Blue Iris for video security

Zoneminder, argh. I’m not sure how much time I’ve put into getting Zoneminder to work but it’s a lot. There’s just something about it that confounds me, whether it’s because of the underlying OS or hardware problems…Zoneminder seems to be the typical open source linux app. Very capable, ugly as sin and exceedingly difficult to get working right, unless you are the geek “they” designed it for.

So, I’ve decided to punt. At some point getting something done becomes more important than playing and learning. I bought my PV149 card from BlueCherry some time ago and I check back in with them from time to time. They’ve long had a reference to Blue Iris as a Windows alternative. I’m trying it out and so far it couldn’t be easier to use. I’m a little concerned that it doesn’t handle load as well and is banging on the server pretty hard, but it seems to be getting by ok.

I’ll report back once I’ve played with the motion detection and the alerting system.

Arc Solutions takes it personally…

I can’t say I blame them. I’m sure there are some very qualified programmers at Arc that are proud of their product. My experience was less than stellar.

So, here’s what I’ll offer. It seems there might be a new version out. I’ll try a demo copy on a fresh WinXP install if they will provide it to me. I’m not going to drop the $1000+ they ask for this software (there’s another criticism) to see if times have changed. If one of the recent Arc commenters want’s to hook me up with a demo copy though, I’ll test it. I have a clean CCME I can point it at for testing as well.

I’ll post my results, good or bad. If the new version really is so much better I’ll happily post a comment to the original blog entry that seems to have climbed onto the first page at Google. (I’m guessing that’s why this is getting noticed)

So, what do you say Arc? Leave me a comment!

Arc Express comments

Bennie from Arc found my blog and wrote a couple of comments on this post. I started writing a response but it got a bit lengthy for a comment so I decided to throw it into a new post:

Bennie, thanks for responding. That install was almost half a year ago. Ancient history! 🙂

Regarding my comments, I hate Java. Arc Express, Cisco’s ASDM, Cisco’s abomination for router configuration (can’t remember the name now) all use Java and to varying degrees show off what’s horrible about it. My overriding problem with Java is that it breaks User Interface conventions. Or rather, it has it’s own set of them and developers implement them inconsistently. The result is often a mess of a program where users have to struggle with silly things like inconsistent window focus and “enter” not doing anything. It’s 2009, I shouldn’t be forced to click the ok button because someone couldn’t program what the “enter” key should do in a text field.

It’s a whole slew of oddities like this that Arc Express seems to have hit on, all combining for a frustrating experience. Regarding this experience I seem to have purged the whole thing from my memory. You can see from my comments that I had numerous problems with UI elements acting inconsistently.

Do you really want my suggestion? Run away from Java. Drop it like it’s hot. Also, your product has all of the hallmarks of being written by engineers, for engineers. Maybe you’re ok with that but I don’t think that’s the market you’re going for.

Lastly, my memory is a little fuzzy on this but I seem to recall having to jump through some strange hoops to get the license or access to the install guide. I don’t recall exactly what the deal was with that but I remember it being bizarre and frustrating. It’s just an attendant app but somehow it’s like you guys want to build a certified installer ecosystem. Maybe I’m remembering it incorrectly. It’s just an app though. Sorry to burst your bubble but you don’t warrant an entire certified installer ecosystem.

As an alternative, look at Asterisk’s Flash Operator Panel (FOP). This program runs on the server, is included with just about every Asterisk distribution and for the most part just works. Now, I’m not real thrilled about Flash as that has potential to be another rathole like Java. Still, they’ll probably be able to port their app to HTML5 pretty soon.

In a nutshell, don’t “be different” when it comes to UI because the programmer thinks it’s cool. Especially because the programmer thinks it’s cool. That and accept that although you guys have a deal with Cisco, that doesn’t mean you are Cisco.

Sorry, one last thing. The UI I’m referring to here is almost universally the install UI, not the actual attendant console. As I referenced before I think the attendant console is actually ok. Not great but ok. This is one area where you have non-technical end users and they probably would benefit from thinking differently about the UI. One feature I love on my iPhone is conferencing multiple parties together. It’s painfully obvious how it works and it works great!

If Cisco.com falls over, does it make a sound in the media?

I’m mystified as to how Cisco.com can go down worldwide for 2+ hours during business hours and there is virtually nothing in the news about it. I managed to find this reference in the Register. Not surprising as the outage hit the UK in the middle of the day. I’ve not found any other comments.

How is it that the king of the networking world, preacher of all things BC/DR, can be down for 2+ hours and no one thinks it’s a big deal.

If nothing else, it sure would be nice to get a root cause analysis from Cisco so we can have a “teaching moment”. If there’s a scenario where arguably the most savvy networking company in the world can suffer a catastrophic failure of a high availability service, we would all be well served to understand the details.

And Cisco’s response about the dangerous power failure at the data center that I tweeted about? I’m not buying that. If that happened then it should have shut down and failed to the DR site. I can’t believe that Cisco has all of Cisco.com in a single data center.

This is like your parents telling you every day not to smoke and then you catch them puffing away one day.

What’s the deal Cisco???

Putty and CTRL-Shift-6, X

Helped someone figure out a weird problem just now. He would telnet to a router and then telnet back out to a host. He would then try the ctrl-shift-6, x sequence and he would get nothing on the screen. He could type disconnect 1 and get no feedback but as soon as he pressed enter it would show the router prompt and immediately reconnect the session. Seems like it was only listening to the “enter”.

Turns out it was an echo problem. In his Putty settings he had Terminal:Line discipline options set to Force On for both Local Echo and Local line editing. He set these both to Auto and it worked fine after that.

Not sure how that get set but I thought I’d share. A quick google didn’t turn anything up that seemed similar.