Aug 112010
 

WildObs Observer 2.0 is available for iPhone, iPad and iPod, see here: http://wildobs.com/about/observer

WildObs Observer let’s you record your wildlife encounters (on or offline in the woods), but also let’s you :

  • Browse all your records
  • See what species are around your location, based off other observer’s encounters.
  • Lookup a species by name (partial or scientific.)
  • Browse (and comment upon) recent and featured wildlife encounters.

One thing I really enjoy, is that featured encounters are viewable on the home page. Check this and others out …

Enjoy featured wildlife encounter on WildObs Observer

Oct 222009
 

‘Tagging’ the act of putting keywords onto something is such a strange sounding/feeling task, but one we are increasingly used to with blogs, sites like Flickr, and here at WildObs. Tagging is flexible in that there is no set way to tag something, you get to chose. In that power is some complexity.

Tagging an encounter allows you to group a number of (perhaps otherwise unrelated) encounters together. It is best to try to tag encounters as you record them, while the encounter memory is vivid/fresh in your mind.

Here are some ideas on how you could implement tags:

Some folks say “keep a short list of tags you use frequently/consistently” and “avoid adding the first 20 things that come to your mind” and adding to that others say “it is better to combine a lot of simple tags than dream up complicated ones”. I would add … try to avoid putting the location or date/time or species name (although latin is always fun :-) into tags since those are already captured in the wildobs system.
The good news is that there is no right or wrong on how to tag. You chose what is right for you.
Want some inspiration? Check out the wildobs community ‘tag cloud’, or remember we have Tag Help when entering an encounter.
How do you tag your encounters? Please share in the comments section.
One final note: WildObs Observer users can (e.g. when they go on a trip) set default tags such as “ys2009″ for their Yellowstone 2009 Trip. All encounters recorded until that is changed will bear that tag.
Default Tags setting

Default Tags setting

Oct 072009
 

The list-based species selector (with birds, mammal, etc.) was intended to simplify lookup, and speed things up when focus ought be spent on the critter ahead. Unfortunately as the lists have each grown with new species, and the number of custom lists (such as favorites, recent, local) remains low, there are still times when lookups are hard. As such a “work in progress” feature was added to WildObs Observer 1.4 to allow a lookup based upon a few characters typed.

Note: This feature is also incredibly useful for when looking up (say) a “goldfinch” but WildObs has it listed as either an “American Goldfinch” or an “European Goldfinch”, neither under “G”.

Go to the standard iPhone Settings app to access “Observer” settings. Scroll down to the bottom for this one:

How to turn on work-in-progress features...

How to turn on work-in-progress features...

Then, next time you start WildObs Observer you’ll notice a “search icon” on the toolbar:

Notice the search icon on the toolbar...

Notice the search icon on the toolbar...

Pressing the search (or filter) icon will allow you to reduce the number of items in a list with jsut a few characters typed.

Search/Filter into a species list with a few characters...

Search/Filter into a species list with a few characters...

There are a few things to work out with this mechanism (including does it move across lists, e.g. if selecting ‘gold’ when on birds and move to mammals does it reset of remain) but it is available. Please do provide us with feedback on how this works for you.

P.S. Also, even without this new “work in progress” feature there already is species search in the species tab:

Species search exist also.

Species search exist also.

Sep 182009
 

When WildObs Observer for the iPhone and iPod Touch was conceived, the plan was to develop an offline capable application. Much of wildlife is to be seen where there is no wireless or cellphone connectivity and I wanted to support people getting away from it all, and getting into nature. Also, back then there were tens of species in the WildObs database, but not hundreds/thousands.

Since then the database has grown, the species list is far wider and more exotic, and downloading all the images was taking way too much device resources (especially for the casual observer.) So, here we have WildObs Observer 1.4 with some new settings:

  1. “Show Species Icons” shows you the thumbnail pictures when in the species pages. Turn this off to hide these images and significantly increase scrolling performance.
  2. “Download Images” enables downloading for all images for offline use. It defaults to be off, and when off only those images of species you’ve reported, or use regularly, or are known to be around you are downloaded. All other images are downloaded on demand over WiFi or 3G or phone network.
Version 1.4: Lightening the image load...

Version 1.4: Lightening the image load...

Sep 032009
 

If you think you see a hedgehog in Colorado, ask WildObs Observer…

WildObs Observer selecting Hedgehog

WildObs Observer selecting Hedgehog

Press “show” to have a look at a picture…

Showing the Hedgehog

Showing the Hedgehog

Press “info” to have WildObs lookup the species for your current location and return the closest encounter for that species…

Hedgehog information

Hedgehog information

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.