Archive for the ‘The CONE System’ Category

Scheduled Camera Maintenance Today

Wednesday, July 1st, 2009

I received the following via email last night from Siamak Faridani, who I believe is one of the people who works on CONE:

Tomorrow, Wednesday, around 2pm central time we are going to take CONE down for a couple of hours, can you please post a post on your blog and let other people know please?

Consider yourself informed. 🙂

Back in Business

Saturday, April 11th, 2009

The following was posted to the game’s login page on Thursday:

9 April, 2009: We’re pleased to announce that the wireless equipment problem at Welder has been resolved and the camera is back. We’d like to thanks Dezhen Song and his students for fixing the problem. We’d also like to thank all CONE Welder players for your patience and for your interest.

The system seems a little sluggish, but I’ll definitely take it. Thanks, Dr. Song and students!

Here’s a shot that budgieface took yesterday morning, showing the newly returned Buff-bellied Hummingbird:

Image 146168

Woo! It’s Spring!

On the Air Again!

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

Well ahead of the April 2 ETA, CONE Welder appears to be back on the air. I’m not sure if it’s going to stay up, or if this is just teasing us with some temporary fun that’s going to go away again, but I’ll take it.

abirch got the first shots, including this excellent one of the Barred Owl:

Image 145854

Yay! Texas birds again!

Update: Hm. Yeah, it still seems to be fairly flaky. I’ve had it go up and down on me during my two attempts to use it this morning. So maybe we’re still waiting on replacement hardware.

Camera’s Down

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009

From loughman1, word that the camera is down:

From: [loughman1]
Subject: CONE Welder camera is down
Date: March 3, 2009 4:08:05 PM PST

CONE Welder players,

The camera at Welder stopped working around 2:30 PST this afternoon. When it did not come back up again, I sent a message to Yan and Dez at 3:00. Just now (4:00PST) I received a message from Yan that the problem seems to be at Welder. No prognosis.


Update: And now, as of 7:51 a.m. Pacific time on Wednesday, Kay writes that it’s back up again. Yay!

Later update: And now, as of 9:13 a.m. Pacific time on Wednesday, it appears to be back down again. Rats!

Still later update: loughman1 forwards the following:

Subject: Welder Camera installation delayed
Date: March 20, 2009 5:06:00 PM PDT

CONE Welder players,

In response to my query this afternoon, Dez Song reports:

“Due to spring break, the parts we ordered have not even arrived yet. I would postpone the date to April 2nd for the camera to come back up. ”

So I guess that means, check back in a couple of weeks. I’ll let you know if I hear anything more.


Warning: Robots Merging Ahead

Friday, February 20th, 2009

I got the following email last night from Siamak Faridani, one of the programmers on the CONE team. I’m passing it on, per Siamak’s request:

From: [Siamak Faridani]
Subject: [CONE] Autonomous Code
Date: February 19, 2009 8:50:35 PM PST
To: [me]

Hi John,

I am a PhD student at Berkeley and I work for professor Goldberg, I have developed a code that controls the camera and brows the scene automatically, every 10 minutes it will kick in and will run the camera for around 60 sec and will release the camera afterward, I need to test this code on the website for 4 days, starting Friday morning
until Monday night.

It should only take 10% of the camera time and users are welcome to request frames from the system while the code is running.

I was wondering if you could please post a quick note on the website to mention this, the username for the program is “conetester” and as I said it will log in every 10 minutes and will log out when it is done.

Best wishes,


PS. Hopefully it will not run other users crazy 🙂

Yes, well, we can always hope for that. I’d say the chances of CDS (CONE derangement syndrome) will increase sharply if the system decides to take control of the camera at a time when something really rare and/or interesting is in the field of view.

But it should be interesting, in any event.

“Dashboard” Feature

Sunday, February 15th, 2009

I’ve completed enough of the “dashboard” page I spoke about earlier to go ahead and post the URL to it, if you want to check it out. It’s at:

Currently it has the following:

  • Thumbnails of the last five photos taken today.
  • Thumbnails of the top five photos taken today (judged by the number of “favorites” stars assigned to it by users other than the person who took the photo).
  • A table ranking the top players today.

The player rankings are being done by a different system than the official CONE Welder scoring (though it probably has some elements in common). For the purposes of the dashboard page’s player rankings, I do the following: For each player, I compute a raw score, and a ranking against the other players based on that score, in each of three categories: correct IDs assigned today (with “correct” being in terms of CONE Welder’s idea of a correct ID, which I believe is that at least 2/3 of the people entering an ID have to agree), species photographed today, and favorite points (the stars) assigned to that user’s photos taken today. For each of those three categories, a higher raw score is better, for ranking purposes.

I also compute a combined score, which is the sum of the player’s rankings in the other three categories. I then rank the players based on their combined scores, with that ranking being what determines the overall order in the table. Note that for the combined category, you want to have the lowest raw score in order to rank highly.

The data is refreshed every 15 minutes during the daylight hours, and every hour at night. The actual times of the daytime updates are 5, 20, 35, and 50 minutes past the hour.

I have a bunch of ideas for things I’d like to add, including:

  • The ability to view results for any day, not just the current day.
  • The ability to view a similar page where the computation is based on all-time data, not just a single day’s data.
  • Pages for each user in the game, with that user’s most-recent photos, top-rated photos, and a list of species photographed.
  • Pages for each species in the game, with (again) that species’ most-recent and top-rated photos, as well as a graph showing number of identifications of that species per day.

In general, I want everything to be clickable, so it’s easy to navigate your way around and drill down to look at interesting data.

Please take a look, and let me know what you think. In particular, if you have problems or questions, or if you have suggestions about which features you’d most like to see added, please let me know. Thanks!

CONE Welder Is on the Air

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

loughman1 emailed to say that the camera was back online ahead of schedule. Here’s a photo vanilla took a few minutes ago of a pretty American Goldfinch:

Image 126976

A number of the feeders appear to need filling at the moment, and there’s an interesting change to the system’s behavior, in that photos taken by users are immediately visible (and, I assume, immediately zoneable and ID-able) to other users, rather than being subject to the 1-hour embargo they used to have. I’m not sure if that change is intentional, or if it’s a temporary glitch that will be corrected shortly.

In any event, hooray! The camera is back! 🙂

Update: And now the embargo is back, apparently.

CONE Welder Down Until January 15, Now

Tuesday, January 6th, 2009

loughman1 emailed me, and probably most of you, with the following update today:

An e-mail message from Dez Song this morning says that due to scheduling issues, the camera at CONE Welder will be back online on January 15 (instead of Jan. 10).

Miss you all, but admit that I’m getting a lot more done in the rest of my life!

See you in ten days.


So, there you go: A little longer to wait. But not too long. In the meantime, I agree about the value of getting out in the real world; I’ve been having some really fun bird-watching experiences lately. (Not that I was being very obsessive on CONE lately; I’ve had other obsessions taking up my time.)

Anyway: See you on or around January 15.

CONE Welder Down Until January 10, 2009

Wednesday, December 17th, 2008

loughman1 passed on the following today from Professor Dez Song of the CONE project:

We got a confirmed bad news: our wireless router installed on the camera pole is dead. I do not know how and why it happened but it will take a while before we can fix it due to the holiday season. The earliest possible time for us to return to the camera site is early Jan.

Yan, can you post a message on the web saying that the camera is down for maintainence until Jan. 10?

While we’re waiting for the camera to come back, here are a few links to keep us occupied:

CONE Welder Down

Saturday, November 22nd, 2008

The camera appears to be down, and based on the images in the “Search” interface, has been so since shortly after noon yesterday.

There were some interesting icterid photos taken yesterday that I’d be interested in classifying. Hopefully the system is back up and running soon.

Update: As of about 10:00 Sunday morning, November 23, the camera is back in action. Yay!