Friday, March 16, 2007

Screech Owl Cam' Returns

Mme. Owl is spending her first day in the nest box today, so I'm declaring the 2007 nesting season underway, and I've brought up the nest box cam' site accordingly. From this point forward, all information about the owls and the cam' will be posted to that page. I might mention major events on this blog from time to time, for people not following the blow-by-blow account on the cam' site, but for the remainder of this nesting season that'll be about the only intersection between this blog and my screech owls.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Internet Radio

This blog currently has a small, but, I think, respectable readership, for which I am grateful. Let me take advantage of that readership for a moment to mention two things concerning Internet radio, the streaming of audio content over the Internet.

(1) Personally, my favorite radio station, Internet or otherwise, is Radio Paradise. A friend recommended it to me years ago, and I've been hooked ever since. Listening to it started me discovering music that I really liked for the first time in years ... liked enough that my long stagnant CD collection began growing again. So, let me pass along that recommendation to you, just on the off chance that our musical tastes overlap. It's eclectic, running the gamut from classic rock, indie, world and jazz to classical music. There's also music for which there's no good category. I adore some of it, hate some of it, and enjoy most of it. It's free (though I make a monthly contribution), and it's free of commercials. It's 100% legal (they pay higher royalties for the songs they play than do FM radio stations). And it was created by a fellow named Bill Goldsmith who wrote of the thirty years he spent working in FM radio, that he watched the medium he loved "turn from an essential part of the process of connecting those who love making music with those whose lives are touched by it into a mindless background hum of advertising and disposable musical sludge." Even if you don't end-up appreciating Radio Paradise, you can probably appreciate those sentiments.

(2) The U.S. Copyright Board has recently set new, retroactive royalty rates for U.S. based Internet radio stations that, if allowed to take effect, will put most of the stations out of business; my old friend, Radio Paradise, probably included. But forget about any particular radio station. If you find any value in Internet radio stations based in the United States, this is an issue you should be aware of. Bill Goldsmith has written about the situation on his blog, and that's a good place to begin learning more about this issue. If you live in America, and end-up agreeing that these new rates are an unfair burden on U.S. Internet radio, you can find links on the Radio Paradise home page to petition Congress, and to email your representative on this subject.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you get as much from your Internet radio listening as I have from mine.

Screech Owl Cam' Status

The female screech owl stopped by the nest box Wednesday morning before sunrise to have a good long look (16 minutes) into the box from the entryway. She was back at 8:15 PM for another long look, then, for the first time this year, she entered the box. She investigated it for eight minutes, left for six, and was back again for fourteen. During the latter visit she began forming a depression in the bedding material to hold her eggs. There's no difficulty to doing so in the pine shavings that compose this bedding material, but she'll do it repeatedly before laying. Instinct seems to demand it, though this is about as close to nest-building as screech owls ever get.

She left for nine minutes, was then back for twelve. Then out again for two and half hours, then back for six minutes.... You get the idea. She's finally entered the box, and now she can't get enough of it. The first egg probably isn't very far off.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Screech Owl Cam' Status

A fox squirrel moved into the nest box at 6:48 PM, Tuesday. Undoubtably, it wanted a nest that could keep it out of the rain that has recently been lavished upon us by passing thunderstorms. Very sensible. Of course, that meant I had to evict my fur-bearing friend as soon as I arrived home. That's done now.

The whole process of bringing down the nest box, opening it up to remove the squirrel, cleaning the camera compartment window, removing the starling nest materials, closing the box, hoisting it up into its bracket, rolling-up all of the cables, putting away my gear, etc. was carefully monitored by a screech owl sitting on one of the lower branches of a neighboring tree. I presume it was the male, since he probably has a more proprietary interest in the nest site than his mate at this point in time, when nesting has yet to begin. Those concerned that the squirrel's presence this evening may have put-off the owls, should have nothing to worry about.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Screech Owl Cam' Status

The male screech owl called to his mate from the box at around 8:30 PM, but once again failed to entice his mate inside. However, starting at 4:06 AM, she spent almost twenty minutes with her head in the entryway, studying the box. This is a good sign, and a step in the right direction.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Screech Owl Cam' Status

The data acquisition box that interfaces the infrared sensor in the nest box's entryway to an old Mac in my house died during a thunderstorm that rolled through the area while last year's nesting season was underway. I'd been meaning to modernize that setup anyway (including adding an optoisolator in the circuit), so I didn't worry too much about it. Unfortunately, the board I purchased had an SDK that was problematic and in a state of flux when I was trying to get the new setup put together ages ago. Since then, I've had other things to keep me occupied. The upshot of all of this is that I haven't had my usual awareness of the comings and goings of the owls over the last year.

When people ask me what the owls are up to, I only have random observations to work with. However, there's definitely a pair around, and the male, at least, thinks the nest box is a good place for a nest, judging by visits like the one tonight in which he sat in the nest box and sang to his mate. His mate didn't enter the nest box despite his entreaties, but he's trying. Only time will tell how it works out.

(The twigs, feathers and leaves visible on the floor of the box were placed there this week by a starling that wants the box for his nest.)

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Screech Owl Cam' Status

A fox squirrel moved into the nest box Friday evening. I evicted it Saturday afternoon. Otherwise, not much to report.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Qwicap 1.4b1 Released

Qwicap version 1.4b1 includes a more flexible, rearchitected authentication & authorization system, includes cleaner core code wherever the code became involved with Servlet life-cycles, futher simplifies web application deployment descriptors, adds three convenience methods to the Results class, and includes numerous improvements to the Javadocs.

The new authentication & authorization system is not backward compatible with the previous one, but neither is it fundamentally different, so adapting an existing Auth2Scheme implementation to it is a minor matter. Primarily, the architecture has benefitted from the adoption of the factory pattern, while new features permit access to the static content in a web application (web pages, style sheets, etc.) to be regulated, and regulated independently of access to the web application, itself.

As usual, the documentation, download links, etc. can be found on the Qwicap main page.

Change Log for Version 1.4b1

  • Filled-in some old gaps in the Javadoc, and made numerous improvements to the Javadoc markup throughout the classes of the public API.
  • Added to the authentication & authorization (Auth2) system the ability to regulate access to the static content in a web application, independently of access to the application itself.
  • Rearchitected the authentication & authorization (Auth2) code. The new implementation uses an Auth2SchemeFactory associated with each servlet to produce an Auth2Scheme instance (optionally associated with each session) which is used to authenticate & authorize each hit in a session. It returns to Qwicap an Auth2SchemeReply instance describing its conclusions, upon which Qwicap acts, restricting access to the web application and/or its static content accordingly. The client application may retrieve the current reply object by using the new Qwicap.getAuth2SchemeReply method. (The old Qwicap.getAuth2Scheme method has been discontinued.)
  • Modified a number of core classes to reflect a better understanding of servlet life cycles. This cleaned-up the code in a number of places, and outright eliminated the need for the internal QwicapContext class.
  • Simplified the web application deployment descriptor (the "web.xml" file) by eliminating the need to specify as a "listener". Revised the Deployment Descriptor documentation accordingly. (Web applications using previous versions of Qwicap 1.4 will need to remove that "listener" specification from their "web.xml" files.)
  • Added several new methods to the Results class: getAttribute, everyNth, and IF_NOT_EMPTY.