A morning at McDonalds

Be warned for what I am about to say may come off as judgmental.

The boy had a friend over to spend the night so we decided saturday morning we would eat breakfast at McDonalds.  We don’t eat there much as a family and it is a treat for the kids go.  I try to be a cool dad.  Not the kind that buys beer but the kind who lets a curse word pass once in a while.  Let’s at Micky D’s to the resume.

(Editorial: McDonalds is not evil.  I don’t recommend anyone eat there more than 2 times a month.  It is our family belief that moderation serves well with fast food)

Here we go.  Me, two growing 5th graders, and my 7 year old daughter off to McDonalds. On they way, they were saying aloud what they wanted in much the same way Spalding declared his snack bar requests to Judge Smails at the turn.  The difference was that I didn’t care what they got.  $20 worth of pancakes, biscuit sausage sandwiches, orange juice, and (a coffee for me) later we were seated in the play area with our food.

I had to make 2 trips from counter to table because two 5th graders somehow can’t figure out that grownups need help carrying crap.  First I delivered the food, came back for the OJ’s and coffee.  Upon my return to the table, controversy hung in the air.  Emmie had bitten into Cooper’s friends sausage sandwich.  She didn’t order one, but somehow “mistakenly” grabbed it and started eating.

It is unknown if she had malice in her actions or a Reagan-esque temporary loss of memory.  We may never know.  Nonetheless I went back to the counter to replace the mauled biscuit sandwich.

Standing in line again I noticed a methy looking grandma of 50 or so come in with her granddaughter of about 8.  I am making assumptions here, but I would bet a paycheck I was right.  Grandma’s demeanor was joyful and obviously happy to be spending time with the girl.  Grandma also had a wet cough that grossed me out.  It was part smokers cough and part “I just finished a Z-pak for a respiratory infection” cough.  Either way, I was compelled to slide 2 steps away from her.  …yuck.

Still waiting I noticed other random folks in the restaurant.  Some look like this was their normal saturday haunt.  This was based on their girth (yes, I judged).  Then I observed about 3 different couples in their 30’s maybe 40’s who had a certain glow about them.  They looked like they hadn’t been awake long.  Couples that just threw something on and left the house.  Kind of like when Kim Kardashian is caught off the red carpet.  They still look presentable but not dolled up.  They put on a ballcap and a hoodie and “went out for breakfast”.  It was 9am at this point.  They had faces that told a story of a late night.  I would guess a “date night” (if you know what I mean).  I was happy for them.  I was also slightly envious.  God bless ’em.  

Order up! I’m quickly reminded by the teenaged staff  that I am currently playing Batman’s butler to my kids at McDonald’s.

Back at our table, I deliver the fresh sandwich and everyone is happy.  Are manners expected at McDonalds?  Hope not, because my kids ate like felons.  Sausage patties eaten with hands.  Pancakes eaten like floppy popscicles.  It was a sight.  But who cares?  I let the moment happen.  I brushed off the lapse in expected behavior in a Michael Keaton manner and moved on.

Lunch?  I think we will have a salad and some fruit.

Cisco Wireless WVC80N: security cam on the cheap

Quick review: The camera hardware is pretty good.  The image is good quality.  The software is not very good, but with a little work you can cobble something workable together.  This camera does not pan or tilt and requires a power source (duh).

I recently purchased a wireless webcam from BestBuy to setup at home for a security camera.  Something like this can be used for monitoring pets, or just watching something around the location.

Pre-requisites:
– Fairly technical understanding of home networking.
– A wireless router or another wireless home network.

1. Setup the Cisco WVC80N according to the install disk that comes with product.  This was pretty straight forward and will get it connected on your internal network and will have an internal IP addrss (192.168.x.x).  The camera has it’s own web server and you connect to the IP address and configure more settings.

2. Install the Linksys viewer software that comes with the product.  It is not the best software but it will allow you to view the camera broadcast.  My biggest complaint with the included software is how you have to switch screens or restart the application when the image freezes.

3. Dynamic DNS setup: Use a DDNS system to connect and external URL to your camera.  The product has a link into the TZO vendor but I used DynDNS.org and it works fine.  The URL points to the public IP of your router at home.  (note: if your router is locked down, you will need to allow the port number through the router to the camera)

That’s the basics for viewing the camera broadcast/feed.  If you want to record or view on your smart phone you can do a few more things.  These are not steps included with the product but I figured I would share since I figure most people would want this capability.

1. Droid App:   Go to the Adroid market and install “IP Cam View”.   The config is straight forward.  You can view your video feed from anywhere.  You point the feed to your external URL.  Pretty simple and the image looks pretty good on the phone.

2. Recording:  the built-in recording options that come with the camera are not very stable.  I didn’t have the patience to work with the settings so I set out to find an alternative.  You can download Cisco video monitoring software from their website.  SWVMS16 is a downloadable Video monitoring System.  It’s free for 1 camera.  For more cameras, you have to buy a license.  The installation is a fairly large footprint on the PC but it is a much better software tool that what came with the camera.

Motion Detection:  I tweaked the settings on the camera to the highest quality and got a pretty image feed.  I enabled motion detection to grab images and FTP them to my website.  This gives me an offsite storage of the images.  My cameras point at my front and back doors.  If someone were to break in to an empty house, they would do their damage but they would be caught with a series of images that are uploaded and viewable later.

Usage: (traffic cams)

Added note about IP Cam View Android Application:  If your town has traffic cameras around the city, you can add those to the droid app.  Manage cameras and choose “Add IP”.  Give it a name, I chose “open source” for the camera type and in the URL field I grabbed the URL from the camera image on the website (in my case, this was from KCScout.com).  The URL is very long and I had to email it to myself then cut/paste on the phone.  For my use, I entered a couple stretches of highway I would normally use for my commutes.  It’s like an on demand traffic report.