Mac Users, What Tools Do You Use For Your Video Surveillance Job?

From a previous discussion named Mac vs Windows, a poll of 258 IPVM members showed 55% use Macs either exclusively or along with Windows PCs. Sometimes I find it hard to find a good hardware or software tool for Mac, to help with my video surveillance job, compared with what's available for Windows.

So I'd like to ask members what are your favorite tools for Mac which help you in your job in video surveillance? Also, what tools do you wish you could find on Mac OS X?

Here are a few of my favorites:

Angry IP Scanner - (free) for finding IP cameras, servers, routers, switches and other devices on a LAN.

Remotix - for remotely accessing Mac and Windows computers, especially VMS servers.

DiskWarrior - for repairing corrupt directory structures on storage including RAID storage. It ships on a bootable USB stick. Unlike other disk repair utilities which can further damage already damaged directory structures, DiskWarrior builds a completely new directory structure in RAM and allows you to preview the changes before you replace the old directory structure. It is the only disk repair utility that I completely trust.

Blackmagic Disk Speed Test - (free) for checking storage speed.

• Smart_Player - (free) for playing back Dahua .dav files locally on a Mac. If you export .dav files from a Dahua NVR or DVR, you won’t be able to play them on a Mac without this utility. Strangely I cannot find this utility for download on Dahua’s website but found it on a third party website. While the interface looks to be a Dahua product, there is no reference to Dahua and I don’t know whether there will be updates to this application. If you know where to look for future updates, please let me know!

• Canvas - for marking up site photos and creating or editing site plans. I find this old graphics application faster than using three applications for photo editing, technical illustrations and page layout. It hasn’t been updated on Mac for several years so I run it on an older Mac. I’m looking forward to the new Mac version due by the end of 2015.

Apple Pages - (free with new Macs) for word processing and especially the inclusion of graphics. While I am used to using Microsoft Word, I find Pages runs much faster and allows me to use all kinds of graphics without slowdowns and crashes. I only use Word if I need to collaborate on documents with other Word users.

Do you know of Mac tools that can do this?

• Import measurements from a Leica Disto Laser Distancemeter.

• SNMP software to monitor the health status of IP cameras, managed switches and other IP devices. I've looked hard but haven't found a Mac one and so am using PRTG for Windows.

• DRF (detail removal factor) Utility. I haven't been able to find a H.264 stream / video analyzer for Mac and so use AVInaptic for Windows.

Thank you for any tips and links!


With respect to your SNMP question. I'm aware of two alternatives: a free and a paid one. You may take a look at both to see if any fulfill your needs.

1) SnmpB (free): http://sourceforge.net/projects/snmpb/

2) PeakHour (paid): http://peakhourapp.com

Hi Tiago, thank you for helping out with SNMP utilities. Unfortunately neither of these worked out.

• SnmpB requires the installation of some QT developer binaries which are no longer available from http://www.qtsoftware.com/downloads/mac-os-cpp so I wasn't able to run it. I've looked elsewhere but can't find them. The app was last updated in 2009 so I'm a little unsure how reliable it might be on the current version of Mac OS X.

• I tried PeakHour which looks nice but unfortunately it did not detect several devices which reported information via SNMP. Even when it did detect a device, it reported no SNMP information. For example, a camera which can report several pieces of information via SNMP showed plenty of information in PRTG for Windows but none in PeakHour.

Here are the comparison shots with PRTG first:

PRTG SNMP info for camera

Here's what PeakHour found :-(

PeakHour SNMP info for camera

Finally, PeakHour seems dedicated to reporting bandwidth information but not other information which can be reported via SNMP. So it's useful for that but not so much for health monitoring of devices. It's a shame because it is an intuitive and attractive application but it's not as sophistocated as some of the (much more expensive) offerings on Windows.

Hi Luke,

I'm sorry to hear that. I still use Mavericks on my laptop at work and both programs work fine. Are you testing them on Yosemite?

Hi Tiago,

I too am still using Mavericks on a laptop. PeakHour works fine and happily reports bandwidth on my router. It just doesn't seem to report SNMP information other than bandwidth from what I've seen.

My guess is you previously installed the QT developer binaries which help make SnmpB work. If I could find those, I would certainly give it a try. It's helpful to know this tool is working for you so I'll keep looking for the QT files. Thank you!

AutoCAD LT for Mac

Thanks Austin. Does the LT version do everything you need it to do? While I have other graphics packages which supposedly handle native AutoCAD and DXF files, there are often technicalities with them and I suspect AutoCAD LT would be the way to go for any serious CAD work.

Yes, AutoCAD works quite well on OS X natively. Other graphics packages run into challenges with AutoCAD files because they change their formats every few years. External references (X-Refs) don't work so well in many other packages but architects love to make use of them for a variety of valid reasons. It is a bit like Office vs. OpenOffice -- things work great in other programs but do not work so well if more advanced features are used like macros or Visual Basic for Applications.

It's not cheap, but the monthly subscriber plans in lieu of purchasing aren't a bad deal if you make use of it quite a bit.

The only feature LT doesn't really possess is any real 3D solid modelling or rendering, but I personally have not made use of those features in a long time.

.

Thanks very much Austin,

That's exactly what I was hoping to find out. The main negative I've heard about the Mac version is a very different interface to the Windows version which makes it hard if switching back and forward between a Mac and a PC. Aside from that, it sounds very good.

The GUI change is indeed a negative depending upon how you utilize it currently. If you use icon bars it is a drastic change. If you use shortcut keys or commands it is almost a transparent change.

Hi Austin, it's helpful to know that the command keys are almost the same even if the interface is quite different. Thank you for the benefit of your experience!

Well, two obvious ones (not just Mac) are VLC and Wireshark..

Hi Steve,

Thanks for mentioning these. I find VLC very useful for playing different movie formats that QuickTime Player doesn't play such as some AVCHD formats. However I'd be interested to know what use you make of VLC in video surveillance. Is it to play AVI files from VMS servers which don't otherwise play on Mac?

Wireshark appears to be a powerful tool but not one that I've played with yet. Where do you find it useful?

Thank you very much for your tips!

Luke, VLC can playback RTSP streams over the network. So we often use it to 'circumvent' the client when we'd like to see the video directly from an RTSP source such as a camera that supports an RTSP feed or a VMS that does so for playback. For example, let's say your Ubiquiti AirCam is at 192.168.1.10 and you are trying to see video from it. You can go into VLC and choose Open Media->Network and put in rtsp://192.168.1.10:554/live/ch00_0 to view the camera. Most cameras support some form of rtsp streaming. VLC provides a lot of insight about the format of the video stream and has quite a few controls that let you manage things like buffering in the playback.

For Wireshark, it’s useful for analyzing the dialog between two network devices and studying protocols or troubleshooting problems. That’s kind of a case-by-case thing but sometimes it’s the best way to figure out EXACTLY what two devices are saying to each other regardless of what they should be doing. It’s useful for studying compatibility problems, packet loss, or even reverse engineering client software.

Hi Steve,

Thank you for spelling out how you use VLC. Bypassing the client to view RTSP streams could be very helpful at times, especially for troubleshooting.

Thank you for your VLC and Wireshark tips. That's very helpful information.

Ethan's article H.265 IP Cameras Tested vs H.264 mentions a great H.265 and H.264 stream / video analyzer for Mac named Elecard StreamEye. It seems very comprehensive and the interface seems Mac-like which is nice.

Canvas is indeed back for Mac and is now up to Canvas Draw version 2 for Mac. I'm finding this inexpensive tool excellent for editing and marking up site photos, field of view photos and site plans. In contrast to Adobe products, Canvas lets you use vector-based illustration tools in the same document and even the same layer as bitmap images. I usually export to PDF when I've finished any document in Canvas but there's a bunch of other import and export formats too including various Adobe formats. Canvas is also available for Windows.

I run Windows 10 in a virtual environment off my Mac. IMO Windows runs more smoothly on a Mac. I only use it when I need to run software not available on Mac.