February 24, 2008
There are a number of applications available that will read your GPS track data and convert it into a format you can use to plot on a map or aerial image. One of my favorites is a free, web-based tool called GPS Visualizer. After you upload your GPS track and/or waypoint data from your GPS device to your computer (using a program like EasyGPS), go to the GPS Visualizer web site. There, you can import your GPX, LOC, or other GPS formatted file, choose your output file (Google Earth (KML), Google Maps, or a flat image file like .JPG), and press "GO!". When the conversion is finished, you'll have a map of your entire hike or ride. You can also modify the output options to view, for example, the elevation or speed profiles of your trek.
There are many other GPS file conversion and visualization tools contained on this web site. GPS Visualizer makes playing with your GPS data fun and easy.
February 16, 2008
But it's especially great for (you know where this is going) helping us geocachers scout out the terrain of our next geocaching hunt. You can simply enter the coordinates of your favorite cache in the search box, and it'll zoom right in to the location for you:
Google Earth also includes a vast array of data layers, such as roads, borders, and places of interest, that you can turn on and off to suit your needs. It even allows you to create your own layers, or placemarks, as specially formatted files for Google Earth, called KML files.
If you get tired of entering all of your cache coordinates into the search box, Geocaching.com offers a nifty little Google Earth data layer tool that will automatically display all of the geocaches in any Google Earth window that you have opened or are zoomed in to. The data from Geocaching.com that is displayed in Google Earth includes the type of listing (Traditional, Multi-cache, etc.) and other data to help you browse caches in a dynamic mapping interface.
To use this tool, first you need to download and install Google Earth on your computer. You can get a copy from the Google Earth web site. Then, download the geocaching add-on tool from the "My Account" page in Geocaching.com (you must be a premium member). On the right side of the page you will see a link to "Download Geocache Browser in Google Earth". After you save the GeocachingNetworkKML.kml file to your PC, either double-click it, or open it from within Google Earth. In a few seconds, you should see all the geocaches located within the area framed in your Google Earth window:
February 10, 2008
To get started, go to the "My Account" section of Geocaching.com, then click on the link to "Set Up Notifications", and finally, click on "Create a new Notification". Here, you'll be presented with various subscription options to choose from, starting with the type of cache to watch. Let's choose "Traditional Cache" to start with, as an example:
Next, you need to choose what type of cache log you wish to monitor. For new cahces, select "Publish Listing":
At this point, you may want to go back and create additional notifications for other cache types, such as multi-cache, webcam cache, earthcache, etc., to make sure you get notified any time a new cache, of any type, is hidden in your neighborhood. I am not aware of any limit on the number of notifications you can create.
Now, all you have to do is monitor your email, and before you know it, you'll be the one logging an "FTF"!
February 3, 2008
If you're just the slightest bit curious about your caching statistics, then you owe it to yourself to visit the "It's Not About The Numbers" web site. Here's a sample of some of the detailed stats this site will produce for you:
- Average Finds per Day
- Most Finds in One Day
- Average Log Size (in number of words)
- Caching Milestones
- Finds by Container Type / Terrain Rating / Difficulty Rating
- Cache by Location
This is convenient if you aspire to someday conquer a geocache such as, Discovering & Logging California's 58 Counties.
To generate your own stats, you first need to be a Premium Member at geocaching.com. Go to the Pocket Query generation page, scroll down and click the button that says "Add to Queue" to get a Pocket Query containing all your finds, ever. Upload the zip file that you'll get in your email into the form on the "It's Not About The Numbers" web site, and check out your stats!