19 de mayo de 2020

An invitation to join iNaturalist Discord

I cordially invite you to join the iNaturalist Discord server, a chat community for naturalists. There's always something new from this diverse and enthusiastic group. We have special events such as voice chats with notable iNaturalist personalities & naturalists on social media. We help each other level up our skills, sort out tricky ID's, and engage in group efforts to improve iNaturalist data. Dronefly bot helps us achieve this with ease. You can learn more about the bot below. Please join with this link: https://discord.gg/C57VKVU

The Dronefly Discord bot is a tool we use in our daily discussions there to interact with the iNaturalist platform. It has a rich command set including some commands to do things you can't directly do on the iNaturalist website or app (like related to find the nearest common parent in the taxonomic tree between two or more taxa). It focuses on social features that fit into our daily discussions about what we're finding, like tabulating and linking to all observations by several people for a given taxon, or doing the same with several places instead. It's a richer way to use & enjoy the iNaturalist platform than just the web & app alone. I'd encourage you to join with the link above and try it out.

If any of you who follow me from Atlantic Canada are interested in the idea of chatting on Discord, but would rather do that in a cozier small regional group, I could help make that happen. Write me a note if you're interested.

Dronefly has been on ongoing project that I lead which started late in the summer of 2019 and is steadily being developed with new features on a week by week basis. If you're interested in checking out our code, keeping tabs on new feature releases and bugs, or perhaps contributing to the project in some way, please visit the project page on GitHub: https://github.com/synrg/dronefly

Publicado el mayo 19, 2020 12:40 TARDE por benarmstrong benarmstrong | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

16 de febrero de 2020

Getting the word out about Dronefly bot

Today I posted to my blog an article with my old Debian colleagues as its primary audience: https://syn.theti.ca/2020/02/16/introducing-dronefly-a-discord-bot-for-naturalists/

Within it, I link to a Dronefly bot tutorial which probably is of greater interest to the iNaturalist community itself, if you haven't already seen it on the iNat forums: https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/how-to-use-dronefly-a-discord-chat-bot/9770

Publicado el febrero 16, 2020 04:59 TARDE por benarmstrong benarmstrong | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

18 de mayo de 2019

What have I gotten into!?

Shortly before the CNC and ever since, I've fallen in with these fine folks on Discord, so now I'm going to make some small effort this weekend to get out there and blitz a bit more with them:


It's not likely I'll place well, given how insanely good at racking up observation & species numbers the best of this group are, but it's good to be around people who inspire me to keep improving on iNat. :)

If connecting online with a bunch of other iNatters to chat sounds like it's up your alley, check out the unofficial iNat Discord server at:


My handle is SyntheticBee. If you saw my mention here & came to Discord as a result, give me a shout.

Publicado el mayo 18, 2019 11:16 MAÑANA por benarmstrong benarmstrong | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

24 de septiembre de 2018

Making time for bees

It was 5 pm, supper in 30 minutes, sunny out & gusty, the temperature already 12C heading towards 4C overnight. Hardly bee weather, but after a long day at my desk, I needed a stretch. I remembered goldenrods along the ballpark edges, 2 blocks away. Perfect. How many different kinds could I observe before supper? Three, and one hoverfly, as it turned out. Then back for dinner on time. No uncommon discoveries among them, but a good session. Almost any time while the season lasts can be made to work. The harder the circumstances, the more delight in finding subjects and capturing them.

Publicado el septiembre 24, 2018 10:02 TARDE por benarmstrong benarmstrong | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

24 de agosto de 2018

Mostly bees

On the 17th, I went out and did a ton of bee observations. It was so fun to try to figure them all out! I really owe the iNat community thanks, as they have been a great support in my endeavour to become a little less ignorant about bees.

I recorded a video of this leaf cutter bee (Megachile inermis) from that trip, my first iNat observation with a video (see Observation Fields: Video Link): https://inaturalist.ca/observations/15794673

Publicado el agosto 24, 2018 10:41 TARDE por benarmstrong benarmstrong | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

05 de agosto de 2018

Mostly wrong about bees

So I'm finding it difficult, particularly with smaller bees, to know bees even at a family level ... I don't see any guides for our area and wish there were one. Anyone want to give that a go? I'm a generalist, so am more interested in breadth than depth.

Meanwhile, I've found the Halifax Public Library has 3 checked-in copies of "The bees in your backyard : a guide to North America's bees" / Joseph S. Wilson & Olivia Messinger Carril. I have put a copy on hold and am waiting for the transfer to my branch. This looks like a good, accessible starting point for me.

If there are good online resources (e.g. on bugguide.net or whatever ... I haven't looked yet) that you know of, links, please! I'm sure I'll find these eventually, but you know ... feeling lazy this morning. ;)

Publicado el agosto 5, 2018 03:23 TARDE por benarmstrong benarmstrong | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

31 de julio de 2018

Getting comfy with keys in the bountiful month of July

I'm making much better use of keys this month. Go Botany has been invaluable several times, and it's becoming a habit to check it.

I've also gone out to hike the Bluff Trail multiple times, most recently bringing back 165 observations on July 27th. That has to be a personal best for a single outing, and amounts to about 12% of my observations for the entire year! Happy to have managed to keep it up this year without the incentive of a major BioBlitz to drive it like last year.

Apparently your summers have been similarly bountiful, as checking all the observations as they whiz by has been a challenge. (I hope dumping all of my own observations from the 27th into your feeds over the past week didn't completely overwhelm you!)

Looking forward to more outings once the heat and humidity subsides a bit ... humidex 31 at the moment ... blech! :p

Publicado el julio 31, 2018 06:23 TARDE por benarmstrong benarmstrong | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

15 de junio de 2018

Fireflies in Atlantic Canada

After talking to a friend online about fireflies in our area, a discussion following their posting of a photo on social media of what I at first thought might Ellychnia corrusca (a species I recently observed for the first time and posted here), I went to see what else I could find written on the topic. I was pleased to find an academic paper from 2012 surveying fireflies of Atlantic Canada, written by an acquaintance I used to work with back in the 90's as volunteers for our local community net. I'm sure I'll be referring to this again! http://www.acadianes.ca/journal/papers/majka_11-13.pdf After some more discussion about the social media post, it came to light that, well, they recall observing some lit up in the night, so they might not be Ellychnia, which lack light-producing organs. Pyropyga nigricans was proposed as an alternative for their photo. We'll follow up on this later.

Publicado el junio 15, 2018 03:43 TARDE por benarmstrong benarmstrong | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

10 de junio de 2018

Discrete Camera, Android + Digikam + iNat photo processing workflow

I have a new tool for iNat observations! Supplementing my Android phone (OpenCamera + OsmAnd) which I still use to capture both photos and GPS tracks for later integration & processing using Digikam, I now have a discrete camera, a Ricoh WG-50, which is a point-and-shoot camera. Although it has neither Wi-Fi nor GPS, it is small, tough, and affordable, all priorities for me. There's nothing wrong with USB, and Digikam makes it pretty simple to GPS correlate all the photos, so those weaknesses aren't a big problem for me, and the unique macro features of the WG-50 really sold it to me in the end. I'm still getting acquainted with the equipment, so my shots aren't yet up to the consistent quality of the Android camera shots, but they're getting there.

I am starting to get serious about doing something about optimizing my photo processing workflow using all of this hardware & software. See my comment added to this Digikam bug requesting iNaturalist export capability: https://bugs.kde.org/show_bug.cgi?id=394544 which records some of my thoughts about what would help me, and how I might contribute.

Publicado el junio 10, 2018 10:24 MAÑANA por benarmstrong benarmstrong | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

05 de junio de 2018

Why, oh why do I insist on the hard way? (Or: My aversion to keys)

Why will I spend hours and hours exploring up and down taxonomic trees, study countless photographs, and ultimately trudge back out onto the trail to hunt for new individuals to look at more carefully, (usually with specific questions in mind this time in order to resolve a disputed ID,) but abhor spending even 5 minutes consulting a key? OK, 10 to 15 at the worst, because I'm still picking up all of the prerequisites needed as I study the keys. But certainly using a key is more efficient! It's not like there aren't any about for most of the things I encounter (gobotany covers the majority).

It's a sickness, that's why. I voraciously consume complex systems. The more complex, the more alternatives, the more unsettled things are, the more intricate and confusing the bits are, the more fun it is! Putting things in boxes kills the fun. It's the end of the hunt. Game over.

But sometimes you just need to get a job done and get on with the next thing. The sickness is: once I set off on the chase, my mind will ... not ... let ... go. I just find myself utterly incapable of calling it quits on the "hard way" and doing the sensible thing: "use the key!" Sigh.

So this summer's resolution? Overcome my aversion to keys! Wish me luck.

Publicado el junio 5, 2018 08:04 TARDE por benarmstrong benarmstrong | 4 comentarios | Deja un comentario