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Over the past months we have been undergoing in-depth technical work behind the scenes of iSpot updating the technology this will help to ensure that the service we provide has a sustainable future. With the first phase of this work almost done we will be introducing changes to the site in the coming weeks and months. We will be providing regular updates, revised Help Sections and FAQs to inform and guide you through this process so do look out for this; but we need your help too. The most important thing we need you to do now is to check and make sure that the email address you have linked with your account / profile is up-to-date.
Due to essential network maintenance, iSpot will be unavailable between 22:00 (GMT/UTC) Saturday 8th April and 10:00 (GMT/UTC) Monday 10th April, 2017. We do apologise for any inconvenience this may cause. Please note that because of the recent impact of spam on the site, as a precautionary measure, we have temporarily disabled new accounts. Therefore if you try to register and have difficulties doing so, please try again later.
As you may have noticed, iSpot was unavailable on and off periodically from Thursday evening, March 16th to Saturday March 18th 2017. We have been dealing with an influx of spam on the site and have had to take the site offline as needed as a precautionary measure to manage this. We are monitoring the situation so please do bear with us as we work to resolve it. We apologise for any inconvenience this may be cause.
What is an ecosystem? What is co-evolution? How do species interact with their habitat? How do we preserve ecosystems? These are some of the questions posed and answered in The Open University's MOOC (Massive Open Online Course): Introduction to Ecosystems. This free course runs for six weeks. If you are interested, read on to find out more.
It’s not too late to save UK nature but we must act now - that is the conclusion from a coalition of more than 50 leading wildlife and research organisations, including iSpotnature.org, who are behind the State of Nature 2016 report.
We had to do some necessary site maintenance this morning so you may have noticed that iSpotnature.org was off-line for an hour or so.
This was part of the regular maintenance which is important to keep the site running.
Thanks again for your patience.
The iSpot Team
The year 2015 looks like it will go down as the warmest on record and there are predictions that 2016 will be even warmer due to the effects of El Niño and climate change. It’s already the beginning of February, have you noticed any effects on our wildlife?
The iSpot Team has been busy developing our plans for 2016, while at the same time reviewing and reflecting on iSpot activity last year. What were your favourite observations of 2015?
As you may have noticed, iSpot was unavailable from Friday evening, January 15th to this morning, Monday, January 18. We apologise for any inconvenience this may have caused.
We dealt with an influx of spam on the site on Friday and decided to take the site offline as a precautionary measure as there appeared to be a threat of a large scale spam attack over the weekend. The team has carried out some work to reduce the risk of a similar attack in the future.
On 13 May iSpot passed the half-million mark! This represents an amazing collaboration by people all round the world to find and help identify wildlife. Congratulations to iSpotter "Mavourneen" for the 500,000th observation!
It’s all quiet on the western front this week, so only a few things to report as some of the team are on leave and some on other projects:
What has been completed this week
- Investigate and fix issue with API not returning full query result set (complete and live).
- Security update to Drupal core (complete and live).
- Security update to ctools 3rd party module (complete and live).
- Improve add observation wizard performance (complete and ready for testing)
Once again, thank you for your patience as we work through the bug list. Also, apologies for the issue with the updates last week whereby we broke the add observation wizard – everything was fine in testing, however the update didn’t work as expected on the live server.
What has been completed this week
We have completed a number of tasks this week, though not as much on the bug fixing as we would have liked. We are currently testing things with a target of making these fixes live next Tuesday. Some of the fixes are particularly around performance - this doesn't fix all performance as there are still issues with contention and some slow queries.
What has been completed this week
Apologies for a slightly delayed update this week, as we had some issues with the site on Friday. Some of the team were away at a conference during the week, and we also had a team building activity which means not a huge amount report this week.
What has been completed this week
Surprise! We're early with our update this week!
We have made a number of bug fixes live on the iSpot website this week. Here’s a roundup of what’s changed…
Bug fixing progress
The work to migrate the iSpot database to MySQL 5.7 is still ongoing. This week we discovered an issue that is causing problems with projects. Essentially, where lines on a project polygon touch, or cross, the database is returning incorrect query results. We have been working on a fix to prevent “bad” polygons being submitted. We have identified around 20 projects that are currently affected by this – we’ll aim to either fix these or contact the project owner to advise that they need to amend their polygon(s).
Bug fixing progress
The team last week updated the website whereby user sessions that have been inactive for 2 hours are automatically logged out. We made an error in implementing this change without informing or warning users before implementing this update – this was a mistake on our part and we apologise for that. To clarify the reasons for the change:
We regret to inform you that the iSpot app has now been withdrawn, with apologies to those who were previously making use of it. The app was no longer working adequately and regretfully we do not have the resources to continue its development at the moment. The app (which was for Android devices) will no longer be available via Google Play.
The good news is that the iSpot website now works more effectively on browsers for mobile devices, and should allow touchscreen control on phones and tablets.
A new paper describing iSpot's crowd-sourcing approach to species identification has been published in the open-access journal ZooKeys.
Since our last update there have been upgrades to some of the software that iSpot uses (PHP and Drupal), leading to small but significant improvements in site performance (that is, how long it takes for certain queries to be run and pages to be displayed). Further upgrades to other parts of the software portfolio have been tested on the development website, and will be implemented on iSpot itself once all tests have been passed.
As regular users of iSpot will be aware, we have had a few technical problems following the merge of the main iSpot site with our southern Africa partner site. Our development team have been tracking the performance of the site, and reviewing feedback for site users, to assess what the most important issues are and plan how to deal with them. We'll try and keep you up to date with progress.
iSpot has been running very successfully in southern Africa for the past three years, led by the South African National Biodiversity Institute. As regular iSpotters will know, we have been working to merge the southern Africa site with the main iSpot site, and we're delighted that this has now been achieved.
Fancy a mission? Join the Weather-it community! "Weather-it" is for anyone with an interest in weather. You can take part by using your mobile phone's inbuilt sensors, your cloud-spotting skills and more.
A fungus observation added to iSpot has been identified as a species only found once before in the UK! Read on to find out how Dave Ellacott was helped by iSpot to track down the Orange Pore fungus.
The OpenScience Laboratory, the home of iSpot, won the "Outstanding ICT Initiative of the Year" category at last night's The Times Higher Education Awards. The awards, held in London, recognise outstanding achievements for education in the UK:
As you may have noticed, iSpot was unavailable over the weekend of 22-23 November. This was due to attacks by spammers - we suffered our most serious attack to date. This meant a lot of additional work for our IT team, but we think that the current problem has now been cured, and we have put in place new procedures to prevent it happening again. Further reviews are under way to see if we can make the site even more secure.
iSpot Projects allow you to set up a page that filters out observations for a particular place, time, or species group etc. iSpotters have been making good use of the Projects function with over 2,000 so far - read on to find out how.
We've updated our video guides to registering on iSpot, and how to add an observation:
Other recent changes include updated information on how to link your Open University computer identity (OUCU) to your iSpot profile:
Welcome to the new look for iSpot! Months of hard work by the iSpot development team can now be revealed, with a fresh design and exciting additional features. Here are the main changes that you will find. We hope you like them!
For some months our developers have been hard at work on the next upgrade to iSpot, and we hope to be able to launch this in July. The planned changes include:
- Refreshing the appearance of the site as a whole
- An exciting new "Projects" feature that will allow you gather the observations you wish to see, whether for a particular location (such as a nature reserve), species group or time period, on to one page that you can share with others
- A rework of the MySpot area to start introducing a more personalised iSpot. This includes:
Hong Kong has joined the iSpot international community - welcome! We look forward to helping Hong Kong's residents and visitors explore their local biodiversity.
Two further natural history groups have been badged on iSpot this week - many thanks to the people who have offered to represent them. Click on the links to find out more about these two active organisations:
We're pleased to announce a new feature on iSpot: the Species browser. This allows you to browse through the most frequently observed species in different groups of wildlife, and can help you identify what you have seen.
iSpot will be unavailable for about an hour on Thursday morning - apologies for any inconvenience. This is to allow the latest round of updates to be applied to the site.
Once we're back up and running you should see:
- Home community: you will be able to choose a 'home community' that will remain associated with your iSpot account (unless you decide to change it in future); you will be able to click on the other communities and see everything in them as well, but your home community will be the one that you see each time you log on to iSpot.
Welcome to iSpot's new community in Chile! A recent workshop at Universidad Catolica del Norte, in Coquimbo, is part of iSpot's continued growth around the world, helped by recent changes to the iSpot website structure.
At the beginning of October the first of a series of iSpot updates were issued, aimed at improving iSpot in general, and in particular making it work more effectively for international use.
The biggest of these is that you can now choose from a range of iSpot communities for the UK and Ireland, for Chile, and for global use.
There are a number of updates to iSpot coming soon! The first of these has already happened, which is that the website address (URL) for iSpot has changed. We are now:
The old address (ispot.org.uk) will continue to function but will re-direct you to the above address.
This is in preparation for further updates that will allow iSpot to function more effectively, especially for international use. You'll soon be able to choose which parts of the world you want to focus on, e.g. so that you see only UK observations, or other geographical areas.