Have you ever wondered who is using your Mac when you’re not around? Add a little Big Brother software to your Mac and find out. Most Macs have a built-in iSight camera which can be set up as a kind of personal NannyCam (not the kind that follows Fran Drescher) to track who gets on your Mac and when (and not so much what they do). MonitorMyMac and EvoCam are capable Big Brother software for your Mac.
The Candy Man
Many years ago I worked in an office. It was mostly PCs, some Macs, including mine. I attached a Firewire video camera to my Mac. Then I added some software that detected motion.
After only two days I had managed to catch more than a few of my fellow employees with their hand deep into the M & M’s candy jar on my desk. Also caught walking into the office were the overnight cleaning people; carpet, trash, windows.
The camera caught all the movement, including one construction worker who found the aforementioned candy jar. It was a fun exercise, but nothing resembling an episode of NCIS.
MonitorMyMac and EvoCam are similar, yet quite a bit different in their approach. The latter is a typical web cam, with plenty of features, while the former focuses on security.
MonitorMyMac takes timed snapshots of your computer Screen(s) and / or takes snapshots from your connected Webcam. These images are stored locally (or remotely) and are also optionally uploaded to your FTP server or MobileMe Account meaning they can they be accessed from anywhere via Webpage Bookmarks.
Most web cam software takes a video or snapshot of what the attached video camera sees. If someone is looking through your Mac, you’ll know who they are, but not what they’re doing.
MonitorMyMac takes a snapshot of what’s happening on your screen, too. I have to wonder how safe your Mac is even with a camera snapping pictures of the perpetrator or screenshots of what they’re perping.
Still, the ability to upload images to a server or MobileMe account can be handy.
Snooping or Fun?
My own experience indicates that a combination of emotions are at play with such software. Snooping? Yes. You want to see who’s looking at your Mac. Fun? Sure. Why not? Valuable?
Big Brother software is a good way to check your home to see what’s going on in your absence. It’s like a NannyCam. An image stored on your MobileMe account of someone stealing your Mac may help law enforcement officials track it down, and help to ease the pain of your loss.
Losing a Mac cannot be a fun thing.
Streaming and Steaming
EvoCam’s approach is different, though more typical of the web cam genre. It creates time lapse movies and has a built-in motion sensor so the camera is activated by action, not time.
Using virtually any QuickTime-compatible video camera, EvoCam periodically captures an image and uploads it via FTP to your web server. You can also create one or more motion sensors, which will analyze the video for motion and capture a new image when motion occurs. EvoCam can also create timelapse QuickTime movies, compressing hours, days or weeks into seconds of video.
Did you get all that? In essence, your Mac is a security camera, which can upload images to a web server, streams live video, creates time lapse movies, allows custom text captions, including time stamps. Worried about your special someone steaming up the bedroom without you? Get the video on your Mac.
Oh, and EvoCam does multiple cameras, FTP and SFTP, and can schedule automatic image capture.