How to Set Up Wireless IP Cameras for Home Security: Access from Smartphone

Section 6: Access from Smartphone If you have set up port forwarding and DDNS, you will now be able to install a mobile app and view your camera directly on your smart phone. This is a great feature that offers ultimate convenience: You can check on your house anytime, even when you are on the Read more about How to Set Up Wireless IP Cameras for Home Security: Access from Smartphone[…]

How to Set Up Wireless IP Cameras for Home Security: Remote Access

Section 5: Remote Access At this point your Foscam camera can do virtually everything a surveillance system requires: It can stream live video to any computer on your home network. It can trigger on motion alarm and send images to your email, or record videos to a device attached to your LAN. It is even Read more about How to Set Up Wireless IP Cameras for Home Security: Remote Access[…]

How to Set Up Wireless IP Cameras for Home Security: Motion Detection and Image/Video Recording

Section 4: Motion Detection and Image/Video Recording Now that your Foscam camera is fully functional, you can enable motion detection and have the camera automatically capture images and email them to you when motion alarm is triggered. Log into your camera’s configuration page. Go to Device Management and then Mail Service Settings. Using Gmail as Read more about How to Set Up Wireless IP Cameras for Home Security: Motion Detection and Image/Video Recording[…]

How to Set Up Wireless IP Cameras for Home Security: Wireless Connection

Section 3: Wireless Connection Both Foscam cameras offer IEEE 802.11b/g connectivity. If your router has wireless N, it is backward compatible to B/G. Newer generations of 8910 models provide B/G/N connectivity, which is even better. In order to establish wireless connection to the Foscam cameras, you must first find some key information about your wireless Read more about How to Set Up Wireless IP Cameras for Home Security: Wireless Connection[…]

How to Set Up Wireless IP Cameras for Home Security: Basic Configurations

Section 2: Basic Configurations The Foscam cameras rely on a web-based interface to change basic configurations and it is fairly easy to use. Although there may seem to be many steps, most of them are straight forward. Fundamental security measures are implemented here. This is also the place to fully test your camera before installation. Read more about How to Set Up Wireless IP Cameras for Home Security: Basic Configurations[…]

How to Set Up Wireless IP Cameras for Home Security: Overview

Section 1: Overview After two homes in our quiet, suburban neighborhood were broken into recently, I decided to install a few cameras around the house to scare burglars away (hopefully). I already have a home alarm system, which is apparently not enough: In my neighbors’ cases it took more than 30 minutes for the police Read more about How to Set Up Wireless IP Cameras for Home Security: Overview[…]

How to Watch Chinese TV Online Using XBMC

XBMC is a fantastic media player that can handle most video and music formats. It also includes many add-ons to watch TV online. Being open source, XBMC is free and is compatible with Windows, Mac and other platforms. If you don’t have Dish Network or a dedicated set-top box for watching Chinese programming, using XBMC with CNTV can be a handy solution. CNTV (China Network Television) is provided by China’s official broadcasting company CCTV, and I’m sure there are other add-ons for different languages.

Quality-wise CNTV on XBMC is very good, although it highly depends on the speed of your Internet service. I’m using Time Warner standard 10MB down with Turbo Boost and can watch most stations without any problem. Obviously it still can’t compete with Dish’s Great Wall Package in terms of PQ and ease-of-use, but for occasional viewing, XBMC is hard to beat.

Below is a step-by-step tutorial for setting up XBMC with CNTV:


Set Up a New PC Part III: Install Software

With the SSD in place, it is time to start installing software and drivers, beginning with Windows 7.

8. Install Windows

Insert the laptop battery, connect the power cord and power on the computer. Since the BIOS was already set to boot from the CD/DVD drive in Step , Windows installation should start automatically. If you forgot to load the installation disk, you can do so now and restart the laptop.
The entire process of installing Windows 7 took me about half an hour (maybe less since I was doing something else at the same time). Near the end I was prompted to activate Windows and I chose the phone option. The automatic voice system guided me through the process: I provided the OEM Windows product key and in return received an activation code. The only problem was that the system couldn’t understand me saying “I’m finished,” and insisted transferring me to a live operator to restart the process. At that point my computer was already showing successful activation so I simply hung up.


Set Up a New PC Part II: Install Hardware

Upgrading a laptop’s hardware isn’t as easy as for a desktop, simply because there isn’t much room to work around. But replacing the memory modules, hard disk or optical drive is fairly straightforward. Memory has been quite cheap for a while and is the most cost effective way to boost your PC’s performance. Solid state drives (SSD) offer numerous benefits compared to traditional disk-based drives, but at a significantly higher cost. However, over the past six months SSD prices have steadily drifted lower and are now at a very affordable level. Some of the highly rated 128GB SSD’s, such as Samsung 830 and Crucial M4, are often on sale for under $100. The one I got is a 240GB SanDisk Extreme, which also has great reviews on Amazon and other places. The optical drive, usually a DVD burner, may be upgraded to a Bluray burner or even replaced with a second hard drive. However, I’m not planning to replace the internal optical drive anytime soon and if a need arises later on, I’ll just use an external one.

5. Prepare SSD

SSD has been a hot topic in the tech world so there are plenty of guides on the internet on how to prepare and maintain solid state drives. Here is one, another one, and yet another one. They are very useful but can be over complicated for my case: I simply don’t need data migration, disk cloning or  things like that. After reading through many informational articles and forum discussions, I only did a few things to my SSD:

  • Update firmware. This is considered a necessary step even though it carries some risks (anytime you flash firmware something could go wrong, although unlikely). This is particularly important if your SSD has some known issues that have been reportedly fixed by new FW – all this information can be found online by searching for the specific model of your drive. To upgrade firmware, I downloaded and installed the SanDisk SSD toolkit. By putting my SSD in an external enclosure and connecting it to my old PC, I was able to examine the SSD using the toolkit. It turned out there was indeed a new version of firmware released just a few days after my specific SSD was built. So I went ahead and saved the new FW into a USB flash drive – the toolkit would then make it a bootable drive. Still on my old PC, I changed the BIOS boot priority to USB. Upon restart, the software found the SanDisk SSD and completed FW update in just a few minutes. For more information on this particular SSD, here is a very detailed benchmark report. […]

Set Up a New PC Part I: Get Started

There are basically two ways to migrate an old PC to a new one: Clone the entire hard drive and copy it to the new PC, or set up the new PC manually and then move old data over. Since my old desktop has too much junk and a 32-bit Vista, I won’t bother cloning its hard disk and will just start fresh with the new laptop.

1. Burn recovery disks

The first thing I did after firing up the laptop was to generate recovery disks. Most PC manufacturers don’t ship the disks anymore, and instead will happily sell them to you. But it is easy to burn the DVD’s on your own. These disks will restore your computer to its factory state after a hard drive crash or corrupted operating system.

Lenovo’s pre-installed ThinkVantage software has an option to create system recovery disks. The program will instruct you to load blank media and guide you through the process. The first disk is a bootable repair disk, and can be either a CD or DVD. The second and third must be DVD’s to restore your system to factory condition. After installing new operating system and other programs, you can choose to create another set of disks that contain an image of your entire hard drive. This way you don’t have to re-install everything again if you later have to replace the hard drive. […]