Friday, February 15, 2013

The Latest BCID Software! Part 2 Of 2

Review: BCID software (from Bat Call Identification, Inc.) Part 2 Of 2

I'm having a lot of fun with this software! Finally! After many years of simply recording bats...Having the ability to quickly identify them to species...Even though it's not 100% accurate...Is still an awesome thrill.

Here's a quick summary, from Part 1 of this review:
* The software is developed by  Bat Call Identification, Inc.
* By default, it analyzes zero-cross files (such as those produced by AnaBat, SM2BAT, etc.). But, it features a built-in utility that will convert .wav files to .zca (zero-cross) files.
* A single-license copy of the software currently sells for $979.

* The software is robust, fast, easy to install, and use.

A typical work-flow of the software is as follows:

1. After the program is launched, you may start by clicking the 'Add Folders To Project' button, on the lower left of the BCID Dialog box

2. Specifying the path (File Folder location) where the (.zca/zero-cross) files reside. You are given the opportunity to drill down to the drive letter and Folder name.

3. Once the Folder is selected, click on the 'Identify Calls' button, and you will see the script run.

It's basically a Microsoft Windows Script. Which, in layman's terms means: It will appear as though a "ghost" is (quickly) clicking on a few buttons, on the Analook window. Analook will launch, and program options will be automatically selected, etc. The script will finish as quickly as it started. And, the dialog box that pops up, will prompt you to "Click OK" - "When you see "Done" displayed below the box.
*Note: AnaBat software, is not required in order for BCID to work. The reason is that BCID includes AnaLook - In the form of an executable file (Analookw.exe) which resides in the software's default Folder (i.e. C:\Program Files\BCID...)

BCID, is of course, excellent when used with files produced by any zero-crossing detector. This ID software is a powerful application, aimed at bat survey Professionals. For example, it was designed to handle >5000 files at a time! I found it very useful, when handling (what I believed to be) "large quantities" of recordings.
One of the hurdles I faced, in the past, was having large numbers of individual recordings - Without any quick way of analyzing them. It was a manual process, comparing sonograms/bat calls to the characteristics of calls from known (confirmed) species. To do this, you must have access to recordings that were made with a "bat in the hand" as the expression goes. These can be in the form of pages from books, or electronic format, etc.

After leaving some detectors out, doing passive recording for the entire evening - The next day, I was left with many individual recordings. Most of which would turn out to not have recorded any bats. Before having BCID software available, there was no easy way to determine which recordings picked up bats. What I ended up doing, was to open large bunches of files using Audacity. Then, I could at least use the visual representations of the recorded sounds, to see if bat calls were recorded or not. It was fairly tedious and I'm sure that many weak bat calls were missed using this method.

With BCID software, all of that work is a thing of the past. You simply tell BCID where your (.zca) files are located, and a few seconds later, an MS Excel file is created. By default, the Excel file is placed in the root directory (where the original files reside).

In addition, BCID also has a page on their site, which shows some great Example bat calls: Very informative!
I'm very happy that they have provided these valuable sonograms. They can be used to help you ID bats that you've recorded. Regardless of the software used, in the creation of your sonograms, you'll find these to be a big help. The bats represented, are North American species, in this case.

As far as weaknesses are concerned, the one area that is far from perfect, is the 'WavtoZero' feature. Accessed by clicking on the Tab of the same name. Of course, as the name implies, it is designed to convert .wav files to .zca files. But, during testing/normal use, this feature doesn't work as well as one might like.
However, the end user is made aware of this, clicking on the WavtoZero tab will bring up this embedded text: "BETA Version: This converter is still being refined for optimal performance. There are many types of ".wav" files and all may not work correctly. Please email us an example if you encounter a bat call file that does not work."

As a bat detecting enthusiast, you can imagine how wonderful it is to have such an application, at my disposal. I believe that many bat detecting Professionals will find it indispensable.

Happy bat detecting!

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