Archive for the ‘People’ Category

Julie Waters’ Bird Photography Site

Sunday, August 12th, 2007

I came across a link to Julie’s Magic Light Show, and wanted to share. If you like CONE Sutro Forest, you’ll probably like her site. Enjoy!

Update: Of particular interest to recent birdcamming, check out this page on her site: Downy or Hairy?


Friday, August 10th, 2007

Craig posted a 24-second video to YouTube back on July 28 showing a Scrub Jay on the suet feeder and a Steller’s Jay on the deck railing. Check it out:

The audio track is fairly tantalizing. I mean, it’s nice to know what TV Craig watches (sounds like a local news program), but are those birds I can hear in the background?? I’m pretty sure there’s a House Finch in there, at least. Next time, please turn down the TV! 🙂

For bonus points, tell me what you think that bird is flying by from right to left in the background at about the 18-second mark. I have a guess, but I’m not at all confident about it.

Anyway, thanks, Craig! More video, please!

noho_bird_club Back on Top

Tuesday, June 12th, 2007

The seesaw battle for the top of the leaderboard continues, with noho_bird_club taking the top spot back from fingerlakes. Here are the standings as of a few minutes ago:

Congratulations, noho_bird_club!

Congratulations, fingerlakes!

Saturday, June 9th, 2007

I spoke over-broadly about noho_bird_club kicking all our butts in scoring. He’s kicking all our butts except one: fingerlakes’. Because fingerlakes, as of this evening, is the new top-scoring user in the system:

Congratulations, fingerlakes!

Congratulations, noho_bird_club!

Tuesday, June 5th, 2007

Sorry, sunbird; your time atop the leaderboard was oh-so-brief. We’ve got a new leader now: noho_bird_club.


Classification Speed Up!

Monday, June 4th, 2007

I mentioned in an update to a previous item that I no longer think the system has been intentionally nerfed. From some email correspondence I’ve had with the CONE SF system’s creators, I now believe that all the slowdowns I’ve been perceiving as intentional actions are in fact just garden-variety slowness resulting from performance issues with the site’s database.

In an email I got early this morning from Bryce Lee, who is listed on the site’s credits page as being responsible for “Database and Website Design and Engineering”, he mentioned that “tomorrow, we are rolling out the classification fix and will be addressing the my gallery shortly.” So I popped into the system just now (at 6:30 a.m. Pacific time) and entered a couple of classifications, and the result page popped right up within a second or two. That’s awesome!

Go, Bryce! 🙂

Congratulations, sunbird!

Sunday, June 3rd, 2007

The game has a new leader as of this afternoon. wyoming built a big lead weeks ago by being really zealous about watching the site all day and entering new IDs very quickly, winning the race to be one of the first three to enter an ID. He (or she) got to 5001 points and basically quit; I haven’t seen him (or her) on the game since then. It’s been a steady slog of people working their way up to that score, and today sunbird finally passed it.

Congratulations, sunbird!

That makes me wonder if wyoming will be back now. I’m guessing not, but we’ll see.

Help Is On the Way

Friday, May 11th, 2007

This just in from the gushing-fanboy department: I’ve been in contact lately with both Professor Ken Goldberg (leader of the CONE Sutro Forest project) and with Craig Newmark, and they both say they like the blog. Yay! Craig posted an item about it on his blog, and in another item he mentioned the Bald Eagle photo, and seemed to be okay with the humorous intent behind it. Prof Goldberg solicited my input on ways they might improve the system (which he’s probably regretting, since I proceeded to email him a novel-length treatment of the subject), and generally was very nice.

Most importantly, Craig mentioned in his email that Ken is actually on his way over to Craig’s as we speak, to replace the tall cylindrical feeder (they were out of sunflower seeds). Hopefully while he’s there he’ll also be able to replace the purloined suet and fill up the birdbath (which I noticed just now had a bunch of gray hairs in it. hmm…) Ah, the glamorous life of a professor.

Update: Yes! Fresh bath (lovingly washed out with a paper towel, to remove all those unsightly gray hairs):

Image 8591

A refilled suet feeder:

Image 8592

And best of all, joining the restocked cylinder o’ sunflower seeds, a sock feeder. Yeah! Bring on those goldfinches.

Image 8593

There was even a brief, embarrassed wave at the camera from Professor Ken, though I wasn’t fast enough on the “Take Snapshot” button to catch it.

Anyway you slice it, that’s some excellent full-service birdcam work. Let’s see the Santa Cruz Island eaglecam muster a full professor with a roll of paper towels to tidy up after the birds. I don’t think so.

CONE Sutro Forest rules!

The Ethics of People-Watching

Sunday, May 6th, 2007

I agree with a commenter on one of the snapshots taken of the bearded guy who likes to walk his dog along the road: Taking clandestine photos of someone and posting them on the Internet is creepy. If I were standing on Craig’s deck with my binoculars birdwatching, and that guy was walking his dog down the road, I wouldn’t feel right surveilling him, and if he looked up and saw me staring at him through binoculars he’d have a right to feel mildly pissed off. I know I’d feel mildly pissed off if the situation were reversed.

I confess that I tracked that guy with the camera the first time I saw him. It’s human nature, I guess, to be curious about others, and to see what the possibilities of this new technology are. But it’s also in the nature of humans to think about situations like that after the fact, and examine how we feel. And for me, that examination has led me to the following idea, which I now propose as a norm of Sutro Forest birdcam use that I encourage others to think about, and, if they agree with me, to adopt:

I will not use the camera for surveillance of people who are not aware of its presence.

I could have stopped at the word “people,” and just made a blanket prohibition on watching humans with the camera, but in the case of people who know the camera is there and seem okay with being photographed by it, I don’t see an ethical problem. As a general rule, I assume that anyone on Craig’s deck is aware that the camera is there, and that anyone not on his desk is not aware that it’s there. But then there’s that case of the guy who was on the deck making a cellphone call, hunching away from the house and visibly trying to get a little privacy; I don’t think I’d have considered him fair game if I’d been watching the camera at the time (which I wasn’t). So I think it ends up being a case-by-case kind of thing.

I don’t think it was wrong for me to shoot the infamous Bald Eagle image (though I do worry a bit that Craig might view the joke ID as insulting, and I hope he doesn’t take it that way).

And I think the photos of the camera crew and reporter on the deck on April 23 are cool, including these shots taken by laura, finch, wayne, splait, and the last one by cnewmark himself:

But these days I don’t follow people with the camera as they walk along the road, and in one case a few days ago I actively fought for control of the camera with someone who wanted to do so, repeatedly pointing the camera at the birdbath until the guy walking down the road was out of camera range. If you agree with my views on this, I encourage you to do the same when someone is trying to use the camera for surveillance: continuously draw a tight rectangle on the birdbath. As I understand the camera’s pointing algorithm, if enough of us do that we can out-vote the people trying to watch the human.

Watching birds is fine; birds don’t mind. But as the site’s FAQ mentions in talking about the annoying automatic zoom-out functionality in the upper lefthand corner of the panorama, the camera isn’t intended for people-watching, and in the interest of protecting people’s privacy we really shouldn’t be using it for that.