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cglaeser

An Open Letter to Exacq

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Thanks for taking my call regarding the ExacqVision implementation of time zone. As you know, the Exacq server sets all the cameras to the wrong time and time zone. Apparently, the server uses this technique so that a time zone offset does not have to be used when performing searches. This works fine if the cameras are treated as dumb devices, but causes problems for the more advanced IP cameras that have a complete embedded OS. Features like on-camera scheduled alarms and ftp file naming based on date/time don't function correctly, to name just a couple.

 

In addition, this is not ONVIF compliant. Given that Exacq is an ONVIF member with intentions of someday releasing an ONVIF compliant server, I'm hopeful that this issue will rise in priority and be addressed sooner rather than later.

 

Thanks for listening. If you have any questions or need additional information, please do not hesitate to contact me.

 

Best,

Christopher

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Who did you talk to?

 

Someone in tech support, but I don't recall the name. He said there will be an engineering meeting on Monday and he would bring it up then. I talked to someone else about a month ago. Both were very polite and listened to my input, but I don't think either were particularly convinced of my position. Their basic position is the exacqVision server is the center of the universe, and there is no need for any of the attached devices to know the correct time. The exacq developers have implemented a kludge whereby they don't have to add a time zone offset when doing searches. When I point out that features like on-camera alarms and ftp file naming do not work correctly, their response is that they don't claim that any of that will work, so you get what you get.

 

The good news is that exacq is a ONVIF member and have plans to release an ONVIF compliant server. Then they will have to address this issue since the current implementation is not ONVIF compliant. Of course, there's no schedule on when that might happen, but I say, why wait? The current implementation is a kludge; just fix it. We'll see.

 

Best,

Christopher

Edited by Guest

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but I say, why wait?

they are probably busy driving that porshe you paid for

 

Can you not just set the time zone manually?

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Can you not just set the time zone manually?

 

Yes you can, and I do, but this tedious process is required every time the server is restarted. It's a royal pain.

 

The exacq support technician suggested that if I want to use on-camera scheduling, just add/subtract the time zone offset. In other words, if I want a motion alarm between 8 am and 5 pm, just shift that schedule by the GMT time zone. Ugh!!! Maybe I should just set all the devices in my house - phones, computers, watches, printers, TVs, thermostat, coffee pot - to GMT 0 and do the math in my head when I want to know what time it is in California.

 

Or, I could just move to some place in the GMT 0 time zone. That's the only region on the planet where the exacqVision server works correctly.

 

Best,

Christopher

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what if you just changed the computer time zone?

 

Unfortunately, the exacqVision server sets all the cameras to GMT 0 on restart, independent of anything else.

 

I just checked the world time clock. Reykjavik, Iceland is one of the few cities on the planet that is GMT 0 year round. Moving seems a bit drastic, but it would solve the problem.

 

Best,

Christopher

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LOL .. no moving is not a good idea ..

what about a script to change it? Are there any INI files or Reg settings or you think maybe its fixed in the software?

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Are there any INI files or Reg settings or you think maybe its fixed in the software?

 

I expect it is done in the application code. They probably just access the configuration spec for each camera, and then use that info to set the time zone to 0.

 

Best,

Christopher

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I expect it is done in the application code. They probably just access the configuration spec for each camera, and then use that info to set the time zone to 0.

 

Best,

Christopher

ok then .. maybe run a script with a delay ... something that connects to them and tells them to set the time zone back? I dont know what cameras you are connecting to so cant help there. I think axis has querystring commands but cant say for sure, some other IP cameras might have that also. Yeah I know, this should be done in their code, why they dont just use the user's timezone, or give the user the option to set it?

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I dont know what cameras you are connecting to so cant help there.

 

Panasonic 502, Axis 223M, and Axis 207MW. Planning to add Axis video server with Samsung PTZ.

 

or give the user the option to set it?

 

Yeah, an option to leave their mitts off would be helpful. I'll call them next week and see if there was any progress at the Monday engineering meeting.

 

I should attach my dad's VCR to the exacqVision server. It's always blinking blue 00:00:00.

 

Best,

Christopher

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Just noticed that after updating, in the setup menu of the Exacq, there is an override button for camera time server, with a field to point to the time server you want.

 

Haven't tested it, but looks like what you were asking for....

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Just noticed that after updating, in the setup menu of the Exacq, there is an override button for camera time server, with a field to point to the time server you want.

 

Haven't tested it, but looks like what you were asking for....

 

I have tested this and it does allow you to select the NTP server of your choice, but the time zone is still set to GMT 0 each time the server is restarted. They need an option to set both the NTP server AND the time zone.

 

Best,

Christopher

 

Edit: Or, an option to leave the time zone alone would also work.

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I called Exacq this morning to check on the status of the timezone issue. They are working with a partial staff today due to the snow storm. The fellow who answered the phone in tech support said that they had discussed the problems relating to timezone, but was not aware if any decision had been reached. I'll call again next week.

 

Best,

Christopher

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I just checked the world time clock. Reykjavik, Iceland is one of the few cities on the planet that is GMT 0 year round. Moving seems a bit drastic, but it would solve the problem.

 

Best,

Christopher

You'll love Iceland!

 

iceland-1.jpg

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I called Exacq technical support to check on the status of the timezone defect. The timezone defect is finally on the Exqcq issues list. Exacq has not yet made any decision as to whether they will actually fix the defect, and if they do make the decision to fix the defect, there is no time table for a release date, but at least the issue is finally on a list. Of course, they could still decide not to fix the defect.

 

Anyway, I thought I would report this teeny tiny bit of progress. The wheels grind slowly.

 

Best,

Christopher

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But 4.0 is out with mapping, live, recorded, and PTZ control in the web browser, and Active Directory integration. The mapping and full featured web browser are very nice.

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Ok, I think I have a good, but a bit manual work around for the time zone resetting to GMT 0 problem. You will need to download AutoHotKey and create a Auto Hot Key auto script that would execute each time you restart the DVR server. Now, here is how this would work, lets say that in your particular program you have to click a button, then a pop up would appear, click another button to get to the time zone settings, and then click another button to pull up the GMT list, and then finally click the GMT time zone of your choice and then click OK. An simple AHK script can do this for you. After you have installed AutoHotKey, you will need to go to the program's group (folder) on the start menu, and then (while having your DVR software running) click on Record. A small box will appear with a big record button, make sure your DVR software is running (not minimized) before you click on the Record button.

 

What the record button will do is record all of your Clicks positions. Click on Record, and then proceed to manually change the time zone of your DVR server software. When you are done click on Stop to stop AutoHotKey from Recording your Clicks. Minimize your DVR software, then you will see a window with the scripts for the actions you took. AutoHotKey sets a very rapid interval of 1/10th of a second per click, (as you can see on each "Sleep, 100") this is too fast, you will need to change it to "Sleep, 2000" so that AutoHotKey will execute each click in a interval of 2 seconds allowing it more than sufficient time for any window/task to come up/execute before AutoHotKey makes the next click.

 

Also, on the very FIRST click instruction, you will need to ad the following:

Sleep, 5000

So that the script can wait 5 seconds before beginning to execute all of your programmed clicks.

Example:

When you finish "Recording" your clicks and you click on Stop, you will immediately see something like this:

 

WinWait, CCTV Forum • Post a reply - Mozilla Firefox,

IfWinNotActive, CCTV Forum • Post a reply - Mozilla Firefox, , WinActivate, CCTV Forum • Post a reply - Mozilla Firefox,

WinWaitActive, CCTV Forum • Post a reply - Mozilla Firefox,

MouseClick, left, 657, 397

Sleep, 100

MouseClick, left, 1272, 541

Sleep, 100

MouseClick, left, 1478, 141

Sleep, 100

MouseClick, left, 479, 553

Sleep, 100

MouseClick, left, 1044, 699

Sleep, 100

 

So, you see the VERY first "MouseClick" instruction on the list, as you can see, there is no wait commands before that, so you will need to go up one line and add the instructions to wait 5 seconds before proceeding, like this:

 

WinWait, CCTV Forum • Post a reply - Mozilla Firefox,

IfWinNotActive, CCTV Forum • Post a reply - Mozilla Firefox, , WinActivate, CCTV Forum • Post a reply - Mozilla Firefox,

WinWaitActive, CCTV Forum • Post a reply - Mozilla Firefox,

Sleep, 5000 //

MouseClick, left, 657, 397

Sleep, 100

MouseClick, left, 1272, 541

Sleep, 100

MouseClick, left, 1478, 141

Sleep, 100

MouseClick, left, 479, 553

Sleep, 100

MouseClick, left, 1044, 699

Sleep, 100

 

Also, on this line make sure that your DVR server program or its NAME is the one listed on that line. On this example, Firefox is listed there because I recorded my script session on Firefox, so AutoHotScript goes by the first program you make a click to set its "Wait for" parameters for this program. What this really means is that your script, once you run it, wont start until you start that program listed on that line starts and is running.

 

IF for any reason you are having trouble with the WinWait because AHK might have failed to adequately detect the name of your DVR server, you can just delete the whole wait blocks:

Example, you would delete:

 

WinWait, CCTV Forum • Post a reply - Mozilla Firefox,

IfWinNotActive, CCTV Forum • Post a reply - Mozilla Firefox, , WinActivate, CCTV Forum • Post a reply - Mozilla Firefox,

WinWaitActive, CCTV Forum • Post a reply - Mozilla Firefox,

 

Just these 4 lines, only the MouseClick instructions would be left there intact, in that case, you will need to time how much your computer server takes to completely boot from the point where the desktop shows to when your DVR server starts and is fully running to set the time in seconds that you need to have your script to wait before starting your pre-programmed scripts. Example, if after the desktop starts, your program takes 30 minutes to load, you would then set your "Sleep" command to 35000 which means to wait 35 seconds before beginning, example:

Sleep, 35000

would be in line #1 at the very beginning.

 

Now, if "WinWait" IS working right for you, meaning that the script properly WAITS for your DVR server program to start, then you dont need to set this to wait 35 seconds, but you can set it to wait like 5 (5000) seconds as in this case your script will wait for your software to load before starting your instruction sets.

 

Hope this helps at least for now.

 

-----

Thanks to the very same software that I have recommended you (AutoHotKey), I am able to automate lots of things, for example, on my customers that wishes to connect remotely to all of their cameras on multiple locations (those with like 4 different business with 4 DVR servers), I program an AHK script and just tell them to run my script, and my script will take charge in connecting them automatically to all of their cameras in exactly the shape and form that they want, so what seemed to be too complicated to "Regular Joe" can become very simple thanks to AHK.

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Problem with those ideas, the recording is a service. If you stop it to do the script, then restart it, on the restart of the service, the settings will be reset.

 

Plus, the script would have to be written to write the correct timezone settings to each CAMERA on each restart of the service... Not the server.

 

You would have to know the proper way to write those setting variables to each camera, and that script would have to be changed anytime you changed a camera (or it's IP).

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BTW, I agree it's kind of a hairball for people who want to use camera-provided services at the same time as Exacq software... But I really think in most instances, the Exacq software is all you need.

 

For those of you that disagree, I am working on something that may help. I am in the middle of building an embedded, NON x86 platform to run the Exacq on. Atheros processor (probably), OS on flash, and writing to a SSD. Should be under ten watts or so. I'll update as it progresses.

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BTW, I agree it's kind of a hairball for people who want to use camera-provided services at the same time as Exacq software.

 

Hairball? Which component in the system does video motion detection? It's the cameras, not ExacqVision. ExacqVision simply records the stream when a camera detects motion. Now then, suppose I want different video motion detection parameters based on the day of the week and time of day. For example, suppose I want to set video motion parameters for mon-fri 8-5. How do you schedule video motion detection in the camera if the camera doesn't even know what freakin' time it is? Exacq tech support says to schedule the video motion as though the camera is located in Iceland and then add/subtract the corresponding number of hours needed to correct the wrong time zone. Hairball? Now that's what I call hairball.

 

That's just one example of the screwiness that occurs when system developers do not understand the implications of time zone. I could expand on other examples as well, such as ONVIF interoperability, ftp backup on system failure, and others.

 

I like ExacqVision, which is why I want them to own up and just fix the damn software. If I had no intentions of using Exacq, I wouldn't really care about their time zone defect.

 

Best,

Christopher

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Too bad you can't just have the cameras access a standard NTP server, like time.nist.gov or something... I know IQ cameras can do that.

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Too bad you can't just have the cameras access a standard NTP server, like time.nist.gov or something... I know IQ cameras can do that.

 

You can and they do, the problem is Exacq changes the time zone to 0 in the cameras. And once again I would like to point out that this does not effect the recording Exacq runs fine it is just the cameras built-in events that are based on time are effected.

Edited by Guest

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Ohhh okay, I follow.

 

Okay, here's an out-there idea: set up your own NTP server, set it to GMT+x (whatever your offset is), then point the cameras' NTP sync to that. Like if you're PST (GMT-8), set your NTP server's time to NTP+8, then when the cameras sync to that, they'll be setting as GMT0, which will be 8 hours behind the fake NTP.

 

Sure, it's a kludge, but it should work until they get their software fixed. As a bonus, you could use a single NTP server for all your cameras on all your sites, and once the software is fixed, you could set your server to maintain proper time and just keep the cameras pointed at it.

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