Friday, March 15, 2013

Screech Owl Cam’ Attic Views Added

I’ve added live views from the attic camera to the Eastern Screech Owl Nest Box Cam’ main page. (If you don’t see the “attic” views listed among the other views, you may need to reload the page a time or two to get a current version of the page.)

Since we’re currently waiting for the hatching of the first egg (literally any hour now, if last year’s first egg time-to-hatch period is representative) the attic view provides an additional chance of getting the first look at the hatching or hatchling, assuming Mme. Owl isn't sitting on the eggs during the entire hatching process (usually she would be, so there’s nothing to see, but the relatively high temperatures in the nest box on recent afternoons means that she doesn't have to incubate continuously, and that creates opportunities to see the eggs and, soon, the hatchlings).

I hope you find it interesting.

BTW, attic views from 12 hours ago are not currently available, because the camera software hasn’t yet accumulated 12 hours of images from the attic. Once it has done so, I’ll add that viewing option.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Return of The Screech Owl Nest Box Cam’

With my thanks to everyone who helped make it possible, I’d like to announce that Chris’ Eastern Screech Owl Nest Box Cam’ is back from the dead and has even returned to its old home.

To the best of my knowledge, the first egg has not yet hatched (I’m guessing it will tomorrow), so, while I couldn’t share two weeks of brooding, I will be able to share all four weeks of owlet raising.

Tell your friends.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Owl Cam' Situation Report

Friday morning, I spoke about the owl cam' situation with a very pleasant member of the staff of the President's Office at the The University of Texas at Austin. The person knew exactly who I was from the start of the conversation, so the owl cam' must, as they confirmed, be getting some attention in the President's Office. I asked about the status of the situation, but learned only that the matter was being discussed (or words to that effect).

I brought up the issue that, while I have no desire to cause them problems, or rush them, there's nothing I can do about the schedule on which the screech owls are operating, and I'm expecting the first egg to hatch this coming Wednesday, possibly sooner. Since that marks the beginning of the most interesting and educational phase of nesting, and the one I'm confident people look forward to the most, I asked that that time constraint be factored into their considerations. That issue was duly noted, and I offered to assist them in any way I could. It was suggested that I might hear from them that afternoon (I assumed that would be a request for further information, rather than a resolution), but that didn't happen. No gripe there; they made no promise, best laid plans and so on....

Perhaps Monday.

Regrettably, I think the folks involved in the discussion/decision have never had the opportunity to see the screech owl cam' site. Therefore, I wonder what opinions they've formed about it, and how those might be feeding into the discussion. The copies of the site in the Internet Archive would be indispensable if that were the problem, but I've seen those copies and they look terrible for reasons I have yet to nail down (missing style sheets and graphics seem to be part of the problem - but why weren't those archived along with everything else?). If they could see the site, rather than working, I suspect, in something of a vacuum, I can't help but wonder if they'd have an easier time reaching their decision. In this matter, however, I've entered the realm of speculation, since I know nothing about the nature of the decision making process that's underway.

BTW, readers who clearly have some experience with environments like mine, have asked whether the site was forced down due to central IT technical issues, excessive network use, inappropriate use of University resources, or use of University time to run the site. All good questions. The answers are, respectively: no, the site is hosted independent of our central IT resources; no, our networking team—of which I was a member for many years—watches for excessive host bandwidth utilization and may be depended upon to contact those people whose hosts approach the top of the charts, and I was not contacted; no, the screech owl cam' site conforms with all versions of our Acceptable Use Policy that I have seen (that's why, among other things, my links to books on Amazon are links uncontaminated by Amazon's profit sharing scheme, so I make no money whatsoever when someone buys one of them); and, finally, no, I don't use University time to run the site - all of the data is gathered and archived by my home computer (and other hardware there), so, in practice, I have to be at home to process it to produce the daily image galleries, write updates, perform routine maintenance, etc.

In fact, the site was forced down by a manager who promised me from day one that there would never be any problem with my continuing to host it on my office computer—something I'd already been doing for eleven years, so you may be certain I made a point of raising that issue—who watched the cam' last year, was aware that it was already running this year, and who is even taking an ongoing loan of a screech owl nest box from me. What's good for that goose is, evidently, all that matters to it in this world.


Monday, March 4, 2013

Screech Owl Cam’ Returns to Disappeared

The web server hosting the screech owl cam’ is non-responsive again, so we’re right back where we were yesterday.

Screech Owl Cam’ Host Returns, But Not The Cam’

The web server used by my eastern screech owl cam’ has returned without explanation. However, I remain locked-out of the machine, and therefore cannot make the cam’ operational. Make of that what you will. It may mean nothing except that someone remembered that the machine has other important roles, like sending training reminders to campus researchers (just one of my many valuable services). (I was wondering how long it would take them to remember that obvious fact. On the other hand, that may not have anything to do with whatever’s going on.)

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Screech Owl Cam’ Once Disabled, Now Disappeared

An email received last night alerted me to a new development regarding my disabled eastern screech owl cam’: it has now been disappeared, as well. Where there was a web server still offering the content accumulated over the last 13 years (and the embarassment of days old “live” images from this year), now there is nothing at all. And still not a word of communication from whoever is responsible. A lot can be read into this development, but it's hard to know what would or wouldn't be correct.

If you’d like to see the cam’ return, I still think the best approach is a polite email request to the Office of the President of The University of Texas at Austin. I'm certain that the Office of the President had nothing to do with any of this (so direct no anger there), nor do I think anyone there would approve of it, and there’s no place in UT Austin more able to cut through whatever nonsense is going on.

Let’s just hope they’re able to do so before the eggs start hatching around the middle of this month. For a lot of people that’s the most exciting single part of the two month nesting process, and, of course, it marks the start of the best educational opportunity: watching each owlet develop over just four weeks from something that fit into a seven-tenths of an ounce egg, born blind and too weak to hold up it’s own head, into a well organized pile of feathers filled with energy and curiosity.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

What I Told BaggyWrinkle About the Owl Cam’

Reader/viewer BaggyWrinkle asked a good question about encouraging the restoration of the owl nest box cam’ in a comment about my previous post. I replied, but neither the comment nor the reply are displayed by default by Blogger (maybe that can be fixed, but I haven’t found the right setting). So, let me take this opportunity to hang a lantern on my reply to BaggyWrinkle.