May 192009
 
North Table Mountain

North Table Mountain

I was preparing a guest posting for the excellent The Grass Stain Guru website and wanted an outdoors photo of WildObs Observer (iPhone application) for the posting. I was taking a hike in one of my current favorite open spaces North Table Mountain and so I took my iPod and my camera. I felt a little weird doing “a photo shoot for an iPod”, and I am no photographer, but I had a fun trip out. [Click any photo for a closer view.]

Perhaps it was because I was slowly moving (taking a photo here, another there) but I also had a very natureful trip. A skunk wandered by me uninterrupted by my presence. Massive bees buzzed past me going about their business. I discovered rock squirrel (a first for me.) I saw lizards and birds I had not seen this season. It was quite a memorable trip.

Colorado is living up to it’s “colorful” name right now with glorious wildflowers, and even a seasonal waterfall. Yes, this open space is one of my favorites right now.

At the start of the trip. I am sure there is a fly catching bird (perhaps Kingbird) in there somewhere, but clearly my arm isn’t long enough to get both the iPod and the critter in focus. [I tried with the skunk, even risking myself by getting close, but the photos just didn't work out.]

Photo Shoot for a Wild iPod

Photo Shoot for a Wild iPod

Ok, a rock … that seems a good place to try. Nice background w/ the mesa:

Rock iPod

Rock iPod

Wildflowers, now there is some color.

Wildflower iPod

Wildflower iPod

Here is what I really came for. Up on top of the mesa some flowering cacti:

Scenary iPod

Scenary iPod

Ok, the water “fall” is a trickle, but still worth a shot:

Waterfall iPod

Waterfall iPod

More blooming cactus:

Flowering Cactus iPod

Flowering Cactus iPod

More color:

Wildflower iPod

Wildflower iPod

Again, a bit of a daft endeavor but a fun way to get some exercise and be outdoors amongst nature.

Apr 102009
 

One of the first e-mails I received after releasing WildObs Observer was “where is the intro video?”. DOH, that makes sense! Yup, I guess I better get one that (next week.) So, in lieu of that…

First thing to highlight (from working with the users/observers so far) is:

To use WildObs Observer you’ll need a WildObs account. So¬†Sign-up here.

If you cannot log into WildObs Observer using the username/password you signed-up with, the problem is most likely that you have not clicked on the confirmation¬†link in the address confirmation e-mail that WildObs sends you. Maybe your spam filter ate it, maybe it is waiting for you. Please look for that e-mail and click that link (basically to confirm you aren’t a robot spammer.)

Once you have that:

  • Let the application download it’s species lists. The initial download is long/slow, but needs to get done. Please do this while connected to a WIFI network if you can.
  • To record an encounter pick the species (either from the main tab screen with picker, or from the species tab with table view of species) and then press “RECORD”.
  • If you are on an iPhone the location ought be determined via GPS. If it cannot be, or you are on an iPod Touch, pick or enter a new location. WildObs attempts to geo-locate places (although this is imperfect for more remote locations) so enter an description address/placemark name.
  • Press “SAVE” to record the encounter to the local database. The red circle w/ number is how many encounters are locally stored, ready to be uploaded to WildObs.
  • Press “CONNECT” to synchronize your iPhone/iPod with WildObs.
All encounters are recorded on WildObs, sharable with your friends and others, and entered into the WildObs database. Not only do you get an encounter to remember/enjoy, but you help build a live/dynamic database (some citizen science) for species/places.
WildObs Observer is best used to record things, important sightings, unimportant sightings … whatever takes the whim. Be it an American Robin in a park, or a Moose in some wilderness. Record, record, record … it could help somebody else find somebody new for them.


On the back of the record pane there are “Extras”:
  • Tags are a great way to organize observations. Mark encounters with any keyword you think organizes them for you, e.g. “funny” or “road-trip” or “first-of-season”.
  • Syndication: set this if you want the encounter published in feeds (RSS/Atom) or tweeted.
  • Public: set this OFF if you DO NOT want to share with others.
Nice to haves:
Apr 082009
 

WildObs Observer (the iPhone Application for recording your wildlife encounters) is now available for download from the Apple App Store:

Available on the App Store

Here is the link to the application. It launches iTunes to view/install the application:

  http://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewSoftware?id=309451803&mt=8

Here is a recent screen shot of the application (there are more above):

Notice the NWF logo, that is a shout out to their wonderful Wildlife Watch program. WildObs encounters tweeted for the user by WildObs use the #nwf tag to stream into the NWF WildlifeWatch Twitter Timeline.

Mar 022009
 

I’d really like to thank all the observers who have tested the WildObs Observer iPhone Application. The feedback has been invaluable. Some of the comments that have shaped the latest release are:

  • Allow capturing an encounter with less clicks from application launch.
  • Simplify the start-up (enter WildObs account, sync with server, get started)
  • Allow easier access to a species (search, indexes, my lists.)

Ease of recording

The front page is now all about capturing an encounter. It presents your customized lists of species (recent entries, local species, favorites, wishlist and more) and allows you to quickly select a species and record your encounter. One can show/hide the lists as needed:

WildObs Observer Front Page

WildObs Observer Front Page

The front page does, also, remind you of recent encounters by selecting up to three at random to show you.

Don’t make me think so hard to get started

A start-up hint on how to use:

Start-up Tip

Start-up Tip

When there are lots of species, make access quicker:

Jump to a given letter (saving scrolling):

Species Index

Species Index

Search for any word (or partial word) within a species name:

Species Search

Species Search

Feb 272009
 

WildObs is integrated with Twitter such that when you post to WildObs it’ll tweet your encounter for you. WildObs wants structured data (i.e. what species, where/when exactly) so entering those into WildObs (rather than it parsing tweets) is much appreciated.

To set this up merely login and visit this page (Manage Account/Profile/Services) and enter your Twitter information. (WildObs checks it against the Twitter servers.)

http://wildobs.com/manage/profile/services

If you set your Twitter username only (and not your password) then WildObs will direct message you when you post an encounter, just to confirm that encounter and send you think link.

If you set your Twitter username and password (which stored securely) it will tweet your encounter to your followers for you. Here is an example…

WildObs Tweet

WildObs Tweet

It is possible to tweet an encounter to Wildobs (using /d wildobs) but for those with an iPhone that is soon to be replaced by the iPhone Application WildObs Observer.

Please let me know any feedback you have on this, and any ideas for improving it further.

Jan 062009
 

I am working on a project (WildObsObserver) that is an iPhone (or iPod Touch) application for Wildlife Observers. Here is the gist so far:

  • Record your wildlife encounter:
    • Select the category (type of critter) from a list: favorites, wish list or all.
    • Current location and current time are determined from the device (if GPS is available.)
    • (eventually) allow an photo to be taken/uploaded. (if available.)
  • View what local critters are at a region (park, mountain, other location).

I want this application for me, to allow me to easily record what I see when in the field & perhaps add a fuller description in my own time. It’ll allow me to develop records on my hikes without me having to remember them or write down the place/time, etc.

Please let me know your thoughts on this application, and especially your ideas for improving it.