Wednesday, May 20th, 2015
Are you against or for aerial surveillance systems?
Working in the surveillance industry, you come to realize really quick that CCTV systems can widely reduce crime when in plain sight. Most people who are considering breaking the law will think twice when they see or know that there are surveillance cameras watching their every move. As we forge on into the future, technology is improving at an insane rate. This of course comes along with many privacy concerns. There are technologies that can help solve crimes which are not being used for privacy reasons alone. One technology that rides on the border of these privacy concerns is called Persistent Surveillance Systems. These are wide area surveillance systems that are usually mounted to a plane, drone, or tower high in the sky and can capture video of whole cities or towns. These innovative systems are no longer just being used to only capture video of military battles, but also being used by the police force to watch over cities. Some of these systems are composed of 192 Megapixel, full color cameras mounted to a plane in multiple locations to keep an eye on crime from up above. These multiple cameras are mounted in a way that they point in different directions to capture separate sections of a location and the software stitches it all together as one.
Ross McNutt by one of his aerial surveillance Cessnas
Ross McNutt, the genial president of Persistent Surveillance Systems, mentioned that he has witnessed many occurrences where people were murdered. The murderers were captured because of this technology, and most people feel that there would be even less crime once there is more press out there about these cities having surveillance up in the sky. In one specific incident, even though the video had very poor clarity, the images revealed a gang getting together to block off road access points and sending a shooter to meet his target. The cameras captured this man taking off after the body hit the ground. When the police finally received a copy of the report, they noticed that there was a picture of a blue building that the murderer ran into. This footage contained the images of a man being murdered in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, using cameras specially fitted onto a Cessna plane. McNutt stated, “I’ve witnessed 34 of these. It’s like opening up a murder mystery in the middle, and you need to figure out what happened before and after.”
We have definitely become more accustomed to seeing CCTV surveillance cameras in public, and most people don’t even think twice about it. However, new technologies are here that most people aren’t even aware of yet and it’s capable of being deployed without anyone even really knowing about it. These technologies can track cars in small cities for many hours at a time. The clarity isn’t good enough to distinguish faces or license plates, but it certainly is capable of tracking an individual. If a police officer wanted to find out who they were tracking, all they have to do is go to the business or the homes of the places these individuals are visiting and ask them to help identify the person of interest.
These cameras are already being used for securing large events such as the Ohio political rally where John McCain named Sarah Palin as his running mate back in 2008 (Which was a stupid move in my opinion!). They have even used this technology for Police demonstrations and NASCAR races. They have even been commissioned to use it for a request that a Mexican politician put in for the city of Ciudad Juárez. These cameras have basically become a time machine for the police force, allowing them to look back at an incident that occurred during the recording.
Aerial Surveillance Software leads to capturing criminals but at what cost?
Of course, this is becoming more and more of a civil liberty concern for city officials and civilians alike. The Supreme Court has given permission for this technology to be used as long as they are only video taping instances that can be seen with the naked eye in public. McNutt is a retired Air Force officer who has designed a similar system and has been fighting to win over the officials. He did make a good point that these flights are way cheaper and more efficient than police helicopter missions. He has also mentioned that a single camera on top of the Washington monument could possibly deter most of the crime in the area. Especially if the media speaks up about it and help make more people aware. Criminals will definitely be deterred when they hear about all the cameras that are on them when they are about to commit a particular crime. Those 192MP cameras can capture up to 50 crimes within a short 6 hour flight that would provide the city police with a stream that covers more than 1/3 of the city. McNutt feels that this technology will deter crime enough to raise property values, create better schools, increase development in the specific areas, and eventually even lower arrest rates.
How do you guys feel about this? Do you think it’s okay for them to monitor cities and towns from the sky in order to maintain public safety, or do you think it’s just going to cause more privacy issues while going against our civil liberties? Share your thoughts and concerns in the comment section below.
If you have any questions that we may be able to answer about CCTV products for your home or business feel free to contact us at anytime Mon-Fri from 9AM-8PM EST. We have now opened a secondary location in Wheat Ridge Colorado so we’re able to stay open two hours later in order to help you with your tech support or sales questions. Our phone numbers and contact info are listed below in the footer of this web site.
Friday, May 1st, 2015
It was 1984 and Rockwell must have seen the future when he flooded the airwaves with his hit “Somebody’s Watching Me”. The paranoid pop rant was catapulted to the top of the charts with Michael Jackson adding his distinct voice to the chorus of a song that spoke of “The Twilight Zone” and “Psycho” as the writer asked “can the people on TV see me or am I just paranoid”.
Fast forward 30 years and Somebody Is Watching You! From satellites hovering high above to cameras intruding on almost every aspect of your daily life, you might consider them nothing more than an invasion of your privacy. You question big-brother (AKA The Government) reaching beyond the limits of legal and ethical standards. So, is the proliferation of cameras in our day to day lives a bad thing?
Before you make a decision in respect to the good and bad of it, a little history lesson might be helpful. A glimpse back to what may very well be the first known “security camera” ever used shows that in 1933, a Mr. Norbury in London, England was disturbed to find eggs and chickens missing from his coops. He set up a simple box camera with cords that were connected to the door and the lever on the camera that would cause an image to be captured when the door was opened! To make it even more effective, he fixed a second cord to the door and when it was opened; it made a piece of metal rattle against the tin tub that the eggs were kept in. This caused the intruder to look toward the sound giving the victim a perfect profile of him. Within a matter of days, Frederick William Barnwell struck again and his image was captured, subsequently resulting in a guilty plea and kudos from the judge. Pure genius!
Think about a security video as a compilation of a bunch of images like the single image of the egg thief. Images have been proving, disproving and leaving us wanting more for over a century. Today, hidden and not so hidden cameras are everywhere. They’re in offices, retail locations, the drive-thru, schools, EVERY Government building, main streets, side streets and even in your home. Maybe you’ve seen red-light cameras that are triggered by a sensor located under the white stop line and before the entrance of the intersection. This sensor becomes active when the traffic light turns red. NOT yellow, but completely red. There are spy planes, Google-maps, private satellites and the biggest user of security cameras, the Department of Homeland Security!
So, we know that the original intentions were good, but how have security cameras evolved to our present day? What has it come to? Reflections of George Orwell’s 1984 ring true to some in this passage, “There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time. But at any rate, they could plug in your wire whenever they wanted to. You had to live—did live, from habit that became instinct—in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized.”
Since 9/11, things have changed and many people feel inconvenienced and intruded upon. I think you need to weigh what you have truly given up and how you have been adversely affected. Is it worth one life, or ten, or one-hundred lives that you have to take your shoes off at the airport? Are you upset because there’s a camera on that downtown street you’re walking down? I’ll bet the college student who was raped by the guy that followed her after she left a restaurant by herself is happy there were cameras that helped identify the rapist! Ray Rice probably wishes he never stepped foot into that elevator with a camera in it but, think about how much conversation and attention was brought to the subject of domestic abuse! Consider the images of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and Tamerlan Tsarnaev that were captured and tied them to the Boston Marathon bombing and then discuss personal privacy versus public security!
My take on it is this . . . if you’re not doing anything wrong, you shouldn’t be concerned. Until someone shows me definitive proof that Big Brother is watching me doing every day, mundane things, I’m not going to get worked up about that camera in the retail store or the one that sees me walking down that downtown street or driving down the highway. I will, however, be glad when the cameras at my house keep out that criminal that needs a fix, or feels entitled to what I’ve worked for. If I’m ever in Boca Raton shopping at Town Center and my car is broken into, I’d like to know that they have security cameras that may have caught a glimpse of the &$@(*$ or their license plate. Last but not least, I’ll be glad to know that there are cameras on campus when my daughters go off to college! Face it, it’s not a perfect world and I’d rather be a little inconvenienced and know that while I’m being watched . . . so is the bad guy!
If you’re still scared and angry because you feel violated, I’ll tell you not to be. As a matter of fact, I suggest you peruse our website at SecurityCameraKing.com or call us at 1-866-573-8878 and see what we can do to help you feel more secure in your home or business. And by the way . . . to answer the question “can the people on TV see me or am I just paranoid”. For those of you who have cameras built into your television or laptop, the answer is yes! That’s because the browser on your computer or web enabled TV can be hacked thereby allowing someone to take control of the camera at any time possibly catching you when you least expect it! This doesn’t mean that you should be afraid of cameras and technology. It only means that you need to learn how to protect yourself from unwanted intrusion by making sure that your personal network is protected sufficiently. You know; if your name is Barbara and you were born in 1971, don’t make your network password Barbara71.
Maybe next month we’ll delve into securing your network! Until then . . . act right when you’re in public because chances are . . . you are being watched!
Monday, April 13th, 2015
Security cameras, also referred to as the surveillance cameras, are one great way of providing security at the place of work and at home among other places. Usually the cameras provide owners with video footage which is recorded when events occur. Security cameras usually act as a visible deterrent especially when it comes to criminal activities. Over the years, the trucking as well as the freight distribution industries have been faced with a lot of challenges, especially when it comes to security. In the ports, for instance, as well as in the distribution centers, the container parks tend to grow while the number of the incoming and outgoing trucks also tend to increase. This means that the opportunity of fraud, theft, and injuries, as well as other costly inefficiencies also tend to increase.
Security cameras and video surveillance play a very important role in the shipping industry, container parks, and in the distribution centers. The cameras normally assist in the prevention of any crimes by deterring criminals or perpetrators because they know they are being watched and at the same time that evidence is being recorded. The security cameras have opened new ways that tend to integrate with different security devices and systems that enhance monitoring and surveillance, hence improving the operational efficiency. In other words, security cameras tend to provide proven strategy that simultaneously improves and also reduces the security cost.
The security cameras are in most cases used to prevent mistakes as well as to monitor a company’s inventories. Some of the things that the cameras usually help with shipping companies is the prevention of losses. One of the effective loss prevention strategies in the security department of any institution is by catching the persons perpetuating a crime which could be in the form of a theft. Most of today’s surveillance cameras have the capability to enable the warehousing and the freight companies to track the warehouse deliveries as well as unloading and making sure that the trailers and trucks are fully unloaded. The cameras also document the fraudulent workers compensation claims in case of accidents that did not happen. More importantly is that the cameras help in the making of better decisions especially on how to make adjustments that can assist in improving the security around the distribution centers.
These are just two of many incidents(from http://dontthrowmypackage.com) where packages have been mishandled. With Security cameras these occurrences are less often to occur.
Companies that have many store locations, for instance, may use the security cameras to ensure that security is at par and that every detail is being collected and documented. The cameras are usually placed or fixed at one specific point in order for them to pin point certain specific activities. With such surveillance, criminal activities can easily be spotted and documented. These activities include theft and fraud among other acts that are illegal or tend to pose security threats for the company and the shipping industry.
Improvement of Operations
The security cameras also improve the operations for the shipping industries as well as company warehouses. Through centralizing the security cameras, the surveillance system tends to provide excellent tools for the management to use especially in the improvement of the operations. This system can then be used in monitoring the cargo movement in the freight terminals in order to review them later. As a result the management also tries to look for strategies as well as techniques that can be used to improve the efficiency on safety of the personnel, for example, and the loading procedure among other activities.
Security cameras help keep an eye on every piece of inventory a shipping company has. Also the security recorder’s will provide footage of when inventory was moved, where it was moved to, and who moved it.
Many companies use security cameras in their operations. An example would be to monitor trucks at the companies’ warehouses as well as at the distribution centers. The surveillance cameras tend to track all the movements that are made at that particular time. The cameras are able to record all the loading and unloading processes, the details of both the truck and the driver as well. One advantage of this kind of system is that it is able to provide visual evidence in the event when there is a shipping problem. This system plays a very crucial role in giving protection against intruders or any other possible theft that is likely to occur outside or inside any of the shipping facilities. In case of other mistakes that may occur, such as loading the wrong truck with the wrong merchandise, the cameras are very effective in recording as well as documenting where the problem was. This, therefore, implies that the truck is identified as well as the workers that may have done the mistake so tracing the lost merchandise becomes easier and effective. The quality of the products that are being brought in are also improved, for instance in case of perishable products, the cameras are able to track them as they are being removed from the truck. This implies that the suppliers of such products are likely to be very careful with the quality of the produce they ship in, since they know that they are being watched.
In most cases, companies tend to acknowledge that there is a need to ensure that the company has greater security. Most often many companies tend to focus mostly on the human resources to implement the company’s need for security thus using a lot of financial resource for its efficiency. However, security cameras as well as the surveillance system tend to be perfect and also cost effective in patrolling the perimeter and ensuring security of the company’s warehouses and also the shipping facilities. For instance, the loading docks sometimes may be overlooked by a larger security department, yet this is a perfect place where a shipment can easily be shortchanged or even get stolen.
In the warehouse as well, good warehouse systems tend to have very comprehensive operational rules that are well backed up by appropriate security systems such as the surveillance cameras. This therefore implies that the guards only need to watch the video and respond to any security threats. The cameras also increase the scene safety for the response through providing clearer video.
Friday, September 12th, 2014
Hiring security guards was the best way to protect your property or loved ones for a very long time, but that is no longer the case. For millennia, guards were the best option available when you needed protection but as security cameras and the recording devices (DVRs and NVRs) that they are connected to continue to improve, they have become the better choice by an ever growing margin.
The primary way that security guards help to protect these valuable things is by acting as a crime deterrent. The idea behind this is that if an individual is considering committing a criminal act and sees that the security guards are patrolling the area, they will either move on to a different location to perpetrate their nefarious deeds or reconsider committing the crime at all. Over the last decade there has been several studies that show that overtly installed security cameras also act to deter crime in the same way. The results of some of these studies show that the surveillance cameras can actually be an even more effective deterrent since there can be more of them, they can be in multiple locations all of the time, and it’s not always easy to discern the camera’s field of vision. These obvious surveillance cameras can also be supported by other cameras that are less noticeable and therefore making it more difficult to commit a crime without having video of the act taken.
The second reason that a security camera system is a more effective way to protect the items and people that are valuable to you is the costs that are involved with the surveillance equipment versus the payroll for security guards. Although it’s hard to put a price tag on this type of protection and the peace of mind it brings, many people and businesses today have limited budgets, so it’s a good idea to get as much protection as you can with the budget available to you. The price tag of security camera equipment has significantly dropped over the last few years; this is true even for much of the high quality merchandise that is currently available. Even though good quality security camera equipment still isn’t cheap, neither is hiring a team of security guards. There have been many studies that have been conducted in recent years that show that a good security camera system can be up to 30% cheaper per year than a team of security guards.
The third reason that surveillance cameras are better at protecting what you value most is the consistency of the protection offered by them versus security guards. Surveillance cameras provide a watchful eye to help provide protection around the clock, every day of the week. Unlike security guards, security cameras don’t ever take a vacation, take a break, have health related absences from work, become distracted, or fall asleep on the job. They don’t even blink. Security cameras will constantly monitor an area and provide an unbiased account of an event that usually stands up in a court of law better than a lot of eye witness testimony. It’s a well documented fact that a witness’s memory of an event can be inaccurate and it can often be clouded by the stress of the moment. There has been many crimes that have been committed where there were several witnesses who saw the same event but they still ended up giving law enforcement officials completely different accounts of the crime and descriptions of the suspects.
The fourth reason that security cameras provide superior protection is that they can provide blanket coverage where they are installed. Unlike a security guard, which can only be at one place at a time, surveillance cameras can easily be installed in such a way that they offer complete visual coverage of a property all the time. This will allow you to capture video of more than one event that is happening at the same time. You can even install the security cameras in such a way that they have overlapping fields of view, which will give you multiple angles of a particular event. The advantage of being able to see the same event from multiple angles is that it will give the viewer a more complete understanding of what happened.
The fifth reason that many people feel more comfortable trusting the safety of their loved ones or property to security camera is that the cameras take the human element of misconduct out of the equation. There have been several instances of security guards, prison guards or even law enforcement officers behaving badly on the job and getting caught in the act by security cameras. In these cases the security cameras provided an unprejudiced account of the events.
Even if the victim was in the wrong and later convicted of a crime the video of footage of this type of misconduct usually led to disciplinary action, the loss of employment, or legal consequences for these people who had been caught abusing their position of power.
Today many people who have the budget and desire to hire a team of security guards often still get a good surveillance camera system to provide an extra layer of support. This combined type of protection has proven to be very effective if the budget can support both. Because a lot of people or business simply can’t afford both these days, they are being forced to choose one or the other and they are choosing security cameras more and more often all the time.
The bottom line is that security cameras offer a better, more thorough, more reliable level of protection for the things that are most valuable to people and the general public has started to become increasingly aware of it. The fact that all of this is offered for less money than the price tag of a security guard force is another big reason why many people are going the route of security cameras more commonly all the time, making security guards the second consideration, if at all.
Friday, May 30th, 2014
At Techpro Security Products we sell surveillance equipment to people from all walks of life, from the experienced installers to the non tech savvy end user. The process of installing your own security camera system is not overly difficult but if you don’t have access to the necessary information it can become quite challenging. This article is going to give you all the guidance that you will need to install your own system. When you purchase any CCTV equipment from us it also comes with lifetime technical support for those items. This means that you can always contact us for any questions about your installation although hopefully this article will help you to handle the standard installation steps.
We offer several different varieties of security camera systems and since it is not possible to cover the specifics of installing each type, this article will cover the steps involved with putting together an analog system. This analog technology has been used for decades now and although it’s the oldest technology, it is still widely used for new security camera installations every day. Even if you are going to use one of the newer types of systems, the installation steps discussed here are very similar to those which are involved in setting up all varieties of security camera systems.
The first step in this process is to purchase all the necessary equipment. Here is a list of the items you’ll need.
A DVR (Digital Video Recorder) – The video signal from the surveillance cameras is transmitted to this device for recording. DVRs come in various sizes which allow you to connect a different number of cameras to them. 4,8,16 and 32 channel DVRs are typical sizes. For this article we’ll talk about installing an 8 Channel Ultimate DVR or the DVR-LT08240. You will need to install a hard drive in this unit for the actual recording or we can put one in it for you.
Security Cameras – This is the device that captures the video and transmits it to the DVR. There are many different types of cameras available today but they all preform the previously mentioned function in addition to any other capabilities that they might have. Also, the analog security cameras that we sell always have the same type of connections for video and power. For this article we’ll talk about installing the OB-LX700IR50-W.
Power Supply – All of your security cameras will connect to this device and it provides power to them. We offer several different types of power supplies that vary in the amount of cameras you can connect to them, as well as the amount of amps and voltages that they supply. For this article we’ll talk about installing an 8 channel power distribution box or the PWR-8. This is a 12 volt power supply that provides 4 amps in total or 500 milliamps for each channel.
Cabling – At Techpro Security Products we offer three types of cables for transmitting the video signal from the camera to the DVR. For this article we are going to talk about using a type of cable which is known as Siamese Cable. It has RG-59 for video transmission and 18/2 for power, all joined together with a tough outer insulation.
Connectors – For the type of equipment being used in this discussion you will need to use three types of connectors. You will need 2 different types of power leads (PT-3 and PT-4) and twist-on BNC connectors. For each camera you’re installing you will actually need two PT-3s, one PT-4 and two twist-on BNC connecters. The last items that you will need are some b-gel connectors and a pair of wire strippers.
Power lead PT-3
Power lead PT-4.
Twist on BNC connector
Once you have all the equipment that you need, it’s a good idea to fully plan out your security camera installation. The majority of this should actually be done before you purchase the items but once you have the items you should double check that you have everything you will need and that all of the pieces will fit the way you want. It’s also a good idea to test all the equipment in an easy to access location before mounting anything. To do this you can simply put the DVR and power supply on a table, then set up one wire and connect each camera to it one at a time (the specifics of connecting the camera are described below). It’s a lot more work to address any issues after all the cameras is mounted and the wires have been run.
The first thing to do in your install is to decide where you want the DVR to be located. Being able to directly access the unit does not need to be the first consideration because once everything has been set up correctly you will be able to remotely access it from any computer in the world. Instead you should consider how safe it would be if someone broke into the install location. Recording the best possible video won’t do you any good if the DVR is stolen or damaged. The DVR should be secured in a lock box or put in a hidden location. I personally like the combination of these two security measures. For example, put the DVR in a lock box and then put the lock box in a well-ventilated portion the attic.
DVR Lockbox EX
The next step in installing your own CCTV system is to decide where you want to mount the power supply for your cameras. It is best to set it up within 2 to 5 feet of where the DVR will be located. This is a good idea because your camera wires will split as they approach this location, with one part going to the DVR and the other going to the power supply. You’ll also need to make sure that the power cord for the power supply will be able to reach a power outlet from your chosen location.
Now it’s time to run your cables from the location where the DVR and power supply will be to the locations where you will mount your surveillance cameras. You should make sure that you have a secure mounting point at each of these locations which will give you the camera view that you desire. It’s generally a good idea to run these wires in such a way that the vast majority of them won’t be visible once the install is completed. Pulling them through attics or on top of drop ceiling is a good example of this. Running the cables is the most labor intensive portion of an install so you should take your time and do it right the first time so that you won’t have to make corrections later.
Mounting your security cameras will be the next step in this process. You should already have planned out where they’re going to be mounted by this point. Make sure that you mount them securely in such a way that you can easily attach them to the wires which will transmit the power and video. The Siamese cable is made of two wires and these are what you’ll be connecting to your cameras at this end of the wire. You should be able to see where the two wires are joined and you’re going to need to separate the two wires far enough from each other so that you can manipulate them enough to be able to make these connections to the camera.
Siamese Connections – The first step in preparing the Siamese cable to be able connect to your camera is to deal with the smaller wire (or 18/2) in order to provide power to the camera. You’ll need to strip back the outer insulation of the 18/2 wire approximately an inch and a half. Next you’ll need to strip back the insulation on the red and black wires about a half inch, you’ll also need to do this on the two wires of the PT-3 power lead after separating them a couple inches.
Now you’re ready to connect the 18/2 and the PT-3. Start by twisting the red wires together and the black wires together. Then you’ll need to slide each of the twisted pairs in the open end of the B-gel connector and crimp it down. It’s important to do this without cutting through the connection.
Now we’re going to attach the twist-on connector to the RG-59 side of the Siamese cable. You’ll need to start by stripping back the outer insulation about a half inch, then trim back the copper mesh. Next you’ll need to strip away the white insulation until about a 3/16th of inch of the copper core wire is showing. Next you’ll need to firmly screw the BNC connector on to the end of the wire. The key part of doing this right is making sure that the inner copper wire goes into a small hole on the inside of the BNC connector. Keeping this inner wire as straight as possible before twisting the connector on to the wire is a good way to achieve this goal.
Once you have the connectors attached to this end of the Siamese it should be simple to connect them to the camera. Once that end is set up correctly, you will have to go to the DVR end of the cable and attach the connectors in exactly the same way. The only difference at this end of the cables is that you may need to separate the Siamese wires from each other a longer distance so that you can easily reach the DVR with the RG-59 and the power supply with the 18/2.
Next you should connect the RG-59 to the DVR’s video inputs and make sure that they are firmly attached. The inputs on the DVR are numbered so you can display your cameras in the order that you desire. This is a good time to turn the DVR on and make sure that you have a monitor connected to it. Once we get the power connected to the camera wire you will be able to see the live video feeds.
Connecting your camera wires to your power supply is the next step in this install and while you’re doing this you should make sure that the power supply is unplugged. The 8 channel power supply is able to provide power to 8 cameras simultaneously when it’s configured correctly. There is a pair of screw terminals for each of the cameras that you can connect and each of these terminals is clearly marked for polarity. This is where you will attach the PT-4. It is very important to make sure that you connect the PT-4’s red wire to the positive terminal and the PT-4’s black wire to the negative terminal because if you have it wired the wrong way it will probably cause damage to the camera. Once you have them connected to the power supply then you should connect one of the PT-4s to one of the PT-3s from your camera wires. You should do just one at first to make sure that you have everything set up correctly. Now you’re ready to turn on the power supply.
Power supply/ PT-4 connections
At this point you should be able to see the live video feed at the DVR’s monitor. If you do not see it, then immediately turn off the power supply and check to make sure that you have everything wired correctly. If the wiring doesn’t seem to be the problem then redo the connections on the wire for that camera. You must make sure that all the connections are done correctly. This is an issue that even veteran CCTV installers still face on occasion. Once you have that camera working then turn off the power supply and connect the power to the next camera. Repeat these steps until you can see the live video feeds from all of your cameras.
At this point you should be able to see the live video feeds from all of your cameras. The last thing to do is to log into the DVR and make sure that the settings there are configured so that you’re cameras will record the way you want. Your security camera system installation is now complete although you should still do some fine tuning.