Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

Jun 20 2023

A year of bird data

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This is a csv dump of the BirdNetPi that’s been running in my backyard for over a year. I tweaked the lat log slightly to point to a local park so I don’t totally DOX myself.

Download the file below.

There are over 50k entries. The top line has the column labels. The last column refers to a file name of the sound file used to test. I have a lot of these, but the system is set up to clear them when the hard drive fills, so I’ve lost some of them. I still have a ton tho, not sure what to do with them! 😉

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Oct 17 2022

Geeses! In San Diego?

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I often get false positives on the BirdNetPi, usually it’s a leaf blower that it thinks is a Turkey Vulture – so I don’t get too excited when I see a weird new bird name for the first time. Combine that with a midnight timeframe, and I was skeptical…

What in the world??? It kinda sounds like geese…? Maybe a loud skunk fight?

Huh, no, that’s geesy! I mentioned it to another birdish friend, and she was convinced she’d heard geese late last night too!

So, here’s what a Greater White Fronted Goose looks like (wikipedia):

And here are their migration paths, one of which looks like it could come over San Diego!

Looks like the device caught them passing over. Here are the other 5 sound clips that were captured:

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Jul 12 2022

Birds found by BirdNetPi in my backyard

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This is a dump from the database. Started 5/23/22 thru 7/12/22. I suspect a number of the single detections are false, like the Turkey Vulture seems to come up when the mic hears a leaf blower.

Com_NameCOUNTA of Com_Name
California Towhee8710
American Crow1514
Red-shouldered Hawk575
Allens Hummingbird568
Pacific-slope Flycatcher448
Black Phoebe444
House Finch379
Lesser Goldfinch214
Nuttalls Woodpecker197
Cassins Kingbird186
Annas Hummingbird175
Black-tailed Gnatcatcher158
Orange-crowned Warbler116
Western Bluebird112
Mexican Jay95
Bewicks Wren76
Coopers Hawk75
Hooded Warbler35
Hooded Oriole25
Red-tailed Hawk18
Northern Rough-winged Swallow18
Canyon Wren11
Common Raven10
Scaly-breasted Munia7
Turkey Vulture6
Spotted Towhee6
Red-breasted Nuthatch6
Hammonds Flycatcher6
Bare-throated Tiger-Heron6
White-throated Swift5
Huttons Vireo5
Flammulated Owl5
Stellers Jay4
Aberts Towhee4
Rufous Hummingbird3
House Sparrow3
Yellow-green Vireo2
Thick-billed Fox Sparrow2
Russet Nightingale-Thrush2
Red-masked Parakeet2
Red-crowned Parrot2
Red Crossbill2
Northern Mockingbird2
Mourning Dove2
Eastern Screech-Owl2
Common Poorwill2
Barn Swallow2
Barn Owl2
Ash-throated Flycatcher2
Acorn Woodpecker2
Zone-tailed Hawk1
Violet-crowned Hummingbird1
Varied Thrush1
Thick-billed Parrot1
Summer Tanager1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet1
Ridgways Rail1
Northwestern Crow1
House Wren1
Hermit Thrush1
Harriss Hawk1
Great Horned Owl1
Common Nighthawk1
Cliff Swallow1
California Scrub-Jay1
Blue Grosbeak1
Black-throated Gray Warbler1
Black-capped Gnatcatcher1
Belted Kingfisher1
Bells Vireo1
Band-tailed Pigeon1
American Robin1
American Kestrel1
Grand Total14397

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May 24 2022

New Project: Birdnetpi

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I’ve been messing with a new project to listen to the bird calls in the yard and identify them using Machine Learning. I found this project:

And I built it out:

raspberry pi set up for birdnetpi

The microphone choice was painful! The advice on the site is to get a Clippy – a UK manufactured omni-directional mic. After ordering that, then a comedy of adapters, I found that the UGreen USB Audio adapter that I got would not show up as a recording device on the Raspberry Pi. So I punted, googled around for similar projects, and saw people liking this Samson USB mic that has adjustment for close or omni sound.

And it works! Here’s one day’s data:

graphs of bird data

I didn’t fire it up til right before work at 8a, so I’ll see if there are more morning captures tomorrow. Interesting how it all goes quiet when the sun goes down.

It’s fun to watch the running log. The software does 15 second sound captures, then runs that sample through the embedded BirdNet machine learning model that contains over 3000 songs. It calculates the confidence level, and anything over .7 gets added to the database.

birdnet log

We knew the crows were loud and seemed to show up at certain times, now it’s documented! 😉

Things to mess with now:

Weatherproof the setup, but don’t block the mic.

Try other placements in the yard for more songs, maybe set up bird feeder closeby.

Understand how the machine learning model was built and is used.

Add other sounds to the model, especially the jet sounds as they pass – perhaps identifying type of jet?

See if the Clippy would be a better mic. Have to figure out the mess of adapters I got to make it connect. Also have to get a proper USB Audio recording device – UGreen looked right from the Birdnet site, but I may have gotten the wrong one.

UPDATE: added a full day chart:

full day bird chart

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Apr 12 2018

Some San Diego Beer and Food Maps – with Recommended Dishes

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Downtown San Diego beer places:


30th St (close to downtown) beer and food places


Foodie friends’ recommendations for great restaurants and their favorite dishes:

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Nov 05 2015

Slack as a social platform

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I want to try an experiment.  It might end up as a mess, but that’s why we experiment.  I’d like to try to enable a social circle using Slack.  This post got me thinking about trying this:

Mostly the parts about getting people talking before and during a conference.  Why can’t we do that for an ongoing social circle?  So, I created:

When I say social, I mean joking around, event planning like parties, happy hours, bottle shares, and general get-togethers.  I bet other things happen too, but that’s part of the experiment.  I’m kind of trying to get that early Twitter vibe where we all met new people and got together for random stuff and had fun.

To sign up, go to this Google Form and add an email address and you’ll get an invite from Slack:

It’ll be interesting to see how this works out, or doesn’t 😉  We’re getting a LOT of utility out of Slack at work and in some community forums so I hope it works for this too.



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Apr 19 2014

Timelapser Project

I was visiting my buddies Rebecca and Chip in STL and he said he was working on a making a timelapse device with a RaspberryPi.  This got me inspired, so I built one too.


RaspberryPi v2

Camera Kit for RaspberryPi

The camera kit is just a floppy ribbon cable with the camera on the end of it, so it’s hard to position.  I looked on to see if anyone had created a RaspberriPi case with a camera holder that I could 3D print.  I didn’t find exactly what I was envisioning, but I did come across this:

RaspberryPi Camera Holder that slots into the Ethernet port

It’s a really cool little arm made up of 3 pieces that you connect with 2 screws.  The arm holds the camera at one end, and sticks into the Ethernet connector at the other end – no electronics, it just is the right shape to fit nicely and stay put.

Here’s my little rig:

2014-04-19 19.15.23

I had it in a box case, but I dropped it and it broke 😉  I need to get another one somewhere, or 3D print one.

Now that I had the physical setup done, I followed this blog post to set up the software:

Simple timelapse camera using Raspberry Pi and a coffee tin

The same author has a great post on using an app called BerryCam to help setup where the camera is pointed:

BerryCam – Use your iPad and iPhone to control your Raspberry Pi camera

The author goes further and gets the whole device stuffed into a coffee can with a battery pack, which I’ll get around to at some point.

I modified the python script so it names the captured files sequentially by date and time rather that the default setup.  I found this a lot easier to work with when I wanted to stuff the pictures into a timelapse video.

Now, the SD card on the RaspberryPi I have is only 8G, so it’ll fill up if I don’t drain it, so I rsync the files off to another, bigger machine once an hour with a cronjob.  I had to learn the “–remove-source-files” rsync switch and that helped a ton.

At first, I just wanted the timelapser to watch out toward the West and capture the clouds and sunset:

Then I had to idea to stick a dish of birdseed out in front of the camera to see what would happen, and I got some really neat pictures of local birds!

2014-04-19 at 01-14-21 2014-04-20 at 02-08-28 2014-04-18 at 15-19-07 2014-04-19 at 17-25-12


More pix here:



Here’s how I have the camera positioned:

2014-04-19 19.15.12


This took some trial and error, and the BerryCam software referred to above helped with positioning a lot.

2014-04-19 19.15.45


I finally secured the camera to the deck with cable ties:

2014-04-19 19.18.46


Hope this makes sense!  It was pretty easy to do, thanks to the blog posts I link to above.  I have a wifi adapter in the RaspberryPi – this might help you get that set up properly.  Also, when the camera is taking a picture, it lights up an LED on the camera board.  I thought this might cast a color on low light frames, so I disabled the LED using these instructions.

Have fun making one, and let me know if I can make this post more clear!

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Feb 15 2014

Second Tri Tip Smoke

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My mouth is on fire!!!  And I’m happy 😉

So this time I wanted to experiment a little more.  I got 4 tri tips and marinaded 2 of them in red wine, pepper, salt, garlic, ancho, and a few more spices.  I’d had a few beers and wanted to get them in the fridge overnight, so I may have been a bit too generous with the spices 😉

2014-02-15 11.30.20

I decided that I’d rub 2 of the tips, and leave the others plain.  I mixed up some pepper, salt, sugar (just 2 teaspoons), chili flakes, ancho, garlic, and onions and rubbed that on one plain and one marinaded tip.

2014-02-15 11.38.46

Then into the smoker with all 4!

2014-02-15 11.52.55

On our trip to Santa Maria, I’d picked up a couple boxes of red oak sticks, so I cut those down and used 3 chunks.

2014-02-15 12.00.42

I could probably have just used one!  After 3 hours, while I’d had plenty of smoke, the wood looked only half burned.

I let the meat temp get over 135F this time, to firm the meat up a bit and to see what the flavor might be like if it was less rare.  When I checked, some of the pieces had even gotten up to 145F.

2014-02-15 13.54.18

Out they come, and into the pan for 30 mins of foil covered resting.  Next came the slicing!  Here’s the plain:

2014-02-15 14.47.55

It was a lot firmer and easier to cut thin than the rare tips I made last time.  The beef flavor really came through.  Next was the rubbed, non-marinaded one:

2014-02-15 14.50.14

While it tasted great, I should have skipped any spice hotter than black pepper.  The heat just detracted from the beef flavor and the rub flavors were too complex for such a great piece of meat.  Next was the marinaded non-rubbed:

2014-02-15 14.53.23

I’m trying not to cut my glove, and fingers, open 😉  The wine smell and flavor were very strong.  Quite salty too.  Last was the rubbed and marinaded and, again, there was too much going on in the flavors.  I’ll take it a LOT easier on the rubs next time.

Here’s the bunch all together:

2014-02-15 14.58.16

I didn’t slice it all because I’m going to chill it down to see if I can slice it even thinner.

My wife mixed up a little Santa Maria salsa to add to the meat:

2014-02-15 15.15.15

All in all, a pretty good Saturday!  😉

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Feb 08 2014

Santa Maria Roadtrip

In researching tritip for my smoking experiment, I learned that it was “invented” in Santa Maria, CA, so I’m sitting in a hotel here now!  I live in San Diego, so the wife and I jumped in the car and drove 5 hrs north and started hunting for good tritip.

Our first stop was at the Rancho Nipomo, and it’s been the best one so far!  The tritip is sliced very thin, and made into a sandwich.

2014-02-07 19.12.26

I was more interested in the meat than the bread, but then the owner, Richard, came over and said he forgot to tell us about the salsa that we HAD to put in the sandwich.  Wow!  It’s a pretty simple, fresh tasting salsa – made with canned tomatoes.  The combo was excellent.  He also had us try a hot salsa, made with Manzano peppers.  I think I’m still sweating!

You can tell he loves what he does.  He threw in a pulled pork sandwich

2014-02-07 19.12.32

and kept bringing us over other stuff to try, like the amazing chili on some chips.  My wife had the pork with a red sauce and nopales.

2014-02-07 19.12.37

It was great, with a good heat.

For Saturday lunch, we tried out Jocko’s in Nipomo, CA, but failed to read that the BBQ pit doesn’t open til 4, so I got a pretty good bbq sandwich.

Next, we headed up the coast, stopping for a bit to see some Butterflies:

2014-02-08 14.07.21

And llamas:

2014-02-08 16.01.13

But the pony ride was a lie!

2014-02-08 16.02.16

Very disappointing 😉

We headed back to Arroyo  Grande, CA to the Oak Pit BBQ.  I couldn’t decide what to get, so I got the sampler, which at $15 isn’t too bad!

2014-02-08 18.05.14

Pork rib, beef rib, tritip, pulled pork, and sides.  Oh, and corn muffin.  mmm! Like Rancho Nipomo above, their tritip was not cooked rare.  It was good, but not as good as Rancho.  Or mine 😉

Elaine was missing vegetables, so she got a salad.  A tritip salad!  😉

2014-02-08 18.05.28

The cook was VERY nice and told us that they smoked on red oak, just like I’d learned from my research.  I asked where I could get some and he pointed across the street to a market.

2014-02-08 18.57.02


So now I have a trunk full of red oak pieces that are too big to fit into my smoker.  Elaine thinks my solution will be to cut it down, but it occurs to me that maybe the REAL solution is a bigger smoker!  😉

On Sunday morning we got up and headed back to Rancho Nipomo for more BBQ!  Here’s a tri tip sandwich with the proper salsa:

2014-02-09 11.35.34


Also tried his ribs, which were very good!  Not as smokey as I like, but still great!

2014-02-09 11.37.14

And here’s a picture of that super hot sauce I mentioned above:

2014-02-09 11.57.56


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Jul 19 2013

Fun with United

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On Sunday June 23rd, my daughter and I were due to fly home from Montreal, through Chicago, to San Diego.  Our flight was UA3466 at 6:31p from Montreal, and UA1061 at 8:45p from Chicago.

We arrived early, checked our bags for the flight, and got our baggage check numbers UA 5016676576 for mine (Declan) and UA 50155676839 for my daughter’s (Erin).
Due to weather in Chicago, we were hearing that our flight would be delayed until 8p, making our connection in Chicago impossible, so I called the United 800 number and asked what I could do.  There was an earlier flight leaving Montreal so, the United agent moved us to this flight and said we’d need to go see the counter agent to get boarding passes.  I thanked her, hung up, and stood in the gate line for that flight for about 30 minutes, only to be told by the agent there that there were no seats available on that flight.
I asked if my old boarding passes were still good, he said probably and to check at that gate.  So we went over there, waited for an agent to appear, got in another 30 minute line, and was told by that agent that we were ok for this flight, but due to all the delays we’d probably miss the Chicago to San Diego flight – but there was a chance we’d make it because everything at Chicago was delayed too.  So we were pretty much where were at before I’d tried the earlier flight, and we eventually flew to Chicago at 8p.
We arrived in Chicago just in time to watch our San Diego flight leave the gate while we were taxi-ing up to ours, just a little after 9p.  I understand that United doesn’t control bad weather, but they knew we were close and maybe could have held that flight a few more minutes.  United certainly didn’t mind delaying our flight earlier that week to Montreal from Newark for 3 hours for an incoming plane’s delay!
We deplaned, and I immediately called the United 800 number to see what our options were.  The only workable plan was to wait until the next morning and take UA1408 at 9:56a to San Diego.  We’d need to find a place to stay the night and the phone agent said we’d need to talk to someone in Chicago about that.  So we got into another long line for about 40 minutes, with little movement (there were a lot of people stuck in Chicago).
It occurred to me that I didn’t know the state of my bags now…  So as I waited in line to talk to a person, I called the 800 number again, and was told (rather rudely) that there was nothing they could tell me, I have to talk to someone in Chicago.  So I stood in line for another 30 mins, again barely moving, when a roving United person by the line let us know that United doesn’t help people who are looking for rooms because of weather problems.  She had a flier with some a number I could call for a 50% off room.  I asked her about my bag and she said there was a bag office by baggage claim where I could ask more.  I took the flier, left the line, and found the office.
A lady at that desk said that our bags were probably in the system somewhere and would show up at our final destination eventually.  I was good with that, but asked if they were here if we could just get them since we had to go to a hotel anyway.  She said it was possible, but might take hours because of all the mess in Chicago, but I could wait if I wanted to.  I said normally I’d be fine just getting the bags when we got home, but I had a hard time sleeping without my CPAP (a breathing device that helps with sleep apnia).  She was very receptive to this and said to hold on a bit while she looked deeper.
I gave her my checked bag tags and she looked them up, then made a very weird face and explained that our tags were not in the system and that she can see them having been deleted twice – and she said that didn’t even make sense.  She had us wait while she investigated more.  I took the time to call the hotel service from the flier, and got that all set up.  After about 40 minutes she came back and said the bags were still in Montreal.  When I’d called the 800 number and been moved to the flight that had no seats, the bags went into some sort of limbo and got stuck there.  She said that the bags would be put on a Monday flight out of Montreal to Chicago, then on to San Diego later on Monday.  They might even be on the flight we got on Monday, so check the carrousel when we landed.
So we headed off to the hotel, got up the next morning, flew to San Diego without incident, but the bags were not there.  We went to the United bags office, told our long sad story, and the lady there could offer us no more info but that there was a later flight they might be on.  I left my cell number, got a case number, SAN42446M, and waited for a call.
It’s now Tuesday the 25th and no call, and the United BagClaim website just says: Check back later.  The 800 number I was given says the same. I whined on Twitter and @united asked for my info and said someone would contact me.  Nothing yet.
UPDATE:  United did have someone call me and they knew the Montreal story.  Eventually the bags showed up at the house on Weds.  Whee!!!!
As bad as this all was on the United side, and it DID suck that they put my bags into limbo AND didn’t hold that flight… I can’t believe the amount of crap the gate and baggage people absorb without choking someone.  The ladies at the baggage desk were saints.  I saw a lady walk up, still on her cell phone, and start barking at the United person about not being helpful.  She never did get off the phone.  The United lady was patient and kind and I was just impressed.  The lady who helped us was very nice too.

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