Tuesday, December 11, 2012

C-Cure 800 to 9000 Migration

The Software House migration tool migrates your database. Often you want to modernize your controllers as well. This is a time consuming process of analyzing/documenting your current apC configuration, then manually reprogramming.

The first decision is whether to do before or after the 9000 upgraded. There are several factors affecting this including customer budget, required controller features, logistics, and time constraints. Future posts will go into details and discuss tools available to make the reprogramming process less costly.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Watch out when you delete Persons

Prior to version 9.0 of C-Cure, you could view and export pretty much all of the person/card data for deleted persons. With the database changes made in 9.0 (person and card data split to support multiple cards per person), fields associated with the card can no longer be viewed. This includes:
  • Activation
  • Expiration
  • Badge layout and print date
  • Lost and stolen flags
If ever will need to retrieve these fields for departed persons, disable the records, but do not delete. This is true even if you do not enable the multiple card/person feature.

Note: the data remains in the card record in the C-Cure database, but seems to be ignored when C-Cure displays person data. In a pinch, it can be accessed using ODBC.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

More on Virtual Machines

An interesting article in the March 6, 2007 Wall Street Journal titled " 'Virtualization' is Pumping up Servers" states that virtualization is largely to blame for the worst slowdown in x86 server sales since the dot com bust. In one example, a user went from requiring 300 servers across 45 departments to just 35 physical servers. The electricity savings alone are $30-$40K per year.

One user is quotes as saying that over the next decade "Anything that can be in a virtual machine will be. If any large organization is not looking at this, they are really missing the boat."

Though you wouldn't install C-Cure on a multi-user server because of security and reliability concerns, installing it on a virtual machine residing on a server hosting several VMs makes a lot of sense. You save on hardware, setup, IT management, electricity, make fail-over easier, etc.

Security systems are usually a few years behind the technology curve (think magstripe). Virtualization is mature technology. It's virtually a no-brainer.

Friday, February 2, 2007

Panel Comm errors -> C-Cure crash

One goal for this blog is to help people learn from the experience of others. This tip is based on a recent painful incident at a high profile. The site was down for several hours event thought they have redundant servers that are functioning properly.

When C-Cure person records are edited, imported, or purged, the changes are downloaded to online panels. If a panel is online, but not communicating due to a hardware or line failure, C-Cure stores the changes for that panel in a download table so they can be sent when comm is restored.

Over time, these records can take up a lot of space in the database, and ultimately kill the driver. If you have a redundant system, the same database will exist on the backup system, so the failure will occur there as well. As far as I know, there is no clear indication of why the system won't work, and to recover, you need restore a backup of a good database or have SH TSG do some database magic.

Moral of story - communication failures should be dealt with immediately, and panels (or comm ports) should be set offline if the fault cannot be repaired promptly.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Problems with Copy/Paste from Excel into C-Cure

When you copy a cell in Excel, end of line characters (CRLF) are included at the end of the data. Beware if you paste into C-Cure or other applications.

A customer had about 100 entries to add to an enumerated list. The entries were in a spreadsheet so he did a copy from Excel and paste into the Personnel\Configuration screen for the enumerated field. Then he created a template and attempted to import data into the field.

All records were rejected saying the enumerated values were unknown. When we manually selected a value from the pull-down, then exported the records, we say a line break. Unfortunately, it took a few hours of investigation before this was tried.

By editing the value on the configuration screen, we saw that you could hit delete then re-add the last character and the invisible characters at the end were removed and the import worked.

I have seem similar things happen when copying and pasting in Sql Server grids. Beware.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Virtual Machines

A Virtual Machine (VM) is an emulated computer, running on a physical machine. You take a few gigabytes of disk space, several hundred megabytes of memory, and install the operating system. Since the VM consists of several large files, it is easy to backup, restore, and copy.

Microsoft and EMC are leading providers of commercial software in this area (other non-commercial software is also available. Microsoft Virtual PC 2004 is free, and is allows you to create a VM on your computer onto which you can install a copy of the C-Cure 800 server for development and testing. EMC offers a free VMware Player which can run a VM created by the commercial VMware product or Microsoft Virtual PC.

Both vendors have higher-end offerings that allow the VM to be run in a production environment, and provide management and control tools. EMC is the industry leader with an extensive VMware Server product line. By running your security system on a VM, you can use server hardware more efficiently, and gain reliability and flexibility. Many companies have already moved to a VM environment for their database and webserver.

  • To get started, download Virtual PC 2004 from the above link. A PC with a P4 processor, 10GB free disk space, and 1GB of should be sufficient to load a VM.
  • When you create the VM, you need to size the disk and memory. I usually assign 3-5 GB of space and 256B of memory. Adjust this depending on what will be loaded on the VM.
  • After creating the VM, you must load an operating system. For Windows, an old copy of Windows 2000 is good because it does not require activation. For XP, you will need to activate you copy after the trial period. Linux and other OS's are also supported.
  • C-Cure uses a USB dongle for licensing. Software House can provide a temporary "zero sentinel" license to Integrators that does not require the dongle.
  • Digi offers products which allow a USB device to be connected to a hub on network (you need to verify compatibility).

Tuesday, January 23, 2007


I have created this blog as a communications forum within the physical security community. While I am most familiar with Software House C-Cure and S2 NetBox products, I encourage users and integrators of other products to join us.

-Jeff Bennett