EvoCam vs SecuritySpy

The options for network camera recording software are a bit limited on Mac OS. The two most popular products in this space are Evological’s EvoCam and Bensoftware’s SecuritySpy.

So which is best?

On price alone you might be tempted by EvoCam as it costs just $30 (under £20) for an unlimited number of cameras, while SecuritySpy will set you back £30 for a single camera license and a whopping £500 for unlimited camera support.

I’ve had an opportunity to evaluate both products and have come to the conclusion that you really do get what you pay for.

EvoCam does the job well enough and has a more polished user interface, but it also suffers from a major problem that lets it down badly, almost to the point of being unusable. For reasons unknown it ties up the processor for even a simple one camera recording setup.

Activity Monitor output taken for identical recording sessions is below:

In these examples (from a Mac Mini 2.26GHz Intel Core 2 Duo with 4GB RAM), EvoCam consumes 85% CPU and 90MB real memory, while in comparison SecuritySpy consumes a meagre 6% CPU and 21MB real memory. That’s quite a difference and it’s very noticeable when you try to use the same host machine for other work.

So if you have the luxury of a dedicated powerful server for your camera recording then EvoCam is probably the most cost effective option, but if you want something that works reliably and doesn’t take over your machine then SecuritySpy is well worth the extra investment.

Insomniac Mac

Since upgrading to Mac OS Lion I have been unable to persuade our ageing MacBook to go to sleep when it’s supposed to. The OS X Energy Saver preferences were set correctly, but it would not sleep of its own accord. Putting it to sleep manually worked, but the computer sleep idle timer was just ignored.

I put this down to a quirk of the older hardware and worked around it by defining a nightly sleep schedule, but when our shiny new iMac did exactly the same I knew there must be an application overriding the default behaviour.

Sure enough after a morning of trial and error and eliminating all the other options, I finally discovered the culprit to be Dropbox LAN sync.

If Dropbox LAN sync is enabled then the Mac won’t put itself to sleep. The mystery is finally solved!

If you’ve disabled Dropbox LAN sync and your Mac is still powering on periodically (like every hour), then make sure you have also unchecked ‘Wake for network access’ in the Energy Saver preferences.

(Note: Mac OS X 10.7.3 & Dropbox client v1.2.52)

Automount Drobo FS shares in Mac OS X

To configure Mac OS X to automatically mount a Drobo FS share whenever it is accessed:

Add the following line to /etc/auto_master:

/Volumes/Drobo                      auto_drobo

Then (as root) create the file /etc/auto_drobo and add your mounts to it, e.g.

Share1 -fstype=smbfs ://username1:password1@
Share2 -fstype=smbfs ://username2:password2@

Use the following command to start the automount:

/usr/sbin/automount -vc

Now whenever the volume is accessed it will be automatically mounted.

You might also want to change the default automount timeout setting which is in /etc/autofs.conf.

Configure HomePlug devices from Mac OS and Linux

If like me you have a need to configure HomePlug Powerline devices but don’t have a Windoze PC, I found a simple tool written by Manuel Kasper that compiles on most BSDs and Mac OS X and allows you to set the network encryption key without running any Windoze software.

The program is called plconfig and it communicates with most Intellon chipset based PowerPacket bridges.

Downloads: plconfig version 0.2 for BSD or Linux