TAG :: Toronto Area Geocachers » geocaching.com

Aug 18 2011

It’s not Tuesday, but as expected Groundspeak has taken the site offline to launch Challenges ahead of Groundspeak’s big Block Party.

We’ve been over challenges already, the part I noted in the announcement was more the details about the fact that changes are already planned:

Challenges is a work in progress! We are planing several hotfixes in the next couple weeks to address bugs and feature requests. Some ideas for the next phases include:

  • Highly rated Challenges displayed in geocache search results
  • Pocket Queries for Challenges (and GPX downloads)
  • Mapping tools
  • New Challenge Types
  • Support for verification questions

Also noteworthy in the update is some minor changes to logs and profile pages. They are working toward diminishing the find count from being visible on the cache logs – instead of showing Handle (5000 found) there’s a little bar chart underneath your profile thumbnail pic (that pic is new). You can hover your mouse on the thumbnail pic for more details on finds/challenge completions.

Challenges are a new feature to experiment with, and Groundspeak will be issuing a new challenge once a day to get things started up. Premium Members will also be able to post one per day, and we’re getting a “thumbs up/thumbs down” ranking for these challenges. (Now there’s quite a few people asking for that for caches, but we only got the “thumbs up” on that one). [ Groundspeak August 18th Release Notes ]

Aug 16 2011

Update: Looks like the overall find count will go up when you log a challenge. [Link] (Thanks Avernar)

Groundspeak released a video on Youtube (via their Latitude 47 Blog) that describes “Action” Challenges, where a cacher will be expected to go to a certain location and perform an action of some sort. The example provided in the video is “go to a spot and play chess”. This activity, which brings back additional logging requirements virtual caches in a slightly different way, is set to launch later this week. The smartphone apps will all be updated once it launches. Groundspeak also has a “Photo Challenge” type, that presumably requires you to take a photo in a given location (which is much more “virtual cache” like).

Take a look at the video:


Premium members will be able to create new challenges, and when you complete one you do get a “smiley”, though these will not count toward your total geocaching finds count.

This isn’t to be confused with the already existing “Challenge Caches”, where there is a physical cache to be found but you cannot log a cache online until you meet the cache owner’s “challenge” (example: find a cache in every county of the Province, or find all difficulty/terrain combinations).

It’s Not About the Numbers also has some information on this new caching type on their blog.

[ Latitude 47 ] [ INATN ]

Aug 10 2011

Not for the feint of heart, but GSAK – the Geocaching Swiss Army Knife has posted a beta of the next major version. Version 8 is going to be a chargeable upgrade, but in the mean time you can play with the beta version using your version 7 registration key.

The big update here is that you can interact with the Geocaching.com public API using GSAK 8. This is an extremely useful bit of functionality – just think about the potential for this in the macro section for example

Clyde calls out three main changes over V7:

Version 8 includes many changes since Version 7, but probably the 3 biggest of note are:

1. Increased functionality by leveraging the new Groundspeak api 2. Support for custom data (virtually unlimited number of fields)

3. A newer, more modern look and feel

The rest of the changes are located here.

If you are a macro developer, or a GSAK power user who wants to try the new program before it’s complete go on over and download it. If you are not ready to use potentially broken software, or put up with bugs wait until the final release.

[ GSAK ]

Aug 10 2011

BFL Boot Camp is an annual night caching gathering held in North Halton by the Keepers of the Order of the BFL, or simply “The BFL Crew”. This group of cachers head out every friday night looking for geocaches hidden throughout the Greater Toronto Area. One night each year, the tables are turned – and the BFL Crew hides the caches, and hosts an event. This is the 6th year we have held the event.

Most event caches feature caching followed by a meal at a pub. Not this event – our tradition is to meet at a local pub, then send everyone out to look for the caches over the rest of the night. We set up a “command centre” where you can interact with other cachers, chat with the BFL Crew, or simply warm up with some hot chocolate. The pub portion of the event runs typically from 7pm to 9pm, and the caching runs from 9pm to 4am.

We have two “events” hosted on Geocaching.com:

  • GC31VTF – BFL Boot Camp VI – Briefing Pub  (Not published yet – still working out which pub to take over)
    This is a gathering before the night caching where cachers may get together and share stories, or group up for the upcoming night caching session in the woods. The pub is still being organized, so it has not been activated on Geocaching.com just yet
  • GC2YVBH – BFL Boot Camp VI – Retro Reflect
    Is the main geocaching event. This is the location of the “command centre”.We’ll be out there in the woods from 9:30pm to 4:00am.

The event this year is being held on October 29.

Aug 05 2011

Another feature that popped back to Geocaching.com with the August update is renewed social networking links.

This isn’t the controversial feature that allowed you to “Like” a geocache on Facebook. This time it’s more personal – you can connect your Twitter account and/or your Facebook account, and have the link generated by your geocaching log posted to your feed. It still links directly to the cache, not your specific log but there’s no “Like” count incrementing on Facebook, for example. People looking at a cache page will not see that you have linked to it.

Connecting your geocaching account to a social network is fairly straightforward. When you go to http://www.geocaching.com/my/sharing.aspx , you are (currently) presented with two buttons: Login with Twitter and Login with Facebook. If you pick the Twitter one, you’ll be presented with a web page that asks for your Twitter credentials and a big “Authorize app” button. At this point, if you give Geocaching.com authorization to use your account, the site will be able to post updates to your twitter feed.

If you change your mind later, go back to http://www.geocaching.com/my/sharing.aspx and pick “Remove Access”. Or go to your Twitter account, and remove access from the “Settings” menu.

The process is similar for Facebook integration. Back to http://www.geocaching.com/my/sharing.aspx, hit Login with Facebook. If you’re already logged into Facebook on the computer, you’ll see the screen above. Otherwise you’ll be asked to login first. You will see what Geocaching.com wants access to, specifically the ability to post to your wall at any time.

Again, if you change your mind there are two ways to remove the link. Either click on the Remove Access button at http://www.geocaching.com/my/sharing.aspx, or you can do it from the Applications subpage of the Account page on your Facebook profile.

Something I highly recommend, so that you are not flooding your newsfeed … turn off automatic posting from http://www.geocaching.com/my/sharing.aspx. Go to the page, and clear the  check boxes under Twitter for Send a Tweet when: “I log a geocache on the website”, “I log a geocache through a Geocaching Live-enabled application”. Also clear the check box under Facebook for “I log a geocache on the website”. Keep an eye on that greyed out one that is “(coming soon)” as you will likely want to disable it too.

Why did I take you through connecting up your Social Networks, only to disable them? Simple. This stops you from spamming your Twitter and Facebook followers/friends every time you go out caching. If you are the sort of cacher who goes out for one or two caches once in a while then this doesn’t affect you much. If you tend to go out power trail caching, visiting 100 caches in a day then you will likely have no followers or friends left by the end of your caching day. The options above will post a Tweet or Status Update every time you find a cache. That means 100 Tweets for a 100 cache day, and that is the sort of thing that causes people to want to silence your updates.

You can still have your connection to Twitter and Facebook though! When logging on the site, you’ll notice two new options have appeared below your log text. There are check boxes for updating your Twitter Status and your Facebook Status. When you want to highlight a cache  to your friends and followers, just tick those two boxes in the “Sharing Options” block and it’ll be sent to your feed or your wall.

On Facebook, the posts are pretty noticeable, with an image representing the cache and a link back to it.

And here it is on Twitter – with the simple text that I “found the geocache” and a link to the cache.

Interesting enough, the links go straight to the cache page, and not straight to your log but then again anyone acting on your link will most likely see your log right there at the top of the list. I would have preferred that they link straight to your log entry but I suppose this is more about introducing people to the cache as opposed to your story.

Aug 02 2011

Geocaching.com has gone down for it’s monthly maintenance window. But the Release Notes have a gem. This update activates the third party developers API. That means you can get things like smartphone apps, which use live data – and not have them resort to site scraping. This API has been a very controversial popular request, as seen on UserVoice

The first app out the gate is CacheSense, a Blackberry geocaching application. This fills a bit of a need since Groundspeak has not created an official Blackberry app. Well, there was that Trimble thing but really, this fills the niche better.

Also notable, you can now put 15 attributes on your cache page instead of 10. Might be time to revisit your listings and see if you need to add anything that didn’t make the cut before. There are also some new attributes – Seasonal Access, Teamwork Required, Tourist Friendly, Tree Climbing and Front Yard

The rest of the changes happening today follow:

What else is new?


• Added a video to Geocaching.com/iPhone showing the Geocaching for iPhone application in action • Added new cache attributes: Seasonal Access, Teamwork Required, Tourist Friendly, Tree Climbing and Front Yard (private residence) • Added Hungarian translations to Geocaching.com • Retroactively awarded Mega event Souvenirs for 4 recent events • Increased total number of assignable cache attributes from 10 to 15 • Localized Basic and Premium registration pages so they can be translated in other languages • Increased the number of Trackable activation codes that can be retrieved within a one hour period • Added an option in search results to highlight “beginner caches” (low difficulty/traditional type/recently found etc.) • Added Twitter and Facebook sharing options to cache log pages, visit your profile or geocaching.com/my/sharing.aspx to connect your accounts • Added the ability to temporarily close the yellow banner announcing scheduled maintenance on Geocaching.com • Updated Terms of Use Agreement (Section 4) to clarify age restriction for posting to Groundspeak Discussion Forums

• Added special Block Party icon for annual Groundspeak headquarters event

Bug Fixes

• Removed meta tags from cache page source of unpublished cache pages so spoilers are not revealed pre-publication • Fixed bug which caused a Trackable to enter a limbo state if marked missing and moved to the owner’s collection • Membership referral field when creating an account will now properly recognize extended characters in usernames • Changed “Waypoint Name” to “GC Code” on Create a Pocket Query form • When previewing a Cache Along a Route the highlighted portion of the map will now properly adjust in size based on the zoom level • Added Chatham Islands as a region for New Zealand and now allowing caches placed there to have a West longitude • Fixed bug on home page search where street addresses were not recognized without a postal code • Fixed bug which prevented marking a Trackable missing when language set to German or Czech • Added missing “generic” Geocoin icon to Trackables inventory page and Trackable map • Fixed bug where retracted caches would still appear on the map for a short time • Fixed support request form to properly auto-populate your username when filling out a support inquiry • Caches found in the African nation Congo no longer incorrectly appear on the statistics map in the Democratic Republic of the Congo • Fixed profile statistics display in which the first cache type in a bar chart was truncated • Fixed bug in advanced search which improperly included found or owned caches in search results when the user requested they be excluded • Disabled Send to GPS link for PMO caches when viewed by a logged in Basic Member • Fixed paragraph formatting for print-friendly cache pages • Added a new text entry field on Trackables lookup page for situations where the Trackable ID was first entered incorrectly • Fixed bug which prevented the resending of validation emails when the first email was misplaced • Updated cache creation page to require a state selection when submitting caches for Belgium • Fixed Trackables description display issue which cause emoticons to disrupt HTML formatting • Updated cache log smiley icons to the higher contrast versions used on the map • Fixed styling issue on account creation page causing error message to be misaligned • Changed link on Travel Bugs ordering info page from shop.groundspeak.com to shop.geocaching.com

• Added ability for cache owners to set the “Needs Maintenance” attribute on caches they own

[ Geocaching.com August 2 Release Notes] [ CacheSense ]

Jul 19 2011

GCX3K4 Eagles Nest; Caverns Walk is a 5/5 cache placed by pickachu. It was later adopted by Shaggy01. The cache is located about 1.5 hours north of Toronto, near Singhampton (just outside Collingwood). It is located along the Bruce Trail, in the Blue Mountains section of the club.

This 4 stage multi has (as of today) 19 favorite points which is 42% of premium members favoriting it. It’s a 4 stage multi – 3 physical stages with redirect co-ordinates and a final. What really makes the cache shine is just where it is. The start point is at the top side of the Standing Rock and Caves Side Trail …. a trail that delivers what it advertises. You will be passing through several cave like fissures and that’s what makes the cache fun. Wear good boots and make sure you are comfortable climbing over wet, mossy boulders.

During the summer, you’ll find the caves are a good 10 degrees (Celsius) cooler than the surrounding environment. I’ve been to these caves in August and found snow here. The inverse of this is winter. Be prepared for a very, very difficult terrain when this section of the trail is covered in snow and ice. Taking a wheelchair or bike in here is right out of the question, any time of the year. Travelling here in spring, summer, fall should not require any special equipment however.

This cache is well worth basing the day on obtaining. You can complete the cache in about two hours (not including the drive to/from the trailhead). If you have a camera, best add another hour or two to the time, as you will want to use it here. While you’re in the area be sure to check out Ragnarok which is a short drive south of this area (to Nottawasaga Bluffs Conservation Area), or hike some of the loops and enjoy the views out toward Collingwood and Georgian Bay.

Jul 05 2011

Well, Groundspeak has updated the iPhone app again. But this update is significant – it’s the first one to use the new Geocaching API and it shows. The immediate benefit is that the app is a little quicker and there is a new “Advanced Search” screen that lets you filter like crazy. You can turn on / off certain cache types, set a range for difficulty or terrain, pick certain sizes and … drumroll here …. you can filter caches that up to four of your geocaching friends have already found. How’s that for curing those “which cache is next?” arguments at the car!

Some teaser screen shots:

The GC app will update it’s database the first time you run it. Signs of big changes

… and you’ll have to re-authenticate due to the API

New Authentication Dialog

The API authentication is similar to apps like Twitter and Facebook now. See that “Allow Access” button?

Advanced Search Screen

Hidden at the bottom of the Advanced Search screen, you can filter out caches four of your friends have already found.

Head on over to the app store to get the update (or buy it).

From Groundspeak’s release notes:

Updates include:

  • New Advanced Search to filter by location, cache type, difficulty/terrain, keyword, exclude your finds, exclude finds for up to 4 friends, and Premium caches
  • Sync Personal Cache Notes between the website and your iPhone
  • Create multiple offline cache lists to plan outings; useful when you may be travelling outside network coverage
  • Download Pocket Queries to the iPhone to view cache details, images, and map tiles offline
  • Numerous bug fixes to address performance and reliability

[ Geocaching App for iPhone ] [ Release Notes ]

May 17 2011

Here’s an interesting project that the Central Ontario Geocachers have started up. The idea is to convince Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation to issue licence plates with Groundspeak’s Geocaching logo on board. This has already happened for many organizations around the Province, and it appears to be easier than one would think to get this to happen. COG needs 200 people to commit to getting one of these plates at $90. Once that happens the MTO will not only mint the plates for these 200 early adopters, but the logo will be made available for the general public to put on their vanity plates as well.

I can see this sort of thing taking off here. How long before people get that travel bug number beside the geocaching logo.

Head on over to the Driven to Geocache site for the details.

[ Driven to Geocache ]

May 03 2011

Geocaching.com is gearing up for a site update tomorrow. The site will be getting a new look and feel, with lots of changes visible on the main screen. There is a video posted on Latitude47, Groundspeak’s official blog, that shows what to expect.

From the Geocaching Forums, some lackeys are giving some small details about the planned outage:

Colin said:

Geocaching.com will be going offline for 4-6 hours for a site update on Wednesday, May 04, 2011 at approximately 9am PDT (GMT -7). We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

In an effort to keep people informed, here are some more details about the planned outage:

Estimated start time is 9 AM PST
Will be down:

  • Geocaching.com
  • Waymarking.com
  • Wherigo.com
  • Internal Groundspeak Admin tools
  • User Voice: unless you are already logged in – User Voice itself will be up, but you won’t be able to login with Geocaching.com
  • All API
  • Notifications
  • Pocket Queries

Will be up:

  • Knowledge Books
  • Forums will be operational

And, MissJenn added more detail about the involvement of the hamsters in the process (this was also in the weekly mailer):

… You may or may not be aware that Groundspeak’s servers are powered by hamsters.* We are adding several additional hamsters to the mix**, which should fix website service issues. Groundspeak products will go offline around 9 am Pacific Daylight Time (UTC/GMT -7 hours). We are not sure how long it will take to complete the upgrade; we estimate 4 to 6 hours, but it may be more or less. We will be providing updates on the 4th via Facebook and Twitter. When the Groundspeak products come back online, Geocaching.com will have an updated look and thewebsite performance will be improved.

*Our servers are not powered by hamsters
**Upgrading our database server

The short message here, is if you’re planning on geocaching tomorrow – generate and download your pocket queries now. The site will be out from noon to about 6pm Toronto time. You won’t be able to use the iPhone or Android apps either, unless you download a Pocket Query to your device and log with Field Notes instead of logs.