Sunday, July 12, 2009

Tips and Tricks

Here are some hints that will help people with the most common support issues:

1. Use the Settings app on your iPhone or iPod Touch to change the default application behavior. Here you can toggle public camera loading on or off, or change the refresh rate for jpegs and images on non-wifi connections.

2. When entering camera data, do not enter HTTP: in the host or IP field unless you are using the JPEG or MJPEG profile. For IP cameras you can just enter the DNS name or IP address. The colon and the port are not required here either, there is a separate field on the screen where you can enter the port. An example would be "". For this you would enter "" for the host and then advance to the port field and enter 8081.

3. Some cameras claim to support MJPEG but send invalid data when streaming the video. For these cameras I've worked around the problem by just pulling still shots every few seconds. If you have a TrendNet or Linksys camera (or a few other models) you probably see that my app doesn't stream video like you see in a web browser. I plan to work around the firmware bugs in these devices in a future release.

4. PTZ is available for Axis and Canon only at the moment. A new release is under development that provides directional control and zoom/backlight for many more models. If you have an Axis 215 or an Axis camera that allows you to click to center the PTZ, this feature is coming soon with Live Cams. For now you won't see the "Control Camera" option because Live Cams tries to use the absolute positioning protocols in IP cameras.

5. Controlling public cameras is not always straightforward. You are sharing the control queue with users on the internet as well, which is why Live Cams can't tell you how many people are waiting to control a camera. Also, some camera administrators allow PTZ controls to be viewed but don't let you move the sliders in one or more directions. That's why some cameras in the app appear to be "stuck" or non-responsive when you move a slider around and nothing happens. I'm busy trying to find a way to detect this problem so that it isn't so confusing when you encounter a restricted camera like this.

6. If your camera is visible on Wifi at home but not once you leave the house, you need to get a static IP address or a dynamic DNS name that will allow you to get to the camera from the internet. Try signing up for a dynamic DNS name at

7. Some cameras only operate during fixed hours and will show the last cached image for hours outside of this operating window. That's why many of the Canadian traffic cameras will show a photo in daylight when you are looking at the camera at night. It may have even been taken offline weeks ago but the website that I link to still contains a cached image. Try to find a date/time overlay on the camera image to decide if the image is recent or not.

That's all for now, have fun everyone!