October 31, 2009

Weekly Updates - New Look and Feel

If you've been a long-time subscriber to Groundspeak's "Weekly Update" newsletter, then you have to be happy with the new format. After years of sending out the newsletter as a text-based document, Groundspeak has finally converted it to an HTML formatted page. And very pleasing to the eye, I might add:

Of course, content is king, and luckily, that hasn't changed at all. I always loved getting all the latest geocaching information sent to my inbox each week. But now it's even more fun to read than ever.

Thanks Groundspeak!

Cache On!

October 18, 2009

You Have 10 Days To Tell Google Where To Go

When I first started geocaching many moons ago, the geo-referenced aerial imagery that was available back then was of such low resolution, that it wasn't really useful at all for visualizing the location of a geocache. Times have sure changed since then. First, Google Earth came along and made it easy to "see" the location of a geocache with this tool's continuously improving imagery. Then came Google Maps with the Street View feature which practically showed you a picture of the cache in its hiding place:

This works nicely, of course, as long as you are urban caching. But for those of us who do most of our geocaching "off-road," Street View doesn't offer much help; until now. Lucky for us, one of the Google engineers on the Street View team also happens to be an avid mountain biker, and decided to devise a way to take Street View off-road. The result was the Street View Trike:

You can read more about it on this recent Google Lat Long Blog post. Google would like to know where you'd like to see the Street View Trike go next. Do you have a favorite trail, park, pedestrian mall, campus, etc.? Cast your vote by October 28 to make sure you get your favorite off-road location added to Street View. Go to this site to make your voice heard, and to see some of the areas that have already been captured, including one of my favorites, the Monterey Bay Coastal Trail.

Cache On, and vote!

October 11, 2009

Offline Pocket Queries

If you have visited your profile page on gecoacaching.com lately, you may have noticed a new feature was recently added for premium users called, "Offline Pocket Queries":

If you click on the link, you won't get much information about the feature. But luckily, there is a good explanation of it, as well as some discussion of its usefulness, in the forums. Following is the feature description that is provided there:

  • "Offline Pocket Queries allow Premium Members to upload customized .GPX files to the website for later use by the Geocaching iPhone Application and select mobile devices. 
  • This feature allows you to download a customized Pocket Query, alter the data in your preferred third party waypoint manager and upload the altered version to Geocaching.com for later download to your mobile device.
  • The website will currently accept GPX version 1.0 uploads in either .GPX or .ZIP format.
  • Premium Members may save up to 10 Offline Pocket Queries, which will remain on the website for a maximum of 7 days. The Offline Pocket Query will display in red when there are 2 days remaining before its removal. 
  • Please Note: .GPX files must be limited to 500 waypoints."

From what I can tell, this new feature is only for people who use their mobile devices (iPhones/Blackberrys) for geocaching, as it allows them to upload modified pocket queries (ie: pqs with  corrected coordinates, user created additional waypoints, etc.), and then retrieve those pocket queries onto their devices.

While it seems like a nice way to get caches with corrected coordinates onto your iPhone, I tend to agree with most of the people that commented on the forum that it probably won't benefit the majority of geocachers. The feature doesn't really have any value to people with traditional GPS receivers that load waypoint coordinates (corrected or otherwise) directly onto their devices; and for those cachers that do use iPhones, it's difficult to imagine too many of them using this feature on a regular basis.

Even though I use the iPhone geoacaching application on my iPodTouch since I can store my regular (unmodified) pocket queries and field notes there, I really have no need for this feature since I load all my waypoints on to my Garmin.

If you are an iPhone geocacher, and you use, or plan to use this new feature, I'd love to hear your reaction, and whether or not you think this is a great enhancement.

Cache On!

October 4, 2009

Geocaching Goes Prime Time

While geocaching has been around for years now (almost 10, to be exact), most of the media attention that our hobby has generated has been limited to local, small-town newspapers. Recently, however, it seems that major television studios and even Hollywood has started jumping on the geocaching bandwagon. Following are some recent examples:

Law & Order: SVU
Aired September 30, 2009

Extreme Makeover: Home Edition
Aired September 27, 2009

In Hawaii, the Hubers are out on the ocean, and when they return, they get to open the package Ty gave them before they left - it’s a GPS for the family to do one of their favorite things - geo-caching - which is a scavenger hunt in which you follow co-ordinates on the GPS. They are led to a 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid car - Ty phones and tells them they can keep it! Jesse notes that it will make so much difference in their lives!

Law & Order: Criminal Intent
Aired May 8, 2005

STREET SHOOTINGS RAISE PUBLIC OUTCRY AS POLICE PROBE FEMALE STALKER -- AND HIGH-TECH TREASURE HUNT GAME -- After a young actor Mike, (guest star Jeffrey Hephner) is wounded and his fiancee is shot dead on the street, Detectives Goren (Vincent D'Onofrio) and Eames (Kathryn Erbe) are pointed towards the surviving victim's former girlfriend, who is known to have stalked him. The key, however, might turn on their probe of "geocaching," a high-tech treasure-hunt game that could yield vital clues. As the media and public mourn the man's tragic loss, the police want to take another look at some of his acting buddies, especially one who never lets go of his Palm Pilot. Jamey Sheridan and Courtney B. Vance also star.

Coming to a theater near you

Cache On!