Advice For IP Novices?

If you have just one piece of advice to give a new IP camera installer/system designer, what would it be?

I think mine would be: "Don't try to fake your way into being competent", meaning that the ole 'fake it until you make it' strategy does not work with IP surveillance design.

There are aspects of design that aren't intuitive, and unless you understand them going in, your designs can be horrible. An example of this: Video Resolution. It is simply not good enough to think 'More is always better', even though this is the message from many in the surveillance industry.

One example of this is our 'Is There Ever Enough Resolution?' piece that disclaims a bad bit of marketing.


Ask a thousand and one questions about WHY they are requesting a specific solution and openly discuss the expectations of a systems performance and its potential maintenance requirements. Within this process you may need to solicit and/or recommend consultants, designers and experts to help you build an appropriate and scalable solution. Often times you will discover, they don’t need what they are asking for because it won’t help them accomplish their objective. Understand the objective and set real-life expectations.

I agree with Andrew. Figure out what they want to accomplish with the video system, ask some questions that may lead to other areas they haven't thought about using it and set the proper expectation.

"Don't try to fake your way into being competent"

Whom do you have in view with this piece of advice?

1. You intended a young newbie, maybe out of a trade school or with limited work experience

2. You're speaking to a analog cctv 'slammer at heart' type who is considering transitioning to IP, because he is following the money. You want to tell him that his usual strategy of faking it isn't going to cut it, so hit the books hard or get out. Is there maybe a recent experience/exchange that triggered this admonishment?

3. No one specific, conversation starter, attempting to build commraderie amongst the pros while ostensibly 'helping' the newbie.

If the answer applies to 1 at all then probably the advice is not so germain as a newbie is more likely to have plenty of classroom knowledge but little practical knowledge, and the only way to get this is in the field. He is probably therefore not 'the boss' and so will have to 'fake it' to some degree until he gets that experience. The 'boss' would be complicit in his deception of the newbies true skill set to the client, for obvious reasons.

If it applies to 2 at all, I'm wondering is there maybe a recent experience/exchange that triggered this admonishment? I detect a slight edge to your question/answer pair since 'don't fake it' seems unlikely to have practible most people don't fake it on purpose, and most are terrified of being discovered if they are faking it.

If 3 I would like to ask, in what field does the 'ole make it til you fake it work'?

I'm not certain the demographics of the audience break like you suggest, but in any case: Are you disagreeing?

There are plenty of jobs where confidence carries you a long way. Even if you don't understand something, you can bluff your way. People sense confidence and trust confidence. For example, Salesmen often retort that what you're selling ultimately is secondary to mastering how well you work people. I can sell cars one day, industrial equipment the next, people are the same.

Specifically, surveillance design/security integration doesn't work this way. There's a huge difference between just hanging a camera on a wall, and hanging the right camera for the job. It's surprisingly complex and involved. Walking in ignorant to what you don't know can result in not delivering a useable result.

I would say that one needs to bench test their equipment before deploying a) it gives a novice the chance to "figure it out" b) it gives the installer the opportunity to test the equipment and ensure it isn't defective I would also recommend the checking/upgrading of firmware on NVR/Server and cameras. Ask questions and LISTEN: we have two ears and one mouth for a reason: hear what the end user truly needs this system for... My 2.1 cents

Then I agree, I read too much into your q/a; I thought your answer was a wake-up call of: "IP is way harder than Non-IP, don't expect just to memorize a couple new buzz words."

But applied to vocation in general, of course I agree the more technical a job, e.g. brain surgeon, rocket scientist, security industry blogger, the less you can bluff.

The best 'fake it til you make it' example I know of happened while I was living away at college. A fellow choir member was looking to make ends meet and so posted fliers all over town adverstising "pro piano tuning" at half the going rate. This despite having no experience, (besides observing), in tuning, or even playing, for that matter, a piano. Although he was in the choir breifly, and had an amazing 'ear', he was not what you would call a 'real musician'.

All he had going for him was great 'pitch', one relating to music and one to sales. So he bought himself a used piano hammer/wrench and tuning fork for $50 and proceeded to detune several of the music departments pianos, (and at least one pub's) learning. When the phone calls started (no doubt aided by the demand spike he himself had caused by his 'learning') he would size up the caller to find out whether they were a musician or not. I was amazed how many non-playing owners would call because someone told them their piano was out of tune. If they were musicians, he demurred and said he was booked up in the near future (making himself seem in demand) and politely giving them the name of a highly qualified tuner referring to them as 'competent' and insisting that they call him the next time.

He said it was rough in the beginning and would sometimes take 8 or more hours to 'finish'. He often bragged that he always left the piano in better tune that when he started. He made enough to get by, to the tune of a couple thousand over a year's time before the backlash and word of mouth eventually killed his business.

But by then he was by his own estimation, passable, and more importantly school was over and he moved back home and put up his fliers there. 20 years later he and his dad own a piano gallery and he still doesn't play, but at least he doesn't tune much anymore...

Amongst these good advices I would also like to add 3 things:

Take your time!

Don't rush into the field, but sit down and have a good look at what you are doing. You can prevent allot of mistakes and embarrasments by just taking your time and go trough all the settings to make sure you got them correctly and that you actually understand what it is supposed to do.

The Spec sheet says all

Some products look almost exactly the same. But the the spec sheet will show you exactly what you need to know and what you will and will not get. Looking at the spec sheet and you are missing something ? Then it doesn't have that feature! Don't assume that because all the other products have that one feature, this one must have it as well. And they must have forgotten to add it on the spec sheet.

Expect bugs

As Undisclosed A already mentioned. You need to bench test your equipment! Too many times I have had that I wanted to use some special function in one of the camera's only to find out it's bugged out. It should work, but it doesn't. So if you're making use of that lovely function ? TEST IT!

Buy a true CAT5E/6 certification tool, (not L.E.D. wiring Continuity) , buy pre-made patch cables only. Terminate on biscuit blocks near the cameras and patch cable to the camera. Certify and test patch cord to patch cord. Don't Crimp IDC stranded connectors onto Solid Structure wiring.

I'm going to go with something far more practical that everyone here seems to have taken for granted: learn the foundations of IP addressing. IP address structure, what the netmask is for, how the gateway/default route works, what a DNS is, and of course, private IP ranges. Just understanding these things will get you out of a jam 95% of the time, especially if you learn basic tools like ping, traceroute, arp, and ipconfig.

Line of The Week candidate:

"But applied to vocation in general, of course I agree the more technical a job, e.g. brain surgeon, rocket scientist, security industry blogger, the less you can bluff."