Bitcasa & Home Security Cameras = Awesome!

The front door in the daytime.

Over the last few years we have had a number of minor cases of vandalism at our house. Our mail box was ripped off the side of the house and stolen, had our Halloween pumpkins stolen and smashed and regular ring and runs on our frontdoor late at night. The way our house is built the front door faces the busy street and there is only one window on that side of the house with no real view of the front steps or door. I had been thinking of getting a wireless network cameras and installing it to watch the front door for a while and last fall I came across a deal on the D-Link DCS-932L Wireless-N Day/Night Network Cameras and picked up a couple. You can still get them at Amazon and other places if you look around.

These cameras are great for the price. They are day and night, take decent photos and are wireless so they are easy to mount anywhere you want them. The night time photos are not to bad but do have some lines on them as you can see in the night shot but considering the cost of the cameras I have been very pleased with them. I picked up a couple of cheap outdoor light fixtures from Home Depot and a can of black spray paint and ripped out the light fixture and one pane of glass, painted them all black and mounted the camera inside. Considerably cheaper than a security camera mount and on the side of the house it just sort of blends in as another light fixture.

The only real problem with these cameras is how to monitor them. I tried a couple of different things like using the built in email settings and using iSpy Connect to record but they were just not right. The camera email settings work but you get flooded with emails when there is movement not to mention too many emails too fast and your email account or IP might get flagged for sending out spam.

iSpy Connect works ok when we were away but once we got home it was annoying to have to have it running on the Windows computer all the time. If I had a Windows computer that could be dedicated to just that it might have been alright. One thing I did use with iSpy Connect was Dropbox. I setup the software to save the videos from the cameras into Dropbox and I could check on the house when I had time from my smartphone or tablet. The only problem with that was the size of my Dropbox account. After a little while I had to make sure I deleted the videos so I did not run out of room.

If only there was a way to save all of the photos the cameras took straight to the cloud without filling up my Dropbox or my hard drive. The cameras don`t offer any kind of straight to cloud option, but they do offer an FTP setup. You could set them up to upload straight to a web host FTP account but FTP is not the most secure file transfer method in the world and having a ton of images of your house uploaded to a web host will still get you into problems with running out of space.

On my main desktop I run Linux (currently Ubuntu) and I also use the Bitcasa Linux client. The Bitcasa Linux client is not as nice as the Windows or Mac client and it is still in beta but it has been very reliable since I installed it. So I installed an FTP server on my Linux desktop and created a folder in the Bitcasa infinite drive. I then set the cameras up to FTP to my desktop to the folder I created in Bitcasa and presto I now have an infinite storage drive for my security cameras! It works great, the cameras take photos when they sense motion and FTP them to my desktop all on my internal wireless network. Bitcasa then encrypts the photos and uploads them to the cloud. I can then use my web browser or the Bitcasa mobile app to browse the photos that have been taken.

The best part is because Bitcasa is my hard drive in the cloud and I have a paid Bitcasa account so I am not limited to 10GB free plan, I don`t have to worry about running out of hard drive space on my desktop or in my Bitcasa account. This is one of those cases where Bitcasa is perfect, if only I could just setup the cameras to send it straight to Bitcasa without having to use my desktop as the local FTP server.

Update September 2013
Since I wrote this I have since replaced my Linux machine with a Windows 8 Desktop that I picked up on sale and have replaced the FTP server that was running on my Linux machine with the built in Windows FTP server on the Windows 8 machine. The Windows Bitcasa client is much more stable than the Linux one was and has been running well. Essentially it is the same setup with the Windows 8 machine being the FTP server and running the Bitcasa client. It automatically uploads between 40 to 75MB a day in photos to Bitcasa and I can easily access them on my smartphone or tablet.

Update December 2013
Well it was fun while it lasted but all good things must come to an end apparently. Bitcasa has since made changes to their pricing plan and while my account is grandfathered in with the old pricing plan I no longer trust them. I have since purchased a new 3TB hard drive and have replaced the Bitcasa FTP drive with it. I have also uninstalled Bitcasa from all of my computers since they do not seem to want the old users. I recommend that anyone considering using Bitcasa look at another company. Bitcasa no longer seems trust worthy. If you want to know more about the changes Bitcasa has made you can read more here and how they are forcing Linux users to adopt the new plans here.

The front door at night.

Is Flippa Over Hyped?

As I mentioned in my previous post I have been spending some time on Flippa. Partly for fun and partly to see if I can raise some extra cash from sites and domains I just don’t think I will ever have the time to develop. I suppose I should be posting this over on the LGR Internet Solutions blog, but this is more of a personal project than a business one.

I have been testing the waters over on Flippa since September 2012 when I put CandyCaneFacts.com up for sale. Since then I have had a total of four auctions on Flippa. Two websites and two domains. One website and one domain sold, the other two did not. That does not mean that the auctions that sold made me any profit though.

For example my latest auction for GreatPhotograph.com. I have had that domain for a number of years and I always thought it was a pretty decent name. Two words and descriptive of what could be on the site. I probably should have kept the reserve on the auction higher, but I was pretty sure it would go higher than it did. Here are the numbers for that auction.

Final Selling Price: $100.00
Total Listing Price: $94.00
Total Profit: $6.00

Of course that does not include the number of years I have had the domain and have paid to keep it registered. If I include that in the price I have lost money. What I have learned from selling domains on Flippa, well that is PRICELESS!

Perhaps I simply over estimated the quality of the domain name but considering some of the crap that does sell on there I thought what I put up was probably of equal or better.

Yes I did say crap, because let’s face it there is a lot of crap on Flippa and a lot of it sells for ridiculous amounts. Don’t believe me check out this, this and this. See absolute s***, yet they sold for stupid amounts of money! If you don’t know why those sites are crap that is a whole other post. Heck you could make a website talking about the crap that is actually selling on Flippa.

Is Flippa worth using to sell your domains and websites? I think there are some developed websites that would sell well on Flippa but considering the cost of listing and closing I have to honestly say the hype about Flippa is over rated. Certainly some people are making money selling on Flippa if the crap I linked to above can sell, but the only people guaranteed to make money on Flippa is Flippa.

I will probably still browse Flippa occasionally simply for amusement to see what has been sold but I can’t see myself putting anything else up on there for awhile. I will probably make a list and post it on LGR Internet Solutions, I bet I will have better luck.

What has been your experience on Flippa?

Update: Well I have to give the Flippa social media team a high five. They noticed my tweet.

and did something about it that I was not expecting. Congrats to the Flippa social media team on handling that. It was a pleasant surprise.

Snipshot on Flippa!

I have been spending some time on Flippa.com lately mainly doing some house cleaning on websites and domains that I know I am just not going to get around to developing. As I use the site more I do come across some domain and sites that I think are great and if I had the money and of course the time I would jump at the chance at owning.

This morning as I was checking on the auction for GreatPhotograph.com I did a little browsing and came across an auction for Snipshot. I have used Snipshot before and it is a very cool website. To be short Snipshot is an online photo editor that is very easy to use. It could be easily be turned into the next Instagram or 500px website with photo editing.

It easily falls into the category of websites that I wished I had enough money to buy and build. If you have $10,000 to start the bidding on Snipshot take a look you could maybe get a cool site that has lots of potential. If only I had the time and money for it. Maybe next time.