TAG :: Toronto Area Geocachers » 2011 » January

Jan 31 2011

Looks like it’s maintenance mode time again at Geocaching.com. Tomorrow, the site will go offline for it’s monthly site update and come back shortly with new features, changes and fixes. The site will go offline at 1PM EST, and these things usually last a good hour or two. During the maintenance window, you won’t be able to log caches or look them up. If you want to cache in tomorrow’s snowstorm, better grab a Pocket Query beforehand.

One of the updates I am expecting to see, based on the UserVoice feedback is the addition of “Favourite Ratios”, where you can display a cache’s favourite count against the number of Premium Members who found that cache.

Jan 25 2011

Back in December, Garmin launched that Opencaching.com listing service to compete with Geocaching.com. One of the big speculation items has been, would Garmin embrace non Garmin tech or would the site become just a marketing tool for Garmin products. Would they, for example, support smartphone users? Turns out, with that Opencaching API, Garmin doesn’t have to.

Enter “Cache Me”, by iTravel Tech. “Cache Me” is a free, third-party,  geocaching application for Android and iPhone owners that provides listing information for up to 100 nearby geocaches. It was developed in under a month, which is much, much quicker than Groundspeak’s applictions for Geocaching.com. Note this app will ONLY interact with Opencaching.com, in fact it’s the first geocaching app I’ve seen that doesn’t try to use any data or service from Geocaching.com at all. t

The app shows how an open API can allow third party developers to improve the customer experience for the listing site, and how smaller developers can roll something out the door quickly. Cache Me is a “live data” application, and results are returned in realtime from the site. Being a full API application, there’s no need to scrape the Opencaching.com website and the result is a much faster experience than some other third party caching tools (and there’s no fear of user account bans either).

Some of the nice features that Cache Me delivers:

When you start the application, it immediately performs a search for nearby caches – up to 100 of them in version 1.4. The search took about 2 seconds to complete on my iPhone 4. You are presented a list but one finger tap and you can view them on a map instead. Pan the map anywhere, pinch to zoom in and out, or change the map from street to satellite or have a hybrid. Pan somewhere else and tap refresh if you want to recenter your search on another part of the map (road trip anyone?).  Tap on a pin to see the cache description – the cache automatically becomes your target.

Once you select a cache, you will be presented with a summary screen. Here you can see who placed the cache, when (including the time!) and how it fares on the various Opencaching.com metrics – Awesomeness, Terrain, Size and Difficulty. Scroll the screen down and you will find the description text. At the bottom are options to view the hint, and up to 30 recent log entries.

The app does have some drawbacks, however.

Most noticable is the complete lack of tools for logging on site – there’s no log function within the app and I have not found an easy way to open that cache in the browser easily either.

The app does not feature any tools for handling puzzles or multi stage caches.

Still, the application was out the door 30 days after Opencaching.com launched. It’s under active development and more functionality is bound to be heading to the program. It will be interesting to see how this develops, and if it drives any innovation for the Groundspeak smartphone applications, or the Groundspeak API.

[ iTravel Tech ] [ Cache Me iTunes Link ] [ Cache Me Android ] [ Cache Me Facebook Page ]

Jan 24 2011

If you go caching with a modern smartphone, chances are it has a capacitive display. Capacitive displays require your skin to actually touch the screen, so they don’t work well with gloves on. If you have been out caching in Ontario over the last few downright bone-chilling days, and writing logs on your iPhone/Droid or what-not – well, you may be missing an index finger or two. The solution to this is gloves that weave capacitive material into them.

There are a few companies with solutions, and there’s a Canadian solution (of course)  — that is Brampton based Glider Gloves. I bought a pair of these for my wife and they work very well. Teambuy.ca, which is similar to Groupon but more aimed at Canadians has a deal going on their site for these gloves – $15 including shipping (normally $24.99 + shipping) so if you are looking this is the time to jump on the deal, which expires in two days.

Jan 22 2011

Garmin has released new firmware for the Colorado series, putting the current version at 3.60. This appears to be a rebrand of the 3.52 beta as there are no noticable changes between the beta and this final release.

Changes made from version 3.50 to 3.60:

* Added support for chirp™ detection. This software update will allow Colorado units to detect previously-programmed chirp™ units. See http://www.garmin.com/chirp for details on which units are chirp™ compatible. NOTE: Due to the hardware present in Colorado devices, chirp™ detection range may be less than that of other compatible devices. * Updated magnetic Earth field data. * Fixed issue with certain JPEGs not drawing from Custom Maps. * Fixed issue with Oblique Mercator User Grid distances.

* Fixed line color when navigating a track off-road.

[ Colorado 3.60 Firmware ]

Jan 21 2011

Garmin has released an update to their POI loader software for Windows. This software lets you take locations and add them as “Points of Interest” to compatible GPS units. Most modern Garmin devices support this feature. While these “Custom POI’s” are not editable on your device, it does allow you to load many, many more locations on the device than the Waypoints or Geocaches feature does. For example, in the image above I used POI loader to put 21,000 geocaches on my Nuvi 265. With this latest update, Garmin addresses a couple sore spots like file names and large GPX file loading problems.

[ Garmin POI Loader 2.60 ]

  • Added ability to specify a custom POI file’s name
  • Added ability to handle swapped lat and lon values in CSV files
  • Fixed issue with multi-line CSV files not being read correctly
  • Fixed issue with extended ASCII characters in CSV files
  • Fixed issue with reading large gpx and csv files making the application unresponsive

Jan 18 2011

…. and the Geocaching.com update train keeps on rolling. This one is for geocachers who cache with a Windows Phone 7 device. This one is a little different – they updated the site instead of the App for these fixes, so you don’t need to run out and download anything.

The forum post says it all:

Bug Fixes:

* “Hide my finds” now only hides you’ve logged as “Found”.

* Log in issues have been corrected.

* Pocket Queries are working.

* Connection issues have been resolved.

* Archived caches no longer show up in searches.

Jan 17 2011

Here’s a little something we missed a few days ago (January 12th) – Groundspeak’s official Geocaching App for Android was updated to 1.1.3.
You can now upload photos with your logs and select motion based compass.

From the Geocaching.com forum post, here’s what changed:

Android v1.1.3 has been released!

New Features:
* Upload photos with logs.

* Log manager to edit pending logs and view sent logs.

* Motion based compass is now an available option.

* Create, edit, delete, and select waypoints from the compass.

Bug Fixes:
* Fixed an issue that was causing erratic compass behavior.

* Behind the scenes improvements.

Jan 15 2011

This tip is for the Colorado, Oregon, GPSMAP 62/78 and Dakota line of Garmin GPS recievers.

The story goes something like this.  You upgraded your Garmin GPS receiver to the latest beta firmware.  Perhaps it was because of a new feature, or a bug that was listed as fixed, or a bug that wasn’t listed but you were hoping was fixed, or you’re just a glutton for punishment.  Whatever the reason, you’re now running the latest and greatest.  Or so you thought…  You notice that a new bug, or two, has been introduced.  It’s serious enough that the reason you upgraded isn’t worth the aggravation.  You want to go back.

If you were running a previous beta it’s easy.  Just run the EXE file for that firmware and you’re back to where you were.

But what if you want to go back to a release version.  You don’t have an EXE for that since you’ve probably used Webupdater to load it.  No problem.  Webupdater puts the firmware file in the Garmin folder on your unit in a file called gupdate.gcd.  All you had to do was copy this file somewhere else before you rebooted your GPS receiver.  Just copy that file back to the Garmin folder and reboot.  You’re done.

“But I didn’t back up anything!”, you say.  Since this is the first time you want to go back you probably didn’t make a back up of the firmware file.  Fortunately you’re not stuck.  The good folks at gpsfix.net have prepared for this possibility and have links to the firmware files on their wiki pages.  Just download GCD file for the firmware you want, rename it to gupdate.gcd, put it in your Garmin folder on your GPS receiver and reboot.

There is one small gotcha.  Going back to a previous version of firmware will reset all the settings on your GPSr.  Your battery type, WAAS enabled, units, and other customizations will all go back to defaults.  Your loaded maps, geocaches and custom POI will be left alone.  Waypoints will probably survive as well.

Here’s the links to the wiki pages for all the GPS recievers:

  • Colorado
  • Oregon
  • Oregon x50
  • GPSMAP 62/78
  • Dakota

Jan 13 2011

Groundspeak has finally started issuing the Canadian Provinces “souvenirs”. They started with Ontario. Souvenirs are Groundspeak’s equivalent of an achievement badge. These are awarded these for visiting caches or events, sometimes at a specific date or time.

The Souvenir for Ontario features artwork of maple leaves, a loon and Niagara Falls. They also include some descriptive text about the Province:

The most populous of the provinces, Ontario is the seat of the national capital and over half of Canada’s manufacturing. It stretches the farthest south of any part of the Canadian mainland, reaching farther south than California’s northern border.

Souvenirs are also awarded retroactively – so if you’ve ever found a cache in Ontario, check the Souvenirs tab on your Geocaching.com “My Profile” page to see yours.

Jan 13 2011

In case you haven’t heard, the Central Ontario Geocachers are holding their annual Spring Fling Mega Event Cache on June 11, 2011. Once again it’s being held at the Tiffen Centre, less than one hour north of the Toronto Area. Apparently they have been infiltrated by some rogue element so details are scarce. They are calling for all geocachers to assist with their mission – local or otherwise.

What we do know is that the event is one you don’t want to miss, so be sure to visit the event page to view the vital information. You’ll also want to post a Will-Attend on the Geocaching.com event page. Preregistration opened up yesterday and they will be having a prize draw for those who register before May 1.

[ Spring Fling ][ Central Ontario Geogachers ] [ Groundspeak Forum Thread ] [ GC1MGER ]