July 31, 2010

Thank You, Oh Mighty v4.0.1

You may have caught one of my recent rants about problems with loading pocket queries on the Geocaching iPhone application after the release of version 4.0. In short, any time I tried to load a PQ containing more than 500 cache listings, the application crashed.

Well either I really frightened Groundspeak, or plenty of other people were having the same problem (more likely, the latter), but this issue seems to have been fixed with the release of version 4.0.1 this week. There are about a half dozen improvements listed in the 4.0.1 release notes:

  • Bing Maps zoom level now matches what it used to be.
  • iPad now shows the compass button on map if it has an electronic compass available.
  • We fixed the dates which were showing up as blank on iPhone OS 4.0.
  • Geocache descriptions now scale to fit the page, and can be zoomed in on if needed.
  • If location services are disabled, the main search screen now indicates this and explains how to turn them on.
  • Improved performance of Pocket Query download.
  • Photos can now be accessed from a Pocket Query geocache's details screen.
Not only can I now load large Pocket Queries onto my device without fear of crashing the application, but Groundspeak also included some nice informational screens throughout the process that reassure the user that everything is working just fine.

1. I go to the download PQ screen:

2. I've select a PQ containing 750 caches and am ready to download:

3. A friendly warning screen appears explaining that this action might take some time:

4. I politely ignore the warning and proceed to download:

5. After informing me that the application is unpacking my PQ, it then moves on to saving my PQ; complete with status bar:

6. And, Success!

Thank you Groundspeak!

Cache on!

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July 24, 2010

New Park, New Caches

With over 100,000 acres of parks, trails, and open space land all within a two-county area in the densely populated San Francisco Bay Area, the East Bay Regional Park District has created a true oasis for hikers, bikers, equestrians, and of course, geocachers. Since 1934, the Park District has been acquiring and preserving publicly-accessible, recreational land for residents of and visitors to Alameda and Contra Costa counties in northern California. Keeping true to their mission, they just added another 654 acres to their holdings with the recently opened Dublin Hills Regional Park.

Two days ago, the Park District celebrated the opening of this new park/open space area with a dedication ceremony. Of course, all I cared about was how long until we had some new caches to hunt?

Turns out, we cachers didn't have to wait long. Thanks to geocacher, "misterscooter", we already have two brand-spanking new caches hidden in the newly opened park. And one of them has already been found. Thank you, misterscooter.

Cache On!

July 18, 2010

Muggle Cards

Annoying muggles got you down? Tired of being bombarded with inane questions like, "what are you looking for?", or, "what's that thing in your hand?", or, "how come you keep tying your shoe?"?

Well, Scrivner might have what you need: Geocaching Muggle Cards. Instead of hopelessly trying to explain to your standard muggle the finer points of geocaching, just hand them one of these, and then politely tell them to get lost so you can get on with your business.

Cache On!

July 10, 2010

It's Not You, It's Me, version 4.0

I'm sure you are all aware that Groundspeak released version 4.0 of their popular Geocaching iPhone application this week. This major upgrade adds a number of user-requested features including a functionally redesigned user interface and Google Maps integration. Users can also take photos with the iPhone camera and submit them with their logs. Geocachers can also submit logs for trackable items now. There's also an online/offline indicator, and a GPS acquisition status display. You can also view any list of caches on a map; a really nice enhancement.

So what's my problem with the new release? Well, one of the advertised feature enhancements is, "better reliability downloading pocket queries." I'm not sure exactly what Groundspeak means by this, but my experience so far has been the complete opposite of said enhancement compared to the 3.x version of the application. 

Before, it took about one minute to download any of my pocket queries, many of which contain the maximum of 1,000 cache listings. After upgrading to v4.0 on my iPodTouch, my experience hasn't been so pleasant. When I select my pocket query to download, the app begins churning away, first reporting that it is "Downloading Pocket Query", then a little later it tells me it is "Unpacking Pocket Query", then later still it displays, "Downloading Trackables". Then finally, after many minutes have elapsed, CRASH. The app. completely shuts down with no error message or indication of what just happened. When I return to the saved pocket query page, there's nothing there.

After a few more tries with the same result, and some choice words for Groundspeak, I headed to the forums to seek help. Turns out I wasn't alone. Many others have had this problem, and more. At this point, I'm thinking I need to figure out if I can delete this version and go back to version 3. But I do a little experimenting, and I find that I can actually download some of my smaller PQ's (500 caches) successfully to the device. So perhaps it is a memory capacity issue with my already-nearly-full 8GB iPodTouch. If so, my apologies to Groundspeak, but it sure would be nice if the app. could at least provide me with a vague error message of some sort (eg. "Memory Full") rather than simply crashing. 

And even if that is the problem, I'm still not real thrilled with the significant increase in the amount of time it takes to download a PQ now. This, along with the many other bugs being reported (see link above) may persuade some of you to put off upgrading to version 4.0 for a while. And I couldn't blame you one bit.

Cache On!

July 3, 2010

GeoWoodstock VIII, Live

If you are one of the unlucky ones like me who is  unable to attend GeoWoodstock VIII in Carnation, Washington today, you can attend virtually by following some of these geocachers on Twitter as they post updates throughout the day:

First, search the hashtag, #GW8
And then, follow some of these folks today:

And finally, follow @GW8Balloon to get the current location of this moving travel bug.

Have a great time at the festival everyone. Wish I was there.

Cache On!