Need help watching doggie daycare webcam
June 26, 2008 11:31 AM   Subscribe

I want to take advantage of the webcam at doggie daycare; unfortunately, the instructions are for Internet Explorer and I'm on a Mac. Is there a way to make this work in Safari or Firefox? Details inside.

I'm sorry, I'm clueless at this kind of thing, so please be gentle. Here are the instructions:

Open Internet Explorer
From the Tools menu, select Internet Options
Select the Security Tab, then highlight the Internet icon
Click on the Custom Level . . . button, which will open the Security Setting dialogue box
Scroll down to Download unsigned ActiveX controls and choose Prompt
Scroll down one more to Initialize and script ActiveX controls not makred as safe and choose Prompt
Select OK, Select OK again Go to

There's more, but those are the basic instructions. Thanks for your help!
posted by HotToddy to Computers & Internet (14 answers total) uses a Windows-only ActiveX control. Sadly, there's no way you can watch it on your Mac, aside from running Windows with Boot Camp or VMware/Parallels.
posted by zsazsa at 11:41 AM on June 26, 2008

i'm guessing you're not going to have much success. ActiveX is a windows-only thing that most people hate more than realplayer. at one point there was a firefox plug-in in development but mozilla says 'unsupported'.
posted by noloveforned at 11:41 AM on June 26, 2008

and that was actually just a windows-only plugin, so yeah, screwed...
posted by noloveforned at 11:42 AM on June 26, 2008

Crap. Okay, thanks for your help.
posted by HotToddy at 11:42 AM on June 26, 2008

In theory you could use Crossover for Mac OS X to run Internet Explorer 7, including the ActiveX plugin. But that's $40, and it might be more difficult than you like. There is a free trial, so you could give that a whirl.
posted by jedicus at 11:44 AM on June 26, 2008

ActiveX is a way to publish win32 binaries via a web browser. Ist not "like realplayer" and is as annoying as any other .exe file. I imagine the comment above has a lot to do with people installing activex applications that are spyware. Thats not a problem with activex, but with ignorant, uniformed, and careless users.

Its not activex's fault your daycare provider decided not to support macs. If you want mac support from them you should ask them for it. If enough people ask then they might do it. I doubt there's a hack that will bring this to the mac.
posted by damn dirty ape at 11:52 AM on June 26, 2008

The plugin your daycare seems to use is made by Speco, who make integrated DVR and camera products. A brief review of their product documentation shows the software makes no provision for use outside of Internet Explorer, and because they control both the hardware and the software, it's unlikely they've unwittingly made the stream available in an easy to use format like a Windows Media or Quicktime stream. I'm guessing the only way your daycare will ever support Macs or anything besides IE is if they decide to replace their cameras as well as their software. In other words, fat chance.

Additionally, for anyone using Internet Explorer who might, for whatever reason, be interested in this post: the instructions they provide sound awfully dangerous if they don't involve resetting your security settings after installing the ActiveX control (you said there were additional instructions, so maybe your daycare does tell people to do this). There's a reason why Internet Explorer blocks the installation of unsigned ActiveX controls by default—essentially it's because of what damn dirty ape said about spyware, but also potentially more malicious software as well.

The fact that Speco couldn't be bothered to sign their own ActiveX control (plus the whole IE-only thing) makes me think they're a pretty crappy software developer, but that's not really relevant to your specific concern. It may be something worth bringing up with your daycare if you want them to get some better camera technology, though.
posted by chrominance at 12:04 PM on June 26, 2008

It's Murphy's first day at doggie daycare and we're really anxious about it. If anyone with IE is so inclined, I'd be really grateful if you could check on him. Here's his picture.
posted by HotToddy at 12:05 PM on June 26, 2008

No can do; after installing two ActiveX plugins against my better judgement, it's now asking for a login and password that I don't have.
posted by chrominance at 12:20 PM on June 26, 2008

I've recently discovered that low-end security cameras are all using ActiveX on IE. I've found none, in Switzerland, that aren't using that.
posted by Goofyy at 12:20 PM on June 26, 2008

I've dealt with this exact situation by running VMWare Fusion on my Mac (I had it there anyway, didn't install it just to keep an eye on the hound) and then IE within that. Works fine, and now I usually full-screen the dog cam on my monitor when there are meetings in my office. It keeps things nice and loose.
posted by COBRA! at 12:21 PM on June 26, 2008

chrominance, I sent you MeMail.

Thank you all so much for your help.
posted by HotToddy at 12:27 PM on June 26, 2008

I've recently discovered that low-end security cameras are all using ActiveX on IE.

Yes, I have run into this often, too. It's a cost-savings measure indeed, as they send some kind of raw, unprocessed data and then rely on the ActiveX in software to encode and display it. Higher end webcams do that in their own firmware, and usually include their own little embedded webservers and such.

For what it's worth, they work great with Windows and IE instealled within Parallels/VMWare on a modern Mac. Won't help you unless you have a Mac that can run Windows in a window, though.
posted by rokusan at 12:54 PM on June 26, 2008

Update: The wonderful, kind, and generous chrominance gave me a very detailed update on what the Murph is doing at daycare and he seems to be doing okay! Thanks everyone for your suggestions on a permanent solution to this problem, will be looking into this. You rock!
posted by HotToddy at 1:19 PM on June 26, 2008

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