A quick DIY tale of failure

Amcrest POEAt my work we’ve got a variety of cameras and things that we generally don’t need to access. The cameras record to an FTP server which has a devoted camera drive and I get warnings when the drive gets to within a couple of days from filling up. Simple solution while we’re building an IP camera network.

Thursday of last week I bugged out early with a hard drive backup after locking things down. We were getting the remnants of Hurricane Harvey and rather than stick around work which is right next to an electric substation, I decided to take my kiddo and get home to ride out the storm.

People left late Thursday. The cleaning crew and several tenants were stuck in the building for a while. Winds were throwing water sideways at the building and opening doors was hazardous. My boss texted me a couple of times asking me to look in on the camera system. Indoors looked fine, outdoors one of the IP67 cameras failed in the driving rain (appears to be a dry rotted or badly manufactured seal,) and the morning came and I got in and was greeted with the notice that the FTP drive was full.

I cleared 20 or so days of security recordings and determined that the now-dead rear camera had started recording, got soaked, and never stopped recording / pushing multi-TB of high bandwidth nothing data over the course of a few hours to the FTP until it filled. I’m believing in the death throws of soaking it dropped the pretense of encoding data and just pushed junk buffer at full blast.

Metro schools in Nashville closed and I got in a little later the next day than I’d planned. I was still one of the first people at work and I started cleaning up branches in the office driveway, doing a quick inventory of damage. It was basically nothing for us other than a shorted Amcrest camera they may be replacing under warranty and some water that blew in through a door and required just some time/a fan to dry out of the carpet.

I got a call from the front desk asking about the security footage and why there wasn’t any after a certain point. I asked why and it turned out that there was a cleaning person left in the building that didn’t finish up, didn’t set the alarm, disappeared and a car we suspected might be hers was in our parking lot.

Her employer was contacted, they attempted for a couple of hours to get in touch with her, but no dice.

The last place she was reported was our office. Her phone was going straight to voicemail.

I spent the next hour walking the grounds. We don’t have a huge office building but there are plenty of overrun and wooded areas that surround us that I was checking just to make sure someone hadn’t dragged her out of the building. There was no trace. No signs of anything other than someone having changed a tail light and been too lazy to properly dispose of the old one.

There had been severe flooding in surrounding areas, and several people had lost cars that I’d seen reported from the night. I checked everywhere I could for signs of struggle or broken underbrush indicating someone had been through.

I’d never met this woman before, she’s a subcontractor of the people who hold the contract to clean the place and they show up after I leave. I’d seen her on video a few times and I ended up pulling some older video just in case there was a police report I’d have a fairly current picture of her.

It was odd watching video of this woman going about her business a couple of days prior, wondering if she was still alive. Attempting to find her on social media but running into a name that literally no one in the state was using.

I was glued to the video wall for the next few days in case anyone might have returned. I didn’t know why this person disappeared but enough scenarios ran through my head that I paid attention to anyone coming in or out of the building for the long weekend. I was informed the police had been contacted by the employer which was good because all we had was a name.

The car we suspected was hers disappeared on Tuesday. It wasn’t hers however.

Wednesday near closing she walked back in, didn’t say anything, was calm and reserved and said she had to drop off some things, left a key and walked out without any explanation.

I have no idea what happened. I believe the woman may have decided that working in a hurricane remnant wasn’t particularly the life path she’d planned on and decided a hasty career change would be in order. At least that’s what I hope.

And while I have not discarded my FTP solution, I’ve added email notifications whenever the drive space dips. We’ll invest in a rolling DVR solution like Blue Iris later.

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Paul E King

Paul King started with GoodAndEVO in 2011, which merged with Pocketables, and as of 2018 he's evidently the owner. He lives in Nashville, works at a film production company, is married with two kids. Facebook | Twitter | Donate | More posts by Paul | Subscribe to Paul's posts

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