All posts by Jake

Web Update

We’ve been working on enhancements to GeyserTimes, mostly on the electronic data logger side of things, to help with collecting, analyzing and reporting on electronically monitored geysers. These include:

  • A new punchcard to show available data for data loggers.
  • Notes for data loggers
  • Additional admin data logger functions

I’m very excited that there have been two recent permits issued in Yellowstone to study geysers.  I’m proud that GeyserTimes has been identified as a way to help make such data available to the public.

In non-data logger improvements, GeyserTimes now shows flagged eruptions with a flag icon on both the home page and individual geyser pages.

Happy Gazing,

Jake

GeyserTimes is 5 Years Old Today

On April 15, 2011, GeyserTimes first went live.  It looked like this.

Since then, over 800,000 geyser eruption observations have been entered into the online database.  A lot of features have been added over time including connecting to Alan Glennon’s geysers.net database, an Android App developed by Will Boekel that affords offline access to the data, and an application for archiving and viewing electronic temperature monitoring data.

Still, there are things I would like to do with GeyserTimes that I’ve been dreaming about since day 1.  Predictions can be improved as well as data analysis tools.

Of course, GeyserTimes wouldn’t be such a success were it not for the community of gazers dutifully entering information every time a geyser is observed erupting.  Geyser gazing had long been a “crowd-sourcing” effort (on paper) before the phrase had even been coined. GeyserTimes has just been the internet-based, real-time, <insert tech buzzword> continuation of those decades of geyser gazing.

I’ll leave you with some print-outs that I received from Ralph Taylor in September 2010.   I remember it quite clearly.  It was like Christmas morning for me when Ralph pulled up in his truck and gave me statistical evaluations of recent geyser activity (1 MB).  (It was during a period of false Beehive’s Indicator eruptions so it was very helpful!)  I couldn’t get enough of the stats and charts.  Geysers bring two things I love together: Yellowstone and statistics.   Ralph’s work continues to be an inspiration.  A few months after that Christmas in September, I started GeyserTimes.

Jake

No Legal Challenge – April Fool's!

Yesterday’s cease & desist letter was indeed not real.

The clues:

  • It was from the law firm of Reamer & Marler.  Robert Reamer was the architect of the Old Faithful Inn.  George Marler was a geologist in Yellowstone National Park who did a lot of studying of geysers.
  • The letter was signed by Stephen T. Mather who was the first superintendent of the National Park Service.
  • The federal act being violated was the Freedom of Observational Logging Standards (FoOLS) Act.

I do enjoy a good April Fool’s joke that seems semi-plausible and draws on current events and emotions.  The recent fight over copyrighted/trademarked names of historic locations in Yosemite National Park was an inspiration.

I honestly don’t know what the legal issues are surrounding the Old Faithful Webcam.  I CAN tell you the major legal contract that concerns GeyserTimes.  GeyserTimes uses a license called the Open Database License (ODbL) and I encourage you to read about it if you’ve ever contributed data to GeyserTimes.

ODbL Summary

Thanks!  It’s been fun!

Legal Status Update

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Cease and Desist Letter

I am already on top of this, but I want GeyserTimes users to be aware that I have received a Cease & Desist letter from a law firm claiming to represent the National Park Service.  They are demanding that we immediately stop recording observations of eruptions from the Old Faithful webcam because they are copyrighted.  Crazy, I know, read the letter.

I’m shocked at this development and I have contacted a lawyer.  I plan to fight this action.  I will keep you updated on proceedings.  For now, PLEASE continue to enter observed eruptions in GeyserTimes.  I am apparently the only one implicated here and they can’t go after anyone else.

Sincerely,

Jake Young

Geyser Predictions

Geyser predictions are wonderful aids in planning a geyser-gazing itinerary.  However, they are not to be trusted blindly.

The National Park Service predicts 6 geysers: Old Faithful, Grand, Castle, Daisy, Riverside, and Great Fountain.  These geysers have large eruptions and are mostly stable in their eruptive behavior which allows them to be predicted.  Even then, the NPS uses language like “may erupt between X and Y.”  May erupt, might, possibly, could.  All the qualifying phrases are necessary when talking about geyser predictions.

We offer predictions of other geysers on GeyserTimes.  Geysers like Beehive and Fountain are spectacular and can enter into phases of “predictability.”  However, there are good reasons that the NPS does not predict them.  Fountain Geyser is in the Lower Geyser Basin and it is more difficult to keep track of its behavior.  It’s also a constant risk that a visitor will receive a prediction of “noon to 2pm,” arrive at Fountain just after noon, wait, wait some more, then eventually leave (frustrated and angry) not knowing that Fountain erupted at 11:50am.

For a geyser like Beehive, a prediction with the same accuracy of other NPS predictions (about 90%) might require a really wide time window of perhaps 6, 8, or 10 hours.  It doesn’t feel like much of a helpful prediction at that point, especially considering the average visitor’s time in Yellowstone is about 2 days total.

Despite these challenges, or perhaps because of them, predicting is fun.  We are making our own geyser predictions that you can use–just know the risks that could lead to you sitting somewhere for many hours waiting and hoping!

Ultimately it is up to you to determine if a geyser has a chance to erupt or if it has already erupted recently and it’s best to move on.  There are several resources that can help you including http://www.gosa.org.  You can also attempt your own predictions by looking at recent activity of a geyser on GeyserTimes.  Good luck and happy gazing!

Geyser Times Bootstrap Release

Our “Bootstrap” update has finally arrived.  The highlights:

  •  Note structure changed to be based on datetimes rather than just a date, can be observations at a point in time or over a range of times
  • Notes are now easier to find–they are displayed in logbook view and on the geyser page
  • New search bar for geysers and historical dates makes it easier to find what you’re looking for
  • Home page logbook view now automatically refreshes
  • Data logger temperature charting and archived temperature files for download
  • Added a site tour for new visitors
  •  Ugly old prediction display replaced by pretty Gantt chart format
  • Entering mulitple day’s worth of eruptions is now easier: the multi-entry page has been revamped to handle multiple dates
  • Ability to store eruptions to the accuracy of seconds (rather than to the minute) (multi-entry only)***IMPORTANT***
    If you have the GT Android App, it must be updated to version 2.0.0 . The old version will cease to receive any new data or submit data.
    ***********

In addition, for you researcher and programmer-types, V3 of the GT API has been made public. This allows programmatic access to the eruption and notes database. I will be improving the documentation and sending out more information over the winter.

Electronic Eruption Times for Summer 2014

Electronic eruption times have been posted to GeyserTimes from the Summer 2014 season.  Thank you to Hank Heasler for providing the temperature logger data.

Data was downloaded on Oct 30 and 31, 2014 for the following geysers:

  • Artemisia
  • Aurum
  • Beehive
  • Castle
  • Daisy
  • Fountain
  • Grand
  • Great Fountain
  • Little Squirt
  • Oblong
  • Old Faithful (thru Sep 16, 2014)
  • Plume
  • Spouter (data received, E times not yet calculated)

Unfortunately, data is not available for the following geysers:

  • Lion (unknown logger failure)
  • Grotto (destroyed due to moisture)
  • King (location not suitable, did not registered observed eruptions)
  • Riverside (thermistor and logger failure)

We’re working on improvements to GeyserTimes to allow the visual exploration of electronic temperature data from both the YVO and NPS Geology department along with a whole slew of other changes.  The expected release date is pre-Jan 1, 2015.

The API

GT’s first publicly-available API will be Version 3.  Version 1 didn’t last very long, Version 2 supports the Android app.  It’s very finicky and isn’t good enough to be public-facing.  So Version 3 it is!  I expect to release it by late September and it will be in improvement mode once we get a few users who will request different things of it.

Along with a robust API, a lot of behind-the-scenes code for GT will be changed for the better.  Unfortunately, it’s a lot of work that produces little visible results for the public.  It’ll make me feel a lot better about longevity and stability of the website though!  When I first started GT, I was learning a lot as I went along and php moved ahead to better technologies while I was still using the older.  It’s definitely time for an upgrade.

-Jake