Archive for February, 2012

Busy busy busy

Unfortunately I’ve been very busy with work so little time for blogging. Just a few little bits:

Problem Steps Recorder

A colleague told me about this recently. A new tool available in Windows 7 designed to record steps to recreate problems- you can then send the output to support desks etc who can analyse the output.

You can access PSR (Problem Steps Recorder) by typing psr into the start menu and clicking the top result (highlighted above).

The tool is very straight forward- I’ve only used it a few times to date, but essentially it records screenshots and describes each "action"- for example clicking, dragging, user input etc. The output file is then a zipped, self-contained html type structure. See example: (I have to admit I’m a little puzzled as I recorded the steps to launch a command prompt and run ipconfig to determine your ipaddress but the keyboard input doesn’t appear to’ve been captured- I think I need to play a bit more).

The beauty of the tool is that it could quite easily be used to simplify the process of creating documentation and user guides as well as the intended purpose of recording problem steps (currently we often create documentation but taking numerous screenshots and manually pasting into word with annotations- this automates that process somewhat).

Lock Screen in OS X

I did a google a while back as I’ve started to use my laptop in the office a lot more and never like leaving the screen unlocked. In windows I’m sure we all know ctrl-alt-del allows us to lock the workstation, but I’d yet to find an option/keyboard shortcut in OS X. My search didn’t turn up much- and the first item I tried didn’t work at all.

The next day a colleague showed me the "hot corners" option available in the system preferences under displays / screen savers. This works pretty well but my ideal solution would be a keyboard shortcut.

I resorted to trusty stackexchange and was informed that shift-ctrl-eject which actually puts the display to sleep but effectively achieves the desired result of locking the screen (as once awoken the password is requiring to resume).

Ubiquiti AirVision / AirCam Update

I have finished permanent installation of my 3rd Ubiquiti AirCam but have been experiencing increasing problems with the AirVision and NVR software.

For example the above screenshot- you can see the Back Garden feed is blank. These increasingly problems in addition to the rather cpu/memory hungry windows processes spurred me on to give the linux software a go.

I diverted a little from the linux installation guide on the forum:

Here are my steps:

  • Install Ubuntu server edition checking only the OpenSSH option
  • SSH into the ubuntu server and escalate to root: sudo su
  • Modify the apt-get sources file: nano /etc/apt-get/sources.list
  • Add at bottom of file: deb-src natty main
  • Add at bottom of file: deb natty ubiquiti
  • Quit and save changes: ctrl-x
  • Update apt-get: apt-get update
  • Install AirVision and all dependencies: apt-get install airvision
  • Install AirVision NVR and all dependencies: apt-get install airvision-nvr
  • Ensure everything is up to date: apt-get upgrade

You should now be good to go! Try an browse to https://server-ip-or-hostname:7443 and you should be presented with the configuration/setup wizard.

NB: HTTPS. I made the mistake of trying to browse to http://server-ip:7443 and wondered why it wasn’t working :)

So far performance seems better and resource usage seems a little lighter. Fingers crossed.


24 Years

…At the tap end continues. Cracking uni story- enjoy:

Thanks Chris, keep ’em coming!


A cheeky special reading from Chris’ Autobography this afternoon as the team will be at the Britt Awards tomorrow.



I had a few minutes to continue setting up the wireless link and take a few snaps. Here’s the dish mounted:

And a bit of a close-up:

I found a better way of determining the bearing between the two properties using google earth (I had previously used googlecompass:

Unfortunately I don’t really have any way of determining the dish’s current bearing (other than a visual guestimate). Google earth also shows the elevation profile:

Which seems to pretty much agree with the AirLink tool. Admittedly when I first used it I didn’t really know what I was looking at in the graph:

It surprises me the bearing isn’t displayed anywhere (that I can see?). I think I’m going to need a slightly longer pole to mount both the dishes giving sufficient clearance above the houses/trees in the path. I wonder what length I can get away with- the current pole is about 2 metres long and waves about quite a bit in the wind. I guess I just need something a little sturdier.

More soon :)


Ubiquiti AirVision Improvements

It’s great to see Ubiquiti appear to be working really hard on the AirVision software. Earlier today I upgraded to the latest versions of the AirVision (v1.1.0b4) and AirVision NVR (v1.0.9) software (see

Further to my earlier post: I’m sure there are a lot of new features but 3 I’ve instantly noticed and feel the need to shout about:

E-mail alerts (for motion and loss of camera/nvr connectivity):

New improved iPhone (potentially other but that’s all I have to test) interface:

Ability to save/export recordings:


After my relative success with the AirCams last week ( I purchased some AirCam Domes to try out.

Initially when I unboxed them I was a little surprised/disappointed by a few things:

  1. There appears to be no mounting option other than "in a hole"
  2. The lens cover doesn’t seem very secure
  3. The position/orientation of the RJ45 ethernet jack seems to limit mounting options
  4. The lens can only be adjusted up/down (vertically) not left/right (horizontally) – this seems to be yet another indication that the Domes aren’t really meant to be wall-mounted
  5. You can simply unscrew the camera from the "nut", unplug the ethernet cable and walk off with the camera (equally easy with the AirCam)
  6. I’ve got my doubts as to how waterproof the unit is *EDIT* Oops- apparently i dreamt that this is suitable for outdoor use? :)

WHT from the Ubiquiti forum: suggested a solution for wall mounting the Dome by reversing the nut usually used to clamp the camera to a ceiling. I followed the advice and set off drilling 3 holes in the nut to mount it to the wall:

I then drilled 3 holes in the wall for the screws and one in the middle for the ethernet cable:

I mounted the nut, pulled an ethernet cable through and crimped an RJ45 connector on the end:

The camera wouldn’t screw back into the nut because it’d been slightly skewed by the screws. I backed them off a bit and it went on a treat. With the added bonus when I fastened the screws back up the camera was locked in place and couldn’t be unscrewed without easing the screws back off:

I may make some adjustments as ideally I’d like to look further left and lose a bit from the right:

I experienced some issues with the camera not registering properly with the NVR ("PREVIEW MODE. PLEASE ASSIGN TO NVR"):

But it seemed that the software had ground the server to a halt and a reboot seems to’ve fixed things for the moment. I’m still a little concerned at the number of processes running and the amount of CPU usage they’re consuming:

And that’s with only 2 cameras currently connected. I may try installing the software in linux later to see if it appears any more efficient.

I have a few more cameras to mount but they’re going to be a bit trickier (running the ethernet cables etc). I’ll update once I’ve found the time.


Thursday’s reading from 24 years at the tap end:

All previous chapters can be downloaded here:


Last week I ordered 2x ubiquiti nanobridge m5 25dBi wireless devices in an attempt to bridge the networks of two local houses. I’m not usually one for reading instructions but found it slightly odd that I didn’t really know where to start with regard to mounting/aligning the dishes.

I managed to find which allowed me to read a bearing between the two premises:

Fortunately one of the houses already had a pole mounted on the roof with an old terrestrial tv aerial on. I started by taking this down and fitting one of the nanobridges to the existing pole and remounting it (roughly at a 20° bearing angled a few degrees down). This wasn’t fun being at the top of a ladder 20ft or so up!

I then found which allows you to enter the details of the wireless device types and locations providing feedback on expected signal etc (I found the website only worked in Safari, not in Chrome).

The first mistake I realise I made was not plugging in and testing the m5 before mounting it! I panicked a little after plugging it in and not seeing any new DHCP leases on my router! Fortunately I found out the m5 has a static ip address I changed my ip so I was on the same subnet and managed to access the webui.

I have yet to mount the nanostation at the other end, and expect things NOT to be straight forward as there’s not really line of sight or an existing convenient pole to mount the dish but fingers crossed I’ll get it working eventually!

I will post pictures of the installation and more information once I get the other end up.


Absolute corker today! One of my personal favourite bits:

Becky: but you wrote "no one’s off limits"

Chris: it sounded predatory, i’m sorry for that, i didn’t meant it to be



Photo Mosaic / Montage

Seems like too long since I posted any photos- so here’s a little mosaic / montage thing using the photos from last month’s Kool Kids Klub:

Catch me snapping at the next:


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