet to see one that specified what PCs they will and won’t work with.

Because of this, I recommend that people, with only Apple PCs, be sure before buying if they can transfer the files to their PC and use the video.

Some have proprietary recording software and may only be played back on the device. All that I have seen use a mini SD memory chip to record on.

The cam I bought was only able to have the date and time set by recording the current date and time on the SD memory chip and loading it into the camera. Horrible design! My video quality is fair, but certainly not great.

You can spend from $30 to hundreds of dollars on a cam. The differences may be worth the money to you and they may not. Most people are buying them for insurance purposes and if one is ever used, what ever you paid for it will be worth the money.

GPS is on the more expensive models. It will record your trip and it can be displayed on a Google map. Those with GPS will probably record the speed you were driving and G-force of an impact.

Some are now coming out with dual cameras. I am going to include a video review of one of these cameras. By watching this video, you will learn several things about cams in general and questions to ask.

Here is another Dash Cam review site. They rate the camera in the video as having poor night vision. I would still like to have one. I refuse to drive at night in Panama and it should not be a problem.

CC Reader Car Cam Experience

I am posting this as a positive reinforcement that having a Car Cam in Panama is a worthwhile investment. I will also say that there are two sites in David that sell Car Cams. One is Planet Telecom and the other is in the Dolegita Romero’s shopping complex.

Hi Don,
Use as much or as little of the following as you wish for your blog.

CAR CAM HELPED SAVE MY ***
What is it with gringos and euphemisms?!
Anyway, I was in a crash with a bus which swerved into my path. No injuries, both vehicles disabled.
In the hearing yesterday, the facts of the case and the police diagram were in my favor. The video iced the cake.
I am now is a good position to claim more than $1000 from the insurance of the bus (my old beater Cherokee is too old to be covered in my policy).
These car cams are a great idea. The facts of a case will often be not clear-cut.The one I have can be ordered by going to http://boquete.ning.com/ and finding the link in the right-hand margin. I can’t seem to find them locally.

I, too, had planned on the Thanksgiving buffet at the Hotel Cuidad de David but had to go to the hearing instead. Fortunately I saw the notice in Chiriqui Chatter about Resturant Quatro and so went there for dinner.
Our party of four all had the turkey special. We all loved it! Add a wonderful bottle of white Spanish wine and the pecan pic dessert–bliss!


ES

Why Do I Need New Technology

I received this question which was prompted by some of my recent posts. The answer is, you probably don’t if you are looking for someone else to justify it for you.

That being said, I will touch on a couple things. A smart phone will not replace a tablet. A tablet will not replace a desktop/laptop. Each has it place and one size doesn’t fit all.

I can do a lot of things with my iPhone, but I would never consider it a replacement for my iPad. For $33 a month, my iPhone gives me a connection to all services on the Internet within range of a free WiFi server or Claro’s cell service. Lilliam uses it to call her daughter for free in Costa Rica. No telling how much that saves. There is even a MagicJack app. I have it, but don’t use it as I use MagicJack in the house. I have found several apps that I have found to be useful.

The display and keyboard make it more of an emergency device for email and Internet browsing. I admit, I have found that handy in several situations, but if I am on the Internet for long periods of time, I prefer the iPad. Reading a book on the iPhone would not be a fun thing to do either. I question whether the 7inch iPad would be something I would enjoy. Continue reading

Canon Lens Repair Experience in Panama

I have received questions in the past about camera repair in Panama. A friend recently had a Canon Lens repaired and I thought the experience might be of entrust to others.

Canon Repairs–camera, lens, etc.
After problems with an expensive canon SLR lens, I emailed Canon/Panama to check my options.  I was quickly answered by Elzebir Montenegro at emontenegro@canon.com.pa.  
Ms. Montenegro told me (in Spanish, but English will probably work as well) that I could ship the lens from David to Panama City with a shipper she recommended.
I ended up going to PC on other business and delivered the lens in person.  Canon is next to the Multimax store in Tumba Muerto; your cabbie will find it easily.  I left the lens and got a receipt.
It took several weeks before I heard more.  I was asked to approve the replacement  of internal elements for a cost of $278 (!!, but the lens is worth $1200). I was emailed a credit card  approval form which I printed, filled out, scanned (all on my $40 Canon machine!) and sent.  The lens was finished in 4 days and then shipped overnight to David by Servientregas (775-8593) for an additional $18.
Servientregas is located on the Pan Americana.  Going toward PC, it’s the first big complex on the left past the big Arrocha.  Pull in past the trucks and go to the back.
If you are going to ship to Canon, get your gear professionally packaged.  Servientregas recommended HDL in David (across from Banco General).

In sum, the lens works fine, and I am a happy camper.

New Technology for the Blog

I am always looking for new ways to potentially improve the blog and if technology comes into the picture, then so much the better. In this case, “picture” is an appropriate word.

Last year, I upgraded my personal camera to the Panasonic GH1 and have been extremely happy with it. The 4/3 lens capability keeps the camera to a decent size even with my 14-140mm lens. However, when I bought the Panasonic, I gave my old camera away.

Soon thereafter, I realized that the new Panasonic was just easy enough to tote around every time I left the house. That prevented me from capturing many photos for the blog. I decided I needed to look for a second camera that I could always have with me.

My first research had me considering another Panasonic as I wrote about HERE.  I continued to read reviews and consider my wants and needs and finally settled in on the Casio EX-H20GBK Hybrid-GPS.  I had a friend that was going to the US and she brought it back to me.

The camera has a hybrid GPS feature. That means, it you walk in a building and out of line of site of the GPS satellites, it keeps tract of where you are walking and estimates the location. Here is a video showing some of its features.

As with any hand held, there are tradeoffs. Normally low light is not one of their strong points. Another is the lag between the time you press the button and the time the camera focuses and actually takes the picture. However, if you want something to carry around 100% of the time, you have to accept those flaws. Continue reading

MultiMax in David


Yesterday I went to the new MultiMax store that has opened in Plaza Terronal. Upon entering I asked to speak with the manager. When I met him, as he approached he said in Spanish that he did not speak English. I gave him a Chiriquí Chatter card and told him, in Spanish, that I would like to take some photos in the store to post on the Internet so that more people would be aware that MultiMax had opened. He made a phone call and sent one of the employees over that spoke English to say the request had been denied.

It is always good to have choices and now in Plaza Terronal you have three technology and home appliance stores to choose from. It is easy to price compare when they are so close to one another. Don’t forget there is Casa Gala too, which is to the left of MultiMax.

PanaFoto in David


Yesterday I went to the new PanaFoto store that has opened in Plaza Terronal. Upon entering I asked to speak with the manager. When I met him, he extended his hand and spoke to me in perfect English. I gave him a Chiriquí Chatter card and told him that I would like to take some photos in the store to post on the Internet so that more people would be aware that PanaFoto had opened. He gave me permission.

As you can see from the following photos, this is a very large store. What you may not realize is that there is a very large storage warehouse for PanaFoto behind the Conway store. I had seen it the last time I was in Conway’s upper snack area.

Let’s take a short tour through the store. When you enter the store and take an overall glance, you realize that this store is bringing more technology and household products to one area than any other store to this point. Continue reading

More Research

When I purchased my last camera, I disposed of my previous Olympus camera. Well, that may or may not have been a wise decision. The new camera, with carrying case is too much to be carrying around all the time. Because of that I think the blog has been seeing a few less photos than in the past. So I am now researching a new everyday camera.

It has been a while since I looked at point and shoot and their capabilities have really jincreased. My current choice is the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ10 (or ZS7 as it’s known in North America). I have been so impressed with the features and build quality of my Panasonic GH1 that I am planning on staying with Panasonic.

This camera has a GPS and it might come in handy for taking photos in David and around Panama and the photo would than give the GPS coordinates in case others wanted to find that location. What can I say. I am a gadget freak, but it keeps me young.

Here is an interesting video of the camera.