in reply to Visualizing bugs

The sound idea is a nice one... I might have to use that sometime.

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Re^2: Visualizing birds
by tye (Sage) on Dec 20, 2004 at 06:34 UTC

    Many years ago I wrote some software for use on a laptop by biologists studying migrating birds of prey. The laptop collected several key data items for each group of birds that was observed. The input was specificly designed to be easy to enter with one hand and without looking at the keyboard. This is because the person using the software is likely holding a pair of binoculars and staring at the birds trying to determine what values to record before they fly too far away (or one gets lured in to be measured and tagged).

    The problem with this is that if they make a mistake, they likely won't notice until it is too late.

    So the software played middle C when the first value was entered correctly. Then it played D when the second value was entered correctly. This chromatic scale continued until the final value was entered correctly when it played a major third progression (C E G).

    They were happy with the software so I got to spend several nights on a desert mountain top watching birds and even helping to capture, measure, and tag a few (and fixing any problems with the software). (Capturing migrating birds of prey is astonishingly like fishing, only up-side-down and less boring because you can clearly see who you are trying to fool and how they are reacting to the bait.)

    The other civilians (a.k.a. non-biologists) at camp were fond of telling me how lucky I was because they had each paid quite a bit of money in order to have the privilege of volunteering to help.

    I didn't sleep much, despite the kind donation of a couple self-inflating foam sleeping pads (I think each was only about 1/2" thick). But it was a great trip, mostly because all of the biologists and civilians were such good company. I think having had to sacrifice in order to have the privilege of being there combined with knowing that if anyone got sick or hurt helicopters would have to get involved made for unusually good interpersonal relationships.

    - tye        

      Cool story. I wonder about the possibilities if you had pianists for bird-watchers. You'd give them a MIDI keyboard and let, oh, a minor fourth stand for one bird, and a diminished major seventh another. Or perhaps when a flock passed over your heads you'd get to listen to a spontaneous fugue.

      /me remembers helping zoologists in a bat cave once

        a minor fourth stand for one bird, and a diminished major seventh another

        Fourths and fifths are 'perfect' and so are neither major nor minor, though they can be augmented (up) or diminished (down). And a 'diminished' major seventh would just be called a minor seventh (update: or maybe a dominant seventh depending on context). (Update: and I'd say something about what tye wrote above, but his story is too cool to quibble about music terminology).

Re^2: Visualizing bugs
by hv (Prior) on Dec 20, 2004 at 13:05 UTC

    I've always wanted a sound-based firewall that plays a tone each time a packet is rejected, with a different tone for each port. I think with a bit of fine-tuning this could give you a kind of wide-spectrum Geiger counter that would make it very easy to recognise a change in the normal patterns that might represent a problem.


      In my first ever multi-threaded program, written to run under OS/2 pre-1.0, the only reentrant IO function available was Beep( freq, duration ). So

      1. thread_1 did "beeeb....beeep...beeep";
      2. thread_2 did "beep beep....beep beep";
      3. thread_3 did "bip bip bip....bip bip bip" etc.

      You could suspend/resume each of the threads by typing it's thread number on the keyboard.

      It wasn't much of a program, but you'd be amazed how many grown men (and women) spent an inordinate amount of time being amused by it:)

      Examine what is said, not who speaks.        The end of an era!
      "But you should never overestimate the ingenuity of the sceptics to come up with a counter-argument." -Myles Allen
      "Think for yourself!" - Abigail        "Time is a poor substitute for thought"--theorbtwo         "Efficiency is intelligent laziness." -David Dunham
      "Memory, processor, disk in that order on the hardware side. Algorithm, algorithm, algorithm on the code side." - tachyon
        OS/2! Now that was a system.

        Where I'm at, lots of ATMs still run it. (Version 2.1 I think.)

Re^2: Visualizing bugs
by Anonymous Monk on Dec 20, 2004 at 17:19 UTC
    Years ago, I was working in the system administration department of some company where another system administrator had gone a bit overboard with the various monitor scripts he had installed. Not only would the sysadmin be paged and emailled if there was a problem, but also his workstation (in case of a server problem), or the workstation of a developer (in case of a problem with his/her computer) would speak. I wasn't so pleased as his desk was right behind mine. (I made it a habit to remotely turn down his volume if his computer would speak while he was away of his desk). And the developers often got a scare if their swap-space/tmp dir filled up (this was Solaris), because then their workstation would vocally complain. Once I ran an at job - sceduled to run while I was out of the office - that remotely filled up everybody's /tmp directory to slightly over treshold that triggered the spoken warning. Steathely (open file, unlink file, write file, wait for warning, closely). Too bad I wasn't there to see the faces of the developers amid 100 talking workstations. (We had cubicles - with low walls).