vulnerable person by John Skinner

bowlBy John Skinner

I like a nice glass of wine. I don’t care about the price (within reason), nor the vintage. What is important to me is that I enjoy it. I treat computer programs in a similar fashion. If it does what I want, I will use it. If it does not I will delete it.

It annoys me when the operating system vendors update (improve they say!!) their operating system and then my favourite programs stop working. I have two very good programs which are over ten years old that I cannot use on Windows 8 because they are so old.

So having got that of my chest, in this article, I will be talking about some other programs I use. In every case I mention them because they do what I want. The programs may not do want you want, but if you want a similar program I leave it up to you to find the program. If you are going to spend money on it or download a free program, please read about your program of choice in a reputable computer magazine or it’s on line version. Online you may also find publishers reviews and users reviews which may help you make your choice.

A number of years ago the company I worked for used a program called GoToMyPC. (See for current details) The idea behind the program is that you install the program on your PC or Mac and once installed you can access that computer via the internet from anywhere in the world. You do this by using any internet connected computer and even some Smartphone’s, including iPhones and Androids and some other devices.

When I signed on from home using several passwords, my home computer screen would look exactly like my work computer screen and I had the same access to files, with the same security protocols, as if I was at my work desk. That program worked too well as the company expected all of us to work from home after hours!!!

Some years afterwards my late wife was diagnosed with dementia which manifested itself as short term memory loss. We adapted our lives to cope with this, and whilst she was fully retired, I was still working. One day I came home and found a strange jacket in the lounge. When asked, my wife did not know where it came from nor whom it belonged to. I realised that now I had a potential problem. Whilst my wife was still capable of safely looking after herself when alone, she could not remember having visitors.

Coincidently at the same time the webcam I used for Skype failed. I purchased a new one. Whilst reading the installation instructions I found that the Flip Extreme 2100 webcam came with a software program called Crazy Talk Cam Suite PRO Version 3 from Reallusion. (See for current details) Although the software is designed to create crazy animated facial images, I found that the instructions said that it came with software turning the webcam into a motion sensor. Further reading suggested that if the webcam detected any movement that it would record a short video and send a still picture to a user selected email address.

Testing showed that when the software detected a movement via the webcam, the software would send a still picture to my email address on my Smartphone.   I set up one webcam showing the lounge area and specifically the front door. Another was focused on where visitors would sit in the lounge. I was careful to preserve my wife’s privacy and dignity in this process. I told her what I was doing and she approved, but because of her condition promptly forgot about the webcams.

A couple of days later I received an email on my phone. The email contained a photograph showing two strangers in my house. Using GoToMyPc I was able to monitor all the cameras in the house. After a few minutes I called my wife and asked her how she was. She replied “OK” and that she had visitors. I said that I knew she had visitors. This surprised her and she told the visitors that I knew they were there. I told her to tell the lady that I liked her red top. This really surprised them all.

It served its purpose. The visitors knew that someone else was aware of their presence. Also what they looked like. The visitors were Jehovah Witnesses and became regular callers. They could just as easily been a couple preying on a vulnerable person.

Thanks to the webcam set up I was comfortable leaving my wife alone in the house, but eventually I had to give up work to look after her full time.

I now use this setup as a security feature in my current home. Any visitors are photographed as they approach the apartment. A short video is recorded on my home computer system and my iPhone receives a still picture of the visitor.

This system has many safety and crime prevention uses. As always if you decide to implement any of the ideas in this article, make sure you test them fully to ensure that they do what you expect.

By John Skinner

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